HENRY ST JOHN, VISCOUNT BOLINGBROKE
OF all the political thinkers of the Augustan Age none was so eminent or so highly applauded during his life, none so profoundly despised or generally rejected after his death, as Henry St John, the Lord Viscount Bolingbroke. To his contemporaries, in the days of his magnificent prime, he seemed to be the embodiment of all that was splendid and effective among men. High in rank, handsome in person, stately in deportment, polished in manners, cultivated in mind, quick in wit, fascinating in conversation, unrivalled in oratorical power, a scholar, a linguist, a bold and original speculator, a capable administrator, a skilled diplomatist, a dæmonic actor, a finished courtier and man of the world--he appeared to be almost superhuman in his gifts and graces, or, at the very least, "not one, but all mankind's epitome." Jonathan Swift, who was not too well disposed toward the human race at large, said of him when he was still youthful (in a letter to Stella, November 3, 1711) that he was the greatest young man he ever knew, marked by wit, capacity, beauty, quickness of apprehension, good learning, and excellent taste; the best orator in the House of Commons, admirable conversation, good nature and good manners, generous, and a despiser of money. A quarter of a century later Alexander Pope, also inclined to general misanthropy, writing to Swift, said ( March 25, 1736):
I have lately seen some writings of Lord B's, since he went to France. Nothing can depress his genius. Whatever befalls him, he will still be the greatest man in the world, either in his own time, or with posterity.
Shortly afterward, in a letter to Bolingbroke himself ( September 3, 1740) he exclaimed, with an amusing play upon his own name, "I would, if I were Pope, canonize you, what-