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UNIVERSAL PRAYER.] "Some paffages in the Effay on Man having been unjustly suspected of a tendency toward Fate and Naturalism, the Author compofed a Prayer, as the fum of all, which was intended to fhew that his fyftem was founded in Freewill, and terminated in Piety." RUFFHEAD.
Warton thinks, for "clofenefs and comprehenfion of thought, and for brevity and energy of expreffion, there are few pieces of poetry in our language that can be compared with this." How extraordinary is it, that Warton fhould be ever accufed, as if he wifhed to decry Pope! No one has borne fuch willing and ample testimony to his excellence as a Poet, when he truly deserves it; but will any one compare him to Milton?
In this place, Warton gives the Poetry more praise than it appears entitled to; though this compofition is beautiful, and in fome paffages fublime.
VER. 4. Jehovah, Jove, or Lord!]" It is of very little confequence," fays Seneca, De Beneficiis, "by what name you call the firft Nature, and the divine Reason, that prefides over the universe, and fills all the parts of it. He is ftill the fame God. You may give Him as many names as you please, provided you allow but one Sole Principle every-where prefent."
Thou Great First Cause, least understood,
To know but this, that Thou art Good,
Yet gave me, in this dark Eftate,
Notwithstanding all the extravagancies and mifcarriages of the Poets," fays Cudworth, chap. 4., "we fhall now make it plainly appear, that they really afferted, not a multitude of felfexiftent and independent Deities, but one, only, unmade Deity; and all the other, generated or created gods. This hath been already proved concerning Orpheus, from fuch fragments of the Orphic Poems as have been owned and attefted by Pagan writers." Cudworth proceeds to confirm this opinion by many strong and uncontefted paffages from Homer, Hefiod, Pindar, Sophocles, and especially Euripides, Book i. chap. iv. fect. 19.; and Aristophanes, in the first line of Plutus, diftinguishes betwixt Jupiter and the gods : Ω Ζεῦ καὶ θεοι. WARTON.
VER. 6. my Senfe confin'd] It ought to be confinedft, or didft confine; and afterwards, gaveft, or didft give, in the second perfon. See Lowth's Grammar. WARTON.
VER. 9. Yet gave me,] Originally Pope had written another ftanza, immediately after this:
"Can fins of moments claim the rod
And that offend great Nature's God
The licentious fentiment it contains, evidently borrowed from a
VER. 12. Left free] An abfurd and impoffible exemption, exclaims the Fatalift; "comparing together the moral and the natural
What Conscience dictates to be done,
This, teach me more than Hell to fhun,
What Bleffings thy free Bounty gives,
For God is paid when Man receives,
tural world, every thing is as much the refult of established laws in the one as in the other. There is nothing in the whole universe that can properly be called contingent: nothing loofe or fluctuating in any part of Nature; but every motion in the natural, and every determination and action in the moral world, are directed by immutable laws; fo that, whilft thefe laws remain in their force, not the fmalleft link of the univerfal chain of caufes and effects can be broken, nor any one thing be otherwife than it is." All the most fubtile and refined arguments that can be urged in a dispute on Fate and Free-will, are introduced, in a converfation on this fubject, betwixt the angels Gabriel and Raphael, and Adam, in the fourth act of Dryden's State of Innocence, and stated with a wonderful precifion and perfpicuity. Reasoning, in verse, was one of Dryden's most fingular and predominant excellencies; notwithstanding which, he must rank as a poet for his Mufic-ode, not for his Religio Laici. WARTON.
VER. 12. the Human Will.] The refult of what Locke advances on this, the most difficult of all subjects, is, that we have a power of doing what we will. If it be the occafion of disorder, it is the cause of order; of all the moral order that appears in the world. Had Liberty been excluded, Virtue had been excluded with it. And if this had been the case, the world could have had no charms, no beauties, fufficient to recommend it to Him who made it. In fhort, all other powers and perfections would have been very defective without this, which is truly the life and fpirit of the WARTON.
Yet not to Earth's contracted Span
When thousand Worlds are round:
Let not this weak, unknowing hand
If I am right, thy grace impart,
Save me alike from foolish Pride,
At aught thy Wisdom has deny'd,
Teach me to feel another's Woe,
"Or think Thee LORD ALONE of Man, When thousand Worlds are round;" but the conclufion is a contraft of littleness, "And deal damnation round the land!"
VER. 27. deal damnation] There is fomething elevated in the idea and expreffion,