Alexander Pope: The Critical Heritage

By John Barnard | Go to book overview
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'ETHICK EPISTLES' (an abandoned project)


An Essay on Man, the Moral Essays, and other poems were to have formed part of this grandiose structure: further, see p. 18 above.


Bolingbroke and Swift comment

1734, 1736

(a) Henry St John, Viscount Bolingbroke, extract from letter to Swift, 27 June-6 July 1734, The Correspondence of Jonathan Swift, ed. Sir H. Williams (1963), iv. 242.

I am glad you approve his moral essays. 1 they will do more good than the sermons and writings of some who had a mind to find great fault with them, and if the doctrines taught, hinted att, and implyed in them, and the trains of consequences deducible from these doctrines were to be disputed in prose, I think he would have no reason to apprehend either the free-thinkers on the one hand, or the narrow Dogmatists on the other. Some very few things may be expressed a little hardly, but none are I believe, unintelligible.

(b) Jonathan Swift, extract from letter to Pope, 2 December 1736, ibid., iv. 547.

...I had reason to expect from some of your Letters that we were to hope for more Epistles of Morality, and I assure you, my Acquaintance resents that they have not Seen my name at the head of one. The Subjects of Such Epistles are more usefull to the Publick, by your manner of

1 [The 'Ethick Epistles' were referred to under various titles]


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