Слике страница
PDF
ePub

While man exclaims, “ See all things for my use!”
“ See man for mine!” replies a pamper'd goose : 46
And just as short of reason he must fall,
Who thinks all made for one, not one for all.

Grant that the pow'rful still the weak control; Be Man the wit and tyrant of the whole: 50

COMMENTARY.

Ver. 49. Grant that the pow’rful still the weak control;] However,

his adversaries, loth to give up the question, will reason upon the matter; and we are now to suppose them objecting against Providence in this manner. We grant,” say they, “ that in the irrational, as in the inanimate creation, all is served, and all is serving : but with regard to man, the case is different: he standeth

single: NOTES. viding for them, when they are unable to protect and provide for themselves.” These are the words of Dr. Law, in his learned Commentary on King's Origin of Evil, first published in Latin, 1701, a work of penetration and close reasoning: which, it is remarkable, Bayle had never read, but only some extracts from it, when he first wrote his famous article of the Paulicians, in his Dictionary.

Warton. Ver. 45. " See all things for my use !"] On the contrary, the wise man hath said, The Lord hath made all things for himself. Prov. xvi. 4.

Warburton, Ver. 46. replies a pamper'd goose :] Taken from Peter Charron : but such a familiar and burlesque image is improperly introduced among such solid and serious reflections.

Warton. Ver. 50. Be Man the wit and tyrant of the whole:] Alluding to the witty system of that Philosopher, which made animals mere machines, insensible of pain or pleasure; and so encouraged Men in the exercise of that tyranny over their fellow-creatures, consequent on such a principle.

Warburton.
VARIATIONS.
After ver. 46, in the former Editions,

What care to tend, to lodge, to cram, to treat him!
All this he knew; but not that 'twas to eat him.
As far as Goose could judge, he reason'd right;
But as to Man, mistook the matter quite. Warburton.

Nature that tyrant checks; he only knows,
And helps, another creature's wants and woes.
Say, will the falcon, stooping from above,
Smit with her varying plumage, spare the dove?

COMMENTARY.

[ocr errors]

single: for his reason hath endowed him both with power and address sufficient to make all things serve him; and his Self-love, of which you have so largely provided for him, will indispose him, in his turn, to serve any: therefore your theory is imperfect." Not so, replies the Poet (from ver. 48 to 79.). I grant that man, indeed, affects to be the wit and tyrant of the whole, and would fain shake off

" that chain of love Combining all below and all above:" But Nature, even by the very gift of Reason, checks this tyrant. For Reason endowing man with the ability of setting together the memory of the past with his conjectures about the future; and past misfortunes making him apprehensive of more to come, this disposeth him to pity and relieve others in a state of suffering. And the passion growing habitual, naturally extendeth its effects to all that have a sense of suffering. Now as brutes have neither man's reason, nor his inordinate self-love, to draw them from the system of beneficence; so they wanted not, and therefore have not, this human sympathy of another's misery: by which passion, we see, those qualities, in man, balance one another; and so retain him in that orderly connexion, in which Providence hath placed its whole creation. But this is not all : man's interest and amusement, his vanity and luxury, tie him still closer to the system of beneficence, by obliging him to provide for the support of other animals; and though it be, for the most part, only to devour them with the greater gust, yet this does not abate the proper happiness of the animals so preserved, to whom Providence hath not imparted the useless knowledge of their end. From all which it appears, that the theory is yet uniform and perfect.

NOTES.

Ver. 51. Nature that tyrant checks ;] What an exquisite assemblage is here (down to ver. 70.) of deep reflection, humane sentiments, and poetic imagery! It is finely observed, that compassion is exclusively the property of man alone.

Warton.

