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Öonverse and love mankind might strongly draw,
When love was liberty, and nature law.
Thus states were form'd ; the name of king unknown,
*Till common int’rest plac’d the sway in one.
'Twas virtue only (or in arts or arms
Diffusing blessings; or averting harms)
The same which in a sire the sons obey'd,
A prince the father of a people made.
VI. Till then, by nature crown'd, each patriarch
King, priest, and parent, of his growing state;
On him their second providence, they hung,
Their law his eye, their oracle his tongue:
He from the wond'ring furrow call'd the food,
Taught to command the fire, control the flood,
Draw forth the monsters of the abyss profound,
Or fetch th’ aerial eagle to the ground.
Till drooping, sick’ning, dying, they began,
Whom they rever'd as God to mourn as man:
Then, looking up from sire to sire, explor’d
One great First Father, and that first ador'd.
Or plain tradition that this all begun,
Convey’d unbroken faith from sire to son;
The worker from the work distinct was known,
And simple reason never sought but one:
E'er wit oblique had broke that steady light,
Man, like his Maker, saw that all was right:
To virtue, in the paths of pleasure trod,
And own’d a father when he own’d a God.
Love, all the faith, and all the allegiance, then : 233
For nature knew no right divine in men— -
No ill could fear in God; and understood
A sov’reign being, but a sov’reign good.
True faith, true policy, united ran;
That was but love of God, and this of man. 240
Who first taught souls enslav'd, and realms undone,
Th’ enormous faith of many made for one;
That proud exception to all nature’s laws,
To invert the world, and counterwork its cause 2
Force first made conquest, and that conquest, law, 245
*Till superstition taught the tyrant awe,
Then shar'd the tyranny, then lent it aid,
And gods of conquerors, slaves of subjects made.
She, 'midst the lightning's blaze, and thunder's sound,
When rock'd the mountains, and when groan'd the
ground, - - 250
She taught the weak to bend, the proud to pray,
To power unseen, and mightier far than they :
She, from the rending earth, and bursting skies,
Saw Gods descend, and fiends infernal rise :
Here fix’d the dreadful, there the blest abodes: 255
Fear made her devils, and weak hope her gods; "
Gods partial, changeful, passionate, unjust;
Whose attributes were rage, revenge, or lust;
Such as the souls of cowards might conceive,
And, form'd like tyrants, tyrants would believe. 260°
Zeal, then, not charity, became the guide,
And hell was built on spite, and heaven on pride.
Then sacred seem'd the ethereal vault no more;
Altars grew marble then, and reck’d with gore:
Then first the flamen tasted living food, 265
Next his grim idol smear'd with human blood,
With heaven’s own thunder shook the world below,
And play’d the god an engine on his foe.
So drives self love, thro’ just and thro’ unjust, To one man's power ambition, lucre, lust: 270 "The same self-love, in all, becomes the cause Of what restrains him, government and laws, For, what one likes, if others like as well, What serves one will, when other wills rebel ! How shall he keep, what, sleeping or awake, 275 A weaker may surprise, a stronger take His safety must his liberty restrain: All join to guard what each desires to gain. Forc’d into virtue thus by self-defence, E’en kings learn’d justice and benevolence; 280 Self-love forsook the path it first pursu’d, And found the private in the public good.
'Twas then the studious head or generous mind, Follower of God, or friend of human kind, Poet or patriot rose but to restore 285 The faith and morals nature gave before;
Re-lum'd her ancient light, not kindled new ;
If not God's image, yet his shadow drew:
Taught power's due use to people and to kings;
Taught not to slack, nor strain its tender strings, 290
The less or greater set so justly true,
That touching one, must strike the other too :
*Till jarring interests of themselves create
Th” according music of a well mix’d state. -
Such is the world's great harmony, that springs 295
From order, union, full consent of things :
Where small and great, where weak and mighty made
To serve, not suffer—strengthen, not invade;
More powerful each, as needful to the rest,
And, in proportion as it blesses, blest; 300
Draw to one point, and to one centre bring
Beast, man, or angel, servant, lord or king.
For forms of government, let fools contest; Whate’er is best administer'd is best: For modes of faith, let graceless zealots fight; 305 His can’t be wrong, whose life is in the right. In faith and hope the world will disagree, But all mankind's concern is charity. All must be false that thwart this first great end; And all of God, that bless mankind, or mend. 31Q
Man, like the generous vine, supported, lives: The strength he gains, is from th’ embrace he gives.
On their own axis as the planets run,
Yet make at once their circle round the sun;
So two consistent motions act the soul; 315
And one regards itself, and one the whole.
Thus God and nature link'd the general frame, And bade self-love and social be the same.