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Who knows but he, whose hand the lightning forms,
Who heaves old ocean, and who wings the storms,
Pours fierce ambition in Cæsar's mind,
Or turns young Ammon loose to scourge mankind?
From pride, from pride, our very reas'ning springs ;
Account for moral, as for nat’ral things:
Why charge we Heav'n in those, in these acquit?
In both, to reason right, is to submit.
Better for us, perhaps it might appear,
Were there all harmony, all virtue here;
That never air nor 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 general order, since the whole began,
Is kept in nature, and is kept in man.
VI. What would this man? now upward will he soar,
And, little less than angel, would be more?
Now looking downward, just as griey'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
Nature to these, without profusion, kind,
The proper organs, proper powers 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 his own:
Is Heaven unkind to man, and man alone?
Shall he alone, whom rational we call,
Be pleas'd with nothing, if not bless'd with all?
The bliss of man (could pride that blessing find)
Is not to act or think beyond mankind;
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 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?
VII. 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 headłong lioness between,
And hound sagacious on the tainted green;
Of hearing, from the life that fills the flood,
To that which warbles through the vernał 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 pois'nous herbs extracts the healing dew!
How instinct varies in the grov 'ling swine,
Compar'd half-reas’ning elephant, with thine!
'Twixt that and reason, what a nice barrier!
Forever sep'rate, yet forever near!
Remembrance and reflection how ally'd!
What thin partitions sense from thought divide !
And middle natures how they long to join,
Yet never pass the insuperable line!
Without this just gradation, could they be
Subjected, these to those, or all to thee?
powers of all subdu'd by thee alone, Is not thy reason all these powers in one?
VIII. See through this air, this ocean, and this earth, All matter quick, and bursting into birth. Above, how high progressive life may go! Around, how wide! how deep extend below! Vast chain of being! which from God began, Nature's ethereal, human, angel, man,
Beast, bird, fish, insect! what no eye can see,
No glass can reach; from infinite to thee;
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.
Let earth unbalanced from her orbit fly,
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;
Heav'n's whole foundations to their centre nod,
And nature tremble, to the throne of God;
All this dread order break-For whom? For thee?
Vile worm! O madness! pride! impiety!
IX. 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.
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; 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.
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, 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 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;
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.
I. Know then thyself, presume not God to scan!
The proper study of mankind is man.
Plac'd on this isthmus of a middle state,
A being darkly wise, and rudely great:
With too much knowledge for the sceptic's 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;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little or too much:
Chaos of thought and passion, all confus'd;
Still by himself abus'd or disabus'd;
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 wond'rous creature! mount where science guides,
Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides;
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;
Or tread the mazy round his follow’rs trod,
And quitting sense, call imitating God;
As eastern priests in giddy circles run,
And turn their heads to imitate the sun.
Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule-
Then drop into thyself, and be a fool!
Superior beings, when of late they saw
A mortal man unfold all nature's law:
Admir'd such wisdom in an earthly shape,
And show'd a Newton as we show an ape.
Could he, whose rules the rapid comet bind,
Describe or fix one movement of the 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.
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 :
Or tricks to show the stretch of human brain,
Mere curious pleasure, or ingenious pain;
Expunge the whole, or lop th’ excrescent parts
Of all our vices have created arts:
Then see how little the remaining sum,
Which sery'd the past, and must the times to come!
II. Two principles in human nature reign,
Self-love to urge, and reason to restrain;
Nor this a good, nor that a bad we call,
Each works its end, to move or govern all:
And to their proper operation still,
Ascribe all good: to their improper, ill.
Self-love, the spring of motion, acts the soul;
Reason's comparing balance rules the whole.
Man, but for that, no action could attend,
And, but for this, were active to no end:
Fix'd like a plant on his peculiar spot,
To draw nutrition, propagate and rot: