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Plate VIIT.

Vol.III. facing p-37

N. Blakey inw.ddel.

Ravenet sculp.

Hors humblythen with trembling Vimions wear, Maithe great teacher Death, and

God

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'.

Spray on Man.(p1.

E P I S T L E 1.

WAKE, my

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things To low ambition, and the pride of Kings. Let us (since Life can little more supply Than just to look about us and to die) Expatiate free o'er all this scene of Man; 5 A mighty maze! but not without a plan; A Wild, where weeds and flow'rs promiscuous

shoot, Or Garden, tempting with forbidden fruit.

COMMENTARY. THE Opening of this poem, [in fifteen lines] is taken up · in giving an account of the Subject; which, agreeably to the

title, is an Essaï on MAN, or a Philosophical Enquiry into his Nature and End, his Pallions and Purju ts.

The Exordium relates to the whole work, of which the Elay on Man was only the first book. The 6th, 7th, and 8th lines allude to the subjects of this Essay, viz. the general Order and Design of Providence; the Constitution of the human Mind; the origin, use, and end of the Passions and Affections, both selfish and social ; and the wrong pursuits of Power, Pleasure, and Happiness. The roth, 11th, 12th, &c have relation to the subjects of the books intended to follow, viz. the Characters and Capacities of Men, and the Limits of Science, which once transgressed, ignorance begins, and er

N O T E s. Vér. 7, 8. A Wild-Or Garden,] The Wild relates to the human palli:ns, productive as he explains in the second epistle) both of good and evil. The Garden, to human reafin, so oftet tempting us to transgress the bounds God has set to it, and to wander in fruitless enquiries.

Together let us beat this ample field,
Try what the open, what the covert yield; 10
The latent tracts, the giddy heights, explore
Of all who blindly creep, or sightless soar;
Eye Nature's walks, fhoot Folly as it flies,
And catch the manners living as they rise ;
Laugh where we must, be candid where we can; 15
But vindicate the

ways

of God to Man.

COMMEN T A R Y. rors without end succeed. The 13th and 14th, to the Knowledge of Mankind, and the various Manners of the Age.

The Poet tells us next (line 16th] with what design he wrote, viz. " To vindicate the

ways

of God to Man." The Men he writes against, he frequently informs us, are such as weigh their opinion against Providence (ver. 114.) such as cry, if Man's unhappy, God's unjust, (ver. 1 18.) or such as fall into the notion, that Vice and Virtue there is none at all. (Ep. ii. Ver. 212.) This occasions the Poet to divide his vindication of the ways of God, into two parts. In the first of which he

NO TE S. VER. 12. Of all who blindly cresp, &c.) i, e. Those who only follow the blind guidance of their passions ; or those who leave behind them common sense and sober reason, in their high flights through the regions of Metaphysics. Both which follies are exposed in the fourth epistle, where the popular and philosophical errors concerning Happiness are detected. The figure is taken from animal life. ..Ver. 15 Laugh where we mut, &c.) Intimating, that human follies are so strangely absurd, that it is not in the power of the most compasionat., on fome occasions, to restrain their mirth: And that its crimes are so flagitious, that the most candid have feldom an opportunity, on this subject, to exercise their virtue.

VER. 16. VINDICATE the ways of God to Man.) Milton's phrase judiciously altered, who says, JUSTIFY the ways of God

I. Say first, of God above, or Man below, What can we reason, but from what we know? Of Man, what see we but his station here, From which to reason, or to which refer?

COM M MENTARY. gives direct answers to those objections which libertine Men, on a view of the disorders arising from the perversity of the human will, have intended against Providence. And in the fecond, he obviates all those objections, by a true delineation of human Nature; or a general, but exact, map of May. The first epistle is employed in the management of the first part of this dispute ; and the three following in the discussion of the fecond.' So that this whole book constitutes a complete Eday on Man, written for the best purpose, to vind cate the ways of God.

Ver. 17. Say first, of God above, or Man below, &c.] The Poet having declared his Subject; his End of writing ; and the Quality of his Adversaries; proceeds (from Ver. 16 to 23.) to instruct us, from wience he intends to draw his arguments; namely, from the visible things of God in this system, to de

NOT E S. to Man. Milton was addressing himself to BELIEVERS, and delivering reasons, or explaining the ways of God : this idea, the word justisy, precisely conveys. Pope was addressing himfelf to UNBELIEVERS, and exposing such of their objections whose ridicule and absurdity arises from the blindness of the objecters; he therefore more fitly employs the word VINDICATE, which conveys the idea of a confutation attended with punishment. Thus, suscipere vindiflam Legis, to undertako the defence of the Law, implies punishing the violators of it. VER. 19, 20. Of Man, what fee we but his flation here,

Frem which to renfon, or to which refer?] The sense is, “we fee nothing of Man, but as he stands at pre• sent in his station here : From which station, all our rea“ sonings on his nature and end must be drawn; and to this

station they must all be referred.” The consequences is, that our reasonings on his nature and eid must needs be very imperfect.

Thro’worlds unnumber'd tho' the God be known,
'Tis ours to trace him only in our own.
He, who thro’ vast immensity can pierce,
See worlds on worlds compose one universe,
Observe how system into system runs, 25
What other planets circle other suns,
What vary'd Being peoples ev'ry star,
May tell why Heav’n has made us as we are.
But of this frame, the bearings and the ties,
The strong connections, nice dependencies, 30

COMMENTARY.

monstrate the invisible things of God, his eternal Power and God-head: And why? because we can reaon only from what we know; and as we know no more of Man than what we fee of his station here; so we know no more of God than what we fee of his difpenfations in this station ; being able to trace him no further than to the limits of our own system. This naturally leads the Poet to exprobrate the miserable Folly and Impiety of pretending to pry into, and call in question, the profound dispensations of Providence: Which reproof contains (from Ver. 22 to 43.) a sublime description of the Omoiscience of God, and the miserable Blindness and Presumption of Man.

NO TE S. Ver. 21. Thro' Worlds unnumber'd, &c.] Hunc cognoscimus folummodo per Proprietates suas & Attributa, & per sapientiflimas & optimas rerum structuras & caufas finales. Nrwtori Princ. Sibul. gen. fub fin.

Ver. 30. The firong connections, nice dependencies.] The thought is very noble, and expressed with great beauty, and philofophic exactness. The system of the Universe is a combination of natural and moral Fitnesses, as the human system is,

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