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Justice a Conqu'ror's sword, or Truth a gown,
Ver. 173. Weak, foolish Man / These eight succeeding lines were not in former editions; and indeed none of them, especially lines 177 and 179, do any credit to the Author, and rather make us wish they had been suppressed.
Ver. 185. give Repute, or Trust,) We see in the world, alas ! too many examples of riches giving repute and trust, content and pleasure, to the worthless and profligate.
Ver. 189. God hates the worthy mind,) The ground of the complaint is, not that the worthy man does not possess a large and ample fortune, but because he sometimes wants even necesSalies.
Honour and shame from no Condition rise; Act well your part, there all the honour lies. NOTES.
Ver. 194. Act well your part, The Ancients were very fond of this comparison of human life with a drama. Epictetus uses it in a well-known passage, chapter 27, and Arrian also recites it: it is repeated twice or thrice in Stobaeus; and Antoninus finishes his meditations with an allusion to it. Ivie has given it from Epictetus in a manner so truly Horatian, that I cannot forbear repeating it: “Nos sumus in scena; quin et, mandante magistro, Quisque datas agimus partes; sit longa brevisve Fabula, nil refert: Tyrio seu dives in ostro Incedam, pannis seu veler squalidus, imo Prognatus populo, seu fracto crure humerove In triviis rogitem aera; placet lex"
But our Author found the same illustration in his friend's Essay. See Bolingbroke, vol. v. p. 79. “The whole world, nay, the whole universe, is filled with Beings which are all connected in one immense design. The sensitive inhabitants of our globe, like the dramatis personae, have different characters, and are applied to different purposes of action in every scene. The several parts of the material world, like the machines of a theatre, were contrived not for the actors, but for the action: and the whole order and system of the drama would be disordered and spoiled, if any alteration was made in either. The nature of every creature, his manner of being, is adapted to his state here, to the place he is to inhabit, and, as we may say, to the part he is to act. If man was a creature inferior or superior to what he is, he would be a very preposterous creature in this system. Gulliver's horses made a very absurd figure in the place of men, and men would make one as absurd in the place of horses. I do not think that philosophers have shewn in every instance why every thing is what it is, and as it is, or that nothing could be, in any one case, otherwise than it is, without producing a greater inconveniency to the whole than the particular inconveniency that would be removed. But I am sure this has been proved in so many instances, that it is trifling, as well as profane, to deny it in any. We complain often of our senses, and sometimes of our reasoning faculties: both are defective, weak, fallible: and yet if the former were more extensive, more acute,
Fortune in Men has some small diff'rence made, 195
The rest is all but leather or prunella. 204
Ver. 207. Boast the pure blood, &c.] In the MS. thus,
and more nice, they would not answer the purposes of human life, they would be absolutely inconsistent with them. Just so, if our reasoning faculties were more perfect than they are, the order of intellectual Beings would be broken unnecessarily, and man would be raised above his proper form, without any real advantage to himself, since the reason he has is sufficient for him in the state allotted to him; and since higher faculties and greater degrees of knowledge would on one hand increase his presumption, and yet on the other would rather excite than sate his curiosity, by shewing him more clearly the extent of his ignorance.”
Ver. 208. from Lucrece to Lucrece: A bad rhyme to the preceding word race. It is taken from Boileau, vol. 85. Satire 5.
But by your fathers' worth if your's you rate,
“Et sileur sang tout pur, ainsi que leur noblesse,
Wer. 210. Count me those] The following comment is taken from the manuscripts of James Harris, Esq.
“If thou art ever touched with the admiration of family, remember that thou too hadst a progenitor in the time of the Holy War, as much as either the Courteneys, the Greys, or the Howards. The difference is no more than that in those wise expeditions thy forefathers were corporals, while theirs were captains: that their forefathers had wealth enough to be benefactors to monkery; while the poverty of thine, if ever they had such intentions, most happily prevented them from making their folly conspicuous.”
Pope seems to have been reading Peter Charron's severe Animadversions on Natural and Personal Nobility, in book i. of Wisdom, p. 499.
Ver. 220. From Macedonia's] He has fallen into the common cant about Alexander the Great. Think of the scene in Darius's tent; of the foundation of the city of Alexandria, and the extent of its commerce; of the many colonies he established; of his refusing to treat the Persians as slaves; of the grief expressed by the Persians at his death; of the encouragement he gave to arts, both useful and elegant; and of his assistance to Aristotle his master, in making experiments and promoting science: the
The whole strange purpose of their lives to find
NOTES, encomiums bestowed on him by two such judges of men as Bacon and Montesquieu, outweigh the censures of Boileau and Pope. Charles XII. deserved not to be joined with him: Charles XII. tore out the leaf in which Boileau had censured Alexander. Robertson, in his Disquisitions on India, has given a fine and comprehensive view of the very grand design which Alexander had formed to annex that extensive and opulent country to his empire. Section 1. Appendix.
Wer. 222. an enemy of all mankind sj Had all nations, with regard to their heroes, been of the humour with the Normans, who called Robert II, the greatest of their Dukes, by the name of RoBERT THE DEVIL, the races of heroes might have been less numerous, or, however, less mischievous. W.
Ver. 235, or bleed like Socrates, Considering the manner in which Socrates was put to death, the word “bleed” seems to be improperly used. Cudworth has remarked, that it is a common mistake to assert that Socrates was condemned for asserting the doctrine of one Supreme Deity; for he also acknowledged the existence of inferior created gods; but he was punished for ex