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“And what created perfect?" Why then man? If the great end be human happiness,
Then nature deviates; and can man do less? 150
As men forever temperate, calm, and wise. [sign,
162 Why charge we heaven in those, in these acquit? In both, to reason right, is to submit.
Better for us, perhaps, it might appear, Were there all harmony, all virtue here; That never air nor ocean felt the wind, That never passion discompos'd the mind.
151-153. That end as much requires eternal springs, &c., as it requires that men should be forever temperate, &c.
156. Catiline and Borgia were two of the most abandoned and bloody demagogues, that ever lived. 158. Who knows but he, whose hand, &c., pours? 159--160. Julius Cæsar is here meant. Alexander the Great was vainly styled the son of Jupiter Ammon: thence he is called young Ammon.
166. If all were harmony there, (i. e. in the operations of nature,) and all virtue here, (i. e. in the actions of men.)
But all subsists by elemental strife;
And passions are the elements of life.
The general order, since the world began,
VI. What would this man? Now upward will
And, little less than angel, would be more?
173. What would this man do or have; or what wishes this man. When the interrogative is not directly the nom. to the verb, there being no other nom. case, it is either the nom. after the verb, governed by it, or by a prep. expressed or understood.
179-181. Nature, being kind without profusion, assigned the proper organs, &c., and compensated each seeming want. 184. To add and to abate seem to imply a passive signi fication — Nothing to be added and nothing to be abated.
Is not to act or think beyond mankind;
For this plain reason, man is not a fly.
Say what the use, were finer optics given,
T' inspect a mite, not comprehend the heaven?
Or quick effluvia darting through the brain,
If nature thundered in his opening ears,
And stunn'd him with the music of the spheres,
190. Not to act or think beyond mankind is a substantive phrase used as a nom. after is, and to share no powers, is connected with it.
193-204. These lines have very often been misunderstood, and turned out of their true meaning. The poet adverts to the five senses, in order; asking first, Why man has not a microscopic eye, i. e. an eye formed to see the smallest objects, as are those of flies? and then answers, because man is not a fly. On the principle of optics, if we could see much more minutely, we could not take in so large a space of the heavens at one view; as a fly cannot see the whole of one side of a building upon which he may light. What would be the use, if finer touch were given, if this keener sensation cause or make us smart and agonize at every pore. Smell is supposed to be occasioned by some effluvia passing through the brain; and what the use, were this sense so quick, or the effect of these passing effluvia so powerful, as to make us die of the smell of a rose in aromatic pain?
Alike in what it gives, and what denies ?
211. How many modes or degrees of sight are there between the dimness of the mole's, and the sharpness of the lynx's? What may be made a com. rel. or a demonstrative
213. The lion is said to be defective in the sense of smell, so much so as not to pursue his prey by scent, as do the hounds.
215. The life that fills the flood-fishes, which are in a degree destitute of hearing.
217. It (i. e. the spider's touch) feels.
222. The elephant is here addressed, and called halfreasoning, on account of his superior sagacity, compared with other animals.
223. "Twixt that and reason, i. e. 'twixt the instinct of the elephant and reason
Remembrance and reflection how allied!
What thin partitions sense from thought divide!
All matter quick, and bursting into birth.
Beast, bird, fish, insect, what no eye can see,
237. Vast chain of being! comprehending natures ethereal, &c. In exclamatory sentences, like this, the noun, as chain, seems to be a nom. independent, in a different sense from that where an address is made; but we have no established rule for it, and therefore must under stand a verb.
239. What that which no glass can reach, viz. animalcules, which cannot be discovered even by the best magnifiers; extending from infinite to thee. Extending agrees with which, after being, in line 237.