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See SIDNEY bleeds amid the martial strife!
ing of the violence and haughtiness of Archbishop Laud, this virtuous nobleman's opposing him would have been sufficient. He assisted Chillingworth in his great work against Popery; and he wrote some very elegant verses to Sandys, on his Translation of the Psalms. The gallantry of Sir Philip Sidney, mentioned in a succeeding line (101), cannot be disputed; but whether the death of this valorous knight was a proper example of suffering virtue to be here introduced, is another question.
Ver. 100. See god-like Turenne] This great general was killed July 27, 1675, by a cannon-shot, near the village of Saltyback, in going to choose a place whereon to erect a battery. “No one,” says Voltaire,“ is ignorant of the circumstances of his death; but we cannot here refrain a review of the principal of them, for the same reason that they are still talked of every day. It seems as if one could not too often repeat, that the same bullet which killed him, having shot off the arm of St. Hilaire, lieutenant-general of the artillery, his son came and bewailed his misfortune with many tears; but the father, looking towards Turenne, said, “It is not I, but that great man, who should be lamented.' These words may be compared with the most heroic sayings recorded in all history; and are the best eulogy that can be bestowed upon Turenne. It is uncommon under a despotic government, where people are actuated only by private interests, for those who have served their country to die regretted by the public. Nevertheless, Turenne was lamented both by the soldiers and people; and Louvois was the only one who rejoiced at his death. The honours which the king ordered to be paid to his memory are known to every one; and that he was interred at St. Dennis, in the same manner as the constable du Guesclin.” But how much is the glory of Turenne tarnished by his cruel devastation of the Palatinate !
Ver. 101, See SIDNEY bleeds] Aniong the many things related of the life and character of this all-accomplished person, it does not seem to be much known, that he was the intimate friend and patron of the famous atheist Giordano Bruno; was in a secret club with him and Sir Folk Greville, held in London in 1587; and that the Spaccio della Bestia Trionfante was at that time com, posed and printed in London, and dedicated to Sir Philip. See General Dictionary, vol. ii, p. 622,
Say, was it Virtue, more tho' Heav'n ne'er gave,
NOTES.' Ver. 107. Why drew] M. de Belsance, bishop of Marseilles. This illustrious prelate was of a noble family in Guienne. In early life he took the vows, and belonged to a convent of Jesuits. He was made bishop of Marseilles in 1709.
In the plague of that city, in the year 1720, he distinguished himself by his zeal and activity, being the pastor, the physician, and the magistrate, of his flock, whilst that horrid calamity prevailed. Louis XV. in 1723, offered him a more considerable bishoprick (to which peculiar feudal honours were annexed), that of Laon in Picardy. He refused, however, to quit that of Marseilles, given for a reason, that he could not desert a flock which had been so endeared to him by their misfortunes and his own exertions. The king, however, insisted upon his accepting of the privilege of appealing, in all his own causes, either temporal or spiritual, to the Parliament of Paris. The Pope sent him from Rome an ornament called Palium, worn only by archbishops. He died at a very advanced age, in the year 1755, after having founded a college in Marseilles, which bears his name, and after having written the History of the Lives of his Predecessors in that See. When he was grand vicar of Agen, he published the life of a female relation of his, who was eminent for her piety, with this title, “ Vie de Susanne Henriette de Foix Candale.” Vaniere has finely celebrated him. Lib. iij. of the Prædium Rusticum.
Ver. 108. When Nature sicken'd,] A verse of marvellous comprehension and expressiveness, adopted from Dryden's Miscellanies, v. 6. The effects of this pestilence are more emphatically set forth in these few words than in forty such Odes as Sprat's on the Plague at Athens. A fine example of what Dion. Halicarnassus calls Ilvkvórntos kai oeuvrórnfog. : :
What makes all physical or moral ill? There deviates Nature, and here wanders Will. God sends not Ill; if rightly understood, Or partial Ill is universal Good, Or change admits, or Nature lets it fall; 115 Short, and but rare, till Man improv'd it all. We just as wisely might of Heay’n complain That righteous Abel was destroy'd by Cain,
After Ver. 116 in the MS.
Of ev'ry evil, since the world began,
NOTES. Ver. 110. Lent Heav'n a parent, &c.] This last instance of the Poet's illustration of the ways of Providence, the reader sees, has a peculiar elegance; where a tribute of piety to a parent is paid in return of thanks to, and made subservient of his vindication of, the great Giver and Father of all things. The Mother of the Author, a person of great piety and charity, died the year this poem was finished, viz. 1733. W.
Ver. 112. There deviates Nature,] How can Nature be said to deviate, when we before have been told, that the general “ Order has been kept, since the whole began ?” And as to the wandering of the will, objectors persist in saying, that it is precisely the same thing, whether a God of infinite power and knowledge created beings originally wicked and miserable, or gave them a power to make themselves so; foreknowing, that they would employ that power to their own destruction.
This is the objection for ever repeated by Bayle, and which our limited understandings cannot fully answer,
“But find no end in wand'ring mazes lost.”. Ver. 115. Or Change admits,] How Change can admit, or Nature let fall any evil, however short and rare it may be, under the government of an all-wise, powerful, and benevolent Creator, is hardly to be understood. The reasons assigned for the Origin of Evil, in these two lines, are surely not solid and satisfactory, and the doctrine is expressed in obscure and equivocal terms. These six lines are perhaps the most exceptionable in the whole Poem, in point both of sentiment and expression.
As that the virtuous son is ill at ease
Shall burning Etna, if a sage requires,
Ver. 121. Think we, like some weak Prince, &c.] Agreeable hereunto, Holy Scripture, in its account of things under the common Providence of Heaven, never represents miracles as wrought for the sake of him who is the object of them, but in order to give credit to some of God's extraordinary dispensations to Mankind. W.
Akenside has thus enlarged on this opinion, book i. p. 120, in a more copious and diffuse style and manner:
- Lest blind o'erweening pride
Assumes her strong direction.” Ver. 123. Shall burning Etna, &c.] Alluding to the fate of those two great Naturalists, Empedocles and Pliny, who both perished by too near an approach to Etna and Vesuvius, while they were exploring the cause of their eruptions. W.
On air or sea new motions be imprest,
But still this world (so fitted for the knave)
NOTES. Ver. 125. On air or sea] It was observed in the Adventurer, many years before the elegant Letter to Mr. Mason, on the Marks of Imitation, appeared, that this whole passage, and even the expressions, “ New motions be imprest,” and “Shall gravitation cease,” were taken from Wollaston, section v. p. 99.
Wollaston, in this section, endeavours to prove, that, “ It is not impossible, that such laws of nature, and such a series of causes and effects, may be originally designed; that not only general provisions may be made for the several species of beings, but even particular cases, at least many of them, may also be provided for, without innovations or alterations in the course of nature.” From whence he infers the doctrine of a particular Providence, and the reasonableness and efficacy of prayer: a doctrine for which Bolingbroke, in å variety of passages in his works, is fond of condemning Wollaston, and his Defence of this Duty of Prayer. I have received the most authentic information that Dr. Middleton left behind him a treatise on this subject; which Mrs. Middleton, by the advice of a judicious friend, was prevailed on not to publish, from the offence it might have given. But it was communicated to Lord Bolingbroke at his earnest request, and returned to Mrs. Middleton after he had kept it à considerable time. After Bolingbroke's death, a copy of it was found in his library.
Ver. 130. the hanging wall ?] Eusebius is weak enough to relate, from the testimonies of Irenæus and Polycarp, that the roof of the building under which Cerinthus the heretic was bathing, providentially fell down and crushed him to death. Lib. 3. cap. 29.