HAVING proposed to write some Pieces on Hu man Life and Manners, such as (to use my Lord Bacon's expression) come home to Men's Busi ness and Bosoms, I thought it more satisfactory to begin with considering Man in the Abstract, his Nature and his State: since to prove any moral Duty, to inforce any moral Precept, or to examine the Perfection or Imperfe ction of any Creature whatsoever, it is necessary first to know what Condition and Relation it is placed in, and what is the proper End and Purpose of its Being.

The Science of Human Nature is, like all other Scien ces, reduced to a few, clear Points: There are not many certain Truths in this World. It is therefore in the Ana tomy of the Mind as in that of the Body; more Good will accrue to mankind by attending to the large, open, and perceptible parts, than by studying too much such finer nerves and vessels as will for ever escape our observation. The Disputes are all upon these last, and I will ven ture[Page] to say, they have less sharpen'd the Wits than the Hearts of Men against each other, and have diminished the Practise, more than advanced the Theory, of Mora lity. If I could flatter my self that this Essay has any Merit, it is in steering betwixt Doctrines seemingly op posite, in passing over Terms utterly un-intelligible, and in forming out of all a temperate yet not inconsistent, and a short yet not imperfect System of Ethics.

This I might have done in Prose; but I chose Verse, and even Rhyme, for two reasons. The one will ap pear obvious; that Principles, Maxims, or Precepts so written, both strike the reader more strongly at first, and are more easily retained by him afterwards. The other may seem odd but is true; I found I could ex press them more shortly this way than in Prose itself, and nothing is more certain than that much of the Force as well as Grace of Arguments or Instructions depends on their Conciseness. I was unable to treat this part of my subject more in detail, without becoming dry and tedious; or more poetically, without sacrificing Perspi cuity to Ornament, without wandring from the Precision, or breaking the Chain of Reasoning. If any man can unite all these, without diminution of any of them, I freely con fess he will compass a thing above my capacity.

What is now published, is only to be considered as a ge neral Map of MAN, marking out no more than the Greater[Page] Parts, their Extent, their Limits, and their Connection, but leaving the Particular to be more fully delineated in the Charts which are to follow. Consequently, these Epistles in their progress will become less dry, and more susceptible of Poetical Ornament. I am here only opening the Foun tains, and clearing the passage; To deduce the Rivers, to follow them in their Course, and to observe their Effects, will be a task more agreeable.



EPISTLE I. Of the NATURE and STATE of MAN, with respect to the UNIVERSE.

OF Man in the Abstract. We can judge only with regard to our own System, being ignorant of the Relations of Sy stems and Things, VER. 17, &c. to 68. Man is not therefore to be deem'd Imperfect, but a Being suited to his Place and Rank in the Creation, agreeable to the General Order of Things, and conformable to Ends and Relations to him unknown. 69, &c. It is partly upon this Ignorance of future Events, and partly upon the Hope of a Future State, that all his Happiness in the present depends, 73, &c. His Pride, in aiming at more Know ledge and pretending to more Perfection, the cause of his Error and Misery, 109. 119. The Impiety of putting himself in the[Page] place of God, and judging of the fitness or unfitness, perfection or imperfection, justice or injustice of his dispensations, 109 to 120. The Absurdity of conceiting himself the final cause of the creation, or expecting that Perfection in the moral world which is not in the natural, 127 to 164. The Unreasonableness of his complaints against Providence, while on the one hand he demands the perfections of the Angels, on the other the bodily qualifica tions of the Brutes, 165. That the gift of Reason alone counter vails all the latter, and that to possess any of the sensitive faculties in a higher degree, would render him miserable, 181 to 198. That throughout the whole visible world, an universal Order and gra dation in these is observ'd, which causes a subordination of crea ture to creature, and of all creatures of man. The gradations of sense, instinct, thought, reflection, reason, 199 to 224. How much farther this order and subordination of living creatures may extend, above and below us? 225. Were any part of this bro ken, not that part only, but the whole connected Creation must be destroyed. The extravagance, madness, and pride of such a de sire, 239, &c. Consequently, the absolute submission due to Pro vidence, both as to our present and future state, 292, &c.

EPISTLE II. 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 him self. His Middle Nature; his powers and frailties, and the Limits of his capacity, VER. 3 to 43. His two Principles, Self-love[Page] and Reason, 43. both necessary, 49. Self-love the stronger, and why?, 57. their End the same, 71. 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, in fixing our principle, and ascertaining our virtue, 167. Virtue and Vice join'd in our mixt nature; the limits near, yet the things separate, and evident. What is the office of Reason? 187, &c. How odious Vice in itself, and how we deceive our selves into it, 209. That however, the Ends of Providence and general Good are answer'd in our Passions, and Im perfections, 230, &c. How usefully these are distributed to all Orders of men, 233. how useful they are to Society, 241. and to the Individuals, 253. In every State, and in every Age of life, 263 to the end.

EPISTLE III. Of the NATURE and STATE of MAN, with respect to SOCIETY.

THE whole Universe one system of Society, VER. 7, &c. Nothing is made wholly for itself, nor yet wholly for an other, 27. The happiness of animals mutual, 53. Reason or In stinct operate alike to the good of each individual, 83. Reason or instinct operate to society, in all animals, 109. How far Society carry'd by Instinct, 119. How much farther by Reason, 132. Of that which is call'd the State of Nature, 148. Reason instructed by Instinct in the invention of Arts, 170. and in the Forms of so ciety, 180. Origin of political Societies, 199. Origin of Ma narchy,[Page] 211. Patriarchal government, 216. Origin of true Religion and Government, from the same principle, of Love, 235, &c. Origin of Superstition and Tyranny, from the same principle, of Fear, 241, &c. The influence of Self-love operating to the social and publick good, 269. Restoration of true Religion and Govern ment on their first principle, 285. Mixt Government, 289. Va rious Forms of each, and the true end of all, 303, &c.

EPISTLE IV. Of the NATURE and STATE of MAN, with respect to HAPPINESS.

HAppiness ill defin'd by the Philosophers, VER. 19. That it is the End of all men, and attainable by all, 28. God go verns by general, not particular laws: intends Happiness to be equal; and to be so it must be social, since all particular happiness de pends on general, 35. As it is necessary for Order, and the peace and welfare of Society, that External goods should be unequal, hap piness is not made to consist in these, 47. But, notwithstand ing that inequality, the Balance of Happiness among mankind is kept even by Providence, by the two Passions of Hope and Fear, 66. What the happiness of Individuals is? as far as is consistent with the constitution of this world, 76. That the good man has here the advantage, 80. The error of imputing to Virtue what are only the calamities of Nature, or of Fortune, 92. The folly of expecting that God should alter his General Laws in favour of par ticulars, 118. That we are not judges who are good? but that whoever they are, they must be happiest, 130, &c. That ex ternal[Page] goods are not the proper rewards, often inconsistent with, or destructive of Virtue, 166. But that even these can make no man happy without Virtue. Instanced in Riches, 176. Ho nours, 184. Birth, 203. Greatness, 213. Fame, 233. Supe rior talents, 257. with pictures of human Infelicity in men pos sest of them all, 275, &c. That VIRTUE ONLY constitutes a Hap piness, whose Object is universal 311. and whose Prospect eter nal, 345. The perfection of which consists in a conformity to the Order of Providence, here, and in a resignation to it, here and hereafter, 534. Or (in other words) in Love of God and Charity to all men, &c. to the end.



1 AWAKE! my ST. JOHN! leave all meaner things
2 To low Ambition and the Pride of Kings.
3 Let Us (since Life can little more supply
4 Than just to look about us, and to die)
5 Expatiate free, o'er all this Scene of Man,
6 A mighty Maze! but not without a Plan;
7 A Wild, where weeds and flow'rs promiscuous shoot,
8 Or Garden, tempting with forbidden fruit.
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9 Together let us beat this ample field,
10 Try what the open, what the covert yield;
11 The latent tracts or giddy heights explore,
12 Of all who blindly creep, or sightless soar;
13 Eye Nature's walks, shoot Folly as it flies,
14 And catch the manners living as they rise;
15 Laugh where we must, be candid where we can,
16 But vindicate the Ways of GOD to Man.
17 Say first, of God above, or Man below,
18 What can we reason, but from what we know?
19 Of Man, what see we but his Station here,
20 From which to reason, or to which refer?
21 Thro' Worlds unnumber'd tho' the God be known,
22 'Tis ours to trace him, only in our own.
