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With too much knowledge for the Sceptic fide, 5
With too much weakness for the Stoic's pride,
He hangs between; in doubt to act, or reft;
In doubt to deem himself a God, or Beast;


COMMENTARY. knowledge of our own Nature: You must mock us when you talk of this as a study ; for sure we are intimately acquainted with OURSELVES. The proper conclusion therefore from your demonstration of our inability to comprehend the ways of God, is, that we should turn ourselves to the study of the frame of NATURE. Thus, I say, would they be apt to object; for, of all Men, those who call themselves Free-thinkers are most given up to Pride; especially that kind of it, which consists in a boasted knowledge of their own nature, the effects of which are so well

NOTES. two objects equally wrong, the run into the very absurdity cafe had appeared desperate, which, I have here shewn, Mr. and all study of Man had been Pope so artfully avoided. Of effectually discouraged.' But which, the learned Reader his Translator, M. De Refnel, may take the following examnot seeing the reason and ples. The Poet says, beauty of this conduct, hath

Man acts between; in doubt to act, or rest. Now he tells us 'tis Man's their principle the latter word duty to alt, not rest, as the alludes, whose Virtue, as he Stoics thought; and, to this says afterwards, is

fix'd as in a Frost,
Contracted all, retiring to the breast :

But strength of mind is EXERCISE not REST.
Now hear the Translator, who is not for mincing matters,

Seroit-il en naissant au travail condamné ?

Aux douceurs du répos feroit-il destiné ? and these are both wrong, for yet indulged in the Luxury of Man is neither condemned to repose. Again, the Poet, in a savis Toil and Labour, nor beautiful allusion to Scripture

In doubt his Mind or Body to prefer ;
Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err;


COMMENTARY. exposed in the first Epistle. The poet, therefore, to convince them that this study is less easy than they imagine, replies (from * 2 to 19) to the first part of the objection, by describing the dark and feeble state of the human Understanding, with regard to the knowledge of ourselyes. And farther, to strengthen this argument, he fhews, in answer to the second part of the objection (from y 18 to 31) that the highest advances in natural knowledge may be easily acquired, and yet we, all the while, continue very ignorant of ourselves. For that neither the clearest science, which results from the Newtonian philosophy, nor the most fublime, which is taught by the Platonic, will at all affift us in this felf-study; nay, what is more, that Religion itself, when grown fanatical and enthusiastic, will be equally useless: Though pure and sober Religion will best instruct us in Man's Nature, that knowledge being essential to Religion, whose subject is Man considered in all his relations; and, consequently, whose object is God.

NOTES. sentiments, breaks out into on man's condition here, this just and moral reflection

Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err. The Translator turns this fine most outragious Scepticism; and sober thought into the

Ce n'est que pour mourir, qu'il est , qu'il respire,

Et toute la raison n'est presque qu'un delire. and so makes his Author di- | he says of Man, that he hath rectly contradict himself, where

too much knowledge for the Sceptic side. VER. 10. Born but to die, hend fome few truths. This &c.] The author's meaning is the weak state of Reason, is, that, as we are born to die, in which Error mixes itself and yet enjoy some small por- with all its true conclusions tion of life; fo, though we concerning Man's Nature. reason to err, yet we compre

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Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little, or too much:
Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus’d;
Still by himself abus’d, or disabus’d;
Created half to rise, and half to fall;

Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
Sole judge of Truth, in endless Error hurl'd:
The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!

After x 18. in the MS.

For more perfection than this state can bear
In vain we figh, Heav'n made us as we are.

NOTES. Ver. II. Alike in igno- point where use is reasonably rance, &c.] i. e. The proper fupposed to end, and mere sphere of his Reason is so nar- curiosity to begin; they conrow, and the exercise of it so

clude in the most extravagant nice, that the too immoderate and senseless inferences, such use of it is attended with the as the unreality of matter; same ignorance that proceeds the reality of space; the ferfrom the not using it at all. vility of the Will, &c. The Yet, tho' in both these cases, reason of this sudden fall out he is abused by himself, he has of full light into utter darkness it still in his own power to

appears not to result from the disabuse himself, in making his natural condition of things, Paffions fubfervient to the but to be the arbitrary decree means, and regulating his Rea- of infinite wisdom and goodfon by the end of Life.

ness, which impofed a barrier Ver. 12: Whether he thinks to the extravagances of its too little, or too much :) This is giddy lawless creature, also true, that ignorance arifes as ways inclined to pursue truths well from pushing our enquiries of less importance too far, to too far, as from not carrying the neglect of those more nethem far enough, that we may cessary for his improvement in observe, when Speculations, his station here. even in Science, are carried VER-17. Sole judge of Truth, beyond a certain point; that in endless Error hurld:] Some

Go, wond'rous creature ! mount where Science guides,

19 Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides ;

As wisely sure a modest Ape might aim
To be like Man, whose faculties and frame
He sees, he feels, as you or I to be
An Angel thing we neither know nor see.
Observe how near he edges on our race;
What human tricks ! how risible of face !
It must be fo-why else have I the sense
Of more than monkey charms and excellence?
Why else to walk on two so oft essay’d?
And why this ardent longing for a Maid?
So Pug might plead, and call his Gods unkind
Till fet on end and married to his mind.

NOTES. have imagined that the author, about in endless error ; and this by, in endless error hursd, he intended they should figmeant, cast into endless error, nify, as appears from the antior into the regions of endlefs thesis, fole judge of truth. So error, and therefore have taken that the sense of the whole is, notice of it as an incongruity " Tho', as fole judge of of speech. But they neither “ truth, he is now fixed and understood the poet's language, “ stable; yet, as involved in nor his sense, to hurl and cast endless error, he is now again are not fynonymous; but are hursd, or tossed up and down related only as the genus and

66 in it." This thews us how {pecies; for to hurl signifies, cautious we ought to be in cennot simply to caft, but to caft furing the expressions of a wri. backward and forward, and is ter, one of whose characteristic taken from the rural game qualities was correctness of excalled hurling. So that, into pression and propriety of sentiendless error hurld, as these critics would have it, would Ver. 20. Go, measure earth, have been a barbarism. His &c.] Alluding to the noble words therefore signify, tossed and useful project of the mo

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Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
Correct old Time, and regulate the Sun;
Go, foar with Plato to th’empyreal sphere,
To the first good, first perfect, and first fair';
Or tread the mazy round his follow'rs trod,
And quitting sense call imitating God;
As Eastern priests in giddy circles run,
And turn their heads to imitate the Sun,
Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule-
Then drop into thyself, and be a fool !



Go, reasoning Thing! assume the Doctor's chair,
As Plato deep, as Seneca severe:
Fix moral fitness, and to God give rule,
Then drop into thyself, &c.

VER. 21. Ed 4th and sth.

Show by what rules the wand'ring planets stray,
Correct old time, and teach the Sun his Way.

Notes. dern Mathematicians, to mea- | difference between the reigns sure a degree at the equator of kings, and the generations and the polar circle, in order of men; and the position of to determine the true figure the colures of the equinoxes of the earth; of great import- and solstices at the time of the ance to astronomy and navi- Argonautic expedition. gation.

VER. 29, 30. Go, teach VER. 22. Correct old Time,] Eternal Wisdom &c.] These This alludes to Sir Isaac New- two lines are a conclusion ton's Grecian Chronology, from all that had been said which he reformed on those from x 18, to this effect: two sublime conceptions, the Go now, vain Man, elated

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