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The creature had his feast of life before ;
Tlou too must perish, when thy feast is o'er !
To each unthinking being, Heaven, 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 Heaven assign'd
Its only thinking thing this turn of mind.
II. Whether with reason, or with instinct blest,
Know, all enjoy that power which suits them best;
To bliss alike by that direction tend,
And find the means proportion'd to their end.
Say, where full Instinct is th' unerring guide,
What pope or council can they need beside ?
Reason, however able, cool at best,
Cares not for service, or but serves when prest,
Stays till we call, and then not often near;
But honest Instinct comes a volunteer,
Sure never to o'ershoot, but just to hit;
While still too wide or short is human Wit;
Sure by quick Nature happiness to gain,
Which heavier Reason labours at in vain.
This too serves always, Reason never long:
One must go right, the other may go wrong.
See then the acting and comparing powers
One in their nature, which are two in ours !
And Reason raise o'er Instinct as you can,
In this 'tis God directs, in that 'tis man.
Who taught the nations of the field and wood To shun their poison, and to choose their food ?
Prescient, the tides or tempests to withstand,
Build on the wave, or arch beneath the sand ?
Who made the spider parallels design,
Sure as De Moivre, without rule or line ?
Who bid the stork, Columbus-like, explore
Heavens not his own, and worlds unknown before ?
Who calls the council, states the certain day?
Who forms the phalanx, and who points the way?
III. God, in the nature of each being, founds
Its proper bliss, and sets its proper bounds :
But as he fram'd a whole, the whole to bless,
On mutual wants built mutual happiness :
So from the first, eternal Order ran,
And creature link'd to creature, man to man.
Whate'er of life all-quickening ether keeps,
Or breathes through air, or shoots beneath the deeps,
Or pours profuse on earth, one Nature feeds
The vital flame, and swells the genial seeds.
Not man alone, but all that roam the wood,
Or wing the sky, or roll along the flood
Each loves itself, but not itself alone,
Each sex desires alike, till two are one.
Nor ends the pleasure with the fierce embrace;
They love themselves, a third time, in their race.
Thus beast and bird their common charge attend,
The mothers nurse it, and the sires defend ;
The young dismiss'd to wander earth or air,
There stops the Instinct, and there ends the care;
The link dissolves, each seeks a fresh embrace,
Another love succeeds, another race.
A longer care man's helpless kind demands;
That longer care contracts more lasting bands :
Reflection, Reason, still the ties improve,
At once extend the interest, and the love :
With choice we fix, with sympathy we burn;
Each virtue in each passion takes its turn;
And still new needs, new helps, new habits rise,
That graft benevolence on charities.
Still as one brood, and as another rose,
These natural love maintain'd, habitual those :
The last, scarce ripen'd into perfect man,
Saw helpless him from whom their life began :
Memory and Forecast just returns engage,
That pointed back to youth, this on to age;
While Pleasure, Gratitude, and Hope, combin'd,
Still spread the interest, and preserve the kind.
IV. Nor think, in Nature's state they blindly
The state of Nature was the reign of God:
Self-love and social at her birth began,
Union the bond of all things, and of man.
Pride then was not ; nor arts, that Pride to aid ;
Man walk'd with beast, joint tenant of the shade;
The same his table, and the same his bed ;
No murder cloth'd him, and no murder fed.
In the same temple, the resounding wood,
All vocal beings hymn'd their equal God :
The shrine with gore unstain'd, with gold undressid
Unbrib'd, unbloody, stood the blameless priest :
Heaven's attribute was universal care,
And man's prerogative, to rule, but spare.
Ah! how unlike the man of times to come!
Of half that live the butcher and the tomb;
Who, foe to Nature, hears the general groan,
Murders their species, and betrays his own.
But just disease to luxury succeeds,
And every death its own avenger breeds ;
The Fury-passions from that blood began,
And turn'd on man, a fiercer savage, man.
See him from Nature rising slow to Art!
To copy Instinct then was Reason's part:
Thus then to man the voice of Nature spake.
“ Go, from the creatures thy instructions take:
Learn from the birds what food the thickets yield;
Learn from the beasts the physic of the field;
Thy arts of building from the bee receive:
Learn of the mole to plough, the worm to weave ;
Learn of the little Nautilus to sail,
Spread the thin oar, and catch the driving gale.
Here too all forms of social union find,
And hence let Reason, late, instruct mankind :
Here subterranean works and cities see;
There towns aërial on the waving tree.
Learn each small people's genius, policies,
The ant's republic, and the realm of bees ;
How those in common all their wealth bestow,
And anarchy without confusion know ;
And these for ever, though a monarch reign,
Their separate cells and properties maintain,
Mark what unvary'd laws preserve each state,
Laws wise as Nature, and as fix'd as Fate.
In vain thy Reason finer webs shall draw,
Entangle Justice in her net of Law,
And right, too rigid, harden into wrong ;
Still for the strong too weak, the weak too strong
Yet go! and thus o'er all the creatures sway,
Thus let the wiser make the rest obey :
And for those arts mere Instinct could afford,
Be crown'd as monarchs, or as gods ador'd."
V. Great Nature spoke ; observant man obey'd ;
Cities were built, societies were made:
Here rose one little state ; another near
Grew by like means, and join'd through love or fear,
Did here the trees with ruddier burthens bend,
And there the streams in purer rills descend,
What War could ravish, Commerce could bestow;
And he return'd a friend, who came a foe.
Converse and Love mankind might strongly draw,
When Love was Liberty, and Nature Law,
Thus states were form’d; the name of king unknown,
Till common interest plac'd the sway in one.
'Twas Virtue only, (or in arts or arms,
Diffusing blessings, or averting harms,)
The same which in a sire the sons obey'd,
A prince the father of a people made. [sate,
VI. Till then, by Nature crown'd, each patriarch. King, priest, and parent, of his growing state : On him, their second Providence, they hung, Their law his eye, their oracle his tongue, He from the wondering furrow call’d the food, Taught to command the fire, controul the flood, Draw forth the monsters of th' abyss profound, Or fetch th' aërial eagle to the ground. Till drooping, sickening, dying, they began Whom they rever'd as God to mourn as Man: Then, looking up from sire to sire, explor'd One great First Father, and that first ador'd. Or plain tradition, that this All begun, Convey'd unbroker faith from sire to son;