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Wits, just like Fools, at war about a name, 85
call : 'Tis real good, or seeming, moves them all : But since not ev'ry good we can divide, 95 And reason bids us for our own provide ;
Of good and evil Gods what frighted Fools,
COMMENTARY. him, of some of the more ancient theistical Philosophers. Te was of importance, therefore, to reprobrate and subvert a no. tion that served to the support of so dangerous an error : And this the Poet hath done with much force and clearness.
VER. 93. Modes of Self-love, &c.] Having given this account of the nature of Self-love in general, he comes now to anatomize it, in a discourse on the PASSIONS, which he aptly names the modes of Self-love. The object of all these, he shews (from Ver. 92 to 101.) is good; and, when under the guidance of Reason, real good, either of ourselves or of another; for some goods not being capable of division, or communication, and
Paffions, tho' selfish, if their means be fair,
A tedious Voyage! where how useless lies
COMMENTARY. Reason at the fame time directing us to provide for ourselves, we therefore, in pursuit of these objects, sometimes aim at our own good, sometimes at the good of others: when fairly aiming at our own, the quality is called Prudence; when at another's, Virtue.
Hence (as he Thews from Ver. 100 to 105.) appears the folly of the Stoics, who would eradicate the Passions, things lo necessary both to the good of the Individual and of the Kind. Which preposterous method of promoting Virtue he therefore very reasonably reproves.
Ver. 105. The rising tempeft puts in act the foul,] But as it was from observation of the evils occasioned by the passions,
Nor God alone in the still calm we find, 109 He mounts the storm, and walks upon the wind.
COMMENTARY. that the Stoics thus extravagantly projected their extirpation, the Poet recurs (from Ver. 104 to 111.) to his grand principle so often before, and to so good purpose, insisted on, that partial Ill is universal Good; and news, that though the tempest of the Passions, like that of the air, may tear and ravage some few parts of nature in its passage, yet the falutary agitation produced by it preserves the whole in life and vigour. This is his first argument against the Stoics, which he illuftrates by a very beautiful fimilitude, on a hint taken from Scripture :
“ Nor God alone in the still calm we find,
Not E s.
He mounts the storm, and walks upon the wind.] The Translator turns it thus,
« Dieu lui-même, Dieu fort de son profond repos.” And so, makes an Epicurcan God, of the Governor of the Universe. M. De Crousaz does not spare this expression of God's coming out of his profound repoje. " It is, says he, ex« cessively poetical, and presents us with ideas which we " ought not to dwell upon,” &c. Comm. p. 158.
VER. 109. Nor God alone, &c.] These words are only a simple affirmation in the poetic dress of a similitude, to this purpose : Good is not only produced by the fubdual of the Passions, but by the turbulent exercise of them. A truth conveyed under the most sublime imagery that poetry could conceive or paint. For the author is here only thewing the providential issue of the Passions; and how, by God's graci. ous disposition, they are turned away from their natural destructive bias, to promote the Happiness of Mankind. As to the method in which they are to be treated by Man, in whom they are found, all that he contends for, in favour of them, is only this, that they should not be quite rooted up
Passions, like elements, tho’ born to fight, Yet, mix'd and soften’d, in his work unite: These 'tis enough to temper and employ; But what composes Man, can Man destroy?
After Ver. 112. in the MS.
The foft reward the virtuous, or invite ;
- COMMENTARY. Ver. 111. Pasions, like elements, &c.] His second argument against the Stoics (from Ver. 110 to 133.) is, that Passions go to the composition of a moral character, just as elementary particles go to the composition of an organized body: Therefore, for Man to project the destruction of what composes his very Being, is the height of extravagance. 'Tis true, he tells us, that these Passions, which in their natural state, like elements, are in perpetual jar, must be tempered, softened, and united, in order to perfect the work of the great plastic Artist; who, in this office, employs human Reason ; whose business it is to folow the road of Nature, and to observe the dictates of the Deity ;- Follow her and God. The use and importance of this precept is evident: For in doing the first, The will discover the absurdity of attempting to eradicate the Pallions; in doing the second, she will learn how to make them subservient to the interests of Virtue.
NOT E s. and destroyed, as the Stoics, and their followers, in all Religions, foolishly attempted. For the rest, he constantly re. peats this advice,
5. The action of the stronger to suspend,
Suffice that Reason keep to Nature's road, 115
COMMENTARY. Ver. 123. Pleasures are ever in our hands or eyes;] His third argument against the Stoics (from Ver. 122 to 127.) is, that the Passions are a continual fpur to the pursuit of Happiness; which, without these powerful inciters, we should neglect ; and sink into a senseless indolence. Now Happiness is the end of our creation; and this excitement, the means of Happiness; therefore, these movers, the Passions, are the instruments of God, which he hath put into the hands of Reason to work withal.
Ver. 127. All spread their charms, &c.] The Poet now proceeds in his subject; and this last observation leads him naturally to the discussion of his next principle. He shews then, that though all the Passions have their turn in swaying the determinations of the mind, yet every Man hath one MASTER PASSION that at length stifes or absorbs all the rest. The fact he illustrates at large in his epistle to Lord Cobhama