Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

Mem'ry and fore-cast just returns engage,
That pointed back to youth, this on to age;
While pleasure, gratitude, and hope, combin’d, 145
Still spread the int’rest, and preserv'd the kind.
IV. Nor think, in NATURE'S STATE they

blindly trod;
The state of Nature was the reign of God;
Self-love and Social at her birth began,
Union the bond of all things, and of Man. 150
Pride then was not; nor Arts, that Pride to aid;
Man walk'd with beast, joint tenant of the shade ;

COMMENTARY. Ver. 147. Nor think, in Nature's state they blindly trod;] But the Atheist and Hobbist, against whom Mr. Pope argueth, deny the principle of Right, or of natural Justice, before the invention of civil compact; which, they fay, gave Being to it : And accordingly have had the effrontery publicly to declare, that a state of Nature was a state of War. This quite subverteth the

NOTES. Ver. 152. Man walk'd with | speech to the whole brute-creabeast, joint tenant of the shade;] tion. The naturalists understcod The poet still takes his imagery

the tradition to fignify, that, from Platonic ideas, for the in the first ages, Men used inreason given above. Plato had articulate sounds like beasts to faid from old tradition, that, express their wants and sensaduring the Golden

age,

tions; and that it was by now der the reign of Saturn, the degrees they came to the use primitive language then in use of speech. This opinion was was common to man and beasts. afterwards held by Lucretius, Moral philosophers took this in Diodorus Sic. and Gregory of the popular sense, and so in- Nyíl. yented those fables which give

and un

The same his table, and the same his bed;
No murder cloath'd him, and no murder fed,
In the same temple, the resounding wood, 155
All vocal beings hymn'd their equal God :

COMMENTARY. poet's natural Society : Therefore, after his account of that state, he proceedeth to support the reality of it by overthrowing the oppugnant principle of no natural Justice; which he doth (from y 146 to 169) in shewing, by a fine description of the state of Innocence, as represented in Scripture, that a state of Nature was so far from being without natural Justice, that it was, at first, the reign of God, where Right and Truth universally prevailed.

NOTES. VER. 156. All vocal beings, mind the age of Innocence, &c.] This will be well ex and full of the great ideas of plained by a sublime passage of those the Psalmist, who, calling to

-Chains of Love,
Combining all belost, and all above,
Which to one point and to one centre bring

Beast, Man, or Angel, Servant, Lord, or King breaks out into this rapturous “deeps ; fire and hail, snow and divine apostrophe, to call " and vapour, stormy wind back the devious creation to “ fulfilling his word: Mounits pristine rectitude (that very " tains, and all hills, fruitful state our author describes a " trees and all cedars : Beasts bove) “ Praise the Lord, all 66 and all cattle, creeping things

angels; praise him, all ye " and Aying fowl : Kings of " hosts. Praise ye him, sun o the earth, and all people : " and moon; praise him, all “ princes, and all judges of

ye stars of light. Let " the earth. Let them praise “ them praise the name of the 6 the name of the Lord; for “ Lord, for he commanded, “ his name alone is excellent,

were created. “ his glory is above the earth « Praise the Lord, from the " and heaven.” Psal. cxlviii. “ earth, ye dragons, and all

[ocr errors]

66 and they

The thrine with gore unstain'd, with gold undrest,
Unbrib’d, unbloody, stood the blameless priest:
Heav'n's attribute was Universal Care,
And Man's prerogative to rule, but spare. 160
Ah ! how unlike the man of times to come!
Of half that live the butcher and the tomb;

3

NOTES. VER. 158. Unbrib'd, un extreme as to bribe the Gods bloody, &c.] i. e. The state de- with human facrifices (see scribed, from 261 to 269, Ý 267) Tyranny became newas not yet arrived. For then ceffitated to woo the priest for when Superstition became fo a favourable answer :

And play'd the God an engine on his foe. VER. 159. Heav'n's attri count, that Man was created bute, &c.] The poet fupposes Lord of this inferior world (Ep. the truth of the Scripture ac i. $ 230.)