23 He who thro' vast Immensity can pierce,
24 See worlds on worlds compose one Universe,
25 Observe how System into System runs,
26 What other Planets, and what other Suns?
27 What vary'd Being peoples ev'ry Star?
28 May tell, why Heav'n has made us as we are.
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29 But of this frame the bearings, and the Ties,
30 The strong connections, nice dependencies,
31 Gradations just, has thy pervading soul
32 Look'd thro'? or can a Part contain the Whole?
33 Is the great Chain that draws all to agree,
34 And drawn supports, upheld by God, or thee?
35 Presumptuous Man! the Reason would'st thou find
36 Why form'd so weak, so little, and so blind?
37 First, if thou can'st, the harder reason guess
38 Why form'd no weaker, blinder, and no less?
39 Ask of thy mother Earth, why oaks are made
40 Taller or stronger than the weeds they shade?
41 Or ask of yonder argent fields above,
42 Why Jove's Satellites are less than Jove?
43 Of Systems possible, if 'tis confest
44 That Wisdom infinite must form the best,
45 Where all must full, or not coherent be,
46 And all that rises, rise in due degree;
47 Then, in the scale of life and sense, 'tis plain
48 There must be, some where, such a rank as Man;
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49 And all the question (wrangle 'ere so long)
50 Is only this, if God has plac'd him wrong?
51 Respecting Man whatever wrong we call,
52 May, must be right, as relative to All.
53 In human works, though labour'd on with pain,
54 A thousand movements scarce one purpose gain;
55 In God's, one single can its End produce,
56 Yet serves to second too some other Use.
57 So Man, who here seems principal alone,
58 Perhaps acts second to a Sphere unknown,
59 Touches some wheel, or verges to some gole;
60 'Tis but a part we see, and not a whole.
61 When the proud Steed shall know, why Man restrains
62 His fiery course, or drives him o'er the plains;
63 When the dull Ox, why now he breaks the clod,
64 Now wears a Garland, an Aegyptian God;
65 Then shall Man's pride and dulness comprehend
66 His action's, passion's, being's, Use and End;
67 Why doing, suff'ring, check'd, impell'd; and why
68 This hour a Slave, the next a Deity?
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69 Then say not Man's imperfect, Heav'n in fault;
70 Say rather, Man's as perfect as he ought;
71 His being measur'd to his State, and Place,
72 His time a moment, and a point his space.
73 Heav'n from all Creatures hides the book of Fate,
74 All but the page prescrib'd, their present state,
75 From Brutes what Men, from Men what Spirits know,
76 Or who could suffer Being here below?
77 The Lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to day,
78 Had he thy Reason, would he skip and play?
79 Pleas'd to the last, he crops the flow'ry food,
80 And licks the hand just rais'd to shed his blood.
81 Oh blindness to the future! kindly giv'n,
82 That each may fill the Circle mark'd by Heav'n,
83 Who sees with equal eye, as God of All,
84 A Hero perish, or a Sparrow fall,
85 Atoms, or Systems, into ruin hurl'd,
86 And now a Bubble burst, and now a World!
87 Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar;
88 Wait the great teacher, Death, and God adore!
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89 What future bliss, he gives not thee to know,
90 But gives that Hope to be thy blessing now.
91 Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
92 Man never is, but always to be blest;
93 The soul uneasy, and confin'd at home,
94 Rests, and expatiates, in a life to come.
95 Lo! the poor Indian, whose untutor'd mind
96 Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind;
97 His soul, proud Science never taught to stray
98 Far as the Solar walk, or Milky way;
99 Yet simple Nature to his Hope has giv'n
100 Behind the cloud-topt hill an humbler heav'n,
101 Some safer world in depth of woods embrac'd,
102 Some happier Island in the watry waste,
103 Where Slaves once more their native land behold,
104 No Fiends torment, no Christians thirst for Gold.
105 To be, contents his natural desire,
106 He asks no Angel's wing, or Seraph's fire,
107 But thinks, admitted to that equal sky,
108 This faithful Dog shall bear him company.
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109 Go, wiser thou! and in thy scale of sense
110 Weigh thy Opinion against Providence:
111 Call Imperfection what thou fancy'st such;
112 Say, here he gives too little, there too much;
113 Destroy all Creatures for thy sport or gust,
114 Yet cry, if Man's unhappy, God's unjust,
115 If Man, alone, engross not Heav'ns high care,
116 Alone, made perfect here, immortal there;
117 Snatch from his hand the Balance and the Rod,
118 Re-judge his Justice, Be the GOD of GOD!
119 In reas'ning Pride (my Friend) our error lies;
120 All quit their sphere, and rush into the Skies.
121 Pride still is aiming at the blest abodes,
122 Men would be Angels, Angels would be Gods.
123 Aspiring to be Gods, if Angels fell,
124 Aspiring to be Angels, Men rebell:
125 And who but wishes to invert the Laws
126 Of ORDER, sins against th' Eternal Cause.
127 Ask for what end the heav'nly Bodies shine?
128 Earth for whose use? Pride answers, "'Tis for mine:
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129 "For me kind Nature wakes her genial pow'r,
130 "Suckles each herb, and spreads out ev'ry flow'r;
131 "Annual for me the grape, the rose renew
132 "The juice nectareous, and the balmy dew;
133 "For me the mine a thousand treasures brings,
134 "For me health gushes from a thousand springs;
135 "Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise,
136 "My footstool earth, my canopy the skies.
137 But errs not Nature from this gracious end,
138 From burning Suns when livid deaths descend,
139 When Earthquakes swallow, or when Tempests sweep
140 Towns to one grave, and Nations to the Deep?
141 No ('tis reply'd) the first Almighty Cause
142 "Acts not by partial, but by gen'ral Laws;
143 "Th' Exceptions few; some Change since all began;
144 "And what created, perfect?" Why then Man?
145 If the great End be human Happiness,
146 And Nature deviates, how can Man do less?
147 As much that End a constant course requires
148 Of show'rs and sunshine, as of Man's Desires,
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149 As much eternal springs and cloudless skies,
150 As men for ever temp'rate, calm, and wise.
151 If Plagues or Earthquakes break not heav'ns design,
152 Why then a Borgia or a Catiline?
153 From Pride, from Pride, our very reas'ning springs;
154 Account for moral, as for nat'ral things:
155 Why charge we heav'n in those, in these acquit?
156 In both, to reason right, is to submit.
157 Better for us, perhaps, it might appear,
158 Were there all harmony, all virtue here;
159 That never air or ocean felt the wind;
160 That never passion discompos'd the mind:
161 But All subsists by elemental strife;
162 And Passions are the Elements of life.
163 The gen'ral Order, since the whole began,
164 Is kept in Nature, and is kept in Man.
165 What would this Man? now upward will he soar,
166 And little less than Angel, would be more;
167 Now looking downward, just as griev'd appears
168 To want the strength of Bulls, the fur of Bears.
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169 Made for his use all Creatures if he call,
170 Say what their use, had he the pow'rs of all?
171 Nature to these without profusion kind,
172 The proper organs, proper pow'rs assign'd,
173 Each seeming want compensated of course,
174 Here, with degrees of Swiftness, there, of Force;
[*] It is a certain Axiom in the Anatomy of Creatures, that in proportion as they are form'd for Strength their Swiftness is lessen'd; or as they are form'd for Swiftness, their Strength is abated.
