Group Title: Christian vision of Pope's Eloisa to Abelard
Title: The Christian vision of Pope's Eloisa to Abelard
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Title: The Christian vision of Pope's Eloisa to Abelard
Physical Description: ix, 199 leaves. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Kalmey, Robert Pohl, 1936-
Publication Date: 1970
Copyright Date: 1970
Subject: English thesis Ph. D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- English -- UF   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis - University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 193-199.
Additional Physical Form: Also available on World Wide Web
General Note: Manuscript copy.
General Note: Vita.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00097723
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 001038417
oclc - 18300594
notis - AFC0898


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VISION b 4 POPE'S 4i to J t



For Pat:
Ls which earth cannot afford.


I h-ve been sustained throughout this study by
several kind benefactors and perceptive critics. Mr. C.
A. Rc..ertson and Mr. Francis C. Haber encouraged my

L.y graduate work at the University of Florida in a
variety of humane ways. An early draft of Chapter I
received the benefit of close scrutiny from Mr. Robert
A. Bryan, who also provided much-appreciated encouraqe-
-ent. Mr. Clifford Earl Ramsey, III, and Mr. Jqcp David
Walker, fellow graduate students at Rice University and
the University of Florida, contributed in numerous and
comprehensive ways to my understanding of Pope. I-4 i*
in specific matters, I wish to thank Mr. John A. Djg
a former colleague at the U.0 ve sity of Illinois; aad
, Sylvia Eckenrode, Miss Sus i Kunkle, and il 1
T. LLnsfo d, Jr., former students of mine at Shi p nsb
ate College. Mr. John B. Pickard and rt. E. A.
;=c the study and offered helpful uggae4ions
movementement of it.

I especially Am grateful to Mr. Ado
wt as director and benefactor in g
providedd me with n&AQa and

L encouraged me constant

,Itech _u bhi



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. ... . . . . . .... i

ABBREVIATIONS . . . . . . . . . . .







Pope's Eloisa to Abelard and "Those

Celebrated Letters": . . .

"Rebel Nature" and'Grace Serene" .

Literary Contexts: Ancient and

Modern . . . . . .

The Sacramental Analogy in oi

Abelard . . . .

. . . . . . .


PQ: Philological Quarterly

Twick. Ed.: Vol. II of the Twickenham Edition of the Poems
of Alexander Pope, Geoffrey Tillotson, ed.,
The Rape of the Lock and Other Poems, 3rd ed.
(London, 196-2).

Watson ed.:

John Dryden. Of Dramatic Poesy and Other
Critical Essays, ed. George Watson, 2 vols.
(London, 1962).

Wellington ed.: Alexander Pope: Eloisa to Abelard, ed.
James E. Wellington (Miam, Fla. 1965).

I s

In Chapter III, Eloisa to Abelard is shown to utilize

the heroic epistle of Ovid in not only formal ways, but j

thematic and structural ways as well, especially in regard

to the dramatization of the human psyche under the twin

disciplines of law and adversity. Also, thematic and

structural relationships are found between Eloisa to

Abelard and Drayton's Englands Heroicall Epistles (1597-

99), which serve as a bridge between the rigors of law and

adversity on one hand, and the healing power of grace on

the other. Eloisa to Abelard also appears to contain seve

possible echoes to significant thematic and stru a

details in some poems by Richard Crashaw.

Chapter IV completes the study by showing the

confessional and liturgical structure of the poem w

supports its Christian vision of human nature str

to justify itself before a just but merciful




viow of the customary austerity of Samuel Johnson's

juAlpent, his praise of Pope's Eloisa to Abelard

memorable: "The Epistle of Eloisa to Abelard is

e mnt hajoy productions of human wit." Johnson

sses the history of Abelard and Heloise, and

h an appraisal of Pope's poetical genius:

ject is so judiciously chosen, that
difficult, in turning over the annals
to find another which so many circum-
r to recommend. We regularly interest
st in the fortune of those who most
notice. Abelard and Eloisa were
their days for eminence of merit.
ally loves truth. The adventures
of this illustrious pair are
disputed history. Their fate does
mind in hopeless dejection, for they
e and consolation in retirement and
d so affecting is their story,
invention and imagination ranges
hout struggling into sciences

thus skilfully adopted, has been
Poo has left nothing behind
the effect of studious perse-
evisal. Here is particularly
elicitas, a fruitful soil
e i no crudeness of


Johnson's image from gardening suggests an intimate relation-

ship between nature and art, and more particularly the

integral unity of Pope's subject matter and his art. If the

story of Abelard and Heloise offers "a fruitful soil," it

deserved the "careful cultivation" of Pope's art.

Eloisa to Abelard remains to this day sufficiently

esteemed to appear in anthologies of literature, yet some

modern critics have not admitted a central fact of Pope's

poetical achievement--that unity of subject matter and art

implied by Johnson in his image from gardening2 Professor

Reuben Brower, for example, sees Eloisa to Abelard as

essentially a tour de force: "the essential poetic design

of the poem is Ovidian," and Pope has attempted, but only

"very nearly succeeded in doing the impossible, in natural-

izing an alien literary tradition and form,"3 To Professor

Brower, Eloisa to Abelard is thus merely an English rendition

of hybrid foreign materials, a French story cast in the mold

of the Latin heroic epistle of Ovid, The heroic epistle,

however, had been successfully written in English by Michael

Drayton in his Englands Heroicall Epistles (1597-99) more

than a century before Pope, and Drayton's work had remained

popular throughout his lifetime and the seventeenth century.

If an "alien" tradition had to be "naturalized" at all, it

would seem that Drayton's poems had already completed the

process. In the present chapter, we will seek to elucidate
the basic Christian fabric of the poem in an effort to

discover some of the ways by which a "careful cultivation"

t Fte out of a collection of old letters, a new

If? its ~wn si.gificant meaning.


tpf 4fe most influential modern scholars of
ral thought, Etienne Gilson, has praised Pope's Eloisa

ar a*s during the essential spirit of the twelfth

of Abelard and Heloise: "I would not take an

Gilson declares. "that Pnpe is always

St.e thogt of Helise. But I kn*w at least

i-s lines which Heldise herself w-uld have been sorry

written, so well do they express iiat the Abbess

te suggests In each page, without daring to

d that b-east erattur'd let me lie.
.k delicifiU poinin rrom thy eye,
thy lip, and to thy heart be prest;
t~eu caa t--and let me dFl-am the rest.

al we wAs thinking azs She wrate

tOe Ccrespern4ene. t.erA it is useless

express her experie9 e. The last
eShs. s "5 Pe gr Gil1M thus

Pa!gerva in of Ike p~nwnate

i struggle. The d0Crce ence

peceives betweenn the

s p.~m Magger, in turn,

the pIo- ible exisr.ence of an important contextual and

t'hemt;_ti-. cct.inu.ity between them.

T.: "Fe Ar.g ment" prefixed to Elcisa to Abelard, Pope

,--ttes that lis poem is "partly extracted" from "thcse

(:elebrated letters" of Abelard and Heloise, and the profusion

of parallels between Eloisa to Abelard and John Hughes' 1713 of the Letters of Abelard and Heloise (the first

in English) indicates Pope's immediate source. Many of

these parallels, but by no means all, are cited in the

intrcducti n and notes to the Twickenham Edition of Eloisa to

Abelard. In addition, Professor Geoffrey Tillotson and other

scholars have reviewed at some length the complicated history

of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century transla-
tions of the Abelard and Heloise letters. They seek to

establish that the difference between the twelfth century

letters and the later translations arises from the infusion

cf the p.'pular seventeenth century rhetoric of romance into

the twelfth century letters.9 Certainly we can agree that

obvious differences separate the seventeenth and eighteenth

century tran.lati.__s from the medieval letters: Hughes

himself knew that his translation had cast off the bulk of

what he calls "School Divinity, and . the Learning of

those Lmedieval Times."lO Without exception, however,

m:-er:- studies of Pope's poem have ignored the persistence of

an: enli.:iring Christian context and theme in the medieval

letters, in the seventeenth and eighteenth century French

ani KEglish translations, and in Pope's Eloisa to Abelard,

OW A .smmary of the history of the letters from the medieval

tAlrinals to the form in which they reached Pope will not

ly sugge the alterations they suffered, but alsc may
aiitm sic contextual and thematic continuity of the

-. H Heloise s~try.

aris, in 1616, Franceis D'Amboise published the

tin of the medieval Latin letters as part of a

of Abelard's works.,1 The high regard of

or the letters anticipates the esteem felt for

Pter times especially for their warm and passionate

ns of ardent mutual love. But the confessions of

t nly a small portion of the letters, and even

r within a larger Christian context of sin,

4We for redemption. Heloise and Abelard have

y lvin- each other without regard for the

s of the Church to which they previously

Each has sinned by turning away from

ne of His creatures, and they come to see

ting them irrevocably from each other

heir sin. The purpose of their punishment

r -ditW-t their now fruitless manifesta-

de God, its source and end4

in the Lg reveals her attempt to see

se@* of a renewed love for God.

34 explains, "is to find in

es the 4Wrength required fjr a

s" 'th Araniagless and irmwPsible

save on the level of the love of God.-L- Heloise, and

Abelard too, are sustained in this struggle by the faith that

whats seems an impossible task for mere human will can be

effected with the assistance of God's grace. Suffering

attains meaning for Heloise and Abelard from their conviction

that God benignly directs all human events toward human

redemption and salvation.13

Later in the seventeenth century, Roger de Rabutin,

Comte de Bussy (1618-93), translated into French three

letters of the original eight--two letters by Heloise (Letters

II and IV) and one by Abelard (Letter III).14 Bussy chose

the most passionate letters and added freely to the Latin

original, but his translation nevertheless preserved the

main Christian context and theme of the Latin letters. And

while Bussy, who wrote The Amorous History of the Gauls (1666),

certainly emphasized the frankly sensuous and passionate

character of the letters, it surely is a distortion to see in

Bussy's Heloise, as Professor Tillotson has done, "the dynamo

of what amounts to a romanticc' novel.'15 By heightening

the passion of Heloise for Abelard, Bussy actually raises

into sharper relief Helcise's struggle between the love of

creature and the love of Creator7which we have seen to be a

central conflict in the Latin letters.

As an epistolary model for a passionate nun deserted

by her lover, Bussy had the letters of Marianna Alcofcrado,

published at Paris in 1669 as Lettres portugaises.16 Although
these letters from a Portuguese nun do little to suggest a


y in the human soul, they provided Bussy with an

jular and analogous subject written in contemporary

French translations based on Bussy's appeared in

eenth century,17 and Pierre Bayle included

the Heloise and Abelard story in his Critical

ictienar (1697: English trans., 1710).18

is used Bussy's MS translation, Bayle's

.d an anonymous 1693 French translation

t The Hague) to fashion a collection of the

_ich included two entirely fabricated letters and a

f Abelard's Historia calamitatum.19 It was the

f Du Bois' collection (1711) that John Hughes

to English.

letters of Heloise and Abelard had suffered

ion, but also truncation and accreticn,

into the hands of John Hughes. Yet in spite

alterations, the traditional Christian

4f sin, suffering, and redemption survived.

eme in Du Bois' edition, and he preserved

n of the letters into English. The

n 4~'s Eloisa to Abelard and

affirm more than mere

ay affirm al m"e continuity

t atic fabric of the

p i Poie s
er as its source,


is distinguished, we shall see, by its emphatic concern with

huma-_ frailty and suffering and with the problem of salva-

tio. If ini c.e sense Pope's poem has lost the specific

medieval tone of the Latin letters, in another deeper sense

it has retained what is essential to them: the Christian view

of man humbled by his own weakness before a just but merciful



The Christian view of man in Eloisa to Abelard appears

in sharp outline when we consider some of the more important

ways in which Pope used Hughes' translation of the Letter;.

In Hughes' translation of the Letters, Heloise appears in

her convent fully aware of her guilt and sin in a Icve which

hab nj room for God: "I am here, I confess, a Sinner, but one

wh< far from weeping for her Sins, weeps only for her Lover;

far from athcrring her Crimes, endeavors only to add to them"

(p. 123). Heloise confesses herself a sinner, but admits

the imperfection of her act of contrition. She admits that

she does n-t have "the sincere Desire of being truly penitent.

