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which a MS. note of his thus explains : The author undoubtedly meant this as a
Sarcasm on the ignorance of those friends “ of his, who were daily pestering him for “ more Esays on Man, as not seeing that the “ four Epistles he had published entirely com“ pleated that subject." But it must be owned, that the Public, by the great and continued demand for his Elay, sufficiently freed itself from this imputation of wrong Judgment. And how great and continued that demand has been, appears from the vast variety of pirated and imperfect Edition continually obtruded on the world, ever since the first publication of the Poem; and which no repeated prosecutions of the Offenders have been able totally to restraịn.
These were the confiderations which havę now induced the Proprietor to give one perfect Edition of the Essay on Man, from Mr. Pope's last corrections and improvements; that the Pubļic may from henceforth be supplied with this Poem alone, in a manner suitable to its dignity, and to the honest intention of its
Concerning the UNIVERSAL PRAYER, which concludes the Esay, it may be proper to observe, that, some passages in the 'Ejay having been unjustly suspected of a tendency towards Fate and Naturalism, the Author composed that Prayer as the Sum of all, to shew that his System was founded in Free-will, and terminated in Piety: That the first Cause was as well the Lord and Governor as the Creator of the Universe; and that by Submission to his Will (the great principleinforced throughout the Esay) was not meant the suffer. ing ourselves to be carried along with a blind determination; but a religious acquiescence, and confidence full of hope and immortality. To give all this the greater weight and reality the Poet chose for his Model the LORD'S PRAYER, which of all others best deserves the title prefixed to his Paraphrafe.
The Reader will excuse my adding a word concerning the Frontispiece, which, as it was designed and drawn by Mr. Pope himself, would be a kind of Curiosity, had not the excellence of the thought otherwise recommended it. We see it represents the Vanity of human Glory, in the false pursuits after Happiness: where the Ridicule in the Curtain cobweb, the death's head crowned with laurel, and the several Inscriptions, have all the force and beauty of one of his best written Satires : Nor is there less expression in the bearded Phi
losopher fitting by a fountain running to waste, and blowing up bubbles with a straw from a small portion of water taken out of it, in a dirty dish; admirably representing the vain business of School-Philosophy, that, with atittle artificial logic, sits inventing airy arguments in support of false science, while the human Understanding ai large is suffered to lie waste and uncultivated.
HAVING proposed to write some pieces on
Human Life and Manners, such as (to use my Lord Bacon's expression) come home to Men's Business and Bofoms, I thought it more satisfactory to begin with considering Man in the abstract, his Nature and his State: since, to prove any moral duty, to enforce any moral precept, or to examine the perfection or imperfection of any creature whatsoever, it is necessary first to know what condition and relation it is placed in, and what is the proper end and purpose 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 Itudying too much fuch' finer nerves and vessels, the conformations and uses of which will for ever escape our observation. The aisputes are all upon these last, and I will venture to say, they have less sharpned the wits than the hearts of men against each other, and have diminished the practice more than advanced the theory of Morality. If I could Aatter myself that this Eflay has any inerit, it is in steering betwixt the extremes of doctrines seemingly opposite; in passing over terms utterly unintelligible; and in forming a temperate, yet not inconsistent; and a short, yet not imperfeit system of Ethics.
This I might have done in prose; but I chose verse, and even rhyme, for two reasons: The one will appear obvious; that principles, maxims, or precepts so written both strike the reader more strongly at first, and are more easily retained by him afterwards. The other may seem odd, but it is true; I found I could express them more portly this way than in profe itself, and nothing is truer than that much of the force, as well as grace, of arguments or instructions depends on their conciseness. I was unable to treat this part of my subject more in detail, without becoming dry and tedious; or more poetically, without facrificing perspicuity to ornament, without wandering from the precision, or breaking the chain of reasoning. If any man can unite all these, without diminution of any of them, I freely confess he will compass a thing above my capacity.
What is now published, is only to be considered as a general map of Man, marking out no more that the greater parts, their extent, their limits, and their connexion, but leaving the particular to be more fully delineated in their charts which are to follow. Confequently these Epistles in their progress (if I make any progress) will be less dry, and more susceptible of poetical ornament. I am here only opening the fountains, and clearing the passage: to deduce the rivers, to follow them in their course, and to observe their effects, would be a task more agreeable.