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Some place the bliss in action, some in ease,
Those call it pleasure, and contentment these;
Some sunk to beasts, find pleasure end in pain;
Some swell'd to Gods, confess ev'n virtue vain;

COMMENTARY.

29.) with detecting the false notions of Happiness. These are of
two kinds, the Philosophical and Popular. The Popular he had
recapitulated in the invocation, when Happiness was called upon,
at her several supposed places of abode: the Philosophical only
remained to be delivered:
Ask of the learn'd the way? The learn'd are blind;

This bids to serve, and that to shun mankind :
Some place the bliss in action, some in ease;

Those call it pleasure, and contentment these.” They differed as well in the means, as in the nature of the end. Some placed Happiness in Action, some in Contemplation; the first called it Pleasure, the second Ease. Of those who placed it in Action and called it Pleasure, the route they pursued either sunk them into sensual Pleasures, which ended in Pain; or led them in search of imaginary Perfections, unsuitable to their nature and station (see Ep. i.), which ended in Vanity. Of those who placed it in Ease, the contemplative station they were fixed in made some, for their quiet, find truth in every thing'; others, in nothing :

“ Who thus define it, say they more or less
Than this, that Happiness is Happiness ?"

The

NOTES.

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sages in Bolingbroke's Posthumous Works that bear a close resemblance to the tenets of this Essay, are the following : Vol. iv. octavo edition, pp. 223, 324, 388, 389, also pp. 49, 316, 328, 336, 337, 339. And in Vol. v. pp. 5, 6, 17, 92, 51, 113, 310.

Warton. Ver. 21. 23. Some place the bliss in action,

Some sunk to beasts, &c.] 1. Those who place Happiness, or the summum bonum, in Pleasure, 'Hdovn; such as the Cyrenaic sect, called, on that account, the Hedonic. 2. Those who place it in a certain tranquillity or calmness of Mind, which they call Euluuía ; such as the Demo

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Or indolent; to each extreme they fall,

25 To trust in every thing, or doubt of all.

Who thus define it, say they more or less Than this, that Happiness is Happiness ?

Take Nature's path, and mad Opinion's leave; All states can reach it, and all heads conceive; 30 Obvious her goods, in no extreme they dwell; There needs but thinking right, and meaning well;

COMMENTARY.

The confutation of these Philosophic errors he shews to be very easy, one common fallacy running through them all; namely this, that instead of telling us in what the happiness of human nature consists, which was what was asked of them, each busies himself in explaining in what he placed his own.

Ver. 29. Take Nature's path, &c.] The Poet then proceeds (from ver. 28 to 35.) to reform their mistakes; and shews them that, if they will but take the road of Nature, and leave that of mad Opinion, they will soon find Happiness to be a good of the species, and, like common sense, equally distributed to all mankind.

NOTES

critic sect.

3. The Epicurean. 4. The Stoic. 5. The Protagorean, which held that Man was wartwv Xemuatwr mérgov, the measure of all things; for that all things which appear to him, are, and those things which appear not to any Man, are not; so that every imagination or opinion of every Man was true.

6. The Sceptic; whose absolute doubt is, with great judgment, said to be the effect of indolence, as well as the absolute trust of the Protagorean. For the same dread of labour attending the search of truth, which makes the Protagorean presume it is always at hand, makes the Sceptic conclude it is never to be found. The only difference is, that the laziness of the one is desponding, and the laziness of the other sanguine ; yet both can give it a good name, and call it HAPPINESS.

Warburton. Ver. 23. Some sunk to beasts, &c.] These four lines added in the last edition, as necessary to complete the summary of the false pursuits after Happiness among the Greek Philosophers.

Warburton.

And mourn our various portions as we please,
Equal is common sense, and common ease.

Remember, Man, “the Universal Cause “ Acts not by partial, but by general laws :"

35

COMMENTARY.

Ver. 35. Remember, Man, 8c.] Having exposed the two false species of Happiness, the Philosophical and Popular, and denounced the true; in order to establish the last, he goes on to a confutation of the two former.

I. He first (from ver. 34 to 49.) confutes the Philosophical ; which, as we said, makes Happiness a particular, not a general good. And this two ways ; 1. From his grand principle, that God acts by general laws; the consequence of which is, that Happiness, which supports

the well-being of every system, must needs be universal, and not partial, as the Philosophers conceived. 2. From fact, that Man instinctively concurs with this designation of Providence, to make Happiness universal, by his having no delight in any thing uncommunicated or uncommunicable.

