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ARGUMENT OF EPISTLE III.
Of the Nature and State of Man with respect to
I. THE whole Universe one system of Society, Ver. 7, &c. Nothing made wholly for itself, nor yet wholly for another, Ver. 27. The happiness of Animals mutual, Ver. 49. II. Reason or Instinct operate alike to the good of each Individual, Ver. 79. Reason or Instinct operate also to Society, in all animals, Ver. 109. III. How far Society carried by Instinct, Ver. 115. How much farther by Reason, Ver. 128. IV. Of that which is called the State of Nature, Ver. 144. Reason instructed by Instinct in the Invention of Arts, Ver. 166; and in the Forms of Society, Ver. 176. V. Origin of Political Societies, Ver. 196. Origin of Monarchy, Ver. 207. Patriarchal Government, Ver. 212. VI. Origin of true Religion and Government, from the same principle, of Love, Ver. 231, &c. Origin of Superstition and Tyranny, from the same principle, of Fear, Ver. 237, &c. The Influence of Self-love operating to the social and public Good, Ver. 266. Restoration of true Religion and Government on their first principle, Ver. 285. Mixt Government, Ver. 288. Various Forms of each, and the true end of all, Ver. 300, &c.
HERE then we rest: "The Universal Cause
Ver. 1. In several Edit. in 4to.
Learn, Dulness, learn! "The Universal Cause," &c.
Ver. 1. The Universal Cause] Voltaire concludes his objections to Optimism with the following words: "Ce systême, du tout est bien, ne represente l'auteur de toute la nature que comme un roi puissant et mal-faisant, qui ne s'embarrasse pas qu'il en coute la vie à quatre ou cinq cent mille hommes, et que les autres trainent leurs jours dans la disette et dans les larmes, pourvû qu'il vienne à tout de ses desseins. Loins donc que l'opinion du meilleur des mondes possible console, elle est désespérante pour les philosophes qui l'embrassent. La question du bien et du mal demeure un cahos indebrouillable pour ceux qui cherchent de bonne foi; c'est un jeu d'esprit pour ceux qui disputent; ils sont des forçats qui jouent avec leurs chaines. Pour le peuple non pensant, il ressemble assez à des poissons qu'on a transporter d'une riviére dans un reservoir; ils ne se doutent pas qu'ils sont là pour être mangés le carême; aussi ne sçavons-nous rien du tout par nous-mêmes des causes de notre destinée. Mettons à la fin de presque tous les chapitres de Metaphysique les deux lettres des juges Romains quand ils n'entendent pas une cause. N. L. non liquet, cela n'est pas clair."
Ver. 3. superfluous health,] Immoderate labour and immoderate study are equally the impairers of health: They, whose stations sets them above both, must needs have an abundance of it, which not being employed in the common service, but wasted in Luxury and Folly, the Poet properly calls a superfluity. W.
Ver. 4. impudence of wealth,] Because wealth pretends to be
Let this great truth be present night and day;
Look round our World; behold the chain of Love Combining all below and all above.
wisdom, wit, learning, honesty, and, in short, all the virtues in their turns.
Ver. 3, 4, 5, 6. M. Du Resnel, not seeing into the admirable purpose of the caution contained in these four lines, hath quite dropped the most material circumstances contained in the last of them; and, what is worse, for the sake of a foolish antithesis, hath destroyed the whole propriety of the thought in the two first and so, between both, hath left his Author neither sense nor system.
"Dans le sein du bonheur, ou de l'adversité."
Now of all men, those in adversity have least need of this caution, as being least apt to forget, That God consults the good of the whole, and provides for it by procuring mutual happiness by means of mutual wants; it being seen that such who yet retain the smart of any fresh calamity, are most compassionate to others labouring under distresses, and most prompt and ready to relieve them. W.
Ver. 7. Look round our World, &c.] He introduceth the system of human Sociability (Ver. 7, 8), by shewing it to be the 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.
"The bush protects that acorn which becomes an oak. The grass maintains the noblest animals. Thus does the vegetable nature both help itself and help the animal. Again, blights and blasts destroy the tender plant, and breed contagions and pests among animals. Thus does the vegetable, or at least inanimate nature, both hurt itself and hurt the animal. By the industry of man and the dung of animals, the vegetable nature is fertilized and cultivated. The parent animal nourishes its young, and defends them at a season when of themselves defenceless. Thus does the animal nature both keep itself and help the vegetable. Again, by man and beast are vegetables destroyed; and by man and beast are man and beast destroyed. Thus does the animal nature both hurt itself and hurt the vegetable. Friendship and strife are concurrent principles. By friendship are prevented
See plastic Nature working to this end,
Form'd and impell'd its neighbour to embrace.
Press to one centre still, the gen'ral Good.
See dying vegetables life sustain,
See life dissolving vegetate again :
chaos and confusion; by strife are prevented sloth and lethargy. By strife all powers are roused to action; and by friendship they are tempered into harmony and concord." MSS. of Harris.And again;
"Hence we perceive the meaning of what Heraclitus says in Plutarch, when he calls War the father, and king, and lord, of all things; and asserts that when Homer prayed
'That strife be banish'd both from God and men,'
he was not aware that he was cursing the generation of all things, as in fact, they deduce their rise out of contest and antipathy."
Ver. 12. Form'd and impell'd, &c.] To make Matter so cohere as to fit it for the uses intended by its Creator, a proper configuration of its insensible parts is as necessary as that quality so equally and universally conferred upon it, called Attraction. To express the first part of this thought, our author says form'd: and to express the latter impell'd. W.
Ver. 15. See dying vegetables] Pope has again copied Shaftesbury so closely in this passage, as to use almost his very words; "Thus, in the several terrestrial forms, a resignation is required: a sacrifice, and mutual yielding of nature, one to another. The vegetables, by their death, sustain the animals; and the animal bodies dissolved enrich the earth, and raise again the vegetable world. The numerous insects are reduced by the superior kinds of birds or beasts: and these again are checked by man, who in his turn submits to other natures, and resigns his form a sacrifice in common to the rest of things. And if in natures so little exalted or pre-eminent above each other, the sacrifice of interest can appear so just; how much more reasonably may all inferior