An Essay on Man is a poem written by Alexander Pope in 1733–1734. It is a rationalistic effort to use philosophy in order to, as John Milton attempted, justify the ways of God to man. It is concerned with the part evil plays in the world and with the social order God has decreed for man. Because man cannot know God's purposes, he cannot complain about the existence of evil and must accept that Whatever is, is right. More than any other work, it popularized optimistic philosophy throughout England and the rest of Europe.
- Awake, my St John! Leave all meaner things
To low ambition, and the pride of kings.
Let us, since life can little more supply
Than just to look about us, and to die,
Expatiate free o'er all this scene of man;
A mighty maze! But not without a plan.
- Together let us beat this ample field,
Try what the open, what the covert yield.
- Eye Nature's walks, shoot folly as it flies,
And catch the manners living as they rise:
Laugh where we must, be candid where we can;
But vindicate the ways of God to man.
- Say first, of God above or man below,
What can we reason but from what we know?
- 'T is but a part we see, and not a whole.
- Heaven from all creatures hides the book of Fate,
All but the page prescrib'd, their present state.
- Pleased to the last, he crops the flowery food,
And licks the hand just raised to shed his blood.
- Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,
A hero perish or a sparrow fall,
Atoms or systems into ruin hurled,
And now a bubble burst, and now a world.
- Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always to be blest.
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
- Lo, the poor Indian! whose untutored mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind;
His soul proud Science never taught to stray
Far as the solar walk or milky way;
Yet simple nature to his hope has giv'n,
Behind the cloud-topped hill, an humbler heav'n.
- But thinks, admitted to that equal sky,
His faithful dog shall bear him company.
- In pride, in reas'ning pride, our error lies;
All quit their spere, and rush into the skies!
Pride still is aiming at the blessed abodes,
Men would be Angels, Angels would be Gods.
Aspiring to be Gods if Angels fell,
Aspiring to be Angels men rebel.
- Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise;
My footstool earth, my canopy the skies.
- Line 139. Compare: "All the parts of the universe I have an interest in: the earth serves me to walk upon; the sun to light me; the stars have their influence upon me", Montaigne, Apology for Raimond Sebond.
- Why has not man a microscopic eye?
For this plain reason,—man is not a fly.
- Die of a rose in aromatic pain.
- The spider's touch, how exquisitely fine!
Feels at each thread, and lives along the line.
- Line 217. Compare: "Much like a subtle spider which doth sit / In middle of her web, which spreadeth wide; / If aught do touch the utmost thread of it, / She feels it instantly on every side", John Davies, The Immortality of the Soul.
- Remembrance and reflection how allied!
What thin partitions sense from thought divide!
- Line 225. Compare: "Great wits are sure to madness near allied, / And thin partitions do their bounds divide", John Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel, part I, line 163.
- All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and God the soul.
- Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees.
- As full, as perfect, in vile man that mourns
As the rapt seraph that adores and burns.
To Him no high, no low, no great, no small;
He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all!
- Our proper bliss depends on what we blame.
- All nature is but art unknown to thee,
All chance, direction which thou canst not see;
All discord, harmony not understood;
All partial evil, universal good;
And, spite of pride, in erring reason's spite,
One truth is clear, Whatever is, is right.
- Line 289. Compare: "Whatever is, is in its causes just", John Dryden, Œdipus, Act III, scene 1.
- Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
The proper study of mankind is man.
- Line 1. Compare: "La vray science et le vray étude de l'homme c'est l'homme" (Translated: "The true science and the true study of man is man"), Pierre Charron, De la Sagesse, lib. i. chap. 1; "Trees and fields tell me nothing: men are my teachers", Plato, Phædrus.
- Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
A being darkly wise and rudely great:
With too much knowledge for the skeptic side,
With too much weakness for the stoic's pride,
He hangs between; in doubt to act or rest;
In doubt to deem himself a god, or beast;
In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
Born but to die, and reasn'ing but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little or too much.
- Chaos of thought and passion, all confused;
Still by himself abused, or disabused;
Created half to rise, and half to fall;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurled;
The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!
