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Now looking downward, just as griev'd 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 pow'rs of all ?
Nature to these, without profusion kind,
The proper organs, proper pow'rs' assign'd;
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 pleas'd 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 pow'rs 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 givin,
T'inspect a mite, not comprehend the heav'n?
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 ?
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 ?
VII. 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 : 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,
215 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-reas’ning elephant, with thine ! 'Twixt that and reason, what a nice barrier! For ever sep’rate, yet for ever near! Remembrance and reflection how ally'd!
225 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?
powers of all subdu'd by thee alone, Is not thy reason all these powers in one?
VIII. See through this air, this ocean, and this earth, All matter quick, and bursting into birth. Above, how high progressive life may go!
235 Around, how wide! how deep extend below!
Vast chain of being! which from God began,
Nature's 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 pow'rs
Were we to press, inferior might on ours :
Or in the full creation leave a void,
Where, one step broken, the g eat 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.
Let earth unbalanc'd from her orbit fly,
Planets and suns run lawless through the sky;
Let ruling angels from their spheres he hurld,
Being on being wreck'd, and world on world;
Heav'n's whole foundations to their centre nod,
And nature tremble, to the throne of God :
All this dread order break-For whom? For thee?
Vile worm! O madness! pride! impiety!
IX. 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, 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 ;
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.
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, 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.
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.
I. KNOW then thyself, presume not God to scan! The proper study of mankind is man. Plac'd on this isthmus of a middle state, A being darkly wise, and rudely great : With too much knowledge for the sceptic's side, 5 With too much weakness for the stoic's pride, He hangs between : in doubt to act or rest ; In doubts to deem himself a god or beast ; In doubt his mind or body to prefer, Born but to die, and reas’ning but to err;
10 Alike in ignorance, his reason such, Whether he thinks too little or too much: Chaos of thought and passion, all confus'd; Still by himself abus’d or disabus'd; Created half to rise, and half to fall;
15 Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all ; Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurld; The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!
Go, wondrous creature ! mount where science guides, Go, measure earth, weigh air, and taste 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 foll’wers trod,
25 And quitting sense, call imitating God; As eastern priests in giddy circles run, And turn their heads to imitate the sun. Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule