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To distant lands Vertumnus never roves;
the place of God, and judging of the fitness or Like you, contented with his native groves;
unfitness, perfection or imperfection, justice or inNor at first sight, like most, admires the fair; justice, of his dispensations. V. The absurdity For you he lives; and you alone shall share of conceiting himself the final cause of the creaHis last affection, as his early care.
tion, or expecting that perfection in the moral Besides, he's lovely far above the rest,
world, which is not in the natural. VI. The unWith youth immortal, and with beauty blest. reasonableness of his complaints against ProviAdd, that he varies every shape with ease,
dence, while on the one hand he demands the And tries all forms that may Pomona please. perfection of the angels, and on the other the But what should most excite a mutual flame, bodily qualifications of the brutes; though, to Your rural cares and pleasures are the same. possess any of the sensitive faculties in a higher To him your orchard's early fruit are due,
degree, would render him miserable. VII. That (A pleasing offering when 'tis made by you,) throughout the whole visible world, an universal He values these ; but yet (alas !) complains, order and gradation in the sensual and mental That still the best and dearest gift remains. faculties is observed, which causes a subordinaNot the fair fruit that on yon branches glows tion of creature to creature, and of all creatures to With that ripe red th' autumnal sun bestows; man. The gradations of sense, instinct, thought, reNor tasteful herbs that in these gardens rise, flection, reason; that reason alone countervails all Which the kind soil with milky sap supplies; the other faculties. VIII. How much farther this You, only you, can move the god's desire :
order and subordination of living creatures may exOh, crown so constant and so pure a fire!
tend above and below us; were any part of which Let soft compassion touch your gentle mind; broken, not that part only, but the whole conThink, 'tis Vertumnus begs you to be kind;
nected creation, must be destroyed. IX. The exSo may no frost, when early buds appear,
travagance, madness, and pride of such a desire. Destroy the promise of the youthful year;
X. The consequence of all the absolute submisNor winds, when first your forid orchard blows, sion due to Providence, both as to our present and Shake the light blossoms from their blasted boughs!" future state.
This when the various god had urg'd in vain, He straight assum'd his native form again; AWAKE, my St. John! leave all meaner things Such, and so bright an aspect now he bears, To low ambition and the pride of kings. As when through clouds th' emerging Sun appears, Let us (since life can little more supply And, thence exerting his refulgent ray,
Than just to look about us, and to die) Dispels the darkness, and reveals the day. Expatiate free o'er all this scene of man; Force he prepar'd, but check'd the rash design: A mighty maze! but not without a plan : For when, appearing in a form divine,
A wild, where weeds and flowers promiscuous shoot; The nymph surveys him, and beholds the grace Or garden, tempting with forbidden fruit. Of charming features, and a youthful face ; Together let us beat this ample field, In her soft breast consenting passions move, Try what the open, what the covert yield; And the warm maid confessd a mutual love. The latent tracts, the giddy heights, explore
Of all who blindly creep, or sightless soar;
Eye Nature's walks, shoot Folly as it flies,
But vindicate the ways of God to man.
I. Say, first, of God above, or man below,
What can we reason, but from what we know? IN FOUR EPISTLES,
Of man, what see we but his station here,
From which to reason, or to which refer? TO H. ST. JOHN, LORD BOLINGBROKE. Through worlds unnumber'd though the God be
known, EPISTLE I.
"Tis ours to trace him only in our own.
He, who through vast immensity can pierce, OF THE NATURE AND STATE OF MAN WITH RE- See worlds on worlds compose one universe, SPECT TO THE UNIVERSE.
Observe how system into system runs,
What other planets circle other suns,
What varied Being peoples every star,
May tell why Heaven has made us as we are. Of man in the abstract.-I. That we can judge only But of this frame the bearings and the ties,
with regard to our own system, being ignorant of the strong connexions, nice dependencies, the relations of systems and things. II. That man Gradations just, has thy pervading soul is not to be deemed imperfect, but a being suited Look'd through? or can a part contain the whole ? to his place and rank in the creation, agreeable Is the great chain, that draws all to agree, to the general order of things, and conformable And drawn supports, upheld by God, or thee? to ends and relations to him unknown. III. That II. Presumptuous man! the reason wouldst thou it is partly upon his ignorance of future events,
find, and partly upon the hope of a future state, that Why form’d so weak, so little, and so blind ? all his happiness in the present depends. IV. The First, if thou canst, the harder reason guess, pride of aiming at more knowledge, and pretend- Why form'd no weaker, blinder, and no less ? ing to more perfection, the cause of man's error Ask of thy mother Earth, why oaks are made and misery. The impiety of putting himself in Taller or weaker than the weeds they shade?