Thus I strive and labour in vain" (p. 123). Without the

perfection of the indispensable act of contrition, which

depends upon the firm intention of the will to return to

Gcd, Heloise remains immersed, unrepentant and unforgiven,

in her crimes. She recognizes the weakness of her own will:

"I am conquered by my Inclination, My Love troubles my Mind,

my Will" (p. 124). The specific disorder of
Helois-pfefeses is the exclusion of God from

tAr; AiJl these who are .edded to God I serve a
he ... e ick SupW-ters of the Cross I am a poor
asDen; at the head of a Religiusb
1 vate toEala-r only" (r. 123). Pope's
S 'M, wlaeog s the impetence of a will that
Sheer '-o OG as long as she remains an absolute
' (1) t4 Abelars d the outlines of Eloisa's
r sharply drawn in the balanced antithesis of

H eliet-'d the spouse of God in vain,
s 'tHthin the slave of love and man.
Poves Eloisa recognizes her "crime"
*uilt" (230), her "stain" (266), and

L0ise understands clearly that for their
e, she en4 A1elard new suffer punish.-
"t tbe *qole Wr%*h of Heaven fell on
) receives s her ewn
iate t- the nature of
A $ ursathm ahica before had given
m hse iseey and pain:

NO, you, &at News e
Vith bh, #ife me as much

C 5 ). Heloise
1 s* tow, ani


she knows too that she could have avoided her punishment by

abstaining from her sin: "I ought to have foreseen other more

certain Evils; and to have considered that the Idea of lost

Enjoyments would be the Trouble of my whole Life" (p. 173).

The "Idea of lost Enjoyments" recurs frequently in

Pope's Eloisa to Abelard. For instance, the sudden loss of

the enjoyment of love is woven into the very structure of

line 37, where misery follows happiness by only the short

breathless pause of a caesura: "Now warm in love, now with'-

ring in thy bloom." The first word of the following line

seems to punctuate the loss of happiness with an abrupt

finality: "Lost in a convent's solitary gloom!"21 Eloisa

then recalls the happiness she enjoyed in her passion for

Abelard (55-96), but also immediately remembers the subse-

quent brutal revenge taken on Abelard:

This sure is bliss (if bliss on earth there be)
And once the lot of Abelard and me.
Alas how changed! what sudden horrors rise
A naked Lover bound and bleeding lies!

Throughout much of the poem, in Eloisa's reminiscences and

dreams, the "Idea of lost Enjoyments" haunts and tortures her.

Her torture is all the more intense for she has lost, in

addition to Abelard, her God.

The memory of all that has been lost through her sin

moves Eloisa to an intense awareness of her misery. Her

tears, which Professors Audra and Tillotson somewhat jocularly

see as a "deluge" imitating lachrymose epics and romances,22

are moved by her recognition that her sin-damaged world

is indeed a vale of tears.
S In the final sentence of Hughes' translation, Abelard
*s HeiAse to shed tears which will help prepare her
ual ialvatien--tears of contrition: "may you shed as

rs fbr ya Salvation, as you have done during the
-r Misfortunes" (pB 218)4 But Hughes' Heloise,
mi Cgistians, remains uncertain whether her tears
m I for her salvation. In her final letter to
she compares his relatively peaceful seclusion with

You ar-d ill ha pily finish your Course,
bh'itions will be no Obstacle to
SMalo-se only must lament, she only
t going certain whether all her
s l afIilable or not to her Salvation.
(P. 199)
haunted by memories of the image of Abelard as
feI the stubborn strength of her love for the
er tears useless for her salvation:
s its 'ier heart'i .tubbbcm pulse restrain
or ages, tatht to flow in vain.
we"'L *i.e s whether her t-ears of anguish
f no in some e ,y withhold her from
t the loss of God and, therefore, from final
and Rpe, Elosa recognizes that as
for A*elard diminishess her love
s ina N0a her own salvation.
,,, h~ap Edition show,
sq M Hi~hes' transla-
t1 te Ekoia 's


expresi' f. her grief and suffering. Pope seems particular-

ly to rrsY'W frrnm Hughes' Abelard in order to emphasize and

-,.rpe:.' .'e r'm.-i:.c: a-Jnflict in which Eloisa finds herself

engaged. F r ir.stance, when Hughes' Abelard replies to

He'-ise's first letter, he recalls the solemn ceremony that

marked her entrance into the convent: "I saw your Eyes, when

you sp',ke y'ur last farewell, fix'd upon the Cross" (p. 154).

P!pe not ?: I gives Abelard's observation to Eloisa, but

al.-., in a radical contradiction of Hughes' translation, he

alters the situation significantly. Eloisa fixes her gaze

Lnut upor.D the Cross to which her sacred vows commit her, but

up:'n Abelard:

Yet then, to those dread altars as I drew,
Not on the Cross my eyes were fix'd, but you.

,Pope deepens the dramatic conflict within Eloisa's soul by

sL.wi..g that her love for Abelard literally diverts her from

her devotion to God.

Pope uses other passages in the same letter from

Abelard to dramatize within Eloisa the conflict between the

love ,f Abelard and the love of God. Lines 189-98 in Eloisa

to A.bLel.rd are structured on a series of thoughts taken from

Hughes' Abelard. "To forget," according to Abelard, "in the

Case of Love, is the most necessary Penitence, and the most

difficult" (p. 147). To Pope's Eloisa, the difficulty of

f,,,rgetting teccmes a part of her suffering:

Of all affliction taught a lover yet,
'Tis sure the hardest science to forget'

'd aais, "1My can I separate fro* the Person I
gl mon I awwb_teest?" (p. 141)k Pope, in a
c 64 et, adapts Abelard's dilemma to Eloisats own
in ii to distinguish her crime from the source

SP~Ssure, or the "sin"--"offence" from the

K.TfendAr ":
l11 I lese the sin, yet keep the sense,
thl offender, yet detest th' offence?
S contiues te #editat-e uon the difficulty of
i off Mieise fr-m the passion he con-

can I 0 ba1 to have @f my
b pe s aralale

OEf t 496eh has

M 0OMal cr'i er sin,
w ragl rs in the anti-

s C4e16041

C00tncMe fI~

s tj self-cG&ntradictions that
( gheaff-46s abat He~oise had

Heloi-s w* Palised

|I .Id as aine

~Iin. ~Love
1 it fy"

the same fluctuation of love and hatred: "my Heart is at

once pierced with your Sorrows and its own . in such

different Disquietudes I betray and contradict my self. I

hate you; I love you'; Shame presses me on all sides" (pp. 142,

135). From the preceding exchange in Hughes, Pope draws

signal words and phrases to frame Eloisa's conflict of


Unequal task! a passion to resign,
For hearts so touched, so pierced, so lost as mine.
Ere such a soul regains its peaceful state,
How often must it love, how often hate!
Pope's Eloisa then contrasts the pain of suffering

that springs from her love for Abelard to the bliss offered

to her by the love of God:

But let heaven seize it, all at once 'tis fir'd,
Not touched, but rapt; not waken'd, but inspired!
Oh come! oh teach me nature to subdue,
Renounce my love, my life, my self--and you.
Fill my fond heart with God alone, for he
Alone can rival, can succeed to thee.
Pope draws most of his inspiration from Hughes' Heloise to

describe the effect of the love of God on the tortured soul.

However, he does respond, it would seem, to the amplification

of certain phrases that appear in the letters of both Heloise

and Abelard. In her first letter, Hughes' Heloise implores

Abelard for help in overcoming her suffering: "Oh, for

Pity's sake, help a Wretch to renounce her Desires, her

self, and if it be possible even to renounce You!" (p. 125).

Later in the same letter she declares to Abelard that God

exercises a singular power over him: "God has a peculiar

know that 'tis for the Glory of God, to find no other

Foundation in Man for his Mercy, than Man's very weakness?"

(p. 153). If man's very weakness becomes the occasion for

God's revelation of His mercy to man, Abelard implies that

even man's weakness has a purpose in the divinely created

world. Heloise had said as much in her first and most

famous letter to Abelard:

I am ready to humble myself with you to the
wonderful Providence of God, who does all Things
for our Sanctification, who by his Grace purifies
all that is vicious and corrupt in the Principle,
and by the inconceivable Riches of his Mercy draws
us to himself against our Wishes, and by degrees
opens our Eyes to discern the Greatness of his 23
Bounty, which at first we would not understand.
(P. 125)
Hughes' Heloise discovers here how God, by an act of grace,

empowers man's will and "draws us to himself against our

Wishes." When she cries out for help, however, she is not

certain whether her prayer is inspired by God's grace or

goaded by despair: "What a Prodigy am I? Enlighten me, 0

Lord! Does thy Grace or my own Despair draw these words

from Me?" (p. 123). Pope's Eloisa echoes this doubt by

questioning the source of her own prayer:

Assist me heav'n! but whence arose that pray'r?
Sprung it from piety, or from despair?
Eloisa's question about the source of her prayer must be

answered within the context of the traditional Christian

understanding of prayer. The ability to pray to God comes as

a grace from God to man. Prayer is an act of human will, and

thus the power of the will to seek God by prayer comes to man

s agCace froftld.2 In contrast to prayer, the state of

La n Christian psychology marks the worst possible

strangement from GCd--the utter loss of hope in the efficacy

S mercy. Despair itself becomes a state of sin, for

of hope man suffers the loss of his power to

forgiven.25 The state of despair defines,

S .a locus, or mental place, of hell and its

res-. In The Faerie Queene, the Redcross Knight feels

rtures of hell as Despair, "that cursed man," seeks to

Sim to commit suicide:

the Miscreaunt
eivd 4 to waver, weake and fraile,
tr ling horror did his conscience daunt,
ish anguish did his soule assaile;
im to despair, and quite to quaile,
him, painted in a table plain,
ts that doe in torments waile,
feends that dee them endless paine
d brimstone, which for ever shall remain.
(F.Q. I.ix.49)

Satan, "rackt with deep despair" (I.126,

lei which way shall I fly
rath, and infinite despair?
I fly is Hell; myself am Hell.
(IV. 73-5)

and his despair, Adam and Eve receive

," the grace which anticipates and empowers

n lowliest *light repentant stood
th4, M rcy-seat above
ng h@1 removed
s, aa~ a@de new flesh
ht sj.s now breath'd
rit oi Trayer

Inspired, and wing'd for Heav'n with speedier flight
Than loudest Oratory . .
(XI. 1-8)
Eloisa, like Adam and Eve, prays for God's assistance to help

her ccmbat her frailties. Her prayer comes from her recogni-

tion of her own weakness--a state of self-knowledge which in

Christian psychology marks the opening of the way to God.

Eloisa's prayer, then, most certainly does not spring from

despair, and if it does not spring from her own "piety," it

shows nevertheless her will to communicate with God.

In Hughes' translation of the Letters, Abelard agrees

with Heloise that, given the fact of human weakness, men must

seek assistance from God: "We shall more certainly compass

our End Fof conquering temptations] by imploring God's

Assistance, than by using any Means drawn from our selves"

(p. 208). Earlier, Abelard had declared the necessity of

divine assistance to free the lovers from the bondage of

their sin: "We must have the Assistance of God, that we may

break our Chains; we have engaged too deeply in Love, to

free our selves" (p. 154). With the assurance that the

assistance of divine grace renders the human will efficacious

where it once was weak, Abelard exhorts Heloise to resolve

to correct the mistakes of their past relationship: "Let us

repair, as far as is possible, the Evils we have done .. .

(p. 155).

