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are as unphilosophical, and inconclusive, as they are highly pathetic and poetical :
Tum porrò puer, ut sævis projectus ab undis
There is a passage in the moralists which I cannot forbear thinking Pope had in his eye, and which I must not therefore omit, as it serves to illustrate and confirm so many parts of the Essay on Man; I shall therefore give it at length, without apology.
“ The young of most other kinds, are instantly helpful to themselves, sensible, vigorous, know how to shun danger, and seek their good : A human infant is of all the most helpless, weak, infirm. And wherefore should it not have been so ordered? Where is the loss in such a species ? Or what is man the worse for that defect amidst such large supplies? Does not this defect en
* Lib. v. ver. 223.
gage him the more strongly to society,* and force him to own that he is purposely, and not by accident, made rational and sociable'; and can no otherwise increase or subsist, than in that social intercourse and community which is his natural state ? Is not both conjugal affection, and natural affection to parents, duty to magistrates, love of a common city, community, or country, with the other duties and social parts of life, deduced from hence, and founded in these very wants ? What can be happier than such a deficiency, as it is the occasion of so much good ? What better than a want so abundantly made up, , and answered by so many enjoyments ? Now, if there are still to be found among mankind, such as, even in the midst of these wants, seem not ashamed to affect a right of independency, and deny themselves to be by nature sociable;
* A longer care man's helpless kind demands;
Ep. iii. v. 131.
And still new needs, new hel new habits rise,
where would their shame have been, had nature otherwise supplied these wants ? What duty or obligation had been ever thought of? What respect or reverence of parents, magistrates, their country, or their kind? Would not their full and self-sufficient state more strongly have determined them to throw off nature, and deny the ends and author of their creation ?"**
31. And pride bestow'd on all a common friend.t
The observation is from La Rochefoucault: “ Nature, who so wisely has fitted the organs of our body to make us happy, seems likewise to have bestowed pride on us, on purpose, as it were, to save us the pain of knowing our imperfections.”
Un sot en ecrivant fait tout avec plaisir.
* The Moralists, page 201.
+ Ver. 272.
* Maxim 36.
Mais un esprit sublime en vain veut s' elever,
When Boileau read these words to his friend Moliere, to whom they are addressed, the latter, squeezing his hand with earnestness, said, “ This is one of the best truths you have ever uttered. I am not one of those sublime geniuses of whom you speak ; but such as I am, I must declare I have never wrote any thing in my life with which I have been thoroughly satisfied."*
34. See matter next, with various life endu’d,
Press to one centre still, the gen’ral good.
POPE has again copied Shaftesbury so closely in this passage, as to use almost his very words: “ Thus in the several orders of terrestrial forms,
*. Sat. 2, 85.
if Ep. 3. v. 13.
a resignation is required, a sacrifice and mutual yielding of natures one to another. The vegetables by their death sustain the animals; and the animal bodies dissolved, enrich the earth, and raise again the vegetable world. The numerous insects are reduced by the superior kinds of birds and beasts; and these again are checked by man; who, in his turn, submits to other natures, and resigns his form a sacrifice in common to the rest of things. And if in natures so little exalted or pre-eminent above each other, the sacrifice of interest can appear so just, how much more reasonably may all inferior natures be subjected to the superior nature of the world !"*
35. Has God, thou fool! work'd solely for thy good,
Thy joy, thy pastime, thy attire, thy food ?
* The Moralists, page 130. After borrowing so largely from this treatise, our author should not, methinks, have ridiculed it, as he does, in the Fourth Book of the Dunciad, ver. 417.
Or that bright image to our fancy draw,
+ Ver. 27.