20 February 1733-24 January 1734
Pope, extract from letter to John Caryll, 8 March 1733, Corresp., iii. 354.
Since An Essay on Man was published anonymously, Pope was able to write to Caryll keeping up the pretence.
The town is now very full of a new poem intitled an Essay on Man, attributed, I think with reason, to a divine. It has merit in my opinion but not so much as they give it; at least it is incorrect and has some inaccuracies in the expressions; one or two of an unhappy kind, for they may cause the author's sense to be turned, contrary to what I think his intention a little unorthodoxically. Nothing is so plain as that he quits his proper subject, this present world, to insert his belief of a future state and yet there is an If instead of a Since that would overthrow his meaning and at the end he uses the Words God, the Soul of the World, which at first glance may be taken for heathenism, while his whole paragraph proves him quite Christian in his system, from Man up to Seraphim. I want to know your opinion of it after twice or thrice reading. I give you my thoughts very candidly of it, tho' I find there is a sort of faction to set up the author and his piece in opposition to me and my little things, which I confess are not of so much importance as to the subject, but I hope they conduce to morality in their way, which way is at least more generally to be understood and the seasoning of satire renders it more palatable to the generality.