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[The interest with which the general reader may be expected to peruse Pope's • Essay on Man,' will, it is hoped, be enhanced by the explanatory and illustrative comments in the present edition. The book, however, is specially designed to promote successful competition at public examinations; and to this end candidates are requested to read carefully the introductory matter as well as the foot-notes.]
1. Much of the “Essay on Man,' in common with many other of Pope's works, is prose elegantly versified. example take lines 43 to 50 of the first Epistle. These are easily convertible into the following plain prose :
If it is confessed that, of all possible systems, infinite Wisdom must form the best, in which all must be full, or else be incoherent, and all that rises must rise in due gradation, then it is plain that in the scale of reasoning life there must be, somewhere, such a rank as Mun; and all the question, how long soever we may wrangle, is only this—whether God has placed him wrong.
A much greater portion of the poem is farther removed from prose by means of inversions, ellipses, contractions, and rhetorical fancies. But occasionally the full spirit of true poetry animates the strain, and presents admirable creations of imaginative force and beauty. This is the case more particularly in the first Epistle, as in the following lines :