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The poetry of these lines is as beautiful as the philosophy is solid. "They who imagine that all things in this world were made for the immediate use of man alone, run themselves into inextricable difficulties. Man, indeed, is the head of this lower part of the creation, and perhaps it was designed to be absolutely under his command. But that all things here tend directly to his own use, is, I think, neither easy nor necessary to be proved. Some manifestly serve for the food and support of others, whose souls may be necessary to prepare and preserve their bodies for that purpose, and may at the same time be happy in a consciousness of their own existence. 'Tis probable they are intended to promote each others good reciprocally. Nay, man himself contributes to the happiness,* and betters the condition of the brutes in several respects, by cultivating and improving the ground, by watching the seasons, by protecting and providing for them,
That very life his learned hunger craves,
Ep. iii. v. 63.
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, where he has artfully employed all that force and acuteness of argument, which he certainly possessed, in promoting the gloomy and uncomfortable scheme of Scepticism or Manicheism.
36. And reason raise o'er instinct as you can,
There is a fine observation of Montesquieut concerning the condition of brutes. They are deprived
Ep. iii. 97.
We ought not to be blind to the faults of this fine writer, whatever applause he deserves in general. But it must be confessed, that his style is too short, abrupt, and epigrammatic; he tells us himself, he was fond of Lucius Florus; and he be⚫ lieved too credulously, and laid too great a stress upon, the relations of voyage-writers and travellers; as, indeed, did Locke, for which he is ridiculed by Shaftesbury, vol. i. p. 344, of the
deprived of the high advantages we enjoy, but they have some which we want. They have not our hopes, but then they are without our fears: they are subject, like us, to death, but it is without knowing it: most of them are even more attentive than we are to self-preservation; and they do not make so bad a use of their passions. B. i. c. 1.
37. Who taught the nations of the field and wood,
This passage is highly finished; such objects are more suited to the nature of poetry than abstract ideas. Every verb and epithet has here a descriptive force. We find more imagery from these lines to the end of the epistle, than in any other parts of this Essay. The origin of the connexions in social life, the account of the state of H
Characteristics. If Shaftesbury (said the great Bishop Butler) had lived to see the candor and moderation of the present times in discussing religious subjects, he would have been a good Christian.
* Ver. 99.
of nature, the rise and effects of superstition and tyranny, and the restoration of true religion and just government, all these ought to be mentioned as passages that deserve high applause; nay, as some of the most exalted pieces of English poetry.
38. Man walk'd with beast, joint tenant of the shade.*
LUCRETIUS, agreeably to his uncomfortable system, has presented us with a different and more horrid picture of this state of nature. The calamitous condition of man is exhibited by images of much energy, and wildness of fancy :
Infestam miseris faciebant sæpe quietem :
He represents afterwards, some of these wretched mortals mangled by wild beasts, and running distracted with pain through the woods, with their wounds undressed and putrifying:
* Ver. 152.
At quos effugium servârat, corpore adeso,
Pain is forcibly expressed by the action described in the second line, and by the epithet tremulas.
39. The shrine with gore unstain'd, with gold undrest, Unbrib'd, unbloody, stood the blameless priest.†
The effect of alliteration is here felt by the reader. But at what period of time could this be justly said, if we consider the very early institution of sacrifice, according to the scripture account of this venerable rite?
40. Ah! how unlike the man of times to come !
OVID, on the same topic, has nothing so manly Hears the general groan," is
* Lib. v. ver. 991.
↑ Ep. iii. 157.
Ep. iii. 161.