Слике страница




HE ESSAY ON MAN, to use the Author's own words, is a perfect Syftem of Ethics; in which definition he included religion: for he was far from that opinion of the writer of the Characteristics, that morality could long fupport itself, or have even a real exiftence, without even a reference to the Deity. Hence it is that the first Epiftle regards man with refpect to the Lord and Governor of the universe; as the fecond with respect to himself; the third to fociety; and the fourth to happiness. Having therefore formed and finished his Effay in this view, he was much mortified whenever he found it confidered it in any other; or as a part and introduction only to a larger work. As appears from the conclufion of his fecond dialogue, intitled M DCCXXVII, where he makes his impertinent adviser fay,

Alas! Alas! pray end what yoa bean,

And write, next winter, more Effays on Man;

which a MS. note of his thus explains : The Author undoubtedly meant this as a farcasm on the ignorance of thofe friends of his, who were daily peftering him for more Effays on Man, as not feeing that the four Epiftles he ha published entirely compleated that fubject.' But it must be owned, that the public, by the great and continued Vol. II. 5. A


demand for his Effay, fufficiently freed itself from this im putation of wrong judgment. And how great and continued that demand has been, appears from the vaft variety of pirated and imperfect editions continually obtruded on the world, ever fince the first publication of the Poem; and which no repeated profecutions of the offenders have been able totally to refrain.

These were the confiderations which have now induced the Proprietors to give one perfect edition of the Effay on Man, from Mr. Pope's laft corrections and improvements. that the public may from henceforth be fupplied with this Poem alone, in a manner fuitable to its dignity, and to the honeft intention of its great Author.

[ocr errors]

Concerning the UNIVERSAL PRAYER, which con cludes the Effay, it may be proper to observe, that, fome pallages in the Efay having been unjustly suspected of a tendency towards Fol and Naturalifm, the Author compofed that prayer as the fum of all, to fhew that his fyftem was founded in free will, and terminated in piety: that the fill crufe was as well the Lord and Governor as the Creator of the Univerfe and that by fubmiffion to his will (the great principle inforced throughout the Effay) was not meant the fuffering ourselves to be carried along with a blind determination; but a religious acquiefcence, and confidence full of hope and immortality. To give all this the greater weight and reality the Poet chofe for his model the LORD'S PRAYER, which of all others beft deferves the title prefixed to his paraphrase.

[ocr errors]



HAVING propofed to write fome pieces on human

life and manners, fuch as (to use my Lord Bacon's expreffion) come home to men's bufinefs and bofoms,. I thought it more fatisfactory to begin with confidering man in the abstract, his nature, and his ftate: fince, to prove any moral duty, to enforce any moral precept, or to examine the perfection or imperfection of any creature whatsoever, it is neceffary firft to know what condition and relation it is placed in, and what is the proper end and purpofe of its being.

The science of human nature is, like all other sciences, reduced to a few clear points: there are not many certain truths in this world. It is therefore in the anatomy of the mind as in that of the body: more good will accrue to mankind by attending to the large, open, and perceptible parts; than by fludying too much fuch finer nerves and veffels, the conformations and ufes of which will for ever escape our obfervation. The difputes are all upon these laft'; and I will venture to fay, they have lefs fharpened the wits than the hearts of men again ft each other, and have diminished the practice more than advanced the theory of morality. If I could flatter my felf that this Effay has any merit, it is in fleering betwixt the extremes of doctrines Leemingly oppofite; in palling over terms utterly uninelligible; and in forming a temperate, yet not inconfiftent; and a fhort, yet not imperfect fyftem of Ethics.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]


to treat this


This I might have done in profe; but I chofe verfe, and even rhyme, for two reafons: the one will appear obvious; that principles, maxims, or precepts fo written, both firike the reader more ftrongly at firfl, and are more eafily retained by him afterwards. The other may feem odd, but it is true; I found I could exprefs them more fhortly this way than in profe itself, and nothing is truer of arguments than that much of the force, as well as grace, er infiructions depends on their concifenefs. I was unable part my fubject more in detail, without becoming dry and tedious; or more poetically, without facrificing perfpicuity to ornament, without wandering from the precifion, or breaking the chain of reafoning. If any man can unite all these, without diminution of any of them, I freely confefs he will compass a thing above my capacity. What is now publifhed, is only to be confidered as a general map of MAN, marking out no more than the greater parts, their extent, their limits, and their connection,. but leaving the particular to be more fully delineated in the charts which are to follow. Confequently thefe Epiftles in their progrefs (if I make any progrefs) will be lefs dry I am here and more fufceptible of poetical ornament. only opening the fountains, and clearing the paffage to deduce the rivers, to follow them in their courfe. and to obferve their effects, would be a task more agreeable.







AWAKE, my ST. JOHN ! leave all meaner things

To low ambition, and the pride of kings.

Let us (fince life can little more fupply
Than just to look about us and to die)
Expatiate free o'er all this fcene of man;

A mighty maze! but not without a plan;
A wild, where weeds and flow'rs promifcuous fhoot:
Or garden, tempting with forbidden fruit.
Together let us beat this ample field,

Try what the open,' what the covert yield;
The latent tracts, the giddy heights, explore
Of all who blindly creep, or fightless foar;
Eye nature's walks, fhoot folly as it flies,
And catch the manners living as they rife;
Laugh where we muft, be candid where we can;
But vindicate the ways of God to man.

I. Say firft. of God above or man below,
What can we reason, but from what we know?

[blocks in formation]
« ПретходнаНастави »