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Chaos of Thought and Paffion, all confus'd;
After ver. 18. in the MS.
For more perfection than this state can bear
be the arbitrary decree of infinite wisdom and goodness, which imposed a barrier to the extravagances of its giddy lawless creature, always inclined to pursue truths of less importance too far, to the neglect of those more necessary for his improvement in his station here.
Go, wondrous creature! mount where Science
Then drop into thyself, &c.
Shew by what rules the wand'ring planets stray,
Ver. 20. Go measure earth, &c.] Alluding to the noble and useful project of our modern Mathematicians, to measure a degree at the equator and polar circle, in order to determine the true figure of the earth ; of great importance to astronomy and navigation.
Ver. 22. Correct old Time,] This alludes to Sir Isaac Newton's Grecian Chronology, which he reformed on those two sublime conceptions, the difference between the reigns of kings, and the generations of men ; and the position of the colures of the equinoxes and solstices at the time of the Argonautic expedition.
Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule
Superior bcings, when of late they faw
Ver. 29, 30. Go; teach Eternal Wisdom, &c.] These two lines are a conclusion from all that had been said from ver. 18, to this effect: Go now, vain Man, elated with thy acquirements in real science, and imaginary intimacy with God; go, and run into all the extravagancies I have exploded in the first epistle, where thou pretendest to teach Providence how to govern; then drop into the obscurities of thy own nature, and thereby manifest thy ignorance and
VER. 31. Superior beings, &c.] In these lines he speaks to this effect: But to make you fully sensible of the difficulty of this study, I shall instance in the great Newton himself; whom, when superior beings, not long since, faw capable of unfolding the whole law of Nature, they were in doubt whether the owner of such prodigious fagacity should not be reckoned of their own order; juft as men, when they see the surprizing marks of Reason in an Ape, are almost tempted to rank him with their own kind. And yet this wondrous Man could go no further in the knowledge of himself than the generality of his species. In which we see it was not Mr. Pope's intention to bring any of the Ape's qualities, but its sagacity, into the comparison. But why the Ape's, it may be said, rather than the fagacity of some more decent animal, parti-. cularly the half-reasoning elephant, as the poet calls it; which, as well on account of this its fuperiority, as for its having no ridiculous fide, like the Ape, on which it could
Could he, whose rules the rapid Comet bind, 35 Describe or fix one moveinent of his mind ?
Ver. 35. Ed. ift.
Could he, who taught each Planet where to roll,
be viewed, seems better to have deserved this honour ? I reply, Because, as none but a shape resembling human, accompanied with great fagacity, could occafion the doubt of that animal's relation to Man, the Ape only having that resemblance, no other animal was fitted for the comparison. And on this ground of relation the whole beauty of the thought depends; Newton and those superior spirits being equally framed for immortality, though of different orders. And here let me take notice of a new species of the Sublime, of which our poet máy be justly said to be the maker;
fo new, that we have yet no name for it, though of a nature distinct from every other poetical excellence. The two great perfections of works of genius are Wit and SUBLIMITY. Many writers have been witty, several have been sublime, and some few have even possessed both these qualities separately; but none that I know of, besides our Poet, hath had the art to incorporate them; of which he hath given many examples, both in this Essay and his other poems, one of the noblest being the passage in question. This seems to be the last effort of the imagination, to poetical perfection; and in this compounded exellence the Wit receives a dignity from the Sublime, and the Sublime a Splendor from the Wit; which, in their state of separate existence, they both wanted.
Who saw its fires here rise, and there descend,
Trace Science then, with Modesty thy guide;
45 Or Learning's Luxury, or Idleness;
VER. 37. Who saw its fires here rile, &c.] Sir Isaac Newton, in calculating the velocity of a comet's motion, and the course it describes, when it becomes visible in its descent to, and ascent from, the Sun, conjectured, with the highest appearance of truth, that comcts revolve perpequally round the Sun, in ellipses vally eccentrical, and very nearly approaching to parabolas. In which he was greatly confirmed, in observing, between two Comets, a coincidence in their perihelions, and a perfect agreement in their velocities.
Ver. 45. – Vanity, or Dress,} These are the first parts of what the Poet, in the preceding line, calls the scholar's equipage of pride. By Vanity, is meant that luxuriancy of thought and expression in which a writer indulges him. felf, to thew the fruitfulness of his fancy of invention. By dress is to be understood a lower degree of that practice, in amplification of thought and ornamental expreslion, to give force to what the writer would convey : but even this, the poer, in a severe search after truth, condemns; and with great judgment. Conciseness of thought and simplicity of exprellion, being as well 'the best inftru