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THE value of Pope's Essay on Man, as a text-book for parsing, in our Schools and Academies, is sufficiently manifest from its universal use and the approbation of the best judges. It is, however, to be regretted, that in many instances, the meaning of the poet is altogether misapprehended, and an improper construction given to his language. With a view to the correction of this evil, the present edition, with explanatory notes, is prepared; and should it be found, in any degree, conducive to a more correct method of instruction, the object of the writer will be accomplished.
Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1824, by Mr Daniel Clarke, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Maine.
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
Than just to look about us and to die)
Explanatory of the Grammatical construction, &c.
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 acquainted 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;
A mighty maze! but not without a plan;
Or garden, tempting with forbidden fruit;
I. Say, first, of God above, or man below,
From which to reason, or to which refer;
'Tis ours to trace him only in our own.
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 adjective.
He, who through vast immensity can pierce,
Looked through? or can a part contain the whole?
Why form'd so weak, so little, and so blind?
Why Jove's satellites are less than Jove?
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 sentence and its connections.
29-32. Has thy pervading soul looked through the bearings, ties, &c., of this frame?
37. If thou canst guess, then guess the harder reason. Guess in the end of the line is in the imp. mode.
40. Then the weeds, which they shade, are made.
42. Why Jupiter's moons or satellites, are less than the planet itself?