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Sedate and quiet the comparing lies,
Form'd but to check, deliberate, and advise.
Self-love, still stronger, as its objects nigh;
Reason's at distance, and in prospect lie:
That sees immediate good by present sense;
Reason, the future and the consequence.
Thicker than arguments, temptations throng,
At best more watchful this, but that more strong.
The action of the stronger to suspend,
Reason still use, to Reason still attend.
Attention, habit, and experience gains;
Each strengthens Reason, and Self-love restrains.
Let subtle schoolmen teach these friends to fight,
More studious to divide than to unite;
And Grace and Virtue, Sense and Reason split,
With all the rash dexterity of Wit.
Wits, just like fools, at war about a name,
Have full as oft no meaning, or the same.
Self-love and Reason to one end aspire,
Pain their aversion, pleasure their desire;
But greedy that, his object would devour,
This taste the honey, and not wound the flower:
Pleasure, or wrong or rightly understood,
Our greatest evil, or our greatest good.
III. Modes of Self-love the passions we may call; 'Tis real good, or seeming, moves them all : But since not every good we can divide, And Reason bids us for our own provide; Passions, though selfish, if their means be fair, List under Reason, and deserve her care; Those, that imparted, court a nobler aim, Exalt their kind, and take some virtue's name.
In lazy apathy let Stoics boast
Their virtue fix'd; 'tis fix'd as in a frost;
Contracted all, retiring to the breast;
But strength of mind is exercise, not rest:
The rising tempest puts in act the soul;
Parts it may ravage, but preserves the whole.
On life's vast ocean diversely we sail,
Reason the card, but Passion is the gale;
Nor God alone in the still calm we find,
He mounts the storm, and walks upon the wind.
Passions, like elements, though born to fight,
Yet, mix'd and soften'd, in his work unite:
These 'tis enough to temper and employ;
But what composes man, can man destroy?
Suffice that Reason keep to Nature's road,
Subject, compound them, follow her and God.
Love, Hope, and Joy, fair Pleasure's smiling train;
Hate, Fear, and Grief, the family of Pain;
These, mixt with art, and to due bounds confin'd,
Make and maintain the balance of the mind;
The lights and shades whose well-accorded strife
Gives all the strength and colour of our life.
Pleasures are ever in our hands and eyes;
And when in act they cease, in prospect rise:
Present to grasp, and future still to find,
The whole employ of body and of mind.
All spread their charms, but charm not all alike;
On different senses, different objects strike:
Hence different passions more or less inflame,
As strong or weak, the organs of the frame;
And hence one master passion in the breast,
Like Aaron's serpent, swallows up the rest.
As man, perhaps, the moment of his breath,
Receives the lurking principle of Death;
The young disease, which must subdue at length,
Grows with his growth, and strengthens with his
So, cast and mingled with his very frame,
The mind's disease, its Ruling Passion came;
Each vital humour which should feed the whole,
Soon flows to this, in body and in soul:
Whatever warms the heart, or fills the head,
As the mind opens, and its functions spread,
Imagination plies her dangerous art,
And pours it all upon the peccant part.
Nature its mother, Habit is its nurse;
Wit, Spirit, Faculties, but make it worse;
Reason itself but gives it edge and power;
As Heaven's blest beam turns vinegar more sour.
We, wretched subjects though to lawful sway,
In this weak queen, some favourite still obey:
Ah! if she lend not arms, as well as rules,
What can she more than tell us we are fools?
Teach us to mourn our nature, not to mend ;
A sharp accuser, but a helpless friend!
Or from a judge turn pleader, to persuade
The choice we make, or justify it made;
Proud of an easy conquest all along,
She but removes weak passions for the strong:
So, when small humours gather to a gout,
The doctor fancies he has driv'n them out.
Yes, Nature's road must ever be preferr'd; Reason is here no guide, but still a guard: 'Tis hers to rectify, not overthrow,
And treat this passion more as friend than foe;
A mightier power the strong direction sends,
And several men impels to several ends :
Like varying winds, by other passions tost,
This drives them constant to a certain coast.
Let power or knowledge, gold or glory, please,
Or (oft more strong than all) the love of ease;
Through life 'tis follow'd ev'n at life's expense;
The merchant's toil, the sage's indolence,
The monk's humility, the hero's pride,
All, all alike, find Reason on their side.
Th' Eternal Art, educing good from ill
Grafts on this passion our best principle:
'Tis thus the mercury of man is fix'd,
Strong grows the virtue with his nature mix'd;
The dross cements what else were too refin'd,
And in one interest body acts with mind.
As fruits, ungrateful to the planter's care, On savage stocks inserted learn to bear; The surest virtues thus from passions shoot, Wild Nature's vigour working at the root. What crops of wit and honesty appear From spleen, from obstinacy, hate, or fear! See anger, zeal and fortitude supply; Ev'n avarice, prudence; sloth, philosophy; Lust, through some certain strainers well refin'd, Is gentle love, and charms all womankind; Envy, to which th' ignoble mind's a slave, Is emulation in the learn'd or brave; Nor virtue, male or female, can we name, But what will grow on pride, or grow on shame.
Thus Nature gives us (let it check our pride) The virtue nearest to our vice ally'd:
Reason the bias turns to good from ill,
And Nero reigns a Titus, if he will.
The fiery soul abhorr'd in Catiline,
In Decius charms, in Curtius is divine:
The same ambition can destroy or save,
And makes a patriot as it makes a knave.
IV. This light and darkness in our chaos join'd, What shall divide? The God within the mind. Extremes in Nature equal ends produce, In man they join to some mysterious use; Though each by turns the other's bound invade, As in some well-wrought picture, light and shade, And oft so mix, the difference is too nice Where ends the virtue, or begins the vice.
Fools! who from hence into the notion fall, That vice or virtue there is none at all. If white and black blend, soften, and unite A thousand ways, is there no black or white? Ask your own heart, and nothing is so plain; 'T is to mistake them, costs the time and pain. V. Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, As, to be hated, needs but to be seen; Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, We first endure, then pity, then embrace. But where th' extreme of vice, was ne'er agreed: Ask where's the north? at York, 't is on the Tweed; In Scotland, at the Orcades; and there,
At Greenland, Zembla, or the Lord knows where.
No creature owns it in the first degree,
But thinks his neighbour further gone than he:
Ev'n those who dwell beneath its very zone,
Or never feel the rage, or never own ;