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Trace Science then, with Modesty thy guide ;
45 Or Learning's Luxury, or Idleness ;
it describes, when it becomes visible in its descent to, and ascent from the Sun, conjectured, with the highest appearance of truth, that Comets revolve perpetually round the Sun, in ellipses vastly eccentrical, and very nearly approaching to parabolas. In which he was greatly confirmed, in observing between two Comets coincidence in their perihelions, and a perfect agreement in their velocities.
VIR. 45.-Vanity, or dress;] These are the first parts of what the Poet, in the preceding line, calls the scholar's equipage of Pride. By vanity, is meant that luxuriancy of thought and expression in which a writer indulges himself, to fhew the fruita fulness of his fancy or invention. By dress, is to be understood a lower degree of that practice, in amplification of thought and ornamental expression, to give force to what the writer would convey: but even this, the poet, in a severe search after truth, condemns; and with great judgment. Conciseness of thought and simplicity of expression, being as well the best inftruments, as the best vebicles of Truth,
Ver. 46. Or Learning's Luxury, Idleness ;] The Luxury of Learning consists in dressing up and disguising old notions in a new way, so as to make them more fashionable and palateable ; instead of examining and scrutinizing their truth. As this is often done for pomp and shew, it is called luxury ; as it is often done too to save pains and labour, it is called idler.ess.
Or tricks to shew the stretch of human brain,
50 Then fee how little the remaining fum, Which serv'd the past, and must the times to come!
· IT. Two Principles in human nature reign; Self-love, to urge, and Reason, to restrain ; Nor this a good, nor that a bad we call, 55 Each works its end, to move or govern all: And to their proper operation still, Ascribe all Good, to their improper, III.
Self-love, the spring of motion, acts the soul ; Reason's comparing balance rules the whole. 60 Man, but for that, no action could attend, And, but for this, were active to no end : Fix'd like a plant on his peculiar spot, To draw nutrition, propagate, and rot; Or, meteor-like, flame lawless thro’the void, Deftroying others, by himself destroy'd.
VER. 47. Or tricks to Mew the firetch of human brain,] Such as the mathematical demonstrations concerning the small quantity of matter; the endless divisibility of it, etc.
Ver. 48. Mere curious pleasure, or ingenious pain ;] That is, when Admiration sets the mind on the rack.
VER. 49. Expunge the whole, or lop th’excrescent parts of all our vices have created Arts;] i. e. Those parts of natural Philosophy, Logic, Rhetoric, Poetry, etc. that administer to luxury, deceit, ambition, effeminacy, etc.
Most strength the moving principle requires ; Active its task, it prompts, impels, inspires. Sedate and quiet, the comparing lies, Form’d but to check, delib’rate, and advise. 70 Self-love still stronger, as its objects nigh; Reason's at distance, and in prospect lie: That fees immediate good by present sense ; Reason, the future and the consequence. Thicker than arguments, temptations throng, 75 At beft more watchful this, but that more strong. The Action of the stronger to suspend Reason ftill use, to Reason ftill attend. Attention, habit and experience gains; Each strengthens Reason, and Self-love restrains. 80 Let subtle schoolmen teach these friends to fight, More ftudious to divide than to unite; And Grace and Virtue, Sense and Reason fplit, With all the rash dexterity of wit. Wits, just like Fools, at war about a name, Have full as oft no meaning, or the same. Self-love and Reason to one end aspire, Pain their aversion, Pleasure their desire ;
VER. 74. Reafon, the future and the consequence.] i. e. By experience Reason collects the future ; and by argumentation, the confcquence.
Of good and evil Gods what frighted Fools,
But greedy That, its object would devour,
III. Modes of self-love the Passions we may call: 'Tis real good, or seeming, moves them all: But since not ev'ry good we can divide,
In lazy Apathy let Stoics boaft
Passions, like elements, tho' born to fight, Yet, mix'd and soften'd, in his work unite :
VARIATIONS. After x 108. in the MS.
A tedious Voyage! where how useless lies
The compass, if no pow'rful gusts arise ?
The soft reward the virtuous, or invite;
Thefe 'tis enough to temper and employ;
Pleasures are ever in our hands or eyes ;
130 And hence one MASTER PASSion in the breast, Like Aaron's ferpent, swallows up the rest.
As Man, perhaps, the moment of his breath, Receives the lurking principle of death;
VER. 133. As Man perhaps, etc.] “ Antipater Sidonius Poeta s omnibus annis uno die natali tantum corripiebatur febre, et
eo consumptus est satis longa senecta.” Plin. 1, vii. N. H. This Antipater was in the times of Crassus, and is celebrated for the quickness of his parts by Cicero.