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Thi eternal Art educing Good from Ti,
See Anger, Zeal and Fortitude fupply
The Wisdom of the divine Artist is, as the Poet finely observes, very illustrious in this Contrivance; For the Mind and Body having now one common Intereft, the Efforts of Virtue will have their Force infinitely augmented : Tis thus the Mercury of Man is fixt, Strong grows the Virtue with his Nature mixt; The Dross cements what else were too refin’d, And in one Interest Body acts with Mind.
After this the Poet speaks largely concerning Virțue and Vice, about which his Way of thinking is very remarkable: He fays, there is no Virtue but what will grow either on Pride or Shame, and that Nature gives us thofe Virtues which are nearest allied to our Vices : Reason the Bials turns from Good to ill, And Nero reigns a Titus if he will. He says likewise, that the Virtues are grafted on the Paffions, and that Wit and Honesty are often produc'd from Spleen, Fear, Hate, and Obstinacy, that Prudence often arises from Avarice, and Philofophy from Sloth, and that Envy, with but little Change becomes Emulation, that the Difference is
too nice to suffer us to distinguish where Virtue ends and Vice begins, then how can it be known? He makes the Query and answers it himself: This Light and Darkness in our Chaos join'd, What shall divide !--The God within the Mind.
This, the Commentator says, is a Platonick Phrase for Conscience, and here employ'd with great Judgment and Propriety-The God, that is the Law of God within the Mind; and if there be such a Law, it puts all the different Religions upon a Level, each Man having within him this Law: And this we shall find to have been the Sentiment of Mr. Dryden also, whose Thoughts are so frequently to be parallell'd with Mr. Pope's.
That, if the Gentiles, (whom no Law inspir’d) By Nature did what was by Law requir'd; They, who the written Rule had never known, Were to themselves both Rule and Law alone : To Nature's plain Indictment they shall plead : And, by tveir Conscience, be condemnd or freed. That is, they who assent and submit to that which their Souls are thoroughly convinc'd of, it shall be to them as a Law, and by it they stand justified, and is what Mr. Pope calls the God within the Mind; yet he desires not to be misunderstood, as if there were no such Thing as Virtue or Vice, he only says, they are so mix'd in us, that sometimes we scarcely know how to distinguish them : Ask your own Heart, and nothing is so plain; 'Tis to miftake them, costs the Time and Pain. In the following Lines he very finely describes by what insensible Degrees we are drawn to become fond of Vice, which at first affrighted us.
After this he shews the Imperfection of the best,
That counterworks each Folly and Caprice;
Hitherto the Poet hath been employ'd in discourfing of the Use of the Pafions, with regard to Society at large, and in freeing his Doctrine from Objections.
This is the first general Division of the Subject of this Epiftley
He comes to thew (from l. 238 to 251) the Use of these Paffions, with regard to the more confin'd Circle of our Friends, Relations, and Acquaintance. And this is the second general Divifion :
Wants, Frailties, Palions closer ftill ally The common Int’reft, or endear the Tie: To these we owe true Friendship, Love fincere, Each home-felt Joy that Life inherits here : Yet from the same we learn in its Decline Those Joys, those Loves, those Int'rests to resign. So that Folly and Caprice are by this Counter-working of Providence, happy Frailties producing Good, and the Effect of Vice being disappointed, all Things are tending to Good, though in Appearance and in the present Action ill.
" To thefe Frailties (fays he) we owe all the En« dearments of private Life, yet, when we come “ to that Age, which generally disposes Men to think « more seriously of the true Value of Things, and « consequently, of their Provision for a future State, « the Consideration that the Grounds of those Joys, « Loves and Friendships, are Wants, Frailties and « Pasions, proves the best Expedient to wean us « from the World; a Disengagement so friendly to so that Provision we are making for another.”
The Observation is new, and would in any Place be extremely beautiful, but has here an Infinite Grace and Propriety, as it so well confirms, by an Instance of great Moment, the Poet's general The sis, That God makes Ill, at every Step, productive
The Poet (says his Commentator) having thus fhcwn the Use of the Passions in Society and in do
mestick Life, he comes in the last Place (from l. 250 to the End] to fhew their Use to the Individual, even in their Illusions ; the imaginary. Happiness they prefent, helping to make the real Miseries of Life less insupportable. And this is his third general Division :
Opinion gilds with varying Rays Those painted Clouds that beautify our Days. Each Want of Happiness by Hope fupply'd, And each Vacuity of Sense by Pride...19 These build as fast as Knowledge can destroy: cos In Folly's Cup ftill laughs the Bubble Joymara One Profpect loft, another still we gain ; And not a Vanity is given in vain. Which must needs vastly raise our Idea of God's Goodness, who hath not only provided more than a Counter-balance of real Happiness to human Miferies, but hath even, in his infinite Compassion, beftow'd on thofe who were so foolish as not to have made this Provifion, an imaginary Happiness ; - that they may not be quite over-borne with the Load of human Miseries. This is the Poet's great and noble Thought, as strong and solid as it is new and ingenious.
The Poet endeavours likewife to thew, that notwithstanding the seeming Difcontent, which appears in all States and Stations of Life, yet every Body is fo thoroughly pleas’d in Reality with what they are, that nothing could prevail upon them to be any other Person, the Riches or Power of one might please them, but then their Perfon, their Humour, their Wit, or certainly something would prevent the Change, were it possible : Whate'er the Passion, Knowledge, Fame, or Pelf, Not one will change his Neighbour with himself.