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“them.. And it is not easy for me to find, how the ideas e which I have been accustomed to fix to them can agree " with them. I am puzzled to know what they have to 5 do here *
This, to use our Critic's own words, is a specimen of that Galimatias, which runs through his whole Commentary. He suspects, he approves, he doubts, he applauds; but it all ends in calumny and condemnation. Here you
have an old veteran Controversialist of seventyfive, who gives the world his second thoughts (for he had published his Eramen before he wrote his Commentary) telling us that he scribbled at random, and made the greatest part of his remarks before he had read over the book he wrote against: a book that contains a regular, well-digested system, whose parts, having a mutual dependance, necessarily support and illustrate one another. But if a man would make so free with hiinself as to tell this strange story to the world, which certainly he had a right to do, he should, as his moral character was concerned, have made satisfaction for his folly, by striking out all those odious imputations with which the foregoing part of his Commentary abounds. Instead of this, he was not only content to leave the calumnies of fatalism and Spinozism unretracted; but has thought fit to renew them, even after this confession of his hasty, immature way of writing. Ah! misera mens hominis, quo te fatuin sæpissiine trahit! What but this could have forced him to write a whole book in contradiction to the very principle he himself lays down to proceed by ? An over-scrupulous exactitude (says he) would hurt the very end of poetry. But we must make it a low to interpret one expression by another, for fear of attributing notions to a Poet that would be injurious to kimt.
But to return: This is not all; the Poet shews farther (from l. 330 to 343] that, when the simple-minded man, on his first setting out in the pursuit of truth, in order to happiness, has had the wisdom
To look thro' Nature up to Nature's God, instead of adhering to any sect or party, where there was * Commentaire, p. 332.
+ Ibid. p. 196.
so great odds of his chusing wrong; that then the benefit of gaining the knowledge of God's will written in the mind is not there confined; for that standing on this sure foundation, he is now no longer in danger of chusing wrong, amidst such diversities of religions; but by pursuing this grand scheme of universal benevolence, in practice, as well as theory, he arrives at length to the knowledge of the revealed will of God, which is the consummation of the system of benevolence :
For him alone hope leads from goal to goal,
, and opens on his soul,
pours the bliss, that fills up all the mind. But let us once more hear Mr. De Crousaz:
We are brought (says he) at length to the truths of Revela“ tion.—See Man once again re-established in his rights, “ raised as far above brutes as Heaven is above the earth. “ How infinite a difference between what one read's in “this fourth Epistle, and what the Poet ventured to “ propose in the first, and in part of the two following ! “ There, corrupt minds thought they read their own “ sentiments; and even this, which we find here, is in“ sufficient to bring them back again from their pre“ ventions *.”
That the three first Epistles have nothing contrary to the fourth, we have not only sufficiently evinced, but shewn likewise, that the doctrine of this last, so much approved by Mr. De Crousaz, is the necessary consequence of that laid down in every one of the preceding, so much condemned by him. But, that corrupt minds thought they read their own sentiments there, nay, that it will be hard to bring them back again from their preventions, I can easily conceive; because, not only partiality to men's own opinions, but prejudice against the opinions of others, may make them fancy they see doctrines in a celebrated writer, which are indeed not there. And then, self-love on the one hand, and self-conceit on
the other, may easily keep both in their several delusions, against all the power of conviction.
To proceed: the Poet, in the last place, marks out [from 1. 342 to 363) the progress of his good man's benevolence, pushed through natural religion to revealed, till it arrives to that height, which the sacred writers describe as the very summit of Christian perfection: and shews how the progress of kuman ditfers from the progress of divine benevolence. That the divine descends from whole to parts; but that the human must rise from individual to universal. And with this rapturous description the subject of the Epistle closes:
Self-love thus push'd to social, to divine,
The last part of the observation is important. Rochefocault, Esprit, and their wordy disciple Mandeville, had abserved, that self-love was the origin of all those virtues mankind most admire; and therefore foolishly supposed it was the end likewise: and so, taught that the highest pretences to disinterestedness were only the more artiu disguises of self-love. But Mr. Pope, who says some where or other, Of human nature wit its worst inay
write We all revere it in our own despite, saw, as well as they, and every body else, that the passions began in self-love ; yet he understood human nature
better than to imagine they terminated there. He knew that reason and religion could convert selfishness into its very opposite; and therefore teaches that
Self-love but serves the virtuous mind to wake, and thus hath vindicated the dignity of human nature, and the philosophic truth of the Christian doctrinė.
But let us turn once more to Mr. De Crousaz, who, constant to himself, concludes, in the same even tenor in which he first set out. “A Man (says he) must use “some efforts to go even so far as to love his enemies.-“But as to what concerns all parts of the universe, and "all the living beings that inhabit it, as well those we
see not, as those we do see, we find nothing in our“selves repugnant indeed to the giving them our love; “ but then, on the other hand, we do not feel any motions “ towards the rendering it to them.
And while so great a number of objects, with which we are closely sur“ rounded, demand our attention and concern, it appears “not only superfluous but even irrational, to tease our“ selves with I cannot tell what kind of tenderness, for “the inhabitants of Jupiter*,” &c.
C This presents him with a pleasant idea, and he pursues it with his usual grace and vivacity.
After this one would scarce think that in the very next words he should confute himself, answer his own objections, and vindicate the very charity he had ridiculed. And yet this he now does, as much without fear, as the other was without wit. “ I own (says he) that a soul " devoted to its Creator, and struck and raised with " admiration at the attentive view of his mere corporeal “ creation, would be ready to lend those Beings his voice " and sentiments, in order to join with them in an offering " of praise and thanksgiving to their common Creator, “whose glory they so magnificently declare, though with“out any knowledge of the truth which they proclaim.
Nay, I go farther, and say, that a soul so sanctified, “ and at the same time well assured, that there are “ innumerable choirs of happy intelligences, who con
* Commentaire, p. 336.
< tinually adore their Creator in ecstatic raptures, far “surpassing our conceptions, will congratulate with “ them on their glory* and felicity.” Here we see described, and, to say the truth, not ill, that very state of mind which produced the raptures of our admirable Poet:
Grasp the whole worlds of reason, life, and sense,
And height of bliss but height of charity. No, says our Critic, who would still keep on foot the censure he himself has overthrown; the elevations I speak of, are not elevations of charity for those glorious intelligences. We are the objects of their charity, not they of ourst. Egregious philosopher! By charity, Mr. Pope not only means benevolence, but expressly calls
And benevolence surely may be as well exercised towards superiors, as by them. But he proceeds --" This pretended chimerical affec
“ « tion can have no foundation but in the chimerical
system of a whole, of which we make a part, and of " which all the parts without exception are so dependent
on each other, that, if any one only be displaced, or
never so little deviating from its proper function, that “ disorder will affect the rest, and spread itself over the “whole : and, by consequence, extend to us, who make “ an essential part of that whole. Self-love therefore, “ interests itself in every thing that exists and moves. Self-love was never sent on such an errand, no not by Rochefocault or Esprit, though they forced it to do all their drudgery. Here, a man who never yet once rightly understood what his adversary did say, will now pretend to guess at his reasons for saying. One might have foreseen wiih what success. But something he has taught us, and that is, to rest content with the Poet's own reasoning. His argument then for this extended benevolence is, that as God has made a whole, whose parts have a perfect relation to, and an entire dependency on each
• Commentaire, p. 337, 338,
+ Ibid. p. 338.