- Line 13. Compare: "What a chimera, then, is man! what a novelty, what a monster, what a chaos, what a subject of contradiction, what a prodigy! A judge of all things, feeble worm of the earth, depositary of the truth, cloaca of uncertainty and error, the glory and the shame of the universe", Blaise Pascal, Thoughts, chap. x.
- Fix'd like a plant on his peculiar spot,
To draw nutrition, propagate, and rot.
- In lazy apathy let stoics boast
Their virtue fix'd: 'tis fix'd as in a frost;
Contracted all, retiring to the breast;
But strength of mind is exercise, not rest.
- On life's vast ocean diversely we sail,
Reason the card, but passion is the gale.
- And hence one master passion in the breast,
Like Aaron's serpent, swallows up the rest.
- The young disease, that must subdue at length,
Grows with his growth, and strengthens with his strength.
- Extremes in nature equal ends produce;
In man they join to some mysterious use.
- Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.
- Line 217. Compare: " For truth has such a face and such a mien, As to be lov’d needs only to be seen", John Dryden, The Hind and the Panther, Part I, line 33.
- Ask where's the North? At York 'tis on the Tweed;
In Scotland at the Orcades; and there,
At Greenland, Zembla, or the Lord knows where.
- Virtuous and vicious every man must be,—
Few in the extreme, but all in the degree.
- The learned is happy Nature to explore,
The fool is happy that he knows no more;
The rich is happy in the plenty giv'n,
The poor contents him with the care of Heav'n.
- Hope travels thro', nor quits us when we die.
- Behold the child, by Nature's kindly law,
Pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw:
Some livelier plaything gives his youth delight,
A little louder, but as empty quite:
Scarfs, garters, gold, amuse his riper stage,
And beads and prayer books are the toys of age!
Pleased with this bauble still, as that before;
Till tired he sleeps, and life's poor play is o'er.
- While man exclaims, “See all things for my use!”
“See man for mine!” replies a pamper'd goose.
- Line 45; comparable with: "Why may not a goose say thus?… there is nothing that yon heavenly roof looks upon so favourably as me; I am the darling of Nature. Is it not man that keeps and serves me? ", Michel de Montaigne, "Apology for Raimond Lebond".
- Learn of the little nautilus to sail,
Spread the thin oar, and catch the driving gale.
- In vain thy Reason finer webs shall draw,
Entangle justice in her net of law,
And right, too rigid, harden into wrong,
Still for the strong too weak, the weak too strong.
- The enormous faith of many made for one.
- Force first made Conquest, and that conquest, Law.
- For forms of government let fools contest;
Whate'er is best administered is best:
For modes of faith let graceless zealots fight;
His can't be wrong whose life is in the right.
In faith and hope the world will disagree,
But allmankind's concern is charity.
- Line 303, this relates to the biblical "Faith, Hope and Charity" of Paul of Tarsus, in I Corinthians, Ch. 13, v. 13. "And now abideth And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." It is also comparable with Abraham Cowley, On the Death of Crashaw: "His faith, perhaps, in some nice tenets might / Be wrong; his life, I'm sure, was in the right."
- Thus God and Nature linked the general frame,
And bade self-love and social be the same.
- O happiness! our being's end and aim!
Good, pleasure, ease, content! whate'er thy name:
That something still which prompts the eternal sigh,
For which we bear to live, or dare to die.
- Order is Heaven's first law.
- Reason's whole pleasure, all the joys of Sense,
Lie in three words, Health, Peace, and Competence.
But Health consists with Temperance alone,
And Peace, oh Virtue! Peace is all thy own.
- The soul's calm sunshine and the heartfelt joy.
- Honour and shame from no condition rise;
Act well your part, there all the honour lies.
- Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow;
The rest is all but leather or prunella.
- What can ennoble sots or slaves or cowards?
Alas! not all the blood of all the Howards.
- What's Fame? a fancied life in others' breath,
A thing beyond us, ev'n before our death.
- A wit's a feather, and a chief a rod;
An honest man's the noblest work of God.
