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When the loose mountain trembles from on high,
Shall gravitation cease, if you go by ?
Or some old temple, nodding to its fall,
For Chartres' head reserve the hanging wall ? 130

But still this world, so fitted for the knave,
Contents us not. A better shall we have ?


Ver. 131. But still this world, &c.] II. But now, so unhappy is the condition of our corrupt nature, that these are not the only complainers. Religious men are but too apt, if not to speak out, yet sometimes secretly to murmur against Providence, and say,




pressions, “ New motions be impress'd," and "Shall gravitation cease,” were taken from Wollaston, section v. p.

99. Wollaston, in this section, endeavours to prove, that “ It is not impossible, that such laws of nature, and such a series of causes and effects may be originally designed ; that not only general provisions may be made for the several species of beings, but even particular cases, at least many of them, may also be provided for, without innovations or alterations in the course of nature.” From whence he infers the doctrine of a particular Providence, and the reasonableness and efficacy of prayer; a doctrine for which Bolingbroke, in a variety of passages in his works, is fond of condemning Wollaston, and his Defence of this Duty of Prayer. I have received the most authentic information that Dr. Middleton left behind him a treatise on this subject; which Mrs. Middleton, by the advice of a judicious friend, was prevailed on not to publish, from the offence it might have given. But it was communicated to Lord Bolingbroke at his earnest request, and returned to Mrs. Middleton after he had kept it a considerable time. After Bolingbroke's death, a copy of it was found in his library.

Wurton. Ver. 130. the hanging wall ?] Eusebius is weak enough to relate, from the testimonies of Irenæus and Polycarp, that the roof of the building under which Cerinthus the heretic was bathing, providentially fell down and crushed him to death. Lib. 3. cap. 29.


A kingdom of the Just then let it be:
But first consider how those Just agree.


its ways are not equal. Those especially, who are more inordinately devoted to a sect or party, are scandalized, that the Just (for such they esteem themselves) the Just, who are to judge the world, have no better a portion in their own inheritance and dominion. The Poet, therefore, now leaves those more professedly impious, and turns to these less profligate complainers (from ver. 130 to 149.):

“ But still this world, so fitted for the knave,” &c. As the former wanted external goods to be the reward of virtue for the moral man, so these want them for the pious, in order to have a kingdom of the Just. To this the Poet holds it sufficient to answer ; Pray first agree among yourselves, who those Just are. As they are not likely to do this, he bids them to rest satisfied ; to remember his fundamental principle, that whatever is, is right; and to content themselves (as their religion teaches them to profess a more than ordinary submission to the will of Providence) with that common answer which he, with so much reason and piety, gives to every kind of complainer.

However, though there be yet no kingdom of the Just, there is still no kingdom of the Unjust; both the virtuous and the vicious (whatsoever becomes of those whom every sect calls the Faithful) have their share in external goods; and what is more, the virtuous have infinitely the most enjoyment of their share:

“ This world, 'tis true, Was made for Cæsar, but for Titus too: And which more blest? who chain'd his country? say!

Or he whose virtue sigh’d to lose a day?" I have been the more solicitous to explain this last argument, and to shew against whom it is directed, because a great deal depends upon it for the illustration of the sense, and the defence of the Poet's reasoning. For if we suppose him to be still addressing himself to those iMPIOUS complainers, confuted in the forty preceding lines, we should make him guilty of a paralogism, in the argument about the Just; and in the illustration of it by the case of Calvin. For then the Libertine asks, Why the Just, that is, the moral man, is not rewarded? The answer is, That none but


The good must merit God's peculiar care;

135 But who, but God, can tell us who they are ? One thinks on Calvin heaven's own spirit fell; Another deems him instrument of hell; If Calvin feel heaven's blessing, or its rod, This cries, there is, and that, there is no God. 140 What shocks one part will edify the rest, Nor with one system can they all be blest. The very best will variously incline, And what rewards your virtue, punish mine.


