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And when Harte frequently made the same request, he used to answer, “No, no! you have already done it ;" alluding to Harte's Essay on Reason, which Harte thought a lame apology, and hardly serious. With respect to what has just been mentioned, that Pope was not acquainted with the opinions of his philosophic guide, on the subject of the moral attributes of the Deity, it seems rather strange and incredible that he should not understand the following, among many other passages, to this purpose :
Clarke, after repeating over and over all the moral attributes, that they are the same in God as they are in our ideas, and that he who denies them to be so, may as well deny the divine physical attributes, insists only on two of the former, on those of justice and goodness. He was much in the right to contract the generality of his assertion. The absurdity of ascribing temperance, for instance, or fortitude, to God, would have been too gross and too risible, even to eyes that prejudice had blinded the most. But that of ascribing justice and goodness to him, according to our notions of them, might be better covered, and was enough for his purpose, though not less really absurd.” Vol. iv. p. 298. It is somewhat remarkable, that this very opinion, that we have no clear and adequate ideas of God's moral attributes, is strongly maintained by that excellent man and writer, Archbishop King, in his sermon on Divine Predestination, 1709, which was answered by Anthony Collins, author of the Essay on Freethinking. The person who wrote the spirited and elegant anonymous letter to Dr. Warburton on the supposed severity with which he was thought to have treated Lord Bolingbroke in the View of his Philosophy, was the late Lord Mansfield; and this letter was answered by Dr. Warburton, with much force and apparent mortification, in the apology prefixed to the last edition of this View.
AWAKE, my St. John! leave all meaner things To low ambition, and the pride of Kings. Let us (since Life can little more supply Than just to look about us and to die) Expatiate free o'er all this scene of Man;
5 A mighty maze! but not without a plan; A wild, where weeds and flow’rs promiscuous shoot, Or Garden, tempting with forbidden fruit. Together let us beat this ample field, Try what the open, what the covert yield; 10 The latent tracts, the giddy heights, explore Of all who blindly creep, or sightless soar ; Eye Nature's walks, shoot folly as it flies, And catch the manners living as they rise; Laugh where we must, be candid where we can ; 15 But vindicate the ways of God to Man.
Ver. 12. Of all who blindly creep, &c.] i. e. Those who only follow the blind guidance of their passions ; or those who leave behind them common sense and sober reason, in their high flights through the regions of Metaphysics. Both which follies are exposed in the fourth epistle, where the popular and philosophical errors concerning Happiness are detected. The figure is taken from animal life. W.
Ver. 13. Eye Nature's walks,] These metaphors, drawn from the field sports of setting and shooting, seem much below the dignity of the subject, and an unnatural mixture of the ludicrous and serious.
Ver. 15. Laugh where we must,] “ La sottise (says old MonI. Say first, of God above, or Man below, What can we reason, but from what we know? Of Man, what see we but his station here, From which to reason, or to which refer? 20 Thro' worlds unnumber'd tho' the God be known, 'Tis ours to trace him only in our own. He, who through vast immensity can pierce, See worlds on worlds compose one universe, Observe how system into system runs,
25 What other planets circle other suns, What vary'd Being peoples ev'ry star, May tell why Heav'n has made us as we are.
taigne) est une mauvaise qualité; mais ne la pouvoir supporter, et s'en dépiter et rouger, comme il m'advient, c'est une autre sorte de maladie, qui ne doit gueres à la sottise en importunité."
Ver. 16. But vindicate the ways] Hinting, by this allusion to the well-known line of Milton,
“ And justify the ways of God to man,” that he intended his poem for a defence of Providence as well as Milton, but he took a very different method in pursuing that end. It cannot be doubted that Warburton seriously intended to do service to religion, by endeavouring to place this poem on the side of Revelation, and to take Pope out of the hands of the infidels. But he laboured in vain, and with an ill-grounded zeal ; as would evidently appear if we were to undertake the unpleasing task of collecting all the passages which he has tortured and turned into meanings never dreamt of, or designed by the poet. Ver. 19, 20. Of Man, what see we but his station here,
From which to reason, or to which refer? The sense is, “We see nothing of Man but as he stands at present in his station here : from which station, all our reasonings on his nature and end must be drawn; and to this station they must all be referred." The consequence is, that our reasonings on his nature and end must needs be very imperfect.
