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cife and figurative, forcible and elegant. He has many metaphors and images, artfully interfperfed in the drieft paffages, which ftood moft in need of fuch ornaments. Nevertheless there are too many lines, in this performance, plain and profaic. The meaner the subject is of a preceptive poem, the more ftriking appears the art of the poet: It is even of use perhaps to chufe a low fubject. In this refpe&t Virgil had the advantage over Lucretius; the latter, with all his vigour and fublimity of genius, could hardly fatisfy and come up to the grandeur of his theme. POPE labours under the fame difficulty. If any beauty in this Effay be uncommonly tranfcendent and peculiar, it is, BREVITY OF DICTION; which, in a few inftances, and thofe pardonable, has occafioned obscurity. It is hardly to be imagined how much sense, how much thinking, how much obfervation on human life, is condenfed together in a small compafs. He was so accuftomed to confine his thoughts in rhyme, that he tells us, he could exprefs them

more shortly this way, than in prose itself. On its first publication, POPE did not own it, and it was given by the public to Lord Paget, Dr. Young, Dr. Defaguliers, and others. Even Swift feems to have been deceived: There is a remarkable paffage in "I confefs I did never one of his letters. imagine you were fo deep in morals, or that fo many new and excellent rules could be produced fo advantageously and agreeably in that fcience, from any one head. I confefs in fome places I was forced to read twice; I believe I told you before what the faid to me on that occaDuke of Dfion; how a judge here who knows you, told him, that on the first reading thofe effays, he was much pleafed, but found fome lines a little dark: On the second, moft of them cleared up, and his pleasure increased: On the third, he had no doubt remaining, and then he admired the whole *."

THE subject of this Effay is a vindication of providence, in which the poet propofes

* Letters, vol. LX. pag. 140.


to prove, that of all poffible fyftems, infinite wisdom has formed the beft: That in such a system, coherence, union, fubordination, are neceffary; and if fo, that appearances of evil, both moral and natural, are also neceffary and unavoidable; That the feeming defects and blemishes in the universe, confpire to its general beauty; That as all parts in an animal are not eyes, and as in a city, comedy, or picture, all ranks, characters, and colours, are not equal or alike; even fo, exceffes, and contrary qualities, contribute to the proportion and harmony of the universal system; That it is not strange, that we should not be able to discover perfection and order in every instance; because, in an infinity of things mutually relative, a mind which fees not infinitely, can see nothing fully. This doctrine was inculcated by Plato and the Stoics, but more amply and particularly by the later Platonists, and by Antoninus and Simplicius. In illuftrating his fubject, POPE has been much more deeply indebted to the Theodiceé of Leibnitz, to Arch


bishop King's Origin of Evil, and to the Moralifts of Lord Shaftesbury, than to the philofophers abovementioned. The late Lord Bathurst repeatedly affured me, that he had read the whole fcheme of the Effay on Man, in the hand-writing of Bolingbroke, and drawn up in a series of propofitions, which POPE was to verfify and illuftrate. In doing which, our poet, it must be confeffed, left several paffages fo expreffed, as to be favourable to fatalifm and neceffity, notwithstanding all the pains that can be taken, and the turns that can be given to thofe paffages, to place them on the fide of religion, and make them coincide with the fundamental doctrines of revelation.

1. Awake, my St. John! leave all meaner things
To low ambition, and the pride of kings;
Let us (fince life can little more supply
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,


Ben Jonfon begins a poem thus,
Wake! friend, from forth thy lethargy-

THIS opening is awful, and commands the attention of the reader. The word awake has peculiar force, and obliquely alludes to his noble friend's leaving his political, for philofophical pursuits. May I venture to observe, that the metaphors in the fucceeding lines, drawn from the field fports of fetting and fhooting, feem below the dignity of the fubject; especially,

EYE nature's walks, SHOOT folly as it flies,
And CATCH the manners living as they RISE.

2. But vindicate the ways of God to man.

This line is taken from Milton;

And juftify the ways of God to man *.

POPE feems to have hinted, by this allufion to the Paradife Loft, that he intended his poem for a defence of providence, as well as Milton: but he took a very different method in pursuing that end; and imagined that the goodness and juftice of the Deity might be defended, without hav

* Paradife Loft, b, i. ver. 26.

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