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E P I S T L E
Of the Nature and State of Man with respect to
Himself, as an Individual.
I. The business of Man not to pry into God, but to study
himself. His Middle Nature : his Powers and Frailties, ver. I to 19. The Limits of his Capacity, ver. 19, &c., II. The two Principles of Man, Self-love and Reason, both necessary, ver. 53, &c. Self-love the stronger, and why, ver. 67, &c. Their end the fame, ver. 81, &c. III. The Passions, and their use, ver. 93 to 130. The Predominant Passion, and its force, ver. 132 to 160. Its Necessity, in directing Men to different purposes, ver. 165, &c. Its providential Use, in fixing our Principle, and ascertaining our Virtue, ver. 177. IV. Virtue and Vice joined in our mixed Nature; the limits near, yet the things separate and evident: What is the Office of Reason, ver. 202 to 216. V. How odious Vice in itfelf, and how we deceive ourselves into it, ver. 217. VI. That, however, the Ends of Providence and general Good are answered in our Passions and Imperfections, ver. 238, &c. How usefully these are distributed to all Orders of Men, vér. 241. How useful they are to Society, ver. 251. And to Individuals, ver. 263. In every state, and every age of life, ver. 273, &c.
I. NOW 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, 5 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 reasoning but to err; Alike in ignorance, his reason such, Whether he thinks too little, or too much : Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus’d; Still by himself abus'd or disabus’d; Created half to rise, and half to fall;
15 Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all; Sole judge of Truth, in endless Error hurl'd: The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!
Go, wondrous creature! mount where Science guides, Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides;
Instruct VARIATIONS. Ver. 2. Ed. ift.
The only science of Mankind is Man.
For more perfection than this state can bear
Could he, whose rules the rapid Comet bind, 35
Trace Science then, with Modesty thy guide ;
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 operation still, Ascribe all Good, to their improper Ill.
Self-love, the spring of motion, acts the soul; Reason's comparing balance rules the whole,
Could he, who taught each Planet where to roll,
Man, but for that, no action could attend,
Most strength the moving principle requires ;
of good and evil Gods what frighted Fools,