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HERE then we rest: “ The Universal Cause
VARIATIONS. Ver. 1. In several Edit. in 4to.
Learn, Dulness, learn! “ The Universal Cause," &c.
NOTES. Ver. 1. The Universal Cause] Voltaire concludes his objections to Optimism with the following words: “Ce système, du tout est bien, ne represente l'auteur de toute la nature que comme un roi puissant et mal-faisant, qui ne s'embarrasse pas qu'il en coute la vie à quatre ou cinq cent mille hommes, et que les autres trainent leurs jours dans la disette et dans les larmes, pourvû qu'il vienne à tout de ses desseins. Loins donc que l'opinion du meilleur des mondes possible console, elle est désespérante pour les philosophes qui l'embrassent. La question du bien et du mal demeure un cahos indebrouillable pour ceux qui cherchent de bonne foi; c'est un jeu d'esprit pour ceux qui disputent; ils sont des forçats qui jouent avec leurs chaines. Pour le peuple non pensant, il ressemble assez à des poissons qu'on a transporter d'une riviére dans un reservoir ; ils ne se doutent pas qu'ils sont là pour être mangés le carême; aussi ne sçavons-nous rien du tout par
nous-mêmes des causes de notre destinée. Mettons à la fin de presque tous les chapitres de Metaphysique les deux lettres des juges Romains quand ils n'entendent pas une cause. N. L. non liquet, cela n'est pas clair.”
Ver. 3. superfluous health,] Immoderate labour and immoderate study are equally the impairers of health: They, whose stations sets them above both, must needs have an abundance of it, which not being employed in the common service, but wasted in Luxury and Folly, the Poet properly calls a superfluity, W.
Ver. 4. impudence of wealth,] Because wealth pretends to be
Let this great truth be present night and day; 5 But most be present, if we preach or pray.
Look round our World ; behold the chain of Love Combining all below and all above.
NOTES, wisdom, wit, learning, honesty, and, in short, all the virtues in their turns.
Ver. 3, 4, 5, 6. M. Du Resnel, not seeing into the admirable purpose of the caution contained in these four lines, hath quite dropped the most material circumstances contained in the last of them; and, what is worse, for the sake of a foolish antithesis, hath destroyed the whole propriety of the thought in the two first: and so, between both, hath left his Author neither sense nor system.
“Dans le sein du bonheur, ou de l'adversité." Now of all men, those in adversity have least need of this caution, as being least apt to forget, That God consults the good of the whole, and provides for it by procuring mutual happiness by means of mutual wants; it being seen that such who yet retain the smart of any fresh calamity, are most compassionate to others labouring under distresses, and most prompt and ready to relieve them. W.
Ver. 7. Look round our World, &c.] He introduceth the system of human Sociability (Ver. 7, 8), by shewing it to be the dictate of the Creator; and that Man, in this, did but follow the example of general Nature, which is united in one close system of benevolence. W.
“The bush protects that acorn which becomes an oak. The grass maintains the noblest animals. Thus does the vegetable nature both help itself and help the animal. Again, blights and blasts destroy the tender plant, and breed contagions and pests among animals. Thus does the vegetable, or at least inanimate nature, both hurt itself and hurt the animal. By the industry of man and the dung of animals, the vegetable nature is fertilized and cultivated. The parent animal nourishes its young,
and defends them at a season when of themselves defenceless. Thus does the animal nature both keep itself and help the vegetable. Again, by man and beast are vegetables destroyed; and by man and beast are man and beast destroyed. Thus does the animal nature both hurt itself and hurt the vegetable. Friendship and strife are concurrent principles. By friendship are prevented
See plastic Nature working to this end,
NOTES. chaos and confusion; by strife are prevented sloth and lethargy. By strife all powers are roused to action; and by friendship they are tempered into harmony and concord.” MSS. of Harris.And again;
“Hence we perceive the meaning of what Heraclitus says in Plutarch, when he calls War the father, and king, and lord, of all things; and asserts that when Homer prayed
* That strife be banish'd both from God and men,' he was not aware that he was cursing the generation of all things, as in fact, they deduce their rise out of contest and antipathy."
Ver. 12. Form'd and impell'd, &c.] To make Matter so cohere as to fit it for the uses intended by its Creator, a proper configuration of its insensible parts is as necessary as that quality so equally and universally conferred upon it, called Attraction. To express the first part of this thought, our author says form’d: and to express the latter impelld. W.
