« НазадПродовжити »
Self-love and Reason to one end aspire,
III. Modes of Self-love the Passions we may call:
In lazy Apathy let Stoics boast
in Man, a good and evil, it is natural to think him the joint product of the two Manichean Deities (the first of which contributed to his Reason, the other to his Passions) rather than the creature of one Individual Cause. This was Plutarch's opinion, and, as we may see in him, of some of the more ancient theistical Philosophers. It was of importance, therefore, to reprobate and subvert a notion that served to the support of so dangerous an error: and this the Poet hath done with much force and clearness. W.
Wer. 101. In lazy Apathy] Swift observes that “the Stoical scheme of supplying our wants by lopping off our passions, is like cutting off our legs for want of shoes.” How easy is it to expose assertions which were never asserted; to refute tenets which were never held; to become St. George when we make our own dragons? What says old Epictetus, who knew Stoicism better than these men? Oi, yap bei pus elva, AIIAOH &c'Avôptávra, &c. “I am not to be Apathetic, or void of passions, like a statue. I am to discharge all the relations of a social and friendly life, the
Contracted all, retiring to the breast;
parent, the husband, the brother, the magistrate.” These words are copied from a valuable manuscript of my late excellent friend James Harris, Esq. author of Hermes, and other admirable treatises. Perhaps a stronger example cannot be found, of taking notions upon trust without any examination, than the universal censure that has been passed upon the Stoics, as if they constantly and strenuously inculcated a total insensibility with respect to passion, to which these lines of Pope allude; when it is certain the Stoics meant only, a freedom from strong perturbation, from irrational and excessive agitations of the soul; and no more.
Ver. 105. The rising tempest puts in act the soul. As it was from observation of the evils occasioned by the passions, that the Stoics thus extravagantly projected their extirpation, the Poet recurs. (from Ver. 104 to 111) to his grand principle so often before, and to so good purpose, insisted on, that partial Ill is universal Good; and shews, that though the tempest of the passions, like that of the air, may tear and ravage some few parts of nature in its passage, yet the salutary agitation produced by it preserves the Whole in life and vigour. This is his first argument against the Stoics, which he illustrates by a very beautiful similitude, on a hint taken from Scripture:
“Nor God alone in the still calm we find,
From factions, and ferments, and political agitations, and commotions, and wars, arise the most striking and vigorous exertions of the human mind. Witness what happened in Greece, and Rome, and modern Italy; in France after the league ; and in England after, and in, our civil war. Great occasions call forth great and latent abilities; and every man becomes capable of every exertion. A Socrates and a Sophocles were found, alone, in the time of Themistocles and Thrasybulus. The dead calm of despotism, in such a government as China for instance, crushes and overwhelms all effort and all emulation.
On life's vast ocean diversely we sail,
VARIATIONS. After Wer. 108 in the MS.
A tedious Voyage 1 where how useless lies
Ver. 108. Reason the card, This passage is exactly copied from Fontenelle, tom. i. p. 109.
“Ces sont les passions qui font et qui defont tout. Sila raison dominoit sur la terre, il ne s'y passeroit rien. On dit queles pilotes craignent au dernier point ces mers pacifiques, ou l’on ne peut naviger, et qu'ils veulent du vent, au hazard d'avoir des tempêtes. Les passions sont chez des hommes des vents qui sont necessaires, pour mettre tout en mouvement, quoiqu'ils causent souvent les orages.” He had also copied Fontenelle before, in Epistle i. v. 290.
All chance direction which thou canst not see,
“Tout est hazard dans le monde, pourvè que l’on donne ce nom à un ordre que l’on ne connoit point.” Tom. i. p. 81.
Ver. 109. Nor God alone in the still calm we find,
- He mounts the storm, and walks upon the wind.] The translator turns it thus,
“Dieu lui-même, Dieu sort de son profond repos."
And so makes an Epicurean God of the Governor of the Universe. M. De Crousaz does not spare this expression of God's coming out of his profound repose. “It is,” says he, “excessively poetical, and presents us with ideas which we ought not to dwell upon,” &c. and then, as usual, blames the Author for the blunder of his Translator.” Comm. p. 158. W.
Ver. 109. Nor God alone, &c.] These words are only a simple affirmation in the poetic dress of a similitude, to this purpose: Good is not only produced by the subdual of the Passions, but by the turbulent exercise of them. A truth conveyed under the most sublime imagery that poetry could conceive or paint. For the author is here only shewing the providential issue of the Pas
VOL. III. F
Passions, like elements, tho' born to fight, Yet, mix’d and soften'd, in his work unite : These, ’tis enough to temper and employ; But what composes Man, can Man destroy? Suffice that Reason keep to Nature's road, 115 Subject, compound them, follow her and God. Love, Hope, and Joy, fair Pleasure's smiling train, Hate, Fear, and Grief, the family of Pain, These mix’d with art, and to due bounds confin'd, Make and maintain the balance of the mind: 120 The lights and shades, whose well-accorded strife Gives all the strength and colour of our life.
VARIATIONS. After Wer. 112 in the MS.
The soft reward the virtuous, or invite;
sions; and how, by God's gracious disposition, they are turned away from their natural destructive bias, to promote the Happiness of Mankind. As to the method in which they are to be treated by Man, in whom they are found, all that he contends for, in favour of them, is only this, that they should not be quite rooted up and destroyed, as the Stoics, and their followers, in all Religions, foolishly attempted. For the rest, he constantly repeats this advice, “The action of the stronger to suspend, Reason still use, to Reason still attend.” W. Ver. 110. walks upon the wind.] In Dryden's Ceyex and Alcione is, “And now sublime she rides upon the wind.” Ver. 117. Love, Hope, and Joy, This beautiful group of allegorical personages, so strongly contrasted, how does it act?
The prosopopoeia is unfortunately dropped, and the metaphor changed immediately in the succeeding lines, viz.
Pleasures are ever in our hands or eyes;
Receives the lurking principle of death;
- NOTES. Ver. 128. On diff'rent senses] A didactic poet, who has happily indulged himself in bolder flights of enthusiasm, supported by a more figurative style than our Author used, has thus nobly illustrated this very doctrine: “Diff'rent minds Incline to diff'rent objects: one pursues The vast alone, the wonderful, the wild; Another sighs for harmony, and grace, And gentlest beauty. Hence, when lightning fires The arch of heaven, and thunders rock the ground; When furious whirlwinds rend the howling air, And Ocean, groaning from the lowest bed, Heaves his tempestuous billows to the sky; Amid the mighty uproar, while below The nations tremble, Shakspeare looks abroad From some high cliff, superior, and enjoys The elemental war. But Waller longs All on the margin of some flow'ry stream, To spread his careless limbs, amid the cool Of plantane shades.” Wer. 133. As Man, perhaps, &c.] “Antipater Sidonius Poeta omnibus annis uno die natali tantum corripiebatur febre, et eo consumptus est satis longa senecta.” Plin. 1. vii. N. H. This Antipater was in the times of Crassus; and is celebrated for the quickness of his parts by Cicero. W.