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which a MS. note of his thus explains: "The author undoubtedly meant this as a "Sarcasm on the ignorance of those friends "of his, who were daily peftering him for "more Effays on Man, as not feeing that the "four Epiftles he had published entirely com"pleated that fubject." But it must be owned, that the Public, by the great and continued demand for his Effay, fufficiently freed itself from this imputation of wrong Judgment. And how great and continued that demand has been, appears from the yaft variety of pirated and imperfect Edition continually obtruded on the world, ever fince the first publication of the Poem; and which no repeated profecutions of the Offenders have been able totally to reftrain.
Thefe were the confiderations which have now induced the Proprietor to give one perfect Edition of the Effay on Man, from Mr. Pope's laft corrections and improvements; that the Public may from henceforth be fupplied with this Poem alone, in a manner fuitable to its dignity, and to the honeft intention of its great Author.
Concerning the UNIVERSAL PRAYER, which concludes the Essay, it may be proper to obferve, that, fome paffages in the Essay
having been unjustly fufpected of a tendency towards Fate and Naturalism, the Author compofed that Prayer as the Sum of all, to fhew that his System was founded in Free-will, and terminated in Piety: That the first Cause was as well the Lord and Governor as the Creator of the Univerfe; and that by Submiffion to his Will (the great principle inforced throughout the Effay) was not meant the fuffering ourselves to be carried along with a blind determination; but a religious acquiefcence, and confidence full of hope and immortality. To give all this the greater weight and reality the Poet chofe for his Model the LORD'S PRAYER, which of all others best deserves the title prefixed to his Paraphrase.
The Reader will excufe my adding a word concerning the Frontispiece; which, as it was defigned and drawn by Mr. Pope himself, would be a kind of Curiofity, had not the excellence of the thought otherwise recommended it. We fee it reprefents the Vanity of human Glory, in the falfe pursuits after Happiness: where the Ridicule in the Curtain cobweb, the death's head crowned with laurel, and the several Inscriptions, have all the force and beauty of one of his best written Satires: Nor is there less expreffion in the bearded Phi
lofopher fitting by a fountain running to waste, and blowing up bubbles with a ftraw from a fmall portion of water taken out of it, in a dirty dish; admirably reprefenting the vain bufinefs of School-Philofophy, that, with a little artificial logic, fits inventing airy arguments in support of falfe fcience, while the human Understanding at large is fuffered to lie wafte and uncultivated,
HAVING propofed to write fome pieces on Human Life and Manners, fuch as (to use my Lord Bacon's expreffion) come home to Men's Business and Bofoms, I thought it more fatisfactory to begin with confidering Man in the abstract, his Nature and his State: fince, to prove any moral duty, to enforce any moral precept, or to examine the perfection or imperfection of any creature whatsoever, it is neceffary first to know what condition and relation it is placed in, and what is the proper end and purpose of its being.
The fcience of Human Nature is, like all other fciences, reduced to a few clear points: There are not many certain truths in this world. It is therefore in the anatomy of the Mind as in that of the Body: more good will accrue to mankind by attending to the large, open, and perceptible parts, than by ftudying too much fuch finer nerves and veffels, the conformations and uses of which will for ever escape our obfervation. The difputes are all upon these last, and I will venture to fay, they have less fharpned the wits than the hearts of men against each other, and have diminished the practice more than advanced the theory of Morality. If I could flatter myself that this Effay has any merit, it is in fteering betwixt the extremes of doctrines feemingly oppofite; in paffing over terms utterly unintelligible; and in forming a femperate, yet not inconfiftent; and a short, yet not imperfect fyftem of Ethics.
This I might have done in profe; but I chofe verfe, and even rhyme, for two reafons: The one will appear obvious; that principles, maxims, or precepts fo written both ftrike the reader more ftrongly at first, and are more eafily retained by him afterwards. The other may feem odd, but it is true; I found I could exprefs them more fhortly this way than in prose itself, and nothing is truer than that much of the force, as well as grace, of arguments or inftructions depends on their concifenefs. I was unable to treat this part of my fubject more in detail, without becoming dry and tedious; or more poetically, without facrificing perfpicuity to ornament, without wandering from the precifion, or breaking the chain of reafoning. If any man can unite all thefe, without diminution of any of them, I freely confefs he will compafs a thing above my capacity.
What is now publifhed, is only to be confidered as a general map of MAN, marking out no more that the greater parts, their extent, their limits, and their connexion, but leaving the particular to be more fully delineated in their charts which are to follow. Confequently thefe Epiftles in their progrefs (if I make any progrefs) will be lefs dry, and more fufceptible of poetical ornament. I am here only opening the fountains, and clearing the paffage: to deduce the rivers, to follow them in their course, and to obferve their effects, would be a task more agreeable.