« ZurückWeiter »
AWAKE, my St. John ! leave all meaner things
To low ambition, and the pride of Kings,
Let us (fince 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 fightless foar;
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 tho' the God be known, '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,
25 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 tics,
The strong connections, nice dependencies,
30 Gradations just, has thy pervading foui 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 wouldit thou find,
Why form’d so weak, so little, and so blind?
First, if thou canít, the harder reason guess,
Why form’d no weaker, blinder, and no less ?
Alk of thy mother earth, why oaks are made
Taller or stronger than the weeds they shade ;
Or ask of yonder argent fields above,
Why Jove's Satellites are less than Jove ?
Of Systems poffible, if 'tis confeft,
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 ;
55 Yet serves to second too some other use.
So Man, who here seems principal alone,
Perhaps acts second to some sphere unknown,
Touches fome wheel, or verges to some goal;
'Tis but a part we see, and not a whole.
When the proud fteed shall know why man restrains
His fiery, course, or drives him o'er the plains ;
When the dull Ox, why now he breaks the clod,
Is now a vi&tim, and now Ægypt's God :
Then shall Man's pride and dulness comprehend 65
His actions, passions', being's, use and end;
Why doing, suffering, check’d, impell’d; and why
This hour a flave, the next a deity.
Then say not Man's imperfedt, Heaven in fault; Say rather, Man's as perfect as he ought:
70 His knowledge measur'd to his state and place; His time a moment, and a point his space. If to be perfect in a certain sphere, What matter, soon or late, or here, or there? The blest to-day is as completely fo,
75 As who began a thousand years ago.
III. Heaven from all creatures hides the book of Fate, All but the page prescribd, their present state:
From VARIATIONS. In the former Editions, ver. 64,
Now wears a garland an Ægyptian God.
After ver. 68. the following lines in the first Edition,
If to be perfect in a certain sphere,
What matter, soon or late, or here, or there?
The blest to-day is as completely so,
As who began ten thousand years ago.
From brutes what men, from men what fpirits know:
Or who could suffer Being here below;
The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day,
Had he thy Reason, would he skip and play?
Pleas’d to the last, he crops the flowery food,
And licks the hand just rais'd to shed his blood.
Oh blindness to the future! kindly given,
That each may fill the circle mark’d by Heaven :
Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,
A hero perish, or a sparrow fall,
Atoms or systems into ruin hurld,
And now a bubble burst, and now a world.
Hope humbly then ; with trembling pinions foar ;
Wait the great teacher Death; and God adore.
What future bliss, he gives not thee to know,
But gives that Hope to be thy blessing now.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast :
Man never Is, but always To be blest :
The soul, uneasy, and confin'd from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
Lo, the poor Indian! whose untutor'd mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind;
After ver. 88. in the MS.
No great, no little ; 'tis as much decreed
That Virgil's Gnat should die as Cæsar bleed.
Ver. 93. in the first Folio and Quarto,
What bliss above he gives not thee to know,
But gives that Hope to be thy bliss below.
His foul proud Science never taught to stray
Far as the folar walk, or milky way;
Yet simple Nature to his hope has given,
Behind the cloud-topt hill, an humbler heaven;
Some safer world in depth of woods embrac'd,
Some happier island in the watery waste,
Where slaves once more their native land behold,
No fiends torment, no Christians thirst for gold.
To Be, contents his natural desire,
He asks no Angel's wing, no Seraph's fire;
But thinks, admitted to that equal sky,
His faithful dog shall bear him company.
IV. Go, wifer thou ! and in thy scale of sense,
Weigh-thy Opinion against Providence ;
Call imperfection what thou fancy't such,
Say, here he gives too little, there too much :
Destroy all creatures for thy sport or gust,
cry, If Man's unhappy, God's unjust;
If Man alone ingrofs not Heaven's high care,
Alone made perfect here, immortal there :
Snatch from his hand the balance and the rod,
Re-judge his justice, be the God of God.
In Pride, in reafoning Pride, our error lies;
All quit their fphere, and rush into the skies.
After ver. 108. in the first Edition ;
But does he say the Maker is not good,
Till he's exalted to what state he wou'd;
Himself alone high Heaven's peculiar care,
Alone made happy when he will, and where ?