« ZurückWeiter »
Did here the trees with ruddier burdens bend,
rills descend ? What War could ravish, Commerce could bestow, And he return'd a friend, who came a foe. 206 Converse and Love mankind may strongly draw, When Love was Liberty, and Nature Law. Thus States were form’d ; the name of King un
known, Till common int'rest plac'd the sway in one.
Ver. 208. When Love was Liberty,] i. e.
When men had no need to guard their native liberty from their governors by civil pactions ; the love which each master of a family had for those under his care being their best security. W.
Ver. 209. Thus States were form’d;] Having thus explained the original of Civil Society, he shews us next (from Ver. 208 to 215) that to this Society a civil magistrate, properly so called, did belong: and this in confutation of that idle hypothesis, which pretends that God conferred the regal title on the Fathers of families; from whence men, when they had instituted Society, were to fetch their Governors. On the contrary, our Author shews, that a King was unknown, till common interest, which led men to institute civil government, led them at the same time, to institute a Governor. However, that it is true that the same wisdom or valour, which gained regal obedience from sons to the sire, procured kings a paternal authority, and made them considered as fathers of their people. Which probably was the original (and, while mistaken, continues to be the chief support) of that slavish error : Antiquity representing its earliest monarchs under the idea of a common father, Tarno åvopwv. Afterward, indeed, they became a kind of foster-fathers, Toquéva lawy, as Homer calls one of them : till at length they began to devour that flock they had been so long accustomed to shear; and, as Plutarch says of Cecrops, εκ χρηστου βασιλέως άγριον και δρακοντώδη γενόμενον ΤΥΡΑΝΝΟN. W.
From the manuscripts of James Harris, Esq. “ The highest order of men are wise and honest legislators: next to them come wise and honest magistrates: next to these, military command
'Twas VIRTUE ONLY (or in arts or arms, Diffusing blessings, or averting harms) The same which in a Sire the Sons obey’d, A Prince the Father of a People made. VI. Till then, by Nature crown'd, each Patriarch sate,
215 King, priest, and parent, of his growing state, On him, their second Providence, they hung, Their law his eye, their oracle his tongue. He from the wond’ring furrow call’d the food, Taught to command the fire, control the flood, 220
ers, whether naval or terrestrial: next to these, the tribe of artists, as well the elegant as the necessary : next to these, farmers, hinds, and labourers ; then come idle men of great family, patent-gatherers, knights, and baronets, mumpers, fortune-tellers, gypsies, gentlemen without possessions ; all who injure society either by fraud or rapine, or at least by ingratitude, in partaking of its benefits, without regarding the great duty of contributing their own endeavours."
Ver. 211. 'Twas Virtue only, &c.] Our Author hath good authority for this account of the origin of kingship. Aristotle assures us, that it was Virtue only, or in arts or arms: Kaliotatai Βασιλεύς εκ των επιεικών καθ' υπεροχήν αρετής, η πράξεων των από της αρετής, ή καθ' υπεροχήν τοιούτου γένους. W.
Ver. 214. A Prince the Father] Joinville relates, that he had frequently seen St. Louis, after having heard mass in the summer, seat himself at the foot of an old oak in the forest of Vin-! cennes, where any one of his subjects might approach him, and lay his business or complaint before this good king. Our Author would have much improved all that he says of Government, if he had lived to have read one of the best, perhaps, of all treatises on politics, that of the President Montesquieu.
Ver. 219. He from the wond'ring] A finer example can perhaps scarce be given of a compact and comprehensive style. The manner in which the four elements were subdued is comprised in these four lines alone. Pope is here, as Quintillian says of
Draw forth the monsters of th' abyss profound,
another, “ densus et brevis, et instans sibi.” There is not a useless word in this passage; there are but three epithets, wondering, profound, aërial; and they are placed precisely with the very substantive that is of most consequence: if there had been epithets joined with the other substantives, it would have weakened the nervousness of the sentence. This was a secret of versification Pope well understood, and hath often practised with peculiar success.
Ver. 225. Then looking up, &c.] The Poet here maketh their more serious attention to Religion to have arisen, not from their gratitude amidst abundance, but from their inability in distress ; by shewing, that, in prosperity, they rested in second causes, the immediate authors of their blessings, whom they revered as God; but that, in adversity, they reasoned up to the First :
“ Then, looking up from sire to sire," &c. This, I am afraid, is but too true a representation of humanity. W.
Ver. 225 to Ver. 240.] M. Du Resnel, not apprehending that the Poet was here returned to finish his description of the State of Nature, has fallen into one of the grossest errors that ever was committed. He has mistaken this account of truc Religion for an account of the origin of Idolatry; and thus he fatally embellishes his own blunder:
“ Jaloux d'en conserver les traits et la figure,
Leur aveugle respect l'adore et le révere.”
Or plain tradition that this All begun,
Father. But he should have considered, that Mr. Pope always represents God under the idea of a FATHER: He should have observed that the Poet is here describing those men who
“To Virtue, in the paths of pleasure trod
And own’d a Father, where they own’d a God.” W. Ver. 226. that first ador'd.] In Hume's celebrated discourse on the Natural History of Religion, he endeavours to prove, that,
considering the improvement of human society, from rude beginnings to a state of greater perfection, Polytheism or Idolatry was, and necessarily must have been, the first religion of mankind; and that the past ideas of religion arose not from a contemplation of the works of Nature, but from a concern with regard to the events of life, and from the incessant hopes and fears which actuate the human mind.” This was answered by Bishops Warburton and Hurd. Ver. 227. that this All begun,]
“Some few, whose lamp shone brighter, have been led
For what could fathom God were more than he.” This passage is from the Religio Laici of Dryden. It is a pleasing and useful amusement, to compare the didactic style of
The worker from the work distinct was known,
Who first taughtsouls enslav'd, and realms undone, Th' enormous faith of many made for one;
Pope with that of his master, and see which of them has the art of reasoning best in verse.
Ver. 231. Ere Wit oblique, &c.] A beautiful allusion to the effects of the prismatic glass on the rays of light. W.
Ver. 232. Man, like his Maker,] It was before the Fall of Man, as the sacred historian tells us, that God pronouncedThat all was good. But we must bear in mind that our Author never adverts to, or argues from, or supposes, any lapsed condition of Man.
Ver. 241. Who first taught] “ What flatterers of princes often tell us, that monarchy was the earliest form, is rather dishonourable to it; importing, indeed, that it at first pleased a rude and inexperienced populace, but could not continue to please upon experience and the increase of wisdom. And indeed in nothing could one less expect that the first essays could be perfect, than in a constitution of civil policy; a work requiring the greatest knowledge and prudence, to be acquired only by much thought and experience of human life. The several great inconveniences attending each of the simple forms, shew the necessity of having recourse to the mixed and complex ; and the several great advantages peculiar to each of the simple, shew that those mixed