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with so unfriendly, nay, so vindictive a severity, that the public is even invited to think the worst of the offender' intention: there being nothing so base, or so mean, which the terms of the accusation will not justify theni to infer from it.
Since, therefore, you have so far forgot the office of a fair accuser, as not only to avoid assisting the judgment of the tribunal, you appeal to, in the nature of the FACT; but to prefer your accusation in such terms as must necessarily mislead it; let me be allowed to remind the Public of wbat
you have so disingenuously ouitted or disguised. Which I shall do no otherwise, than by considering all the possible motives Mr. P. could have for this action, supposing it to have been committed in the manner charged upon him. For through the motive cannot so alter the nature of actions, as to make that right, which, in itself, is wrong: yet it may alleviate the weight of the very worst; it may make others pardonable, which are confessedly bad; and in some again, it may give even to their obliquities, an amiableness which a truly generous mind would honour; and which the severest Casuists would only degrade into the limbus of their splendida peccata. Whether the crime, in question, be not of this class must be submitted to the tribunal, to which we now make our joint appeal.
In an offence of this nature, committed by one author ägainst another, the motive, that most readily occurs to us, is plagiarism: so that one might suspect this breach of trust was accompanied with an intended viołation of property; and that the offender proposed assuming to himself the glory of his friend's performance; especially as he took the liberties here complained of,
to divide the subject, and to alter and omit passages " according to the suggestions of his own fancy.” But if, in criminal proceedings, it be held a reasonable answer to the charge of a paltry theft, that the accused was immensely rich, we shall necd no other plea to acquit Mr. P. of this suspicion. Besides, the Author of the Letters was well known to all L. B's friends; the title-page of this surreptitious edition tells us, they were written by a
Person of Quality; and the honest printer himself knew the true author, as appears by his applying to Lord B. with information of the 1500 copies,
As to any lucrative views; if Mr. P's beneficent temper, his generous contempt of money, which made him at several periods of his life refuse an honourable pension from ministers of more than one denoinination; and decline every other way of establishing his fortune than by a noble appeal to tlie public taste: if this, I say, will not acquit him of so mean a suspicion, I might ap: peal to the very circumstances of the fact itself. He prints,. at a considerable expence, 1500 copies of an eighteen-penny pamphlet, to lie in the printer's warehouse and whichi, according to your own account, did actually lie there till his death, And what book one, which of all the Author's writings, was loast calculated to catch the public attention (howeyer this extraordinary Adren: tisement may now raise their curiosity) as the subject of it had been so often hacknied over in the papers of the CRAFTSMAN. Had profit been his point, who can doubt but he had rather chosen some of Lord B's historical tracts, which he had equally in his possession?
Least of all will it be suspected to have been done to injure L., B. in his fame or fortune; the book itself being manifestly calculated to support both, by putting him in that light wherein he most affects to be seen, a dis: passionate and disinterested lover of his country, Had Ms. P, designed to hurt his ease or reputation, he would probably have enriched us with his philosophical or theological works, where his noble Friend gives less quarter to religious prejudices, than, here, to political corruptions; and which, by their being kept unpublished, deprive Religion of one considerable advantage,
In a word, had Mr. P. been conscious to himself of any low, oblique, or unfriendly motive, how happened it that, at his death, he chose it should come to the knowledge of his Friend? That he did chuse it, is most certain. “ His honest printer," you tell " kept his word with him. His last illness was long
“ faithfully and tedious, and known by him, as well as by his physicians, to be fatal. He might therefore have burnt these 1500 copies with a secrecy equal to the ostentation with which they were all destroyed in one common fire by this depositary of the writings and reputation of a MAN, whose last vows to Heaven were for the prosperity of his surviving Friend.
But, if we allow the fact, some reason, after all, musť be given for committing it. We have seen the high absurdity of supposing it to be on any of the motives already inentioned : which, indeed, only envy and malignity can suggest. One, only, remains: and happily, it is that which every man, at first sight, must acknowledge to be the true; an ercessive and superstitious seal for Lord B's glory. He paid, as all the world knows, a kind of idolatrous homage to the divine attributes of his friend. And should this be_ thought a folly by sober admirers, (a strange one it must be to Lord B. himself) yet, sure his Lordship, thongh the last, in justice, should be the first, in pity, to forgive it.