Subjected these to those, and all to thee.
What hath misled some to ima- | tradiction, was, I suppose, such
gine him here fallen into a con passages as these,

Ask for what end the heav'nly bodies shine, &c.
And again, Has God, thou this subject in

an abusive fool! work’d solely for thy good, way, hath rendered jealous &c. But in truth this is fo and miftruftful, I shall enfar from contradicting what is deavour to explain it. Scriphere faid of Man's prerogative, ture says, that Man was maię that it greatly confirms it, and Lord of All. But this Lord what the Scripture tells us con becoming at length intoxicatcerning it. And because this ed with Pride, the common matter has been mistaken, to effect of sovereignty, erected the discredit of the poet's re- himself, like more partial mcligious sentiments, by readers, narchs, into a tyrant. And whom the conduct of cer as Tyranny consists in fuptain licentious writers, treating posing all made for the use

!

Who, foe to Nature, hears the gen'ral groan,
Murders their species, and betrays his own.
But just disease to luxury succeeds,

165
And ev'ry death it's own avenger breeds ;
The Fury-passions from that blood began,
And turn’d on Man a fiercer savage, Man.

See him from Nature rising flow to Art !
To
copy
Instinct then
was Reason's

part; 170

COMMENTARY, Ver. 169. See him from Nature rising Now to Art!] Strict method (in which, by this time, the reader finds the poet more conversant than some were aware of) leads him next to speak of that Society, which succeeded the Natural, namely the Civil. He first explains (from $ 169 to 199) the intermediate means which led Mankind from natural to civil Society.

These were the invention and improvement of Arts. For while Mankind lived in a mere state of Nature, there was no need of any other government than the Paternal; but when Arts were found out and improved, then that more perfect form, under the direction of a Magistrate, became necessary. And for these rea

NOTES. of one ; he took those freedoms cruelty, he endeavoured to phiwith all, that are consequent lofophize himself into an opinion such a principle. He soon

on that animals were mere mabegan to consider the whole chines, insensible of pain or animal creation as his slaves ra pleasure. Thus Man affected ther than his subjects ; as be to be the Wit as well as Tying created for no use of their rant of the Whole : and it beown, but for his only; and came one who adhered to the therefore treated them with the Scripture account of Man's doutmost barbarity: And not fo minion, to reprove this abuse content, to add infult to his I of it, and to shew that

Heav’n’s attribute was Universal Care,
And Man's prerogative to rule, but spare.

Thus then to Man the voice of Nature spake

Go, from the Creatures thy instructions take: “ Learn from the birds what food the thickets yield; “ Learn from the beasts the physic of the field;

Thy arts of building from the bee receive; 175 “ Learn of the mole to plow, the worm to weave; « Learn of the little Nautilus to fail,

Spread the thin oar, and catch the driving gale.

3

COMMENTARY. fons; first, to bring those arts, already found, to perfection : And, secondly, to secure the product of them to their rightful proprietors. The poet, therefore, comes now, as we say, to the invention of Arts ; but being always intent on the great end for which he wrote his Essay, namely to mortify that Pride which occasions the impious complaints against Providence ; he speaks of these inventions as only lessons learnt of mere animals guided by instinct; and thus, at the same time, gives a new instance of the wonderful Providence of God, who has contrived to teach mankind in a way, not only proper to humble human arrogance, but to raise our idea of infinite Wisdom to the greatest pitch. This he does in a profopopoeia the most sublime that ever entered into the human imagination:

NOTES. Ver. 173. Learn from the beasts &c.] See Pliny's Nat. birds, &c.] It is a common Hift. 1. viii. c. 27. where se practice amongst Navigators, veral instances are given of when thrown upon a desert Animals discovering the medicoast, - and in want of re cinal efficacy of herbs, by their freshments, to observe what own use of them; and pointing fruits have been touched by out to some operations in the the Birds : and to venture on art of healing, by their own these without further hesita- practice. tion.

Ver. 177. Learn of the litVER. 174. Learn from the tle Nautilus] Oppian. Halieut.

« VorigeDoorgaan »