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ESSAY ON MAN.
N. B. The abbreviations commonly made use of in Dictionaries are also used in the notes to this work. The words in italics have some immediate relation to each other, or are the principal subjects of the note.
AWAKE, my St. John ! leave all meaner things To low ambition and the pride of kings. Let us (since life can little more supply tinien Than just to look about us and to die)
LINE 1. The subject of these epistles is Ethics, or Morals. The poet, after proposing his plan, begins by a reference to the narrow sphere of our knowledge, and the only foundation of all true reasoning; and proceeds to consider the habits, the propensities, and powers of man, his object of pursuit, his discoveries and improvements of every kind. They were addressed to Henry St. John, by the title of Lord Bolingbroke, the friend and patron of Pope, at that time. The peculiarity of the name might prevent the line from being understood by persons not ac. quainted with his history. The scholar is here reminded that he should ever seek to 'comprehend the full scope of the poet's reasoning, by a due attention to what were probably the thoughts passing in his mind when writing the lines before him.
4. Than and as are sometimes followed by verbs in the inf. m. which are used in a potential sense ; thus since life
Expatiate free o'er all this scene of
man ; ind it. A mighty maze! but not without a plan ;
Laugh where we must, be candid where we can,
Of man, what see we but his station here,
can little more supply, than that we may look, &c. . Sometimes, also, a verb in the inf. m. stands as the object, on which an action terminates, like a noun in the obj. case ; so, to look, may be connected with the substantive phrase, little more, by the conj. than.
10. Open and covert are adj. supplying the place of their nouns (perhaps parts)' understood; a usage common in poetry.
18. From what can we reason, &c.
21. Though the God be known through worlds, &c. A preposition always shows relation between the word which it governs and some other--a verb, noun, or an ad. jective.
He, who through vast immensity can pierce,
See worlds on worlds compose one universe,
25 What other planets
planets cirèle other suns,
ay tell why Heaven has made us as we are.
Is the great chain, that draws all to agree,
, if thou canst, the harder reason guessin her
when it is
23–28. He, who can pierce, see, and observe, may tell, &c. When a nom case is immediately followed by a relative, you must look for its verb beyond the relative sen tence and its connections.
29–32. Has thy pervading soul looked through the bear
37. If thou canst guess, then guess the harder reason.
40. Then the weeds, which they shade, are made.
42. Why Jupiter's moons or satellites, are less than the planet itself?
Of systems possible, if 'tis confest,
man, whatever wrong we call which
Perhaps acts'second to some sphere unknown, man Touches some wheel, or verges to some goal;
Tis but a part we see, and not a whole. 60
43. If 'tis confest, that infinite Wisdom must form the best of possible systems.
45. Where all must fall, or not be coherent.
49. Wrangle may be, by hypothesis, put in the imp. m. or in the subj. m.- - if we or you wrangle.
50. The phrase, if God has placed him wrong, is in suposition with question.
51. Respecting, by some, is called a prep. and it may be a part. - That, respecting man, which we call wrong
55. In God's works one single purpose, can, &c
When the dull ox, why now he breaks the clod,
Why doing, suff'ring, check'd, impell’d; and why stuene This hour a slave, the next a deity.
63. · Oxen were offered in sacrifice by most of the ancients, as well as the Jews. With the Egyptians, the speries ox, was sacred, and an object of worship. When veir god, the bull Apis, died, in the reign of Ptolemy La. gus, the expenses of his funeral pomp exceeded 50,000 French crowns.
75. Blest, a part. used for its s. or, the man, who is (or who began to be) blest to-day, &c.
76. Years - Nouns of time and distance, and manner, with the noun, home, are put in the obj. case, without any word expressed to govern them - a prep. being understood.
80. Being is a noun -- Who could suffer (i. e. bear the ourden of) existence here below.