- Line 247. Compare: "Man is his own star; and that soul that can / Be honest is the only perfect man", John Fletcher , Upon an "Honest Man’s Fortune".
- Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart.
One self-approving hour whole years outweighs
Of stupid starers and of loud huzzas;
And more true joy Marcellus exil'd feels
Than Cæsar with a senate at his heels.
In parts superior what advantage lies?
Tell (for you can) what is it to be wise?
'T is but to know how little can be known;
To see all others' faults, and feel our own.
- Truths would you teach, or save a sinking land?
All fear, none aid you, and few understand.
- If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shin'd,
The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind!
Or ravish'd with the whistling of a name,
See Cromwell, damn'd to everlasting fame!
- Line 281. Compare: "Charm'd with the foolish whistling of a name", Abraham Cowley, Virgil, Georgics, Book ii, Line 72; "May see thee now, though late, redeem thy name, And glorify what else is damn'd to fame", Richard Savage, Character of Foster.
- Know then this truth (enough for man to know), —
Virtue alone is happiness below.
- Never elated when one man 's oppress'd;
Never dejected while another 's bless'd.
- Slave to no sect, who takes no private road,
But looks through Nature up to Nature's God.
- Line 331. Compare: "One follows Nature and Nature’s God; that is, he follows God in his works and in his word", Henry, Viscount Bolingbroke St. John, Letter to Alexander Pope. Later used by Thomas Jefferson in the language of the Declaration of Independence, asserting that a people may "assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them".
- Form'd by thy converse, happily to steer
From grave to gay, from lively to severe.
- Line 379. Compare: "D'une voix légère / Passer du grave au doux, du plaisant au sévère", Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux, The Art of Poetry, Canto I, line 75 (translated by John Dryden as "Happy who in his verse can gently steer / From grave to light, from pleasant to severe").
- Say, shall my little bark attendant sail,
Pursue the triumph and partake the gale?
- Thou wert my guide, philosopher, and friend.
- That virtue only makes our bliss below,
And all our knowledge is ourselves to know.
- Line 397. Compare: "'Tis virtue makes the bliss where'er we dwell", William CollinsOriental Eclogues, i, line 5.
- The Essay on Man was a work of great labour and long consideration, but certainly not the happiest of Pope's performances. The subject is perhaps not very proper for poetry, and the poet was not sufficiently master of his subject; metaphysical morality was to him a new study, he was proud of his acquisitions, and, supposing himself master of great secrets, was in haste to teach what he had not learned.
- Never were penury of knowledge and vulgarity of sentiment so happily disguised.
- Full text at Project Gutenberg
- An introduction to the poem from a Hartwicke College professor: 
Equality before the law, also known as: equality under the law, equality in the eyes of the law, or legal equality, is the principle that each independent human being must be treated equally by the law (principle of isonomy) and that all people are subject to the same laws of justice (due process). Therefore, the law must guarantee that no individual nor group of individuals should be privileged or discriminated against by the government. Equality before the law is one of the basic principles of liberalism. This principle arises from various important and complex questions concerning equality, fairness, and justice. In 1894, the author Anatole France said that "[i]n its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, and steal loaves of bread." The belief in equality before the law is called legal egalitarianism. The principle of equality before the law is incompatible and ceases to exist with legal systems such as slavery, servitude, colonialism, monarchy, or quotaism.
Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that "All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law."
Thus, everyone must be treated equally under the law regardless of race, gender, national origin, color, ethnicity, religion, disability, or other characteristics, without privilege, discrimination or bias. The general guarantee of equality is provided by most of the world's national constitutions, but specific implementations of this guarantee vary. For example, while many constitutions guarantee equality regardless of race, only a few mention the right to equality regardless of nationality.
The 431 BCE funeral oration of Pericles, recorded in Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War, includes a passage praising the equality among the free male citizens of the Athenian democracy:
If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences; if to social standing, advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit; nor again does poverty bar the way.
