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Which sees no more the stroke, or feels the pain,
Than favour'd Man by touch etherial flain.
The creature had his feast of life before ;
Thou too must perish, when thy feast is o'er !
To each unthinking being, Heav'n a friend,
Gives not the useless knowledge of its end:
To Man imparts it; but with such a view
As, while he dreads it, makes him hope it too:
The hour conceal'd, and so remote the fear, 75
Death ftill draws nearer, never seeming near.
Great standing miracle ! that Heav'n afsign'd
Its only thinking thing this turn of mind.
II. Whether with Reason, or with Instinct blest, Know, all enjoy that pow'r which suits them best;
COMMENTARY. VER. 79. Whether with Reason, &c.] But even to this, as a caviller would still object, we must suppose him fo to do, and fay,—Admit you have shewn that Nature hath endowed all animals, whether human or brutal, with such faculties as admirably fit them to promote the general good : yet, in its care for this, hath not Nature neglected to provide for the private good of the individual? We have cause to think she hath; and we fuppose, it was on this exclusive confideration that she kept back from brutes the gift of Reason (so neceffary a means of private happiness) because Reason, as we find in the instance of
Notes. Ver. 68. Than favour'd who were struck by lightning as Man &c.] Several of the an- facred persons, and the particients, and many of the Ori- cular favourites of Heaven. P. entáls fince, esteemed those
To bliss alike by that direction tend,
And find the means proportion’d to their end.
Say, where full Instinct is th’unerring guide,
What Pope or Council can they need beside ?
Reason, however able, cool at best,
Cares not for service, or but serves when prest,
Stays 'till we call, and then not often near;
But honest Instinct comes a volunteer,
Sure never to o'er-shoot, but just to hit;
While still too wide or short is human Wit; 90
After y 84. in the MS.
While Man, with opening views of various way's
Confounded, by the aid of knowledge strays :
Too weak to chuse, yet chusing still in hafte,
One moment gives the pleasure and distaste.
COMMENTARY. Man, where there is occasion for all the complicated contrivance you have described above, to make the effects of his Passions counter-work the immediate powers of his Reason, in order to keep him subservient to the general fyftem; Reason, we say, naturally tends to draw Beings into a private, independent system. This the poet answers, by thewing (from 78 to 109) that the happiness of animal and that of human life are widely different: The happiness of human life consisting in the improvement of the mind, can be procured by Reason only; but the happiness of animal life consisting in the gratifications of sense, is best promoted by Instinct. And, with regard to the regular and constant operation of each, in that, Instinct hath plainly the advantage ; for here God directs immediately; there, only mediately through Man.
Sure by quick Nature happiness to gain,
Which heavier Reason labours at vain.
This too serves always, Reason never long;
One must go right, the other may go wrong.
See then the acting and comparing pow'rs 95
One in their nature, which are two in ours;
And Reason raise c'er Instinct as you can,
In this ’tis God directs, in that 'tis Man.
Who taught the nations of the field and wood
To shun their poison, and to chuse their food ? 100
Prescient, the tides or tempests to withstand,
Build on the wave, or arch beneath the fand ?
Who made the spider parallels design,
Sure as De-moivre, without rule or line ?
Who bid the stork, Columbus-like, explore 105
Heav'ns not his own, and worlds unknown before?
Who calls the council, states the certain day,
Who forms the phalanx, and who points the way?
III. God, in the nature of each being, founds
Its proper bliss, and sets its proper bounds : IIO
COMMENTARY. Ver. 109. God, in the nature of each being, &c.] The author now cometh to the main subject of his epistle, the proof of Man's SOCIABILITY, from the two general societies composed by him; the raiural, subject to paternal authority; and the civil, subject to that of a magistrate. This he hath the address to introduce, from what had preceded, in so easy and na
But as he fram'd a Whole, the Whole to bless,
On mutual Wants built mutual Happiness:
So from the first, eternal ORDER ran,
And creature link'd to creature, man to man.
Whate'er of life all-quick’ning æther keeps, 115
Or breathes thro' air, or shoots beneath the deeps,
pours profuse on earth, one nature feeds
The vital flame, and swells the genial seeds.
Not Man alone, but all that roam the wood,
Or wing the sky, or roll along the flood, I 20
Each loves itself, but not itself alone,
Each sex defires alike, 'till two are one.
tural a manner, as sheweth him to have the art of giving all
the grace to the dryness and severity of Method, as well as
wit to the strength and depth of Reason. The philosophic na-
ture of his work requiring he should shew by what means those
Societies were introduced, this affords him an opportunity of
sliding gracefully and easily from the preliminaries into the main
fubject; and so of giving his work that perfection of method,
which we find only in the compositions of great writers. For
having just before, though to a different purpose, described the
power of bestial Instinct to attain the happiness of the Indivi-
dual, he goeth on, in speaking of Instinct as it is serviceable
*both to that, and to the Kind (from * 108 to 147) to illustrate
the original of Society. He sheweth, that though, as he had
before observed, God had founded the proper bliss of each crea-
ture in the nature of its own existence ; yet these not being
independent individuals, but parts of a Whole, God, to bless
that Whole, built mutual happiness on mutual wants : Now,
for the fupply of mutual wants, creatures muft necessarily come
together; which is the first ground of Society amongst Men. He
then proceeds to that called natural, subject to paternal autho-
sity, and arising from the union of the two sexes; describes the
Nor ends the pleasure with the fierce embrace ;
They love themselves, a third time, in their race.
Thus beast and bird their common charge attend,
The mothers nurse it, and the fires defend ; 126
dismiss’d to wander earth or air,
There stops the Instinct, and there ends the care ;
The link dissolves, each seeks a fresh embrace,
Another love succeeds, another race. 130
A longer care Man’s helpless kind demands;
That longer care contracts more lasting bands:
Reflection, Reason, still the ties improve,
At once extend the int’rest, and the love;
With choice we fix, with sympathy we burn; 135
Each Virtue in each Paflion takes its turn;
And still new needs, new helps, new habits rise,
That graft benevolence on charities.
Still as one brood, and as another rose,
These nat’ral love maintain’d, habitual those: 140
The last, scarce ripen'd into perfect Man,
Saw helpless him from whom their life began:
COMMENTARY. imperfect image of it in brutes; then explains it at large in all its causes and effects. And lastly shews, that as is fact, like mere animal society, it is founded and preserved by mutual wants, the supplial of which caufeth mutual happiness; fo is it likewise in right, as a rational Society, by equity, gratitude, and the ob-. fervance of the relation of things in general.