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And health and power and every earthly thing-
'Why bounded power? why private? why no king? 160
Nay, why external for internal given ?
Why is not man a god, and earth a heaven ?'
Who ask and reason thus, will scarce conceive
God gives enough, while he has more to give;
Immense the power, immense were the demand ;
Say, at what part of nature will they stand ?
What nothing earthly gives or can destroy,
The soul's calm sun-shine, and the heart-felt joy,
Is virtue's prize : a better would you fix ?
Then give humility a coach and six,
Justice a conqueror's sword, or truth a gown,
Or public spirit its great cure-a crown.
Weak, foolish man! will Heaven reward us there,
With the same trash mad mortals wish for here!
The boy and man an individual makes,
Yet sigh’st thou now for apples and for cakes?
Go, like the Indian, in another life
Expect thy dog, thy bottle, and thy wife,
As well as dream such trifles are assign'd,
As toys and empires, for a god-like mind. 180
Rewards, that either would to virtue bring
No joy, or be destructive of the thing;
How oft by these at sixty are undone
The virtues of a saint at twenty-one!
To whom can riches give repute or trust,
Content or pleasure, but the good and just?
Judges and senates have been bought for gold;
Esteem and love were never to be sold.
Oh fool! to think God hates the worthy mind,
The lover and the love of human-kind,
190 Whose life is healthful, and whose conscience clear, Because he wants a thousand pounds a year.
Honour and shame from no condition rise; Act well your part, there all the honour lies. Fortune in men has some small difference nad One flaunts in rags, one flutters in brocade;
The cobbler apron'd, and the parson gown'd,
The friar hooded, and the monarch crown'd.
'What differ more,' you cry, 'than crown and cowl!'
I'll tell you, friend ! a wise man and a fool. 200
You'll find, if once the monarch acts the monk,
Or, cobbler-like, the parson will be drunk,
Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow;
The rest is all but leather or prunella.
Stuck o'er with titles and hung round with strings.
That thou may'st be by kings, or whores of kings,
Boast the pure blood of an illustrious race,
In quiet flow from Lucrece to Lucrece:
But by your fathers' worth if yours you rate,
Count me those only who were good and great. 210
Go! if your ancient, but ignoble blood
Has crept through scoundrels ever since the flood,
Go! and pretend your family is young;
Nor own your fathers have been fools so long.
What can ennoble sots, or slaves, or cowards ?
Alas! not all the blood of all the Howards.
Look next on greatness : say where greatness lies Where, but among the heroes and the wise ?! Heroes are much the same, the point's agreed, From Macedonia's madman to the Swede; 220 The whole strange purpose of their lives, to find Or make, an enemy of all mankind ! Not one looks backward, onward still he goes Yet ne'er looks forward further than his nose. No less alike the politic and wise; All sly slow things with circumspective eyes ; Men in their loose unguarded hours they take, Not that themselves are wise, but others weak. But grant that those can conquer, these can cheat, 'Tis phrase absurd to call a villain great: 230 Who wickedly is wise, or madly brave, Is but the more a fool, the more a knave, Who noble ends by noble means obtains, Or failing smiles in exile or in chains,
Like good Aurelius let him reign, or bleed
Like Socrates, that man is great indeed.
What's fame? a fancied life in other's breath,
A thing beyond us, e'en before our death.
Just what you hear you have; and what's unknown,
The same (my lord) if Tully's, or your own. 240
All that we feel of it begins and ends
In the small circle of our foes or friends;
To all beside as much an empty shade
As Eugene living, as a Cæsar dead;
Alike or when or where they shone or shine,
Or on the Rubicon, or on the Rhine.
A wit's a feather, and a chief a rod;
An honest man's the noblest work of God.
Fame but from death a villain's name can save,
As justice tears his body from the grave; 259
When what to oblivion better were resign'd,
Is hung on high to poison half mankind.
All fame is foreign but of true desert,
Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart
One self-approving hour whole years outweighs
Of stupid starers, and of loud huzzas;
And more true joy Marcellus exiled feels
Than Cæsar with a senate at his heels.
In parts superior what advantage lies ? Tell (for you can) what is it to be wise ? 260 'Tis but to know how little can be known, To see all others' faults, and feel our own; Condemn'd in business or in arts to drudge, Without a second, or without a judge; Truths would you teach, or save a sinking land; All fear, none aid you, and few understand. Painful pre-eminence! yourself to view Above life's weakness, and its comforts too.
Bring then these blessings to a strict account: Make fair deductions; see to what they 'mount: 270 How much of other each is sure to cost; How each for other oft is wholly lost;
How inconsistent greater goods with these How sometimes life is risk'd, and always ease; Think, and if still the things thy envy call, Say, wouldst thou be the man to whom they fall ? To sigh for ribands if thou art so silly, Mark how they grace Lord Umbra, or Sir Billy. Is yellow dirt the passion of thy life? Look but on Gripus, or on Gripus' wife. 280 If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shined, The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind; Or ravish'd with the whistling of a name, See Cromwell damn'd to everlasting fame! If all united, thy ambition call, From ancient story learn to scorn them all. There, in the rich, the honour'd, famod, and great, See the false scale of happiness complete! In hearts of kings, or arms of queens who lay, How happy! those to ruin, these betray. 290 Mark by what wretched steps their glory grows; From dirt and sea-weed as proud Venice rose ; In each how guilt and greatness equal ran, And all that raised the hero sunk the man : Now Europe's laurels on their brows behold, But stain'd with blood, or ill exchanged for gold : Then see them broke with toils, or sunk in ease, Or infamous for plunder'd provinces. O wealth ill-fated! which no act of fame E'er taught to shine, or sanctified from shame! 300 What greater bliss attends their close of life? Some greedy minion, or imperious wife, The trophied arches, storied halls invade, And haunt their slumbers in the pompous shade. Alas! not dazzled with their noon-tide ray, Compute the morn and evening to the day; The whole amount of that enormous fame, A tale that blends their glory with their shame!
Know then this truth, (enough for man to know,) Virtue alone is happiness below.'
The only point where human bliss stands still
And tastes the good without the fall to ill;
Where only merit constant pay receives,
Is bless'd in what it takes, and what it gives ;
The joy unequallid, if its end it gain,
And if it lose, attended with no pain :
Without satiety, though e'er so bless'd,
And but more relish'd as the more distress'd :
The broadest mirth unfeeling folly wears,
Less pleasing far than virtue's very tears : 320
Good, from each object, from each place acquired,
For ever exercised, yet never tired;
Never elated, while one man's oppress'do
Never dejected, while another's bless'd :
And where no wants, no wishes can remain,
Since but to wish more virtue, is to gain.
See the sole bliss Heaven could on all bestow!
Which who but feels can taste, but thinks can know
Yet poor with fortune and with learning blind,
The bad must miss, the good untaught will find ;
Slave to no sect, who takes no private road, 330
But looks through nature up to nature's God;
Pursues that chain which links th’immense design
Soins Heav'n and earth, and mortal and divine
Sees that no being any bliss can know,
But touches some above, and some below;
'wearns from the union of the rising whole
The first, last purpose of the human soul ;
And knows where faith, law, morals, all began,
All end in love of God and love of man.
341 For him alone hope leads from goal to goal, And opens still, and opens on his soul; Till lengthen'd on to faith, and unconfined, It pours the bliss that fills up all the mind. He sees why nature plants in man alone, Hope of known bliss, and faith in bliss unknown: (Nature, whose dictates to no other kind Are given in vain, but what they seek they find)