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born from the press. When in France, he was considered by Voltaire, and the other self-called philosophers, as an inflexible believer in Christianity; and was uniformly reproached for not having “ disabused himself of the prejudices of education." It is no less certain that he still really believed in the principal doctrines of revelation, that he endeavoured to shape his conduct by its precepts, and that he hoped to atone for his speculative errors by the purity and virtue of his life otherwise. Vanity, insatiable vanity, led him to adopt any measures he could think of as the most probable to attain immediate celebrity. His shrewd mind readily perceived that great vices are always more promptly, and perhaps too more permanently (especially where they are in direct contradiction to the established habits of civil society), distinguished than great virtues; and, after witnessing the success of the French philosophers, he determined on the easiest and shortest road to fame, by attacking religion in a country which has always been eminent for its piety.
In one of these interesting letters, most of which abound in curious facts relative to literature, as well as literary opinions, we learn that the plan of the Essays on the Chaq racteristics was originally given by Pope to Warburtoni and from him to Browne. Pope observed, that “to his knowledge the Characteristics had done more harm to revealed religion in England than all the works of infidelity put together.” The maxims of Lord Halifax are allowed to be generally solid and useful: Bishop Berkeley, it is added, ** is indeed a great man, and the only visionary I ever knew that was.'--This anecdote of Whiston must show the vanity of human wisdom.
Pray did you feel either of those earthquakes? [In March, 1759.) They have made Whiston ten times madder than ever. He went to an alehouse at Mile-end, to see one who, it was said, had predicted the earthquakes. The man told him it was true, and that he had it from an angel. Whiston rejected this as apocryphal. For he was well assured, that if the favour of this secret was to be communicated to any one, it would be to himself. He is so enraged at Middleton [author of the Free Inquiry into Miracles], that he has just now quarrelled downright with the Speaker for having spoke a good word for him many years ago in the affair of the mastership of the Charter-house. The Speaker the other day sent for him to dinner; he said he would not come. His lady sent; he would not come. She went to him, and clanıbered up into his garret to ask him about the earthquake.
He told her, • Madam, you are a
need not fear, none but the wicked will be destroyed. You will escape. I would not giye the same promise to
virtuous woman- you,
husband. What will this poor nation come to! In the condition of troops between two fires-the madness of irreligion and the njadness of fanaticism."
The following reflexions on religion are worthy of attention, although the remarks on the Hebrew Bible are extremely precipitate.
« I hear Dr. Middleton has been lately at London (I suppose to consult Dr. Heberden about his health), and is returned in an extreme bad condition. The scribblers against him will say they have killed him. But, by what Mr. Yorke told me, his bricklayer will dispute the honour of his death with them. Seriously I am much concerned for the poor man, and wish he may recover with all my heart. Had he bad, I will not say piety, but greatness of mind enough not to suffer the pretended injuries of some churchmen to prejudice him against religion, I should love him living, and honour his memory when dead. But, good God! that man, for the discourtesies done him by his miserable fellow-creatures, should be content to divest himself of the true viaticum-the comfort, the solace, the asylum from all the evils of human life, is perfectly astonishing. I believe no one (all things considered) has suffered more from the low and vile passions of the high and low amongst our brethren than myself. Yet God forbid it should ever suffer me to be cold in the Gospel interests, which are indeed so much my own, that without it I should be disposed to consider hunanity as the most forlorn part of the creation !"
" I think you should begin the study of the Bible] with those two great masterpieces of erudition, Morinus's “ Exercitations' and Capellus's “Critica Sacra,' in the order I name them.--I need not say in the best editions. You will see, by this recommendation, of what party I am with regard to the authentic text; being persuadedi, that, had it not been for the Septuagint, the Hebrew Bible would have been as unintelligible as any cypher is without its key, by which nothing could be learned; or rather, since the invention of the Hebrew points, a complete nose of wax, to be turned every way, and made say every thing. Which partly arises from the beggarly scantiness of the language, partly because no more remains of the tongue than is contained in one single book of no great bigness, but principally from there having been no vowel points affixed till many ages after it was become a dead language. This impenetrable darkness was a fit scene for mysteries, and out of this they rose in abundance; first by the cultivation of Cabalistic Jews of ulti; in these latter times by Cocceius in Holland; and by Hutchinson amongst us; which now is growing into a fashionable madness."
P, 59. In 1750, Dr.Warburton observes, “our London books are like our London veal,---never fit for entertainment, or the table, till they have been well puffed and blown up:" but what would this learned author say, did he now see our public papers filled with booksellers' puits of their own publications! The good bishop, however, was not so happy in all his re
flexions as in the above; and it is plain that chagrin sometimes
gave a turn to his sentiments, as when he asks" How happened it, in the definitions of man, that reason is always made essential to him? Nobody ever thought of making goodness so ; and yet it is certain there are as few reasonable men as there are good. Man might be as properly defined an animal to whom a sword is essential, as one to whom reason is essential. For there are as few that can, and yet fewer that dare, use the one as the other."
He is much more correct in discussing the subject of the drama.
"The proper end of tragedy," he observes, " is by the pathos to excite the passions of pity and terror, &c. Comedy delineates life by humour, to produce the sensation of pleasure; and farce, by what is called burlesque to excite laughter."
