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« confutation of their opinions, and an illustration of “ the doctrine of Free - will,” with what else you
It will, above all, be necessary to take notice, that it is a thing distinct from the Commentary.
" I was so far from imagining they (the compositors] • stood still, that I conceived them to have a good deal
beforehand, and therefore was less anxious in pro'viding them more. But if ever they stand still on my account, it must doubtless be charged to me; and whatever else will be reasonable I shall not oppose; but beg a fuspense of judgment till morning, when I must intreat you to send me a dozen proposals,
shall then have copy to spare.
" and you
Johnson's translation of the Examen was printed by Cave, and came abroad, but without a name, in November, 1738, bearing the title of, 'An Examination
of Mr. Pope's Effay on Man, containing a succinct 'view of the system of the Fatalists, and a confutation of their opinions ; with an illustration of the doctrine of Free-Will, and an enquiry what view Mr. Pope might have in touching upon the Leibnitzian Philosophy and Fatalism. By Mr. Crousaz, profeffor of Philosophy and Mathematics at Lausanne, &c.'
All the world knows that the Essay on Man was composed from the dictamen of Lord Bolingbroke, and it is little less notorious that Pope was but meanly skilled in that fort of learning to which the subject of his poem related : he had not been conversant with the writings or opinions of the different sects of phi.
losophers of whom fome maintained and others denied the freedom of the will, and knew little more of the arguments for and against human liberty in oppofition to what is called Necessity, than he was able to gather from the controversy between Anthony Collins and his opponents, or that between Dr. Clarke and Leibnitz. He was therefore unable to defend what he had written, and stood a dead mark for his adversaries to shoot at. Fortunate for him it was, that at this crisis there was living such a person as Mr. Warburton; and Pope had for all the remainder of his life reason to reflect with pleasure on the accident that brought them acquainted, and which I will presently relate.
Warburton's origin and rise into literary reputation are pretty well known. He had served a clerkship to an attorney the town-clerk of Newark upon Trent, and for a short time was himself a practiser in that profession; but having a strong propensity to learning, he determined to quit it, and pursue a course of study such as was necessary to qualify him for the ministerial function, and having completed it, got admitted into holy orders, and settled in London, where, upon his arrival, he became acquainted with some of the inferior wits, Concannen, Theobald, and others the enemies of Pope, and adopted many of their sentiments. In a letter to the former of these he writes, Dryden I
observe borrows for want of leisure, and Pope for
want of genius ; Milton out of pride, and Addi'son out of modesty ;' further he assisted Theobald with notes on many passages in his edition of Shakespeare, which charge Mr. Pope with ignorance, and incapacity for the office of an editor.
But leaving literal criticism to these his first affociates, Warburton betook himself to studies of
greater importance, and before the publication of the Examen of the Essay on Man, had made himself known, as an original thinker, by his Divine Legation of Moses, a work which, as it met with great opposition, gave him occasion to display a singular talent in controversy. As there was nothing congenial in the minds of him and Pope, they neither of them fought the acquaintance of the other, but mere chance brought them together, a chance fo propitious to Warburton's fortunes that it became an epoch in his life, and was the leading circumstance to his becoming the owner of a fair estate, and his promotion to a bishopric.
The friendship of these two persons had its commencement in that bookseller's shop which is situate on the West side of the gate-way leading down the Inner Temple-lane. Warburton had some dealings with Jacob Robinson the publisher, to whom the shop belonged, and may be supposed to have been drawn there on business ; Pope might have a call of the like kind : however that be, there they met, and entering into a conversation which was not foon ended, conceived a mutual liking, and as we inay suppose, plighted their faith to each other. The fruit of this interview and the subsequent communications of the parties was, the publication, in November 1739, of a pamphlet with this title, ‘A Vindication of Mr. Pope's Essay
on Man. By the author of the Divine Legation ' of Moses. Printed for J. Robinson.'
Whether or not Crousaz ever replied to this vindication, I am not at leisure to enquire. I incline to F3
think he did not, and that the controversy rested on the foot of the Examen and the Commentary on the one part, and the Vindication on the other. In the year 1743, Johnson took it into his head to review the argument, and became a moderator in a dispute which, on the side of Warburton, had been conducted with a great degree of that indignation and contempt of his adversary, which is visible in most of his writings. This he did in two letters severally published in the Gentleman's Magazine for the months of March and November in the above year, with a promise of more, but proceeded no farther than to state the sentiments of Mr. Crousaz respecting the poem, seeming conviction that he was discussing an uninterciting question.
Johnson had already tried his hand at political satire, and had succeeded in it; and though no new occasion offered, he was either urged by distress or prompted by that clamour against the minister which in the year 1739 was become very loud, to join in the popular cry, and as it were, to carry war into his own quarters. This he did in a pamphlet, intitled, “Marmor Norfolciense, or an essay on an ancient prophetical inscription, in Monkish rhyme, lately discovered near Lynn in Norfolk, by Probus Britannicus.'
This mode of satire, the publication of prophecies adapted to the incidents of the time when written, and not fo genuine as that of Nixon, the Chefhire seer, which some thought was fulfilled in 1745, is not an invention fo new as many may think. In some instances it has been a mere exercise of wit; in others it has been used as a means to excite a people to
fedition. Under the first class is noted that mentioned by Lord Bacon ;
· When Hempe is spun,
'England's done;' whereby, as his lordship fays, it was generally conceived, that after the princes had reigned which had the principal letters of that word Hempe, (which were Henry, Edward, Mary, Philip and Elizabeth) England should come to utter confusion; which, adds he, thanks be to God, is verified only in the change of name, for the king's stile is now no more, of England, but of Britain. Of the latter class of feigned prophecies many have, within these few years, been published by authors who had not wit enough to put them into verse.
The infcription mentioned in the title-page of the Marmor Norfolciense, as also the relation of the manner of finding it, are, as will be readily supposed, equally fictitious, as the sole end of writing and publishing it was to give occasion for a comment, which should concentrate all the topics of popular discontent : accordingly it is insinuated, because an act of parliament had then lately passed, by which it was enacted that all law proceedings should be in English, that therefore few lawyers understood Latin ; and the people are taught to look on the descendants of the Princess Sophia as intruders of yesterday, receiving an estate by voluntary grant, and erecting thereon a claim of hereditary right. The explanation of the prophecy, whịch is all ironical, resolves itfelf into an invective against a standing army, a ridicule of the balance of power, complaints of the inactivity of the British lion, and that the Hanover horse was suffered to suck his blood.