Or ask of yonder argent fields above,
To be, contents his natural desire,
But thinks, admitted to that equal sky,
His faithful dog shall bear bim company. Where all must full or not coherent be,
IV. Go, wiser thou! and in thy scale of sense, And all that rises, rise in due degree;
Weigh thy opinion against Providence;
Respecting man, whatever wrong we call If man alone engross not Heaven's high care,
Alone made perfect here, immortal there : In human works, though labor'd on with pain, Snatch from his hand the balance and the rod, A thousand movements scarce one purpose gain : Re-judge his justice, be the god of God. In God's, one single can its end produce; In Pride, in reasoning Pride, our error lies; Yet serves to second too some other use.
All quit their sphere, and rush into the skies.
Pride still is aiming at the blest abodes,
Aspiring to be angels, men rebel:
Of order, sins against th' Eternal Cause. His fiery course, or drives him o'er the plains; V. Ask for what end the heavenly bodies shine, When the dull ox, why now he breaks the clod, Earth for whose use? Pride answers, “Tis for Is now a victim, and now Egypt's god:
mine: Then shall man's pride and dullness comprehend For me kind Nature wakes her genial power; Ilis actions', passions', being's, use and end ; Suckles each herb, and spreads out every flower; Why doing, suffering, check’d, impell’d; and why Annual for me, the grape, the rose, renew This hour a slave, the next a deity.
The juice nectareous, and the balmy dew; Then say not Man's imperfect, Heaven in fault; For me, the mine a thousand treasures brings; Say, rather, Man's as perfect as he ought: For me, health gushes from a thousand springs; His knowledge measur'd to his state and place; Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise; His time a moment, and a point his space. My footstool Earth, my canopy the skies." If to be perfect in a certain sphere,
But errs not Nature from this gracious end, What matter, soon or late, or here, or there? From burning suns when lịvid deaths descend, The blest to-day is as completely so,
When earthquakes swallow, or when tempests sweep As who began a thousand years ago.
Towns to one grave, whole nations to the deep! III. Heaven from all creatures hides the book of “ No,” 'tis replied, “ the first Almighty Cause Fate,
Acts not by partial, but by general laws; All but the page prescrib'd, their present state: Th'exceptions few; some change since all begun : From brutes what men, from men what spirits know: And what created perfect ?" Why then man? Or who could suffer being here below?
If the great end be human happiness, The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day,
Then Nature deviates; and can man do less! Had he thy reason, would he skip and play? As much that end a constant course requires Pleas'd to the last, he crops the flowery food, of showers and sun-shine, as of man's desires; And licks the hand just rais'd to shed his blood. As much eternal springs and cloudless skies, Oh blindness to the future! kindly given,
As men for ever temperate, calm, and wise. That each may fill the circle mark'd by Heaven: If plagues or earthquakes break not Heaven's design, Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,
Why then a Borgia, or a Catiline; A hero perish, or a sparrow fall,
Who knows, but he whose hand the lightning forms, Atoms or systems into ruin hurl'd,
Who heaves old Ocean, and who wings the storms; And now a bubble burst, and now a world. Pours fierce ambition in a Cæsar's mind,
Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar, Or turns young Ammon loose 10 scourge mankind!
Better for us, perhaps, it might appear,
That never air or ocean felt the wind,
The general order, since the whole began,
Is kept in Nature, and is kept in man. Behind the cloud-topt hill, an humbler Heaven; VI. What would this man? Now upward will be Somo safer world in depth of woods embrac'd,
soar, Some happier island in the watery waste,
And, little less than angel, would be more ; Where slaves once more their native land hehold, Now looking downwards, just as griov'd appears No fiends torment, no Christians thirst for gold. To want the strength of bulls, the fur of tears.
