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Prescient, the tides or tempests to withstand,
III. God, in the nature of each being, founds
He wrote the History of the Treaty of Westphalia. Posterity will look on this as a curious work: the state of Europe being now so totally changed, this history will read like a romance.
Ver. 99. Who taught] This passage is highly finished; such objects are more suited to the nature of poetry than abstract ideas. Every verb and epithet has here a descriptive force. We find more imagery from these lines to the end of the epistle, than in any other parts of this Essay. The origin of the connexions in social life, the account of the state of nature, the rise and effects of superstition and tyranny, and the restoration of true religion and just government; all these ought to be mentioned as passages that deserve high applause, nay, as some of the most exalted pieces of English poetry.
Ver. 109. God, in the nature of each being, &c.] The Author now cometh to the main subject of his epistle, the proof of Man's SOCIABILITY, from the two general societies composed by him ; the natural, subject to paternal authority; and the civil, subject to that of a magistrate. This he hath the address to introduce, from what had preceded, in so easy and natural a manner, as sheweth him to have the art of giving all the grace to the dryness and severity of Method, as well as wit to the strength and depth of Reason. The philosophic nature of his work requiring he should shew by what means those Societies were introduced, this affords him an opportunity of sliding gracefully and easily from the preliminaries into the main subject; and so of giving his work that perfection of method, which we find only in the compositions of great writers. For having just before, though
But as he fram'd the Whole, the Whole to bless,
NOTES. to a different purpose, described the power of bestial Instinct to attain the happiness of the Individual, he goeth on, in speaking of Instinct as it is serviceable both to that, and to the Kind (from Ver. 108 to 147), to illustrate the original of Society. He sheweth, that though, as he had before observed, God had founded the proper bliss of each creature in the nature of its own existence; yet these not being independent individuals, but parts of a Whole, God, to bless that Whole, built mutual happiness on mutual wants : now, for the supply of mutual wants, creatures must necessarily come together: which is the first ground of Society amongst Men. He then proceeds to that called natural, subject to paternal authority, and arising from the union of the two sexes; describes the imperfect image of it in brutes; then explains it at large in all its causes and effects. And lastly shews, that, as in fact, like mere animal Society, it is founded and preserved by mutual wants, the supplial of which causeth mutual happiness; so is it likewise in right, as a rational Society, by equity, gratitude, and the observance of the relation of things” in general. W.
The young dismiss’d to wander earth or air,
trod; The State of Nature was the reign of God : Self-love and Social at her birth began, Union the bond of all things, and of Man. 150 Pride then was not; nor Arts, that Pride to aid ; Man walk'd with beast, joint-tenant of the shade; .
NOTES. Ver. 152. Man walk'd with beast,] Lucretius, agreeably to his more uncomfortable system, has presented us with a different and more horrid picture of this state of Nature. The calamitous condition of Man is exhibited by images of much energy and
The same his table, and the same his bed ;
NOTES. wildness of fancy; see ver. 980, book v; and particularly when he represents, at ver. 991, some of these wretched mortals mangled by the wild beasts, into whose caverns they had retreated for shelter in tempestuous seasons, and running distracted with pain through the woods, with their wounds undressed and putrefying :
-tremulas super ulcera tetra tenentes
Palmas, horriferis accibant vocibus Orcum. Pain is most forcibly expressed by the action here described, and by the epithet “ tremulas.”
The continuance and universality of the savage state of Man, in the earliest ages of the world, has been the favourite opinion of many late philosophical writers, particularly of Lord Kaimes in his Sketches, which has been answered with much learning and acuteness by Dr. Doig, 1792.
Ver. 156. All vocal beings, &c.] This may be well explained by å sublime passage of the Psalmist, who, calling to mind the age of Innocence, and full of the great ideas of those
“ Chains of Love
Beast, Man, or ANGEL, Servant, Lord, or King;" breaks out into this rapturous and divine apostrophe, to call back the devious Creation to its pristine rectitude; that very state our author describes above: “ Praise the Lord, all angels; praise him, all ye hosts. Praise ye him, sun and moon; praise him, all ye stars of light,” &c. W.
Ver. 157. undrest, Unbrib'd, unbloody,] Alliteration is here used with effect. But is the assertion consistent with the usual interpretation of the Scripture account of the origin of sacrifice ? · Ver. 158. Unbrib'd, unbloody, &c.] i.e. the state described from
Heav'n's attribute was Universal Care,
See him from Nature rising slow to Art! To copy Instinct then was Reason's part; 170 Thus then to Man the voice of Nature spake“Go, from the Creatures thy instructions take :
Ver. 262 to 269, was not yet arrived. For then, when Superstition was become so extreme as to bribe the Gods with human sacrifices ; Tyranny became necessitated to woo the priest for a favourable answer. W.
Ver. 162. the butcher and the tomb;] Plutarch has written a treatise against animal food; tom. ii. 995. Thomson, with his usual tenderness, has done the same; Spring, v. 330. Ver. 171. Thus then to Man the voice of Nature spake -
“Go, &c.] M. Du Resnel has translated the lines thus,
“ La Nature indignée alors se fit entendre;
Va, malheureux mortel, va, lui dit elle, apprendre.” One would wonder what should make the Translator represent Nature in such a passion with Man, and calling him names, at a time when Mr. Pope supposed her in her best good-humour. W. • Ver. 171. the voice of Nature] The prosopopoeia is magnificent, and the occasion important, no less than the origin of the arts of life. Nature is personified by Lucretius, and introduced speaking with suitable majesty and elevation : She is chiding