When unnatural plots are used, he continues " The mind is not only entirely drawn off from the characters by those surprising turns and revolutions, but characters have no opportunity even of being called out and displaying themselves. For the actors of all characters succeed and are embarrassed alike, when the instruments for carrying on designs are only perplexred apartments, dark entries, disguised habits, and ladders of ropes. The comic plot is and must, indeed, be carried on by deceit. The Spanish scene. does it by deceiving the nian through his senses ; Terence and Moliere by deceiving him through his passions and affections. This is the right; for the character is not called out under the first species of deceit: under the second, the character does all."
These observations must be admitted to be equally acute and just; yet we now despair of ever seeing any thing like legitimate comedy, so inveterate is the misguided selfishness of modern managers,
The character of Harris the grammarian is mutually considered by these friends as now to sense, now nonsense, leaning ; just as antiquity inclines him ;" a sentence which is
more pointed than just, and sufficiently paradoxical. The character of Byrom is much more accurate; certainly a man of genius plunged deep into the rankest fanaticism."
" If I were to define enthusiasm,” observes Bishop Warburton, “ I would
it is such an irregular exercise of the mind as makes us give a stronger assent to the conclusion, than the evidence of the premises will warrant: then reason begins to be betrayed, and then enthusiasm properly commences. This shows winy enthusiasm is more frequent in religious matters than in any other; for those interests being very momentous, the passions bear the greatest sway, and reason is the least heard,"
The generally-received opinion that Pope's Essay on Man is only a versification of Bolingbroke's sentiments, is here decisively denied, and proved to be without any foundation in fact; indeed, it is not to be supposed that so decided an infidel as his lordship, and one so indifferent about morality, could have taken so much pains to “ vindicate the ways of God to man.” Bolingbroke's three tracts were prefaced by a letter to Pope, which is characterised by Warburton as
a kind of common-place (and a poor one) of free-thinking objections and disingenuity." This statesman's spleen against the divine is ascribed to " bis great jealousy of my taking Pope out of his hands by my Commentary on the great principle of the Essay, the following Nature and Nature's God.” The letter he considers
“ A full confutation of that invidious report, that Pope had his philosophy from Bolingbroke, and only turned his prose letters into
For here it appears that the Essay on Man was published before Bolingbroke composed his first philosophical epistle. In a word, if it was not for the very curious and well-written Letter to Sir William Windham; this letter to Pope would be received with great neglect.—So far for this pigmy giant!"
And so far are we pleased to find that Warburton was convinced in his private opinion that Pope owed nothing to Bolingbroke; for however many parts of the Essay on Man may be objectionable, as a whole its general tendency is too good to have originated with any person who founded his.claims to distinction on no more solid a basis than that of disbelieving the great truths of religion. We are therefore sorry that the Bishop's conclusion, although legitimate, is not supported by better premises. Although Pope's Epistles appeared before Bolingbroke's, yet as the one was a regular, and the other only an occasional author, it is not improbable that the statesman (for his letters on history justly entitle him to this rare character) might have communicated the principal materials to the poet. This is the more probable, that the most inveterate infidels, never being able to quash entirely their own apprehensions that religion may be true, generally become great moralisers; and, in withholding their faith from religion, bestow it in abundance on moral precept. Still, however, it is not less possible that the contemplation of Bolingbroke's genius and infidelity might have awakened all those reflexions in Pope's mind, which appear in the Essay on Man, without any other communication; and it is at least certain, that whoever was the original author
of the refiexions, they must have been sublimed and christianised with the sentiments of the poet,
One of the first of Bishop Hurd's letters in this collection contains such a trait of filial respect, that it would be great injustice to his memory not to notice it particularly. It is dated in July, 1754, above five years after the correspondence of these two learned divines had become regular.
“ The truth is, I go to pass sometime (at Shiffnal in Shropshire) with two of the best people in the world, to whom I owe the highest duty, and have all possible obligation. I believe I never told
you how happy I am in an excellent father and mother-very plain people you may be sure, for they are farmers, but of a tura of mind that might have honoured any rank and any education. With very tolerable, but in no degree affluent circumstances, their generosity was, such, they never regarded any expense that was in their power, and almost out of it, in whatever concerned the welfare of their children. We are three brothers of us. The eldest settled very reputably in their own way, and the youngest in the Birmingham trade. For myself, a poor scholar, -as you know, I am almost ashamed to own to you how solicitous they always were to furnish me with all the opportunities of the best and most liberal education. My case in so many particulars resembles that which the Roman poet describes as his own, that with Pope's wit I could apply almost every circumstance of it. And if ever I were to wish in earnest to be a poet, it would be for the sake of doing justice to so uncommon a virtue. I should be a wretch if I did not conclude, as he does, s si Natura juberet," &c. In a word, when they had fixed us in such a rank of life as they designed, and believed should satisfy us, they very wisely left the business of the world to such as wanted it more, or liked it better. They considered what age and declining health seemed to demand of them, reserving to themselves only such a support as their few and little wants made them think sufficient. I should beg pardon for troubling you with this humble history; but the subjects of it are so much and so tenderly in my thoughts at present, that if I writ (wrote) aç all, I could hardly help writing about them.” P. 102.
We have observed, that these letters abound in the paradoxes and errors of Warburton: the following is an instance of both, in reply to some objections of Dr. Hurd's against several opinions expressed in his sermons. 66 Nature and human society alone seem not to determine against polygamy. Why I said so was, replies Bishop Warburton, because it was allowed to the Jews; and I apprehend nothing was indulged them against the law of nature.” Here the divine confounds permission with sanction, and the corrupted institutions of the Jews with the law of nature, contrary to moral and physical evidence. The Jews not unfrequently “ in.