We have seen earlier in this essay how Pope adapted to

his epistle passages on suffering from the letters of Hughes'

Abelard. Now we should notice how Pope again borrows from


es' Ab@Lard an intensely dramatic scene in which he

s FFeisa's will to "repair, as far as is possible, the

s he hs dcne."

elar4's first letter te Heloise, he describes his

ill, as a sinner before God, and confesses his

.e weakness before the temptation of his love for

I 9 miserable Sinner, prostrate before my

and ith my Face pressed to the Earth, I mix my Tears

Si a the Dust, when the Beams of Grace and Reason

h~ -a Come, see me in this Posture, and solicite

rou [.1 26 Come, if you think fit, and in your

st yourself between God and me, and be a Wall

e, and force frcm me those Sighs, Thoughts

I owe to him only, Assist the Evil Spirits,

nt of their Malice" (p. 144). Shortly

Heloise, Abelard reverses himself and

atwn that would separate him from his God:

ar f vr u, and obey the Apostle who hath

's situation in Hughes' translation

g _g to a hint in the first letter of

s before the Altar I carry with

es. They are my whele Business,

g been seduced, I sigh for

a the hint from

frsa a"-d. In the

e1re the

m a .

altar interrupt her prayers at Matins and her devotions

during the celebration of the Mass. Her visions of Abelard

disrupt the formal order cf the rituals of devotion to God,

and in this way become what Hughes' Abelard called "a Wall

of Separation"':

What scenes appear where-e'er I turn my view!
The dear Ideas, where I fly, pursue,
Rise in the grove, before the altar rise,
Stain all my soul, and wanton in my eyes!
I waste the Matin lamp in sighs for thee,
Thy image steals between my God and me,
Thy voice I seem in ev'ry hymn to hear,
With ev'ry bead I drop too soft a tear.

Eloisa's vision of Abelard's "image" (268), in effect, blots

out the image of her suffering God on the Crucifix. The

image of Abelard becomes "a Wall of Separation" between

Eloisa and the Image of God.

Pope's Eloisa, like Hughes' Abelard, perceives the

light of divine grace within her soul when, aware of her

sinful submission to temptation during her devotions, she

humbles herself in the dust (279). Pope omits Abelard's

conjunction of "Grace and Reason" in favcr of "dawning

grace" omission that avoids the blurring of distinctions

caused by Hughes' conjunction, and focuses sharply the

Christian perspective in which Eloisa to Abelard must be seen

and understood. But at the same time that Eloisa perceives

the light of grace in her humility, she also summons the

tempting vision of Abelard to "oppose thy self to heaven":

While prostrate here in humble grief I lie,
Kind, virtuous drops just gathering in my eye,
While praying, trembling, in the dust I roll,

And dawning grace is opening on my soul:
Come, if thIu dar'st, all charming as thou art'
OyMse thy self to heaven; dispute my heart'
Cm withh one glance cf those deluding eyes,
cus each 'bright Idea of the skies,
back that grace, those sorrows, and those tears,
back my fruitless penitence and pray'rs,
ch me, just mounting, from the blest abode,
ist the Fiends and tear me from my God!

Hughes' Abelard fairly closely in this passage,

-aint excepticr. Hughes' Abelard calls Heloise /

-in 146r "Holy Habit" (p. 144, quoted above), but

d. c n Ms ne *art of Eloisa's analogous vision. Only

E hm rejected the temptation of Abelard's opposi-

S fly me, fly me! far as Pole from Pole" 289

Shim t herself in his appropriate "Holy Habit"
he~ ~an future death, Eleisa sees Abelard in

gle of a priest administering the last rites and

gI. As a priest, Abelard is the agent of God,

r of G4Ws grace to man. But even within

APa as a priest, Elisa must suppress the

on cf Abelard as a lover who sucks the last

1 "Aath":

the l2st sad office pay,
_y m to the realms of the day:
Str s d my eye-balls roll,
t b tth and catch my flying soul!
v stments may'st thou stand,
_embling in thy hand,
ore my lifted eye,
a o, and learn of me to die.

s "" ely Habit,," his "sacred

the Image of God from

e" her God herself.

Instead, Abelard now holds the Cross before Eloisa and

functions as the means by which she fixes her attention

primarily upon the Cr:ss and the love of God that it signi-


This dramatic scene, which Pope creates from a mere

hint in Hughes' translation of the Letters, shows quite

liter-illy in its physical configur-tiLin that Eloisa no longer

diverts her eye from the Crcss to Abelard, but keeps the

Cross foremost in her devotin. Behind and beneath the

Crc.s, Abelard the man as pries:., the agent of God, supports

the new order of Elcisa's luve--a love that now embraces

first God, and then Abelard the sanctified man. In this new

hierarchical order of love, Elcisa properly adapts her love

for the creature to her devotion to the Creator. Elcisa's

vision of Abelard the priest and agent of God marks the

most vivid discovery in the poem of what in Hughes' transla-

tion of the Letters Helcise called "the wonderful Providence

of God, who does all Things for our SanAtification" (p. 125).

of Hughes''1713 translation of the Letters has been
reprinted in the Wellington ed., pp. 63 ff. Regrettably,
Professor Wellington has chosen to omit all Abelard's
letters from his reprinting of Hughes' 'translation. This
omissiGn (cf. Wellington ed., textual note, p. 63) severely
limits the utility of his edition and reprinting, for ia it
will be noted, Pope makes extensive and crucial use of
Abelard's letters in his poem. All six letters, as trans-
lated by Hughes, are readily available in The Temple Classic
Edition, The Love Letters of Abelard and Heloise (Lendon,
8 See Twick. Ed., pp. 295-98; Emile Audra, L'Influenc
franchise dans l'oeuvre de Pope (Paris, 1931), pp. 399-426;
Robert K. Root. The Poetical Career of Alexander Pope
(Princeton, 19387) pp. 94-96: Jonn Joseph Deeney, A Critic
Study of Alexander Pope's Eloisa to Abelard, unpubl. dis
(Fordham, 1961), pp. 1-25; Lawrence S. Wright, "A Histor
the Letters of Abelard and Hel*ise in French and English,"
unpubl. diss. (Harvard, 1930); Wellington ed.-, pp,. 2-24.
9 See, for example, Twick. Ed., p. 297, and Wellin l
ed., pp. 20-24. -

10 Hughes, "Preface," sig. A3v; qu~'ted in Twick.
p. 208.
1e Petri Abael.ardi. . et Heloissaecon u i
Opera, 2 vols. (Paris, 16l6). Richard RAitins
of the Iatin letters, P. Abelardi. . et
eoi.stel a(London, 17187, was jubTished a
there is' n6 evidence that Pp sw Ra
publication, Cf. Twick. Ed., 1 298.
12 Gilson, Helqise and Abelard, p~996
13 Cf. Abelard in his Histori
"Wherefore also is it said to Him ri
'Thy will be done4'" (trans. C.K. Sco.
01926J, p. 49). And Helcise (Lett r
corner of heaven G4@ pwts wn, t t w
II.H,.0Taylor, The MediacalMind, 4
1951J, ii, 46).
14 Roger de Rabutin, C
SMere FRoger, *e. P, 2Co
15Twicka Ed., p, 297.

17 Audra, L'Influence franchise, pp. 412-22.

18 See articles, "Abelard," "Heloise," "Foulques,"
Me "Paraclete."
19 N.F. Du Bois, Histac-e des amours t_ infortunes
"jd'Eloise. avec ta traduction des lettres, 5th
S1711). Cf. Audra, L'Influence franchise, p.

SIn Hughes' translation, Heloise and Abelard show
awareness of their sin by invoking an analogy of them-
s th Adam and Eve. Heloise wri-es: "'Twas Woman which
# the first Man from that Glorious Condition in
| e~en had placed him. She who was created in order
C e of his Happiness, was the sole Cause of his Ruin"
). helard replies: "Such is the Lot of the
\of Arw, that they should always have something
because they have forfeited their Primitive
S (p. 218).
SMy italics.

.~ f -p p. 308, n. 1; Audra. L'Influence

3 Cf. belard s conviction that he and Heloise
the World to sanctify ourselves. ." (p. 2C1).
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theclogica, literally
by Fathers of the English Dominican Province (New
), Ia-IIae, Q. 83, A. 15.
St. Thonis Aquinas, Sum~theol. IIa-IIae, Q. 2?,

es' trTWlation, thip sentence concludes
k that distorts ith manifest syntax and




Shortly before the publication of Eloisa to Abelard

on June 3, 1717, Pope, in a letter to Martha Blount, seems

to refer to the distinctive passional character of his poem:

I am here Eno place named] studying ten hours
a day, but thinking of you in spight of all
the learned. The Epistle of Eloise grows
warm, and begins to have some Breathings of
the Heart in it, which may make posterity
think I was in love.1

In this letter to a young lady later supposed by some to be
his mistress, Pope seems to recall, from Hughes' transla-

tion of the Letters, Abelard's hope that Heloise, when she

had received a love letter he had sent to her, "would read

with pleasure those Breathings of my heart."3 The echo in

Pope's personal correspondence suggests at once his thorough

assimilation of Hughes' translation of the Letters and his

full response to the passionate love they portray.

As we have seen, Pope responded also (indeed it would

have been strange if he had not) to the pervasive religious

context enclosing the drama of Heloise and Abelard--a context

he developed into a functional and integral part of his poem.

The walls of Eloisa's convent cell describe a Christian

setting in which her experience and its meaning must be

understood. In this chapter, I shall examine the specific


Christian matrix in which appears, as Pope says in the

"Argument" prefixed to Eloisa to Abelard, "so lively a

cture of the struggles of grace and nature, virtue and

ion." In the four sections that follow, I (1) consider

e traditional Christian union of nature and grace, in which

ext "the struggles of grace and nature" occur; (2) examine

various kinds of attacks on this traditional. union

ace a& nature in the religious milieu of Pope's time;

s psay on Criticism (1711); and (4) examine some

ssages in Eloisa to Abelard in order to begin to

he nation and meaning of "the struggles of grace

irtue and passion" in the poem.

statement that Eloisa to Abelard shows "the

and nature, virtue and passion"' falls with-

tional Christian context of values apparent

Within this ancient context, men have

and, as a consequence, have the

ity to orient the dictates of their

ethicain3 nihsibility and spiritual

as l~ to man from God.

of4@NXstianity, of course,

vigorously enQgrsed the idea

of nature as an ethical force. In the Laws, Plato argued

that the term "nature" signifies not the first creative

power, but that which comes into being as a result of the

manifestation of divine reason. Man's soul, like the uni-

verse, is a part of a divinely imposed order that must be

maintained by the government of reason manifested in ethical

discipline.5 Although Aristotle employed "nature" as a norm

with a complex variety of meaning, in the Nicomachean Ethics

he emphasized the capacity of human nature to receive and

develop moral virtues: "nature gives us the capacity to

receive them, and this capacity is brought to maturity by

habit."6 Cicero enlarges the concept of the natural capacity

for moral virtue in the individual to include a manifest

disposition toward moral virtue in the aggregate of indi-

viduals of a whole society. In Cicero, nature as a total

order of structured creation includes reason that guides the

acts of its reasonable creature, man. The structure of reason

that man derives from nature Cicero identifies as law--the

social dictates of moral virtue.

In Christian philosophy, nature participates in God's

Being, and receives a firm basis of justice and law conferred

by God. St. Paul identifies the law inherent in nature when

he defends the Gentiles who "do by nature the things contained

in the law" (Rom. 2:14).9 Later, Clement of Alexandria in

his ethical homilies invokes nature as an ethical force that

should guide daily human conduct.10



In the times of the early Latin Church Fathers, the

cnnoapt of nature infused with moral law appears most fully

.-develep itAnd articulated in the works of St. Augustine, and

in The City-of God' he stresses the goodness of nature. For

St. Augustine the angels, and each other kind of creature

inclwaing man, receive from God a distinct nature that

Was thwm individuals. Each individual nature makes up

csne part of nature's total hierarchical order of natures,

essences, directed toward a goal ordained by God. Each

re within the hierarchical order retains its original

ss in-tet until it somehow seeks to operate contrary to

Sfor which God has ordained its creation out of

I St. Augustine examines the chief among fallen

Sat n, and accordingly concludes "that the flaw of

is ftt na~We, but contrary to nature, and has

not in the Creator, but in the will."ll Satan's

nature is good because created good by God. Satan's

1 ns te sole source of his evil, but even this lack

uses effect even greater good.12 St. Augustine

t efCrges as a crucial point--all natures created

gIpd: ". g thus there is no being contrary to

B tio amd AstIr of all beings whatsoever."13
1 N fnedt ns upon some nature in

.g in itself, for it is a
4 Nature, to St. Augustine

ss cfted in it by God,

and in man the divine source of this goodness of creation

becomes manifest in so far as man establishes and maintains

a moral order in conjunction with the divine order of nature

everywhere apparent.

