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(Far more than e'er can by yourself be guess'd,)
Fix on Vertumnus, and reject the rest.
For his firm faith I dare engage my own;
Scarce to himself, himself is better known.
To distant lands Vertumnus never roves;
Like you, contented with his native groves;
Nor at first sight, like most, admires the fair;
For you he lives; and you alone shall share
His last affection, as his early care.
Besides, he's lovely far above the rest,
With youth immortal, and with beauty blest.
Add, that he varies every shape with ease,
And tries all forms that may Pomona please.
But what should most excite a mutual flame,
Your rural cares and pleasures are the same.
To him your orchards's early fruit are due,
(A pleasing offering when 'tis made by you,)
He values these; but yet, alas! complains
That still the best and dearest gift remains.
Not the fair fruit that on yon branches glows
With that ripe red th' autumnal sun bestows;
Nor tasteful herbs that in these gardens rise,
Which the kind soil with milky sap supplies;
You, only you, can move the god's desire :
Oh, crown so constant and so pure a fire!
Let soft compassion touch your gentle mind;
Think, 'tis Vertumnus begs you to be kind;
So may no frost, when early buds appear,
Destroy the promise of the youthful year;
Nor winds, when first your florid orchard blows,
Shake the light blossoms from their blasted boughs!"
This when the various god had urg'd in vain,
He straight assum'd his native form again;
Such, and so bright an aspect now he bears,
As when through clouds th' emerging Sun appears,
And, thence exerting his refulgent ray,
Dispels the darkness, and reveals the day.
Force he prepar'd, but check'd the rash design :
For when, appearing in a form divine,
The nymph surveys him, and beholds the grace
Of charming features, and á youthful face;
In her soft breast consenting passions move,
And the warm maid confess'd a mutual love.
TO H. ST. JOHN, LORD BOLINGBROKE.
OF THE NATURE AND STATE OF MAN WITH RESPECT TO THE UNIVERSE.
Of man in the abstract. I. That we can judge only with regard to our own system, being ignorant of the relations of systems things. II. That man is not to be deemed imperfect, but a being suited to his place and rank in the creation, agreeable to the general order of things, and conformable to ends and relations to him unknown. III. That it is partly upon his ignorance of future events, and partly upon the hope of a future state, that all his happiness in the present
depends. IV. The pride of aiming at more knowledge, and pretending to more perfection, the cause of man's errour and misery. The impiety of putting himself in the place of God, and judging of the fitness or unfitness, perfection or imperfection, justice or injustice, of his dispensations. V. The absurdity of conceiting himself the final cause of the creation, or expecting that perfection in the moral world, which is not in the natural. VI. The unreasonableness of his complaints against Providence, while on the one hand he demands the perfection of the angels, and on the other the bodily qualifications of the brutes; though, to possess any of the sensitive faculties in a higher degree, would render him miserable. VII. That throughout the whole visible world, an universal order and gradation in the sensual and mental faculties is observed, which causes a subordination of creature to creature, and of all creatures to man. The gradations of sense, instinct, thought, reflection, reason; that reason alone countervails all the other faculties. VIII. How much farther this order and subordination of living creatures may extend above and below us; were any part of which broken, not that part only, but the whole connected creation must be destroyed. IX. The extravagance, madness, and pride of such a desire. X. The consequence of all the absolute submission due to Providence, both as to our present and future state.
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
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.
I. Say, first, of God above, or man below,
What can we reason, but from what we know?
Of man, what see we but his station here,
From which to reason, or to which refer?
Through worlds unnumber'd though the God be
'Tis ours to trace him only in our own.
He, who through vast immensity can pierce,
See worlds on worlds compose one universe,
Observe how system into system runs,
What other planets circle other suns,
What vary'd Being peoples every star,
May tell why Heaven has made us as we are.
But of this frame the bearings and the ties,
The strong connections, nice dependencies,
Gradations just, has thy pervading soul
Look'd through? or can a part contain the whole ?
Is the great chain, that draws all to agree,
And drawn supports, upheld by God, or thee?
II. Presumptuous man! the reason wouldst thou find, Why form'd so weak, so little, and so blind?
First, if thou canst, the harder reason guess,
Why form'd no weaker, blinder, and no less?
Ask of thy mother Earth, why oaks are made
Taller or weaker than the weeds they shade?
Or ask of yonder argent fields above,
Why Jove's Satellites are less than Jove?
Of systems possible, if 'tis confest,
That Wisdom infinite must form the best,
Where all must full or not coherent be,
And all that rises, rise in due degree;
Then, in the scale of reasoning life, 'tis plain,
There must be, somewhere, such a rank as man :
And all the question (wrangle e'er so long)
Is only this, if God has plac'd him wrong?
Respecting man, whatever wrong we call
May, must be right, as relative to all.
In human works, though labour'd on with pain,
A thousand movements scarce one purpose gain:
In God's, one single can its end produce;
Yet serves to second too some other use.
So man, who here seems principal alone,
Perhaps acts second to some sphere unknown,
Touches some wheel, or verges to some goal;
'Tis but a part we see, and not a whole.
When the proud steed shall know why man re-
His fiery course, or drives him o'er the plains;
When the dull ox, why now he breaks the clod,
Is now a victim, and now Ægypt's god :
Then shall man's pride and dulness comprehend
His actions', passions', being's, use and end;
Why doing, suffering, check'd, impell'd; and why
This hour a slave, the next a deity.