« PoprzedniaDalej »
Man, like the gen'rous vine, supported lives;
COMMENTARY. VER. 311. Man, like the gen'rous vine, &c.] Having thus largely considered Man in his focial capacity, the Poet, in order to fix a momentous truth in the mind of his reader, concludes the epiftle in recapitulating the two Principles which concur to the support of this part of his character, namely, SELF-Love and SOCIAL; and in shewing that they are only two different motions of the appetite to Good, by which the Author of Nature hath enabled Man to find his own happiness in the happiness of the whole. This he illustratès with a thought as sublime as that general harmony which he describes :
" On their own Axis as the Planets run,
Yet make at once their circle round the Sun;
Thus God and Nature link'd the gen’ral frame,
And bade Self-love and Social be the same.” For he hath the art of converting poetical ornament into philofophic reasoning ; and of improving a fimile into an analogical argument ; of which, more in our next.
WARBURTON. NOTES. “ Digladient alii circa res religionis :
Quod credas nihil est, fit modo vita proba." But “ digladient is a barbarism; he should have said, digladientur, or contendant," says Dr. Jortin.
WARTON. Ver. 313. On their own Axis] This illustration is plainly taken from the Spectator, No. 588, said to be written by Mr. Grove : « Is therefore Benevolence iriconlistent with Self-love? Are their motions contrary? No more than the diurnal rotation of the earth is opposed to its annual ; or its motion round its own centre : which might be improved as an illustration of Self-love ; that whirls it about the common centre of the world, answering to universal benevolence. Is the force of Self-love abated, or its
So two consistent motions act the Soul;
315 And one regards Itself, and one the Whole.
Thus God and Nature link'd the gen’ral frame, And bade Self-love and Social be the same.
interest prejudiced by benevolence ?' So far from it, that benevolence, though a distinct principle, is extremely serviceable to Selflove, and then doth most service when it is leaft designed.”
WARTON. VER. 315. a&t the Soul ;] It should certainly be afluate, or a& upon. He has used this expreflion again, Iliad xv. v. 487.
This acted by a God.” Such inaccuracies are not worth remarking, but in writers so correct and eminent as our Author, left they should give a fanction to errors. Dr. Lowth in his Grammar has pointed out several in our Author's Works.
WARTON. Ver. 318. And bade Self-love] The remarks of Warburton on the Essay on Man, on the Moral Epistles, and the Alliance betwixt Church and State, were translated into French by M. De Silhouette ; for which translation, supposing it contained opinions unfavourable to the despotic government of France, he was much censured, and had nearly been prosecuted, when he became Controller-General of the Finances; and he immediately bought up and destroyed all the copies of this work that could be found.
In this paffage (ver. 318.) Pope uses the very words of Bolingbroke: “ Thus it happens that Self-love and Social are divided, and set in opposition to one another in the conduct of particular men, whilst in the making laws, and the regulation of government, they continue the fame." Minutes of Essays, fection 51. addressed to Pope.
OUR Poet having, in the three former Epistles, treated of Man in all the three respects in which he can be considered ; namely, first, Of his Nature and State with respect to the Univerfe ; fecondly, With respect to Himself; thirdly, With respect to Society : seems to have finished his fubject in the three foregoing Epistles. This fourth Epistle, therefore, on Happiness, may be thought to be adfcititious, and out of its proper place, and ought to have made part of the second Epistle, where Man is considered with respect to Himself. I formerly mentioned this to Dr. Akenfide and Mr. Harris, who were of my opinion.
ARGUMENT OF EPISTLE IV.
Of the Nature and State of Man, with respect to
Happiness. I. FALSE Notions of Happiness, Philosophical and Popular,
answered from Ver. 19 to 27. II. It is the End of all Men, and attainable by all, Ver. 30. God intends Happiness to be equal; and to be fo, it must be focial, since all particular Happinefs depends on general, and since he governs by general, not particular Laws, Ver. 37. As it is necessary for Order, and the peace and welfare of Society, that external goods should be unequal, Happiness is not made to confift in these, Ver. 51. But, notwithstanding that inequality, the balance of Happiness among Mankind is kept even by Providence, by the two Passions of Hope and Fear, Ver. 70. III. What the Happiness of Individuals is, as far as is consistent with the constitution of this world, and that the good Man has here the advantage, Ver. 77. The error of imputing to Virtue what are only the calamities of Nature, or of Fortune, Ver. 94. IV. The folly of expecting that God should alter his general Laws in favour of particulars, Ver. 121. V. That we are not judges who are good; but that whoever they are, they must be happiest, Ver. 133, &c. VI. That external goods are not the proper rewards, but often inconsistent with, or destructive of, Virtue, Ver. 165. That even these can make no Man happy without Virtue : Instanced in Riches, Ver. 183. Honours, Ver. 191. Nobility, Ver. 203. Greatness, Ver. 215. Fame, Ver. 235. Superior Talents, Ver. 257, &c. With pictures of human Infelicity in Men podeljed of them all, Ver. 267, &c. VII. That Virtue only constitutes a Happiness, whose object is universal, and whose prospect eternal, Ver. 307, &c. That the perfection of Virtue and Happiness confifts in, a conformity to the ORDER of PROVIDENCE here, and a Resignation to it here and hereafter, Ver. 326, &c.
EPIST L E IV.
H HAPPINESS! our being's end and aim!
Oh Happiness ! to which we all aspire,
COMMENTARY. THE two foregoing Epistles having considered Man with regard to the MEANS (that is, in all his relations, whether as an Individual, or a Member of Society), this last comes to consider him with regard to the End, that is, Happiness. It
opens with an Invocation to HAPPINESS, in the manner of the ancient Poets; who, when deftitute of a patron God, applied to the Muse; and if she was not at leisure, took up with any fimple Virtue next at hand, to inspire and prosper their under takings. This was the ancient Invocation, which few modern Poets have had the art to imitate with any degree either of spirit or decorum : but our Author hath contrived to make his fubfervient to the method and reasoning of his philofophic compofition. I will endeavour to explain fo uncommon a beauty.
It is to be observed that the pagan Deities had each their several names and places of abode ; with some of which they were supposed
Ver. 1. Oh Happinefs!] He begins his address to Happiness after the manner of the ancient hymns, by enumerating the titles