The goodness of created nature, including man, stems

from God's infusing it with law. This law in nature derives

from the Creator and in God is simply God Himself. Like God

Himself, law is eternal. As communicated in nature, law

manifests itself as the natural order and structure of

creation, or natural law. In man, this natural law serves

as a light from God, and functions as his conscience. The

conscience as a natural light from God informs and directs

the moral order that man must establish and maintain.15 The

varied commands of man's conscience, then, spring from his

nature and the eternal law of God infused therein.

But as St. Augustine makes clear in his description

of the human conscience, man must answer the demand of the

eternal law as manifested in his conscience by the embrace

of his will. As Gilson explains, "Man knows the law. Is he

going to will it? Henceforth, that is the question. Every-

thing depends on the decision man will or will not make to

allow the order he sees imposed by God on nature to reign

within himself.,6 St. Augustine presents this critical

issue of human will and its response to the eternal law in

his very affirmation of the eternal law in man. No one can

claim ignorance of the law in Matt. 7 :12 inscribed by God


in all human hearts: "That which to thyself thou wouldest

not have4one, do not thou to another." Not only do all

men k~-Sw this law by nature, it is written in the Scriptures.

But the failure of men to follow this law rests not with any

ignorance of it, but their unwillingness to act by it. As

t,. Augustine insists, "For it was not that they had it not
written, but iead it they would not.'17 In so far as the

an will resists and ignores the natural law of conscience,

a sin results.

If, in St. Augustine's psychology, human will were the

d absolute determinant to the possibility of human

on, man's salvation would be lost in the sinfulness
s fallen state, or his perverse application of his will.

ng rejected the demands of conscience, man's
rs of virtue created in him by God lose much of

cy, anA (juld remain helpless to direct man to

God did not grant to men an additional assistance

f a Mally gratuitous gift of supernatural grace,

of Jesus Christ, that corrects the disorder

an's will, restores the possibility of merit to

and redirects man's will to the embrace of
alvat .18. In this way, grace does not

natu4, but assists and fulfills it,

as affirms the Augustinian concept of

In account of the creation, St.


. in natural things species seem to be
arranged in degrees; as the mixed things are
more perfect than the elements, and plants than
minerals, and animals than plants, and men
than other animals; and in each of these
one species is more perfect than others.
Therefore, as the divine wisdom is the cause
of the distinction of things for the sake of
the perfection of the universe, so is it the
cause of inequality. For the universe would
not be perfect if only one grade of goodness
were found in things.19

In the hierarchical system of nature, every created being

receives from God an essence, or nature, originally gig:

". . thus every actual being is a good, as having a

relation to good. For as it has being in potentiality,

has it goodness in potentiality."20 Evil itself cannot

nature,21 and exists only in good as privation of

Evil occurs only when an individual nature 1ilf

short of its created order within the due dis

end of nature.23 Nature itself, then stands a

order, and any deviation or denial of th

an evil, or privation.

The concept of nature in Stb. Thomas i

of law by which God governs his creation a

The total plan of order by which the unive

exists in the mind of God as the et3 al

eternal law participates in t act

nature, it manifests itself as

law therefore a ears to
k- jjjstoL '

of men. With the exercise of his reason, man can construct

a just system of human law, in so far as his human law

receives guidance from the eternal and natural law.29 In

order that man may perceive and participate in the eternal

and natural law as they direct him to his supernatural end.

God gave man the additional direction of divine law, in the

revelations Qf His Old and New Testaments to man.30 Within

the structure of these four laws, the eternal, the natural,

the human, and the divine, man finds and according to his

wil y participate in the total order of created nature

a -rlits end.

S iActive participation in the created order of nature
human being depends, St. Thomas tells us, upon the

Rs will to the eternal law, or the will of

-- In order to do this, man finds it necessary to place

i11 under the direction of his intellect and reason

stand as the natural manifestations of the eternal

BmaQ32 Human conscience contains the precepts of

1 lw in the mind of man, although conscience may be

g. 3 The power of the human intellect and will

n moral acts, and these acts constitute the

tp y which man wins or loses his salvation.34

as concludes his volume (Sum. then. ,a-lIae)
is of human action, including the human will,

nt o ther~ee of divine grace. Without this con-

e, hi~ianalysis of hnman acts would be

incomplete and therefore unintelligible.35 Similar to

St. Augustine, St. Thomas distinguishes between the powers

created in man, in human nature, by the original gift of

God,3 called sanctifying grace, and the special gift of

actual, or gratuitous, grace that man needs to implement

and use his original natural gifts.37 Actual grace then is

not contranatural in any sense, but manifestly supernatural

as an added gift of power from God to man. The very action

of actual grace bears directly on the natural human intellect

and will by which man must seek his own salvation.38 Man

himself becomes the chief focus of the harmony of grace and

nature for, in the words of an eminent theologian, "'e is

the image of God by his nature and the son of God by divine


Richard Hooker, writing from within a vast inter-

connection of the classical, patristic, and scholastic tra.di-

tions, defends the episcopacy of the 16th centuryChurch of

England by explaining in detail how the laws of church and

state government are derived from the natural law and the

eternal law of God. Hooker's famous articulation of the

operation of eternal God on temporal nature clearly affirms

the vital linkage between God and his creation: "his command-

ing those things to be which are, and to be insuch sort as

they are, to keep that tenure and course which they do,

importeth the establishment of nature's law. This world's

first creation, and the preservation since of things created,

what is it but only so far forth a manifestation by

execute** what the eternal law of God is concerning things

ya For HaIker, the law of God is written in hearts

o -en aa "'the universal law of mankind, the law of Reason;

where they judge as by a rule which God hath given unto

fffr that purpose. :41 What God has inscr iced in human

a'r mar may discover as natural law, if he will only seek

i.2 The law that men mt.y find in their hearts, the law of

4eao-, should move their wills to seek in all human actions

SutmiVt go-d and greatest perfection whereof Nature hath

it capble."43 In this way. Hooker sees man directed

we law. "the universal law of mankind," c~iginating

ternal law of God at creation, to rectify his own

in wder to effect (in so far as possible by human

salvation. Since these human means to

from a natural law in all mankind. Hooker calls

1: "Our natural meant therefore unt.. blessed.-

A $)s; 1mw- is it possible that Nature should
their way to salvation only this.;.

r im tely develops the weakne6s of human
ju nt of God. Human will it.celf
unable to choose consistently the

the le.e46 Failure in this fun.da-

ce iA -PI man and hi.s effcrs wil]

without the singular disgrace

turbance of that divine o.der."47

an sin, human can

assistance Cf divine grace:

There resteth therefore either no way unto
salvation, or if any, then surely a way which
is supernatural, a way which could never have
entered into the heart of man as much as once
to ccnc:eive or imagine, if God himself had
not revealed it extraordinarily. For which cause
we term it the Mystery or secret way of salvation.48

Hooker sees the fact of human sin not simply as the weakness

of nature in man, but the occasion of God's grace of ccm--
passion and redemption to man. 9

Later, in the seventeenth century, latitudinarian

and conservative churchmen alike reasserted the need of

nature. human nature, for the revelation and assistance of

divine graze, For instance. Isaac Barrow, whose wcrks Pope

included in his own library,50 recognized in human nature

the continuing need fcr grace, "the immense goodness and

pity" of God that rescues man from his fallen state by the

gift of Christ:

Almighty God, seeing the generality of
mankind alienated from Himself by gross ignorance
of its duty toward Him, and by habitual i.rclina-
tions to violate His hcly laws (originally
implanted by Him in our nature, or ancier.tly
revealed to cur first parents), immersed in errcr,
enslaved to vice, and obnoxi-us to the woeful
consequences of them, severe punishment and
extreme misery, was pleased in His immense goodness
and pity to design its rescue from that sad
condition. . .-

The inability of nature alone to achieve u-i:.- with

Christ forms the key argument of Archbishop John Ti3.1otson's

sermon on "The Necessity of Supernatural Grace, in order to

leaj a Christian Life." Under the running title "The grace

of Christ given to relieve and assist nature," Tillots:n

argue.he weakness -f man within the traditional Christian

440)of nature dependent on divine grace:
Whatever natural power we have to do any thing,
from Gee, and an effect of his Goodness; but
nffi! ering the lapsed and decayed condition
'Wa d, sent his Son into the World. to
ec!vYr us out of that sinful and miserable condition
into which we were fallen. . And this super-
natural Grace of Christ is that alone, which pan
enable us to perform what he requires of us.5

I, I _s sen7a "the strength of evil Habits." or our human
n 's inveterate inclination to rebel against God,
"s~eiAtural Grace and Assistance fcr cur

Ln' ~ Whitsunday sermons "of the Spirit of Gr-ce,"
iso examines the relationship of nature and

*ibes the way by which grace may draw "iebel
into a new and rectified order with God.
ts fallen nature in man, "the IGcsenesses of
the reCtifie& nature of man infused by rne
s.I that "while the Spirit dwells in us.
in; is, it is against our natures, cur
) si-i '"55 Endawed with the Spirit of
n withoutt great trouble . wit2lcat
i ture. . Every sin is against
Taylfr illuminates this rectified
Y e in his explicatian of 2 Feter 1i

h ~ven unft us all
life a lines s,
him tha-ha th called
e: by e given u Ata as
jy :

exceeding great and precious promises: that by
these ye might be partakers of the divine nature

Taylcr argues the adaptability of human nature to be par-

takers of divine nature by grace, and that "this new and

godlike nature [isJ given to every person that serves God,

whereby he is sanctified . The Greeks generally call

this charismaj 'a gracious gift,' an extraordinary

superaddition to nature. .57 And Robert South (1663-

1716). Prebendary of Westminster, in another Whitsunday

sermon, celebrates "God's gracious love and conde-sensicn
to man58 in the Pentecost, for, he states:

It was an action that carried in it
such bright testimonies of a supernatural
power, so much above, may against the means
and actors visibly appearing in it; that I
know no argument from metaphysics or natural
philosophy, that to my reason proves the
existence of a Deity more fully than the
consideration of this prodigious revolution.59

Although we should not neglect the theological

differences that distinguish, for instance, Hooker from

Aquinas. or Barrow from South, nevertheless the Christian

philosophers briefly reviewed display a common and enduring

commitment to the view that the order of nature is created,

sustained, and complemented by the supernatural grace of

God. Nature, although involved in man's first disobedience,

does n-t maintain its radical opposition to God, but through

the Redemption of man by Christ becomes oriented to a new

destiny given by grace.

The harmony of grace and nature in the writers reviewed

am a meaningful coherence to human endeavor and purpose

in the search for unity with God. It implies, indeed, that

traditional Christian psychology the passions and virtue

ifi d powers of the soul.60 Man experiences

aiety-f passions, but also (as we have seen

science infused by God,61 and a will

n ing the directives of that conscience.62

r the sensual appetite, are not basically

istian psychAfty; rather when guided by the

directed by the will, the passions can

ea krown gQd, which constitutes the

Christean definition -f virtue.63

South indicated in his sermon above, super-

ct "ggginst," or in opposition to, "the

11, of human beings. In this sense,

t "the str ueePs of grace and nature"

d do not necessarily preclude or

their enduring union. Indeed,

suffering in sin and despair in what

tely experiences and receives

) the 1trst Yntions of grace healing

sj s, Morally guided by grace,

e ~ )pe, in a later Eeem,

he hwnan soul": the

kdwa ture in "LOVE of


Against the background of the traditional Christian

harmony of nature and grace, we now may focus more sharply

certain important developments in the religious milieu of

Pope's Augustan England. In this way, we may see Eloisa to

Abelard in the full perspective of its relationship to ancient

Christian tradition and the state of these traditions in

Augustan England.

