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"either ENTHUSIASTS OR KNAVES." But, alas! this kind admonition came too late. Mr. Pope had now got a better guide than either FORSTER or his LORDI mean, Mr. LOCKE; who, in the conclusion of his first letter to Bishop Stillingfleet, had taught the Poet to answer thus, "I know not any thing more disin " genuous, than not publicly to own a conviction one has "received, concerning any thing erroneous in what one "has printed; nor can there, I think, be a greater offence
against mankind than to propagate a falsehood, where"of one is convinced; especially in a matter wherein en are highly concerned not to be misled. The HOLY SCRIPTURE is to me, and always will be, the ""constant GUIDE of my assent: and I shall always hearken to it, as containing infallible truth, relating to things of the highest concernment. And I wish I (6 could there were no MYSTERIES in it. I acknowledge there are, to me, and I fear always will be. "But where I want the evidence of things, there yet is
ground enough for me to believe, because God has said "it: and I shall presently condemn and quit any opinion "of mine, as soon as I am shewn that it is contrary to any revelation in the holy Scripture*."
But the Author of The Divine Legation soon after committed a much greater offence against his Lordship's philosophic dignity. And to this, the following words, quoted above, more particularly allude: You have, İ know, at your elbow, a very foul-mouthed and a very trifling Critic, who will endeavour to impose upon you on this occasion, as he did on a FORMER.
About the year 1742, a little before Lord Bolingbroke's return to England, this Critic was with Mr. Pope at T. who shewed him a printed book of Letters on the Study and Use of History, and desired his opinion of it. It was the first volume of the work since published under that name. Mr. W. on turning over the book, told him his thoughts of it with great ingenuity. What he said to Mr. Pope of the main subject is not material: but of the digression concerning the authenticity of the Old Testament, he told his friend very frankly, that the Author's arguments, poor as they were, were all borrowed from Locke's Works, vol. i. p. 405. Z
other writers; and had been often confuted to the full satisfaction of the learned world: that the Author of these Letters, whoever he was, had mistaken some of those reasonings; had misrepresented others; and had added such mistakes of his own, as must discredit him with the learned, and dishonour him with all honest men: that therefore, as he understood the Author was his friend, he could not do him better service than advise him to strike out this digression, a digression that had nothing to do with his subject, and would set half his readers against the work, which, without this occasion of scandal, would have much ado to make head against the other half, whenever it should appear. Mr. Pope said, his friend (whose name he kept secret) was the most candid of all writers; and that he the Author of The Divine Legation could not do him a greater pleasure than to tell him his thoughts with all freedom on this occasion. He urged this so warmly, that his friend complied, and, as they were then alone, scribbled over half a dozen sheets of paper before he rose from the table, where they were then sitting. Mr. Pope read what was written and, as he had a wonderful partiality for those he loved, approved of them and to convince his friend (the Scribbler, as my Lord rightly calls him) that he did so, he took up the printed volume, and crossed out the whole digression. The remarks were written, as you may well suppose, with all the civility Mr. W. was likely to use to a friend, Mr. Pope appeared so much to reve rence: but the word precarication, or something like it, chanced, it seems, to escape his pen. The papers were sent to Paris; and received with unparalleled indignation. Little broke out; but something did: and Mr. Pope found he had not paid his court by this officious piece of service. However, with regard to the writer of the papers, all was carried, when his Lordship came over, with singular complaisance; such as men use when their design is to draw on those whose homage they propose to gain. In the mean time, his Lordship was meditating and compiling an angry, and elaborate answer to this pri vate, hasty, and impertinent, though well-meant, scribble: and it was as much as they could do, who had most influence over him, to prevail with him at length to burn
it. For the truth of all this, I might appeal to a noble person, one of the greatest characters of this, or indeed of any age; who being much courted by his Lordship (for superior virtue will force homage from the most unlike) was for some time able, and at all times most desirous, of restraining the extravagance of that first philosophy, which he detested and despised.
The event has since shewn, that it had been happy for his Lordship's reputation, had the advice to strike out the digression been approved. For it is this which first sunk him in the popular opinion; and made men overlook the merit of the very best of all his compositions.
