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'Tis hers to rectify, not overthrow,
And treat this passion more as friend than foe:
A mightier pow'r the strong direction sends,
And sev'ral men impels to sev'ral ends.
15 Like varying winds, by other passions tost,
This drives them constant to a certain coast.
16 Th' eternal art, educing good from ill,
Grafts on this passion our best principle:
'Tis thus the mercury of man is fix'd,
Strong grows the virtue with his nature mix'd;
The dross cements what else were too refin'd,
And in one int'rest body acts with mind.
17 As fruits ungrateful to the planter's care,
On savage stocks inserted learn to bear;
The surest virtues thus from passions shoot,
Wild nature's vigor working at the root.
What crops of wit and honesty appear
From spleen, from obstinacy, hate or fear!
See anger, zeal and fortitude supply;
Ev'n avarice, prudence; sloth, philosophy;
Envy, to which th' ignoble mind's a slave,
Is emulation in the learn'd or brave:
Nor virtue, male or female, can we name,
But what will grow on pride, or grow on shame.
18 Thus nature gives us (let it check our pride)
The virtue nearest to our vice ally'd;
Reason the bias turns to good from ill,
And Nero reigns a Titus, if he will.
The fiery soul abhorr'd in Catiline,
In Decius charms, in Curtius is divine.
The same ambition can destroy or save,
And makes a patriot as it makes a knave.
19 This light and darkness in our chaos join'd,
What shall divide? The God within the mind.*
Extremes in nature equal ends produce,
In man they join to some mysterious use;
* A Platonic phrase for conscience; and here employed with great judgment and propriety. For conscience either signifies, speculatively, the judgment we pass of things upon whatever principle we chance to have; and then it is only opinion, a very unable judge and divider. Or else it signifies, practically, the application of the eternal rule of right (received by us as the law of God) to the regulations of our actions; and then it is properly conscience, the God (or the law of God) within the mind, of power to divide the light from the darkness in this chaos of the passions.
Though each by turns the other's bounds invade,
As in some well-wrought picture, light and shade;
And oft so mixt, the diff'rence is too nice
Where ends the virtue, or begins the vice.
20 Fools! who from hence into the notion fall, That vice or virtue there is none at all. If white and black blend, soften and unite A thousand ways, is there no black or white? Ask your own heart, and nothing is so plain; 'Tis to mistake them, costs the time and pain.
21 Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, As, to be hated, needs but to be seen; Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, We first endure, then pity, then embrace. But where th' extreme of vice, was ne'er agreed; Ask where's the North? at York, 'tis on the Tweed: In Scotland, at the Orcades; and there,
At Greenland, Zembla, or the Lord knows where.
22 No creature owns it in the first degree,
But thinks his neighbor farther gone than he:
Ev'n those who dwell beneath its very zone,
Or never feel the rage, or never own;
What happier natures shrink at with affright,
The hard inhabitant contends is right.
23 Virtuous and vicious every man must be,
Few in th' extreme, but all in the degree;
The rogue and fool by fits is fair and wise,
And ev'n the best, by fits, what they despise.
'Tis but by parts we follow good or ill,
For, vice or virtue, self directs it still;
Each individual seeks a sev'ral goal;
But Heav'n's great view is one, and that the whole:
24 That counterworks each folly and caprice;
That disappoints th' effect of ev'ry vice:
That, happy frailties to all ranks apply'd,
Shame to the virgin, to the matron pride,
Fear to the statesman, rashness to the chief,
To kings presumption, and to crowds belief:
That, virtue's ends from vanity can raise,
Which seeks no int'rest, no reward but praise;
And build on wants, and on defects of mind,
The joy, the peace, the glory of mankind.
25 Heav'n, forming each on other to depend, A master, or a servant, or a friend,
Bids each on other for assistance call,
Till one man's weakness grows the strength of all.
Wants, frailties, passions, closer still ally
The common int'rest, or endear the tie.
26 To these we owe true friendship, love sincere, Each home-felt joy that life inherits here: Yet from the same we learn, in its decline, Those joys, those loves, those int'rests to resign: Taught half by reason, half by mere decay, To welcome death, and calmly pass away.
27 Whate'er the passion, knowledge, fame, or pelf, Not one will change his neighbor with himself. The learn'd is happy nature to explore, The fool is happy that he knows no more; The rich is happy in the plenty giv'n, The poor contents him with the care of Heav'n. 28 See the blind beggar dance, the cripple sing, The sot a hero, lunatic a king;
The starving chymist in his golden views
Supremely blest, the poet in his muse.
