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Know, Nature's children all divide her care; The fur that warms a monarch, warm’d a bear. While man exclaims, “See all things for my use!” 45 “See man for mine!” replies a pamper'd goose : And just as short of reason he must fall, Who thinks all made for one, not one for all.
Grant that the pow’rful still the weak control; Be Man the wit and tyrant of the whole :
Ver. 49. Grant that the pow'rful still the weak control ;] However, his adversaries, loth to give up the question, will reason upon the matter ; we are now to suppose them objecting against Providence in this
-“We grant,” say they," that in the irrational, as in the inanimate creation, all is served, and all is serving : but with regard to man, the case is different: he standeth single : for his reason hath endowed him both with power and address sufficient to make all things serve him ; and
Ver. 43. Know, Nature's children all] 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 them. selves 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. It is probable they are intended to promote each other's 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, 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. --Warton.
Ver. 45. “ See all things for my use !"] On the contrary, the wise man hath said, The Lord hath made all things for himself. Prov. xvi. 4.—Warburton.
Ver. 46. replies a pamper'd goose :} Taken from Peter Charron : but such a familiar and burlesque image is improperly introduced among such solid and serious reflections.-Warton.
Ver. 50. Be Man the wit and tyrant of the whole :) Alluding to the witty
What care to tend, to lodge, to cram, to treat him!
Nature that tyrant checks; he only knows,
his Self-love, of which you have so largely provided for him, will indispose him, in his turn, to serve any : therefore your theory is imperfect.” Not so, 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 shake off
“that chain of love
Combining all below and all above :" But Nature, even by the very gift of Reason, checks this tyrant. For Reason, 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 disposeth him to pity and relieve others in a state of suffering. And the passion growing habitual, naturally extendeth its effects to all that have a sense of suffering. Now as brutes have neither man's reason, nor his inordinate self-love, to draw them from the system of beneficence ; so they wanted not, and therefore have not, this human sympathy of another's misery : by which passion, we see, those qualities, in man, balance one another; and so retain him in that orderly connexion, in which Providence hath placed its whole creation. But this is not all : man's interest and amusement, his vanity and luxury, tie him still closer to the system of beneficence, by obliging him to provide for the support of other animals ; and though it be, for the most part, only to devour them with the greater gust, yet this does not abate the proper happiness of the animals so preserved, to whom Providence hath not imparted the useless knowledge of their end. From all which it appears, that the theory is yet uniform and perfect.
system of that Philosopher, which made animals mere machines, insensible of pain or pleasure; and so encouraged Men in the exercise of that tyranny over their fellow-creatures, consequent on such a principle.—Warburton.
Ver. 51. Nature that tyrant checks ;] What an exquisite assemblage is here (down to ver. 70) of deep reflection, humane sentiments, and poetic imagery! It is finely observed, that compassion is exclusively the property of man alone. Warton.
That very life his learned hunger craves,
To each unthinking being, Heav'n a friend,
II. Whether with Reason or with Instinct blest, Know, all enjoy that pow'r which suits them best; 80
Ver. 79. Whether with Reason, fc.] But even to this as a caviller would still object, we must suppose he does so. — “ Admit (says he) that Nature hath endowed all animals, whether human or brutal, with such faculties as admirably fit them to promote the general good : yet, in its care for this, hath not Nature neglected to provide for the private good of the individual? We have cause to think she hath ; and we suppose, it was on this exclusive consideration, that she kept back from brutes the gift of Reason (so necessary a means of private happiness), because Reason, as we find in the case of Man, where there is occasion for all the complicated contrivance you have described above, to make the effects of his Passions counter-work the immediate powers of his Reason, in order to keep him subservient to the general system ; Reason, we say, naturally tendeth to draw Beings into a private independent system.” This the Poet answers, by showing (from ver. 78 to 109) that the happiness of animal and that of human life are widely different: the happiness of human life consisting in the improvement of the mind, can be procured by Reason only ; but the happiness of animal life consisting in the gratifications of sense, is best promoted by Instinct. And, with regard to the regular and constant operation of each, in that, Instinct hath plainly the advantage ; for here God directs immediately, there only mediately through Man.
Ver. 68. Than favourd Man, &c.] Several of the ancients, and many of the Orientals since, esteemed those who were struck by lightning as sacred persons, and the particular favourites of Heaven.- Pope.
Ver. 68. by touch ethereal slain.] The expression is from Milton.Warton.
To bliss alike by that direction tend,
Ver. 97. And Reason raise o'er Instinct] Charron, of whom Pope and Bolingbroke were so fond, has treated this subject with so much freedom of thought, and endeavoured to raise Instinct so much above Reason, that Stanhope, his translator, deemed it necessary to obviate the tendency of his tenets, by a long Appendix to the 34th chapter of the first book. It appears a little strange, that so orthodox a divine as Stanhope should translate two books that are supposed to favour libertinism and scepticism -the Wisdom of Charron, and the Maxims of Rochefoucault. Bayle has stated the difficulties that arise in accounting for the actions of brutes, with his usual acuteness and force of argument.
Father Bougeant's little treatise on the Language of Beasts is an amusing work; in which he has placed the notion of Des Cartes, that they are mere machines, in a strong light, as well as the difficulties that arise from the opinion of their having immortal souls. Bougeant was severely censured by his brother Jesuits for this little work. He had better have kept to politics. He wrote the History of the Treaty of Westphalia. Posterity will look on this as a curious work : the state of Europe being now so totally changed, this history will read like a romance. Warton.
After ver. 84 in the MS.
While Man, with op'ning views of various ways
Who taught the nations of the field and wood To shun their poison, and to choose their food? 100 Prescient, the tides or tempests to withstand, Build on the wave, or arch beneath the sand ? Who made the spider parallels design, Sure as Demoivre, without rule or line? Who bade the stork, Columbus-like, explore 105 Heavens not his own, and worlds unknown before? Who calls the council, states the certain day, Who forms the phalanx, and who points the way?
III. God, in the nature of each being, founds Its proper bliss, and sets its proper bounds: 110
Ver. 109. God, in the nature of each being; &c.] The author now cometh to the main subject of his Epistle, the proof of Man's SociaBILITY,
from the two general Societies composed by him ; the natural, subject to paternal authority; and the civil, subject to that of a magistrate. This he hath the address to introduce, from what had preceded, in so easy and natural a manner, as showeth him to have the art of giving all the grace to the dryness and severity of Method, as well as wit to the strength and depth of Reason. The philosophic nature of his work requiring he should show by what means those Societies were introduced, this affords him an opportunity of sliding gracefully and easily from the preliminaries into the main subject ; and so of giving his work that perfection of method, which we find only in the compositions of great writers. For having just before, though to a different purpose, described the power of bestial Instinct to attain the happiness of the Individual, he goeth on, in speaking of Instinct as it is serviceable both to that, and to the Kind (from ver. 108 to 147), to illustrate the original of Society. He showeth, that though, as he had before observed, God had founded the proper bliss of each creature in the nature of its own existence ; yet these not being independent individuals, but parts of a whole, God, to bless that Whole, built mutual happiness on mutual wants. Now, for the supply of mutual wants, creatures must necessarily come together, which is the first ground of Society amongst men. He then proceeds to that called natural, subject to paternal authority, and arising from the union of the two sexes ; describes the imperfect image of it in brutes; then explains it at large in all its cauess and effects. And lastly shows, that, as in fact, like mere animal Society, it
Ver. 99. Who taught] 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 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.--Warton.