175 All in exact proportion to the state,
176 Nothing to add, and nothing to abate.
177 Each Beast, each Insect, happy in its own,
178 Is Heav'n unkind to Man, and Man alone?
179 Shall he alone, whom rational we call,
180 Be pleas'd with nothing, if not bless'd with all?
181 The bliss of Man (could Pride that blessing find)
182 Is, not to think, or act, beyond Mankind;
183 No pow'rs of Body or of Soul to share,
184 But what his Nature and his State can bear.
185 Why has not Man a microscopic eye?
186 For this plain reason, Man is not a Fly.
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187 Say what the use, were finer opticks giv'n,
188 T' inspect a Mite, not comprehend the Heav'n?
189 Or Touch, if tremblingly alive all o'er,
190 To smart, and agonize at ev'ry pore?
191 Or keen Effluvia darting thro' the brain,
192 Die of a Rose, in aromatic pain?
193 If Nature thunder'd in his opening ears,
194 And stunn'd him with the music of the Spheres,
195 How would he wish that Heav'n had left him still
196 The whisp'ring Zephyr, and the purling rill?
197 Who finds not Providence all-good and wise,
198 Alike in what it gives, and what denies?
199 Far as Creation's ample range extends,
200 The scale of sensual, mental pow'rs ascends;
201 Mark how it mounts to Man's imperial race,
202 From the green myriads in the peopled grass!
203 What modes of Sight, betwixt each wide extreme,
204 The Mole's dim curtain, and the Lynx's beam:
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205 Of smell, the headlong Lioness
[*] The manner of the Lions hunting their Prey in the Deserts of Africa is this; at their first going out in the night-time they set up a loud Roar, and then listen to the Noise made by the Beasts in their Flight, pursuing them by the Ear, and not by the Nostril. It is probable, the story of the Jackall's hunting for the Lion was occasion'd by observation of the Defect of Scent in that terrible Animal.
206 And hound, sagacious on the tainted green:
207 Of hearing, from the Life that fills the flood,
208 To that which warbles through the vernal wood:
209 The spider's touch, how exquisitely fine!
210 Feels at each thread, and lives along the line:
211 In the nice bee, what sense so subtly true
212 From pois'nous herbs extracts the healing dew.
213 How Instinct varies! in the groveling swine,
214 Compar'd, half-reas'ning Elephant! with thine;
215 'Twixt that, and Reason, what a nice Barrier,
216 For ever sep'rate, yet for ever near:
217 Remembrance, and Reflection, how ally'd;
218 What thin partitions Sense from Thought divide:
219 And middle natures, how they long to join,
220 Yet never pass th' insuperable line!
221 Without this just Gradation, could they be
222 Subjected these to those, or all to thee?
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223 The pow'rs of all subdu'd by thee alone,
224 Is not thy Reason all those pow'rs in one?
225 See, thro' this air, this ocean, and this earth,
226 All Matter quick, and bursting into birth.
227 Above, how high progressive life may go?
228 Around how wide? how deep extend below?
229 Vast Chain of Being! which from God began,
230 Natures Ethereal, human, Angel, Man,
231 Beast, bird, fish, insect; what no Eye can see,
232 No Glass can reach: from Infinite to thee,
233 From thee to Nothing! On superior pow'rs
234 Were we to press, inferior might on ours;
235 Or in the full Creation leave a Void,
236 Where, one step broken, the great Scale's destroy'd:
237 From Nature's Chain whatever link you strike,
238 Tenth or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike.
239 And if each System in gradation roll,
240 Alike essential to th' amazing Whole;
241 The least confusion but in one, not all
242 That System only, but the whole must fall.
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243 Let Earth unbalanc'd from her Orbit fly,
244 Planets and Suns rush lawless thro' the sky,
245 Let ruling Angels from their spheres be hurl'd,
246 Being on Being wreck'd, and World on World,
247 Heav'ns whole foundations to their Centre nod,
248 And Nature tremble, to the Throne of God.
249 All this dread ORDER break For whom? for thee,
250 Vile Worm! O Madness! Pride! Impiety!
251 What if the foot ordain'd the dust to tread,
252 Or hand to toil, aspir'd to be the Head?
253 What if the head, the eye or ear, repin'd
254 To serve mere Engines to the ruling Mind?
255 Just as absurd, for any Part to claim
256 To be Another, in this gen'ral Frame:
257 Just as absurd, to mourn the tasks, or pains,
258 The great directing Mind of All ordains.
259 All are but parts of one stupendous Whole,
260 Whose Body Nature is, and God the Soul;
261 That, chang'd thro' all, and yet in all the same,
262 Great in the Earth as in th' Aethereal frame,
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263 Warms in the Sun, refreshes in the Breeze,
264 Glows in the Stars, and blossoms in the Trees,
265 Lives thro' all Life, extends thro' all Extent,
266 Spreads undivided, operates unspent,
267 Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part,
268 As full, as perfect, in a hair, as heart,
269 As full, as perfect, in vile Man that mourns,
270 As the rapt Seraphim that sings and burns;
271 To Him no high, no low, no great, no small;
272 He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all.
273 Cease then, nor ORDER Imperfection name:
274 Our proper bliss depends on what we blame.
275 Know thy own Point: This kind, this due degree
276 Of blindness, weakness, Heav'n bestows on thee.
277 Submit in this, or any other Sphere,
278 Secure to be as blest as thou canst bear;
279 Safe in the hand of one disposing Pow'r,
280 Or in the natal, or the mortal Hour.
281 All Nature is but Art, unknown to thee;
282 All Chance, Direction which thou canst not see;
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283 All Discord, Harmony not understood;
284 All partial Evil, universal Good:
285 And spight of Pride, in erring Reason's spight,
286 One truth is clear; "Whatever Is, is RIGHT."


1 KNow then thy-self, presume not God to scan;
2 The proper study of mankind is Man.
3 Plac'd on this Isthmus of a middle state,
4 A Being darkly wise, and rudely great;
5 With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,
6 With too much weakness for a Stoic's pride,
7 He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest,
8 In doubt to-deem himself a God, or Beast,
9 In doubt his mind or body to prefer,
10 Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err;
11 Alike in ignorance, his Reason such,
12 Whether he thinks too little, or too much.
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13 Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus'd;
14 Still by himself abus'd, or dis-abus'd;
15 Created half to rise, and half to fall;
16 Great Lord of all things, yet a Prey to all;
17 Sole Judge of Truth, in endless Error hurl'd;
18 The Glory, Jest, and Riddle of the world!
19 Go, wond'rous Creature! mount where Science guides,
20 Go measure Earth, weigh Air, and state the Tydes,
21 Instruct the Planets in what Orbs to run,
22 Correct old Time, and regulate the Sun.
23 Go, soar with Plato to th' empyreal sphere,
24 To the first Good, first Perfect, and first Fair;
25 Or tread the mazy round his Follow'rs trod,
26 And quitting Sense call Imitating God,
27 As Eastern Priests in giddy circles run,
28 And turn their heads, to imitate the Sun.
29 Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule;
30 Then drop into thy-self, and be a Fool!
31 Superior Beings, when of late they saw
32 A mortal Man unfold all Nature's Law,
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33 Admir'd such Wisdom in an earthly shape,
