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NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS.
ESSAY ON MAN.
EPISTLE I. P. II.
Not in the neighb'ring moon, as fome have dream'd;
ONDER argent fields above.
Ver. 43. Of fyftems poffible, if 'tis confeft,
That Wisdom Infinite muft from the best,
Then, in the scale of reas'ning life, 'tis plain, There must be, fomewhere, such a rank as Man. "Since infinite wifdom not only established the end, but directed "the means, the fyftem of the universe must neceffarily be the beft of all poffible fyftems."—" It implies no contradiction to say, "that God made a fyftem of creation infinitely wife, and the beft of "all poffible fyftems.""It might be determined in the divine "ideas, that there should be a gradation of life and intellect "throughout the univerfe. In this case it was necessary, that there "fhould be fome creatures at our pitch of rationality-from the insect "" up to man. Bolingbroke, Frag. 43 and 44. Compare below
ver. 239 to 241.
Again in Fragment 49. " If a gradation of animal beings "appeared neceffary or fit-to the fupreme or divine reason "and intention-; why should not we be the creatures we are?"
Ver. 51. Refpecting man, whatever wrong we call,
"The loweft employments to which legislators and magiftrates fubject fome of the perfons they govern in political focieties,
"confidered as parts of a general fyftem, wherein the most minute "are neceffary to make the whole complete, compofe an end worthy of them." Bolingbroke, Frag. 49.
"The feeming imperfection of the parts is neceffary to the real "perfection of the whole." Frag. 50.
Ver. 53. In human works, tho' labour'd on with pain,
"We labour hard, we complicate various means to arrive at one end; and feveral fyftems of conduct are often employed by us to "bring about fome one paultry purpose: but God neither contrives, "nor executes like man. His means are fimple, his purposes "various; and the fame fyftem, that answers the greatest, an"fwers the leaft." Bolingbroke, Frag. 43.-Again, in Frag.63. "In the works of men, the most complicated schemes produce, "very hardly and very uncertainly, one fingle effect in the works "of God, one fingle scheme produces a multitude of different effects, and "anfwers an immenfe variety of purposes."
And in Frag. 43. "We ought to confider the world we inhabit 66 no otherwise than as a little wheel in our folar fyftem; nor our "folar fyftem any otherwise than as a little but larger wheel in "the immenfe machine of the universe; and both the one and the "other neceffary, perhaps, to the motion of the whole, and to the 66 pre-ordained revolutions in it."
Ver. 267. All are but parts of one ftupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and God the foul;
Great in the earth,
That (chang'd thro' all, and yet in all the fame;
Spreads undivided, operates unfpent.
The fentiments of this paffage are not original: but fuch a pregmant concentration of them into poetic numbers of the most beau
tiful embellishment was not to be achieved but by the powers of our unrivalled artist.
A paffage from Clemens Alexandrinus will not be unfeasonable here, Strom. ii. fect. 19. ed. Oxon. "The Stoics affert, that Nature, meaning God, extends even to plants, and feeds, and "trees, and stones." And our Poet is certainly indebted to the following verfes of Mrs, Chandler, on Solitude:
Earth's verdant fcenes, the all-furrounding fkies,
Whence Contemplation wings my foul to God.
Glide in the ftream, and murmur in the rill :
All Nature moves obedient to his will:
Heav'n fhakes, earth trembles, and the forefts nod,
In this paffage there are some lines after the very best manner of Pope himself. Dryden, in the State of Innocence, where he imi tates fome well-known lines of the fixth Eneid, was probably alfa in our Poet's recollection; A&t v.
Where'er thou art, he is; th' eternal mind
These sublime sentiments were derived from the Greek philofophers, and may be found in Cicero, Virgil, Lucan, Apuleius, and many others,
Ver. 285. Submit.-In this, or any other sphere,
Secure to be as bleft as thou canst bear:
"If death translate us, we change our ftate, but we are ftill the "creatures of the fame God. He made us to be happy here; he "may make us happy in another fyftem of being." Bolingbroke, Fragm. 51. And again foon after: "Let the tranquillity "of my mind reft on this immoveable rock, that my future, as "well as my prefent, ftate is ordered by an almighty and all-wife "Creator."
"Creator." And in Fragm. 67. "Be there two worlds, or "be there twenty, the fame God is the God of all; and, where❝ ever we are, we are equally in his power."
EPISTLE II. P. 63.
Plac'd on this ifthmus of a middle ftate;
This is a pleafing variation from the fimilitude of his preceptor; which, however, might probably fuggeft the former claufe of the fecond verfe. "This is the condition of humanity. We are placed
as it were, in an intellectual twilight, where we difcover but few "things clearly, and none entirely; and yet see juft enough to "tempt us with the hope of making better and more discoveries." Bolingbroke's Letters to Pope.
Ver. 23. Go, foar with Plato to th' empyreal sphere,
It was the opinion of Plato and his followers, that every thing excellent or great in man and the univerfe, and even the universe itself, were but adumbrations of the perfect archetypes of excellence, previously exifting in the divine mind, and emanations from it. The reader will find fome pleasing illuftrations of this doctrine in Spencer's Hymn to Heavenlie Beauty, and in the eighteenth fong of Drummond's Poems, part ii. but the paffages are too long for quotation in this place. This notion will reflect light on Milton's Par. Loft, vii. 557. where the expreffion derives it's colouring from that Platonic theory:
Thence to behold this new created world,
EPISTLE III. P. JO.
Ver. 45. While man exclaims," See all things for my ufe!" See man for mine!" exclaims a pamper'd goofe. Cowley, in his Plagues of Ægypt, stanza i.
All creatures the Creator faid were thine:
a paffage, which our poet might have in view; as well as Gay, in fable 49. part i. where the fentiment itself is happily illustrated throughout:
When with huge figs the branches bend,
And cries, "All these were made for me!"
"The hypothesis, that affumes the world made for man, and man "folely to be happy, is not founded in reafon, and is contradicted. "by experience," Bolingbroke, Fragm. 43.
Ver, 112. On mutual wants built mutual happinefs."
"We are defigned to be focial, not folitary creatures. Mutual "wants unite us: and natural benevolence and political order, ọn "which our happiness depends, are founded in them." Bolingbroke, Fragm, 51. So Gray, very beautifully, in his unfinished Essay : "While mutual wishes, mutual woes, endear;
The focial fmile, and fympathetic tear,"
Ver. 124. They love themselves, a third time, in their race. "As our parents loved themselves in us, fo we love ourselves in our "children, and in those to whom we are moft nearly related by "blood. Thus far inftinct improves felf-love. Reafon improves it "further. We love ourselves in our neighbours and in our "friends. We love ourfelves in loving the political body whofe "members we are; and we love ourfelves, when we extend our "benevolence to all mankind." Bolingbroke, Fragm, 51. with `which compare below, ver. 134.
VER, 249. She, 'midft the lightning's blaze, and thunder's
When rock'd the mountains, and when groan'd the
She taught the weak to bend, the proud to pray,
Prætereà, cui non animus formidine Divûm