"That's awesome," said someone in the front row.
"Yes," agreed the prof. "Pope was awesome."
Personally I think the 18th century was just wacky. Case in point: mercurial plasters. Cited in one of the Thralina stories about Johnson. Being: bandages soaked in mercury.
Conclusion: People of the 18th century WERE CRAZY.
Probably because of the mercury.
Cause or effect? You decide!