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I believe such have a natural Bent to Solitude (to car ry on the former Similitude) are like Waters which may be forced into Fountains, and exalted into a great Height, may make a noble Figure and a louder Noise, but after all they would run more smoothly, quietly and plentifully, in their own natural Course upon the Ground. The Consideration of this would make me very well contented with the Possession only of that Quiet which Cowley calls the Companion of Obfcurity.
Good God! What an incongrous Animal is Man? How unsettled is his beft Part, his Soul, and how changing and variable in his Frame of Body? The Constancy of the one shook by every Notion, the Temperament of the other affected by every Blast of Wind! What is Man altogether but one mighty Inconsistency! Sickness and Pain is the Lot of one half of us ; Doubt and Fear the Portion of the other! What a Bustle we make about passing our Time, when all our Space is but a Point? What Aims and Ambitions are crouded into this little Inftant of our Life, which (as Shakespear finely words it) is Rounded with a Sleep?..
These Exclamations and Queries are Mr. Pope's, and whoever thinks in this Train, must fee the whole World and all its contemptible Grandeurs lefsen before him at every Thought. ?Tis enough to make one remain in a Poize of Inaction void of all Defires, of all Designs and Atchievements whatever.
But we must return (thro' our very narrow Condition of Being) to our narrow felves, and those Things that affect ourselves : Our Paffions, our Interests flow in upon us, and unphilofophize us into mere Mortals. . But these Reflections suit but ill for the Times about which we are writing: For foon after this the
South Sea Project took Effect, which run up that Stock to above a thousand per Cent, and ruined fo ma ny Families, that the Lamentation was general, almost all Degrees of People were engaged ; the Courtiers, most Perfons of Quality, Gentlemen, Merchants, Tradesmen, Artizans, even common Servants, who almost all suffered, except a few, who were behind the Curtain and in the Secret. Mr. Pope was a great Enemy to the Scheme, and then and fince has sufficiently shewn how he detested the Contrivers of it, and pitied the Sufferers, among which were fome of his great Friends, publick Enquiry was made after some of the Promotersof it, but the Iniquity was fix'd where the Search did not rtach, and the Wrong was without Reparation.
In this Calamity was funkfor a Time the very Spirit of the Nation, and Arts seem'd to stand stills the Gentry were impoverished, and only a few confederate Villains, and those favoured by them, made any tolerable Figure, Families of dejected Faces that were a Month before bleft with a Train of Do. mefticks and shining Equipages, were seen on Foot fighing through the publick Streets : This Mr. Pope thought once to have made the Subject of a particular Satire, and certainly he had wanted nothing to whet the Edge of it, but so many of the little common Writers laid hold of it, induc'd by Hunger and Request of Friends, that Mr. Pope left it to them, only occasionally in the Course of his Writing, giv ing now and then a Lash, to let the World know he was neither Actor nor Abettor of any such Wickedness and Folly, which on Reflection looks more like Fascination and epidemical Madness, than the voluntary Act of a great and free People, after having had the Example of France to warn them.
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