34 And show'd a NEWTON, as we show an Ape.
35 Could He who taught each Planet where to roll,
36 Describe, or fix, one Movement of the Soul?
37 Who mark'd their points, to rise and to descend,
38 Explain, or his Beginning, or his End?
39 Alas what wonder! Man's superior part
40 Uncheck'd may rise, and climb from Art to Art;
41 But when his own great work is but begun,
42 What Reason weaves, by Passion is undone.
43 Two Principles in human Nature reign;
44 Self-Love, to urge; and Reason, to restrain;
45 Nor this a good, nor that a bad we call,
46 Each works its end, to move, or govern all:
47 And to their proper operation still
48 Ascribe all Good; to their improper, Ill.
49 Self-Love, the Spring of motion, acts the soul;
50 Reason's comparing Balance rules the whole;
51 Man, but for that, no Action could attend,
52 And but for this, were active to no End.
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53 Fix'd like a Plant, on his peculiar spot,
54 To draw nutrition, propagate, and rot;
55 Or Meteor-like, flame lawless through the void,
56 Destroying others, by himself destroy'd.
57 Most strength the moving Principle requires,
58 Active its task, it prompts, impels, inspires:
59 Sedate and quiet the comparing lies,
60 Form'd but to check, delib'rate, and advise.
61 Self-Love yet stronger, as its objects nigh;
62 Reason's at distance and in prospect lye;
63 That sees immediate Good, by present sense,
64 Reason the future, and the consequence;
65 Thicker than Arguments, Temptations throng,
66 At best more watchful this, but that more strong.
67 The action of the stronger to suspend,
68 Reason still use, to Reason still attend:
69 Attention, Habit and Experience gains,
70 Each strengthens Reason, and Self-love restrains.
71 Let subtile Schoolmen teach these Friends to fight,
72 More studious to divide, than to unite,
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73 And Grace and Virtue, Sense and Reason split,
74 With all the rash dexterity of Wit.
75 Wits, just like fools, at war about a Name,
76 Have full as oft, no meaning, or the same.
77 Self-love and Reason to one end aspire,
78 Pain their aversion, Pleasure their desire;
79 But greedy that its object would devour,
80 This taste the honey, and not wound the flower.
81 Pleasure, or wrong or rightly understood,
82 Our greatest Evil, or our greatest Good.
83 Modes of Self-love the PASSIONS we may call;
84 'Tis real Good, or seeming, moves them all:
85 But since not every Good we can divide,
86 And Reason bids us for our own provide,
87 Passions tho' selfish, if their Means be fair,
88 List under Reason, and deserve her care:
89 Those that imparted, court a nobler aim,
90 Exalt their kind, and take some Virtue's name.
91 In lazy Apathy let Stoics boast
92 Their Virtue fix'd; 'tis fix'd as in a Frost:
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93 Contracted all, retiring to the breast:
94 But Strength of Mind is Exercise, not Rest:
95 The rising tempest puts in act the soul,
96 Parts it may ravage, but preserves the whole.
97 On Life's vast Ocean diversely we sail,
98 Reason the Card, but Passion is the Gale:
99 Nor GOD alone in the still Calm we find,
100 He mounts the Storm, and walks upon the Wind.
101 Passions, like Elements, tho' born to fight,
102 Yet mix'd and soften'd, in his work unite:
103 These, 'tis enough to temper and employ;
104 But what composes Man, can Man destroy?
105 Suffice that Reason keep to Nature's road,
106 Subject, compound them, follow her, and God.
107 Love, Hope, and Joy, fair Pleasure's smiling train,
108 Hate, Fear, and Grief, the Family of Pain;
109 These mix'd with art, and to due bounds confin'd,
110 Make, and maintain, the Balance of the Mind:
111 The Lights and Shades, whose well-accorded strife
112 Gives all the Strength and Colour of our life.
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113 Pleasures are ever in our hands, or eyes,
114 And when in Act they cease, in Prospect rise;
115 Present to grasp, and future still to find,
116 The whole employ of Body and of Mind.
117 All spread their charms, but charm not all alike;
118 On diff'rent Senses diff'rent Objects strike:
119 Hence diff'rent Passions more or less inflame,
120 As strong, or weak, the Organs of the Frame;
121 And hence one Master Passion in the breast,
122 Like Aaron's Serpent, swallows up the rest.
123 As Man perhaps, the moment of his breath,
124 Receives the lurking Principle of death,
125 The young Disease that must subdue at length,
126 Grows with his growth, and strengthens with his strength:
127 So, cast and mingled with his very Frame,
128 The Mind's disease, its ruling Passion came:
129 Each vital humour which should feed the whole,
130 Soon flows to this, in Body and in Soul.
131 Whatever warms the heart, or fills the head,
132 As the mind opens, and its functions spread;
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133 Imagination plies her dang'rous art,
134 And pours it all upon the peccant part.
135 Nature its Mother, Habit is its Nurse;
136 Wit, Spirit, Faculties, but make it worse;
137 Reason itself but gives it edge and pow'r,
138 As Heav'n's blest Beam turns Vinegar more sow'r.
139 The ruling Passion, be it what it will,
140 The ruling Passion conquers Reason still.
141 We, wretched subjects tho' to lawful sway,
142 In this weak Queen, some Fav'rite still obey.
143 Ah! if she lend not Arms as well as Rules,
144 What can she more, than tell us we are Fools?
145 Teach us to mourn our nature, not to mend,
146 A sharp Accuser, but a helpless Friend?
147 Or from a Judge turn Pleader, to persuade
148 The choice we make, or justify it made?
149 Proud of imagin'd Conquests all along,
150 She but removes weak Passions for the strong;
151 So, when small Humours gather to a Gout,
152 The Doctor fancies he has driv'n them out.
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153 Yes; Nature's Road must ever be prefer'd;
154 Reason is here no Guide, but still a Guard;
155 'Tis her's to rectify, not overthrow,
156 And treat this Passion more as Friend than Foe:
157 A MIGHTIER POW'R the strong Direction sends,
158 And sev'ral Men impells to sev'ral Ends:
159 Like varying Winds, by other passions tost,
160 This drives them constant to a certain Coast.
161 Let Pow'r or Knowledge, Gold, or Glory please,
162 Or (oft more strong than all) the Love of ease,
163 Thro' life 'tis follow'd, ev'n at life's expence;
164 The Merchant's toil, the Sage's indolence,
165 The Monk's humility, the Hero's pride,
166 All, all alike find Reason on their side.
167 Th' Eternal Art, educing Good from Ill,
168 Grafts on this Passion our best Principle:
169 'Tis thus, the Mercury of Man is fix'd,
170 Strong grows the Virtue with his Nature mix'd;
171 The Dross cements what else were too refin'd,
172 And in one int'rest Body acts with Mind.
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173 As Fruits ungrateful to the Planter's care
174 On savage stocks inserted, learn to bear,
175 The surest Virtues thus from Passions shoot,
176 Wild Nature's Vigour working at the root.
177 What Crops of Wit and Honesty appear,
178 From Spleen, from Obstinacy, Hate or Fear!
179 See Anger, Zeal and Fortitude supply;
180 Ev'n Av'rice Prudence; Sloth Philosophy;
181 Envy, to which th' ignoble mind's a slave,
182 Is Emulation in the Learn'd and Brave:
183 Lust, thro' some certain Strainers well refin'd,
184 Is gentle Love, and charms all Womankind.
185 Nor Virtue, male or female, can we name,
186 But what will grow on Pride, or grow on Shame.
187 Thus Nature gives us (let it check our pride)
188 The Virtue nearest to our Vice ally'd;
189 Reason the Byas turns to Good from Ill,
190 And Nero reigns a Titus, if he will.
191 The fiery soul abhorr'd in Catiline
192 In Decius charms, in Curtius is divine.
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193 The same Ambition can destroy or save,
194 And makes a Patriot, as it makes a Knave.
195 This Light and Darkness, in our Chaos join'd,
196 What shall divide? The God within the Mind.
197 Extremes in nature equal ends produce,
198 In man, they join to some mysterious use;
199 Tho' oft so mix'd, the diff'rence is too nice
200 Where ends the virtue, or begins the vice,
201 Now this, now that the other's bound invades,
202 As in some well-wrought Picture, lights and shades.
203 Fools! who from hence into the notion fall,
204 That Vice or Virtue there is none at all.
205 If white and black, blend, soften, and unite
206 A thousand ways, is there no black or white?
207 Ask your own Heart, and nothing is so plain;
208 'Tis to mistake them, costs the time and pain.
