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which a MS. note of his thus explaing : “ The author undoubtedly meant this as a "Sarcasm on the ignorance of those friends “ of his, who were dạily pestering him for “? more Elays on Man, as not seeing that the
four Epiftles he had published entirely com“ pleated that subject.' But it must be owned, that the Public, by the great and continued demand for his Esay, fufficiently freed itself from this įmputation of wrong Judgment. And how great and continued that demand has been, appears from the vast variety of pi. rated and imperfect Edition continually obtruded on the world, ever since the first publication of the Poem, and which no repeated profecutions of the Offenders have been able totally to restrain
These were the confiderations which have now induced the Proprietor to give one perfect Edition of the. Esay. on Man, from Mr. Pope's last corrections and improvements; that the Public may from henceforth be supplied with this Poem alone, in a manner suitable to its dignity, and to the honest intention of its great Author.
Concerning the UNIVERSAL PRAYER, which concludes the Esay, it may be proper to observe, that, fome passages in the Esay
having been unjustly suspected of a tendency towards Fate and Naturalism, the Author composed that Prayer as the Sum of all, to Thew that his System was founded in Free-will, and terminated in Piety: That the first Cause was as well the Lord and Governor as the Creator of the Univerfe; and that by. Submission to his Will (the great principle inforced throughout the Esay) was not meant the suffering ourselves to be carried along with a blind determination; but a religious acquiescence, and confidence full of hope and immortality. To give all this the greater weight and reality the Poet chose for his Model the LORD'S PRAYER, which of all others best deserves the title prefixed to his Paraphrase.
The Reader will excuse my adding a word concerning the Frontispiece ; which, as it was designed and drawn by Mr. Pope himself, would be a kind of Curiosity, had not the excellence of the thought otherwise recommended it. We see it represents the Vanity of human Glory, in the false pursuits after Happiness: where the Ridicule in the Curtain cobweb, the death's head crowned with laurel, and the several Inscriptions, have all the force and beauty of one of his best written Satires : Nor is there less expression in the bearded Phi
losopher fitting by a fountain running to waste, and blowing up bubbles with a straw from a small portion of water taken out of it, in a dirty dish; admirably representing the vain business of School-Philosophy, that, with a little artificial logic, sits inventing airy arguments in support of false science, while the human Understanding at large is suffered to lie waste and uncultivated,
AVING proposed to write some pieces on
Human Life and Manners, such as (to use my Lord Bacon's expreflion) come home to Men's Business and Bofoms, I thought it more satisfactory to begin with confidering Man in the abstract, his Nature and his State : lince, to prove any moral duty, to enforce any moral precept, or to examine the perfection or imperfection of any creature whatsoever, it is necessary first to know what condition and relation it is placed in, and what is the proper end and purpose of its being.
The science of Human Nature is, like all other sciences, reduced to a few clear points: There are not many certain truths in this world. It is therefore in the anatomy of the Mind as in that of the Body: more good will accrue to mankind by attending to the large, open, and perceptible parts, than by Itudying too much fuch' finer nerves and vessels, the conformations and uses of which will for ever escape our observation. The disputes are all upon these laft, and I will venture to say, they have less sharpned the wits than the hearts of men against each other, and have diminished the practice more than advanced the theory of Morality. If I could Aatter myself that this Effay has any merit, it is in steering betwixt the extremes of doctrines seemingly opposite; in paffing over terms utterly unintelligible; and in forming a temperate, yet not inconfiftent; and a short, yet not imperfect system of Ethics.
This I might have done in prose; but I chofc verse, and even rhyme, for two reasons: The one will appear obvious; that principles, maxims, or precepts so written both strike the reader more strongly at first, and are more easily retained by him afterwards. The other may seem odd, but it is true; I found I could express them more shortly this way than in prose itself, and nothing is truer than that much of the force, as well as grace, of arguments or instructions depends on their conciseness. I was unable to treat this part of my subjeét more in detail, without becoming dry and tedious; or more poetically, without facrificing perfpicuity to ornament, without wandering from the precision, or breaking the chain of reafoning. If any man can unite all these, without diminution of any of them, I freely confess he will compass a thing above my capacity,
What is now published, is only to be considered as à general map of Man, marking out no more that the greater parts, their extent, their limits, and their connexion, but leaving the particular to be more fully delineated in their charts which are to follow. Confequently these Epistles in their progress (if I make any progress) will be less dry, and more susceptible of poetical ornament. I am here only opening the fountains, and clearing the passage: to deduce the rivers, to follow them in their course, and to observe their effects, would be a talk more agreeable.