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II. Two Principles in human nature reign; Self-love, to urge, and Reason, to restrain; Nor this a good, nor that a bad we call; 55 Each works its end, to move or govern

all : And to their proper operation still, Ascribe all Good; to their improper, Ill.

Self-love, the spring of motion, acts the soul; Reason's comparing balance rules the whole. 60 Man, but for that, no action could attend, And, but for this, were active to no end; Fix'd like a plant on his peculiar spot, To draw nutrition, propagate, and rot;

COMMENTARY.

Ver. 53. Two Principles, &c.] The Poet having shewn the difficulty which attends 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 where to be met with. He begins (from ver. 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 themselves, neither good nor evil, but so only as they are directed. This observation is made with great judgment, in opposition to the desperate folly of those Fanatics, who, as the Ascetic, vainly pretend to eradicate Self-love; or, as the Mystic, are more successful in stifling Reason; and both, on the absurd fancy of their being moral, not natural, principles.

Ver. 59. Self-love, the spring of motion, acts the soul;] The Poet proceeds (from ver. 58 to 67.), more minutely to mark out the distinct offices of these two Principles, which offices he had before assigned only in general; and here he shews their necessity; for without Self-love, as the spring, Man would be unactive; and, without Reason as the balance, active to no purpose.

NOTES.

Ver. 59. acts the soul ;] acts, for actuates.

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Or, meteor-like, flame lawless through the void, 65 Destroying others, by himself destroy'd.

Most strength the moving principle requires : Active its task, it prompts, impels, inspires. Sedate and quiet, the comparing lies, Form'd but to check, deliberate, and advise. 70 Self-love still stronger, as its objects nigh; Reason's at distance, and in prospect lie: That sees immediate good by present sense ; Reason, the future and the consequence. Thicker than arguments, temptations throng; 75 At best more watchful this, but that more strong.

COMMENTARY.

Ver. 67. Most strength the moving principle requires :] Having thus explained the ends and offices of each Principle, he goes on (from ver. 66 to 79.) to speak of their qualities; and shews 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 it 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-sighted. 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. Reason, the future, &c.] i. e. by experience, reason collects the future; and by argumentation, the consequence.

Warburton. Ver. 74. Reason, the future, &c.] From Bacon: “The Affections carry ever an appetite to good, as Reason doth. The difference is, that the Affection beholdeth merely the present; Reason beholdeth the future and sum of time."

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The action of the stronger to suspend
Reason still use, to Reason still attend.
Attention, habit and experience gains ;
Each strengthens Reason, and Self-love restrains.

Let subtle schoolmen teach these friends to fight, More studious to divide than to unite;

COMMENTARY.

Ver. 79. Attention, &c.] But it would be objected, that, if this account be true, human life would be most miserable; and, even in the wisest, a perpetual conflict between reason and the passions. To this, therefore, the Poet replies (from ver. 78 to 81.), first, that Providence has so graciously contrived, that even in the volụntary exercise of reason, as in the 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 our 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 ver. 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 seizes every thing which hath the appearance of good; the other weighs and examines whether it be indeed what it appears.

This shews, as he next observes, the folly of the schoolmen, who consider them as two opposite principles, the one good and. the other evil. The observation is seasonable and judicious ; for this dangerous school-opinion gives great support to the Manichean or Zoroastrian error, the confutation of which was one of the author's chief ends in writing. For if there be two principles in Man, a good and evil, it is natural to think him the joint product of the two Manichean Deities (the first of which contributed to his Reason, the other to his Passions), rather than the creature of one Individual Cause. This was Plutarch's opinion, and, as we

may

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.
Self-love and Reason to one end aspire,
Pain their aversion, pleasure their desire;
But greedy That, its object would devour,
This taste the honey, and not wound the flow'r: 90
Pleasure, or wrong or rightly understood,
Our greatest evil, or our greatest good.

III. Modes of Self-love the passions we may call; 'Tis real good, or seeming, moves them all :

COMMENTARY.

may see in him, of some of the more ancient theistical Philosophers. It was of importance, therefore, to reprobate and subvert a notion that served to the support of so dangerous an error; and this the Poet hath done with much force and clearness.

Ver. 93. Modes of Self-love, &c.] Having given this account of the nature of Self-love in general, he comes now to anatomize it, in a discourse on the Passions, which he aptly names the Modes of SELF-LOVE. The object of all these, he shews (from ver. 92 to 101.) is good; and, when under the guidance of reason, real good, either of ourselves, or of another; for some goods not being capable of division, or communication, and reason at the same time directing us to provide for ourselves, we therefore, in pursuit of these objects, sometimes aim at our own good, sometimes at the good of others. When fairly aiming at our own, the quality is called Prudence; when at another's, Virtue.

Hence (as he shews from ver. 100 to 105.) appears the folly of the Stoics, who would eradicate the Passions, things so necessary

both

VARIATIONS.

After ver. 86. in the MS.

Of good and evil Gods what frighted fools,
Of good and evil Reason puzzled schools,
Deceiv'd, deceiving, taught

Warburton.

But since not ev'ry good we can divide, 95
And Reason bids us for our own provide,
Passions, though selfish, if their means be fair,
List under Reason, and deserve her care;
Those, that imparted, court a nobler aim,
Exalt their kind, and take some virtue's name. 100

In lazy apathy let Stoics boast
Their virtue fix'd; 'tis fix'd as in a frost;

COMMENTARY.

both to the good of the Individual and of the Kind. Which preposterous method of promoting Virtue he therefore very reasonably reproves.

NOTES.

Ver. 101. In lazy apathy] Swift observes, that “the Stoical scheme of supplying our wants by lopping off our passions, is like cutting off our legs for want of shoes.” How easy is it to expose assertions which were never asserted; to refute tenets which were never held ; to become St. George when we make our own dragons! What says old Epictetus, who knew Stoicism better than these men ? ο γαρ δεί με ειναι ΑΠΑΘΗ ως Ανδριάλα, &c. «Ι am not to be APATHETIC, or voID OF PASSIONS, LIKE A STATUE. I am to discharge all the relations of a social and friendly life, the parent, the husband, the brother, the magistrate.” From a manuscript of the late James Harris, Esq. author of Hermes, &c. Perhaps a stronger example cannot be found, of taking notions upon trust without any examination, than the universal censure that has been passed upon the Stoics, as if they constantly and strenuously inculcated a total insensibility with respect to passion, to which these lines of Pope allude; when it is certain the Stoics meant only a freedom from strong perturbation, from irrational and excessive agitations of the soul; and no more. Warton.

Ver. 101. In lazy apathy] Adam Smith's account of the Philosophy of the Stoics, in his Theory of Moral Sentiments, is the most just. That sublime system is put in a new light, and the magnanimity which they professed themselves, contrasted with the benevolence they were equally required to shew to others. See Chapter on the Stoic Philosophy.

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