The history of Augustan Christianity has undergone

modification and reinterpretation by scholars in our century.

Students of 18th century cultural and religious history no

longer remain content with neat generalizations about the

"languid" Augustan age.65 To Thomas Carlyle the history of

18th century Christianity culminated in "an age fallen

languid, destitute of faith and terrified at skepticism'.66

The severe spiritual impotence attributed by Carlyle to late

18th century Christianity now seems less applicable to the

intellectual milieu of any part of the 18th century than it

once did. Instead, the history of Augustan Christianity

reveals, as Roland Stromberg has shown, a vigorous and vital

age in which evidence of genuine Christian commitment emerges

from much of the abundant contemporary theological controversy:

It is common to meet the opinion that
religion fell into sad decay in England's
Augustan age, the victim of complacence and
materialism. There is indeed evidence to
support this view. Much ef it, however,
requires criticism and careful weighing;
and when we are done, our judgment must be
that this age was, in its own way, deeply

- A


ed with religion. How, otherwise,
to'account for the vast bQ4y of
s literature produce and for the
grug interest religious questions aroused?
Iw*llae uir.thesis that this spate of
t ical 4lsputation, far from being wholly
sequential, was actually interesting and
tant; that the years between 1690 and 1740
fact years of crisis in the religious
ns of Western civilization. They were
so much of languid Geubt as of critical

ests, the widespread theological disputes

us cMnmitment to the defense of traditional

ty )st not lose our focus on the source of

ieas crisis in the Augustan age: the wide-

desewntent of the age, and the major issues


e t half of these years of religious

his Oetic genius; and if we remember

sionate sensitivity to the contem-

t, i*rning, and morals as shown in his

w), e should be surprised if he,

*ah: A Sare-. Eclogue (1712),

rel5aipus milieu of his own times.

isis,,perhaps not Whelly by coinci-

pl1717 Eloisa to Abelard,68 a

in Rgg r I, 4ith the inter-

f nature and

basic issues

he t nal

Christian supernatural mysteries to the individual Christian

and his salvation: (1) the Socinian, or Unitarian, movement;

(2) the Arian heresy; (3) the Arminian movement; (4) the new

emphasis on natural religion; and (5) the growth of increas-

ingly secular and materialistic concepts of human psychology.

The religious crisis of the Augustan age seems to have

stemmed from the way these five kinds of dispute stimulated,

on the one hand, the growth of skepticism, or perhaps simple

unconcern, about the importance, and in many cases the very

existence. of the traditional Christian mysteries. On the

other hand, as a reaction to the growth of skepticism, a

resultant uneasy feeling seemed to grow among believers that

the mysteries somehow required defense and justification.

The Socinian-Unitarian movement, widely influential

in 17th and 18th century England, contested the traditional

Anglican and Roman Catholic concept of Deity.69 The opening

sentence of Stephen Nye's summary and defense of Socinian

doctrine in his anonymously published tract, A Brief History

of the Unitarians, Called also Socinians. 2nd ed. (Londcn.

1691), clearly states "their doctrine concerning God":

They affirm, God is only One Person, not
Three. They make our Lord Christ to be the
Messenger, Minister, Servant, and Creature cf
God; they confess he is also the Son of God,
because he was begotten on Mary by the Spirit
or Power of God, Luke I. 35. But they deny that
he or any other Person but the Father (the God and
Father of the said our Lord Jesus Christ) is God
Almighty and Eternal. The Holy Ghost, or Spirit,
according to them, is the Power and Inspiration
of God, Luke I. 35.T


For the doctrine of the Trinity, the Socinians could find no

text in the Scriptures to support it. The Trinity "is

contrary te the whole Scripture, which speaks of God as but

cMme Person; and speaks of him and to him by singular Pronouns,

such as I Thou, Me, Him, &c. which are never used but of

single Persons."71 Moreover, the Socinians found the dcct-,rine

U c the Trinity inadequate when examined under the light of

man rean. Nye argues that "Our Lord Christ is by the

ed Writers, so distinguished from, and opposed to God

Sit a#MMnts to as much as an express denial that he is

iething that is God can be distinguished from, or op-

to God; for Distinction and Opposition suppose

ty.,72 As Mr. McLachlan summarizes, "At the bar of

.he detrine of the Trinity] utterly failed
three wrsons in one substance were an

y of thought. The doctrine seemed, in fact, a

cal labyrinth, out of which it was impossible to

ay. Moreover, to make man's salvation depend

use a teaching, which had no practical

f the Christian life, was absurd. Its place

e t~pn by the doctrine of the Unipersonality of

c4 lary the humanity of Christ." 73

&f Socinus (UMsto Sozzini [1539-1604], follow-

Lelio S ini 525-62]), contested directly

series and Nye echoes this doctrine

rely the "Creature of God." As

defending the: mysteries of

the deity of Christ: "Socinus held that he was a mere mar,

and had no subsistence or being at all, till such a time as

he was c:..c:.eived by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin


The Sccinian attack on the divine nature of Christ led.

inevitably it would seem, ti a radical dispute on the tradi-

ticnal Christian concept of the Atonement. "Here," Mr.

McLac-.hla- n argues, "Socinus most clearly revealed his ccntrol-

ling ethical interest. . Socinus argued that the work of

Christ was to make a. new moral impression upcn mankind, to

influence men not God. Moreover, the condition of God's

forgiveness of sins was not punishment but repentance. In

this as elsewhere [socinusj laid great stress upon the

prophetic function of Christ: pre-eminently the Revealer

rather than the Reconciler.",75 Christ as Revealer must have

men able to receive and embrace his message of God's will.

In the Sc:inian doctrine, natural man therefore preserves a

potential capability of moral perfection free from any ta.inr

cr disability of original sin. The Socinians "promulgated a

new cr.n.,eption of the Christian religion as primarily the

saving knowledge of God, mediated through Christ, which gives

to men eternal life. To learn God's will, as it is revealed

by Christ, and to obey it is the sum and substance of the
Christian life. In another Sccinian tract. Brief N. tes on.

the Creed of St. Athanasiusthe anonymous author stressed mc-ral

conduct rather than theological dogma: "a go,-d life is of

absolute necessity to salvation, but a right belief in those

)rs been controverted .. is in no

The Socinian revision of Christian

auspicious effects it had on the growth

ra" in the 17th and 18th centuries

d the Christ-centered structure cf the

ian mysteries. As Roland Stromberg points

a creature diopvaces the vital

liss., from salvation by divine grace

ct."79 High-churchman Robert

ted the efficacy of the Socinians tJ

f "a Is#-life," for he saw their

would obtrude
ore daringly thar.
ity of their own inventing,
mysterious in this religiucr.,
91 reason of man can not
pensive perception --f: and
ce of the express words *f
and fully affirming the
t e constant, universal
u imously confessing
yn f the articles
SA t at these b4ied pere. ,.
ufm a new ottam, and,
much ablse a hundred
all antiquity befoe them;
t of med in the wzrld
own a religi*en wi. -,_
a cFifice belong%_..g to it.,

series ti1ns fc: Souft,

W )but also a~ kary


obliged to publish his tracts anonymously, summarized the

anti-Trinitarian doctrine in The Explicaticn of the Articles

of the Divine Unity, the Trinity, and Incarnation.

In some points similar to the protracted Socinian

controversy on the doctrine of the Trinity, the Arian move-

ment against the doctrine of the Trinity gained impetus in

the early 18th century. This heresy centered attention on

negating the mysterious doctrine of the person of Christ,

and sought to justify naturalistic conclusions very similar

to those already outlined above in Nye's Brief History of the

Unitarians. The principal spokesmen for the Arian heresy

in Pope's time were William Whiston and Samuel Clarke.

Clarke. famous for his Boyle Lectures on the Demonstration

of the Being and Attributes of God (1704), affirmed in a

new book, The Scripture-doctrine of the Trinity (1712), the

subordination of Christ to God the Father, to whom alone

belonged worship as a divine being. Clarke rejected as

spurious all worship of the Holy Spirit, which he saw

subordinate to Christ as well as the Father. ClarkeI's

Arianism, therefore, reinforced the Socinian attacks on the

mystery of the Trinity, and advocated its replacement by a

more rational concept of Deity.8

Arminianism, the third basic revision of the super-

natural content of Augustan Christianity that we shall

examine, became so widespread in Pope's time that it emerge
as "not heresy but orthodoxy.82 The teachings of Jacobus
Arminius (Jacob Harmensen, 1560-1609), the Dutch Remonstrant, g


tt e e the concept of bumnan deLravity in the

sin by reviving, not unlike Socinus,

iz f what he saw as man's free moral

He em hasized mediation between the mutually

of free will and predestination, potential
nce arn necessary human depravity. But

f ning a mediatory position, 17th and 18th

ans in practice drew closer to an

of faith in man's salvation by moral

h in Christianity as primarily a.n

*al o*e.

m in practice, then, emerged as

he classic example of a Christianity

e and man too much," Like the

saidnimized the importance of Christ

%td and man, and weakened the

trine of the Atonement by hinging

ed human potential fcr moral

ectrines of Pelagius, Tbe

g the first qu-rter of the

Auii2tan Socinians and Arminians

g.nst which St. Augustine toiled

t eirWM salvation with-

man appears




self-development. Living by a moral code, man acts in the

world without the crippling stigma and depravity of original

sin. The Arminian and Socinian rejection of the doctrine

of original sin points to the heart of their dispute with
traditional Christianity--the problem of evil.85 To the

Arminians and Socinians, man under the curse of original

sin seems doomed fatalistically to immersion in evil by the

very nature of his creation. Since man's creation obvious-

ly must have been a divine act, the Arminians and Socinians

reasoned to their own satisfaction that the doctrine of

original sin implied that God created man evil. Their

rejection of the doctrine of original sin permitted them

to find and identify the source of evil where they sought

it: not in a naturally imperfect man, but in man's

supposed neglect of the basic code of moral conduct

revealed in the Scriptures.

If evil springs from man's neglect of a moral code,

then the means leading to the conquest of evil become clear:

man must rectify himself by ethical perseverance in the

fulfillment of the moral code previously neglected. His

salvation, therefore, depends not upon supernatural myster-

ies like the Atonement and divine grace, but upon human

ethical perseverance and perfection.

The same overriding desire to shift the efficacy,

and meaning, of human salvation from God to man, from

mystery to morality, generates the fourth basic dispute

within Augustan Christianity: the new emphasis, and

j W


irec! given to natural religion. Traditionally a vital

f Christian devotion in writings of the early Church

the medieval theologians, and the Renaissance and

tury churchmen, Protestant and Roman Catholic

religion in Christian theology at once comple-

to the truths men learned from revealed

f the most famous and influential perceptions

ccurs in Book X of St. Augustine's

ng one of the paths by which he sought

ustine begins with a search for God

its creatures, all of whom gratefully

t er and point above into Heaven to

folleaing their directions, St.

ascent through nature up to God.

progress through created nature

v~ally as the structural center

1 r boqs of Pope's time, Defoe's

A51a having been "Delivered

Ciftoe reflects on the order

s, nd arrives at conclusions he

of which I have
ed? d what am
e, human

e t Power who
t k -* and who

concern them; for the Power that could make all
things must certainly have power to guide and
direct them.
If so, nothing can happen in the great
circuit of His works either without His knowledge
or appointment.
And if nothing happens without His knowledge,
He knows that I am here and am in this dreadful
condition; and if nothing happens without His
appointment, He has appointed all this to befall

Although obviously dissimilar in some important respects,

these writers saw natural religion as a complement to

revealed religion. Natural religion led the Christian to

another vantage point from which he then could see in a

new perspective the revealed nature of divine creation,

and the position and duty of men contained and sustained

within it.

But in the late 17th century and the early 18th

century, many writers placed an emphasis on the concept of

natural religion entirely different from that in St.

