Page images
[ocr errors]

But errs not Nature from this gracious end, From burning suns when livid deaths descend, When earthquakes swallow, or when tempests

Towns to one grave, whole nations the deep ?
“No!” 't is replied ; “the first Almighty Cause
“Acts not by partial, but by general laws;
“Th exceptions few; some change since all

“And what created perfect ?" Why, then, man?
If the great end be human happiness,
Then Nature deviates; and can man do less ?
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 forever temperate, calm, and wise.
If plagues or earthquakes break not Heaven's

Why then a Borgia or a Cataline ?
Who knows but he whose hand the lightning

Who heaves old Ocean, and who wings the storms,
Pours fierce ambition in a Casar's mind,
Or turns young Ammon loose to scourge mankind?
From pride, from pride our very reasoning springs ;
Account for moral as for natural things :
Why charge we Heaven in those, in these aquit ?
In both, to reason right, is to submit.
Better for us, perhaps, it might appear,

Were there all harmony, all virtue here;
That never air or ocean felt the wind;
That never passion discomposed the mind.
But all subsists by elemental strife;
And passions are the elements of life.
The general order, since the whole began,
Is kept in Nature, and is kept in Man.
What would this Man ? Now upward will he

And, little less than angel, would be more :
Now, looking downward, 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, assigned ;
Each seeming want compensated of course,
Here with degrees of swiftness, there of force ;
All in exact proportion to the state ;
Nothing to add, and nothing to abate.
Each beast, each insect, happy in its own :
Is Heaven unkind to Man, and Man alone ?
Shall he alone, whom rational we call,
Be pleased with nothing, if not bless'd with all ?

The bliss of man (could pride that blessing find) Is not to act or think beyond mankind; 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,
To inspect a mite, not comprehend the heaven?
Or touch, if tremblingly alive all o’er,
To smart and agonize at every pore ?
Or quick efīluvia darting through the brain,
Die of a rose in aromatic pain ?
If nature thunder'd in his opening ears,
And stunned him with the music of the spheres,
How would he wish that Heaven had left him still
The whisp'ring zephyr, and the purling rill!
Who finds not Providence all good and wise,
Alike in what it gives, and what denies ?

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 :
What modes of fight betwixt each wide extreme,
The moles 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 pois'nous herbs extracts the healing dew ?
How instinct varies in the grov'ling swine,
Compar'd, 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,
What thin partitions sense from thought divide !
And middle natures how they long to join,
Yet never pass th’insuperable line !
Without this just gradation could they be
Subjected, these to those, or all to thee?
The powers of all subdued by thee alone,
Is not thy reason all these powers in one ?

Sce, thro’ this air, this ocean, and this earth,
All matter quick, and bursting into birth.
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,
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'l:
From nature's chain whatever link you strike,
Tenth, or ten-thousandth, breaks the chain alike.

And if each symptom in gradation roll
Alike essential to th' amazing whole,
The least confusion but in one, not all
That system only, but the whole, must fall.
Let earth unbalanc'd 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 tremble to the throne of God:
All this dread order break-for whoin ? for thee?
Vile worm !-oh madness, pride, impiety!

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.

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

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 thro' all life, extends thro' 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;

« PreviousContinue »