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EP I S T L E
ERE then we rest: “ The Universal Cause “ Acts to one end, but acts by various laws."
VARIATION S. VER. I. in several Edit. in 4to.
Learn, Dulness, learn! “ The Universal Cause &c.
COMMENTARY. WE are now come to the third epistle of the Essay on Man. It having been shewn, in explaining the origin, use, and end of the Passions, in the second epistle, that Man hath social as well as selfish passions, that doctrine naturally introduceth the third, which treats of Man as a social animal ; and connects it with the second, which considered him as an INDIVIDUAL. And as the conclusion from the subject of the first epistle made the introduction to the second, so here again, the conclufion of the second
(Ev'n mean Self-love becomes, by force divine,
The scale to measure others wants by thine.)
“ Aets to one end, but afts by various laws.”] The reason of variety in those laws, which tend to one and the fame end, the good of the Whole generally, is, because the good of the individual is likewise to be provided for; both which together make up the good of the Whole universally. And this is the cause, as the poet says elsewhere, that
Each individual seeks a sev’ral goal. But to prevent our resting there, God hath made each need the affiftance of another; and so
On mutual wants built mutual happiness.
In all the madness of superfluous health,
truth be present night and day; 5 But most be present, if we preach or pray., Look round our World; behold the chain of
COMMENTARY. It was necessary to explain these two first lines, the better to see the pertinency and force of what followeth (from ¥ 2 to 7) where the poet warns such to take notice of this truth, whose circumstances placing them in an imaginary station of Independence, and a real one of Insensibility to mutual Wants (from whence general Happiness results) make them but too apt to overlook the true system of things; viz. Men in full health and opulence. This caution was necessary with regard to Society; but still more necessary with regard to Religion : Therefore he especially recommends the memory of it both to Clergy and Laity, when they preach or pray; because the preacher, who doth not consider the first Cause under this view, as a Being consulting the good of the whole, muft needs give a very unworthy idea of him; and the supplicant, who prayeth as one not related to a whole, or as disregarding the happiness of it, will not only pray in vain, but offend his Maker by an impious attempt to counter-work his dispensation.
VER. 7. Look round our World; &c.]. Next he introduceth his fyftem of human Sociability (x 7, 8) by Thewing it to be the
fuperfluous | Auence of health, which not health,] Immoderate labour being used, but abused and and study are the great im- ruined by Luxury, the poet propairers of health : Those,
Those, perly calls a superfluity. whose station sets them above
impudence of both, must needs have an af- | wealth,] Because wealth pre
See plastic Nature working to this end,
15 See life diffolving vegetate again:
COMMENTAR Y. dictate of the Creator; and that Man, in this, did but follow the example of general Nature, which is united in one close system of benevolence.
VER. 9. See plastic Nature working to this end,] This he proveth, firft (from $8 to 13) on the noble theory of Attraction, from the æconomy
of the material world; where there is a general conspiracy in all the particles of Matter to work for one end; the use, beauty, and harmony of the whole mass.
Ver. 13. See Matter next, c.] The second argument (from 12 to 27) is taken from the vegetable and animal world ; whose Beings serve mutually for the production, fupport, and fuftentation of each other.
But this part of the argument, in which the poet tellus, that God
Connects each being, greatest with the least;
NOTES. tends to be wisdom, wit, learn- sensible parts is as necessary as ing, honesty, and, in short, that quality fo equally and uniall the virtues in their turns. versally conferred upon it,
VER. 12. Form'd and im- called Attraction. To exprefs pelled &c.] To make Matter the first part of this thought, lo cohere as to fit it for the our Author says, form’d; and uses intended by its Creator, to express the latter, impellid, a proper configuration of its in
All forms that perish other forms supply,
Has God, thou fool! work'd solely for thy good, Thy joy, thy pastime, thy attire, thy food ?
COMMENTARY. awaking again the old pride of his adversaries, who cannot bear that Man Thould be thought to be serving as well as served ; he takes this occasion again to humble them (from y 26 to 49) by the fame kind of argument he had fo successfully employed in the first epistle, and which our comment on that epistle hath confidered at large.
NOTES. Ver. 22. One all-extending,
VER. 23. Greatest with the all-preferving Soul] Which, in least;] As acting more strongthe language of Sir Isaac New- ly and immediately in beasts, ton, is, Deus omnipræsens eft, whose instinct is plainly an exnon per virtutem folam, sed ternal reason ; which made an etiam per fubftantiam : nam old school-man fay, with great virtus fine substantia subfiftere elegance, Deus eft anima brunon poteft. Newt. Princ. fchol.
In this 'tis God directs
gen, fub fin.
Who for thy table feeds the wanton fawn,
his throat ? Loves of his own and raptures swell the note. The bounding steed you pompously bestride, 35 Shares with his lord the pleasure and the pride. Is thine alone the seed that strews the plain? The birds of heav'n shall vindicate their grain. Thine the full harvest of the golden year? Part pays,
and justly, the deserving steer: The hog, that plows not nor obeys thy call, Lives on the labours of this lord of all.
Know, Nature's children all divide her care; The fur that warms a monarch, warm'd a bear.44 While Man exclaims, “ See all things for my use!" “ See man for mine!” replies a pamper'd goose:
What care to tend, to lodge, to cram, to treat him!
See all things | Lord hath made all things for for my use!] On the contrary, himself. Prov. xvi. 4. the wise man hath faid, The
- VER. 45.