Made for his use all creatures if he call,
From Nature's chain whatever link you strike, Say what their use, had he the powers of all ? Tenth, or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike. Nature to these without profusion, kind,
And, if each system in gradation roll The proper organs, proper powers assign'd; Alike essential to th' amazing whole, Each seeming want compensated of course, The least confusion but in one, not all Here with degrees of swiftness, there of force; That system only, but the whole must fall. All in exact proportion to the state;
Let Earth unbalanc'd from her orbit fly, Nothing to add, and nothing to abate.
Planets and suns run lawless through the sky; Each beast, each insect, happy in its own: Let ruling angels from their spheres be hurld, Is Heaven unkind to man, and man alone?
Being on being wreck’d, and world on world; Shall he alone, whom rational we call,
Ileaven's whole foundations to their centre nod, Be pleas'd with nothing, if not blest with all ? And Nature trembles to the throne of God.
The bliss of man (could pride that blessing find) All this dread order break-for whom ? for thec? Is not to act or think beyond mankind;
Vile worm-oh madness! pride! impiety! No powers of body or of soul to share,
IX. What if the foot, ordain’d the dust to tread, But what his nature and his state can bear. Or hand, to toil, aspir'd to be the head ? Why has not man a microscopic eye?
What if the head, the cye, or ear, repin'd
To serve mere engines to the ruling mind ?
Just as absurd, lo mourn the tasks or pains
The great directing mind of all ordains. Or quick effluvia darting through the brain,
All are but parts of ono stupendous whole, Die of a rose in aromatic pain ?
Whose body Nature is, and God the soul; If Nature thunderd in his opening ears,
That chang'd through all, and yet in all the same; And stunn'd him with the music of the spheres, Great in the Earth, as in th' ethereal frame; How would he wish that Heaven had left him still Warms in the Sun, refreshes in the brecze, The whispering zephyr, and the purling rill ! Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees; Who finds not Providence all good and wise, Lives through all life, extends through all extent; Alike in what it gives, and what denies ?
Spreads undivided, operates unspent;
Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part,
As full, as perfect, in vile man that mourns,
As the rapt seraph that adores and burns : What modes of sight betwixt each wide extreme,
To him no high, no low, no great, no small; The mole’s dim curtain, and the lynx's beam; He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all. Of smell, the headlong lioness between,
X. Cease, then, nor order imperfection' name : And hound sagacious on the tainted green; Our proper bliss depends on what we blame. Of hearing, from the life that fills the food, Know thy own point: this kind, this due degree To that which warbles through the vernal wood! Of blindness, weakness, Heaven bestows on thee. The spider's touch, how exquisitely fine! Submit.-In this, or any other sphere, Feels at each thread, and lives along the line : Secure to be as blest as thou canst bear : In the nice bee, what sense so subtly true Safe in the hand of one disposing Power, From poisonous herbs extracts the healing dew! Or in the natal, or the mortal hour. How Instinct varies in the grovelling swine, All Nature is but Art, unknown to thee; Compar’d, half-reasoning elephant, with thine! All Chance, Direction, which thou canst not see; 'Twixt that, and Reason, what a nice barrier! All Discord, Harmony not understood ; For ever separate, yet for ever near!
All partial Evil, universal Good.
And, spite of Pride, in erring Reason's spite,
OF THE NATURE AND STATE OF MAN WITHI NXIs not thy Reason all these powers in one ?
SPECT TO USELF, AS AN INDIVIDUAL. VIII. See, through this air, this ocean, and this earth,
Argument. All matter quick, and bursting into birth.
1. The business of man not to pry into God, but to A bove, how high! progressive life may go!
study himself. His middle nature: his powers Around, how wide! how deep extend below! and frailties. The limits of his capacity. II. The Vast chain of being! which from God tegan, two principles of man, self-love and reason, both Natures ethereal, human, angel, man,
necessary. Self-love the stronger, and why. Their Beast, bird, fish, insect, what no eye can see,
end the same. III. The passions, and their use. No glass can reach ; from Infinite to thee,
The predominant passion, and its force. Its necesFrom thee to Nothing.-On superior powers sity, in directing men to different purposes.
