Page images
PDF
EPUB

For me kind nature wakes her genial power ;
Suckles each herb, and spreads out every flower
Annual for me, the grape, the rose, renew
The juice fiectareous, and the balmy dew,
For me, the mine a thousand treasures brings;
For me, healılı gushes from a thousand springs;
Seas roll to wait me, suns to light me rise;
My foot-stool earth, my canopy the skies.' 140

But crrs not nature from this gracious end,
From burning suns when livid deaths descend,
When earthquakes swallow, or when tempests sweep
Towns to one grave, whole nations to the deep?
“No,''ris replicd, 'the first Almighty Cause
Acts not by partial, but by general laws;'
The exceptions few; some change since all began;
And what created perfect ?-Why then man?
If the great end be human happiness,
Then nature deviates; and can man do less? 150
As much thai end a constant course requires
Of showers and sun-shine, as of man's desires ?
As much eternal springs and cloudless skies,
As men for ever temperate, calm, and wise.
Ifplagues or earthquakes break not Heaven's design,
Why then a Borgin, or a Catiline ?
Who knows, but he whose band the lightning forms,
Who heaves old Ccean, and who wings the storms,
Pours fierce ambition in a Cæsar's mind,
Orturns youngAmmon loose to scourge mankind? 160
From pride, from pride, our very reasoning springs;
Account for moral as for natural things:
Why charge we Heaven in those, in these acquit ?
In both, to reason right, is to submit.

Better for us, perhaps, it might appear,
Were there all harmony, all virtue here;
That never air or ucean felt the wind,
That never passion disromposed the mind.
But all subsists by elemental
And passions are the elements of life.

170

[ocr errors]

The general order since the whole began,
Is kept in nature, and is kept in man.

VI. What would this man? Now upward will he soar
And, little less than angel, would be more;
Now looking downwards, just as grieved appears
To want the strength of bulls, the fur of bears.
Made for his use all creatures if he call,
Say what their use, had he the powers of all ?
Nature to these, without profusion, kind,
The proper organs, proper powers assign'd; 180
Each seeming want compensated; of course,
Here with degrees of swiftness, there of force ;
All in exact proportion to the stato ;
Nothing to add, and nothing to abate.
Each beast, each insect, happy in its own:
Is Heaven unkind to man, and man alone?
Shall he alone, whom rational we call,
Be pleased with nothing, if not bless'd with all ?

The bliss (fman (could pride that blessing find)
Is not to act or think beyond mankind;

19C
No powers of body or of soul to share,
But what his nature and his state can bear.
Why has not man a microscopic eye?
For this plain reason, man is not a fly.
Say what the use, were finer optics given,
To inspect a mite, not comprehend the heaven?
Or touch, if tremblingly alive all o’er,
To smart and agonize at every pore?
Or quick effluvia darting through the brain,
Die of a rose in aromatic pain?

200
If Nature thunder'd in his opening ears,
And stunn'd him with the music of the spheres,
How would he wish that Heaven had left him still
The whispering zephyr, and the purling rill!
Who finds not Providence all good and wise,
Alike in what it gives, and what denies ?

VII. Far as creation's ample range extends,
The scale of sensual, mental, powers ascends :

Mark how it mounts to man's imperial race,
From the green myriads in the peopled grass: 210
What modes of sight betwixt each wide extreme,
The mole's dim curtain, and the lynx's beam;
Of smell, the headlong lioness between,
And hound sagacious on the tainted green;
or hearing, from the life that fills the flood,
To that which warbles through the vernal wood!
The spider's touch how exquisitely fine!
Feels at each thread, and lives along the line;
In the nice bee, what sense so subtly true,
from poisonous herbs extracts the healing dew? 220
How instinct varies in the grovelling swine,
Compared, half-reasoning elephant, with thine?
Twixt that and reason what a nice barrier;
For ever separate, yet for ever near!
Remembrance and reflection how allied ;
What thin partitions sense from thought divide!
And middle natures, how they long to join,
l'et never pass the insuperable line!
Without this jusi gradation, could they be
Subjected, these to those, or all io ther? 230
The powers of all subdued by thee alone,
Is not thy reason all these powers in one ?

Vill. See, through this air, ibis ocean, and this earth,
All maiter quick, and bursting into birth.
above, how high progressive life may go !
round, bow wide! how deep extend below!
Vast chain of being! which from God began,
Natures ethereal, human, angel, man,
Beast, bird, fishi, insect, whichi no eye can see,
No glass can reach; from infinite to thee; 210
From thee io nothing.-On superior powers
Were we ro press, inferior mighi on ours :
Or in the full creation leave a void,
Where, one step broken, the great scale's destroy'd
From mature's chain whatever link you strike,
renih, or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alıke.

And, if each system in gradation roll Alike essential to the amazing whole, The least confusion but in one, not all That system only, but the whole must fall. 250 Let earth unbalanced from her orbit fly, Planets and suns run lawless through the sky; Let ruling angels from their spheres be hurl'd, Being on being wreck’d, and world on world ; Heaven's whole foundations to their centre nod, And nature trembles to the throne of God. All this dread order break-for whom ? for thee? Vile worm !-oh madness! pride! impiety!

IX. What if the foot, ordain'd the dust to tread, Or hand, to toil, aspired to be the head? 269 What if the head, the eye, or ear, repined To serve mere engines to the ruling mind ? Just as absurd for any part to claim To be another in this general frame; Just as absurd, to mourn the task or pains The great directing Mind of all ordains.

All are but parts of one stupendous whole, Whose body Nature is, and God the soul; That, changed through all, and yet in all the same, Great in the earth, as in the ethereal frame; 270 Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze, Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees ; Lives through all life, extends through all extent, Spreads undivided, operates unspent; Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part, As full, as perfect, in a hair as heart; As full, as perfect, in vile man that mourns, As the rapt seraph that adores and burns ; To him no high, no low, no great, no small; He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all. 280

X. Cease then, nor order imperfection name : Our proper bliss depends on what we blame. Know thy own point: this kind, this due degree of blindness, weakness, Heaven bestows on thee.

Submit.--In this, or any other sphere,
Secure to be as bless'd as thou canst bear :
Safe in the hand of one disposing Power,
Or in the natal, or the mortal hour.
All nature is but art, unknown to thee
All chance, direction which thou canst not see : 296
All discord, harmony not understood;
All partial evil, universal good.
And, spite of pride, in erring reason's spite,
One truth is clear, WHATEVER IS, IS RIGHT.

Ils pro

ARGUMENT OF EPISTLE II. On 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; his powers and frailties, ver. I to 19. The limits of his capacity, ver. 19, &c. II. The two principles of man, self-love and reason, both ne. cessary, ver. 53, &c. Sell love the stronger, and why, ver. 67, &c. Their end the same, ver. 81, &c.

III. The pas. sions, and their use, ver. 93 to 130. The predominant passion, and its force, ver. 132 to 160. Ils necessity, in directing men to different purposes, ver. 165, &c. vidential use, in fixing our principle, and ascertaining our virtue, ver. 177. IV. Virtue and vice joined in our mixed nature; the limits near, yet the things separate and evident: what is the office of reason, ver. 202 to 216. V. How odious vice in itself, and how we deceive ourselves into it, ver. 217. VI. That, however, the ends of Providence and general good are answered in our passions and imperfections, ver. 231, &c. How usefully these are distributed to all orders of men, ver. 241. How useful they are to society, ver. 251. And to individuals, ver. 263. In every state, and every age of life, ver. 273, &c.

EPISTLE II. I. Know then thyself, presume not God to scan' The proper study of mankind is man.

« EelmineJätka »