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Alas what wonder! Man's superior part Uncheck'd may rise, and climb from art to art; 40 But when his own great work is but begun, What Reason weaves, by Passion is undone.
Trace Science then, with Modesty thy guide ; First strip off all her equipage of Pride; Deduct what is but Vanity, or Dress, 45 Or Learning's Luxury, or Idleness ;
COMMENTARY. Ver. 43. Trace Science then, &c.] The conclusion, therefore, from the whole is (from y 42 to 53) that, as on the one
NOTES ton, in calculating the velocity his fancy or invention. By of a Comet's motion, and dress, is to be understood a the course it describes, when lower degree of that practice, it becomes visible in its descent in amplification of thought and to, and ascent from the Sun, ornamented expression, to give conjectured, with the highest force to what the writer would appearance of truth, that Co
convey: but even this, the mets revolve perpetually round poet, in a severe search after the Sun, in ellipses vastly ec truth, condemns; and with centrical, and very nearly ap- great judgment. Conciseness proaching to parabolas. In of thought and fimplicity of which he was greatly confirm- expression, being as well the ed, in observing between two best instruments, as the best Comets a coincidence in their vehicles of Truth. Shakespear perihelions, and a perfect a touches
this latter advangreement in their velocities. tage with great force and huVER.45:-Vanity or dress,] mour.
The Flatterer fays to are the first parts of Timon in distress, “ I cannot what the Poet, in the pre
6 cover the monstrous bulk ceding line, calls the Scholar's “ of their ingratitude with equipage of Pride. By va “any size of words.” The nity, is meant that luxuriancy other replies,
c. Let it
gor of thought and expresion in “ naked, men may see't the which a writer indulges him
66 better." felf, to thew the fruitfulness of VER. 46. Or Learning's Luxe
Or tricks to Thew the stretch of human brain,
50 Then see how little the remaining sum, Which serv’d the past, and must the times to come!
II. Two Principles in human nature reign ; Self-love, to urge, and Reason, to restrain;
COMMENTARY. hand, we should persist in the study of Nature ; so, on the other, in order to arrive at Science, we should proceed in the simplicity of Truth; and the product, tho' small, will yet be real.
Ver. 53. Two Principles, &c.] The poet having thus shewn the difficulty attending the study of Man, proceeds to remove it, by laying before us the elements or true principles of this science, in an account of the Origin, Use, and End of the PasSIONS; which, in my opinion, contains the truest, clearest, shortest, and consequently the best system of Ethics that is any
NOTES. ury, or Idleness ;] The Luxury monstrations concerning the of Learning consists in dressing small quantity of matter; the up
and disguising old notions endless divisibility of it, &c. in a new way, so as to make VER. 48. Mere curious them more fashionable and pleasure, or ingenious pain ;] palateable ; instead of examin That is, when Admiration sets ing and scrutinizing their the mind on the rack. truth. As this is often done VER. 49. Expunge the for pomp and shew, it is called whole, or lop th’excrescent parts luxury; as it is often done too Of all our vices have created to save pains and labour, it is Arts ;] i. e. Those parts of nacalled idleness.
tural Philosophy, Logic, RheVer. 47. Or tricks to Mew | toric, Poetry, &c. that admithe stretch of human brain,] nister to luxury, deceit, amSuch as the mathematical de- l bition, effeminacy, &c.
Nor this a good, nor that a bad we call, 55
Self-love, the spring of motion, acts the soul;
COMMENTARY. where to be met with. He begins (from * 52 to 59) with pointing out the two grand principles in human nature, SELF-LOVE and Reason. Describes their general nature: The first sets Man upon acting, the other regulates his action. However, these principles are natural, not moral; and, therefore, in themfelves, neither good nor bad, but so only as they are directed. This obfervation is made with great judgment, in opposition to the desperate folly of those fanatics, who, as the Afcetic, pretend to eradicate Self-love; as the Mystic, would stifle Reason; and both, on the absurd fancy of their being moral, not natural principles.
Ver. 59. Self-love, the spring of mition, aims the foul;] The poet proceeds (from v 58 to 67) more minutely to mark out the distinct offices of these two principles, which he had before assigned only in general ; and here he ihews their necellity; for without Self-love, as the spring, Man would be unactive; and without Rcafon, as the balanc, active no purpose.
Most strength the moving principle requires ;
That sees immediate good by present sense;
COMMENTARY. VER. 67. Most strength the moving principle requires ;] Having thus explained the ends and offices of each principle, he goes on (from x 66 to 79) to speak of their qualities; and thews how they are fitted to discharge those functions, and answer their respective intentions. The business of Self-love being to excite to action, it is quick and impetuous; and moving instinctively, has, like attraction, its force prodigiously increased as the object approaches, and proportionably lessened as that recedes. On the contrary, Reason, like the Author of attraction, is always calm and sedate, and equally preserves itself, whether the object be near, or far off. Hence the moving principle is made more strong, though the restraining be more quick-righted. The consequence he draws from this is, that if we would not be carried away to our destruction, we must always keep Reason upon guard.
NOTES. Ver. 74. Reafon, the fir | the future ; and by argumenture and the consequence.) i. e. tation, the consequence. By experience Reason collects
Attention, habit and experience gains; 79 Each strengthens Reason, and Self-love restrains.
Let subtle schoolmen teach these friends to fight, More ftudious to divide than to unite; And Grace and Virtue, Sense and Reason split, With all the rash dexterity of wit. Wits, just like Fools, at war about a name, 85 Have full as oft no meaning, or the same.
Of good and evil Gods what frighted Fools,
COMMENTARY. VER. 79. Attention, &c.] But it would be objected, that, if this account were true, human life would be most miserable and, even in the wiseft, a perpetual conflict between Reason and the Passions. To this, therefore, the poet replies (from x 78 to 81) first, that Providence has so graciously contrived, that even in the voluntary exercise of Reason, as in the mere mechanic motion of a limb, Habit makes what was at first done with pain, easy and natural. And, secondly, that the experience gained by the long exercise of Reason, goes a great way towards eluding the force of Self-love. Now the attending to Reason, as here recommended, will gain us this habit and experience. Hence it appears, that this station, in which Reason is to be kept constantly upon guard; is not so uneasy a one as may be at first imagined.
Ver. 81. Let subtle schoolmen &c.] From this description of Self-love and Reason it follows, as the poet observes (from * 80 to 93) that both conspire to one end, namely, human happiness, though they be not equally expert in the choice of the means ; the difference being this, that the first hastily feizes