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Yet gave me, in this dark estate,
And, binding nature fast in fate,
What conscience dictates to be done,
Or warns me not to do, This, teach me more than hell to shun,
That, more than heaven pursue.
What blessings thy free bounty gives,
Let me not cast away;
T' enjoy is to obey.
Yet not to earth's contracted span
Or think thee Lord alone of man,
When thousand worlds are round:
Let not this weak, unknowing hand
And deal damnation round the land,
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 ma.
Mean though I am, not wholly so,
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,
To thee, whose temple is all space,
One chorus let all being raise t
IN FOUR EPISTLES TO SEVERAL PERSONS,
Est brevitate opus, ut currat sententia, nen se
The Essay ou Man was intended to have been 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, use, 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 a 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 poeta, that now remain, it may not be amiss to be a little more particular concerning each of these projected bonks.
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 treats of man in his intellectual capacity at large, as has been explained above. Of this only a small part cf 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 t" three.
The third book, in like manner, was to re-assume 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 first two, on the characters of men and women, being the introductory part of this concluding book.