NOTES.

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ness.

Ver. 35. Remember, Man, the Universal Cause

Acts not by partial, but by general laws."] I reckon it for nothing that M. du Resnel saw none of the fine reasoning (from these two lines, to ver. 73) in which the Poet confates both the philosophic and popular errors concerning happi

What I can least bear is his perverting these two lines to a horrid and senseless fatalism, foreign to the argument in hand, and directly contrary to the Poet's general principles,

“Une loi générale Détermine toujours la cause principale ;" i.e. a general Law always determines the first Cause : which is the very Fate of the Ancient Pagans ; who supposed that the Destinies gave law to the Father of Gods and men.

The Poet says again, soon after, Ver. 49, “ Order is heaven's first Law," i.e. the first Law made by God relates to Order : which is a beautiful allusion to the Scripture history of the Creation, when God first appeased the disorders of Chaos, and separated the light from the darkness. Let us now hear his translator :

“ L'Ordre, cet inflexible et grand Legislateur
Qui des décrets du Ciel est le premier auteur.”

Order,

And makes what Happiness we justly call
Subsist not in the good of one, but all.
There's not a blessing individuals find,
But some way leans and hearkens to the kind; 40
No bandit fierce, no tyrant mad with pride,
No cavernd hermit, rests self-satisfied :
Who most to shun or hate Mankind pretend,
Seek an admirer, or would fix a friend.
Abstract what others feel, what others think, 45
All pleasures sicken, and all glories sink :
Each has his share; and who would more obtain,
Shall find the pleasure pays not half the pain.

ORDER is heaven's first law; and this confess'd, Some are, and must be, greater than the rest, 50

COMMENTARY.

Ver. 49. Order is heaven's first law;] II. In the second place (from ver. 48 to 67.), he confutes the popular error concerning Happiness, namely, that it consists in externals. This he does, first, by inquiring into the reasons of the present providential disposition of external goods; a topic of confutation chosen with the greatest accuracy and penetration. For, if it appears they were given in the manner we see them distributed, for reasons different from the Happiness of individuals, it is absurd to think that they should make part of that Happiness. He shews, therefore, that disparity of external possessions among men was for the sake of Society: 1. To promote the harmony and happiness of a system; because the want of external goods in some, and the abundance in others, increase general harmony in the obliger and obliged. Yet here (says he) mark the impartial wisdom of Heaven; this very inequality of externals, by contributing to general harmony and order, produceth an equality of Happiness amongst individuals.

2. To prevent perpetual discord amongst men equal in power ; which an equal distribution of external goods would necessarily

occasion Order, that inflexible and grand Legislator, who is the first author of the Law of Heaven. A proposition abominable in most senses; absurd in all.

Warburton.

NOTES.

More rich, more wise; but who infers from hence
That such are happier, shocks all common sense.
Heaven to Mankind impartial we confess,
If all are equal in their Happiness :
But mutual wants this Happiness increase; 55
All Nature's difference keeps all Nature's peace.
Condition, circumstance, is not the thing;
Bliss is the same in subject or in king,
In who obtain defence, or who defend,
In him who is, or him who finds a friend : 60

COMMENTARY. occasion. From hence he concludes, that as external goods were not given for the reward of virtue, but for many poses, God could not, if he intended Happiness for all, place it in the enjoyment of externals.

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NOTES.

Ver. 50. Some are, and must be,] So much has of late years been said of the doctrine of Equality, and so much has it been perversely misinterpreted and misunderstood, that it is to be wished that those who declaim on this subject, would only look into the three following fashionable French authors, who surely were staunch lovers of liberty, to see the absurdity of the notion of Equality of Ranks ; namely, 1. Montesquieu, in the third chapter of his eighth Book. II. D'Alembert, in his comment on this chapter of Montesquieu. III. Voltaire, in the Essay on the Spirit of Nations, chapter 67, on Switzerland. " You are not, by this term Equality;"-says the last, " to understand that absurd and impossible Equality, by which the master and the servant, the magistrate and the artificer, the plaintiff and the judge, are confounded together; but that Equality by which the subject depends only on the laws."

Warton.

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VARIATIONS.

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After Ver. 52. in the MS.

Say not, sh Heaven's here profuse, there poorly saves,
5. And for one Monarch makes a thousand slaves."
You'll find, when Causes and their Ends are known,
'Twas for the thousand Heaven has made that one.

Warburton.

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