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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 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,
and must be, greater than the rest,
More rich, more wise; but who infers from hence
That such are happier, 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,
One common blessing, as one common soul.
But Fortune's gifts if each alike possest,
And each were equal, must not all contest?
If then to all men happiness was meant,
God in externals could not place content.
Fortune her gifts may variously dispose,
And these be happy call'd, unhappy those;
But Heaven's just balance equal will appear,
While those are plac'd in hope, and these in fear:
Not present good or ill, the joy or curse,
But future views of better, or of worse.
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, 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,
Who fancy bliss to Vice, to Virtue woe!
Who sees and follows that great scheme the best,
Best knows the blessing, and will most be blest.
But fools, the good alone, unhappy call,
For ills or accidents that chance to all.
See Falkland dies, the virtuous and the just!
See godlike Turenne prostrate on the dust!
See Sidney bleeds amid the martial strife!
Was this their virtue, or contempt of life?
Say, was it virtue, more though Heaven ne'er gave,
Lamented Digby! sunk thee to the grave?
Tell me, if virtue made the son expire,
Why, full of days and honour, lives the sire?
Why drew Marseilles' good bishop purer breath,
When Nature sicken'd, and each gale was death?
Or why so long (in life if long can be)
Lent Heaven a parent to the poor and me?
What makes all physical or moral ill?
There deviates Nature, and here wanders will.
God sends not ill; if rightly understood,
Or partial ill is universal good,
Or change admits, or Nature lets it fall,
Short, and but rare, till man improv'd it all.
We just as wisely might of Heaven complain
That righteous Abel was destroyed by Cain,
As that the virtuous son is ill at ease
When his lewd father gave the dire disease.
Think we, like some weak prince, th' Eternal Cause
Prone for his favourites to reverse his laws?
Shall burning Etna, if a sage requires, Forget to thunder, and recall her fires?
On air or sea new motions be imprest,
Oh blameless Bethel! to relieve thy breast?
When the loose mountain trembles from on high,
Shall gravitation cease, if you go by?
Or some old temple, nodding to its fall,
For Chartres' head reserve the hanging wall?
But still this world (so fitted for the knave)
Contents us not. A better shall we have?
A kingdom of the just then let it be:
But first consider how those just agree.
The good must merit God's peculiar care;
But who, but God, can tell us who they are?
One thinks on Calvin Heaven's own spirit fell;
Another deems him instrument of Hell;
If Calvin feels Heaven's blessing, or its rod,
This cries, there is, and that, there is no God.
What shocks one part, will edify the rest,
Nor with one system can they all be blest.
The very best will variously incline,
And what rewards your virtue, punish mine.
WHATEVER IS, IS RIGHT.-This world, 'tis true,
Was made for Cæsar but for Titus too;
And which more blest? who chain'd his country, say,
Or he whose virtue sigh'd to lose a day?
"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 he 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
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 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 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.