Its Were we to press, inferior might on ours;
providential use, in fixing our principlo, and 18Or in the full creation leave a void,
certaining our virtue. IV. Virtue and vice joined Where, one step broken, the great scale's destroy'd : in our mixed nature; the limits near, yet the
things separate and evident: what is the office of Man, but for that, no action could attend,
Sedate and quiet the comparing lies,
Self-love, still stronger, as its objects nigh;
Reason's at distance, and in prospect lie : A being darkly wise, and rudely great:
That sees immediate good by present sense ; With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side, Reason, the future and the consequence. With too much weakness for the Stoic's pride, Thicker than arguments, temptations throng, He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest ; At best more watchful this, but that more strong ; In doubt to deem himself a god, or beast; The action of the stronger to suspend, In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
Reason still use, to Reason still attend. Born but to die, and reasoning but to err;
Attention, habit, and experience gains; Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Each strengthens Reason, and Self-love restrains. Whether he thinks too little, or too much : Let subtle schoolmen teach these friends to fight, Chaos of thought and passion, all confus'd ; More studious to divide than to unite; Sull by himself abus’d, or disabus’d;
And Grace and Virtue, Sense and Reason split, Created half to rise, and half to fall;
With all the rash dexterity of Wit.
Self-love and Reason to one end aspire, Go, wondrous creature! mount where Science Pain their aversion, pleasure their desire ; guides,
But greedy that, his object would devour, Go, measure Earth, weigh air, and state the tides; This taste the honey, and not wound the flower : Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
Pleasure, or wrong or rightly understood, Correct old Time, and regulate the Sun;
Our greatest evil, or our greatest good. Go, soar with Plato to th’empyreal sphere,
III. Modes of Self-love the passions we may call; To the first good, first perfect, and first fair; "Tis real good, or seeming, moves them all: Or tread the mazy round his followers trod, But since not every good we can divide, And quitting sense call imitating God;
And Reason bids us for our own provide ; As eastern priests in giddy circles run,
Passions, though selfish, if their means be fair, And turn their heads to imitate the Sun.
List under Reason, and deserve her care; Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule
Those, that imparted, court a nobler aim, Then drop into thyself, and be a fool!
Exalt their kind, and take some virtue's name. Superior beings, when of late they saw
In lazy apathy let Stoics boast
Their virtue fix'd ; 'tis fix'd as in a frost;
Could he, whose rules the rapid comet bind, The rising tempest puts in act the soul ; Describe or fix one movement of his mind! Parts it may ravage, but preserves the whole. Who saw its fires here rise and there descend, On life's vast ocean diversely we sail, Explain his own beginning or his end ?
Reason the card, but Passion is the gale ; Alas, what wonder! Man's superior part
Nor God alone in the still calm we find, Uncheck'd may rise, and climb from art to art; He mounts the storm, and walks upon the wind. But when his own great work is but begun, Passions, like elements, though born to fight, What Reason weaves, by Passion is undone. Yet, mix'd and soften'd, in his work unite :
Trace Science, then, with Modesty thy guide ; These 'tis enough to temper and employ; First strip off all her equipage of Pride;
But what composes man, can man destroy ! Deduct what is but Vanity or dress,
Suffice that Reason keep to Nature's road, Or Learning's luxury, or Idleness;
Subject, compound them, follow her and God. Or tricks to show the stretch of human brain, Love, Hope, and Joy, fair Pleasure's smiling train; Mere curious pleasure, or ingenious pain;
Hate, Fear, and Grief, the family of Pain ; Expunge the whole, or lop th' excrescent parts These, mixt with art, and to due bounds confind, Of all our Vices have created Arts;
Make and maintain the balance of the mind; Then see how little the remaining sum,
The lights and shades whose well-accorded strife Which serv'd the past, and must the times to come! Gives all the strength and color of our life.
II. Two principles in human nature reign; Pleasures are ever in our hands and eyes ; Self-love, to urge, and Reason, to restrain;
And when in act they cease, in prospect rise : Nor this a good, nor that a bad we call,
Present to grasp, and future still to find, Each works its end, to move or govern all : The whole employ of body and of mind. And to their proper operation still,
All spread their charms, but charm not all alike; Ascribe all good, to their improper, ill.
