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As castern priests in giddy circles run,
And turn their heads to imitate the Sun.
Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule
Then drop into thyself, and be a fool!
Superior beings, when of late they faw
A mortal Man unfold all Nature's law,
Admir'd fuch wisdom in an earthly shape,
And shew'd a NEWTON as we shew an Ape.
Could he, whose rules the rapid Comet bind,
Describe or fix one movement of his Mind?
Who saw its fires here rise, and there descend,
Explain his own beginning: or his end?
Alas what wonder! Man's fuperior part
Uncheck'd may rise, and climb from art to art;
But when his own great work is but begun,
What Reason weaves, by Passion is undone.
Trace Science then, with Modesty thy guide;
First strip off all her equipage of Pride;
Deduct what is but Vanity, or Dress,
Or Learning's Luxury, or Idleness;
Or tricks to shew the stretch of human brain ;
Mere curious pleasure, or ingenious pain;
Expunge the whole, or lop th'excrescent parts
Of all our Vices have created Arts;
Then fee how little the remaining fuin,
Which sery'd the past, and must the times to come!
II. Two Principles in human nature reign;
Self-love, to urge, and Reason, to restrain;
Nor this a good, nor that a bad we call,
Each works its end, to move or govern
all: And to their proper operation still, Afcribe all Good, to their improper, Ill.
Self-love, the spring of motion, acts the foul; Reason's comparing balance rules the whole.
Man, but for that, no action could attend,
And, but for this, were active to no end :
Fix'd like a plant on his peculiar spot,
To draw nutrition, propagate, and rot;
Or, meteor- like, flame lawless thro' the void,
Destroying others, by himself destroy'd.
Most strength the moving principle requires;
Active its task, it prompts, impels, inspires.
Sedate and quiet, the comparing lies,
Form'd but to check, delib'rate, 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 ftill attend.
Attention , habit and experience gains;
Each strengthens Reason, and Self-love restrains.
Let subtle schoolmen teach these friends to fight,
More ftudious 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, its object would devour ,
This taste the honey, and not wound the flow'r:
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 ev'ry good we can divide,
And reason bids us for our own provide;
Passions, tho' selfish, if their means be fair,
Lift 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 tempeft puts in act the soul,
Parts it may ravage, but preserves the whole.
On life's valt ocean diversely we fail,
Reason the card, but paflion is the gale;
Nor God alone in the still calm we find,
He mounts the storm, and walks upon the wind.
Passions, like elements, tho’ 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 Reafon keep to Nature's road,
IIS 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 mix'd with art, and to due bounds confin'd,
Make and maintain the balance of the mind:
The lights and shades, whose well accorded strife 120
Gives all the strength and colour of our life.
Pleasures are ever in our hands or 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 diff'rent senses diff'rent objects strike;
Hence diff'rent Passions more or less inflanie,
As strong or weak, the organs of the frame;
130 And hence one MAS'S ER 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 diseae, that must subdue at length, 135 Grows with his growth, and strengthens with his strength :) 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;
140 Whatever warms the heart, or fills the head, As the mind opens , and its functions spread, Imagination plies her dang’rous art, And pours it all upon the peccant part. Nature its mother, Habit is its nurse;
145 Wit, Spirit, Faculties, but make it worfe; Reason itself but gives it edge and pow'r; As Heay’n's blest beam turns vinegar more low'r.
We, wretched subjects tho' to lawful fway, In this weak queen , some fav’rite still obey:
190 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 accufer, but a helpless friend! Or from a judge turn pleader, to persuade
155 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.
160 Yes, Nature's road must ever be prefer'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 Pow'r the strong direction sends,
And fev'ral Men impels to sev'ral ends:
Like varying winds, by other paflions tost,
This drives then constant to a certain coast.
Let pow'r or knowledge, gold or glory, please,
Or (oft more strong than all the love of ease;
Thro' life 'tis follow'd, ev'n at life's expence;
The merchant's toil, the fage'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 nacure 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 favage stocks inserted, learn to bear;
The fureft Virtues thus from Passions shoot,
Wild Nature's vigor 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 av’rice, prudence; sloth, philosophy;
Luft, thro’ 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: