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5 But of this frame, the bearings and the ties,
The strong connexions, nice dependencies,
Gradations just, has thy pervading soul
Look'd through ? Or, can a part contain the whole?
6 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.
7 When the proud steed 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 victim, and now Egypt's god;
Then shall man's pride and dulness comprehend
His actions', passions', being's use and end;
Why doing, suff'ring, check”d, impell’d; and why
This hour a slave, the next a deity.
8 Then say not, man's imperfect, Heav'n in fault;
Say rather, man's as perfect as he ought;
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 so,
As who began a thousand years ago.
9 Heaven from all creatures hides the book of fate,
All but the page prescrib'd, their present state:
From brutes what men, from men what spirits 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.
10 O blindness to the future ! kindly giv'n,
That each may fill the circle mark’d by Heav'n;
Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,
A hero perish, or a sparrow fall,
Atoms or systems into ruin hurl'd,
And now a bubble burst, and now a world.
11 Hope humbly then ; with trembling pinions soar :
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.
12 Lo! the poor Indian, whose untutor'd mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind ;
His soul proud science never taught to stray
Far as the solar walk, or milky way;
Yet simple nature to his hope has giv'n,
Behind the cloud-topt hill, an humbler heav'n;
Some safer world in depth of woods embrac'd,
Some happier island in the wat’ry 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 wings, no seraph's fire;
But thinks, admitted to that equal sky,
His faithful dog shall bear him company.
13 Go, wiser thou ! and in thy scale of sense
Weigh thy opinion against Providence;
Call imperfection what thou fancy'st such,
Say, here he gives too little, there too much;
Destroy all creatures for thy sport or gust;
Yet cry, if man's unhappy, God's unjust.
14 In pride, in reas'ning pride, our error lies;
All quit their sphere, and rush into the skies.
And who but wishes to invert the laws
Of order, sins against th’ Eternal Cause.
15 Ask for what end the heavenly bodies shine, Earth for whose use ? Pride answers, “'Tis for mine: “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 nectareous, and the balmy dew; “For me, the mine a thousand treasures brings; “For me, health gushes from a thousand springs “ Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise ; “My footstool earth, my canopy the skies.”
16 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 reply'd) 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?
17 If the great end be human happiness,
Then nature deviates; and can man do less ?
As much that 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 temp’rate, calm, and wise.
Why charge we Heav'n in those, in these acquit?
In both, to reason right, is to submit.
18 Better for us, perhaps it might appear,
Were there all harmony, all virtue here;
That never air or ocean felt the wind;
That never passion discompos'd the mind;
But all subsists by elemental strife ;
And passions are the elements of life.
The gen’ral order, since the whole began,
Is kept in nature, and is kept in man.
19 What would this man? now upward will he soar,
And little less than angel, would be more;
Now looking downward, just as griev'd 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 pow'rs of all ?
20 Nature to these, without profusion kind,
The proper organs, proper pow'rs assign'd;
Each seeming want compensated of course,
Here, with degrees of swiftness, there, of force;
All in exact proportion to the state;
Nothing to add, and nothing to abate.
Each beast, each insect, happy in its own;
Is Heav'n unkind to man, and man alone?
Shall he alone, whom rational we call,
Be pleas'd with nothing, if not blest with all?
21 The bliss of man could pride that blessing find)
Is, not to act or think beyond mankind;
No pow’rs 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.
22 Say what the use, were finer optics giv'n,
T' inspect a mite, not comprehend the heav'n?
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?
If nature thunder'd in his opening ears,
And stunn’d him with the music of the spheres,
How would he wish that Heav'n 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?
23 Far as creation's ample range extends,
The scale of sensual, mental pow'rs ascends:
Mark how it mounts to man's imperial race,
From the green myriads in the peopled grass:
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!
24 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 pois'nous herbs extracts the healing dew!
How instinct varies in the grov’ling swine,
Compar'd, half-reaslning elephant, with thine!
'Twixt that and reason, what a nice barrier!
For ever sep’rate, yet for ever near!
25 Remembrance and reflection how ally'd!
What thin partitions sense from thought divide!
And middle națures how they long to join,
Yet-never pass'd th’ insuperable line!
Without this just gradation, could they be
Subjected these to those, or all to thee?
The powers of all subdu'd by thee alone,
Is not thy reason all these pow'rs in one?
26 What if the foot, ordain'd the dust to tread,
Or hand to toil, aspir'd to be the head?
What if the head, the eye, or ear repin'd
To serve mere engines to the ruling mind?
Just as absurd for any part to claim
To be another in this gen'ral frame:
Just as absurd, to mourn the tasks or pains
The great directing Mind of all ordains.
27 All are but parts of one stupendous whole, Whose body nature is, and God the soul;
That, chang'd through all, and yet in all the same;
Great in the earth, as in th' ethereal frame;
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;
To him, no high, no low, no great, no small:
He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all.
28 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, Heav'n bestows on thee.
Submit.-In this, or any other sphere,
Secure to be as blest as thou canst bear:
Safe in the hand of one disposing Pow'r,
Or in the natal, or the mortal hour.
29 All nature is but art, unknown to thee;
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see;
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.
Of the Nature and State of Man, with respect to him
self as an individual.
1 Know then thyself, presume not God to scan!
The proper study of mankind is man.
Could hê, whose rules the rapid comet bind, *
Describe or fix one movement of his mind?
Who saw its fires here rise, and there descend,
Explain his own beginning, or his end?
Alas, what wonder! man's superior part
Uncheck'd may rise, and climb from art to art:
But when his own great work is but begun,
What reason weaves, by passion is undone.
2 Trace science, then, with modesty thy guide;
First strip off all her equipage of pride;
Deduct what is but vanity, or dress,
Or learning's luxury, or idleness;
* Alluding to Newton.