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other, Man, in extending his benevolence throughout that whole, acts in conformity to the will of his Creator; and therefore, this enlargement of his affection becomes a duty.
But the Poet hath not only shewn his piety in this precept, but the utmost art and address likewise in the disposition of it. The Essay on Man opens with exposing the murmurings, and impious conclusions of foolish men against the present constitution of things. As it proceeds, it occasionally detects all those false principles and opinions that led them to conclude thus perversely. Having now done all that was necessary in speculation, the Poet turns to practice; and ends his Essay with the recommendation of an acknowledged virtue, charity, which, if exercised in the extent that conformity to the will of God requires, would effectually prevent all complaints against the present order of things : such complaints being made with a total disregard to every thing, but their own private system; and seeking remedy in the disorder, and at the expence of all the rest.
The art and contrivance, we see, is truly admirable. But Mr. De Crousaz pursues his own ideas. know Mr. Pope's, seems to have been his least concern throughout his whole Commentary. “ This system “ [namely, of a whole] will carry us to a great length. " Miracles, which deviate from the ordinary course of "nature, must pass from henceforward as idle fable." (Observe his reason] “ It was impossible that any kind * of thing which has happened, should not have hap
pened, or not have happened in the manner it hath *." As to Mr. Pope's fatalism, we have said enough of that matter already. But now, if, for disputation's sake, we admit what, for truth's sake, we must reject, according to my notions of logic, this conclusion would follow, that therefore miracles could not but have been; not Mr. Crousaz's, that therefore they never could be. Miracles. are proved, like other matters of fact, by human testimony: if that says, iron at one time swam, at other times sink, and we suppose things ordered fatally; these two events were equally necessary: so that, to make out • Commentaire, p. 339
his conclusion, he must be forced to add downright atheism to his fate.
Mr. De Crousaz has now pushed matters to a decent length. He has said, the Poet's extent of charity was irrational—the system on which it was founded chimerical—that it ended in fate—and overthrew all miracles. One would imagine this should have satisfied the most orthodox resentinent. But there wanted something to make a right polemical climax. To crown the whole, therefore, he tells us, that, “ According to the Poet, the “ universe would not have been a work sufficiently worthy “ of God, had there not been atheists, superstitious, persecutors, tyrants, idolaters, assassins, and poi
What I can find in the Essay coming nearest to this, is, That those mischiefs do not deform God's creation; because the divine art is incessantly producing good out of evil: and that as this universe is the best of all those in God's idea, therefore, whatever is, is right, with respect to that universe: either as tending, in its own nature, to the perfection of it, or made so to tend by infinite Wisdom, contrary to its nature. The true consequence drawn from all this, is, That an universe with atheists, superstitious, &c. is sufficiently worthy of God. How that can infer this other, That the universe would not have been a work sufficiently worthy of God, had there not been atheists, superstitious, &c. I leave Mr. De Crousaz to draw out by his own logic, or, which seems the more ductile of the two, his own conscience.
The Poet's address to his friend, which follows, and closes this Epistle, comes not within the design of these observations, which are only to explain the philosophy and reasoning of the Essay on Man. Otherwise, this single apostrophe would furnish a critic with examples of every one of those five species of elocution, from which, as from its sources, Longinus deduceth the SUBLIMET.
* Commentaire, p. 340. +-σένα πηγαί τινές εισιν τ' υψηΓορίας. 1. Πρώτον μεν και κράτισον το περί τας νοήσεις αδρεπήβολον. 2. Δεύτερον δε το σφοδρών και ένθεσιανικόν πάθος. 3. Ποιά των σχημάτων πλασις. 4. Η γενναία φράσις. 5. Πέμπτη δε μεγέθες αιτία, και συγκλείεσα τα προ εαυτοϊς άπανία, ή εν αξιώμαλι και διάρσα σύνθεσις.
