« PreviousContinue »
Or tricks to shew the stretch of human brain,
II. Two principles in human nature reign;
NOTES. ments, as the best vehicles of Truth. Shakespear touches upon this latter advantage with great force and humour. The Flatterer says to Timon in distress, “ I cannot cover si the monstrous bulk of their ingratitude with any size of « words, " The other replies, “Let it go naked, men may 6 fee't the better."
VER. 46. Or Learning's Luxury, or Idleness ;] The Lux. ury of Learning consists in dressing up and disguising old notions in a new way, so as to make them more fashionable and palateable; instead of examining and scrutinizing their truth. As this is often done for pomp and shew, it is called luxury; as it is often done to save pains and labour, it is called idleness.
VER. 47. Or tricks to sew the firetch of human brain.] Such as the mathematical demonstrations concerning the jmall quantity of matter; the endless divisibility of it, &c.
Ver. 48. Mere curious pleasure, or ingenious pain ;] That is, when Admiration sets the mind on the rack.
Ver. 49. Expunge the whole, or lop th' axcrescent parts.co Of all our vices have created Arts;] i. e. Those parts of natural Philosophy, Logic, Rhetoric, Poetry, &c. that acı minister to luxury, deceit, ambition, effeminacy, &c.
And to their proper operation still,
NOTES VER. 74. Reason, the future and the consequence.] ii e. By experience, Reason collects the future; and by argumentation, the confequence.
Attention, habit, and experience gains;
86 in the MS.
NOTES. VER. 81. Let subtle schoolmen, &c.] This observation on the folly of the schoolmen, who consider reason and the pasions as two opposite principles, the one good and the other evil, is seasonable and judicious; for this folly gives great support to the Manichæan or Zoroastrian error, the confutation of which was one of the author's chief ends in writing. For if there be two principles in Man, a good and bad, it is natural to think him the joint product of the two Manichæan deities (the first of which contributed to his Reason, the other to his Pafions) rather than the creature of one Individual Cause. This was Plutarch's notion, and, as we may see in him, of the more ancient
Pleasure, or wrong, or rightly understood,
III. Modes of Self-love the Passions we inay call :
In lazy Apathy let Stoics boast Their Virtue fix'd; 'tis fix'd as in a frost; Contracted all, retiring to the breast; But strength of mind is Exercise, not Rest; The rising tempest puts in act the soul, 105 Parts it may ravage, but preserves the whole. On life's vast ocean diversely we sail, Reason the card, but passion is the gale.
After ver. 103. in the MS.
A tedious Voyage! where how useless lies
Manichæans. It was of importance, therefore, to reprobate and subvert a notion that served to the support of so dangerous an error.
Nor God alone in the still calm we find,
Passions, like elements, tho' born to fight,
After ver. 112. in the MS.
The soft reward the virtuous, or invite ;
Ver. 109. Nor God alone, &c.] These words are only a fimple affirmation in the poetic dress of a fimilitude, to this purpose: Good is not only produced by the subdual of the passions, but by the turbulent exercise of them. A truth conveyed under the most fublime imagery that poetry could conceive or paint. For the author is here only shewing the providential issue of the Passions, and how, by God's gracious disposition, they are turned away from their natural bias, to promote the happiness of Mankind. As to the method in which they are to be treated by Man in whom they are found, all that he contends for, in favour of them, is only this, that they should not be quite rooted
up and destroyed, as the Stoics, and their followers in all religions, foolishly attempted. For the rest, he constantly repeats this advice,
The action of the stronger to suspend,