Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

Lo, the poor Indian! whose untutor’d mind Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind ; 100

hole argumenkind a religie had this fit has kept th

the divine sagant of one on, seconde From

NOTES. me to go farther; and yet I cannot help observing, that, allow Mr. Pope this doctrine, and he will go near to overthrow the whole argument of the divine legation of Moses. God has im. planted in mankind a religious fear, and a foreboding of a future state. The divine says, he had this from revelation : the deist, that it supplies the want of one; that it has kept the world in awe from the beginning of the creation, seconded with an opinion of Providence prevailing even in this world.” From MS. notes of our learned printer Mr. Bowyer.

Ver. 99. Lo, the poor Indian! &c.] The Poet having bid Man comfort himself with expectation of future happiness; having shewn him that this hope is an earnest of it; and put in one very necessary caution,

“Hope humbly then, with trembling pinions soar;" provoked at those miscreants whom he afterward (Ep. iii. ver. 263.) describes as building Hell on spite, and Heaven on pride, he upbraids them (from ver. 98 to 113.) with the example of the poor Indian, to whom also Nature hath given this common HOPE of Mankind: but though his untutor'd mind had betrayed him into many childish fancies concerning the nature of that future state, yet he is so far from excluding any part of his own species (a vice which could proceed only from the pride of false Science), that he humanely, though simply, admits even his faithful dog to bear him company. W.

Pope has indulged himself in but few digressions in this piece; this is one of the most poetical. Representations of undisguised nature and artless innocence always amuse and delight. The simple notions which uncivilized nations entertain of a future state are many of them beautifully romantic, and some of the best subjects for poetry. It has been questioned, whether the circumstance of the dog, although striking at the first view, is introduced with propriety, as it is known that this animal is not a native of America. The notion of seeing God in clouds, and hearing him in the wind, cannot be enough applauded. Buffon says, the Americans had no domestic animals about them when that continent was discovered.

as once

nor

His soul, proud Science never taught to stray
Far as the solar walk, or milky way;
Yet simple Nature to his hope has giv’n,
Behind the cloud-topt hill, an humbler heav'n;
Some safer world in depth of woods embrac'd, 105
Some happier island in the wat'ry waste,
Where slaves once more their native land behold,
No fiends torment, no Christians thirst for gold.
To Be, contents his natural desire,
He asks no Angel's wing, no Seraph's fire; 110
But thinks, admitted to that equal sky,
His faithful dog shall bear him company.
* IV. Go, wiser thou! and, in thy scale of sense,
Weigh thy Opinion against Providence;
Call imperfection what thou fancy'st such, 115
Say, Here he gives too little, there too much :
Destroy all creatures for thy sport or gust,
Yet cry, If Man's unhappy, God's unjust;
If Man alone engross not Heav'n's high care,
Alone made perfect here, immortal there : 120

VARIATIONS.
After Ver. 108, in the first Ed.

But does he say the Maker is not good,
Till he's exalted to what state he would :
Himself alone high Heav'n's peculiar care,
Alone made happy when he will, and where?

NOTES. · Ver. 120. Alone made perfect here,] The obvious meaning is, “ Be content with the present life; it is your pride only that makes you think yourself ill-treated, and induces you to look for another and more perfect state.” : Bolingbroke is for ever repeating the same note, and saying, “ It is profane even to insinuate, and much more to affirm pe

Snatch from his hand the balance and the rod,
Rejudge his justice, be the God of God.
In Pride, in reas'ning Pride, our error lies;

All quit their sphere, and rush into the skies.
| Pride still is aiming at the blest abodes, 125
Men would be Angels, Angels would be Gods.
Aspiring to be Gods, if Angels fell,
Aspiring to be Angels, Men rebel :

NOTES.

remptorily, that the proceedings of God towards man, in the present life, are unjust; and, if that could be admitted, it would be absurd to admit that this may be set right; which means, if the words have any meaning, that this injustice must cease to be injustice, on the received hypothesis of his proceedings towards man in another life. One is profane, notwithstanding all the questions they beg to support the charge : the other is absurd, on the very principles on which they argue, and according to our clearest and most distinct ideas or notions of human justice.”

It is a singular fact, and not sufficiently attended to, that neither the ancient philosophers nor poets, though they abound in complaints of the unequal distribution of good and evil at present, yet do not ever infer or draw any arguments, from this supposed inequality, for the necessity of a future life, where such inequality will be rectified, and Providence vindicated.

