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So man, who here seems principal alone,
Then say not man 's imperfect, Heaven in fault; Say rather, man 's as perfect as he ought:
70 His knowledge measured to his state and place; His time a moment, and a point his space. If to be perfect in a certain sphere, What matter, soon or late, or here, or there? The bless'd to-day is as completely so, As who began a thousand years ago.
(fate, III, Heaven from all creatures hides the book of All but the page prescribed, their present state : From brutes what men, from men what spirits know: Or who could suffer being here below?
80 The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day, Had he thy reason, would he skip and play? Pleased to the last, he crops the flowery food, And licks the hand just rais'd to shed his blood. Oh blindness to the future ! kindly given, That each may fill the circle mark'd by Heaven: Who sees with equal eye, as God of all, A hero perish, or a sparrow fall, Atoms or systems into ruin hurl'd, And now a bubble burst, and now a world.
90 Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar; Wait the great teacher, Death ; and God adore. What future bliss, he gives not thee to know, But gives that hope to be thy blessing now. Hope springs eternal in the human breast : Man never Is, but always To be bless'd : The soul, uneasy, and confined from home, Rests and expatiates on a life to come.
Lo, the poor Indian ! whose untutor'd mind Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind; 100 His soul proud science never taught to stray Far as the solar walk, or milky way; Yet simple nature to his hope has given, Behind the cloud-topp'd hill, an humbler heaven ; Some safer world in depth of woods embraced, Some happier island in the watery waste, Where slaves once more their native land behold, No fiends torment, no Christians thirst for gold. To be, contents his natural desire, He asks no angel's wing, no seraph's fire ;
110 But thinks, admitted to that equal sky, His faithful dog shall bear him company.
IV. Go, wiser thou! and in thy scale of sense,
if man's unhappy, God's unjust:
120 Snatch from his hand the balance and the rod, Re-judge his justice, be the god of God. In pride, in reasoning pride, our error lies; All quit their sphere, and rush into the skies. Pride still is aiming at the bless'd abodes, Men would be angels, angels would be gods. Aspiring to be gods, if angels fell, Aspiring to be angels, men rebel : And who but wishes to invert the laws Of order, sins against th’ Eternal Cause.
130 V. Ask for what end the heavenly bodies shine, Earth for whose use? Pride answers, 'Tis for mine: For me kind nature wakes her genial power; Suckles each herb, and spreads out every flower; Annual for me, the grape, the rose, renew The juice nectareous, and the balmy dew; For me, the mine a thousand treasures brings; For me, health gushes from a thousand springs; Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise ; My fuot-stool earth, my canopy the skies.'
But errs not nature from this gracious end, From burning suns when livid deaths descend, When earthquakes swallow, or when tempests sweep Towns to one grave, whole nations to the deep?
No,''tis replied,' the first Almighty Cause Acts not by partial, but by general laws; Th'exceptions few ; some change since all began : And what created perfect ?'—Why then man? If the great end be human happiness, Then nature deviates; and can man do less ? 150 As much that end a constant course requires Of showers and sunshine, as of man's desires; As much eternal springs and cloudless skies, As men for ever temperate, calm, and wise. If plagues or earthquakes break not Heaven's design, Why then a Borgia, or a Catiline ? Who knows, but he whose hand the lightning forms, Who heaves old Ocean, and who wings the storms; Pours fierce ambition in a Cæsar's mind,
Better for us, perhaps, it might appear,
170 The general order, since the whole began, Is kept in nature, and is kept in man.
[soar, VI. What would this man? Now upward will he And, little less than angel, would be more ; Now looking downwards, just as grieved appears To want the strength of bulls, the fur of bears. Made for his use all creatures if he call, Say what their use, had he the powers of all ? Nature to these, without profusion, kind, The proper organs, proper powers assign'd; 180 Each seeming want compensated of course, Here with degrees of swiftness, there of force;
All in exact proportion to the state ;
The bliss of man (could pride that blessing find)
190 No powers of body or of soul to share, But what his nature and his state can bear. Why has not man a microscopic eye? For this plain reason, man is not a fly. Say what the use, were finer optics given, T' inspect a mite, not comprehend the heaven? Or touch, if tremblingly alive all o'er, To smart and agonize at every pore? Or quick effluvia darting through the brain, Die of a rose in aromatic pain ?
200 If Nature thunder'd in his opening ears, And stunn'd him with the music of the spheres, How would he wish that Heaven 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 ?
VII. Far as creation's ample range extends, The scale of sensual, mental, powers ascends : Mark how it mounts to man's imperial race, From the green myriads in the peopled grass : 210 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! 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 poisonous herbs extracts the healing dew! 220 How instinct varies in the grovelling swine, Compared, half-reasoning elephant, with thine ! "Twixt that and reason what a nice barrier; For ever separate, yet for ever near!
Remembrance and reflection how allied ;
230 The powers of all subdued by thee alone, Is not thy reason all these powers in one ?
VIII. See, through this air, this ocean, and this All matter quick, and bursting into birth. (earth, Above, how high progressive life may go ! Around, how wide! how deep extend below! Vast chain of being! which from God began, Natures ethereal, human, angel, man, Beast, bird, fish, insect, what no eye can see, No glass can reach ; from infinite to thee,
240 From thee to nothing.-On superior powers Were we to press, inferior might on ours; Or in the full creation leave a void, Where, one step broken, the great scale's destroy'd : From nature's chain whatever link you strike, Tenth, or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike.
And, if each system in gradation roll Alike essential to the amazing whole, The least confusion but in one, not all That system only, but the whole must fall, 250 Let earth unbalanced from her orbit fly, Planets and suns run lawless through the sky; Let ruling angels from their spheres be hurl'd, Being on being wreck'd, and world on world; Heaven's whole foundations to their centre nod, And nature trembles to the throne of God. All this dread order break-for whom? for thee? Vile worm!-oh madness! pride! impiety!
IX. What if the foot, ordain'd the dust to tread, Or hand, to toil, aspired to be the head ?
260 What if the head, the eye, or ear, repined To serve mere engines to the ruling mind? Just as absurd for any part to claim To be another in this general frame: Just as absurd, to mourn the tasks or pains The great directing Mind of all ordains.