« 上一頁繼續 »
In all the madness of fuperfluous health,
The trim of pride, the impudence of wealth,
But to prevent our refting there, God hath made each need the affiftance of another; and fo
"On mutual wants built mutual happiness."
It was neceffary to explain the two first lines, the better to fee the pertinency and force of what followeth (from Ver. 2 to 7.) where the Poet warns fuch to take notice of this truth, whofe circumstances placing them in an imaginary station of Independance, and a real state of infenfibility to mutual wants (from whence general Happiness results) make them but too apt to overlook the true fyftem of things; viz. men in full health and opulence. This caution was neceffary with regard to Society; but ftill more neceffary with regard to Religion: Therefore he especially recommends the memory of it as well to Clergy as Laity, when they preach or pray; becaufe the preacher, who doth not confider the first Caufe under this view, as a Being confulting the good of the whole, must needs give a very unworthy idea of him; and the fupplicant, who prayeth as one not related to a whole, or as difregarding the happiness of it, will not only pray in vain, but offend his Maker by an impious attempt to counter-work his difpenfation.
VER. 3.-fuperfluous health,] Immoderate labour and immoderate study are equally the great impairers of health : They, whose station fets them above both, muft needs have an abundance of health, which not being employed in the common fervice, but wafted in Luxury, the Poet properly calls a fuperfluity.
VER. 4.-impudence of wealth,] Because wealth pretends to be wisdom, wit, learning, honefty, and, in fhort, all the virtues in their turns.
Let this great truth be prefent night and day; 5 But most be prefent, if we preach or pray.
Look round our World; behold the chain of Love
Combining all below and all above.
See plastic Nature working to this end,
VER. 7. Look round our World, &c.] Next he introduceth his fyftem of human Sociability (Ver. 7, 8.) by fhewing it to be the dictate of the Creator; and that Man, in this, did but follow the example of general Nature, which is united in one close fyftem of benevolence.
VER. 9. See plaftic Nature working to this end,] This he proveth, firft (from Ver. 8 to 13) on the noble theory of At
VER. 3, 4, 5, 6. M. Du Refnel not feeing into the admirable purpose of the caution, contained in thefe four lines, hath quite dropt the moft material circumftances contained in the last of them; and, what is worse, for the fake of a foolifh antithefis, hath deftroyed the whole propriety of the thought in the two first and fo between both, hath left his Author neither fenfe nor fyftem.
"Dans le fein du bonheur, ou de l'adverfité."
Now of all men, thofe in adverfity have leaft need of this caution, as being leaft apt to forget, That God confults the good of the whole, and provides for it by procuring mutual happiness by means of mutual wants; because those who yet retain the fmart of any fresh calamity, are most compaffionate to others fabouring under diftreffes, and most prompt and ready to relieve them.
VER. 9. See plaftic Nature, &c.] M. Du Refnel mil
Attract, attracted to, the next in place
Form'd and impell'd its neighbour to embrace. See Matter next, with various life endu'd, Prefs to one centre ftill, the gen'ral Good.
traction, from the economy of the material world; where there is a general confpiracy in all the particles of Matter to work for one end; the ufe, beauty, and harmony of the whole mafs.
VER. 13. See Matter next, &c.] The fecond argument (from Ver. 12 to 27) is taken from the vegetable and animal world; whofe Beings ferve mutually for the production, fupport, and fuftentation of each other.
But this part of the argument, in which the Poet tells us, that God
"Connects each being, greatest with the leaft;
"Made Beast in aid of Man, and Man of Beaft;
awaking again the old pride of his adverfaries, who cannot bear that man fhould be thought to be ferving as well as
took this description of the prefervation of the material Universe, by the equality of attraction, for a defcription of its creation; and fo tranflates it
"Voi du fein du Chaos eclater la lumiere,
"Chaque atome ebranlé courir pour s'embraffer," &c. This destroys the Poet's fine analogical argument, by which he proves from the circumstance of mutual attraction in matter, that man, while he feeks Society, and thereby promotes the good of his fpecies, co-operates with God's general dispensation; whereas the circumftance of a creation proves nothing but a Creator.
VER. 12. Form'd and impell'd, &c.] To make Mattér fo cohere as to fit it for the uses intended by its Creator, a proper configuration of its infenfible parts, is as neceflary as that
Know, Nature's children all divide her care;
The fur that warms a monarch, warm'd a bear. "See all things for my
While Man exclaims,
" See man for mine!" replies a pamper'd goofe: And just as short of reafon he must fall, Who thinks all made for one, not one for all.
Grant that the pow'rful ftill the weak controul; Be Man the Wit and Tyrant of the whole: 50
After Ver. 46. in the former Edition,
What care to tend, to lodge, to cram, to treat him!
VER. 49. Grant that the pow'rful fill the weak controul However, his adverfaries, loth to give up the queftion, will reafon upon the matter; and we are now to fuppofe them objecting against Providence in this manner. We grant, fay they, that in the irrational, as in the inanimate creation, all is ferved, and all is ferving: But, with regard to Man, the
VER. 45. See all things for my ufe!] On the contrary, the wife man hath faid, The Lord hath made all things for himself, Prov. xvi. 4.
VER. 50. Be Man the Wit and Tyrant of the whole :] Alluding to the witty fyftem of that Philofopher, which made Animals mere Machines, infenfible of pain or pleasure; and fo encouraged Men in the exercise of that Tyranny over their fellow-creatures, confequent on fuch a principle.
Nature that Tyrant checks; He only knows, And helps, another creature's wants and woes. Say, will the falcon, stooping from above, Smit with her varying plumage, fpare the dove?
cafe is different; he ftandeth fingle. For his reafon hath endowed him both with power and addrefs fufficient to make all things ferve him; and his Self-love, of which you have fo largely provided for him, will indifpofe him, in his turn, to ferve any: Therefore your theory is imperfect.-Not fo, replies the Poet (from Ver. 48 to 79.) I grant that Man, indeed, affects to be the Wit and Tyrant of the whole, and would fain fhake off
"that chain of love,
"Combining all below and all above:"
But Nature, even by the very gift of Reason, checks this tyrant. For Reafon endowing Man with the ability of setting together the memory of the past with his conjectures about the future; and past misfortunes making him apprehensive of more to come, this difpofeth him to pity and relieve others in a ftate of fuffering. And the paffion growing habitual, naturally extendeth its effects to all that have a fenfe of suffering. Now as brutes have neither Man's Reafon, nor his inordinate Self-love, to draw them from the fyftem of beneficence; fo they wanted not, and therefore have not, this human fympathy of another's misery: By which paffion, we see, thofe qualities, in Man, balance one another; and fo retain him in that orderly connexion, in which Providence hath placed its whole creation. But this is not all; Man's intereft, amufement, vanity, and luxury, tie him ftill closer to the fyftem of beneficence, by obliging him to provide for the fupport of other animals; and though it be, for the most part, only to devour them with the greater guft, yet this does not abate the proper happiness of the animals so preserved, to