Admires the jay the insect's gilded wings? 55
Or hears the hawk when Philomela sings?
Man cares for all; to birds he gives his woods,
To beasts his pastures, and to fish his floods;
For some his interest prompts him to provide,
For more his pleasure, yet for more his pride : 60
All feed on one vain patron, and enjoy
Th' extensive blessing of his luxury.
That very life his learned hunger craves,
He saves from famine, from the savage saves;
Nay, feasts the animal he dooms his feast, 65
And, till he ends the being, makes it blest;
Which sees no more the stroke, or feels the pain,
Than favour'd Man by touch ethereal slain.
The creature had his feast of life before;
Thou too must perish, when thy feast is o’er! 70

To each unthinking being, Heav'n a friend,
Gives not the useless knowledge of its end :
To Man imparts it, but with such a view
As, while he dreads it, makes him hope it too:
The hour conceal'd, and so remote the fear, 75
Death still draws nearer, never seeming near.
Great standing miracle ! that Heav'n assign'd
Its only thinking thing this turn of mind.

II. Whether with Reason or with Instinct blest, Know, all enjoy that pow'r which suits them best;

COMMENTARY.

Ver. 79. Whether with Reason, &c.] But even to this as a ca

* Adviller would still object, we must suppose he does so.

mit

NOTES.

[ocr errors]

Ver. 68. Than favour'd Man, &c.] Several of the ancients,

and

To bliss alike by that direction tend,
And find the means proportion’d to their end.
Say, where full Instinct is th’ unerring guide,
What Pope or Council can they need beside ?

COMMENTARY.

mit (says he) that Nature hath endowed all animals, whether human or brutal, with such faculties as admirably fit them to promote the general good: yet, in its care for this, hath not Nature neglected to provide for the private good of the individual ? We have cause to think she hath; and we suppose, it was on this exclusive consideration, that she kept back from brutes the gift of Reason (so necessary a means of private happiness), because Reason, as we find in the case of Man, where there is occasion for all the complicated contrivance you have described above, to make the effects of his Passions counter-work the immediate powers of his Reason, in order to keep him subservient to the general system; Reason, we say, naturally tendeth to draw Beings into a private independent system.” This the Poet answers, by shewing (from ver. 78 to 109.), that the happiness of animal and that of human life are widely different: the happiness of human life consisting in the improvement of the mind, can be procured by Reason only; but the happiness of animal life consisting in the gratifications of sense, is best promoted by Instinct. And, with regard to the regular and constant operation of each, in that, Instinct hath plainly the advantage; for here God directs immediately, there only mediately through Man.

[ocr errors]

NOTES.

and many of the Orientals since, esteemed those who were struck by lightning as sacred persons, and the particular favourites of Heaven.

Pope. Ver. 68. by touch ethereal slain.] The expression is from Milton.

Warton.
VARIATIONS.
After ver. 84. in the MS.

While Man, with op'ning views of various ways
Confounded, by the aid of knowledge strays:
Too weak to chuse, yet chusing still in haste,
One moment gives the pleasure and distaste. Warburton.

Reason, however able, cool at best,

85 Cares not for service, or but serves when press'd, Stays till we call, and then not often near; But honest Instinct comes a volunteer, Sure never to o'ershoot, but just to hit; While still too wide or short is human wit; 90 Sure by quick Nature happiness to gain, Which heavier Reason labours at in vain. This too serves always, Reason never long ; One must go right, the other may go wrong. See then the acting and comparing pow'rs 95 One in their nature, which are two in ours; And Reason raise o'er Instinct as you can, In this 'tis God directs, in that 'tis Man.

NOTES.

Ver. 97. And Reason raise o'er Instinct] Charron, of whom Pope and Bolingbroke were so fond, has treated this subject with so much freedom of thought, and endeavoured to raise Instinct so much above Reason, that Stanhope, his translator, deemed it necessary to obviate the tendency of his tenets, by a long Appendix to the 34th chapter of the first book. It appears a little strange, that so orthodox a divine as Stanhope should translate two books that are supposed to favour libertinism and scepticism -the Wisdom of Charron, and the Maxims of Rochefoucault. Bayle has stated the difficulties that arise in accounting for the actions of brutes, with his usual acuteness and force of argument.

Father Bougeant's little treatise on the Language of Beasts is an amusing work ; in which he has placed the notion of Des Cartes, that they are mere machines, in a strong light, as well as the difficulties that arise from the opinion of their having immortal souls. Bougeant was severely censured by his brother Jesuits for this little work. He had better have kept to politics. 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. Warton. VOL. V.

K

« ПретходнаНастави »