An Essay on Man "Whatever Is, Is Right"

Alexander Pope

"Whatever Is, Is Right"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In An Essay on Man Pope argues that mankind cannot possibly know and judge the Creator and his handiwork, inasmuch as man can know only his own place in the great chain of being. Pope argues in the first epistle that man should not become embittered about his place nor complain because human beings are imperfect. As Pope puts it, ". . . say not man's imperfect, Heav'n in fault;/ Say rather, man's as perfect as he ought." Along with this statement, Pope admonishes man not to have so much conceit as to believe himself the final cause of creation. Summing up, in the last verse paragraph of the first epistle, Pope writes:

Cease then, nor Order imperfection name:
Our proper bliss depends on what we blame.
Know thy own point: this kind, this due degree
Of blindness, weakness, Heav'n bestows on thee.
Submit.–In this, or any other sphere,
Secure to be as blest as thou canst bear:
Safe in the hand of one disposing Pow'r,
Or in the natal, or the mortal hour.
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.