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Take Nature's path, and mad Opinion's leave; All states can reach it, and all heads conceive; Obvious her goods, in no extreme they dwell; There needs but thinking right, and meaning well; And, mourn our various portions as we please, Equal is common sense, and common ease. Remember, man, “ the Universal Cause Acts not by partial, but by gen’ral laws;" And makes what happiness we justly call, Subsist not in the good of one, but all. There's not a blessing individuals find, But some way leans and hearkens to the kind : No bandit fierce, no tyrant mad with pride, No cavern'd hermit, rests self-satisfy'd: Who most to shun or hate mankind pretend, Seek an admirer, or would fix a friend : Abstract what others feel, what others think, All pleasures sicken, and all glories sink : Each has his share; and who would more obtain, Shall find, the pleasure pays not half the pain.
Order is Heaven's first law; and this confest, Some are, and must be, greater than the rest, More rich, more wise; but who infers from hence That such are bappier, shocks all common sense. Heaven to mankind impartial we confess, If all are equal in their happiness : But mutual wants this happiness increase ; All Nature's difference keeps all Nature's peace. Condition, circumstance, is not the thing; Bliss is the same in subject or in king, In who obtain defence, or who defend, In him who is, or him who finds a friend :
Heaven breathes through every member of the whole,
Fortune her gifts may variously dispose,
Oh, sons of Earth! attempt ye still to rise, By mountains pil'd on mountains, to the skies? Heaven still with laughter the vain toil surveys, And buries madmen in the heaps they raise.
Know, all the good that individuals find, Or God and Nature meant to mere mankind, Reason's whole pleasure, all the joys of sense, Lie in three words, Health, Peace, and Competence. But Health consists with Temperance alone; And Peace, oh Virtue! Peace is all thy own. The good or bad the gifts of Fortune gain; But these less taste them, as they worse obtain. Say, in pursuit of profit or delight, Who risk the most, that take wrong means, or right? Of Vice or Virtue, whether blest or curst, Which meets contempt, or which compassion first ? Count all th' advantage prosperous Vice attains, 'Tis but what Virtue flies from and disdains : And grant the bad what happiness they would, One they must want, which is to pass for good.
Oh blind to truth, and God's whole scheme below,
What makes all physical or moral ill ?.
Shall burning Ætna, if a sage requires, Forget to thunder, and recall her fires ?
On air or sea new motions be imprest,
But still this world (so fitted for the knave)
“ But sometimes Virtue starves, while Vice is fed.” What then? Is the reward of Virtue bread ? That, Vice may merit, 'tis the price of toil; The knave deserves it, when be tills the soil; The knave deserves it, when he tempts the main, Where folly fights for kings, or dives for gain. The good man may be weak, be indolent; Nor is his claim to plenty, but content.
But grant him riches, your demand is o'er ? « No - shall the good want health, the good want
power ?” Add health and power, and every earthly thing, “ Why bounded power? why private? why no king?" 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 calmn 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 godlike mind; 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.