1. The first and chief is a grandeur and sublimity of conception:
Come then, my friend ! my genius! come along,
2. The second, that pathetic enthusiasm, which at the same time melts and enflames:
Teach me, like thee, in various nature wise,
3. A certain elegant formation and ordonance of Agures:
O! while along the stream of time, thy name
And fifthly, which includes in itself all the rest, a weight and dignity in the composition :
Shew'd erring Pride, whatever is, is right;
And all our knowledge is, OURSELVES TO KNOW. But this, as we say, is not our province at present. I shall therefore content myself with an observation, which this sublime recapitulation of the general argument, in
the last lines, affords me to conclude with. Which is, of one great beauty that shines through the whole Essay. It is this, that the Poet, whether he speaks of Man as an individual, a member of society, or the subject of happiness, never misseth an opportunity, while he is explaining his state under any of these capacities, to illustrate it, in the most artful manner, by the inforcement of his grand principle, That every thing tends to the good of the whole. From whence his system receives the reciprocal advantage of having that grand theorem realized by facts, and his facts justified on a principle of right or nature.
Thus have I endeavoured to analyse and explain the noble reasoning of these four Epistles. Enough, I presume, to convince our Critic's friends that it hath a precision, force, and closeness of connexion, rarely to be met with, even in the most forinal treatises of philosophy. Yet in doing this, it is but too evident I have destroyed that grace and energy which animates the original. So right was Mr. Pope's prediction of the event of such an undertaking, where he says, in his preface, that, he was unable to treat this part of his subject more in detail, without becoming dry and tedious. And now let the Reader believe, if he be so disposed, what our great Logician insinuates to be his own sentiments, as well as those of his friends >> “ That certain persons have conjectured that Mr. Pope did not compose this Essay at
once, and in a regular order; but that after he had “ wrote several fragments of Poetry, all finished in their “ kind; one, for example, on the Parallel between Reason " and Instinct; another, upon Man's groundless Pride;
another, on the Prerogatives of Human Nature; another, " on Religion and Superstition; another, on the Original
of Society; and several fragments besides, on Self-love “ and the Passions ; he tacked
these together as he could, s and divided them into four Epistles, as, it is said, was " the fortune of Homer's Rhapsodies *.” Yes, I believe full as much of Mr. Pope's Rhapsodies, as I do of Homer's. But if this be the case, that the leaves of these two great Poets were wrote at random, tossed about, and afterwards put in order, like the Cumaan Sibyls; then, what
* Commentaire, p. 346.
we have till now thought an old lying bravado of the Poets, that they wrote by inspiration, will become a sober truth. For, if chance could not produce them, and human design had no hand in them, what must we conclude, but that they are, what they are so commonly called, divine?
However, so honourable an account of rhapsody writing should by all means be encouraged, as matter of consolation to certain modern writers in divinity and politics. But the mischief is, our Logician has given us an unlucky proof in his own case, that all Rhapsodists are not so happy:
To be serious: As to Homer, one might hope, by this time, those old exploded fooleries about his rhapsodies would be forgotten. But as to his Translator, it must be owned, he has given cause enough of disgust to our philosophers and men of reason. Till this time, every Poet, good or bad, stuck fairly to his profession : But Mr. Pope, now the last of the poetic line amongst' us, on whom the large patrimony of his whole race is devolved, seems desirous, as is natural in such cases, to ally himself to a more lasting family; and so, after having disported himself at will, in the flowery paths of fancy, and revelled in all the favours of the Muses, boasts of having taken up in time, and courted and espoused truth:
That not in fancy's maze he wander'd long,
But now, in what light, must we think, will the graver Christian reader regard the calumnies we have here confuted ? How sad an idea will this give him of the present spirit of Christian profession, that a work, wrote solely to recommend the charity that religion so strongly inforceth, and breathing nothing but love to God, and universal good-will to Man, should bring upon the Author such a storm of uncharitable bitterness and calumny, and that, from a pretended Advocate of Christianity? A religion the very vitality of which (if we may believe its propagators) is universal benevolence: For the end of the commandment is charity *. Conformably hereunto we may 1 Tim. i. 5.