209 Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
210 As, to be hated, needs but to be seen;
211 Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
212 We first endure, then pity, then embrace.
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213 But where th' Extreme of Vice, was ne'er agreed;
214 Ask, where's the North? at York'tis on the Tweed,
215 In Scotland at the Orcades, and there
216 At Greenland, Zembla, or the Lord knows where.
217 No creature owns it, in the first degree,
218 But thinks his Neighbour farther gone than he.
219 Ev'n those who dwell beneath her very Zone,
220 Or never feel the rage, or never own;
221 What happier Natures shrink at with affright,
222 The hard Inhabitant contends is right.
223 Virtuous and vicious ev'ry man must be,
224 Few in th' Extreme, but all in the Degree:
225 The Rogue and Fool by fits is fair and wise,
226 And ev'n the best by fits what they despise,
227 'Tis but by Parts we follow Good or Ill,
228 For, Vice or Virtue, Self directs it still;
229 Each Individual seeks a sev'ral goal:
230 But HEAV'N'S great view is One, and that the WHOLE:
231 That counter-works each Folly and Caprice;
232 That disappoints th' Effect of ev'ry Vice:
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233 That, happy Frailties to all ranks apply'd,
234 Shame to the Virgin, to the Matron Pride,
235 Fear to the Statesman, Rashness to the Chief,
236 To Kings Presumption, and to Crowds Belief.
237 That, Virtue's Ends from Vanity can raise,
238 Which seeks no int'rest, no reward but Praise;
239 And build on Wants, and on Defects of mind,
240 The Joy, the Peace, the Glory of Mankind.
241 Heav'n forming each on other to depend,
242 A Master, or a Servant, or a Friend,
243 Bids each on other for assistance call,
244 'Till one man's weakness grows the strength of all.
245 Wants, Frailties, Passions, closer still allye
246 The common int'rest, or endear the tye:
247 To these we owe true Friendship, Love sincere,
248 Each home-felt joy that Life inherits here:
249 Yet from the same we learn, in its decline,
250 Those joys, those loves, those int'rests to resign;
251 Taught half by reason, half by mere decay,
252 To welcome Death, and calmly pass away.
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253 Whate'er the Passion, Knowledge, Fame, or Pelf,
254 Not one will change his Neighbour with himself.
255 The learn'd are happy, Nature to explore;
256 The fool is happy, that he knows no more;
257 The rich are happy in the plenty giv'n;
258 The poor contents him with the care of Heav'n.
259 See the blind Beggar dance, the Cripple sing,
260 The Sot a Hero, Lunatic a King,
261 The starving Chymist in his golden Views
262 Supreamly blest, the Poet in his Muse.
263 See! some strange Comfort ev'ry State attend,
264 And Pride bestow'd on all, a common Friend;
265 See! some fit Passion ev'ry Age supply,
266 Hope travels thro', nor quits us when we die.
267 'Till then, Opinion gilds with varying rays
268 Those painted clouds that beautify our days;
269 Each want of Happiness by Hope supply'd,
270 And each vacuity of Sense by Pride.
271 These build up all that Knowledge can destroy;
272 In Folly's cup still laughs the bubble, Joy;
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273 One Prospect lost, another still we gain,
274 And not a Vanity is giv'n in vain:
275 Ev'n mean Self-Love becomes, by force divine,
276 The Scale to measure others wants by thine.
277 See! and confess, one comfort still must rise,
278 'Tis this, tho' Man's a Fool, yet GOD IS WISE.


1 LEarn Dulness, learn! "The Universal Cause
2 "Acts to one End, but acts by various Laws. "
3 In all the Madness of superfluous Health,
4 The Trim of Pride, and Impudence of Wealth,
5 Let that great Truth be present night and day;
6 But most be present, if thou preach, or pray.
7 View thy own World: behold the Chain of Love
8 Combining all below, and all above.
9 See, plastic Nature working to this End,
10 The single Atoms each to other tend,
11 Attract, attracted to, the next in place,
12 Form'd, and impell'd, its Neighbour to embrace.
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13 See Matter next, with various life endu'd,
14 Press to one Centre still, the Gen'ral Good.
15 See dying Vegetables Life sustain,
16 See Life dissolving vegetate again.
17 All Forms that perish other forms supply,
18 By turns they catch the vital breath, and die;
19 Like Bubbles on the Sea of Matter born,
20 They rise, they break, and to that Sea return.
21 Nothing is foreign: Parts relate to Whole:
22 One all-extending, all-preserving Soul
23 Connects each Being, greatest with the least?
24 Made Beast in aid of Man, and Man of Beast;
25 All serv'd, and serving, nothing stands alone;
26 The Chain holds on, and where it ends, unknown!
27 Has GOD, thou Fool! work'd solely for thy good,
28 Thy joy, thy pastime, thy attire, thy food?
29 Who for thy Table feeds the wanton Fawn,
30 For him as kindly spreads the flow'ry Lawn.
31 Is it for thee the Lark ascends and sings?
32 Joy tunes his voice, Joy elevates his wings:
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33 Is it for thee the Linnet pours his throat?
34 Loves of his own, and raptures swell the note.
35 The bounding Steed you pompously bestride,
36 Shares with his Lord the pleasure and the pride.
37 Is thine alone the Seed that strows the plain?
38 The Birds of heav'n shall vindicate their grain:
39 Thine the full Harvest of the golden year?
40 Part pays, and justly, the deserving Steer.
41 The Hog that plows not, nor obeys thy call,
42 Lives on the labours of this Lord of all.
43 Know, Nature's Children all divide her care;
44 The Furr that warms a Monarch, warm'd a Bear.
45 While Man exclaims, "see all things for my use!
46 See Man for mine,"replies a pamper'd Goose:
47 What care to tend, to lodge, to cram, to treat him,
48 All this he knew; but not that 'twas to eat him.
49 As far as Goose could judge, he reason'd right,
50 But as to Man, mistook the matter quite:
51 And just as short of Reason, Man will fall,
52 Who thinks All made for One, not One for All.
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53 Grant, that the pow'rful still the weak controul,
54 Be Man the Wit and Tyrant of the whole.
55 Nature that Tyrant checks; He only knows
56 And feels, another creature's wants and woes.
57 Say will the falcon, stooping from above,
58 Smit with her varying plumage, spare the dove?
59 Admires the jay the insect's gilded wings,
60 Or hears the hawk, when Philomela sings?
61 Man cares for All: to birds he gives his woods,
62 To beasts his pastures, and to fish his floods;
63 For some his Int'rest prompts him to provide,
64 For more his Pleasure, yet for more his Pride:
65 All feed on one vain Patron, and enjoy
66 Th' extensive blessing of his Luxury.
67 That very life his learned hunger craves,
68 He saves from famine, from the savage saves;
69 Nay, feasts the Animal he dooms his feast,
70 And 'till he ends the Being, makes it blest:
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71 Which sees no more the stroke, or feels the pain,
72 Than favour'd Man, by Touch aetherial slain.
[*] Several of the Ancients, and many of the Orientals at this day, esteam'd those who were struck by Lightning as sacred Persons, and the particular Favourites of Heaven.
73 The Creature had his feast of life before;
74 Thou too must perish, when thy feast is o'er!
75 To each unthinking being Heav'n a friend,
76 Gives not the useless knowledge of its End;
77 To Man imparts it; but with such a View,
78 As while he dreads it, makes him hope it too:
79 The hour conceal'd, and so remote the fear,
80 Death still draws nearer, never seeming near.
81 Great standing Miracle! that Heav'n assign'd
82 Its only thinking thing, this turn of mind.
83 Whether with Reason, or with Instinct blest,
84 Know, all enjoy that pow'r which suits 'em best,
85 To Bliss, alike, by that direction tend,
86 And find the means proportion'd to their end.
87 Say, where full Instinct is th' unerring guide,
88 What Pope or Council can they need beside?
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89 Reason, however able, cool at best,