God can tell, who the Just, that is, the faithful man, is. Where the term is changed, in order to support the argument; for about the truly moral man there is no dispute ; about the truly faithful, or the orthodox, a great deal. But take the Poet right, as arguing here against religious complainers, and the reasoning is strict and logical, They ask, Why the truly faithful are not rewarded ? He answereth, “They may be, for aught you know; for none but God can tell who they are.”


Ver. 136. tell us who they are ?] This again is exactly copied from Wollaston, section v. p. 110, who quotes Virgil on the occasion :

-Cadit et Ripheus justissimus unus
Qui fuit in Teucris, et servantissimus æqui:
Diis aliter visum.

Warton. Ver. 138. instrument of hell;] The hard fate of Servetus will remain for ever as an indelible mark of the violence, cruelty, and intolerance of Calvin.



After ver. 142. in some Editions :

Give each a system, all must be at strife;

What different systems for a Man and Wife ! The joke, though lively, was ill placed, and therefore struck out of the text.


WHATEVER IS, IS RIGHT. This world, 'tis true, 145
Was made for Cæsar, but for Titus too:
And which more blest? who chain'd his country?

say! Or he whose virtue sigh'd to lose a day? “ But sometimes virtue starves, while vice is

fed.” What then? Is the reward of virtue bread ? 150 Taht, vice may merit; 'tis the price of toil; The knave deserves it, when he tills the soil ; The knave deserves it, when he tempts the main, Where folly fights for kings, or dives for gain. The good man may be weak, be indolent; 155 Nor is his claim to plenty, but content. But grant him riches, your demand is o'er ? “ No! Shall the good want health, the good want

pow'r ?"


Ver. 149. But sometimes virtue staroes, while dice is fed."] III. The Poet, having dispatched these two species of murmurers, comes now to the third, and still more pardonable sort, the discontented GOOD men, who lament only that Virtue starves, while Vice riots. To these he replies (from ver. 148 to 157.) that, admit this to be the case, yet they have no reason to complain, either of the good man's lot in particular, or of the dispensation of Providence in general. Not of the former, because Happiness, the reward of Virtue, consisteth not in externals; nor of the latter, because ill men may gain wealth by commendable industry; good men want necessaries, through indolence or ill conduct.

Ver. 157. But grant him riches, &c.] But as modest as this complaint seemeth at first view, the Poet next shews (from ver.



Ver. 157. But grant him riches,] It does by no means follow, that because he should want riches, health, and power, he should want every thing, and never know where to stop. Warton.

Add health, and pow'r, and every earthly thing. Why bounded pow'r? why private ? why no king ?

160 Nay, why external for internal given? Why is not Man a God, and earth a heaven?



156 to 167.) that it is founded on a principle of the highest extravagance, which will never let the discontented good man rest, till he becomes as vain and foolish in his imagination as the very worst sort of complainers. For that when once he begins to think he wants what is his due, he will never know where to stop, while God hath any thing to give.


Ver. 162. Why is not Man a God,] The manner in which Ramsay endeavours, but in vain, to explain the doctrine of the Essay, is as follows: "Pope is far from asserting, that the present state of Man is his primitive state, and is conformable to Order. His design is to shew, that since the Fall, all is proportioned with weight, measure, and harmony, to the condition of a degraded Being, who suffers, and who deserves to suffer, and who cannot be restored but by sufferings; that physical evils are designed to cure moral evil; that the passions and the crimes of the most abandoned men are confined, directed, and governed by infinite wisdom, in such a manner as to make order emerge out of confusion, light out of darkness, and to call out innumerable advantages from the transitory inconveniences of this life; that this so gracious Providence conducts all things to its own ends, and without either causing or approving the effects of their deliberate malice ; that all is ordained in the physical order, as all is free in the moral; that these two orders are connected closely without fatality, and are not subject to that necessity which renders us virtuous without merit, and vicious without crime; that we see at present but a single wheel of the magnificent machine of the universe; but a small link of the great chain ; and but an insignificant part of that immense plan which will one day be unfolded. Then will God justify all the incomprehensible proceedings of his wisdom and goodness, and will vindicate himself, as Milton speaks, from the rash judgment of mortals."


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