This poem was published by Alexander Pope in 1733-1734, in an effort to rationalise or rather "vindicate the ways of God to man", a variation of John Milton's claim in the opening lines of 'Paradise Lost', that he will "justify the ways of God to men". It is concerned with the natural order God has decreed for man. Because man cannot know God's purposes, he cannot complain about his position in the Great Chain of Being, and must accept that "Whatever IS, is RIGHT" (a theme satirised by Voltaire in 'Candide' some years later (1759)). More than any other work, it popularised optimistic philosophy throughout England and the rest of Europe.
Alexander Pope (1688-1744) was an 18th-century English poet, best known for his satirical verse, as well as for his translation of Homer. Famous for his use of the heroic couplet, he is the second-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare.
Our book (as would be expected after more than 250 years) is in rather poor condition, the brown leather front cover only just held to the spine by one of the binding strings. It is very worn, and battered generally, but traces remain of a thin double gilt border line on both front and back covers. Within, there is considerable foxing throughout, with staining also, but the binding is generally firm, and there is a portrait of the poet on the title page, opposite a nice black and white engraving 'Sic Transit Gloria Mundi'. An owner's name is inscribed above the title, and an ex libris plate inside the front cover bears another name (same surname, different forename), and the address 'Chipstead Place, Kent', together with what may be a library identification number in faded black ink. The text is in places badly foxed, but there are also some immaculate clean pages. An interesting little book, for all sorts of reasons.