« ZurückWeiter »
OF THE NATURE AND STATE OF MAN WITH RESPECT To HIMSELF, As AN INDIVIDUAL.
The business of man not to pry into God, but to study himself. His middle nature; his power and frailties, and the limits of his capacity, ver. 43. The two principles of man. self-love and reason, both necessary ; self-love the stronger, and why; their end the same, 83. The passions and their use, 83 to 120. The predominant passion and its force, 122 to 150. Its necessity in directing men to different purposes, 153, &c. Its providential use infring our principle and ascertaining our virtue, 167. Virtue and vice joined in our mixed nature; the limits near get the separate and evident. What is the office of reason, 187, &c." How odious vice in itself, and how we deceive ourselves into it, 209. That however the ends of providence and general good are answered in our passions and imperfections, 230, &c. How usefully they are distributed to all orders of men, 233. How useful they are to society, 241, and to the individuals, 253, in every state, and every age of life 263, orc.
I. Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of mankind is man. Plac'd on this isthmus of a middle state, A being darkly wise, and rudely great : With too much knowledge for the sceptic side, With too much weakness for the stoic’s pride, He hangs between ; in doubt to act, or rest; In doubt to deem himself a God, or beast; In doubt his mind or body to prefer; Born but to die, and reas’ning but to err; 10 Alike in ignorance, his reason such, Whether he thinks too little or too much :
Chaos of thought and passion, all confus’d ;
Go, wond’rous creature mount where science guides,
Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides;
Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
Superior beings, when of late they saw
Uncheck'd may rise, and climb from art to art:
But when his own great work is but begun,
Trace science then, with modesty thy guide; First strip off all her equipage of pride; Deduct what is but vanity, or dress, 45 Or learning’s luxury, or idleness; e 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: 50 Then see how little the remaining sum, Which serv'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, 55 Each works its end, to move or govern all; And to their proper operations still, Ascribe all good; to their improper ill.
Self-love, the spring of motion, acts the soul; Reason's comparing balance rules the whole. 60 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 through the void, 65 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. 70
Self-love still stronger, as its object's 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, 75 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 gain ; Each strengthens reason, and self-love restrains, 8O
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, 85 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 : 90 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,
In lazy apathy let stoics boast
Passions, like elements, though born to fight,
The lights and shades, whose well accorded strife,
Gives all the strength and colour of our life.