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As much eternal fprings and cloudless skies,
"of this Frame, the bearings and the ties,
ftorms and tempefts, clouds, rain, heat, and variety of feasons, are neceffary (notwithstanding the accidental evil they bring with them) to the health and plenty of this Globe; why then fhould you suppose there is not the fame use, with regard to the Universe, in a Borgia or a Catiline? But you say you can see the one, and not the other. You fay right: one terminates in this fyftem, the other refers to the Whole: which Whole can be comprehended by none but the great Author himself. For, fays the Poet in another place,
Own therefore, fays he, that
"From Pride, our very Reas'ning fprings;
Look'd through? or can a part contain the whole ?"
"Refpecting Man, whatever wrong we call,
VER. 155. If plagues, &c.] What hath misled Mr. de Croufaz in his cenfure of this paffage, is his fuppofing the comparison to be between the effects of two things in this fublunary world; when not only the elegancy, but the juftness of it, confifts in its being between the effects of a thing in the universe at large, and the familiar known effects of one in this fublunary world. For the pofition inforced in these lines is this, that partial evil tends to the good of the whole.
How does the Poet inforce it? If you will believe this Critic, in illustrating the effects of partial moral evil in a particular system, by that of partial natural evil in the fame fyftem, and fo he leaves
Who knows but He, whofe hand the light'ning
Who heaves old Ocean, and who wings the storms Pours fierce Ambition in a Cæfar's mind,
Or turns young Ammon loose to fcourge mankind? 160
From pride, from pride, our very reas'ning fprings;
Better for Us, perhaps, it might appear,
VER. 165. Better for Us, &c.] But, fecondly, to ftrengthen the foregoing analogical argument, and to make the wisdom and goodnefs of God ftill more apparent, he observes (from ver. 164 to 173.), that moral evil is not only productive of good to the Whole, but is even productive of good in our own fyftem. It might, fays he, perhaps
his pofition in the lurch. But the Poet reafons at another rate: The way to prove his point, he knew, was to illuftrate the effect of partial moral evil in the universe, by partial natural evil in a par ticular fyftem. Whether partial moral evil tend to the good of the Universe, being a question which, by reafon of our ignorance of many parts of that Univerfe, we cannot decide but from known effects; the rules of good reafoning require that it be proved by analogy, i. e. fetting it by, and comparing it with, a thing clear and certain; and it is a thing clear and certain, that partial natural evil tends to the good of our particular fyftem. WARBURTON.
VER. 157. Who knows but He, &c.] The fublimity with which the great Author of Nature is here characterised, is but the second beauty of this fine paffage. The greatest is the making the very difpenfation objected to, the periphrafis of his title. WARBURTON.
That never air or ocean felt the wind;
perhaps appear better to us, that there were nothing in this world but peace and virtue:
"That never air or ocean felt the wind;
That never paffion difcompos'd the mind."
But then confider, that as our material fyftem is fupported by the ftrife of its elementary particles; so is our intellectual system by the conflict of our Paffions, which are the elements of human action.
"Contracted all, retiring to the breast :
But health of mind is Exercife, not Rest."
In a word, as without the benefit of tempeftuous winds, both air and ocean would ftagnate, corrupt, and spread univerfal contagion throughout all the ranks of animals that inhabit, or are fupported by, them; fo, without the benefit of the Paffions, fuch Virtue as was merely the effect of the abfence of those Paffions, would be a lifeless calm, a ftoical Apathy.
Epiftle ii. ver. 103. Therefore, inftead of regarding the conflicts of the elements, and the Paffions of the mind, as diforders, you ought to confider them as part of the general order of Providence: and that they are so, appears from their always preferving the fame unvaried course, throughout all ages, from the creation to the present time: "The gen❜ral Order, fince the Whole began, Is kept in Nature, and is kept in Man.”