Ver. 15. See dying vegetables) Pope has again copied Shaftesbury so closely in this passage, as to use almost his very words; “Thus, in the several terrestrial forms, a resignation is required: a sacrifice, and mutual yielding of nature, one to another. The vegetables, by their death, sustain the animals; and the animal bodies dissolved enrich the earth, and raise again the vegetable world. The numerous insects are reduced by the superior kinds of birds or beasts: and these again are checked by man, who in his turn submits to other natures, and resigns his form a sacrifice in common to the rest of things. And if in natures so little exalted or pre-eminent above each other, the sacrifice of interest can appear so just; how much more reasonably may all inferior
All forms that perish other forms supply
natures be subjected to the superior nature of the world !” The Moralist, p. 130. Whatever censures Shaftesbury has incurred for his many
indecent and groundless objections against the Christian religion, yet we ought candidly to confess, that two of his treatises, The Enquiry concerning Virtue, and the Moralists, deserve attention and applause. The former is written with great perspicuity of method and closeness of argument, and with a purity and simplicity of style very different from the over-ornamented, tumid style of many of his other works. The latter is perhaps the finest imitation of the manner of Plato, as Lord Monboddo has shewn at large, in our language. In both are advanced the most cogent arguments for an Intelligent First Cause, and the benevolence, wisdom, and goodness, of a superintending Providence. Our author has therefore been guilty of manifest injustice in insinuating, in the last book of the Dunciad, ver. 418, that the very Theocles, from whom he has copied so much, and so many of whose sentiments and arguments he has adopted, is a preacher of Fate and Naturalism. And what is still more inexcusable, the words of Theocles are imperfectly quoted in the note of this passage of the Dunciad, in order to give a colour to the insinuation ; for after the words “empowered Creatress," the two following ones“or Thou," are unfairly omitted. See Characteristics, vol. ii.
The first book of the Enquiry ends with a sentence far remote from irreligion and epicurism: “ Hence we may determine justly the relation which virtue has to piety; the first being not complete without the latter; since, where the latter is wanting, there can be neither the same benignity, firmness, nor constancy; the same good composure of the affections, nor uniformity of mind. And thus the perfection and height of virtue must be owing to the belief of a God!" Vol. ii. p. 76.
In a letter of Dr. Warburton, transcribed from the manuscripts of Dr. Birch, in the British Museum, by the late Mr. Maty, are these remarkable words: “ As to the passages of Mr. Pope that correspond with Leibnitz, you know he took them from Shaftesbury; and that Shaftesbury and Leibnitz had one common original, Plato, whose system at the best, when pushed as far as Leibnitz has carried it, must end in Fate.” A strange opinion once
Like bubbles on the sea of Matter born,
prevailed, that Leibnitz was not serious in his Theodicée. Le Clerc and De Maiseaux were of this opinion. But Mr. Jourdan, in his entertaining Voyage Literaire, p. 150, has produced a letter of the celebrated and learned Mr. Le Croze, that effectually destroys this absurd supposition.
I shall add to this long note, that it seems to be an insufferable instance of affectation in Bolingbroke, never once to have mentioned Shaftesbury, who was much his superior in learning and philosophy, and from whom he has borrowed so many sentiments and opinions. See also Letters of Shaftesbury to a Young Clergyman.
Ver. 19, 20. Like bubbles, &c.] M. Du Resnel translates these two lines thus :
“ Sort du neant y réntre, et reparoit au jour.” He is here, indeed, consistently wrong: for having (as we said) mistaken the Poet's account of the preservation of Matter for the creation of it, he commits the very same mistake with regard to the vegetable and animal systems; and so talks now, though with the latest, of the production of things out of nothing. Indeed, by his speaking of their returning into nothing, he has subjected his author to M. Du Crousaz's censure. “ Mr. Pope descends to the most vulgar prejudices, when he tells us that each being returns to nothing: the Vulgar think that what disappears is annihilated," &c. Comm. p. 221. W.
Ver. 22. One all-extending, all-preserving Soul] Which, in the language of Sir Isaac Newton, is, “ Deus omnipræsens est, non per virtutem solam, sed etiam per substantiam : nam virtus sine substantia subsistere non potest.” Newt. Princ. Schol. gen. sub fin. W.
Ver. 23. Greatest with the least ;] As acting more strongly and immediately in beasts, whose instinct is plainly an external rea