Mr. Pope, however, was still flattered and caressed. And the vengeance treasured up against him for the impiety of erasing those sacred pages, did not break out till the Poet's death: then indeed it came forth with redoubled vehemence, and on the most ridiculous pretence. Pope had, as his Lordship pretended, unknown to him, printed an edition of the Patriot Prince, or Patriot King, (for it had two titles, as his Lordship's various occasions required) a very innocent thing, which might have been proclaimed by the common crier, without giving the least umbrage or offence. To say the truth, it was a mere school-declamation, which, in great pomp of words, informs us of this secret, That if a Prince could but once be brought to love his country, he would always act for the good of it. As extraordinary as this discovery appears, there was much odd practice employed to give a colour of necessity for the publishing it. However, published it was, and the memory of Pope traduced in so cruel, so scandalous a manner, that the reader is suffered to conclude, even CURLL himself could not have acted a more infainous or rascally part: for it must be owned, his Lordship has dealt one equal measure to his COUNTRY, his RELIGION, and his FRIEND. And for what was all this outrage? To speak the worst of the offence, for one of those private offices of indiscreet good will, which generous men are always ready to forgive, even when they see themselves most incommoded by it.
The public stood amazed. And those who had any regard for the Poet's memory, waited with impatience to see, which of his old friends would rescue it from his
Lordship's talons. Contempt, I suppose, of so cruel a treatment, kept them all silent. However, the same contempt at length provoked an anonymous writer to publish a letter to the Editor of the Patriot King; for his Lordship had divided himself into the two personages of Editor and Author. This letter, written with all the respect due to his rank and character, he thought fit to ascribe to the Author of The Divine Legation; so that you need not wonder if it exposed the suspected writer to all his Lordship's rage, and to all the ribaldry of his sycophants; of which, some, that was said to pass through this great man's hands, was in language bad enough to disgrace even gaols and garrets.
This, Sir, is the anecdote I promised you. And now I shall release you from so tedious a subject. I have completed my View of his Lordship's Philosophy; which I chose to address to you in compliance with his challenge; who appeals, for the truth of all he advances, from artificial theology and school-learning, to the breast of the PLAIN HONEST MAN,
"Slave to no sect, who takes no private road,
HIM whose heart is filled with the love of God and man. To this tribunal he appeals; and to this I have now brought him. What he will gain by it, you, whom he has made his judge, must now tell us. I greatly suspect, that of all his principles, one only is likely to escape your censure: and with this, as I would part with him upon good terms, I shall conclude: it breaks out unexpectedly from amidst the corruption of party politics; and in all likelįhood was ingendered by them-SOME MEN THERE ARE, THE PESTS OF SOCIETY I THINK THEM, WHO PRETEND A GREAT REGARD TO RELIGION IN GENERAL, BUT WHO TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY OF DECLAIMING PUBLICKLY AGAINST THAT SYSTEM OF RELIGION, OR AT LEAST AGAINST THAT CHURCH ESTABLISHMENT, WHICH IS RECEIVED IN BRITAIN *. I am, &c.
* Dissertation on Parties, 8vo. edit.
MR. DAVID HUME'S ESSAY
"THE NATURAL HISTORY OF RELIGION*."
HE purpose of this ESSAY is to establish NATURALISM on the ruins of RELIGION; of which, whether under Paganism and Polytheism, or under Revelation and the doctrine of the Unity, Mr. HUME professes to give the NATURAL HISTORY.
And here let me observe it to his honour, that, though he be not yet got to THEISM, he is however on the advance and approaching to the borders of it; having been in the dregs of Atheism when he wrote his Epicurean arguments against the being of a God. Sometime or other he may come to his senses A few animadversions on the Essay before us may help him forwards. The thing is full of curiosities: and the very title-page, as I observed, deinands our attention. It is called,
"THE NATURAL HISTORY OF RELIGION."
You ask, why he chuses to give it this title. Would not the Moral history of Meteors be full as sensible as the Natural history of Religion? Without doubt. Indeed had he given the history of what he himself would pass upon us for the only true Religion, namely, NATORALISM, or the belief of a God, the Creator and Physical Preserver, but not Moral Governor of the world, the title of Natural would have fitted it well, because all morality is excluded from the idea.
* See the Introductory Discourse to this Edition of Bishop Warburton's Works, Vol. i, pp. 65 to 69.—Ed.