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A wit’s a feather, and a chief a rod :
An honest man’s the noblest work of God.
Fame but from death a villain’s name can save,
As justice tears his body from the grave; 250
When what to oblivion better were resign'd,
Is hung on high to poison half mankind.
All fame is foreign but of true desert,
Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart;
One self-approving hour, whole years outweighs 255
Of stupid starers, and of loud huzzas; -
And more true joy Marcellus exil'd feels,
Than Caesar with a senate at his heels.
In parts superior, what advantage lies Tell (for you can) what is it to be wise 260 *Tis but to know how little can be known; To see all other’s faults, and feel our own: Condemn’d in business or in arts to drudge, Without a second, or without a judge; Truths would you teach, or save a sinking land 265 All fear, none aid you, and few understand. Painful pre-eminence yourself to view Above life's weakness, and its comforts too.
Bring then these blessings to a strict account; Make fair deductions; see to what they’mount. 279 How much of other each is sure to cost; How each for other oft is wholly lost; How inconsistent greater goods, with these : How sometimes life is risk'd, and always ease;
Think, and if still the things thy envy call,
Say, wouldst thou be the man to whom they fall 2
To sigh for ribbons, if thou art so silly,
Mark how they grace Lord Umbra, or Sir Billy.
Is yellow dirt the passion of thy life 2
Look but on Gripus, or on Gripus' wife ;
If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shin'd:
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 honor'd, fam’d, and great,
See the false scale of happiness complete!
In heart’s 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 rais'd the hero sunk the man.
Now Europe’s laurels on their brows behold,
But stain’d with blood, or ill exchang'd for gold:
Then see them broke with toils, or sunk in ease,
Or infamous for plundered provinces,
Oh 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 2
Some greedy minion, or imperious wife,
The trophy'd arches, story’d halls invade,
And haunt their slumbers in the pompous shade.
Alas! not dazzled with their noon-tide ray, 305
Compute the morn and evening to the day;
The whole amount of that enormous fame,
A tale, that blends their glory with their shame!
Know then this truth, (enough for man to know)
“Virtue alone is happiness below.” 310
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, 315
And if it lose, attended with no pain:
Without satiety, though e'er so blest,
And but more relish’d as the more distrest;
The broadest mirth unfeeling folly wears,
Less pleasing far than virtue’s very tears: 3.2%
Good from each object, from each place acquir’d,
Forever exercised, yet never tir’d;
Never elated, while one man’s opprest,
Never dejected, while another’s blest;
And where no wants, no wishes can remain, 3:25
Since but to wish more virtue, is to gain.
See the sole bliss heav'n 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; 330 Slave to no sect, who takes no private road, But looks through nature, up to nature's God:
Pursues that chain which links th’ immense design,
Joins heav'n and earth, and mortal and divine ;
Sees, that no being any bliss can know,
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 unconfin'd,
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 2
Extend it—let thy ENEMIEs have part:
Grasp the whole worlds of reason, life, and sense,
In one close system of BENEvolence:
Happier as kinder, in whate'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 mov’d, a circle strait succeeds, 365 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, th’ o'erflowings of the mind Take every creature in, of every kind: 370 Earth smiles around, with boundless bounty blest, And heaven beholds its image in his breast.
Come then, my friend! my genius' come along; Oh master of the poet, and the song' And while the muse now stoops or now ascends, 375 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’d by thy converse, happily to steer From grave to gay; from lively to severe; 380 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, 385 Pursue the triumph and partake the gale When statesmen, heroes, kings, in dust repose, Whose sons shall blush their fathers were thy foes :