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But errs 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,' 'tis replied,' the first Almighty Cause Acts not by partial, but by general laws; Th' 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 that end a constant course requires Of showers and sunshine, as of man's desires; As much eternal springs and cloudless skies, As men for ever temperate, calm, and wise. If plagues or earthquakes break not Heaven's design, Why then a Borgia, or a Catiline ? Who knows, but he whose hand the lightning forms, Who heaves old Ocean, and who wings the storms; Pours fierce ambition in a Cæsar's mind,
Better for us, perhaps, it might appear,
170 The general order, since the whole began, Is kept in nature, and is kept in man.
[soar, VI. What would this man? Now upward will he 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 state ;
The bliss of man (could pride that blessing find)
190 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, T' 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; Of 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 ;
230 The powers of all subdued by thee alone, Is not thy reason all these powers in one ?
VIII. See, through this air, this ocean, and this All matter quick, and bursting into birth. (earth, Above, how high progressive life may go ! Around, how wide! how deep extend below! Vast chain of being! which from God began, Natures ethereal, human, angel, man, Beast, bird, fish, insect, what no eye can see, No glass can reach ; from infinite to thee, 240 From thee to nothing.--On superior powers Were we to press, inferior might on ours; Or in the full creation leave a void, Where, one step broken, the great scale's destroy'd : From nature's chain whatever link you strike, Tenth, or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike.
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 fiy, Planets and suns run lawless through the sky; Let ruling angels from their spheres be hurld, 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?
260 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 tasks 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 th' 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; 290 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,
ARGUMENT OF EPISTLE II.
On the Nature and State of Man with respect to himself,
as an Individual. I. The business of man not to pry into God, but to study himself. His middle nature; his powers and frailties, ver. 1 to 19. The limits of his capacity, ver. 19, &c. II. The two principles of man, self-love and reason, both necessary, ver. 53, &c.; selflove the stronger, and why, ver. 67, &c. Their end the same, ver. 81, &c. III. The passions, and their use, ver. 93 to 130. The predominant passion, and its force, ver, 132 to 160. Its necessity, in directing men to different purposes, ver, 165, &c. Its providential 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. 238, &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. I. Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of mankind is man. Placed on this isthmus of a middle state, A being darkly wise and rudely great : With too much knowledge for the sceptic side, With too much weakness for the Stoic's pride, He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest; In doubt to deem himself a god, or beast; In doubt his mind or body to prefer; Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err;
10 Alike in ignorance, his reason such, Whether he thinks too little or too much : Chaos of thought and passion, all confused ; Still by himself abused or disabused ; Created half to rise, and half to fall; Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all; Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl'd: The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!
Go, wondrous creature! mount where science guides, Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides; 20 Instruct the planets in what orbs to run, Correct old time, and regulate the sun; Go, soar with Plato to th' empyreal sphere, To the first good, first perfect, and first fair ;