90 Cares not for service, or but serves when prest,
91 Stays till we call, and then not often near;
92 But honest Instinct comes a Volunteer.
93 This too serves always, Reason never long;
94 One must go right, the other may go wrong.
95 See then the acting and comparing pow'rs
96 One in their nature, which are two in ours,
97 And Reason raise o'er Instinct, as you can;
98 In this 'tis God directs, in that 'tis Man.
99 Who taught the Nations of the field and wood,
100 To shun their Poison, and to chuse their Food?
101 Prescient, the Tydes or Tempests to withstand,
102 Build on the Wave, or arch beneath the Sand?
103 Who made the Spider Parallels design,
104 Sure as De-Moivre, without rule or line?
105 Who bid the Stork, Columbus-like, explore
106 Heav'ns not his own, and worlds unknown before?
107 Who calls the Council, states the certain day,
108 Who forms the Phalanx, and who points the way?
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109 God, in the Nature of each being, founds
110 Its proper bliss, and sets its proper bounds:
111 But as he fram'd a Whole, the whole to bless
112 On mutual Wants built mutual Happiness:
113 So from the first Eternal ORDER ran,
114 And Creature link'd to Creature, Man to Man.
115 What'ere of Life all-quickening Aether keeps,
116 Or breathes thro' Air, or shoots beneath the Deeps,
117 Or pours profuse on Earth; one Nature feeds
118 The vital flame, and swells the genial seeds.
119 Not Man alone, but all that roam the wood,
120 Or wing the sky, or roll along the flood,
121 Each loves Itself, but not itself alone,
122 Each Sex desires alike, till two are one:
123 Nor ends the pleasure with the fierce embrace;
124 They love themselves, a third time, in their Race.
125 Thus beast and bird their common charge attend,
126 The mothers nurse it, and the sires defend;
127 The young dismiss'd to wander earth or air,
128 There stops the Instinct, and there ends the care,
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129 The link dissolves, each seeks a fresh embrace,
130 Another love succeeds, another race.
131 A longer care Man's helpless kind demands;
132 That longer care contracts more lasting bands:
133 Reflection, Reason, still the ties improve,
134 At once extend the Int'rest, and the Love:
135 With Choice we fix, with Sympathy we burn,
136 Each Virtue in each Passion takes its turn;
137 And still new Needs, new Helps, new Habits rise,
138 That graft Benevolence on Charities.
139 Still as one brood, and as another rose,
140 These nat'ral Love maintain'd, habitual those;
141 The last scarce ripen'd into perfect Man,
142 Saw helpless Him from whom their life began:
143 Mem'ry, and Forecast, just returns engage,
144 That pointed back to Youth, this on to Age;
145 While Pleasure, Gratitude, and Hope combin'd,
146 Still spread the Int'rest, and preserv'd the Kind.
147 Nor think, in Nature's State they blindly trod;
148 The State of NATURE was the Reign of GOD:
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149 Self-Love, and Social, at her birth began,
150 UNION the Bond of all things, and of Man.
151 Pride then was not; nor Arts, that Pride to aid;
152 Man walk'd with Beast, joint Tenant of the Shade;
153 The same his Table, and the same his Bed;
154 No murder cloath'd him, and no murder fed.
155 In the same Temple, the resounding Wood,
156 All vocal Beings hymn'd their equal God:
157 The Shrine with Gore unstain'd, with Gold undrest,
158 Unbrib'd, unbloody, stood the blameless Priest.
159 Heav'ns Attribute was Universal Care,
160 And Man's Prerogative to rule, but spare.
161 Ah how unlike the man of times to come!
162 Of half that live, the Butcher, and the Tomb;
163 Who, foe to Nature, hears the gen'ral groan,
164 Murders their species, and betrays his own.
165 But just disease to luxury succeeds,
166 And ev'ry death its own Avenger breeds;
167 The Fury-Passions from that blood began,
168 And turn'd on Man a fiercer savage, Man.
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169 See him from Nature rising slow to Art!
170 To copy Instinct then was Reason's part;
171 Thus then to Man the Voice of Nature spake
172 "Go! from the Creatures thy instructions take;
173 "Learn from the Birds, what food the thickets yield;
174 "Learn from the Beasts, the Physick of the field:
175 "Thy Arts of building from the Bee receive;
176 "Learn of the Mole to plow, the Worm to weave;
177 "Learn of the little
[*] Oppian. Halieut. Lib. I. describes this Fish in the following manner. They swim on the surface of the Sea, on the back of their Shells, which exactly re semble the Hulk of a Ship; they raise two Feet like Mafts, and extend a Membrane between which serves as a Sail; the other two Feet they employ as Oars at the side. They are usually seen in the Mediterranean.
Nautilus to sail,
178 "Spread the thin oar, and catch the driving gale.
179 "Here too all Forms of social Union find,
180 "And hence let Reason, late, instruct mankind:
181 "Here subterranean Works and Cities see,
182 "There Towns aerial on the waving Tree.
183 "Learn each small people's Genius, Policies;
184 "The Ants Republick, and the Realm of Bees;
185 "How those in common all their stores bestow,
186 "And Anarchy without confusion know,
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187 "And these for ever, tho' a Monarch reign,
188 "Their sep'rate Cells and Properties maintain.
189 "Mark what unvary'd Laws preserve their State,
190 "Laws wise as Nature, and as fix'd as Fate.
191 "In vain thy Reason finer webs shall draw,
192 "Entangle Justice in her Net of Law,
193 "And Right too rigid harden into Wrong,
194 "Still for the strong too weak, the weak too strong.
195 "Yet go! and thus o'er all the Creatures sway,
196 "Thus let the wiser make the rest obey,
197 "Who for those Arts they learn'd of Brutes before,
198 "As Kings shall crown them, or as Gods adore.
199 Great Nature spoke; observant Men obey'd;
200 Cities were built, Societies were made:
201 Here rose one little State; another near
202 Grew by like means, and join'd thro' Love, or Fear.
203 Did here the Trees with ruddier burdens bend,
204 And there the Streams in purer rills descend?
205 What War could ravish, Commerce could bestow,
206 And he return'd a friend, who came a foe.
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207 Converse and Love mankind might strongly draw,
208 When Love was Liberty, and Nature Law.
209 Thus States were form'd; the name of King unknown,
210 'Till common Int'rest plac'd the sway in One.
211 Then VIRTUE ONLY (or in Arts, or Arms,
212 Diffusing blessings, or averting harms)
213 The same which in a Sire the Sons obey'd,
214 A Prince the Father of a People made.
215 'Till then, by Nature crown'd, each Patriarch sate,
216 King, Priest, and Parent of his growing State:
217 On him, their second Providence, they hung,
218 Their Law, his Eye; their Oracle, his Tongue.
219 He, from the wond'ring furrow call'd their food,
220 Taught to command the Fire, controul the Flood,
221 Draw forth the Monsters of th' Abyss profound,
222 Or fetch th' aerial Eagle to the ground.
223 Till drooping, sick'ning, dying, they began
224 Whom they rever'd as God, to mourn as Man.
225 Then, looking up from Sire to Sire, explor'd
226 One great, first Father, and that first ador'd.
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227 Or plain Tradition that this All begun,
228 Convey'd unbroken Faith from Sire to Son,
229 The Workman from the Work distinct was known,
230 And simple Reason never sought but One:
231 E're Wit oblique had broke that steady light,
232 Man, like his Maker, saw, that all was right,
233 To Virtue in the paths of Pleasure trod,
234 And own'd a Father when he own'd a God.
235 LOVE all the Faith, and all th' Allegiance then;
236 For Nature knew no Right Divine in Men,
237 No Ill could fear in God; and understood
238 A Sovereign Being but a Sovereign Good.
239 True Faith, true Policy, united ran,
240 That was but Love of God, and this of Man.
241 Who first taught souls enslav'd, and realms undone,
242 Th' enormous Faith of Many made for One?
243 That proud Exception to all Nature's laws,
244 T'invert the World, and counter-work its Cause?
245 Force first made Conquest, and that Conquest, Law;
246 Till Superstition taught the Tyrant Awe,
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247 Then shar'd the Tyranny, and lent it aid,
