Page images

Say what the ufe, were finer optics giv❜n,
T' infpect a mite, not comprehend the heav'n.

Formerly it stood,

No felf-confounding faculties to share;
No fenfes ftronger than his brain can bear.

At prefent,

No pow'rs of body or of foul to fhare,
But what his nature and his ftate can bear.

It appeared at first,

Expatiate free o'er all this scene of man,
A mighty maze of walks without a plan.

We read at prefent,

A mighty maze! but not without a plan.

19. Submit.In this, or any other sphere,
Secure to be as bleft as thou canst bear :
Safe in the hand of one difpofing pow'r
Or in the natal, or the mortal hour *.

I cannot refift the pleasure of illuftrating this fentiment in the words of a writer, whofe friendship I efteem to be no finall happiness and honour. "Teach us each to regard himself, but as a part of this

* Ver. 285.


great whole; a part which for its welfare we are as patiently to refign, as we refign a fingle limb for the welfare of our whole body. Let our life be a continued fcene of acquiefcence and of gratitude; of gratitude, for what we enjoy; of acquiefcence, in what we suffer; as both can only be referable to that concatenated order of events, which cannot but be beft, as being by thee approved and chosen *.


20. All nature is but art, unknown to thee;


All chance, direction which thou canst not fee
All difcord, harmony not understood;
All partial evil, univerfal good †.

THIS is the doctrine that reigns throughout the lofty hymn of Cleanthes the Stoic, particularly in thefe beautiful and mafculine verfes.

Ουδε τι γιγνεται έργον επιχθονι σε διχα Δαίμων,
Ουδε κατ' αιθεριον θείον πόλοι, ὅτ' επι πουλώ,
Πλην όποσα ρεζεσι κακοι σφετέρησιν άνοίαις,
Αλλα συ και τα περισσα επίστασαι αρχιά θείναι,
Και κόσμειν τα ακόσμα" και ο φίλα σοι φίλα εστι

* Three Treatifes by James Harris, Efq; pag. 231. † Ver 289.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Ὦ δε γαρ εις ἓν ἀπαν]α συνηρμοκας εσθλα κακόισιν,
Ωσθ' ένα γιγνεσθαι πανίων λόγον αιεν εον]ων *
Thus tranflated by Mr. Weft;

For nor in earth, nor earth-encircling floods,
Nor yon æthereal pole, the feat of gods,
Is aught performed without thy aid divine,
Strength, wisdom, virtue, mighty Jove, are thine!
Vice is the act of man, by paffion tost,

And in the fhoreless fea of folly loft;

But thou, what vice diforders, canft compose,
And profit by the malice of thy foes;
So blending good with evil, fair with foul,
As thence to model one harmonious WHOLE.

21. Chaos of thought and paffion, all confus'd;
Still by himself abus'd, or disabus'd;
Created half to rife, and half to fall;

Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl'd:
The glory, jeft and riddle of the world + !

It was remarked long ago in the Adventurer, that thefe reflexions were minutely copied from Pafcal, who fays;

* Hymn. apud Hen. Steph. pag. 49.

See to this purpose a fine paffage in Plutarch de Animi Tranquillit. in vol. ii. pag. 473, 474. fol. Francfourti,1620. Particularly the paffage of Euripides there quoted.

‡ No. 63.

† Epift. ii. v. 13. VOL. II.



[ocr errors]

"What a chimera then is man! what a confufed chaos! what a fubject of contradiction! a profeffed judge of all things, and yet a feeble worm of the earth! The great depofitary and guardian of truth, and yet a mere huddle of uncertainty! the glory and the fcandal of the universe."

22. Superior beings when of late they faw
A mortal man unfold all nature's law,
Admir'd fuch wisdom in an earthly shape,
And fhew'd a Newton as we shew an ape *.

THE author of the letter on the Marks of imitation, is induced to think, from the fingularity of this fentiment, that the great

poet had his eye on Plato; ότι ανθρωπων ὁ σοφωτατος προς θεον πιθηκος φανεῖται. But I am more inclined to think that POPE borrowed it from a paffage in the zodiac of Palingenius, which the abovementioned Adventurer has alfo quoted, and which POPE, who was a reader of the poets of Palingenius's age, fome of whom he published, was more likely to fall upon, than on this thought of Plato.

* Ver. 34

Simia cœlicolûm rifufque jocufque deorum eft; Tunc homo, quum temerè ingenio confidit, et audet Abdita naturæ fcrutari, arcanaque divûm.

23. Trace science then, with modefty thy guide;
Firft ftrip off all her equipage of pride;
Deduct what is but vanity, or dress,
Or learning's luxury, or idleness


Or tricks to fhew the ftretch of human brain,
Mere curious pleasure, or ingenious pain;
Expunge the whole, or lop th' excrefcent parts,
Of all our vices have created arts *.

THE abuses of learning are enumerated with brevity and elegance, in these few lines. It was a favourite subject with our author; and it is faid, he intended to have written four epiftles on it, wherein he would have treated of the extent and limits of human reason, of arts and sciences useful and attainable, of the different capacities of different men, of the knowledge of the world, and of wit. Such cenfures, even of the most unimportant parts of literature, fhould not, however, be carried too far; and a fenfible writer obferves, that there

* Ver. 43. There is fome obfcurity in this line, occafioned by omitting the relative.

G 2


« PreviousContinue »