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Of all the causes which conspire to blind
Man's erring judgment, and misguide the mind,
What the weak head with strongest bias rules,
Is pride, the never-failing vice of fools.
A little learning is a dangerous thing ;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring ;
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
A needless Alexandrine ends the song,
That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along
Ah! ne'er so dire a thirst of glory boast,
Nor in the critic let the man be lost.
Good-nature and good sense must ever join ;
To err is human, to forgive, divine.
No place so sacred from such fops is barr'd,
Nor is Paul's church more safe than Paul's church-yard :
Nay, fly to altars ; there they'll talk you dead;
For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
Awake, my St. John ! * leave all meaner things
To low ambition, and the pride of kings.
Let us (since life can little more supply
Than just to look about us and to die)
Expatiate free o'er all this scene of man ;
A mighty maze! but not without a plan ;
A wild, where weeds and flowers promiscuous' shoot,
Or garden tempting with forbidden fruit.
Together let us beat this ample field,
Try what the open, what the covert yield ;
The latent tracts, the giddy heights, explore
Henry St. John, Lord Bolingbroke, to whom the Essay on Man was addressed.
Of all who blindly creep, or sightless soar ;
Eye nature's walks, shoot folly as it flies,
And catch the manners living as they rise ;
Laugh where we must, be candid where we can ;
But vindicate the ways of God to man.*
Epistle 1. Lines I-16.
The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day,
Had he thy reason, would he skip and play?
Pleased to the last, he crops the flowery food,
And licks the hand just raised to shed his blood.
Hope humbly then ; with trembling pinions soar ;
Wait the great teacher Death ; and God adore,
What future bliss, he gives not thee to know,
But gives that hope to be thy blessing now,
Hope springs eternal in the human breast :
Man never is, but always to be blest.
Indian ! whose untutored mind, Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind.
Lines 99, 100.
I may assert eternal Providence,
And justify the ways of God to man.
Milton's Paradise Lost. Book 1.
And spite of pride, in erring reason's spite,
One truth is clear, Whatever is, is right.*
Epistle to Lines 293, 294.
Know then thyself, presume not God to scan,
The proper study of mankind is Man.
Epistle II. Lines 1, 2.
As man, perhaps, the moment of his breath,
Receives the lurking principle of death ;
The young disease, that must subdue at length,
Grows with his growth, and strengthens with his
Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As, to be hated, needs but to be seen.
Lines 2 17, 218.
For forms of government let fools contest ;
Whate'er is best administer'd is best :
For modes of faith, let graceless zealots fight;
His can't be wrong whose life is in the right ;
In faith and hope, the world will disagree,
But all mankind's concern is charity ;
All must be false, that thwarts this one great end ;
And all of God, that bless mankind, or mend.
Order is heaven's first law; and this confest,
Some are, and must be, greater than the rest.
Reason's whole pleasure, all the joys of sense,
Lie in three words, health, peace, and
But health consists with temperance alone;
O Virtue ! peace is all thy own.
Honour and shame from no condition rise ;
Act well your part—there all the honour lies.
Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow;
The rest is all but leather or prunella.
Lines 203, 204
What can ennoble sots, or slaves, or cowards ?
Alas! not all the blood of all the Howards.
Lines 215, 216.
A wit's a feather, and a chief a rod;
An honest man's the noblest work of God.
Lines 247, 248.
And more true joy Marcellus exil'd feels,
Than Cæsar with a senate at his heels.
Lines 257, 258.