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HAPPINESS DEPENDS, NOT ON Goods, BUT ON VIRTUE.
Order is Heaven's first law; and this confessed,
Some are, and must be, greater than the rest,
More rich, more wise; but who infers from hence
That such are happier, shocks all common sense.
Heaven to mankind impartial we confess,
If all are equal in their happiness :
But mutual wants this happiness increase;
All Nature's difference keeps all Nature's peace.
Condition, circumstance, is not the thing :
Bliss is the same in subject or in king,
In who obtain defence, or who defend,
In him who is, or him who finds a friend;
Heaven breathes through every member of the whole
One common blessing, as one common soul.
• But sometimes virtue starves, while vice is fed.'
What then? Is the reward of virtue bread ?
That vice may merit, 't is the price of toil;
The knave deserves it, when he tills the soil;
The knave deserves it, when he tempts the main,
Where folly fights for kings, or dives for gain;
The good man may be weak, be indolent;
Nor is his claim to plenty, but content.
grant him riches, your demand is o'er ? • No- shall the good want health, the good want powei ?' Add health and power, and every earthly thing; • Why bounded power? why private ? why no king ?' Nay, why external for internal given ? Why is not man a god, and earth a heaven?
Who ask and reason thus, will scarce conceive
God gives enough, while he has more to give;
Immense the power, immense were the demand;
Say at what part of nature will they stand ?
What nothing earthly gives, or can destroy,
The soul's calm sunshine, and the heartfelt joy,
Js virtue's prize: a better would you fix?
Then give Humility a coach and six,
Justice a conqueror's sword, or Truth a gown,
Or Public Spirit its great cure, a crown.
Weak, foolish man! will heaven reward us there
With the same trash mad mortals wish for here?
The boy and man an individual makes,
Yet sighest thou now for apples and for cakes ?
Go, like the Indian, in another life
Expect thy dog, thy bottle, and thy wife;
As well as dream such trifles are assigned,
As toys and empires, for a godlike mind.
Rewards, that either would to virtue bring
No joy, or be destructive of the thing;
How oft by these at sixty are undone
The virtues of a saint at twenty-one !
To whom can riches give repute or trust,
Content, or pleasure, but the good and just ?
Judges and senates have been bought for gold;
Esteem and love were never to be sold.
Oh fool! to think God hates the worthy mind,
The lover and the love of humankind,
Whose life is healthful, and whose conscience clear,
Because he wants a thousand pounds a-year.
Honour and shame from no condition rise ;
Act well your part, there all the honour lies.
Fortune in men has some small difference made,
One flaunts in rags, one flutters in brocade;
The cobbler aproned, and the parson gowned,
The friar hooded, and the monarch crowned.
• What differ more (you cry) than crown and cowl!'
I'll tell you, friend a wise man and a fool.
You'll find, if once the monarch acts the monk,
Or, cobbler-like, the parson will be drunk;
Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow :
The rest is all but leather or prunella.
Boast the pure blood of an illustrious race,
In quiet flow from Lucrece to Lucrece:
But by your father's worth if yours you rate,
Count me those only who were good and great.
Go! if your ancient but ignoble blood
Has crept through scoundrels ever since the flood
Go! and pretend your family is young ;
Nor own your fathers have been fools so long.
What can ennoble sots, or slaves, or cowards?
Alas! not all the blood of all the Howards.
What's fame? a fancied life in others' breath
A thing beyond us, even before our death.
Just what you hear, you have; and what's unknown,
The same (my lord) if Tully's, or your own.
All that we feel of it begins and ends
In the small circle of our foes or friends;
To all beside as much an empty shade,
An Eugene living, as a Cæsar dead;
Alike or when or where they shone or shine,
Or on the Rubicon, or on the Rhine.
A wit's a feather, and a chief a rod;
An honest man's the noblest work of God.
Fame but from death a villain's name can save,
As justice tears his body from the grave;
When what to oblivion better were resigned,
Is hung on high to poison half mankind.
All fame foreign but of true desert;
Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart:
One self-approving hour whole years outweighs
Of stupid starers, and of loud huzzas;
And more true joy Marcellus exiled feels,
Than Cæsar with a senate at his heels.
Know then this truth (enough for man to know),
“ Virtue alone is happiness below.”
The only point where human bliss stands still,
And tastes the good without the fall to ill;
Where only merit constant pay receives,
Is blest in what it takes, and what it gives;
The joy unequalled, if its end it gain,
And if it lose, attended with no pain:
Without satiety, though e'er so blessed,
And but more relished as the more distressed :
The broadest mirth unfeeling Folly wears,
Less pleasing far than Virtue's very tears :
Good, from each object, from each place acquired,
For ever exercised, yet never tired;
Never elated, while one man 's oppressed ;
Never dejected, while another 's blest;
And where no wants, no wishes can remain,
Since but to wish more virtue, is to gain.
See the sole bliss Heaven could on all bestow! Which who but feels can taste, but thinks can know: Yet poor with fortune, and with learning blind, The bad must miss, the good untaught will find;
Slave to no sect, who takes no private road,
But looks through nature up to nature's God;
Pursues that chain which links the immense design,
Joins Heaven and earth, and mortal and divine;
Sees that no being any bliss can know,
But touches some above and some below;
Learns from this union of the rising whole,
The first, last purpose of the human soul;
And knows where faith, law, morals all began,
All end, in love of God and love of man.