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O M M E N T A R Y.

WAKE, my St. John ! leave all meaner things

To low ambition, and the pride of Kings. Let us (since Life can little more supply Than just to look about us and to die) Expatiate free o'er all this scene of Man ; A mighty maze ! but not without a plan; AWild, where weeds and flow'rs promiscuous shoot; Or Garden, tempting with forbidden fruit,

Сом THE Opening of this poem, in fifteen lines, is taken up in giving an account of the Subject; which, agreeably to the title, is an Essay on Man, or a Philosophical Enquiry into his Nature and End, his Passions and Pursuits.

The Exordium relates to the whole work, of which the E say on Man was only the first book. The 6th, 7th, and 8th lines allude to the subjects of this Ejay, viz. the general Order and Design of Providence; the Constitution of the human Mind; the origin, use, and end of the Passions and Affections, both selfifh and social ; and the wrong pursuits of Power, Pleasure, and Happiness. The 10th, 11th, 12th, &c. have relation to the subjects of the bcoks intended to follow, viz. the Characters and Capacities of Men, and the Limits of Learning and Ignor

The 13th and 14th, to the Knowledge of Mankind, and the various Manners of the age.

N O TE S. VER. 7, 8. A IVild, - Or The Garden, to human reason, Garden,] The IVild relates to so often tempting us to tranfthe human paffions, productive gress the bounds God has set to (as he explains in the second it, and wander in fruitless enepiltle) both of good and evil. I quiries.


Together let'us beat this ample field,
Try what the


what the covert yield ; IO The latent tracts, the giddy heights, explore Of all who blindly creep, or sightless foar ; Eye Nature's walks, shoot Folly as it flies, And catch the Manners living as they rise ; Laugh where we must, be candid where we can; 15 But vindicate the ways of God to Man.

COMMENTARY. Next, in line 16, he tells us with what design he wrote, viz.

To vindicate the ways of God to Man. The Men he writes against, he frequently informs us, are such as weigh their opinion against Providence (v 114), such as cry, if Man's unhappy, God's unjust (* 118) or such as fall into the notion, that Vice and Virtue there is none at all (Ep. ii. Ý 212)

This occasic ns the poet to divide his vindication of the ways God into two parts. In the first of which he gives direct answers to those objections which libertine Men, on a view of the disorders arising from the perversity of the human will, have intended against Providence. And in the second, he obviates all those objections, by a true delineation of human Nature; or a general, but exact, map of Man. The first epistle is employed in the management of the first part of this dispute ; and the

NOTES. VER. 12. Of all who blindly | Happiness are spoken of. The creep, &c.] i. e. Those who figure here is taken from anionly follow the blind guidance mal life. of their Paffions; or those who VER. 15. Laugh where we leave behind them common muft, &c.] Intimating that hufenfe and fober reason, in their man follies are so strangely abhigh Hights through the regions furd and ridiculous, that it is of Metaphysics. Both which not in the power of the most follies are exposed in the fourth compasionate, on some occaepistle, where the popular and fions, to restrain their mirth : philofophical errors concerning And that human crimes are so


I. Say first, of God above, or Man below, What can we reason, but from what we know? Of Man, what see we but his station here, From which to reason, or to which refer? 20 Thro'worlds unnumber'd tho' the God be known, 'Tis ours to trace him only in our own. He, who thro’ vast immensity can pierce, See worlds on worlds compose one universe, Observe how system into system runs,

25 What other planets circle other suns,

COMMENT A RY. three following in the management of the second. So that this whole book constitutes a complete Essay on Man, written for the best purpose, to vindicate the ways of God.

Ver. 17. Say first, of God above, or Man below, &c.] The poet having declared his Subject, his End of writing, and the Quality of his Adversaries, proceeds (from ý 16 to 23) to instruct us, from whence he intends to draw his arguments; namely, from the visible things of God in this system to demonstrate the invisible things of God, his eternal Power and God-head: And

NOTES. flagitious, that the most candid nature and end must be drawn; have seldom an opportunity, on and to this station they must be this subject, to exercise their all referred. The confequence virtue.

is, all our reasonings on his naVer. 19, 20.

ture and end muft needs be Of Man, what fee we but his very imperfect. station here,

Ver. 21. Thro' worlds unFrom which to reason, or to

number'd &c.] Hunc cognofciwhich refer?]

mus folummodo per Proprietates The sense is, we see nothing of suas & Attributa, & per sapienMan, but as he stands at present tisimas & optimas rerum strucin his station here: From which turas & caufas finales. NewStation, all our reasonings on his I toni Princ. Schol. gen. fub fin

What vary'd Being peoples ev'ry star,
May tell why Heav'n has made us as we are.
But of this frame the bearings, and the ties,
The strong connections, nice dependencies,

30 Gradations just, has thy pervading soul Look'd throʻ? or can a part contain the whole ?

COMMENTARY, why? because we can reason only from what we know, and as. we know no more of Man than what we fee of his station here ; so we know no more of God than what we see of his dispensations in this station; being able to trace him no further than to the limits of our own fystem. This naturally leads the poet to exprobrate the miserable Folly and Impiety of pretending to pry into, and call in question the profound dispensations of Providence : Which reproof contains (from Ý 22 to 43) a sublime description of the Omniscience of God, and the miferable Blindness and Presumption of Man.

NOTES. VER. 30. The firong con cies to the moral. For the Elay nections, nice dependencies,] The on Man is not a system of Natuthought is very noble, and ex ralism but of natural Religion. pressed with great philosophic Hence it is, that, where he fupbeauty and exactness. The fyf- poses disorders may tend to tem of the Universe is a com some greater good in the natubination of natural and moral ral world, he supposes they may Fitnesses, as the human system tend likewise to some greater is, of body and spirit. By the good in the moral, as appears Atrong connections, therefore, the from these fublime images in Poet alluded to the natural the following lines, part ; and by the nice dependen

If plagues or earthquakes break not Heav'n's design,
Why then a Borgia, or a Catiline ?
Who knows, but he, whose hand the lightning forms,
Who heaves old Ocean, and who wings the storms ;
Pours fierce Ambition in a Cæsar's mind,
Or turns young Aminon loose to scourge mankind ?

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