Augustine, or in Defoe, who leads Crusoe cn a mind's

ascent to God. Instead of finding in natural religion a

complement to revealed and mysterious Christianity, writers

like John Toland (1670-1722), for example, asserted the

self-sufficiency of natural religion as opposed to what

they saw as the unreliability and superfluity of revealed

religion. Natural religion became not an illuminating path

leading to a bright vision of the transcendent and omni-

potent Christian God, but a rationale aimed at the t:tal

exclusion of transcendent religion from serious human

thought. $The newly emphasized rationale of natural

NON ed.o

saw the whole fabric of English Christianity torn and
unravelled by the factious self-interest of many of its
adherents. In a later ironic essay, An Argument Against
the Abolishing of Christianity in England (1711), Swift
starkly characterizes the English as a people utrtrly
devoid of real Christian or religious values of any kind
in all spheres of their lives. To many Augustan Christians
who cppcsed the rationalisLic attacks on revelation, mystery,
and divine grace, the issue at stake involved no less than
the image of man before his God.
The attempt to erase mysteries and miracles from
religion must, as Swift saw, involve a radical dislocation
in moral values nourished by the beliefs in which they l,.ve
their roots. The 17th century revival of the ancient
physical concept of materialism seemed to invite, if not
accomplish, this kind of radical dislocation of moral
values, for in this concept human nature appeared easily
reduced to its physical and material necessities.
If human nature were essentially materialistic, then
the moral condition of individual and social life oriented
to a supernatural deity becomes superfluous and irrelevant.
We knew, as Pope undoubtedly knew, that in the late 17th
and early 18th centuries, from the publication of Thomas
Hobbes' Leviathan (1651) to Bernard Mandeville's Grumbling
Hive; or Knaves Turned Honest (1705) and The Fable of to
Bees; or Private Vices Public Benefits (1714), influential
writers adopted an increasingly secular and materialistic


effusive praise:

It is visible then that it was not any Heathen
Religion or other Idolatrous Superstition, that
first put Man upon crossing his Appetites and
.suduing his dearest Inclinations, but the
skilful Management of wary Politicians; and the
nearer we search into human Nature, the more we
shall be convinced, that the Moral Virtues are
the Politica1 Offspring which Flattery begot
upon Pride.93

Ethics and religion lose their independence and become in
Mandeville, as in Hobbes, mere extensions of human desire.

To Mandeville, the satisfaction of egocentric desire alone

moves the human world, and moves the wcrld not as a means to

an end greater than the immediate object of physical desire,

but to the object itself as sole end. Man, like other

animals, appears driven by egocentric desires that have no

relevance to the ideal ethical standards imposed in human

nature by religion. The human passions, therefore, in their

origin, function, and operation, become bound solely tj the

necessities of man's physical nature. Mandeville's view of

human nature emptied the word "virtue" of its meaning and

significance. No human action could manifest virtue, or be

motivated by it, for, in the materialist view, man sought

only to gratify selfishly the demands of his animal desires.

Virtue as an ideal goal of human achievement became less

meaningful and relevant to the study of human nature. VirAe

seemed to have little place in a system, like Hebkes' or

Mandeville's, built on an essentially brutal and eguistic

psychology of man.

Although hardly a homogeneous "school," the liberties

Even when man claims the performance of a virtuous act,

Rochester discovers selfish motives for it:99

The Good he acts; the Ill he does endure,
'Tis all from Fear, to make himself secure.
Meerly for safety, after Fame they thirst,
For all Men would be Cowards if they durst:
And Honesty's against all common sense--
Men must be Knaves; 'tis in their own defence,
Mankind's dishonest . .

Rochester undercuts man's pretension to virtue by showing

human motivation to be essentially brutal and selfish. In

place of the dishonest pretense to virtue, Rochester advo-

cated; earlier in the poem, "right reason," which he defines

as radically opposed to mere speculation. Rochester's

"right reason" consists of an immediate response by the will

to satisfy the demands of the physical senses:

Thus whilst against false reas'ning I inveigh,
I own right Reason, which I would obey;
That Reason which distinguishes by Sense,
And gives us rules of good and ill from thence;
That bounds Desires with a reforming Will
To keep them more in vigour, not to kill.

In Rochester's psychology of man, "right reason" becomes a

kind of directive conscience for the will, but a. conscience

whose knowledge of good extends only as far as the physical


Against the background of the influential revival of

the materialist view of human nature, Pope's concern in

Eloisa to Abelard with the struggles of "virtue and passion"

should appear in new depth and dimension. The use of the

passions and the very existence of human virtue were by no


e ian and vari d spectrum of

Da~ ing the iraival of the materialist

e neo-stoic ethic, widely prevalent

*efined the human passions as

in themselves, and Edvcated the full

sions as indispensable to human

ian materialists and the Calvinists,

_-y key issues of "grace and

t g:! their in their advocacy of

n's selfish passions. The

nce on man's innate selfish-

r the latitudinarian

RNm-, as a w lary to

,ve as Armin.ianism,

st~ ively benevolent toward

t as merely destructive

..oyy m@ans by ohich me.n

ri Pion fft others.1i

thbp the latitudinarian
r vtue (16")).

cer%07 1a ~ asiied a

d implement

1 'osed




application of their philosophy of pleasure to their own



If we turn, now, to Pope's specific response to the

revisionist doctrines outlined above, we see that in the

Essay on Criticism (1711), he describes the era of modern

England as "these Flagitious Times" (529). He begins his

review of modern English cultural history with the surfeit

of sensual pleasures during the reign of Charles II:

In the fat Age of Pleasure, Wealth, and Ease,
Sprung' the rank Weed, and thriv'd with large
When Love was all an easie Monarch's Care;
Seldom at Council, never in a War;
Jilts rul'a the State, and Statesmen Farces writ:
Nay Wits had Pensions, and young Lords had Wit:
The Fair sate panting at a CourtieT-r Play,
And not a Mask went un-improv'd away:
The modest Fan was lifted up no mcre,
And Virgins smil'd at what they blush'd befjre--
In the familiar metaphor of the kingdom as a garden,104

Pope emphasizes the laxity of Charles II's "easie" cultiva-

tion: "Love," not labor, was all his "Care.' His "Love"

permitted "large Increase, l05 but the growth nourished "In

the fat Age of Pleasure' wts obnoxious and unhealth-y, "a

rank Weed."

Pope evokes in the passage above the well-known

contemporary image of Charles II as the royal patron ahd

exemplar of a licentious court of notorious libertines.

.YsY w


a.rles Il's reign apears in Pope's p@em as a distinctive

iod in English history dominated by a single-minded

to all duty except "Love." Pope, we should

inverted the normal role of the monarch: instead

n in a multitude of duties and crcs,

es II ee s but one, "Love.' The inversion of values

d b the King's eccentric concept &f sovereignty

e A ~ r of the kingdom, and inverts the

ucture an4Amtural functions of s.-ciety.

the kept mist.reuses cf the court., n-w rule

in effect ellhange rples with its chief

Arv vulgar entertament. 16 The

0 with the final result imaged on

as in the ccrruptiirn of Irial values

histiay of Engla.d under

ce of a FWeign Reign
bold Socinus drirn;
e--st-g f-- T the Nation:
I Methd.s of Salvati.n;
M ts might tneir F- ht_

em tsf Absolute.
ire legTht spare,
-a Flatt -'er there!
tans A'vl tine Skies
Zc 'd 1&84 hemies-
ith' Y engage,
OK a ou, RageB
ent in @e~ 5supress

f~b~ I

allowed to expire under the influence of the Dutch

Protestant King William III: ". . the Licensing Act was

finally allowed to expire in the more liberal age ushered

inby the Revolution [of 1688j After 1696 an Englishman

was permitted to print and publish whatever he chcse, with-

out consulting any authority in Church or State . .107

The expiration of government restriction cf the press

permitted the publication cf numerous Socinian tracts and

other kinds of revisionist works summarized earlier in this

chapter.0 Pope's judgment of these works is clear enough:

the revisionist works, although "Licenc'd", were still

"Blasphemies" (553) which England was encouraged tD drink

intemperately to the very "dregs of bold Socinus' (545).

The terminal pn-ctuation at line 543 in the Essay on

Criticism, a dash, would seem to suggest a continuity,

rather than a division, between the Restoration England of

Charles II (534-43) and the reign of William III and Mary

(544-53). Each of the two periods of late 17th century
English history, as Pope conceives them, seems permeated

with "Lioence," a looseness of moral standards. On the

basis of their qualitative similarity, Pope suggests not

only a temporal continuity in history, but also a kind of

moral continuity between the two periods.' Although Pope

does not specify their exact causal relationship, the moral

"Licence" of one age seems to follow directly upon the moral

"Licence" of the last, and the cultural milieu of each age

produces "Monsters" (554).



is sage fm the Essay on Criticism, Pope

st material values endorsed by a dissolute

weakening faith in the relevance o~f super--

W ~es to nman values and acts encouraged by

a d revisionist theological doctrines.

Lives embraced and encouraged material values

ys to "Salvation" (547) and by flattering

than offering it (550-1). Pope condemns the

trial values in search cf pleasurable

I ce &f supernatural and spiritual

1 WG The issue at the heart of

e other than the issue

this cA er: the relationship of

In t9e Essay on Criticism. he

re English society ar.n morals

tip. of ni&ture and supe-nature

the dotrines of the Church.

t Eloisa to Abelard was not Popers

e of 4gyre and ,upernature,

d meaning of

icalyd the
cally, the



that nature everywhere in Elisa to Abelard stands unalter-

ably opposed and recalcitrant to grace. This assumption

signals a misapplication of the introduction Pope supplies

his reader in the "Argument" prefixed to the poem. When

Pope alerts us to "the struggles of grace and riture,

virtue and passions," rne directs cur attention to the out.-

lines of the poem's drama: he does not present us in any

sense with a complete statement of the paet's meaning. He

offers us a hint, or a guidepcst, to the important dramatic

issues to fullcw, and places El:isa's letter in a traditional

Christ ian context of the order between nature a--d grace,

between the natural and the supernatural, and between man

and God.

The "struggles of grace and nature" in Eloisa to

Abelard appear vividly described in the conflict revealed

in the very opening lines of the poem.'s surging \

desires for Abelard clearly show nature, as manifested in

her undisciplined impulses, opposed to her ccmnitment to /

God and the grace He offers. But more than tri.s (wichL

probably few readers have missed), the c-nflict between

grace and nature in the opening lines of the pem specifies

Elcisa's deep isolation, "In these deep sclitudes and awful

cells" (1), from fulfillment of her loves, the human love

she retains for Abelard, as well as the love of God she


In these deep solitudes and awful cells,
Where heav'nly-pensive, contemplation dwells,
And ever musing melancholy reigns;

s tumult i~-~n all's veins?
b l~~~lat retreat?
I kts .m tten hea,?
ir m AbAh ~ dit ci~me,
tt kiss the name.

y4tlhe very beginning of her letter
a~4 she suffers all the more

y ttwpeTceive its exquisite and

rpn. Immired from human

teAtt- the service of God, she

It" anj "h.att" tlet drive her

[..M cell t~ "rove" ir search

e f Abelarg, But this same

ei3y pu~ yse of her physical

: <3r co__.ent to Gad. L the
ZW heavzA.41y pensive,

hrelf- Tb main-

Sfr" Arelaid;

d evn uin His 8wn

(pwe, of' course,
e _e, depth

ae -nem,

be the fixed point of her duty and conscience. The imagery

Pope employs is lite-ally spatial: Elcisa's thoughts "rove

. beyond" her "last retreat," the place in which she has

vowed to unify her body and soul in devotion to God. From

the imagery of space, Pope moves to the imagery o time:

Elcisa confesses that her "heart" stirs and renews her

past and "long-forgotten" love of Abelard. Elcisa

experiences her internal conflict as a kind of psychic

isolation, cr division., in space and time, of her will from

her conscience. She is divided within herself, aind from

this division springs her suffering of discord.

