Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

65

Then shall Man's pride and dulness compre

hend His actions', passions', being's, use and end; Why doing, fuff’ring, check’d, impell’d; and why This hour a slave, the next a deity.

Then say not Man's imperfect, Heav'n in fault; Say rather, Man's as perfect as he ought: 70 His knowledge measur’d to his state and place; His time a moment, and a point his fpace. If to be perfect in a certain sphere, What matter, soon or late, or here or there? The blest to day is as completely so, As who began a thousand years ago. III. Heav'n from all creatures hides the book

of Fate, All but the page prescrib'd, their present state :

75

VARIATION S.
After Ver. 68, the following lines in the first Ed.

If to be perfect in a certain sphere,
What matters soon or late, or here or there?
The blest to day is as completely so
As who began ten thousand years ago.

. COMMENTARY. butcher; and from thence takes occasion to observe, that God is the equal master of all his creatures, and provides for the proper happiness of each and every of them.

From brutes what men, from men what fpirits

know: Or who could suffer Being here below? 80 The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to day, Had he thy Reason, would he skip and play? Pleas’d to the last, he crops the flow'ry food, And licks the hand just rais’d to shed his blood. Oh blindness to the future! kindly giv’n, 85 That each may fill the circle mark'd by Heav'n: Who sees with equal eye, as God of all, A hero perish, or a sparrow fall, Atoms or systems into ruin hurld, And now a bubble burst, and now a world. 90 Hope humbly then ; with trembling pinions

soar; Wait the great teacher Death; and God adore.

VARIATIONS. .
After Ver. 88, in the MS.
No great, no little ; 'tis as much decreed
That Virgil's Gnat should die as Cæfar bleed.

COMMENTARY. Ver. 91. Hope humbly then, &c.] But now an Objector is supposed to put in, and say, "You tell us, indeed, that all things shall terminate in good ; but we see ourselves surrounded with present evil; yet you forbid us all enquiry into the manner how we are to be extricated; and, in a word, leave us in a very disconfolate condition.” Not so, replies the

NOTE s.
VER. 87. Who fees with equal eye, &c.] Matth. X. 29.

What future bliss, he gives not thee to know, But gives that Hope to be thy blessing now.

VARIATIONS.
In the first Fol. and Quarto,

What bliss above he gives not thee to know,
But gives that Hope to be thy bliss below.

COMMENTARY. Poot, you may reasonably, if you so please, receive much comfort from the HOPE of a happy futurity ; a Hope implanted in the human breast by God himself, for this very purpose, as an earnest of that Bliss, which, always Aying from us here, is reserved for the good Man hereafter. The reason why the Poet chuses to insist on this proof of a future state, in preference to others, is in order to give his system (which is founded in a sublime and improved Platonism) the greater grace of uniformity. For Hope was Plato's peculiar argument for a future ftate; and the words here employed— The fiul uneasy, &c. his peculiar expression. The Poet in this place, there. fore, says in express terms, that God Gave us HOPE TO SUPPLY THAT FUTURE BLISS, WHICH HE AT PRESENT KFEPS HID FROM US. In his second epiftle, Ver. 274, he goes still further, and says, this Hope quits us not even at Death, when every thing mortal drops from us :

“ Hope travels thro', nor quits us when we die.”

NOT E s. Ver.93. What future bliss, &c.] It hath been objected, that " the Sistem of the best weakens the other natural arguments for a future state ; because, if the evils which good Men suffer, promote the benefit of the whole, then every thing is here in order : and nothing a miss that wants to be set right: Nor has the good man any reason to expect amends, when the cvils he suffered had such a tendency.” To this it may be replied, 1. That the Poet tells us, (Ep. iv. Ver. 361.) that God loves from whole to parts. 2. The sy/tem of the best is so far from weakening those natural arguments, that it strengthens and supports them. For if those evils, to which good men are fubject, be mere disorders, without any tendency to the greater

Hope springs eternal in the human breast: 95 Man never Is, but always To be blest.

COMMENT A Ř Y. And, in the fourth epistle, he shews, how the same hope is a proof of a future ftate, from the consideration of God's give ing man no' appetite in vain, or what he did not intend should be satisfied ;

He sees, why Nature plants in Man alone
“ Hope of known bliss, and Faith in bliss unknown:
“ (Nature, whose dictates to no other kind

" Are giv’n in vain, but what they seek they find.)” It is only for the good man, he tells us, that Hope leads from goal to goal, &c. It would then, be strange indeed, if it should prove an illusion.

N O T E s. good of the whole; then, though we must, indeed, conclude that they will hereafter be set right, yet this view of things, representing God as suffering disorders for no other end than to set them right, gives us too low an idea of the divine wisdom. But if those evils (according to the system of the best) contribute to the greater perfection of the Whole ; such a reason may be then given for their permission, as supports our idea of divine wisdom to the highest religious purposes. Then, aš to the good man's hopes of a retribution, these still remain in their original force: For our idea of God's justice, and how far that justice is engaged to a retribution, is exactly and invariably the same on either hypothesis. For though the fyftem of the best supposes that the evils themselves will he fully compensated by the good they produce to the Whole, yet this is so far from supposing that Particulars shall suffer for a general good, that it is essential to this system, that, at the completion of things, when the Whole is arrived to the state of utmost perfection, particular and universal good shall coincide.

VOL. III.

The soul; uncafy, and confin'd from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

Lo, the poor Indian ! whose untutor’d mind Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind; 100

COMMENT A R Y. VER. 99. Lo, the poor Indian, &c.] The Poet, as we faid, having bid Man comfort himself with expectation of future happiness,—having shewn him that this HOPE is an earnest of it, and put in one very necessary caution,

" Hope humbly then, with trembling pinions foar ;" provoked at those miscreants whom he afterwards (Ep. iij. Ver. 263.) describes as building Hell on spite, and Heaven on pride, he upbraids them (from Ver. 99 to 113.) with the example of the poor Indian, to whom also Nature hath given this common HOPE of Mankind : But tho' his untutored mind had betrayed him into many childish fancies concerniog the nature of that future state, yet he is fo far from excluding any part of his own species (a vice which could proceed only from the pride of false Science) that he humanely admits even his faithful dig to beur him company.

NOTE 9. « Such is the World's great harmony, that springs “ From Order, Union, full Consent of things. “ Where smull and grea', where weak and mighty, made “ To serve, not fuffer, strengthen, not invade, &c.

Ep. iii. Ver. 295. Which coincidence can never be, without a retribution to good men for the evils suffered here below.

Ver. 97.---- from home,] The construction is,—The foul being from home (confined and uneasy) expatiates, &c. By which words, it was the Poet's purpose to teach, that the prefent life is only a state of probation for another, more suitable to the essence of the soul, and to the free exercise of its qualities.

« VorigeDoorgaan »