We fee, therefore, it would be doing great injuftice to our author to fufpect that he intended by this to give any encouragement to Vice. His fyftem, as all his Ethic Epiftles fhew, is this: That the Paffions, for the reafons given above, are neceffary to the fupport of Virtue: That, indeed, the Paffions in excess produce Vice, which is, in its own nature, the greatest of all evils, and comes into the world from the abufe of Man's free-will; but that God, in his infinite wisdom and goodness, deviously turns the natural bias
VER. 167. That never air or ocean] An acute critic asks if it fhould not be-That never earth or ocean?—not air. WARTON.
But ALL fubfifts by elemental ftrife;
of its malignity to the advancement of human happiness, and makes it productive of general Good:
"TH' ETERNAL ART EDUCES GOOD FROM ILL."
Epiftle ii. ver. 175. This, fet against what we have obferved of the Poet's doctrine of a future ftate, will furnish us with an inftance of his fleering (as he well expreffes it in his preface) between doctrines feemingly oppofite: if his Efay has any merit, he thinks it is in this. And doubtlefs it is uncommon merit to reject the vifions and abfurdities of every Syftem, and take in only what is rational and real.
The CHARACTERISTICS and the FABLE OF THE BEES are two feemingly inconfiftent systems; the folly of the firft is in giving scheme of Virtue without Religion; and the knavery of the latter, in giving a scheme of Religion without Virtue. These our Poet leaves to any that will take them up; but agrees, however, so far with the firft, that "Virtue would be worth having, though itself was its only reward;" and fo far with the latter, that "God makes Evil, against its nature, productive of Good."
VER. 169. But ALL fulfifts, &c.] See this fubject extended in Epiftle ii. from ver. 90 to 112. 155, &c. WARBURTON.
VER. 171. The gen'ral ORDER,] It feems utterly impoffible to explain these two remarkable. lines in a way at all reconcileable to the doctrine of a lapfed condition of man, which opinion is the chief foundation of the Chriftian revelation, and the capital argument for the neceffity of redemption.
"That fyftem of philofophy," fays an able writer, "which profeffes to juftify the ways of God to man, without having recourse to the doctrine of a future ftate, muft ever be confidered as in the highest degree inimical to religion, whose 'very nature and effence it is to direct our views beyond the narrow limits of the present D 3 flate
VI. What would this Man? Now upward will he
And little lefs than Angels, would be more;
VER. 173. What would this Man? &c.] Having thus justified Providence in its permiffion of partial MORAL EVIL, our author employs the remaining part of his Epiftle in vindicating it from the imputation of certain fuppofed NATURAL EVILS. For now he fhews (from ver. 172 to 207.), that though the complaint of his adverfaries againft Providence be on pretence of real moral evils; yet, at bottom, it all proceeds from their impatience under imaginary natural ones, the iffue of a depraved appetite for vifionary advantages, which if Man had, they would be either useless or pernicious to him, as repugnant to his ftate, or unfuitable to his condition. Though God (fays he) hath fo bountifully beftowed on Man faculties little lefs than angelic, yet he ungratefully grafps at higher; and then, extravagant in another extreme, with a paffion as ridiculous as that is impious, envies, as what would be advantages to himself, even the peculiar accommodations of brutes. But here his own falfe principles expofe the folly of his falfer appetites. He supposes them all made for his ufe: now what use could he have of them, when he had robbed them of all their qualities? Qualities distributed with the highest wisdom, as they are divided at prefent; but which, if bestowed according to the froward
ftate of existence." See Eflays Philofophical, Historical, and Literary, p. 399, for fome very acute observations on the Effay on Man.
Pope in these lines uses almoft the very words of Bolingbroke: "To think worthily of God, we must think that the natural order of things has always been the fame; and that a being of infinite wisdom and knowledge, to whom the paft and the future are like the prefent, and who wants no experience to inform him, can have no reason to alter what infinite wisdom and knowledge have once done." Section 58. Effays to Fope. WARTON.
VER. 174. And little lefs than Angels, &c.] Thou haft made him a little lower than the Angels, and haft crowned him with glory and honour. Pfalm viii. 9. WARBURTON.