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And makes what happiness we justly call
He observes that as it is necessary for order, and the peace and welfare of fociety, that external goods should be unequal, happiness is not made to confist in these: for not: withstanding that in inequality, the balance of happineß among mankind is kept even by Providence, by the two pastions of hope and fear.
He tells us what the happiness of individuals is, as far as is confistent with the constitution of this world ;
and here it appears that the good man has evidently the
Know, all the good that individuals find,
After this he points out the error of imputing to virtue what are only the calamities of nature, or of fortune, and also the folly of expećting that God should alter his general laws in favour of particulars. He proves that we are unable to judge who are good, but concludes that whoever they are they must be happy. He observes that
external goods are so far from being the proper rewards of virtue, that they are very often inconfistent with, and destrućtive to it.
What nothing earthly gives, or can destroy,
- Go, like the Indian, in another life
Expect thy dog, thy bottle and thy wife;
To prove that these can make no man happy without virtue, he has confidered the effećt of riches, honours, nobility, greatness, fame, fuperior talents, Sc. and given pictures of human infelicity in men poffess'd of them all; whence he concludes, that virtue only constitutes happinefs, whose object is universal, and whose prospećt eternal; and that the perfection of virtue and happiness confists in a due conformity to the order of providence
here, and a refignation to it here and hereafter.
We have dwelt long enough, perhaps too long, on this poem; but it was necestary to give the whole scope and defign of the poet ; that the reader might fee what art was required to make a subjećt fo diy and metaphysical, instructive and pleasing : and that it is fo will appear by the extra&ts we have taken, which we hope will induce our readers to perufe attentively the poem itself. From the
nature of his plan, the reader will fee that the poet was .
deprived of many embellishments which other subjects will admit of, and tied down as it were to a chain of - - I
argument, which would allow of no digressions, studied fimiles and descriptions, or allusions to ancient fables; the want of which he has supplied, however, with feafonable remarks, and moral reflećtions ; all of them just, and many of them truly sublime.
A wit’s a feather, and a chief a rod ;
The learned editor of the author’s works informs us that this poem is only a part of what the poet intended on the subject, and that the whole would have made four books, of which this was to have been the first; but the author's bad state of health, and fome other confiderations induced him to lay the plan afide: a remnant, however, of what he intended as a subsequent part of this was published under the title of Moral Epistles, which are in number four. The first treats of the knowledge and charać7ers of men ; the fecond, of the charaĉiers of women ; and the two last, of the use of riches ; and from the masterly manner in which these are executed the world has great reason to lament the loss of the rest.
We come now to speak of those preceptive poems that concern our philosophical speculations; and these, thợ the subjećt is fo pregnant with matter, affords fuch a field for fancy, and is fo capable of every decoration, are but few. Lucretius is the most confiderable among the ancients who has written in this manner; and among the moderns I know of none but small detached pieces, except the poem called Anti-Lucretius, which, has not yet re; ceived an Engli/%, dress, and Dr. Akenside's Pleasurii of the Imagination ; both which are worthy of our admiration. Some of the small pieces are also well executed; and there is one entitled the Universe, written by Mr. Baker, from which I shall borrow an example. . .
The author's scheme is in fome measure coincident with Mr. Pope's, fo far especially as it tends to estrain the pride of man, with which design it was profesiedl written. It may be objected, perhaps, that this poem; not preceptive, and therefore not fuitable to our purpose;
but it is to be confidered, that if it is not preceptive, it
Unwife ! and thoughtlefi ! impotent ! and blind!
Is there one joy fincere, that will not tire ?
Nor nearer does he wind, nor farther stray,
More yet remote from day's all-cheering foiirce,
Farthest and last, scarce warm'd by Pbaius' ray,
Who there inhabit must have other pow'rs,
Strange and amazing nwst the difference be,
Wond'rousart thou, O God, in all thy ways!
Ye suns of men! with fatisfaction know, God's own right hand dispenses all below: Nor good nor evil does by chance befall; He reigns supreme, and he directs it all.
At his command, asfrighting human-kind, Comets drag on their blazing lengths behind: Nor, as we think, do they at random rove, But, in determin'd times, through long ellipses move