Front Page Titles (by Subject) ON POPE. - The Works of Voltaire, Vol. XIX (Philosophical Letters)
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ON POPE. - Voltaire, The Works of Voltaire, Vol. XIX (Philosophical Letters) 
The Works of Voltaire. A Contemporary Version. A Critique and Biography by John Morley, notes by Tobias Smollett, trans. William F. Fleming (New York: E.R. DuMont, 1901). In 21 vols. Vol. XIX.
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I fancy it will be more easy for you to form some idea of Mr. Pope. He is in my opinion the most elegant, the most correct, and, what is still more difficult to find, the most harmonious poet that England has hitherto produced. He has reduced the shrill harshness of the English trumpet to the soft sweetness of the Lydian flute. His “Essay on Criticism” will soon be sufficiently known in France, by the translations in verse which Abbé du Renel is about to publish.
What follows is a passage from his poem called the “Rape of the Lock,” which I have lately translated with my usual liberty; for I must again repeat that I know nothing so execrable as a literal translation of a piece of poetry.
Pope’s “Essay on Man” is in my opinion the finest, the most useful, and the sublimest didactic poem that has ever been written in any language. The groundwork of the whole, it is true, may be found in Lord Shaftesbury’s “Characteristics,” for which reason I cannot see why Mr. Pope has given all the honor of it to Lord Bolingbroke, without mentioning a word of the famous Shaftesbury, the disciple of Locke.
As there is nothing in metaphysics but what has been often thought in every age and nation where the talents of the mind are cultivated, this system has a great conformity with that of Leibnitz; who pretends, that, of all possible worlds, God must certainly have chosen the best; and that, even in this best, all the irregularities of our globe, as well as the follies of its inhabitants, should have a place. It has also a resemblance to the notion of Plato, which says, that, in the infinite chain of beings, our earth, our bodies, and our souls, are so many necessary links. But neither Leibnitz nor Pope admits of those changes, which, according to Plato, have happened to those links of it, our souls and bodies. Plato, in his unintelligible prose, wrote like a poet; while Pope, in his admirable version, is truly a great philosopher. He says, all things have at all times been, even from the very infancy of nature, as they are; that is, as they should be: “Whatever is, is best.” I could not help being pleased, I own, to find he agreed with me in a point which I had maintained several years since.
“You are filled with wonder to think God should have made man with faculties so limited, so ignorant, and so much short of true happiness. Why do not you rather wonder he did not make him infinitely more so?” When a Frenchman and an Englishman happen to agree in any point, you may swear they are then in the right.
The son of the famous Racine has published a letter of Pope addressed to him, with a recantation of this doctrine. This letter is written in the style and manner of Fénelon; it was delivered him by Ramsay, the editor of “Telemachus”; that Ramsay, who was the imitator of “Telemachus,” and much such another as Boyer was of Corneille; that Scotch Ramsay who modestly demanded admittance into the French Academy; in a word, by that Ramsay who was sadly disappointed at not being a doctor of the Sorbonne. This I know, as does every man of letters in England, that Pope, with whom I was very intimately acquainted, could hardly read French; spoke not one word of our language; never wrote one single syllable in the language, not being capable; and, if he ever wrote such a letter to the son of our Racine, God must certainly have endowed him with the gift of tongues, by way of recompense for having composed so wonderful a work as his “Essay on Man.”