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Or quick effluvia darting through the brain,
Die of a rose in aromatic pain?
If nature thunder'd in his opening ears,
And stunn'd him with the music of the spheres,
How would he wish that Heav'n had left him still
The whispering zephyr, and the purling rill!
Who finds not Providence all good and wise,
Alike in what it gives, and what denies?
23 Far as creation's ample range extends,
The scale of sensual, mental pow'rs ascends:
Mark how it mounts to man's imperial race,
From the green myriads in the peopled grass:
What modes of sight betwixt each wide extreme,
The mole's dim curtain and the lynx's beam:
Of smell, the headlong lioness between,
And hound sagacious on the tainted green:
Of hearing, from the life that fills the flood,
To that which warbles through the vernal wood!
24 The spider's touch, how exquisitely fine!
Feels at each thread, and lives along the line:
In the nice bee, what sense so subtly true,
From pois'nous herbs extracts the healing dew!
How instinct varies in the grov’ling swine,
Compar'd, half-reas ning elephant, with thine!
'Twixt that and reason, what a nice barrier!
For ever sep’rate, yet for ever near!
25 Remembrance and reflection how ally'd!
What thin partitions sense from thought divide!
And middle natures how they long to join,
Yet-never pass'd th' insuperable line!
Without this just gradation, could they be
Subjected these to those, or all to thee?
The powers of all subdu'd by thee alone,
Is not thy reason all these pow’rs in one?
26 What if the foot, ordain'd the dust to tread,
Or hand to toil, aspir'd to be the head?
What if the head, the eye, or ear repin'd
To serve mere engines to the ruling mind?
Just as absurd for any part to claim
To be another in this gen’ral frame:
Just as absurd, to mourn the tasks or pains
The great directing Mind of all ordains.
27 All are but parts of one stupendous whole, Whose body nature is, and God the soul;
That, chang'd through all, and yet in all the same;
Great in the earth, as in th’ ethereal frame;
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees;
Lives through all life, extends through all extent;
Spreads undivided, operates unspent;
Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part,
As full, as perfect, in a hair as heart;
To him, no high, no low, no great, no small:
He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all.
28 Cease then, nor order imperfection name:
Our proper bliss depends on what we blame.
Know thy own point: this kind, this due degree
Of blindness, weakness, Heav'n bestows on thee.
Submit.-In this, or any other sphere,
Secure to be as blest as thou canst bear:
Safe in the hand of one disposing Pow'r,
Or in the natal, or the mortal hour.
29 All nature is but art, unknown to thee;
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see;
All discord, harmony, not understood:
All partial evil, universal good:
And, spite of pride, in erring reason's spite,
One truth is clear, Whatever is, is right.
Of the Nature and State of Man, with respect to him
self as an individual.
1 Know then thyself, presume not God to scan!
The proper study of mankind is man.
Could he, whose rules the rapid comet bind, *
Describe or fix one movement of his mind?
Who saw its fires here rise, and there descend,
Explain his own beginning, or his end?
Alas, what wonder! man's superior part
Uncheck'd may rise, and climb from art to art:
But when his own great work is but begun,
What reason weaves, by passion is undone.
2 Trace science, then, with modesty thy guide;
First strip off all her equipage of pride;
Deduct what is but vanity, or dress,
Or learning's luxury, or idleness;
Or tricks to show the stretch of human brain,
Mere curious pleasure, or ingenious pain;
Expunge the whole, or lop th' excrescent parts
Of all our vices have created arts:
Then see how little the remaining sum,
Which serv'd the past, and must the times to come!
3 Two principles in human nature reign;
Self-love to urge, and reason to restrain;
Nor this a good, nor that a bad we call,
Each works its end, to move or govern all:
And to their proper operation still,
Ascribe all good; to their improper, ill.
4 Self-love, the spring of motion, acts the soul;
Reason's comparing balance rules the whole.
Man, but for that, no action could attend,
And, but for this, were active to no end;
Fix'd like a plant on his peculiar spot,
To draw nutrition, propagate and rot;
Or, meteor-like, flame lawless through the void,
Destroying others, by himself destroy'd.
5 Most strength the moving principle requires;
Active its task, it prompts, impels, inspires,
Sedate and quiet the comparing lies,
Form'd but to check, delib’rate, and advise.
Self-love still stronger, as its object's nigh;
Reason's at distance, and in prospect lie:
That sees immediate good by present sense;
Reason, the future, and the consequence.
