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INTRODUCTORY.

THE Essay on Man consists of four Epistles addressed to Lord Bolingbroke. It is but a portion of a large poem contemplated, but not completed. Hence the title imperfectly describes its contents. It is less a treatise on Man than on the moral order of the world of which man is a part. The Essay is a vindication of Providence. The appearances of evil in the world arise from our seeing only a part of the whole. Excesses and contrary qualities are means by which the harmony of the system is procured. The ends of Providence are answered even by our errors and imperfections. God designs happiness to be equal, but realises it through general laws. Virtue only constitutes a happiness which is universally attainable. This happiness through virtue is only reached in society, or social order, which is only a part of the general order. The perfection of virtue is a conformity to the order of Providence here crowned by the hope of full satisfaction hereafter.

The argument of the Essay on Man is said by Johnson, Lives of the Poets, Pope, to have been supplied to Pope by Bolingbroke. Johnson relied on a statement made by Joseph Warton, Genius and Writings of Pope, 2. 58, that Lord Bathurst (died 1777) had repeatedly assured him that he had read the whole scheme of the poem in the handwriting of Bolingbroke, and that Pope did no nore than put it into verse. See Boswell; Life of Johnson, Letter {55. Lord Bathurst, however, was either mistaken or was misinderstood. It is possible that what Lord Bathurst saw were the Fragments or Minutes of Essays, now included in Lord Bolingroke's printed Works. These Fragments were occasional scraps

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The Essay on Man consists of four Epistles addressed to Lord Bolingbroke. It is but a portion of a large poem contemplated, but not completed. Hence the title imperfectly describes its contents. It is less a treatise on Man than on the moral order of the world of which man is a part. The Essay is a vindication of Providence. The appearances of evil in the world arise from our seeing only a part of the whole. Excesses and contrary qualities are means by which the harmony of the system is procured. The ends of Providence are answered even by our errors and imperfections. God designs happiness to be equal, but realises it through general laws. Virtue only constitutes a happiness which is universally attainable. This happiness through virtue is only reached in society, or social order, which is only a part of the general order. The perfection of virtue is a conformity to the order of Providence here crowned by the hope of full satisfaction hereafter.

The argument of the Essay on Man is said by Johnson, Lives of the Poets, Pope, to have been supplied to Pope by Bolingbroke. Johnson relied on a statement made by Joseph Warton, Genius and Writings of Pope, 2. 58, that Lord Bathurst (died 1777) had repeatedly assured him that he had read the whole scheme of the poem in the handwriting of Bolingbroke, and that Pope did no more than put it into verse. See Boswell; Life of Johnson, Letter 355. Lord Bathurst, however, was either mistaken or was misunderstood. It is possible that what Lord Bathurst saw were the Fragments or Minutes of Essays, now included in Lord Bolingbroke's printed Works. These Fragments were occasional scraps

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communicated to Pope as they were written. Single passages in In these Fragments resemble passages in Pope's Essay. But even if

bent the communication of the Fragments preceded the composition of the Essay on Man, they are far from containing the whole scheme

with of the Poem. Both the Essay on Man and Bolingbroke's Minutes derive their colouring from a common source,

The Essay on Man was composed at a time when the reading public in this country were occupied with an intense and eager turite curiosity by speculation on the first principles of Natural Religion. Everywhere, in the pulpit, in the coffee-houses, in every

he F pamphlet, argument on the origin of evil, on the goodness of

whic God, and the constitution of the world, was rife. Into the pre- T vailing topic of polite conversation Bolingbroke, who returned from exile in 1723, was drawn by the bent of his native genius. Pope ther followed the example and impulse of his friend's more powerful sop

! mind. Thus much there was of special suggestion. But the dict arguments or topics of the poem are to be traced to books in itse much vogue at the time; to Shaftesbury's Characteristics (1711), sop King On the Origin of Evil (1702), and particularly to Leibnitz, Essais de Théodicée (1710). Pope's ambition as a poet led him to take up a subject which involved abstract considerations for which he had no aptitude. He had hitherto only treated social or personal themes. Unless he was to be content to be read

the merely by the town,' he must apply himself to the larger argument which absorbed the attention of all serious minds. No ad writer, who desires to be read by his contemporaries, can neglect Po the topics in which his contemporaries feel a paramount interest. TI Pope brooded many years over the scheme of an ethical work. The First Part, or Epistle, was published, anonymously, in 1732. The Fourth Part came out, with his name, in 1734. He never completed any more of the work; though in 1738 he had not relinquished the project of a continuation, as we see from the Epilogue to the Satires 2. 255

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Alas, alas! pray end what you began,
And write next winter more Essays on Man.'

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