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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, fam'd, and greaty
See the false scale of happiness complete!
In nearts of kings, or arms of queens who lay
How happy! those to ruin, these betray.
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!
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 pompoús shade.
Alas! not dazzled with their noontide 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!
VII. 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 blest in what it takes, and what it gives;
The joy unequall'd, if its end it gain,
And if it lose, attended with no pain:
Without satiety, though e'er so blest,
And but more relish'd as the more distress'd:
The broadest mirth unfeeling folly wears,
Less pleasing far than virtue's very tears:
Good, from each object, from each place acquired,
For ever exercised, yet never tired;
Never elated, while one man's oppress'd;
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,
But looks through Nature up to Nature's God;
Pursues that chain which links the immense design,
Joins heaven and earth, and mortal and divine;
Sees, that no being any bliss can knov,
But touches some above, and some below;
Learns from this 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.
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)
Wise is her present; she connects in this
His greatest virtue with his greatest bliss;
At once his own bright prospect to be blest,
and strongest motive to assist the rest.
Self-love thus push'd to social, to divine,
Gives thee to make thy neighbour's blessing thine
Is this too little for the boundless heart?
Extend it, let thy enemies have part:
Grasp the whole world of reason, life, and sense,
In one close system of benevolence:
Happier as kinder, in whạte'er degree,
And height of bliss but height of charity.
God loves from whole to parts: but human soul
Must rise from individual to the whole.
Self-love but serves the virtuous mind to wake,
As the small pebble stirs the peaceful lake;
The centre moved, a circle straight succeeds,
Another still, and still another spreads;
Friend, parent, neighbour, first it will embrace;
His country next, and next all human race;
Wide, and more wide, the' o'erflowings of the mind
Take every creature in, of every kind;
Earth smiles around, with boundless bounty blesty
And Heaven beholds its image in his breast.
Come then, my friend ! my genius! come along;
O master of the poet, and the song!
And while the muse now stoops, or now ascends,
To man's low passions, or their glorious ends,
Teach me, like thee, in various nature wise,
To fall with dignity, with temper rise;
Form') by thy converse, happily to steer
From grave to gay, from lively to severe;
Correct with spirit, eloquent with ease,
Intent to reason, or polite to please.
Oh! while along the stream of time thy name
Expanded flies, and gathers all its fame;
Say, shall my little bark attendant sail,
Pursue the triumph, and partake the gale?
When statesmen, heroes, kings, in dust repose,
Whose sons shall blush their fathers were thy foes
Shall then this verse to future age pretend
Thou wert my guide, philosopher, and friend!
That urged by thee, I turn'd the tuneful art
From sounds to things, from fancy to the heart;
For wit's false mirror held up Nature's light;
Show'd erring pride, WHATEVER IS, IS RIGHT;
That REASON, PASSION, answer one great aim;
That true SELF-LOVE and SOCIAL are the same;
That VIRTUE only makes our bliss below;
And all our knowledge is, OURSELVES TO KNOW.
FATHER of all! in every age,
In every clime adored,
By saint, by savage, and by sage,
Jehovah, Jove, or Lord
Thou great First Cause, least understood,
Who all my sense confined
To know but this, that Thou art good,
And that myself am blind;
Yet gave me, in this dark estate,
To see the good from ill;
And binding nature fast in fate,
Left free the human will.
What conscience dictates to be done,
Or warns me not to do, This, teach me more than hell to shun,
That, more than heaven pursue. What blessings thy free bounty gives,
Let me not cast away;
For God is paid when man receives,
To enjoy is to obey.
Yet not to earth's contracted span
Thy goodness let me bound,
Or think thee Lord alone of man,
When thousand worlds are round: Let not this weak, unknowing hand
Presume thy bolts to throw,
And deal damnation round the land
On each I judge thy foe.
If I am right, thy grace impart,
Still in the right to stay;
If I am wrong, oh teach my heart
To find that better way!
Save me alike from foolish pride,
Or impious discontent,
Ataught thy wisdom has denied,
Or aught thy goodness lent. Teach me to feel another's woe,
To hide the fault I see;
That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.
Mean though I am, not wholly so,
Since quicken'd by thy breath;
Oh lead me wheresoe'er I go,
Through this day's life or death! ! This day, be bread and peace my lot:
All else beneath the sun, Thou know'st if best bestow'd or not,
And let Thy will be done.
To thee, whose temple is all space,
Whose altar, earth, sea, skies !
One chorus let all Being raise !
All Nature's incense rise !
FOUR EPISTLES TO SEVERAL PERSONS.
Est brevitate opus, ut currat sententia, neu se
Impediat verbis lassis onerantibus aures :
Et sermone opus est modo tristi, sæpe jocoso,
Defendente vicem modo Rhetoris atque Poetæ
Interdum urbani, parcentis viribus, atque
Extenuantis eas consultò.
TO SIR RICHARD TEMPLE, LORD COBHAM,
OF THE KNOWLEDGE AND CHARACTERS OF MEN,
I. That it is not sufficient for this knowledge to consider man in the abstract; books will not serve the purpose, nor yet our own experience singly. General maxims, unless they be formed upon both, will be but notional. Some peculiarity in every man, characteristic to himself, yet varying from himself. Difficulties arising from our own passions, fancies, faculties, &c. The shortness of life, to observe in, and the uncertainty of the principles of action in men, to observe by. Our own principle of action often hid from ourselves. Some few characters plain, but in general confounded, dissembled, or inconsistent. The same man utterly different in different places and seasons. Unimaginable weaknesses in the greatest. Nothing constant and certain but God and nature. No judging of the motives from the actions; the same actions proceeding from contrary motives, and the 'same motives influencing contrary actions. II. Yet to form characters, we can only take the strongest actions of a man's life, and try to make them agree: the utter uncertainty of this, from nature itself, and from policy. Characters given according to the rank of men of the world. And some reason for it. Education alters the nature, or at least the character, of many. Actions passions, opinions, manners, humours, or principles, all subject to change. No judging by nature. III. It only remains to find (if we can) his RULING PASSION : that will certainly influence, all the rest, and can