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Let this great truth be present night and day; . 5 But most be present, if we preach or pray.
the good of the Whole universally. And this is the cause (as the Poet says elsewhere) that
“ Each individual seeks a several goal.” But, to prevent our resting there, God hath made each need the assistance of another; and so
“ On mutual wants built mutual happiness.” It was necessary to explain the two first lines, the better to see the pertinency and force of what followeth (from ver. 2 to 7.) where the Poet warns such to take notice of this truth, whose circumstances placing them in an imaginary station of Independence, and inducing a real habit of insensibility to mutual wants (from which wants general Happiness results), make them but too apt to overlook the true system of things; viz. the men in full health and opulence. This caution was necessary with respect to Society; but still more necessary with respect to Religion. Therefore he especially recommends the
of it as well to the Clergy as Laity, when they preach or pray; because the preacher who doth not consider the First Cause under this view, as a Being consulting the good of the Whole, must needs give a very unworthy idea of him; and the supplicant, who prayeth as one not related to ą. whole, or indifferent to the happiness of it, will not only pray in vain, but offend his Maker by neglecting the interests of his dispensation.
Ver. 3, 4, 5, 6.] M. Du Resnel, not seeing into the admirable purpose
of the caution contained in these four lines, hath quite dropped the most material circumstances contained in the last of them; and, what is worse, for the sake of a foolish antithesis, hath destroyed the whole propriety of the thought in the two first: and so, between both, hath left his author neither sense nor system.
“ Dans le sein du bonheur, ou de l'adversité." Now of all men, those in adversity have least need of this caution, as being least apt to forget, That God consults the good of the whole, and provides for it by procuring mutual happiness by means of mutual wants; it being seen that such who yet retain the smart of any Look round our world; behold the chain of Love Combining all below and all above. See plastic Nature working to this end, The single atoms each to other tend,
10 Attract, attracted to, the next in place Form'd and impelld its neighbour to embrace.
Ver. 7. Look round our world; &c.] He now introduceth his system of human Sociability (ver. 7, 8.) by shewing it to be the dictate of the Creator; and that Man, in this, did but follow the example of general Nature, which is united in one close system of benevolence.
Ver. 9. See plastic Nature working to this end,] This he proveth, first, (from ver. 8 to 13.) on the noble theory of attraction, from the economy of the material world ; where there is a general conspiracy in all the particles of matter to work for one end; the
use, beauty, and harmony of the whole mass.
fresh calamity, are most compassionate to others labouring under distresses, and most prompt and ready to relieve them.
Warburton. Ver. 9. See plastic Nature, &c.] M. Du Resnel mistook this description of the preservation of the material Universe, by the quality of attraction, for a description of its creation, and so translates it
“ Voi du sein du Chaos éclater la lumière,
Chaque atome ébranlé courir pour s'embrasser," &c. This destroys the Poet's fine analogical argument by which he proves, from the circumstance of mutual attraction in matter, that man, while he seeks society, and thereby promotes the good of his species, co-operates with God's general dispensation ; whereas the circumstance of a creation proves nothing but a Creator.
Warburton. Ver. 12. Form’d and impelld, &c.] To make Matter so cohere as to fit it for the uses intended by its Creator, a proper Configuration of its insensible parts, is as necessary as that quality so equally and universally conferred upon it, called Attraction. To express the first part of this thought, our author says form’d; and to express the latter, impell’d.
See Matter next, with various life endued,
Ver, 13. See Matter next, &c.] The second argument (from ver. 12 to 27.) is taken from the vegetable and animal world; whose parts serve mutually for the production, support, and sustentation of each other. But the observation, that God
“ Connects each being, greatest with the least;
Made beast in aid of Man, and Man of beast;
All serv'd, all serving"awaking again the pride of his impious adversaries, who cannot bear that man should be thought to be serving as well as served, he takes this occasion again to humble them (from ver. 26 to 49.) by the same kind of argument he had so successfully employed in the first Epistle, and which the comment on that epistle hath considered at large.
