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As one by one, at dread Medea's strain, 635
Philosopby, that reacb'd the Heav'ns before,
Sbrinks to ber bidden cause, and is no more. And this was intended as a cenfure of the Newtonian philofo. phy. For the poet had been mised by the prejudices of foreigners, as if that philosophy had recurred to the occult quaJities of Aristotle. This was the idea he received of it from a man educated much abroad, who had read every thing, but every thing superficially. Had his excellent friend Dr. A. been consulted in this matter, it is certain that fo unjuft a reflection had never discredited fo noble a satire. When I hinted to him how he had been impofed upon, he changed the lines with great pleasure into a compliment (as they now stand) on that divine genius, and a satire on the folly by which he the Poet himself had been milled.
REMARKS. VER. 641. Truth to ber old Cavern fled.] Alluding to the faying of Democritus, That Truth lay at the bottom of a deep well, from whence he had drawn her: Though Butler says, He first put ber in, before be drew ber out.
VER: 643. Philosophy, that lear'd on Heav'n] Philofnplay has at length brought things to that pass, as to have it esteem
Physic of Metaphysic begs defence,
REMARKS. ed unphilosophical to rest in the first caufe; as if its ends were an endless indagation of cause after cause, without ever coming to the first. So that to avoid this unlearned difgrace, some of the propagators of our best philofophy have had recourse to the contrivance here hinted at. For this Philosophy, which is founded in the principle of Gravitation, first considered that property in matter, as something extrinfecal to it, and impressed immediately by God upon it. Which fairly and modestly coming up to the first Cause, was pushing natural enquiries as far as they thould go. But this Hopping, though at the extent of our ideas, and on the maxim of the great founder of this Philosophy, Bacon, who says, Circa ultimates rerum fruftranea eft inquisitio, was miftaken by foreign philosophers as recurring to the occult qualities of the Peripatetics.
Pulsante; equidem vires intelligo nufquam
Pro.caufis, unoque secans problemata vcrbo. Anti-Lucr. To avoid which imaginary discredit to the new theory, it was thought proper to seek for the cause of gravitation in a certain elastic fluil, which pervaded all body. By this ineans, instead of really advancing in natural enquiries, we werc broughs
Et quamvis fopor eft oculorum parte receptus,
-Vidit Cyllenius omnes
Ovid. Met. ii.
See Mystery to Mathematics fly!
REMARKS. back again, by this ingenious expedient, to an unsatisfactory second cause:
Philosophy, that lean'd on Heav'n before,
Shrinks to her second cause, and is no more. For it might still, by the same kind of objection, be asked, what was the cause of that elasticity ? See this folly censured, v. 475.
Ver. 645,646. Physic of Metaphysic, & c.- And Metaphyfic calls, &c.] Certain writers, as Malbranche, Norris, and others, have thought it of importance, in order to secure the existence of the soul, to bring in question the reality of body; which they have attempted to do by a very refined metapbycal reasoning : While others of the same party, in order to persuade us of the necessity of a Revelation which promises immortality, have been as anxious to prove that those quali. ties which are commonly supposed to belong only to an immaterial Being, are but the result from the sensations of mat. ter, and the soul naturally mortal. Thus, between these different reasonings, they have left us neither Soul nor Body; nor, the Sciences of Physics and Metaphysics the least support, by making them depend upon, and go a begging to, one another.
VER.647. See Mystery to Mathematics fly!] A sort of men, who make human reason the adequate meafure of all Truth, having pretended that whatsoever is not fully comprehended hy it, is contrary to it; certain defenders of Religion, who would not be outdone in a paradox, have gone as far in the opposite folly, and attempted to Mew that the mysteries of Religion inay be mathematically demonstrated; as the authors of Philosopbic, or Astronomic Principles of Religion, natural and revealed; who have much prided themselves on reflecting a fantastic light upon religion from the frigid subtilty of school moonshine.
VER. 649. Religion blushing veils ber sacred fores,] Blushing as
Nor public Flame, nor private, dares to shine ;
REMARKS. well at the memory of the past overflow of dulness, when the barbarous learning of so many ages was wholly employed in corrupting the fimplicity, and defiling the purity of Religion, as at the view of these her false supports in the preJent; of which it would be endless to recount the particulars. However, amidst the extinction of all other Lights, she is said only to withdraw hers; as hers alone in its own nature is unextinguishable and eternal.
VER. 650. And unawares Morality expires.] It appears from hence that our Poet was of very different sentiments from the Author of the Characteristics, who has written a formal treatise on Virtue, to prove it not only real but durable, without the support of Religion. The word unawares al-' ludes to the confidence of those men, who suppose that Morality would flourish best without it, and consequently to the surprize such would be in (if any such there are) who indeed love Virtue, and yet do all they can to root out the Religion of their Country,
The End of the Fourth Book.