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DEO OPT. MAX.
In every clime, adored,
Jehovah, Jove, or Lord!
Thou great First Cause, least understood;
Who all my sense confined
And that myself am blind :
Yet gave me, in this dark estate,
To see the good from ill;
Left free the human will.
What conscience dictates to be done,
Or warns me not to do;
That more than Heaven pursue.
What blessings thy free bounty gives,
Let me not cast away;
To' enjoy is to obey.
Yet not to earth's contracted span
Thy goodness let me bound,
When thousand worlds are round.
Let not this weak unknowing hand
Presume thy bolts to throw, And deal damnation round the land
On each I judge thy foe.
If I am right, thy grace impart,
Still in the right to stay;
To find that better way.
Save me alike from foolish pride,
Or impious discontent,
Or aught thy goodness lent.
Teach me to feel another's woe,
To hide the fault I see : That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.
Mean though I am, not wholly so,
Since quicken’d by thy breath : O lead me, wheresoe’er I go,
Through this day's life or death!
This day be bread and peace my lot:
All else beneath the sun Thou know'st if best bestow'd or not,
And let thy will be done.
To Thee, whose temple is all space,
Whose altar, earth, sea, skies! One chorus let all being raise!
All Nature's incense rise!
In Four Epistles.
Est brevitate opus, at currat sententia, neu se
(BY DR. WARBURTON.)
The Essay on Man was intended to have beer comprised in four books:
The first of which the author has given us under that title in four epistles.
The second was to have consisted of the same number: 1. Of the extent and limits of human reason. 2. Of those arts and sciences, and of the parts of them, which are useful, and therefore attainable ; together with those which are unuseful, and therefore unattainable: 3. Of the nature, ends, uso, and application, of the different capacities of men. . 4. Of the use of learning; of the science of the world; and of wit; concluding with a satire against the misapplication of them, illustrated by pictures, characters, and examples.
The third book regarded civil regimen, or the
science of politics; in which the several forms of a republic were to be examined and explained; together with the several modes of religious worship, as far forth as they affect society: between which the author always supposed there was the most interesting relation and closest connexion. So that this part would have treated of civil and religious society in their full extent.
The fourth and last book concerned private ethics, or practical morality, considered in all the circumstances, orders, professions, and stations of human life.
The scheme of all this had been maturely digested, and communicated to Lord Bolingbroke, Dr. Swift, and one or two more; and was intended for the only work of his riper years; but was, partly through ill health, partly through discouragements from the depravity of the times; and partly on prudential and other considerations, interrupted, postponed, and lastly, in a manner laid aside.
But as this was the author's favourite work, which more exactly reflected the image of his strong capacious mind, and as we can have but a very imperfect idea of it from the disjecta membra poetæ that now remain, it may not be amiss to be a little more particular concerning each of these projected books.
The first, as it treats of man in the abstract, and considers him in general under every of his relations, becomes the foundation, and furnishes out the subjects of the three following: so that
The second book was to take up again the first and second epistles of the first book, and to treat
of man in his intellectual capacity at large, as has been explained above. Of this only a small part of the conclusion (which, as we said, was to have contained a satire against the misapplication of wit and learning) may be found in the fourth book of the Dunciad; and up and down, occasionally, in the other three. .
The third book, in like manner, was to resume the subject of the third epistle of the first, which treats of man in his social, political, and religious capacity. But this part the poet afterwards conceived might be best executed in an epic poem, as the action would make it more animated, and the fable less invidious; in which all the great principles of true and false governments and religions should be chiefly delivered in feigned examples.
The fourth and last book was to pursue the subject of the fourth epistle of the first, and to treat of ethics, or practical morality; and would have consisted of many members, of which the four following epistles were detached portions: the two first, on the characters of men and women, being the introductory part of this concluding book.