Epistle 3.5 – Essay on Man

by ALEXANDER POPE (1688-1744)

Origin of Political Societies.

Great Nature spoke; observant men obeyed;
Cities were built, societies were made:
Here rose one little state: another near
Grew by like means, and joined, through love or fear.
Did here the trees with ruddier burdens bend,
And there the streams in purer rills descend?
What war could ravish, commerce could bestow,

And he returned a friend, who came a foe.
Converse and love mankind might strongly draw,
When love was liberty, and Nature law.
Thus States were formed; the name of king unknown,
‘Till common interest placed the sway in one.
‘Twas virtue only (or in arts or arms,
Diffusing blessings, or averting harms)
The same which in a sire the sons obeyed,
A prince the father of a people made.

Essay on Man: Index to first lines

Reading by Martin Geeson for Librivox.org. Download entire audiobook here.

Alexander Pope

England’s monarchy changed a lot during the lifetime of Alexander Pope. James II had been the King of England for 3 years when Pope was born, but he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution that very same year. William II was crowned in 1689 and ruled jointly with his wife Mary II. He died in 1702 and was succeeded by Queen Anne who reigned for 12 years. George I was next, ruling until 1727. His son, George II succeeded him and was still King when Pope died in 1744.
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