See some strange comfort ev'ry state attend,
And pride bestow'd on all, a common friend;
See some fit passion ev'ry age supply,
Hope travels through, nor quits us when we die.
29 Behold the child, by nature's kindly law,
Pleas'd with a rattle, tickled with a straw;
Some livelier plaything gives his youth delight,
A little louder, but as empty quite:
Scarfs, garters, gold, amuse his riper stage;
And beads and pray'r-books are the toys of age:
Pleas'd with this bauble still, as that before;
Till tir'd he sleeps, and life's poor play is o'er!
30 Meanwhile opinion gilds with varying rays
Those painted clouds that beautify our days;
Each want of happiness by hope supply'd;
And each vacuity of sense by pride:
These build as fast as knowledge can destroy;
In folly's cup still laughs the bubble, joy;
One prospect lost, another still we gain;
And not a vanity is giv'n in vain;
Ev'n mean self-love becomes, by force divine,
The scale to measure others' wants by thine.
See! and confess one comfort still must rise;
"Tis this, though man's a fool, yet God is wise.
Of the Nature and State of Man, with respect to Society.
HERE then we rest: "The universal cause
"Acts to one end, but acts by various laws."
In all the madness of superfluous health,
The trim of pride, the impudence of wealth,
Let this great truth be present night and day;
But most be present, if we preach or pray.
2 Look round our world; behold the chain of love
Combining all below and all above.
See plastic nature working to this end,
The single atoms each to other tend,
Attract, attracted too, the next in place
Form'd and impell'd its neighbor to embrace.
See matter next, with various life endu'd,
Press to one centre still, the gen'ral good.
3 See dying vegetables life sustain,
See life dissolving vegetate again:
All forms that perish other forms supply,
(By turns we catch the vital breath, and die:)
Like bubbles on the sea of matter borne,
They rise, they break, and to that sea return.
4 Nothing is foreign; parts relate to whole;
One all-extending, all-preserving soul
Connects each being, greatest with the least;
Made beast in aid of man, and man of beast;
All serv'd, all serving: nothing stands alone;
The chain holds on, and where it ends, unknown.
5 Has God, thou fool! work'd solely for thy good,
Thy joy, thy pastime, thy attire, thy food?
Who for thy table feeds the wanton fawn,
For him as kindly spreads the flow'ry lawn.
Is it for thee the lark ascends and sings?
Joy tunes his voice, joy elevates his wings.
Is it for thee the linnet pours his throat?
Loves of his own, and raptures swell the note.
6 The bounding steed you pompously bestride,
Shares with his lord the pleasure and the pride.
Is thine alone the seed that strews the plain?
The birds of heav'n shall vindicate their grain.
Thine the full harvest of the golden year?
Part pays, and justly, the deserving steer:
The hog, that plows not, nor obeys thy call,
Lives on the labors of this lord of all.
7 Know, nature's children all divide her care;
The fur that warms a monarch, warm'd a bear.
While man exclaims, "See all things for my use!"
"See man for mine!" replies a pamper'd goose:
And just as short of reason he must fall,
Who thinks all made for one, not one for all.
8 Grant that the pow'rful still the weak control,
Be man the wit and tyrant of the whole:
Nature that tyrant checks; he only knows,
And helps, another creature's wants and woes.
Say, will the falcon, stooping from above,
Smit with her varying plumage, spare the dove?
Admires the jay the insect's gilded wings?
Or hears the hawk when Philomela sings?
9 Man cares for all: to birds he gives his woods,
To beasts his pastures, and to fish his floods;
For some his int'rest prompts him to provide,
For more his pleasure, yet for more his pride:
All feed on one vain patron, and enjoy
The extensive blessing of his luxury.
10 That very life his learned hunger craves,
He saves from famine, from the savage saves:
Nay, feasts the animal, he dooms his feast,
And, till he ends the being, makes it blest;
Which sees no more the stroke, nor feels the pain,
Than favor'd man by touch ethereal slain:*
The creature had his feast of life before;
Thou too must perish when thy feast is o'er.
11 To each unthinking being, Heav'n a friend,
Gives not the useless knowledge of its end;
To man imparts it; but with such a view
As, while he dreads it, makes him hope it too:
The hour conceal'd, and so remote the fear,
Death still draws nearer, never seeming near.
Great standing miracle! that Heav'n assign'd
Its only thinking thing this turn of mind.
12 Whether with reason, or with instinct blest, Know, all enjoy that power which suits them best:
*Several of the ancients, and many of the orientals since, esteemed those who were struck by lightning as sacred persons and the particular favorites of heaven.