Few critics have failed to note a psychical conflict

in which Eloisa suffers, and yet seldm has the significance

of the conflict itself been examined.109 In their soum, the

details of Eloisa's conflict in the opening lines emphasize

her isolation, and, furthermore, her isolation Lncifically

recalls by analogy the traditional Christian view of fallen

human nature bound in threefold isolation fr m Gcd.9 from the

creatures of divinely--created nature, and from itself. In

this ancient metaph-r, the corporate unity of creation

receives a shattering and disintegrating blcw fi-zm tne sin

of man, and this sin results in the disjcrds between mn and

Gcd, man and his fellow men, and inside man himself. The

cleavage caused by these discords persists until man accepts

the restoration and reunification offered by Christ who

"hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us"

(Ephes. 2-:14), between the flesh and the spirit in each


v .ual and his nei ors, and between

e El sa describes for us becomes charged

within this ancient psychology of

convent cell but nonetheless isolated

r ents a figure, in its outward shape

sin. She reveals her own

re locked in a state of

s 2iginal gr&ce, .r@ gift, of

dure-s even at this

icie 7v..o of nature (as

t sin, Dt exist at

i a related mean-

eives-Ler separa-

z p 6-if a larger scheme

.tu S iies

e3e a e b 1



"all," or the whole-heartedness, of her love for God. She

compromises her love for the whole, "Heav'n," in order to

love a mere part of Gcd's creation, Abelard. Eloisa thus

confuses the relationship of part to whcle, for if she

gives half her heart to Abelard, exclusive of God, she

bifurcates the unity of her love for God. Eloisa sees

that her heart, the traditional seat of the will in
Christian psychology, attempts to serve two masters

equally. But Eloisa implies that if her human nature

now is a "rebel," it may be restored to a just and normative

relationship between Creator and creature in which nature

does not rebel, but serves God. The very distinction of

a part implies an ordered relationship to a whole in

which the part may function.

The issue of part versus whole underlies the meaning

of "nature" when Eloisa describes the happiness she once

enjoyed in her love of Abelard. She endorses a love

unconstrained by the customs and ceremonies demanded by

society--a love reminiscent of the libertine view of man

in a nature ordered by the laws and ethics of desire and

appetite. Eloisa at this pcint in her struggle recalls a

time when she found her total commitment of love to Abelard,

not merely half her heart, a self-sufficient happiness:

Oh happy state! when souls each other draw,
When love is liberty, and nature, law:
All then is full, possessing, and possest,
No craving Void left making in the breast;
Ev'n thought meets thought ere from the lips
it part,
I And each warm wish springs mutual from the heart.


his re i bliss (if bliss on earth there be)
lot of Abelard and me.

t me- ly "C bodies, but of suls so intensely

seem to exert mysteriously a force

thrutually together into ain identity, seems

t the world, the "All," to them exists as a

fulfill. They alone are nature: they

ely. They exclude from their universe, their

other things that might impede the mutual love

and hearts. Tig.r thoughts and wishes

1e_',_. n e_. generation

-h 5ical_,.um of "_Iips" (95). The

pediments from the intercoursee" of

s it in line 57, defines, then, the

g i he envisions nature as "law" (92).

f 1 and are filled by all, exist

ient law unto themselves.

a (at this p .tin n th-e poem)

of -:' fr~m nature& If E1o!wa and

G4d, who

/ t er of

itry to

.1 its



of nature, even when apparently complete and self-sufficient

to endure as a self-contained bliss. She enjoyed her "let"

(98) with Abelard only temporarily before their bliss was

destroyed with abrupt and brutal finality:

Alas how changed! what sudden horrors'
A naked Lover bound and bleeding lies!

Her recollection of the sequence of events from bliss to

violent destruction exemplifies the radical insufficiency

and instability of nature dissociated from God, of a part

dissociated from the whole.

Shortly before her passionate encomium of their

earthly bliss, Eloisa affirmed her love fur Abelard in spite

of the loss she recognized as its price:

Dim and remote the joys of saints I see,
Nor envy them,that heav'n I lose for thee.

Immediately after her recollection of Abelard's suffering

subsequent to the destruction of their earthly blis., she

recalls the day of her vows when she reaffirmed her lcve,

not for God, but for Abelard:

Not grace, or zeal, lcve only was my call,
And if I lose thy love, I lose my all.

Once again, Eloisa places her expression of Icve f-r Abelard

within the context of part and whole. She clearly designates

in the balanced structure of line 118 the identity cf "thy

love" with "my_allJ. Abelard, the creature, not God, the

Creator, engages Eloisa's whole interest and desire.


n vi zes her @re~ like embrace of

, but through a forced assertion of her

the insubstantial plbure cf this mere

f the "bright abode" (127) she before

"din and remote" (71):

tr ct me other joys to prize,
e ies charm my partial eyes,
t all the *right abode,


in JL-es 126-7 -suggests again the

n s- d ions: her "eyes"

zie literally she gazes

Art she galls -pl h

-e her e fer the

vi.P f "all"

1.,~Vb as az adverb, and

to haven hardly seems a

avela, EW6sa

saffers the meut

i suffering.

*t.ien to this poem

ce the actual human

r a altn-'aative may

t qs wa,'s


herself "Confess'd within the slave of love and man" (178).

But the struggle of her passionate desire for Abelard against

her vcws tt God continues in the intense conflict between

spirit and flesh Eloisa proceeds to describe (181-94).

Eloisa finds no help from the mere virtuous task of resigna-

tion to abstinence for the struggles of passion she suffers:

Unequal task a passion to resign,
For hearts so tc-iah'd, so pierc'd, so lost as mine.

The merely wishful virtue to resign her passion dees not,

she finds, measure up to the "task" which is malign, or

"unequal," the negative meaning of the Latin root of

"equal"--"aequus," which means "benign." But when she

invokes the power of "heav'n" (2,l) to aid her soul in its

struggles with her intense passion for Abelard, she testi-

fies to her unawareness of a dormant ember cf a potential

flaming heart for the love of God. The possibility of

embracing God with this passionate spiritual love inspires

her to implore Abelard to teach her to seek and find the

grace that will "seize" her soul:

But let heaven seize it, all at once 'tis fir'd,
Not touched, but rapt; not waken'd, but inspired!
Oh come oh teach me nature to subdue.

In this passage, Eloisa envisions her soul, so passionately

committed in union to Abelard, seized and captured by grace,

the power of heavenn." The love she envisions supersedes in

intensity even that which she holds for Abelard: her soul

seized by God will be "fir'd," "rapt," and inspiredd."


t dnr_ from a long and familiar history of

s to GC0 signify a state of union between

and heavenn." Eloisa voted upon entering

to seek and maintain an intense bond of devo-

aan she is virtuous enly in so far as she keeps

ted to her pledge:

el teach me nature to subdue,
love, my life, my self--and you.
heart with God alene, for he
val, can succeed to thee.

entrkal seating P9wer of "heav'n" a

--a source of power, given by God's

r h~nd with God. Her passionate

s it seize4by divine grace, no

rSm God_ Ift her soul by becoming

and~ r'd" will fulfill her devotion

_closely to God, Eloisa's

alone -nd tv renounce

e persistent love for

ard brings Eloisa back to

le in w~ich she

ct of Abelard with God

m, she seeks to

e the whole, but

,the part.

i et in this



for Eloisa. She still conceives nature as something opposed

to God, for when at the end of line 203 she implores Abelard

to teach her "nature to subdue," she defines what she means

by "subdue" with the first word of the next line in the

couplet: 'Renounce" (204). Eloisa, however. offers no

justification why nature in order to be subdued must be

utterly renounced.

Indeed, in the passage immediately following, Eloisa

begins to revise her idea of the disjunction between God and

nature. Her image of an immaculate and blameless nun,

perhaps the most famous descriptive passage in the poem (207-

22), has at its metaphoric heart an illustration of one

potential significance of nature-..-the supernatural manifes-

tations of God in the elements and creature. of nature:

How happy is the blameless Vestal's lot:
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sun-shine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resigned;
Labour and rest, that equal periods keep;
'Obedient slumbers that can wake and weep3'
Desires composed, affections ever ev'n,
Tears that delight, and sighs that waft to heav'n.
Grace shines around her with serenest beams,
And whispering Angels prompt her golden dreams.
For her th' unfading rose of Eden blcoms,
And wings of Seraphs shed divine perfumes;
For her the Spouse prepares the bridal ring,
For her white virgins Hymenaeals sing;
To sounds of heav'nly ha.rps, sne dies away,
And melts in visions of eternal day.

In order to understand this often admired passage,

we should analyze closely some of the details of its imagery

and structure. In the very first line, Pope employes the

j characteristic rhetoric of praise usually bestowed upon the


man, in the literature ef retirement

th&Fth and 18th centuries,113 He

r-Ferest and its endorsement of

ent in "humbler Joys':

n whi this bright Court approves,
n irs, and his Country loves;
him to these Shades retires,
c s, and whom the Muse inspires,
s of hoee-felt Quiet please,
Stdy, Exercise and Ease.

earlier penm, the Ode on Solitude:

ish and care/ A few paternal acres

ical structure of exclamation in

e in Elcisa to Abelard seems to

t logliterary history of poems,

Nwe, that excl m "beatus ille":

M "I*py the man . . Pepe's

it closest axN~agues in Dryden's

ss a-nd Debate,
re's Hand.
sure's Laws,
secret Cause.


cs, II,
3 702-3)


As the analogues in Dryden's translations suggest,

Pope adapts the secular retirement endorsed by the Roman

poets to Eloisa's vision of religious retirement. Eloisa's

nun retires, "The world forgetting, by the world forgot."

The Twickenham Edition shows that Pope's line echoes the

Eleventh Epistle of the First Book of Horace: "Oblitusque
mecrum obliviscendus et illus. In this Epistle on

travel,, Hcrace approves Lebedus as a plane where one can

escape unsettling cares, "The world forgetting, by the world

forgot," although the pcint of tne Epistle emphasizes the

futility of expecting merely a. change in place to produce

tranquility of the mind.

By his verbal echo of the theme of retirement, Pope

places Eloisa's vision within the context of ancient values

endorsed by a long history of classical and English poetry.

Eloisa augments the austerity and contentment of the

individual, traditionally celebrated as the chief values in

the literature of rural retirement, with the Christian

values of devotion and dedication to God. The moral image

of Horace pervaded 18th century poetry and constituted an
important influence on Pope's conception of his own career,

Largely on the authority of Renaissance editors and annota-

tors, Horace became for Augustan readers, as Professor Thomas

Maresca has shown, "a nearly unimpeachable moral arbiter and

guide, on the level of authority almost with the Scriptures

to which his sentiments were so often compared.'117 The

moral image of H:race amplifies Eloisa's perception of the

Siv2ial retiremep and commitment

a1 *sa envi 4 le-hearted

iscal axQ. C~ristian moral values

o a ieves a state of

o earnestly sought

mof6rns alike, from Aristotle

ined scene of the blameless

es tile nr~ral and spiritual

4isa envisions the effect of

s for Abelard the results of

t to God. The nun's

f4.r shea' interior

i ge of supernatural

ss mind. (2019).

un,-Cfor by Joseph

that thetfhcle passage recalls

d quietist. 118 But the
e i-n li 2#9 and elsewhere

'Crutiny and precise

In an

f .etural



pure. essential, and "spotless." Pope has not merely yoked

opposites in a forced paradox, but instead he has presented

an image of nature infused with supernature to describe the

spiritual state of the blameless nun. The image shows a

chief and significant characteristic of the nun's spiritual

peace: she experiences an enduring beatific vision of

eternal light as a condition of her "spotless" mind. Her

own mind, then, as she maintains it "spotless" in devotional

retirement, becomes a point of confluence of nature and

supernature wherein natural human will and conscience seek

and, in so far as possible, meet in a vision of super-

natural light the presence of God. In this way, the nun

herself, as she comprehends the image of "Eternal sun-

shine," appears a manifestation of the achieved harmony of

grace and nature, the enduring vision of God in an

immaculate mind. 19

The achieved harmony of grace and nature i.n he nun

seems supported and illustrated by the line that immediately

follows in which Eloisa envisions her "Each prayer accepted,

and each wish resigned: (210). Here, the specific conditions

that sustain the nun's "Eternal sun-shine" begin to appear.

