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EPISTLE II.

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ARGUMENT. Of the Nature and State of Man, with respect to Himself,

as an Individual. The business of Man not to pry into God, but to study himself....His middle nature; powers

and frailties.... The limits of his capacity.... The two principles of Man, Self-love and Reason, both necessary.... Self-love the stronger, and why.... Their end the same.... The Passions, and their use....

.The predominant passion, and its force .... Its necessity, in directing men to different purposes... Its providential use, in fixing our principle, and ascertaining our virtue.... Virtue and vice joined in our mixed nature; the limits near, yet the things separate and evident: what is the office of Reason.... How odious Vice is in itseit, and how we deceive ourselves into it.... That, however, the ends of Providence and general good are answered in our passions and imperfections....How usefully these are distributed to all orders of Men.... How useful they are to Society, and to Individuals, in every state and every age of life.

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 side,
With too much weakness for the stoic's pride,

He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;
In doubt 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;
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 ;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl'd:
The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!

Go, wond'rous creature! mount where science

guides; Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides;

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;
And, quitting sense, call imitating God;
As eastern priests in giddy circles run,

And turn their heads to imitate the sun.

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Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule--

Then drop into thyself, and be a fool!

Superior beings, when of late they saw

A mortal man unfold all nature's law,

Admir'd such wisdom in an earthly shape,

And shew'd a Newton as we shew an ape.

Could he, whose rules the rapid comet bind,

Describe or fix one movement of his mind?

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Who saw its fires here rise and there descend,

Explain his own beginning or his end?
Alas, what wonder! man's superior part
Uncheck'd may rise, and climb from art to art;
But when his own great work is but begun,
What reason weaves, by passion is undone.

Trace science then with modesty thy guide;
First strip off all her equipage of pride;
Deduct what is but vanity, or dress,
Or learning's luxury, or idleness ;
Or tricks to shew the stretch of human brain,
Mere curious pleasure, or ingenious pain;
Expunge the whole, or lop th' excrescent parts

Of all our vices have created arts;

Then see how little the remaining sum,

Which sery'd the past, and must the times to come.

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2. Two principles in human nature reign,
Self-love, to urge, and reason, to restrain;
Nor this a good, nor that a bad we call,
Each works its end, to move or govern all:
And to their proper operation still
Ascribe all good, to their improper, ill.

Self-love, the spring of motion, acts the soul;
Reason's comparing balance rules the whole.
Man, but for that, no action could attend,

And, but for this, were active to no end :

Fix'd like a plant on his peculiar spot,
To draw nutrition, propagate, and rot;

Or, meteor-like, flame lawless thro' the void,

Destroying others, by himself destroy’d.

Most strength the moving principle requires; Active its task, it prompts, impels, inspires:

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