248 And Gods of Conqu'rors, Slaves of Subjects made:
249 She, midst the Light'ning's blaze and Thunder's sound,
250 When rock'd the Mountains, and when groan'd the ground,
251 She taught the weak to bend, the proud to pray
252 To Pow'r unseen, and mightier far than they.
253 She, from the rending earth, and bursting skies,
254 Saw Gods descend, and Fiends infernal rise;
255 Here fix'd the dreadful, there the blest abodes;
256 Fear made her Devils, and weak Hope her Gods:
257 Gods partial, changeful, passionate, unjust,
258 Whose Attributes were Rage, Revenge, or Lust:
259 Such as the souls of Cowards might conceive,
260 And form'd like Tyrants, Tyrants would believe.
261 Zeal then, not Charity, became the guide,
262 And Hell was built on Spite, and Heav'n on Pride.
263 Then sacred seem'd th' Aethereal Vault no more;
264 Altars grew marble then, and reek'd with gore:
265 Then first the Flamen tasted living food;
266 Next his grim Idol smear'd with human blood;
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267 With Heav'ns own Thunders shook the world below,
268 And play'd the God an Engine on his foe.
269 So drives Self-love, thro'just and thro' unjust,
270 To One man's Pow'r, Ambition, Lucre, Lust:
271 The same Self-love, in All, becomes the cause
272 Of what restrains him, Government and Laws.
273 For what one likes if others like as well,
274 What serves one Will when many Wills rebel?
275 How shall he keep, what sleeping or awake
276 A weaker may surprize, a stronger take?
277 His Safety must his Liberty restrain;
278 All join to guard what each desires to gain.
279 Forc'd into Virtue thus by Self-defence,
280 Ev'n Kings learn'd Justice and Benevolence:
281 Self-love forsook the path it first pursu'd,
282 And found the private in the public Good.
283 'Twas then, the studious Head, or gen'rous Mind,
284 Follo'wer of God, or Friend of Humankind,
285 Poet or Patriot rose, but to restore
286 The Faith and Moral, Nature gave before;
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287 Re-lum'd her ancient light, not kindled new;
288 If not God's Image, yet his Shadow drew;
289 Taught Pow'rs due use to People and to Kings,
290 Taught, not to slack nor strain its tender strings;
291 The Less, and Greater, set so justly true,
292 That touching one must strike the other too,
293 And jarring Int'rests of themselves create
294 Th' according Music of a well-mix'd State.
295 Such is the WORLD'S great Harmony, that springs
296 From Union, Order, full Consent of things!
297 Where small and great, where weak and mighty made
298 To serve, not suffer, strengthen, not invade,
299 More pow'rful each as needful to the rest,
300 And in proportion as it blesses, blest,
301 Draw to one point, and to one Centre bring
302 Beast, Man, or Angel, Servant, Lord, or King.
303 For Forms of Government let fools contest,
304 Whate'er is best administred, is best:
305 For Modes of Faith let graceless Zealots fight,
306 His can't be wrong whose Life is in the right:
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307 All must be false, that thwart this One, great End,
308 And all of God, that bless Mankind, or mend,
309 Man, like the gen'rous Vine, supported lives,
310 The Strength he gains is from th' Embrace he gives.
311 On their own Axis as the Planets run,
312 Yet make at once their Circle round the Sun;
313 So two consistent Motions act the soul,
314 And one regards Itself, and one the Whole.
315 Thus God and Nature link'd the gen'ral Frame,
316 And bade Self-Love and Social be the same.


1 O HAPPINESS! our Being's End and Aim!
2 Good, Pleasure, Ease, Content! whate'er thy name:
3 That Something still, which prompts th'eternal sigh,
4 For which we bear to live, nor fear to die;
5 Which still so near us, yet beyond us lies,
6 O'erlook'd, seen double, by the fool and wise.
7 Plant of Caelestial seed! if dropt below,
8 Say, in what mortal soil thou deign'st to grow?
9 Fair-opening to some Court's propitious Shine,
10 Or deep with diamonds in the flaming Mine,
11 Twin'd with the wreaths Parnassian Laurels yield,
12 Or reap'd in Iron Harvests of the Field?
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13 Where grows where grows it not? If vain our toil,
14 We ought to blame the Culture, not the Soil:
15 Fix'd to no spot is Happiness sincere;
16 'Tis no where to be found, or ev'ry where;
17 'Tis never to be bought, but always free,
18 And fled from Monarchs, ST. JOHN! dwells with thee.
19 Ask of the Learn'd the way, the Learn'd are blind,
20 This bids to serve, and that to shun mankind:
21 Some place the bliss in Action, some in Ease,
22 Those call it Pleasure, and Contentment these:
23 Who thus define it, say they more or less
24 Than this, that Happiness is Happiness?
25 One grants his Pleasure is but Rest from pain,
26 One doubts of All, one owns ev'n Virtue vain.
27 Take Nature's path, and mad Opinion's leave,
28 All States can reach it, and all Heads conceive;
29 Obvious her goods, in no Extreme they dwell,
30 There needs but thinking right, and meaning well;
31 And mourn our various portions as we please,
32 Equal is common Sense, and common Ease.
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33 Remember Man! "the Universal Cause
34 "Acts not by partial, but by gen'ral Laws;
35 And makes what Happiness we justly call,
36 Subsist not in the Good of one, but all.
37 There's not a blessing Individuals find,
38 But some way leans and hearkens to the Kind.
39 No Bandit fierce, no Tyrant mad with pride,
40 No cavern'd Hermit, rest self-satisfy'd;
41 Who most to shun or hate mankind pretend,
42 Seek an Admirer, or wou'd fix a Friend.
43 Abstract what others feel, what others think,
44 All Pleasures sicken, and all Glories sink;
45 Each has his share, and who wou'd more obtain
46 Shall find, the pleasure pays not half the pain.
47 ORDER is Heav'n's first Law; and this confest,
48 Some are, and must be, greater than the rest,
49 More rich, more wise: but who infers from hence
50 That such are happier, shocks all common sense.
51 Heav'n to mankind impartial we confess
52 If all are equal in their happiness:
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53 But mutual wants this happiness increase,
54 All Nature's diff'rence keeps all Nature's peace.
55 Condition, Circumstance is not the thing:
56 Bliss is the same, in Subject or in King;
57 In who obtain defence, or who defend;
58 In him who is, or him who finds, a friend.
59 Heav'n breathes thro' ev'ry member of the whole
60 One common Blessing, as one common Soul:
61 But Fortune's gifts if each alike possest,
62 And each were equal, must not all contest?
63 If then to all men Happiness was meant,
64 God in Externals could not place Content.
65 Fortune her gifts may variously dispose,
66 And these be call'd unhappy, happy those;
67 But Heav'n's just balance equal will appear,
68 While those are plac'd in Hope, and these in Fear:
69 Not present Good or Ill, the joy or curse,
70 But future views, of Better, or of Worse.
71 Oh Sons of Earth! attempt ye still to rise
72 By mountains pil'd on mountains, to the Skies?
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73 Heav'n still with laughter the vain toil surveys,
74 And buries Madmen in the Heaps they raise.
75 Know, all the Good that Individuals find,
76 Or God and Nature meant to meer mankind,
77 Reason's whole pleasures, all the joys of Sense,
78 Lie in three words, Health, Peace, and Competence.
79 But Health consists with Temperance alone,
80 And Peace, fair Virtue! Peace is all thy own;
81 The gifts of Fortune good or bad may gain;
82 But these less taste them, as they worse obtain.
83 Say, in pursuit of Profit or Delight,
84 Who risque the most, that take wrong means, or right?
85 Of Vice or Virtue, whether blest or curst,
86 Which meets Contempt, or which Compassion first?
87 Count all th' advantage prosp'rous Vice attains,
88 'Tis but what Virtue flies from, and disdains;
89 And grant the bad what happiness they wou'd,
90 One they must want, which is, to pass for good.
91 Oh blind to Truth, and God's whole Scheme below!
92 Who fancy Bliss to Vice, to Virtue Woe:
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93 Who sees and follows that great Scheme the best,