On different senses, different objects strike : Self-love, the spring of motion, acts the soul; Hence different passions more or less inflame, Reason's comparing balance rules the whole. As strong or weak, the organs of the frame;
And hence one master passion in the breast, The fiery soul abhorr'd in Catiline,
Extremes in Nature equal ends produce,
And oft so mix, the difference is too nice Whatever warms the heart, or fills the head, Where ends the virtue, or begins the vice. As the mind opens, and its functions spread, Fools! who from hence into the notion fall, Imagination plies her dangerous art,
That vice or virtue there is none at all. And pours it all upon the peccant part.
If white and black blend, soften, and unite Nature its mother, Habit is its nurse ;
A thousand ways, is there no black or white ? Wit, Spirit, Faculties, but make it worse ; Ask your own heart, and nothing is so plain; Reason itself but gives it edge and power; 'Tis to mistake them, costs the time and pain. As Heaven's blest beam turns vinegar more sour. V. Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
We, wretched subjects though to lawful sway, As, to be hated, needs but to be seen; In this weak queen, some favorite still obey : Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, Ah! if she lend not arms, as well as rules, We first endure, then pity, then embrace. What can she more than tell us we are fools ? But where th' extreme of vice, was ne'er agreed : Teach us to mourn our nature, not to mend; Ask where's the north ? at York, 'tis on the Tweed; A sharp accuser, but a helpless friend !
In Scotland, at the Orcades; and there, Or from a judge turn pleader, to persuade
At Greenland, Zembla, or the Lord knows where. The choice we make, or justify it made ; No creature owns it in the first degree, Proud of an easy conquest all along,
But thinks his neighbor further gone than he : She but removes weak passions for the strong : Ev’n those who dwell beneath its very zone, So, when small humors gather to a gout, Or never feel the rage, or never own; The doctor fancies he has driv'n them out. What happier natures shrink at with affright,
Yes, Nature's road must ever be preferr'd; The hard inhabitant contends is right. Reason is here no guide, but still a guard :
Virtuous and vicious every man must be, 'Tis hers to rectify, not overthrow,
Few in th' extreme, but all in the degree;
That, happy frailties to all ranks applied ;
Shame to the virgin, to the matron pride ; Th'Eternal Art, educing good from ill, Fear to the statesman, rashness to the chief; Grafts on this passion our best principle :
To kings presumption, and to crowds belief: 'Tis thus the mercury of man is fix'd,
That, Virtue's ends from vanity can raise, Strong grows the virtue with his nature mix'd ; Which seeks no interest, no reward but praise. The dross cements what else were too refin'd, And build on wants, and on defects of mind, And in one interest body acts with mind. The joy, the peace, the glory of mankind. As fruits, ungrateful to the planter's care,
Heaven forming each on other to depend, On savage stocks inserted learn to bear;
A master, or a servant, or a friend, The surest virtues thus from passions shoot, Bids each on other for assistance call, Wild Nature's vigor working at the root. Till one man's weakness grows the strength of all. What crops of wit and honesty appear
Wants, frailties, passions, closer still ally From spleen, from obstinacy, hate, or fear! The common interest, or endear the tie. See anger, zeal and fortitude supply;
To these we owe true friendship, love sincere, Ev'n avarice, prudence; sloth, philosophy; Each home-felt joy that life inherits here ; Lust, through some certain strainers well refind, Yet from the same we learn, in its decline, Is gentle love, and charms all woman-kind; Those joys, those loves, those interests, to resign; Envy, to which th'ignoble mind's a slave, Taught half by Reason, half by mere decay, Is emulation in the learn'd or brave;
To welcome death, and calmly pass away. Nor virtue, male or female, can we name,
Whate'er the passion, knowledge, fame, or pell, But what will grow on pride, or grow on shame. Not one will change his neighbor with himself.
Thus Nature gives us (let it check our pride) The learn'd is happy Nature to explore, The virtue nearest to our vice allied :
The fool is happy that he knows no more. Reason the bias turns to good from ill,
The rich is happy in the plenty given, And Nero reigns a Titus, if he will.
The poor contents him with the care of Heaven.