« PreviousContinue »
All are but parts of one stupendous whole, Whose body Nature is, and God the soul ; That, changed through all, and yet in all the same; Great in the earth, as in th' ethereal frame; 270 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; As full, as perfect, in vile man that mourns, As the rapt seraph that adores and burns : To him no high, no low, no great, no small; He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all. 280
X. 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, Heaven bestows on thee. Submit.-- In this, or any other sphere, Secure to be as bless'd as thou canst bear : Safe in the hand of one disposing Power, Or in the natal, or the mortal hour. All nature is but art, unknown to thee; All chance, direction which thou canst not see; 290 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,
ARGUMENT OF EPISTLE II.
On the Nature and State of Man with respect to himself,
as an Individual. I. The business of man not to pry into God, but to study him. self. His middle nature; his powers and frailties, ver. 1 to 19. The limits of his capacity, ver. 19, &c. II. The two principles of man, self-love and reason, both necessary, ver. 53, &c.; selflove the stronger, and why, ver. 67, &c. Their end the same, ver. 81, &c. 111. The passions, and their use, ver. 93 to 130. The predominant passion, and its force, ver, 132 to 160. Its necessity, in directing men to different purposes, ver. 165, &c. Its provi. dential use, in fixing our principle, and ascertaining our virtue, ver. 177. IV. Virtue and vice joined in our mixed nature; the limits near, yet the things separate and evident: what is the office of reason, ver. 202 to 216. V. How odious vice in itself, and how we deceive ourselves into it, ver. 217. VI. That, however, the ends of Providence and general good are answered in our passions and imperfections, ver. 238, &c. How usefully these are distributed to all orders of men, ver. 241. How useful they are to society, ver. 251. And to individuals, ver. 263. In every state, and every age of life, ver. 273, &c. I. Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The
proper study of mankind is man.
Go, wondrous creaturel mount where science guides, Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides; 20 Instruct the planets in what orbs to run, Correct old time, and regulate the sun; Go, soar with Plato to th' empyreal sphere, To the first good, first perfect, and first fair ;
Or tread the mazy round his followers trod,
Could he, whose rules the rapid comet bind,
Trace science then, with modesty thy guide;
50 Then see how little the remaining sum, Which served the past, and must the times to come!
II. Two principles in human nature reign;
Self-love, the spring of motion, acts the soul;
Most strength the moving principle requires ; Active its task, it prompts, impels, inspires. Sedate and quiet the comparing lies, Form'd but to check, deliberate, and advise. 70 Self-love, still stronger, as its objects nigh; Reason's at distance, and in prospect lie: That sees immediate good by present sense ; Reason, the future and the consequence. 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. 80 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. 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 flower: 90 Pleasure, or wrong or rightly understood, Our greatest evil, or our greatest good.
III. Modes of self-love the passions we may call;
In lazy apathy let Stoics boast
Nor God alone in the still calm we find,
Passions, like elements, though born to fight,
Pleasures are ever in our hands and 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 different senses, different objects strike : Hence different passions more or less inflame, As strong or weak the organs of the frame; 130 And hence one master passion in the breast, Like Aaron's serpent, swallows up the rest.
As man, perhaps, the moment of his breath, Receives the lurking principle of death; The young disease, which must subdue at length, Grows with his growth, and strengthens with his So, cast and mingled with his very frame, (strength: The mind's disease, its ruling passion came; Each vital humour, which should feed the whole, Soon flows to this, in body and in soul :
140 Whatever warms the heart, or fills the head, As the mind
and its functions spread,
Nature its mother, habit is its nurse;
We, wretched subjects, though to lawful sway,