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Heaven breathes thro' ev'ry member of the whole
65 God in externals could not place content.
Fortune her gifts may variously dispose,
Ver. 67. Fortune her gifts may variously dispose, 8c.] His second argument (from ver. 66 to 73.) against the popular error of Happiness being placed in externals, is, that the possession of them is inseparably attended with fear; the want of them with hope; which directly crossing all their pretensions to making happy, evidently shews that God had placed Happiness elsewhere. And hence, in concluding this argument, he takes occasion (from ver. 72 to 77.) to upbraid the desperate folly and impiety of those, who, in spite of God and Nature, will yet attempt to place Happiness in externals :
“Oh sons of earth! attempt ye still to rise,
By mountains piled on mountains, to the skies?
After Ver. 66. in the MS.
'Tis peace of mind alone is at a stay:
Oh sons of earth! attempt ye still to rise, By mountains piled on mountains, to the skies? Heaven still with laughter the vain toil surveys, 75 And buries madmen in the heaps they raise.
Know, all the good that individuals find, Or God and Nature meant to mere Mankind, Reason's whole pleasure, all the joys of sense, Lie in three words, health, peace, and competence. But health consists with temperance alone; And peace, oh Virtue! peace is all thy own.
Ver. 77. Know, all the good, &c.] The Poet having thus confuted the two errors concerning Happiness, the Philosophical and Popular; and proved that true Happiness was neither solitary and partial, nor yet placed in externals, goes on (from ver. 76 to 83.) to shew in what it doth consist. He had before said in general, and repeated it, that Happiness lay in common to the whole species. He now brings us better acquainted with it, in a more explicit account of its nature; and tells us, it is all contained in health, peace, and competence; but that these are to be gained only by Virtue, namely, by temperance, innocence, and industry.
Ver. 79. Reason's whole plensure, &c.] This is a beautiful periphrasis for Happiness; for all we feel of good is by sensation and reflection. But the translator, who seemed little to concern himself with the Poet's philosophy or argument, mistook this description of happiness for a description of the intellectual and sensitive faculties, opposed to one another; and therefore turns it thus,
“ Le charme séducteur, dont s'enivrant les sens,
Les plaisirs de l'esprit, encore plus ravissans ;" And so, with the highest absurdity, not only makes the Poet constitute sensual excesses a part of human happiness, but likewise the product of Virtue.
Warburton. Ver. 82. And Peuce, 8c.] Conscious innocence, says the Poet, is the only source of internal peace; and known innocence, of erternal; therefore, peace is the sole issue of Virtue, or, in his own
The good or bad the gifts of fortune gain;
Ver. 83. The good or bad, &c.] Hitherto the Poet hath only considered health and peace :
“ But health consists with temperance alone;
And peace, oh Virtue! peace is all thy own.” One head yet remained to he spoken to, namely, competence. In the pursuit of health and peace there is no danger of running into excess; but the case is different with regard to competence: here wealth and affluence would be apt to be mistaken for it, in men's passionate pursuit after external goods. To obviate this mistake, therefore, the Poet shews (from ver. 82 to 93.) that, as exorbitant wealth adds nothing to the Happiness arising from a competence, so, as it is generally ill-gotten, it is attended with circumstances which weaken another part of this triple cord, namely, peace.
emphatic words, peace is all thy own; a conclusive observation in his argument; which stands thus : Is happiness rightly placed in externals? No; for it consists in health, peace, and competence. Health and competence are the product of temperance; and peace, of perfect innocence.
After Ver. 92. in the MS.
Let sober moralists correct their speech;
No bad man's happy; he is great, or rich. VOL. V.
Oh blind to truth, and God's whole scheme below, Who fancy bliss to vice, to virtue woe! Who sees and follows that great scheme the best, Best knows the blessing, and will most be blest. But fools, the good alone unhappy call, For ills or accidents that chance to all.
“Reason's whole pleasure, all the joys of sense,
Lie in three words, health, peace, and competence.
peace is all thy own.” Ver. 93. Oh blind to truth, &c.] Our author having thus largely confuted the mistake, that Happiness consists in externals, proceeds to expose the terrible consequences of such an opinion, on the sentiments and practice of all sorts of men ; making the Dissolute, impious and atheistical; the Religious, uncharitable and intolerant; and the Good, restless and discontent. For when it is once taken for granted, that happiness consists in externals, it is immediately seen that ill men are often more happy than the good; which sets all conditions on objecting to the ways of Providence: and some even on rashly attempting to rectify its dispensations, though by the violation of all laws, divine and human. Now this being the most important part of the subject under consideration, is deservedly treated most at large. And here it will be proper to take notice of the art of the Poet in making this confutation serve, at the same time, for a full solution of all objections which might be made to his main proposition, that Happiness consists not in externals.
I. He begins, first of all, with the atheistical complainers; and pursues their impiety from ver. 92 to 131.
“Oh blind to truth! and God's whole scheme below,” &c.
Ver. 97. But fools, the good alone unhappy call, &c.] He exposes their folly, even in their own notions of external goods :
1. By examples (from ver. 98 to 111.) where he shews, first, that if good men have been untimely cut off, this is not to be ascribed to their virtue, but to a contempt of life, which hurried
See FALKLAND dies, the virtuous and the just! See god-like TURENNE prostrate on the dust! 100
them into dangers. Secondly, That if they will still persist in ascribing untimely death to virtue, they must needs, on the same principle, ascribe long life to it also; consequently, as the argument, in fact, concludes both ways, in logic it concludes neither.
“Say, was it virtue, more tho’ heaven ne'er gave,
Lamented Digby! sunk thee to the grave ?
Ver. 99. See FALKLAND] His genius, his learning, his integrity, his patriotism, are eloquently displayed by Cowley, as well as by Clarendon; but Lord Orford thinks the portrait by the latter too flattering and over-charged. If any proofs had been wanting of the violence and haughtiness of archbishop Laud, this virtuous nobleman's opposing him would have been sufficient. He assisted Chillingworth in his great work against Popery; and he wrote some very elegant verses to Sandys, on his Translation of the Psalms. The gallantry of Sir Philip Sidney, mentioned in a succeeding line (101.) cannot be disputed; but whether the death of this valorous knight was a proper example of suffering 'virtue to be here introduced, is another question.
Warton. Ver. 100. See godlike TURENNE] This epithet has a peculiar justness; the great man to whom it is applied not being distinguished from other generals, for any of his superior qualities, so much as for his providential care of those whom he led to war ; in which he was so intent, that his chief purpose in taking on himself the command of armies, seems to have been the preservation of mankind. In this godlike care he was more remarkably employed throughout the whole course of that famous campaign in which he lost his life.
Warburton. Ver. 100. See godlike TURENNE] This great general was killed July 27, 1675, by a cannon-shot, near the village of Saltyback, in going to choose a place whereon to erect a battery.
• No one," says Voltaire, “is ignorant of the circumstances of his death; but