Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/200

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570 DAVID MALLET.


it was generally believed at tlie time, was the person who informed liis lord- ship of the transaction, but it has never been sufficiently proved that he was the unworthy author. Mr George Rose, to whom all the particulars of the story were related by the earl of Marchmont, the intimate friend of Boling- broke, gives us an account of the discovery which clears Mallet of all blame. " On the circumstance," he says, " being made known to lord Bolingbroke, who was then a guest in his own house at Battersea with lord Marchmont, to whom he had lent it for two or three years, his lordship was in great indigna- tion ; to appease which, lord Marchmont sent Mr Grevinkop to bring out the whole edition, of which a bonfire was instantly made on the Terrace at Bat- tersea." This, however, did not by any means appease his lordship's angry feelings. He determined on revising and publishing the work himself, and employed Mallet to write a preface, in which the part that Pope had acted was to be set forth to the world in the blackest and falsest colours possible. To the lasting disgrace of his character, he was found ready to stoop to so vile and dis- honourable a task. It would be vain to seek for any palliation of such egregious turpitude. He was rich, and placed beyond the craving temptation of lending himself to any one, however high in rank or interest, to defile his pen by so unworthy a task. But no compunctious visiting of honour ever once stayed his hand, or prevented him from heaping the most malignant abuse upon his departed friend, for an affair in which, it is evident, there was nothing dis- honourable intended, either on the part of Pope or Allen. Every fact that could tend to exonerate Mr Pope, particularly the share his friend had in the business, and the careful suppression of the copies until Bolingbroke's permis- sion for their publication could be procured is studiously concealed. " How far Mallet was acquainted with all these circumstances we cannot pretend to affirm." Nor need any one care about the proportions in which they divide the infamy between them.

The unmitigated resentment of lord Bolingbroke, for the evidently uninten- tional error of a friend whom he almost worshipped while living, is endeavour- ed to be accounted for by the preference Pope gave to Warburton, whom Boling- broke could never endure. Be that as it may ; if true, it only proves the meanness of his lordship's character, and how much mistaken Pope was in the man whose name he embalmed within his deathless pnge, as a pattern for the most exalted and disinterested friendship. But though such may have been his lordship's feelings, pride must have made him conceal the true cause from Mal- let, who had nothing but the sordid temptation of a ready hireling to incite him to the odious task. He was rewarded for this service at the death of lord Bolingbroke, by the bequest of his lordship's works, with the care and profit of those already published, as well as all his manuscripts.

Mallet, who cared as little for the fame or character of his noble benefactor as he did for the illustrious friend he was hired to traduce, with the true spirit of avarice, raked up every scrap of Bolingbroke's writings for publication, without in the least discriminating what ought to be suppressed, though many of the papers contained the most offensive doctrines, subversive of sound morals and revealed religion ; the consequence was, that his hopes of gain were very pro- perly frustrated by a presentment which arose from a decision of the grand jury of Westminster, stopping the obnoxious works. This must have sorely af- fected him, for, before the publication of the five vols. 4to, in 1754, he was offered, by one Millar, a bookseller, 3000 for his copyright, which he refused. After all, the sale was so extremely slow, that it took upwards of twenty years to dispose of the first edition, though assisted by the notoriety of the prosecu- tion of the work. He next appears as an author in, if possible, a more odious