But of this frame, the bearings and the ties,
30 Gradations just, has thy pervading soul Look'd through? or can a part contain the whole ?
Is the great chain, that draws all to agree, And drawn supports, upheld by God, or thee?
Ver. 29. But of this frame, the bearings] “ Imagine only some person entirely a stranger to navigation, and ignorant of the nature of the sea or waters, how great his astonishment would be, when finding himself on board some vessel anchoring at sea remote from all land-prospect; whilst it was yet a calm, he viewed the ponderous machine firm and motionless in the midst of the smooth ocean, and considered its foundations beneath, together with its cordage, masts, and sails above. How easily would he see the whole one regular structure, all things depending on one another; the uses of the rooms below, the lodgments, and the conveniences of men and stores ! But being ignorant of the intent, or of all above, would he pronounce the masts and cordage to be useless and cumbersome, and for this reason condemn the frame and despise the architect ? O my friend! let us not thus betray our ignorance ; but consider where we are, and in what universe. Think of the many parts of the vast machine, in which we have so little insight, and of which it is impossible we should know the ends and uses: when, instead of seeing to the highest pendants, we see only some lower deck, and are in this dark case of flesh, confined even to the hold and meanest station of the vessel.” I have inserted this passage at length, because it is a noble and poetical illustration of the foregoing lines, as well as of many other passages in this Essay. Characteristics, vol. ii.
188. The whole doctrine of Plato is contained in this one short sentence: Μέρος μεν ένεκα όλου, και ουχ όλον ένεκα μέρους απεργάζεται. See a very
in A. Gellius, lib. 6. cap. 1. containing the opinion of Chrysippus on the origin of evil.
Ver. 32. Can a part contain the whole ?] “ Hobbes (says Dr. Campbell) acknowledged God the author of all things, but thought, or at least pretended he thought, too reverently of him to believe his nature could be comprehended by human understanding. But what gave a handle to some to treat him as an
II. Presumptuous Man! the reason would'st thou find,
35 Why form’d so weak, so little, and so blind? First, if thou canst, the harder reason guess, Why form'd no weaker, blinder, and no less ? Ask of thy mother Earth, wly oaks are made Taller or stronger than the weeds they shade? 40 Or ask of yonder argent fields above, Why Jove's Satellites are less than Jove?
atheist, was, the contempt he expressed for many of those scholastic terms, invented by assuming men, who would impose their own crude notions of the Divine Being, on their fellow-creatures, as so many articles of faith.” One of the most false and pernicious tenets of Hobbes, was the debasing and disparaging human nature, and saying, that man was to man a wolf; and attempting, as Cudworth expresses it, to “villanize mankind.”
Ver. 35. Presumptuous Mun!] Voltaire, tom. iv. p. 227, has the following remarkable words: I own it flatters me to see that Pope has fallen upon the very same sentiment which I had entertained
many years ago : Vous vous étonnez que Dieu ait fait l'homme si borné, si ignorant, si peu heureux. Que ne vous étonnez-vous, qu'il ne l'ait fait pas plus borné, plus ignorant, et plus malheureux ? Quand un Français et un Anglais pensent de meme, il fait bien qu'ils aient raison.
Ver. 41. Or ask of yonder, &c.] On these lines M. Voltaire thus descants: “ Pope dit que l'homme ne peut savoir pourquoi les Lunes de Jupiter sont moins grandes que Jupiter ? Il se trompe en cela, c'est une erreur pardonable. Il n'y a point de Mathematicien qui n'eut fait voir,” &c. [Vol. ii. p. 384. Ed. Gen.] And so goes on to shew, like a great mathematician as he is, that it would be very inconvenient for the Page to be as big as his Lord and Master. It is pity all this fine reasoning should proceed on a ridiculous blunder. The poet thus reproves the impious complainer of the order of Providence: “You are dissatisfied with the weakness of your condition : but, in your situation, the nature of things requires just such a creature as you are ; in a different situation, it might have required that you should be