He was not only the warmest advocate for his Lordship's private and public virtues against his adversaries, but even against himself. It was his common subject of complaint, amongst his other friends, that Lord B. was faultily negligent of his glory, even where the good of his country, and the happiness of the world, depended on its being unveiled. That, though he seemed to be sent down hither by Providence, from some higher sphere, to become the conservator of the rights and reason of mankind, yet he suffered his actions to be misrepresented, and his character to be blackened, even where the shewing himself, truly, tended to the happiness of the erroneous. And this being an inportant concern, was the reason, I suppose, why his Friend chose to prevent the loss of these Letters : which, likewise, very well accounts for his allaying the extreme splendor of them, so offensive to mere mortals, with that terrestrial mixture of his own. The very circumstance, which you, Sir, well express, where
“ he had taken upon him, further to divide the subject, and to alter and omit passages, according to
“ the suggestions of his own fancy.” Perhaps too he thought himself something more than a porte-feuille of his friend's papers; for he frequently told his acquaintance (to whom I appeal on this occasion) that L. B. would, at his death, leave his writings to his disposal-A mutual confidence! which they placed in one another. But the execution of Mr. P's part, at the same time that it makes the other probable, prevents our having any written evidence of it. But concerning the particular nature of those changes and interpolations, and the difference between the two editions, I shall say no more at present.
Having seen Mr. P's motives for printing, the reader inay be curious to know when he thought of publishing. It could not be till he had the author's leave: that, the long detention of the pamphlet in the printers warehouse sufficiently shews. It could not be in expectation of his death : that, the great disparity in the chance of survivorship will not allow us to suppose. Besides, to what purpose was the expence of printing, and the hazard of secreting an edition, projected now, when he would have had it equally in his power, if that event happened, to do it then? We have nothing left, even on your own state of the case, but to believe that he expected very speedily to obtain L. B's concurrence. What grounds he had for such expectation, the prudent disposition of his papers will not permit us to say. .
The too eager pursuit then of his Friend's glory being his only motive for this presumptuous liberty (a truth so evident, that, I am persuaded, Mr. P. has not a single friend or acquaintance remaining, who does not as firmly believe it, as that L. B. wrote the Letters, and that Mr. P. committed them to the press) since this, I say, is the case, his Lordship's known virtue will never suffer me to suppose that you, Sir, and the Author of these Letters, can be the same person.
His known wisdom would less endure such an imputation. Whatever you, Sir, may think, his Lordship’s glory will never stand fairer with posterity, than in the Vol. XII. F
lines of this immortal poet. So that to defile the mirror, which holds him up, by a kind of magic virtue, to the admiration of all times and places, would indeed shew him more detached from the world, and indifferent to censure, than even you, his apologist, think fit to represent him. It must surely be some fatal necessity that could make him willing to risk so flattering an advantage. And yet your advertisement supplies neither him nor your reader with any excuse of this nature. fit
, I will suppose, that some reason should be given for the publication of the Letters. But had not your Bookseller done this already, when he so often told the public, that it was “ to prevent their being imposed on by a “ spurious and mangled edition, of which one or two
scraps had appeared in a Magazine?” Possibly you will say, the reader might expect to know how they came there. Why then did you not seek out and detect the man engaged in that honourable employment, as by a proper irony you call it? Sure it was no difficult matter : for you tell us, again, that some of the copies had been handed about not very privately since Mr. P's death. Besides, the law would have obligated the proprietor of the Magazine to discover from whom he had, received his stolen goods. Why then so much tenderness for him, who manifested his design by publishing, and so little for him, who only gave suspicion of it, by printing ? Or did the ORDER OF THINGS, which, indeed, (in Mr. P's language of his Lordship) was here violated, require, that vengeance should pursue, and trace up the crime, to the original offender: who had so audaciously stretched his hand to the forbidden tree, and gathered, without leave, of the knowledge of political good and evil? Or if the severity of justice required even this ; was it not enough to say, that the mischief came first froin Mr. P. by his giving abroad too many copies; without telling their comMON ENEMIES, that he had printed fifteen hundred? For it came not from these, (which, you own, “were all destroyed in one common fire") but from a straggling copy which escaped that desolation. As this brand therefore on Mr. Pope's memory was needless, it could not come from the hand of his noble Friend.