« PreviousContinue »
15. Above, how high, progreffive life may go!
THAT there fhould be more fpecies of intelligent creatures above us, than there are of fenfible and material below us, is probable to me from hence; that in all the visible corporeal world, we fee no chasms, or gaps. All quite down from us, the defcent is by easy steps, and a continued feries of things, that in each remove differ very little from one another.-And when we confider the infinite power and wisdom of the maker, we have reafon to think, that it is fuitable to the magnificent harmony of the universe, and the great design and infinite goodness of the architect, that the fpecies of creatures should also, by gentle degrees, defcend to us downwards: which if it be probable, we have reafon then to
* Ver. 235.
be perfuaded, that there are far more species of creatures above us, than there are beneath; we being in degrees of perfection, much more remote from the infinite being of God, than we are from the loweft ftate of being, and that which approaches nearest to nothing *."
16. From nature's chain whatever link you ftrike, Tenth, or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike +.
THIS doctrine is precifely the fame with that of the philofophical emperor ‡.
17. Juft as abfurd, to mourn the tasks or pains, The great directing MIND of ALL ordains §.
Here again we must infert another noble fentiment of the fame lofty writer.
* Locke's Effay on Human Understanding, vol. ii. pag. 49, + Ver. 245.
† Γηρεται γαρ το ὁλόκληρον, εαν και ότι αν διακοψης της συνάφειας και συνέχειας, ώσπερ των μορίων, έτω δε και των αιτίω;· διακοπτεις δε όσον επι σοι όταν δυσαρεσης, και τρόπον τινά αναιρης. M. Antoninus, Lib. v. S. 8.
§ Ver. 265.
As, when it is faid, that, Æfculapius hath prescribed to one a course of riding, or the cold bath, or walking bare-footed; fo it may be faid, that the nature prefiding in the whole, hath prescribed to one a disease, a maim, a loss of a child, or fuch like. The word prescribed, in the former case, imports that he enjoined it as conducing to health; and in the latter too, whatever befals any one, is appointed as conducive to the purposes of fate or providence. Now there is one grand harmonious compofition of all things. M. Antoninus, B. 5.
18. All are but parts of one ftupendous whole,
Whose body nature is and God the foul;
Breathes in our foul, informs our mortal part,
As full as perfect in vile man that mourns,
* Ver. 267.
WHILST I am transcribing this exalted defcription of the omniprefence of the Deity, I feel myself almoft tempted to retract an affertion in the beginning of this work, that there is nothing transcendently fublime in POPE. Thefe lines have all the energy and harmony that can be given to rhyme. They bear fo marvellous a fimilitude to the old Orphic verfes quoted in the valuable treatife Περι Κοσμο, that I cannot forbear introducing them, as they are curious and fublime.
Ζευς πρώτος γένετο, Ζευς ύστατος, αρχικέραυνος
Ζευς κεφαλη, Ζευς μεσσα· Διος δ' εκ παντα τευχτακό
NOR have we a lefs example of fublimity in the three preceding lines, which defcribe the univerfal confufion that muft enfue,
* Αριςοτέλης Περι Κοσμο, pag. 378. edit. Lugduni. fol. 1590. upon
upon any alteration made in the entire and coherent plan of the creation.
Let earth unbalanced from her orbit fly,
It is very obfervable that these noblé lines were added after the first edition. It is a pleafing amufement to trace out the alterations that a great writer gradually makes in his works. Many other parts of this epiftle have been judicioufly amended and improved. At first it ran,
How inftinct varies! what a hog may want
What the advantage, if his finer eyes
Which lines at prefent ftand thus,
How inftinct varies in the grovling fwine,
* Ver. 251.