« ZurückWeiter »
But as he fram'd the whole, the whole to bless,
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 interest, and the love; With choice we fix, with sympathy we burn;
135 Each Virtue in each Passion 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 natural love maintain'd, habitual those: 140 The last, scarce ripen'd into perfect Man, Saw helpless him from whom their life began:
is founded and preserved by mutual wants, the supplial of which causeth mutual happiness ; so it is likewise in right, as a rational Society, by equity, gratitude, and the observance of the relation of things in general.
Memory and forecast just returns engage,
145 Still spread the interest, and preserv'd the kind. IV. Nor think, in NATURE'S STATE they blindly
150 Pride then was not; nor arts, that pride to aid; Man walk’d with beast, joint tenant of the shade;
Ver. 147. Nor think, in Nature's State they blindly trod ;] But the Atheist and Hobbist, against whom Mr. Pope argueth, deny the principle of Right, or of natural Justice, before the invention of civil compact ; which, they say, gave being to it; and accordingly have had the effrontery publicly to declare, that a state of Nature was a state of War. This quite subverteth the Poet's natural Society ; therefore, after this account of that state, he proceedeth to support the reality of it, by overthrowing the oppugnant principle of no natural Justice ; which he doth (from ver. 146 to 169) by showing, in a fine description of the state of Innocence, as represented in Scripture, that a state of Nature was so far from ing without natural Justice, that it was, at first, the reign of God, where Right and Truth universally prevailed.
Ver. 152. Man walk'd with beast, joint tenant of the shade ;] The Poet still takes his imagery from Platonic ideas, for the reason given above. Plato had said, from old tradition, that, during the Golden age, and under the reign of Saturn, the primitive language then in use was common to man and beasts. Moral instructors took advantage of the popular sense of this tradition, to convey their precepts under those fables which gave speech to the whole brute creation. The Naturalists understood the tradition in the contrary sense, to signify, that, in the first ages, Men used inarticulate sounds, like beasts, to express their wants and sensations ; and that it was by slow degrees they came_to the use of speech. This opinion was afterwards held by Lucretius, Diodorus Sic., and Gregory of Nyss.Warburton.
Ver. 152. Man walk'd with beast,] Lucretius, agreeably to his more uncomfortable system, has presented us with a different and more horrid picture of this state of Nature. The calamitous condition of Man is exhibited by images of much energy and wildness of fancy ; see ver. 980. book v. ; and particularly when he represents, at ver. 991, some of these wretched mortals mangled by the wild beasts, into whose caverns they had retreated for shelter in tempestuous seasons, and running distracted with pain through the woods, with their wounds undressed and putrifying :
ulcera tetra tenentes Palmas, horriferis accibant vocibus Orcum. Pain is most forcibly expressed by the action here described, and by the epithet “tremulas."-Warton.
The same his table, and the same his bed ;
Ver. 156. All vocal beings, &c.) This may be well explained by a sublime passage of the Psalmist, who, calling to mind the age of Innocence, and full of the great ideas of those
“ Chains of Love
Beast, Man, or Angel, Servant, Lord, or King ;" breaks out into this rapturous and divine apostrophe, to call back the devious Creation to its pristine rectitude ; that very state our author describes above: “ Praise the Lord, all angels ; praise him, all ye hosts. Praise ye him, sun and moon ; praise him, all ye stars of light,” &c. Psalm cxlviii.-Warburton.
Ver. 157. undress’d, unbrib’d, unbloody,] Alliteration is here used with effect. But is the assertion consistent with the usual interpretation of the Scripture account of the origin of sacrifice ?—Warton.
Ver. 158. Unbrib'd, unbloody, 8c.] i. e. the state described from ver. 262 to 269 was not yet arrived. For then, when Superstition was become so extreme as to bribe the Gods with human sacrifices, Tyranny became necessitated to woo the priest for a favourable answer.-Warburton.
Ver. 159. Heav'n's attribute, &c.] The Poet supposeth the truth of the Scripture account, that Man was created Lord of this inferior world (Ep. i. ver. 230)
Subjected these to those, and all to thee.” What hath misled some to imagine that our author hath here fallen into a contradiction, was, suppose, such passages as these, Ask for what end the heav'nly bodies shine, &c.; and again, Has God, thou fool! work'd solely for thy good, 8c. But, in truth, this is so far from contradicting what he had said of Man's prerogative, that it greatly confirms it, and the Scripture account concerning it. And because the licentious manner in which this subject has been treated, has made some readers jealous and mistrustful of the author's sober meaning, I shall endeavour to explain it. Scripture says, that man was made lord of this sublunary world. But intoxicated with Pride, the common effect of sovereignty, he erected himself, like little partial monarchs, into a tyrant. And as tyranny consists in supposing all made for the use of one, he took those freedoms with all, which are the consequence of such a principle. He soon began to consider the whole animal creation as his slaves rather than his subjects : as created for no use of their own, but for his use only ; and therefore treated them with the utmost cruelty ; and not content, to add insult to his cruelty, he endeavoured to philosophize himself into an opinion that these animals were mere machines, insensible of pain or pleasure. Thus Man affected to be the Wit as well as Tyrant of the whole. So that it became one who VOL. IV.