6 Thicker than arguments, temptations throng;
At best more watchful this, but that more strong.
The action of the stronger to suspend,
Reason still use, to reason still attend :
Attention, habit and experience gains,
Each strengthens reason, and self-love restrains.
7 Let subtle schoolmen teach these friends to fight, More studious to divide than to unite; And grace
and virtue, sense and reason split,
With all the rash dexterity of wit.
Wits, just like fools, at war about a name,
Have full as oft no meaning, or the same.
8 Self-love and reason to one end aspire,
Pain their aversion, pleasure their desire:
But greedy that, its object would devour,
This taste the honey, and not wound the flow'r:
Pleasure, or wrong or rightly understood,
Our greatest evil or our greatest good.
9 Modes of self-love the passions we may call;
'Tis real good, or seeming, moves them all;
But since not ev'ry good we can divide,
And reason bids us for our own provide,
Passions, though selfish, if their means be fair,
List under reason, and deserve her care;
Those, that imparted, court a nobler aim,
Exalt their kind, and take some virtue's name.
10 In lazy apathy let stoics boast
Their virtue fix'd; 'tis fix'd as in a frost;
Contracted all, retiring to the breast;
But strength of mind is exercise, not rest:
The rising tempest puts in act the soul,
Parts it may ravage, but preserves the whole.
On life's vast ocean diversely we sail,
Reason the card, but passion is the gale;
Nor God alone in the still calm we find,
He mounts the storm, and walks upon the wind.
11 Passions, like elements, though born to fight,
Yet, mix'd and soften’d, in his work unite:
These 'tis enough to temper and employ;
But what composes man, can man destroy?
Suffice that reason keep to nature's road,
Subject, compound them, follow her and God.
12 Love, hope and joy, fair pleasure's smiling train,
Hate, fear and griei, the family of pain;
These mix'd with art, and to due bounds confin’d,
Make and maintain the balance of the mind:
The lights and shades, whose well-accorded strife
Gives all the strength and color of our life.
13 Pleasures are ever in our hands or eyes,
And when in act they cease, in prospect rise:
Present to grasp, and future still to find,
The whole employ of body and of mind.
All spread their charms, but charm not all alike;
On diff'rent senses diff'rent objects strike;
Hence diff'rent passions more or less inflame,
As strong or weak, the organs of the frame:
And hence one master passion in the breast,
Like Aaron's serpent, swallows up the rest.
14 Yes, nature's road must ever be preferr'd: Reason is here no guide, but still a guard:
'Tis hers to rectify, not overthrow,
And treat this passion more as friend than foe:
A mightier pow'r the strong direction sends,
And sev'ral men impels to sey'ral ends.
15 Like varying winds, by other passions tost, This drives them constant to a certain coast.
16 Th' eternal art, educing good from ill,
Grafts on this passion our best principle.
?Tis thus the mercury of man is fix’d,
Strong grows the virtue with his nature mix'd;
The dross cements what else were too refin'd,
And in one int’rest body acts with mind.
17 As fruits ungrateful to the planter's care,
On savage stocks inserted learn to bear;
The surest virtues thus from passions shoot,
Wild nature's vigor working at the root.
What crops of wit and honesty appear
From spleen, from obstinacy, hate or fear!
See anger, zeal and fortitude supply;
Ev'n avarice, prudence; sloth, philosophy;
Envy, to which th' ignoble mind's a slave,
Is emulation in the learn’d or brave:
Nor virtue, male or female, can we name,
But what will grow on pride, or grow on shame.
18 Thus nature gives us (let it check our pride)
The virtue nearest to our vice ally’d;
Reason the bias turns to good from ill,
And Nero reigns a Titus, if he will.
The fiery soul abhorr'd in Catiline,
In Decius charms, in Curtius is divine.
The same ambition can destroy or save,
And makes a patriot as it makes a knave.
19 This light and darkness in our chaos join'd,
What shall divide? The God within the mind.*
Extremes in nature equal ends produce,
In man they join to some mysterious use;
* A Platonic phrase for conscience; and here employed with great judgment and propriety. For conscience either signifies, speculatively, the judgment we pass of things upon whatever principle we chance to have; and then it is only opinion, a very unable judge and divider. Or else it signifies, practically, the application of the eternal rule of right (re. ceived by us as the law of God) to the regulations of our actions; and then it is properly conscience, the God (or the law of God) within the mind, of power to divide the light from the darkness in this chaos of the passions.