Ver. 15. See dying vegetables] “ Thus, in the several terrestrial forms, a resignation is required; a sacrifice, and mutual yielding of nature, one to another. The vegetables, by their death, sustain the animals; and the animal bodies dissolved enrich the earth, and raise again the vegetable world. The numerous insects are reduced by the superior kinds of birds or beasts; and these again are checked by man, who, in his turn, submits to other natures, and resigns his form a sacrifice in common to the rest of things." Shaftesbury's Moralist, p. 131.
In a letter of Dr. Warburton, transcribed from the manuscripts of Dr. Birch, in the British Museum, by the late Mr. Maty, are these remarkable words : “ As to the passages of Mr. Pope that correspond with Leibnitz, you know he took them from Shaftesbury; and that Shaftesbury and Leibnitz had one common original, Plato, whose system, of the best, when pushed as far as Leibnitz has carried it, must end in Fate." A strange opinion once prevailed, that Leibnitz was not serious in his Theodicéė. Le Clerc and De Maiseaux were of this opinion. But Mr. Jourdan, in his entertaining Voyage Literaire, p. 150, has produced a letter of the
All forms that perish other forms supply,
celebrated and learned Mr. Le Croze, that effectually destroys this absurd supposition.
Warton. Ver. 19, 20. Like bubbles, &c.] M. Du Resnel translates these two lines thus :
“ Sort du néant, y rentre, et reparoit au jour.” He is here, indeed, consistently wrong: for having (as we said) mistaken the Poet's account of the preservation of Matter for the creation of it, he commits the very same mistake with regard to the vegetable and animal systems, and so talks now, though with the latest, of the production of things out of nothing. Indeed, by his speaking of their returning into nothing, he has subjected his author to M. De Crousaz's censure. “ Mr. Pope descends to the most vulgar prejudices, when he tells us that each being returns to nothing : the vulgar think that what disappears is annihilated," &c. Comm. p. 221.
Warburton. Ver. 22. One all-extending, all-preserving Soul] Which, in the language of Sir Isaac Newton, is, “ Deus omnipræsens est, non per virtutem solam, sed etiam per substantiam : nam virtus sine substantiâ subsistere non potest." Newt. Princ. Schol. gen.
Warburton. Ver. 23. Connects each being,]
Spiritus intus alit, magno et se corpore miscet. Virg. Bowles. Ver. 23. greatest with the least ;] As acting more strongly and immediately in beasts, whose instinct is plainly an external reason; which made an old school-man say, with great elegance, “ Deus est anima brutorum :" 66 In this 'tis God directs".
Has God, thou fool! work’d solely for thy good, Thy joy, thy pastime, thy attire, thy food ? Who for thy table feeds the wanton fawn, For him as kindly spreads the flow'ry lawn. 30 Is it for thee the lark ascends and sings ? Joy tunes his voice, joy elevates his wings. Is it for thee the linnet pours his throat? Loves of his own and raptures swell the note. The bounding steed you pompously bestride, 35 Shares with his lord the pleasure and the pride, Is thine alone the seed that strews the plain? The birds of Heav'n shall vindicate their grain. Thine the full harvest of the golden year? Part pays, and justly, the deserving steer: 40 The hog, that ploughs not, nor obeys thy call, Lives on the labours of this Lord of all.
Know, Nature's children all divide her care; The fur that warms a monarch, warm'd a bear,
Ver. 43. Know, Nature's children all] The poetry of these lines is as beautiful as the philosophy is solid. “They who imagine that all things in this world were made for the immediate use of man alone, run themselves into inextricable difficulties. Man, indeed, is the head of this lower part of the creation; and perhaps it was designed to be absolutely under his command. But that all things here tend directly to his own use, is, I think, neither easy nor necessary to be proved. Some manifestly serve for the food and support of others, whose souls may be necessary to prepare and preserve their bodies for that purpose, and may at the same time be happy in a consciousness of their own existence. It is probable they are intended to promote each other's good reciprocally: nay, man himself contributes to the happiness, and betters the condition of the brutes in several respects, by cultivating and improving the ground; by watching the seasons ; by protecting and pro