If she sees "Each pray'r accepted," she enjoys a state of

grace, a close contact with her God Who, if He accepts her

prayers, obviously first must hear them and respond to

them. The immaculate nun, although a recluse, is not

isolated from her God. Indeed, her retirement differs

radically from Eloisa's described in the opening lines of
-- -a


st t-Z=tlets

of v es embraced by the nun,

Ihe enjoys. Eloisa

ouplets t% fill in the

he id "d I" in line 211

i t meaning "benign. The

,t ac6 ie in the

e--@,, well:

y of

its "serenest beams" (215), to the nun whose mind, we have

already seen, perceives and enjcys "Etern-al sun-shine."

The supe rnt rl presence, the a.ureole,. f grace that

bathes her fr.-:m without, seem? analogous in its ineffable

serenity to the "Eternal sun-shine" of her mind. The light

cf grace literally has permeated the nun., and what she

experiences within, she sees with-out. T'e supernatural

light cf grace infuses her dre-ims and r.lorcs them with

gold (216). a trzaditic:oal hue >,f the apc-alyptic visions

cf Heaven. The very dreams themselves s--,w the nun's

empower-ed sense of hearing by which she receives fr'm

'whisp-'r-g Angels" (216) the promptings of grace. The

sense of smell next bears the imprint of transfiguration,

for the mystic "rose of Ede-n" (217), blooms eternally and

unfadingly in a kind of paradise regained to the immaculate

nun. Pope completes the imagery of smells in this c.uplet

ty augmenting the smell of the r_ se, t-ransfigured fr..m

nature to the mystic rose of Heaven., witn t.:e "divine

perfumes": shed not from flowers but directlv fr,,m the

"wings of Seraphs" (218). Heaven and earth, grace and

nature, fuse in these intensely pa.sii zate sensory images.

The fusion of grace and _nature that Elcisa envisions

perhaps stands most clearly illustrated in the mystic

marriage of the immaculate nun to her Spouse, Christ (219)o

Eloisa specifically invokes the Christian metaphor of

communion with God as a mar-riage of the soul with

In the commitment of vows, of course, the nun pledges her

n sbeVgW his bride. The metaphor

.atu-re, for the earthly conjunction

Se f s a1. s a well as bodies,
ok t* t t* eternity by the

t._ g i- I- the iLmage of the

rth ChrisS4. 4: P l1ee El-isa's vision in

of th_ tt-iAtd exege.ical tradition

To l o"- mur:- of Eloisa's use

t t...-, e immA l, ate nur. 's

,e.- the ew.egesis 7f the

of SogwlcQ. The nun e.j pys a

Opt trinsf4gures the physi,-al

whi ;h e'ffectively conveys this

the ther ellrlier T-_ the passage, to

P Virng receive- the pllesence of

S,(-22--1,, i le*Ad her to

v.% i *f t3i4,W0rptic light, the

E- -r ,t %16 the bliSs Df
ty tw- v ji ze in

f g%.e -zd nature

if i w strive more
v o y visualized atiCn

t. her.


reason, and in the face of the difference between her

sinful self and the blameless nun she envisions, Eloisa

must fit her complicating love for Abelard into a scheme

of grace and her devotion to God.

If Eloisa can visualize the fused harmony of grace

and nature in the imagery evoked by an immaculate nun, she

can experience conversely images of nature so far divorced

from grace as to be images of Hell. In the passage

immediately following the imagery of grace and nature

harmonized in the immaculate nun, Eloisa experiences her

own nature left free by conscience in a dream "of unholy

joy" (224):

Far other dreams my erring soul employ,
Far other raptures, of unholy joy:
When at the close of each sad, sorrowing day,
Fancy resteres-what vengeance snatched a-way,
Then conscience sleeps, and leaving nature free,
All my loose soul unbounded springs to thee.
0 curst, dear horrors of all-conscious night!
How glowing -gilt exalts the keendelight!
P'rook-ng Daemons all restraint remove,
And stir within me ev'ry source of love.
I hear thee, view thee, gaze o'er all they charms,
And round thy phantom glue my clasping arms.
I wake--no more I hear, no mere I view,
The phantom flies me, as unkind as you.
I call aloud; it hears not what I say;
I stretch my empty arms; it glides away:
To dream once more I close my willing eyes;
Ye soft illusions, dear deceits, arise
Alas no morel--me thinks we wandering go
Thro' dreary wastes, and weep each other's wee;
Where round some mould'ring tow'r pale ivy creeps,
And low-brow'd rocks hang nodding o'er the deep.
Sudden you mount! you beckon from the skies
Clouds interpose, waves roar, and winds arise.
I shriek, start up, the same and prospect find,
And wake to all the griefs I left behind.

tLh@p is a dark illuggy..H "Prevoking
Elusive phantomm" (234,236) of
SaiWtantalize an unrestrained and
and leave her nrt with "visions ef eternal
and immersed in "the same sad
sht suf me4e in her nightmare.
say's agrE)3;n-taggs tstgaly
n. Eleisa's s@rrow

y" (225), not the1 D ht "@f
ps at night, but the night
( all-krnwing with enough
in Itb a's " soul" (228)
imnawmate radiance that flets
rienoes "glVting guilt" (230).
b en ute in 17th century
f 122 and here the coler

n inate El]isa's "guilt."
.7 7th century 16ve
4 ymr~Arically is her
Jt 123
L affectimt,
remin? ':dear'
STn vW her dreams,

Rault is


themselves become as inconstant and illusory as Eloisa.'s

pleasure in a phantom. One moment she sees, even gazes

(--d3), and bears, but suddenly upon waking sees and hears

'no mere" (235). Even as she drifts willingly back into

her dream, she is unable to enjoy the former "soft illusions

and dear deceits" (243). Lrstead she and Abelard suffer

Hell together in a different way: tney wander weeping

thr,,ugh a hostile and obscured wasteland (241--4). But

even this conjunction in suffering proves inconstant to

Eloisa: a3ddenly Abelard mounts and deserts her as she

rudely awakens to the "griefs" (248) she has accumulated

in her fitful night of restless dreaming. In contrast to

the immaculate nun's "sighs that waft to hear'." (248),

Eloisa has called "aloud" (237), wept not from "delight"

(214) but from "woe' (242), and "shrieked" (247) in response

to the roar of "waves" (246) that separate her from Abelard.

The contrasting images cf Heaven az-d Hell envisioned

by ElAisa in the two verse paragraphs (207-48) present an

extra. ordinary statement of the scope of her personal

suffering. If the value or literature is still to be

searched for in its portrayal of the anguish and suffering

experienced by the human soul in adversity (as many agree
with William Faulkner that it d&es), then Eloisa to

Abelard, especially in the passages we have just examined,

must remain one of the most impassioned and compassionate

artifacts imaging the struggles and sufferings of the human

soul in all literature.



sas anguish and suffering becomes but mere

she then describes how Abelard's image

I iI -,at Matins and during the Mass. At the

erAls rise closer tt G~d in the celebration

crifice, El ia, distracted by her sinful

273)iE" Abelrd, violently plunges int4 the

Hell. The imoaery of height and depth

saps ti i,,n and repetition of The

!Ly S san s violent hea6lng plunge

ID e t2 Baek I. Sne falls

II g-.ieisbesLtitn felt and

i bv-p~ se,.f the simul-

w"ith Gd offered by the Mass.

jlur~ suMaenly and mysteriously becomes

nt awareness of her own sin

0a gHell p-rtrates her "in

e) he. Qe. Her prestration marks

t nce firm her Gpd, but paradqxi-

i, "J2ing, trembling" (279)

..ii ng on my sr"ll" (28o).

C:"ge I, the ability and

I the efficacy gaace

6. 6l.126 ElSGsa has

an se tan-

r closer to


nature infused by God presents an obvious image of harmony

of grace and nature. At this very moment, however, "while"

(276,278) Elcisa perceives the skies opening to emit the

grace that will free her frcm sin, she willingly calls for

the sin in the person of Abelard to tighten its bonds on

her soul and to enforce her isolation from God:

Come, if thou dar'st, all charming as thou art!
Oppose thy self tD heav'n; dispute my heart;
Come, with one glance of those deluding eyes,
Blot cut each bright idea of the skies.
Take back that grace, those scrrows, and these
Take back my fruitles-. penitence and pray'rs,
Snatch me, just mounting, from the blest abode,
Assist the Fiends and tear me from my God!

Elcisa desires Abelard as the agent of sin to "Blot out"

(284) the image of fused nature and grace in dawning light,

"the bright Idea of the skies." She employs numerous verbs

of divisive fragmentation to show her preference here for

the part, Abelard, rather than the whole, God: "Oppsee,"

"dispute," "deluding," "Take back., "Snatch," and "tear."

The violent abduction delineated in the firal couplet

especially reveals Eloisa's desire to be literally torn

"from her God" in this ':blest abode" (287), to which

she in "dawning grace" (280) is "just mounting" (287), and

joined in a Hell of sin with "the Fiends" (288) and AbelarW,

who now functions as a devil.

Having willed her own rape from the blest abode 6f

God, Eloisa recoils in apparent horror from the fiendish

image of Abelard, "No, fly me, fly me; far as Pole from


In details similar to those in her vision of the immaculate

nun, ElI.,isa sees "roseate bowers," "palms," and flowers "

trasdfig rei frr-m the mortality of created nature to the

eterr.ity to the "unlading rose of Ede," (217). She enjoys,

like the ji~maculate nun, the tr -,sfigured light glews

in fl-mzes or the love of God from the angels closest to Him,

the ser-phs. In her vision of the harmony of grace and

nature, she receives the final "office' (321) of Extreme

Un.tion frcm IAbelard, who in his r I.e as priest participates,

as a cf nature, i- tle fu2i,. af grace and nature.

As a sanc-tified man, Abei-,rd himself stands before Elvisa

as an embodiment of the harmo .y of grace and nature. And

El~isa now can love him as a ,riest, and enjoy that l1ve

as a part of a love for God. The part, Abelard, will be

restored, nct "quit; (128, 293), when El-isa restores

herself to God, Who sustains and embraces all creatures.

By seeking G,3 with her will,, releases herself fom

is lati., t fr-,m Abelard as well ,as f" m Gc-d.

Eli.-isa's "struggles of grace and -nature" are by nr

means erdedj indeed, they will be endless througrcut her

life. Fo'e itnstani.e, she immediately sees Abelard, not as

a priest, buh as her lover with iwim she engages in sexual


See my lips tremble, an#r my eye-balls roll,
Suck my last breath, and catch my flying soul'

Her vi-i-r. of her future death is transfOrmed inter a vision

of her sexual "death" ir_ physica.l union with Abel1rd. But

er as Po e


s, *cifically
n theq-nihiiw-

ler. In the

ated by

inds her-


S*t and,


vine _jRac e

nd e#f

t t
s5 the

a source of real and specific power effective in her
particular struggles. And against those who would choose
+;c present the nature of man as essentially animalistic,
brutal, and intelligible only to a rationalistic psychology,
the poem offers Elcisa:s nature passionately suffering in
body and soul as she seeks her God.






i The Cit, of God, XI. XVII. (heading)
M l ods in -Bas rit f _it Aug.stine,
.*Oates, 2 vcES. (N f -, "2. A
12 The Cit- of God XI. XVII.,

13 e City rf gd, XII, II.
14 e Citof ,-g XII. III-V.
15 See Etienne G'*Jn;. eCh-i
Saint Augustine, trans. L; E. I, c

.6 Gilasn+ The Christian PhiFle
p. 132.
1.7 St. Augustine, ka f-is 4 f
Psalm 58 (Latin 57), in 6 rf.-l
18 See Gil1n, The Chri
Augusti~i Np. 152-3.
19 St. Thomas Aqui
20 Sum. theol. I,.Q 4q
21 Sum, theel. I, Q. 48,
22 $um. te Q. 48,
L 23 _._L .

in th-ie en4ix

l,. This Os
-. See ksp.
Efficient grace

I. iii. 2;
after cite*

15 in a

s: )


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