Ah! how unlike the Man of times to come!
See him from Nature rising slow to Art!
Ver. 169. See him from Nature rising slow to Art!] Strict method (in which, by this time, the reader finds the Poet to be more conversant, than some were aware of) leads him next to speak of that society, which succeeded the Natural, namely, the Civil. He first explains (from ver. 168 to 199) the intermediate means which led Mankind from natural to civil Society. These were the invention and improvement of Arts. For while nien lived in a mere state of Nature, there was no need of any other government than the Paternal ; but when Arts were found out and improved, then that more perfect form, under the direction of a Magistrate, became necessary. And for these reasons ; first, to bring those Arts, already found, to perfection ; and, secondly, to secure the product of them to their rightful proprietors. The Poet, therefore, comes now, as we say, to the invention of Arts; but being always intent on the great end for which he wrote his Essay, namely, to mortify that Pride which occasions all the impious complaints against Providence ; he speaks of these inventions as only lessons learnt of mere animals guided by Instinct : and thus, at the same time, gives a new instance of the wonderful Providence of God, who hath continued to teach mankind in a way, not only proper to humble human pride, but to raise our idea of divine wisdom to the highest pitch. This he does in a prosopopæia the most sublime that ever entered into the human imagination :
Thus then to Man the voice of Nature spake :
Be crown'd as Monarchs, or as Gods ador'd.” The delicacy of the Poet's address in the first part of the last line, is very remarkable. In this paragraph he hath given an account of those intermediate means, which led Men from natural to civil Society, that is to say, the invention and improvement of Arts. Now here, on his conclusion of this account, and on his entry upon the description of civil Society itself, he connects the two parts the most gracefully that can be conceived, by this true historical circumstance, that it was the invention of those Arts which raised to the Magistracy, in this new Society formed for the perfecting of them.
adhered to the Scripture account of Man's dominion to reprove this abuse of it, and to show that
Heav'n's attribute was Universal Care,
And Man's prerogative to rule, but spare.”—Warburton. Ver. 162. the butcher and the tomb ;] Plutarch has written a treatise
Thus then to Man the voice of Nature spake-
against animal food ; tom. ii. 995. Thomson, with his usual tenderness, has done the same ; Spring, v. 330.—Warton.
Ver. 171. Thus then to Man the voice of Nature spake
“ Go, &c.]
M. Du Resnel has translated the lines thus :
“ La Nature indignée alors se fit entendre ;
Va, malheureux mortel, va, lui dit-elle, apprendre." One would wonder what should make the translator represent Nature in such a passion with Man, and calling him names, at a time when Mr. Pope supposed her in her best good-humour. But what led him into this mistake was another as gross. His author having described the State of innocence which ends at these lines,
“ Heav'n's attribute was Universal Care,
And Man's prerogative to rule, but spare,”. turns from those times, to a view of these latter ages, and breaks out into this tender and humane complaint,
Ah! how unlike the Man of times to come,
Of half that live the butcher and the tomb,” &c. Unluckily, M. Du Resnel took this man of times to come for the corrupter of that first age ; and so imagined the Poet had introduced Nature only to set things right: he then supposed, of course, she was to be very angry; and not finding the author had represented her in any great emotion, he was willing to improve upon his original.—Warburton.
Ver. 171. the voice of Nature] The prosopopeia is magnificent, and the occasion important, no less than the origin of the arts of life. Nature is personified by Lucretius, and introduced speaking with suitable majesty and elevation. She is chiding her foolish and ungrateful children for their vain and impious discontent: “Quid tibi tantopere est, mortalis, quod nimis ægris
Luctibus indulges ? quid mortem congemis, ac fes ?—
Aufer abhinc lacrymas, barathro et compesce querelas.” There is an authoritative air in the brevity of this sentence, as also in the concluding line of her speech ; and particularly in the very last words :
Æquo animoque, agedum, jam aliis concede : necesse est.” This fine prosopopoeia in our author, is not, as Dr. Warburton asserted, the most sublime that ever entered into the human imagination, for we see Lucretius used it before.
The Romans have left us scarcely any piece of poetry so striking and original as the beginning and progress of Arts, at the end of the fifth book of Lucretius ; who perhaps, of all the Roman poets, had the strongest imagination. The Persians distinguish the different degrees of Fancy in different Poets, by calling them Painters or Sculptors. Lucretius, from the force of his images, should be ranked among the latter. He is in truth a Sculptor Poet. His images have a bold relief. Of this noble prosopopeia in Lucretius, Addison seems to have thought in a well-known passage of Cato :
“ All Nature cries aloud Thro' all her works.”.
Warton. Ver. 178. Learn from the birds, &c.] It is a caution commonly practised