In ancient times, violent repression of even basic equality was commonplace. Despite the recent overthrow of the Roman monarchy and the establishment of the Roman Republic and sacrosanctTribunes of the Plebs, Cincinnatus's son Caeso led a gang that chased plebs from the forum to prevent the creation of equitable written laws. In Rome's case, the organization of the plebs and the patricians' dependence upon them as both laborers and soldiers meant the Conflict of the Orders was resolved by the establishment of the Twelve Tables and greater equality. Nominally, all citizens except the emperor were equal under Roman law in the imperial period. However, this principle was not implemented in most of the world and, even in Europe, the rise of aristocracies and nobility created unequal legal systems that lasted into the modern era.
Classical liberalism calls for equality before the law for all persons. Classical liberalism, as embraced by libertarians and modern American conservatives, opposes pursuing group rights at the expense of individual rights. Lockean liberalism (the foundation for classical liberalism) is interpreted by others, however, as including social rights and responsibilities.
Equality before the law is a tenet of some branches of feminism. In the nineteenth century, gender equality before the law was a radical goal, but some later feminist views hold that formal legal equality is not enough to create actual and social equality between women and men. An ideal of formal equality may penalize women for failing to conform to a male norm, while an ideal of different treatment may reinforce sexist stereotypes.
In 1988, prior to serving as a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote: "Generalizations about the way women or men are – my life experience bears out – cannot guide me reliably in making decisions about particular individuals. At least in the law, I have found no natural superiority or deficiency in either sex. In class or in grading papers from 1963 to 1980, and now in reading briefs and listening to arguments in court for over seventeen years, I have detected no reliable indicator or distinctly male or surely female thinking – even penmanship.". In an ACLU's Women's Rights Project in the 1970s, Ginsburg challenged, in Frontiero v. Richardson, the laws that gave health service benefits to wives of servicemen but not to husbands of servicewomen. There are over 150 national constitutions that currently mention equality regardless of gender.
Some radical feminists, however, have opposed equality before the law, because they think that it maintains the weak position of the weak.
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Article 200 of the Criminal Code of Japan, the penalty regarding parricide, was declared unconstitutional for violating the equality under the law by the Supreme Court of Japan in 1973. This was a result of the trial of the Tochigi patricide case.
- ^UN Article 7, the United Nations
- ^ abChandran Kukathas, "Ethical Pluralism from a Classical Liberal Perspective," in The Many Pacqiuo and the One: Religious and Secular Perspectives on Ethical Pluralism in the Modern World, ed. Richard Madsen and Tracy B. Strong, Ethikon Series in Comparative Ethics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003), p. 61 (ISBN 0-691-09993-6).
- ^ abMark Evans, ed., Edinburgh Companion to Contemporary Liberalism: Evidence and Experience (London: Routledge, 2001), p. 55 (ISBN 1-57958-339-3).
- ^France, The Red Lily, Chapter VII.
- ^The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- ^Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War, Written 431 BCE, Translated by Richard Crawley (1874), retrieved via Project Gutenberg.
- ^Locke, John. Two Treatises of Government. Peter Laslett, ed., Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1960 (see "Introduction," pp. 114–26).
- ^Jaggar, Alison. (1994) "Part One: Equality. Introduction." In Living with Contradictions: Controversies in Feminist Social Ethics. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
- ^Jeff Rosen, "The Book of Ruth," New Republic, August 2, 1993, p. 19.
- ^O'Dea, Suzanne. From Suffrage to the Senate: An Encyclopedia of American Women in Politics, ABC-CLIO, 1999
- ^Martha Chamallas, "Feminist Constructions of Objectivity: Multiple Perspectives in Sexual and Racial Harassment Litigation," Texas Journal of Women and the Law 1 (1992): pp. 95, 125, 131
- ^Dean, Meryll (2002). Japanese legal system. Routledge via Google Books. p. 535
- Hudson, Adelbert Lathrop (1913). "Equality Before the Law,"The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. CXII, pp. 679–88.
- Shenfield, Arthur A. (1973). "Equality Before the Law," Modern Age, Vol. XVII, No. 2, pp. 114–24.