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Milton sought to set forth the story of the Fall in such way as to show that God was love.Pope dealt with the question of God in Nature, and the world of Man. de Crousaz, Professor of Philosophy and Mathematics in the University of Lausanne, and defended by Warburton, then chaplain to the Prince of Wales, in six letters published in 1739, and a seventh in 1740, for which Pope (who died in 1744) was deeply grateful. Under Queen Anne he was an original poet, but made little money by his verses; under George I.
And when his closing hymn was condemned as the freethinker’s hymn, its censurers surely forgot that their arguments against it would equally apply to the Lord’s Prayer, of which it is, in some degree, a paraphrase.
The first design of the Essay on Man arranged it into four books, each consisting of a distinct group of Epistles.
His offence in the eyes of de Crousaz was that he had left out of account all doctrines of orthodox theology.
But if he had been orthodox of the orthodox, his argument obviously could have been directed only to the form of doubt it sought to overcome.
Pope’s poetry thus deepened with the course of time, and the third period of his life, which fell within the reign of George II., was that in which he produced the “Essay on Man,” the “Moral Essays,” and the “Satires.” These deal wholly with aspects of human life and the great questions they raise, according throughout with the doctrine of the poet, and of the reasoning world about him in his latter day, that “the proper study of mankind is Man.” Wrongs in high places, and the private infamy of many who enforced the doctrines of the Church, had produced in earnest men a vigorous antagonism.
Tyranny and unreason of low-minded advocates had brought religion itself into question; and profligacy of courtiers, each worshipping the golden calf seen in his mirror, had spread another form of scepticism.
Thus the two works were, in fact, produced together, parts of one design.
Pope’s Satires, which still deal with characters of men, followed immediately, some appearing in a folio in January, 1735.
But as the eighteenth century grew slowly to its work, signs of a deepening interest in the real issues of life distracted men’s attention from the culture of the snuff-box and the fan.
As Pope’s genius ripened, the best part of the world in which he worked was pressing forward, as a mariner who will no longer hug the coast but crowds all sail to cross the storms of a wide unknown sea.