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'Twas no Court-badge,greatScriv'ner! fir'd thy brain, Nor lordly Luxury, nor City Gain :
146 No, 'twas thy righteous end, alham'd to see Senates degen’rate, Patriots disagree, And nobly wishing Party-rage to cease, To buy both sides, and give thy Country peace. 150
“ All this is madness,” cries a sober sage: But who, my friend, has reason in his rage? “ The ruling Passion, be it what it will, “ The ruling Passion conquers Reason ftill.”
COMMENTARY. VER. 151. “ All this is madness,” &c.] But now the Sage, who has confined himself to books, which prescribe the government of the pasions ; and never looked out upon the world, where he might see them let loose, and, like Milton's devils, riding the air in whirlwind, cries out, All this is madness. True, replies the poet (from Ý 151 to 177) but this madness is a common one, and only to be prevented by a severe attention to the rule laid down in the Elay,
Reason still use, to Reason ftill attend, Ep. ii. 368. for with the generality of men, and without the greatest circumfpection,
The ruling Pallion, be it what it will,
The ruling Paffion conquers Reason fill. But then (continues he) as wild as this passion appears, by the fway of its overbearing bias, it would be still more senseless had it no bias at all. You have seen us here intermix with the real, the most fantastical and extravagant that imagination could form ; yet even these are less extravagant than a ruling Pasion without a constant aim. Would you know the reason? then listen to this important truth : “'Tis Heaven itself that gives “ the ruling Pasion, and thereby directs different men to dif« ferent ends: But these being exerted through the ministry of
Less mad the wildest whimsey we can frame, 155
Hear then the truth: “ 'Tis Heav'n each Passion
“ And diff'rent men directs to diffrent ends. 160 “ Extremes in Nature equal good produce, “ Extremes in Man concur to gen’ral use.
* ¥ 151,
COMMENTARY. « NATURE (of whom the great Bacon truly observes, modum "tenere nefcia eft, Aug. Scient. 1. ii. t. 13.) they are very apt $6 to run into extremes : To correct which, Heaven, at the “ fame time, added the moderatrix Reason; not to take the “ ruling Paffion out of the hands and ministry of Nature, but . “ to restrain and rectify its irregular impulfes (See Elay, Ep. ii.
& seq.) and what extremes, after this, remained un« corrected in the administration of this weak Queen (x-140, « Ep. ü.) the divine artist himself has, in his heavenly lill and « bounty, set to rights; by so ordering, that these of the moral, 6 like those of the natural world, should, even by the very "" means of their contrariety and diversity, concur to defeat the “ malignity of one another :
Extremes in Nature equal good produce,
Extremes in Man concur to gen’ral use. « For as the various seasons of the year are supported and fuf“ tained by the reconciled extremes of Wet and Dry, Cold and “ Heat; so all the orders and degrees of civil life are kept up " by Avarice and Profusion, Selfishness and Vanity. The Miser “ being but the Steward of the Prodigal ; and only so much the • more backward as the other is violent and precipitate:”.
This year a Reservoir, to keep and spare;
Ask we what makes one keep, and one bestow ?
Riches, like insects, when conceal’d they lie,
VER. 173. This year a Re may be both useful and ornafervoir, to keep and spare ; The mental amongst the other imnex., a Fountain, spouting thro' provements of art; yet in a his Heir,] Besides the obvious State of Nature either kind of beauties of this fine fimilitude, excess would be pernicious ; it has one ftill more exquisite, because, in that State, the quantho' less observable, which is tity of natural goods, unimits being taken from a circum proved by art, would not fufstance in the most elegant part fer, without great danger of of improved life. For tho' in want to the whole body, ei. Society, the follies of hoard ther an immoderate hoarding, ing and squandering may cor or a lavish profusion. And rect each other, and produce therefore Providence has wisereal advantage to the whole; ly ordered that, in that State, as Reservoirs and Fountains 1 by there being no fantastic
Old Cotta sham'd his fortune and his birth,
COMMENTARY: Ver. 177. Old Cotta sam’d his furtune &c.] The poet now proceeds to support the principles of his Philosophy by examples : But before we come to these, it will be necessary to look back upon the general economy of the
poem. In the first part, to y 109, the use and abuse of Riches are satirically delivered in precept. From thence, to ý 177, the causes of the abuse are philosophically inquired into : And from thence to the end, the use and abuse are historically illustrated in examples. Where we may observe, that the conclusion of the first part, concerning the Miser's cruelty to others, naturally introduces the second, by a satirical apology, shewing that he is full as cruel to himself: The explanation of which extraordinary phenomenon brings the author into the Philosophy of his subject;
But when by Man's audacious labour won,
IMITATIONS. Ver. 182. With foups unbought,]
-dapibus menfas onerabat inemptis. VIRG. P.
To cram the Rich was prodigal expence, 185
COMMENTARY. and this ending in an observation of Avarice and Profufion's correcting and reconciling one another, as naturally introduces the third, which proves the truth of the observation from fact. And thus the Philosophy of his subject standing between his Precepts and Examples, gives strength and light to both, and receives it reflected back again from both.
He first gives us two examples (from ø 176 to 219) of these opposite ruling Passions, and (to see them in their full force) taken from subjects, as he tells us, not void of wit or worth; from such as could reason themselves (as we see by ý 183, & feqq. and y 205, & feqq) into the whole length of each extreme: For the poet had observed of the ruling pasion, that
Wit, Spirit, Faculties, but make it worse;
Ellay, Ep. ii. $ 146. Old Cotta therefore and his son afforded him the most happy illuftration of his own doctrine.