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From pride, from pride, our very reas’ning springs ;
Better for Us, perhaps, it might appear, 165
NOTES. Ver. 162. Account for moral,] Their natures are so very dissimilar, that they cannot, and ought not, to be accounted for by the same arguments. Men suffer and feel; elements, and únconscious inanimate beings, cannot. Evil must be felt before it is evil. Such different objects require different treatment. “If Nature,” says the commentator, “ or the inanimate system on which God hath imposed his laws, which it obeys, as a machine obeys the hand of the workman, may, in course of time, deviate from its first direction, as the best philosophy shews it may, where is the wonder that man, who was created a free agent, and hath it in his power every moment to transgress the eternal rule of right, should sometimes go out of order ?” Are free agents, and beings accountable, because they are free, to be put on the same footing as the inanimate system? The infidel is for ever asking, Why was man endowed with a faculty so dangerous, and so easily abused ?
Ver. 167. That never air or ocean] An acute critic asks if it should not beThat never earth or ocean ?-not air.
Ver. 169. But All subsists, &c.] See this subject extended in Epistle ii. from Ver. 90 to 112, 155, &c.
Ver. 171. The general Order,] It seems utterly impossible to explain these two remarkable lines in a way at all reconcilable to the doctrine of a lapsed condition of man, which opinion is
VI. What would this Man? Now upward will he
soar, And little less than Angels, would be more ; Now looking downwards, just as griev'd appears 175 To want the strength of bulls, the fur of bears. Made for his use all creatures if he call, Say, what their use, had he the pow’rs of all; Nature to these, without profusion, kind, The proper organs, proper pow’rs assign'd; 180 Each seeming want compensated of course, Here with degrees of swiftness, there of force;
NOTES. the chief foundation of the Christian revelation, and the capital argument for the necessity of redemption.
“That system of philosophy,” says an able writer, “ which professes to justify the ways of God to man, without having recourse to the doctrine of a future state, must ever be considered as in the highest degree inimical to religion, whose very nature and essence it is to direct our views beyond the narrow limits of the present state of existence." See Essays Philosophical, Historical, and Literary, p. 399, for some very acute observations on the Essay on Man.
Pope in these lines uses almost the very words of Bolingbroke: “To think worthily of God, we must think that the natural order of things has always been the same; and that a being of infinite wisdom and knowledge, to whom the past and the future are like the present, and who wants no experience to inform him, can have no reason to alter what infinite wisdom and knowledge have once done.” Section 58. Essays to Pope.
Ver. 174. And little less than Angels, &c.] Thou hast made him a little lower than the Angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Psalm viii. 9. .
Ver. 182. Here with degrees of swiftness, &c.] It is a certain axiom in the anatomy of creatures, that in proportion as they are formed for strength, their swiftness is lessened; or as they are formed for swiftness, their strength is abated. P.
All in exact proportion to the state ;
The bliss of Man (could Pride that blessing find)
Ver. 183. All in exact proportion] I cannot forbear thinking, that a little French treatise on Providence, published at Paris, 1728, formed on the principles of Leibnitz, somewhat moderated, had fallen into the hands both of Bolingbroke and Pope, from the great similarity of the reasoning there employed.
Ver. 186. Is Heav’n unkind to Man,] Cudworth, Leibnitz, King, Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Balguy, have all strenuously argued for the prepollency of good to evil in our present system; but none more forcibly than Balguy from p. 103 to p. 125 of his Divine Benevolence.
Ver. 202. And stunn'd him] The argument certainly required an instance drawn from real sound, and not from the imaginary music of the spheres. Locke's illustration of this doctrine is not
How would he wish that Heav'n had left him still
VII. Far as Creation's ample range extends,
only proper but poetical: “If our sense of hearing were but one thousand times quicker than it is, how would a perpetual noise distract us; and we should, in the quietest retirement, be less able to sleep or meditate, than in the middle of a sea-fight." In line before 193, the expression of microscopic eye is from Locke.
Ver. 207. Far as Creation's ample range extends,] He tells us (from Ver. 206 to 233), that the complying with such extravagant desires would not only be useless and pernicious to Man, but would be breaking into the order, and deforming the beauty, of God's Creation, in which this animal is subject to that, and every one to Man ; who by his Reason enjoys the sum of all their powers. W.
In the present improved state of Reason, poets of philosophy will be preferred to poets of fancy. It may be doubted whether our author has excelled Dryden in the art of reasoning in rhyme, whose Religio Laici, and Hind and Panther, are in this respect admirable ; though the fable of the latter abounds in absurdities and inconsistencies.
Ver. 209. Mark how it mounts,] When it is said that Pope was guilty of some contradictions and some inconsistencies in his reasonings on the best, let us also remember that so also was his guide and philosophical friend, who, it is to be wished, had always expressed himself as in the following terms, p. 121. v. 5.
“ Methinks I hear a sincere and devout theist, in the midst of such meditations as these, cry out, “No; the world was not made for man, nor man only to be happy. The objections urged by atheists and divines against the wisdom and goodness of the Supreme Being, on these arbitrary suppositions, destroy their own foundations. Mankind is exposed, as well as other animals,
What modes of sight betwixt each wide extreme,
to many inconveniences and to various evils, by the constitution of the world. The world was not, therefore, made for him, nor he to be happy. But he enjoys numberless benefits, by the fitness of his nature to this constitution, unasked, unmerited, freely bestowed. He returns, like other animals, to the dust ; yet neither he nor they are willing to leave the state wherein they are placed here. The wisdom and the goodness of God are therefore manifest. I thank thee, O my Creator! that I am placed in a rank, low in the whole order of being, but the first in that animal system to which I belong : a rank wherein I am made capable of knowing thee, and of discovering thy will, the perfection of my own nature, and the means of my own happiness. Far be it from me to repine at my present state, like those who deny thee; or like those who own thee, only to censure thy works and the dispensations of thy providence. May I enjoy thankfully the benefits bestowed on me by thy divine liberality! May I suffer the evils, to which I stand exposed, patiently, nay willingly! None of thy creatures are made to be perfectly, happy like thyself; nor did thy goodness require that they should be so. Such of them as are more worthy objects of it than thy human creatures, superior natures that inhabit other worlds, may be affected in some degree or other by physical evils, since these are effects of the general laws of matter and motion. They must be affected too, in some degree or other, by moral evil, since moral evil is the consequence of error, as well as of disorderly appetites and passions, and since error is the consequence of imperfect understanding. Less of this evil may prevail among them. But all that is finite, the most exalted intelligences, must be liable to some errors. Thou, O God! that Being who is liable to none, and to whom infallibility and impeccability belong,
*Duc me, parens celsique dominator poli,
Adsum impiger*.?” Ver. 210. From the green myriads] These lines are admirable patterns of forcible diction. The peculiar and discriminating
* Sen. Ep. 107.