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of the Essay on MAN. IF F it be a true observation, that for a

poet to write happily and well, he must have seen and felt what he describes, and must draw from living models alone ; and if modern times, from their luxury and refinement, afford not manners that will bear to be described; it will then follow, that those species of poetry bid fairest to fucceed at present, which treat of things, not men ; which deliver doctrines, not display events. Of this sort is didactic and descriptive poetry. Accordingly the moderns have produced many excellent pieces of this kind. We may mention the Syphilis of Fracastorius, the Silk-worms and Chess of Vida, the Ambra of Politian, the Agri

ure of Alamanni, the Art of Poetry of Boileau, the Gardens of Rapin, the Cyder of Phillips, the Chase of Somerville, the Pleasures of Imagination, the Art of pre



serving Health, the Fleece, the Religion of Racine the younger, the elegant Latin poem

of Brown on the Immortality of the Soul, the Latin poems of STAY and Bos- . Covick, and the philosophical poem before COVICK us; to which, if we may judge from fome beautiful fragments, we might have added Gray's didactic poem on Education and Government, had he lived to finila it. And the English Garden of Mr. Mason must not be omitted.


The Essay on Man is as close a piece of argument, admitting its principles, as perhaps can be found in verse. Pope informs us in his first preface, " that he chose this epistolary way of writing, notwithstanding his subject was high, and of dignity, because of its being mixed with argument which of its nature approacheth to prole." He has not wandered into any useless digreffions, has employed no fi&tions, no tale or story, and has relied chiefly on the poetry of his stile, for the purpose of interesting his readers. His stile is con



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cise and figurative, forcible and elegant. He has many metaphors and images, artfully interspersed in the driest passages, which stood most in need of such ornameats. Nevertheless there are too many lines, in this performance, plain and prosaic. The meaner the subject is of a preceptive poem, the more striking appears the art of the poet : It is even of use perhaps to chuse a low subject. In this respect Virgil had the advantage over Lucretius ; the latter, with all his vigour and sublimity of genius, could hardly satisfy and come up to the grandeur of his theme. Pope labours under the same difficulty. If any beauty in this Essay be uncommonly transcendent and peculiar, it is, BREVITY OF DICTION ; which, in a few instances, and those pardonable, has occasioned obscurity. It is hardly to be imagined how much sense, how much thinking, how much obfervation on human life, is condensed together in a small compass. He was so accustomed to confine his thoughts in rhyme, that he tells us, he could express them more shortly this way, than in prose-itself . On its first publication, Pope did not owa it, and it was given by the public to Lord Paget, Dr. Young, Dr. Desaguliere; Iné others. Even Swift feems to bave been deceived: There is a remarkable passage 3 one of his letters.

“ I confess I did oever imagine you were so deep in morals, or that fo many new and excellent rules could be produced so advantageously and agrecably in that science, from any one head:11..I confess in some places I was forced to read twice; I believe I told you before whatisht Duke of D- said to me on that occhi fión ; how a judge here who knows you told him, that on the first-reading.thote essays, he was much pleased, but found Sorne lines a little dark: On the: Cocond most of them cleared up, and his pleasure increasedOn the third; he had no doubt remaining, and then he admited the whore

The subject of this. Eday is asindication of providence;dia jwbichi shio peer proposes

• Leiters, vol. IX. pag. 140


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to prove that of all possible systems, infinite wisdom has formed the best: That in such a- fyftem, coherence, union, subordination, asc. -necesary; and if so, that appearances of cvil, both moral and natural, are allo necessary and unavoidable ; That the seeming defects and blemiles in the universe, conspire to its general beauty; That as all parts in an animal are not eyes, and as in a city, comedy, or picture, all ranks, characters, and colours, are not equal or alike; cvea so, excesses, and contrary qualities, contribute to the proportion apd harmony of the universal system ; That it is not strange, that we lould not be able to discover perfection and order in every instance; because, in an infinity of things mutually relative, a mind which sees not infinitely, can see nothing fully. This eloctrine was inculcated by Plato and the Stoics, but more amply and particularly by the later Platonists, and by Antoninus and Simplicius. In illustrating his subject, Pore has been much more deeply indebted $on the Theodiccé of Leibnitz, to Arch

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