Ver. 126. Men would be angels,] Verbatim from Bolingbroke, vol. v. p. 465; as are many other passages. How are we to interpret the assertion, that Pope did not really understand the principles of Bolingbroke, when the latter says to him, “ These subjects have been so often treated of between you and me, that I shall say nothing of them here." The following passage, relating to the caution and timidity of Pope, may give us a key to his conduct, vol. iv. p. 190. “Read,” says Bolingbroke to him, “the entire passage; consult your memory; look round you, and then you shall tell me what you think of Clarke's argument. You shall tell it in my ear: I expect no more; for I know how desirous you are to keep fair with orders, whatever liberties you take with particular men.”

Ver. 127. If Angels fell,] It may mortify our pride to consider how little we know of the Fall of Angels; on which event depends

And who but wishes to invert the laws
Of ORDER, sins against th' Eternal Cause. 130

V. Ask for what end the heav'nly bodies shine, Earth for whose use? Pride answers, “ 'Tis for mine:

NOTES.

birthia imperial

by what

the Fall of Man, effected by the agency of the chief of these Fallen Angels. Revelation is not express on this important subject. All is imperfect conjecture. We have only a few hints on the subject: Such as that in Isaiah, c. xiv. v. 12; and in Ezekiel, c. xxvüi. v. 14; and in the Apocalypse, concerning the seven-headed dragon. “I had rather know the history of Lucifer,” says Burnet, in his Theory, “than of all the Babylonian and Persian kings; nay, than of all the kings of the earth : what the birthright was of that mighty prince; what his dominions ; where his imperial court and residence ; how he was deposed ; for what crime, and by what power ; how he still wages war against heaven in his exile; what confederates he hath ; what is his power over mankind, and how limited.”

Milton, in book v. copies from the Rabbinical writers, from the fathers, and some of the schoolmen, the causes of the rebellion of Satan and his associates; but seems more particularly to have in view an obscure Latin poem written by Odoricus Valmarana, and printed at Vienna in 1627, entitled, “ Dæmonomachiæ, sive de Bello Intelligentiarum super Divini Verbi Incarnatione;" in which the revolt of Satan, or Lucifer, is expressly ascribed to his envy at the exaltation of the Son of God. See Newton's Milton, vol. i. p. 407. But the commentators on Milton have not observed that there is still another poem which he seems to have copied, “ L'Angeleida di Erasmo di Valvasone,” printed at Venice, in quarto, in 1590, describing the battle of the Angels against Lucifer, and which Gordon de Porcel, in his Library of Romances, tom. ii. p. 190, thought related to Angelica, the he. roine of Boiardo and Ariosto. I beg leave to add, that Milton seems also to have attended to a poem of Tasso, not much noticed, on the Creation, “Le Sette Giornate del Mondo Creato,” in 1607.

Ver. 131. Ask for what end, &c.] If there be any fault in these lines, it is not in the general sentiment, but in the ill choice of instances made use of in illustrating it. It is the highest absurdity to think that Earth -is man's foot-stool, his canopy the Skies,

For me kind Nature wakes her genial pow'r, :.
Suckles each herb, and spreads out ev'ry flow'r;
Annual for me, the grape, the rose renew, 135
The juice nectareous, and the balmy dew;
For me, the mine a thousand treasures brings ;
For me, health gushes from a thousand springs ;
Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise;
My foot-stool earth, my canopy the skies." 140
But errs not Nature from this gracious end,
From burning suns when livid deaths descend,

NOTES.

and the heavenly bodies lighted up principally for his use; yet, surely, it is very excusable to suppose fruits and minerals given for this end. W.

There is most assuredly a fault.

Ver. 141. But errs not Nature] The whole of this doctrine is thus clearly stated in some valuable manuscripts of the late James Harris, Esq.

“Whence evil in the universe, and why? Some things, perhaps, which thou thinkest such, are not evil, but in appearance. Where the whole is vastly great, the connexions will be innumerable. When, therefore, a part only is seen, many of these connexions will be inexplicable. Being inexplicable, they will often exhibit appearances of evil, where yet in fact is no evil, but only good, not understood.

“ Again, throughout the whole there is more good than evil : for in the system of the heavens we know of no evil at all. The same perhaps is true in many other parts of the whole. And with respect even to men, 'tis their interest to be good, if it be true that by Nature they are rational and social. So that if, by vice of any kind, they chance to introduce evil, 'tis by deviating from Nature, and thwarting her original purpose. Indeed, all evil in general appears to be of the casual kind ; not something intended by the Maker of the world (for all his preparations plainly tend towards good), but something which follows, without being intended, and that perhaps necessarily, from the nature and essence of things. Indeed, the nature and essence of every being is im

« НазадПродовжити »