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W. Blakey inv. K delin.1748.
von Man, Ap.II.
E P I S T LE IÍ.
I. Now then thyself, presume not to God
to fcan; The
proper study of Mankind is Man. Plac'd on this isthmus of a middle state, A Being darkly wise, and rudely great:
VARIATIONS. VER. 2. Ed. ist.
The only science of Mankind is Man.
COMMENTAR Y. VER. 2. The proper siudy &c.] The poet having shewn, in the first epistle, that the Ways of God are too high for our comprehension, rightly draws this conclusion: and methodically makes it the subject of his Introduction to the second, which treats of the Nature of Man.
But here immediately the accusers of Providence would be apt to object, and say, Admit that we had run 'into an excess, while we pretended to cenfure or penetrate the designs of Providence, a matter indeed too high for us; yet have you gone as far into the opposite extreme, while you only send us to the
NOTES. Ver. 3. Plac'd on this ifth- represented Man as doubting mus &c.] As the Poet hath and wavering between the given us this description of right and wrong object; from man for the very contrary pur
which state there are great pose to which Sceptics are wont hopes he may be relieved by to employ such kind of paint a careful and circumspect use ings, namely not to deter men of Reason. On the contrary, from the search, but to excite had he supposed Man so blind them to the discovery of truth; as to be busied in chusing, or he hath, with great judgment, | doubtful in his choice, between
With too much knowledge for the Sceptic fide, 5
COMMENTARY. knowledge of our own Nature: You must mock us when you talk of this as a study; for sure we are intimately acquainted with OURSELVES. The proper conclusion therefore from your demonstration of our inability to comprehend the ways of God, is, that we should turn ourselves to the study of the frame of Nature. Thus, I say, would they be apt to object; for, of all Men, those who call themselves Free-thinkers are most given up to Pride; especially that kind of it, which consists in a boasted knowledge of their own nature, the effects of which are so well
NOTES. two objects equally wrong, the run into the very absurdity cafe had appeared desperate, which, I have here shewn, Mr. and all study of Man had been Pope so artfully avoided. Of effectually discouraged. ' But which, the learned Reader his Translator, M. De Refnel, may take the following examnot seeing the reason and ples. The Poet says, beauty of this conduct, hath
Man acts between; in doubt to act, or rest. Now he tells us 'tis Man's their principle the latter word duty to aet, not rejt, as the alludes, whose Virtue, as he Stoics thought; and, to this says afterwards, is
- fix'd as in a Frost,
But strength of mind is EXERCISE not Rest.
Seroit-il en naisant au travail condamné ?
Aux douceurs du répas feroit-il destiné ? and these
for yet indulged in the Luxury of Man is neither condemned to repose. Again, the Poet, in a havish Toil and Labour, nor beautiful allusion to Scripture
In doubt his Mind or Body to prefer ;
COMMENTARY. exposed in the first Epistle. The poet, therefore, to convince them that this study is less easy than they imagine, replies (from * 2 to 19) to the first part of the objection, by describing the dark and feeble state of the human Understanding, with regard to the knowledge of ourselyes. And farther, to strengthen this argument, he fhews, in answer to the second part of the objection (from y 18 to 31) that the highest advances in natural knowledge may be easily acquired, and yet we, all the while, continue very ignorant of ourselves. For that neither the clearest science, which results from the Newtonian philosophy, nor the most fublime, which is taught by the Platonic, will at all affift us in this felf-study; nay, what is more, that Religion itself, when grown fanatical and enthusiastic, will be equally useless: Though pure and sober Religion will best instruct us in Man's Nature, that knowledge being essential to Religion, whose subject is Man considered in all his relations; and, consequently, whose object is God.
NOTES. sentiments, breaks out into on man's condition here, this just and moral reflection
Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err. The Translator turns this fine most outragious Scepticism; and sober thought into the
Ce n'est que pour mourir, qu'il est né, qu'il respire,
Et toute la raison n'est presque qu'un delire. and so makes his Author di- | he says of Man, that he hath rectly contradict himself, where
too much knowledge for the Sceptic side. VER. 10. Born but to die, hend some few truths. This &c.] The author's meaning is the weak state of Reason, is, that, as we are born to die, in which Error mixes itself and yet enjoy some small por with all its true conclusions tion of life; fo, though we concerning Man's Nature. reason to err, yet we compre