94 Best knows his blessing, and will most be blest.
95 But Fools the Good alone unhappy call,
96 For Ills or Accidents that chance to All.
97 See FALKLAND falls, the virtuous and the just!
98 See godlike TURENNE prostrate on the dust!
99 See SIDNEY bleeds amid the martial strife!
100 Was this their Virtue, or Contempt of life?
101 Say was it Virtue, more tho' Heav'n ne'er gave,
102 Lamented DIGBY! sunk thee to the Grave?
103 Tell me, if Virtue made the Son expire,
104 Why, full of Days and Honour, lives the Sire?
105 Why drew Marseilles good Bishop purer breath,
106 When Nature sicken'd, and each gale was death?
107 Or why so long (in Life if long can be)
108 Lent Heav'n a Parent to the Poor and Me?
109 What makes all Physical or Moral Ill?
110 There deviates Nature, and here wanders Will.
111 God sends not Ill, 'tis Nature lets it fall
112 Or Chance escape, and Man improves it all.
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113 We just as wisely might of Heav'n complain,
114 That righteous Abel was destroy'd by Cain,
115 As that the virtuous Son is ill at ease,
116 When his lewd Father gave the dire disease.
117 Think we like some weak Prince th' Eternal Cause,
118 Prone for his Fav'rites to reverse his Laws?
119 Shall burning Aetna, if a Sage requires,
120 Forget to thunder, and recall her fires?
121 On Air or Sea new motions be imprest,
122 O blameless Bethel! to relieve thy breast?
123 When the loose Mountain trembles from on high,
124 Shall Gravitation cease, if you go by?
125 Or some old Temple nodding to its fall,
126 For Chartres head reserve the hanging Wall?
127 But still this World (so fitted for the Knave)
128 Contents us not. A better shall we have?
129 A Kingdom of the Just then let it be:
130 But first consider how those Just agree?
131 The Good must merit God's peculiar care;
132 But who but God can tell us, who they are?
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133 One thinks on Calvin Heav'n's own spirit fell,
134 Another deems him Instrument of Hell;
135 If Calvin feel Heav'n's Blessing, or its Rod,
136 This cries there is, and that, there is no God.
137 What shocks one part will edify the rest,
138 Nor with one System can they all be blest.
139 Give each a System, all must be at strife;
140 What diff'rent Systems for a man and wife?
141 The very best will variously incline,
142 And what rewards your Virtue, punish mine.
143 "Whatever is, is right. " This world, 'tis true,
144 Was made for Caesar but for Titus too:
145 And which more blest? who chain'd his Country, say,
146 Or he, whose Virtue sigh'd to lose a day?
147 "But sometimes Virtue starves while Vice is fed."
148 What then? is the reward of Virtue, Bread?
149 That, Vice may merit; 'tis the price of Toil:
150 The Knave deserves it when he tills the Soil,
151 The Knave deserves it when he tempts the Main,
152 Where Madness fights, for Tyrants, or for Gain.
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153 The good man may be weak, be indolent,
154 Nor is his claim to Plenty, but Content.
155 But grant him Riches, your demand is o'er?
156 "No shall the good want health, the good want Pow'r?
157 Add health and pow'r, and ev'ry earthly thing:
158 "Why bounded pow'r? why private? why no King?
159 Nay, why external for internal giv'n,
160 Why is not Man a God, and Earth a Heav'n?
161 Who ask and reason thus, will scarce conceive
162 God gives enough while he has more to give:
163 Immense the Pow'r, immense were the demand;
164 Say, at what part of Nature will they stand?
165 What nothing earthly gives, or can destroy,
166 The Soul's calm sun-shine, and the heart-felt joy,
167 Is Virtue's Prize: A better would you fix,
168 And give Humility a Coach and six?
169 Justice a Conqu'ror's sword, or Truth a Gown,
170 Or Publick Spirit, its great cure, a Crown?
171 Rewards that either would to Virtue bring
172 No joy, or be destructive of the thing.
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173 How oft by these at sixty are undone
174 The Virtues of a Saint at twenty-one!
175 For Riches, can they give but to the Just,
176 His own Contentment, or another's Trust?
177 Judges and Senates have been bought for gold,
178 Esteem and Love were never to be sold.
179 O Fool! to think, God hates the worthy Mind,
180 The Lover, and the Love, of Human kind,
181 Whose Life is healthful, and whose Conscience clear;
182 Because he wants a thousand pounds a year!
183 Honour and Shame from no Condition rise;
184 Act well your part, there all the Honour lies.
185 Fortune in men has some small diff'rence made,
186 One flaunts in Rags, one flutters in Brocade,
187 The Cobler apron'd, and the Parson gown'd,
188 The Fryar hooded, and the Monarch crown'd.
189 "What differ more (you cry) than Crown and Cowl?"
190 I'll tell you, friend: a Wise man and a Fool.
191 You'll find, if once the Monarch acts the Monk,
192 Or Cobler-like, the Parson will be drunk,
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193 Worth makes the Man, and want of it the Fellow;
194 The rest, is all but Leather or Prunella.
195 Stuck o'er with Titles, and hung round with Strings,
196 That thou may'st be, by Kings, or Whores of Kings.
197 Thy boasted Blood, a thousand years or so,
198 May from Lucretia to Lucretia flow;
199 But by your Father's worth if yours you rate,
200 Count me those only who were good and great.
201 Go! if your ancient but ignoble blood
202 Has crept thro' Scoundrels ever since the Flood,
203 Go! and pretend your Family is young;
204 Not own your Fathers have been fools so long.
205 What can ennoble Sots, or Slaves, or Cowards?
206 Alas! not all the blood of all the HOWARDS.
207 Look next on Greatness, say where Greatness lies?
208 "Where, but among the Heroes, and the Wise?"
209 Heroes are much the same, the point's agreed,
210 From Macedonia's Madman to the Suede;
211 The whole strange purpose of their lives, to find
212 Or make, an Enemy of all Mankind:
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213 Not one looks backward, onward still he goes,
214 Yet ne'er looks foreward, further than his nose.
215 No less alike the Politick and wise,
216 All sly slow things, with circumspective eyes;
217 Men in their loose, unguarded hours they take,
218 Nor that themselves are wise, but others weak.
219 But grant that those can conquer, these can cheat,
220 'Tis phrase absurd to call a Villain great.
221 Who wickedly is wise, or madly brave,
222 Is but the more a fool, the more a knave.
223 Who noble ends by noble means obtains,
224 Or failing, smiles in Exile or in Chains,
225 Like good Aurelius let him reign, or bleed
226 Like Socrates, that Man is great indeed.
227 What's Fame? that fancy'd Life in others breath!
228 A thing beyond us ev'n before our death.
229 Just what you hear you have, and what's unknown
230 The same (my Lord) if Tully's, or your own.
231 All that we feel of it begins and ends
232 In the small circle of our foes or friends;
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233 To all beside as much an empty Shade
234 An Eugene living, as a Caesar dead,
235 Alike or when or where, they shone or shine,
236 Or on the Rubicon, or on the Rhine.
237 A Wit's a Feather, and a Chief a Rod;
238 An honest man's the noblest Work of God:
239 Fame but from death a Villain's name can save,
240 As Justice tears his body from the grave;
241 When what t' oblivion better were resign'd,
242 Is hung on high, to poison half mankind.
243 All Fame is foreign, but of true desert,
244 Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart.
245 One self-approving hour whole years out-weighs
246 Of stupid Starers, and of loud huzza's;
247 And more true joy Marcellus exil'd feels
248 Than Caesar with a Senate at his heels.
249 In Parts superior what advantage lies!
250 Tell (for You can) what is it to be wise?
251 'Tis but to know, how little can be known;
252 To see all others faults, and feel our own;
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253 Condemn'd in Business or in Arts to drudge
254 Without a Second, or without a Judge:
255 Truths would you teach, or save a sinking Land?
256 All fear, none aid you, and few understand.
257 Painful Preheminence! yourself to view
258 Above Life's Weakness, and its Comforts too.
259 Bring then these Blessings to a strict account,
260 Make fair deductions, see to what they mount?
261 How much of other each is sure to cost?
262 How each for other oft is wholly lost?
263 How inconsistent greater Goods with these?
264 How sometimes Life is risqu'd, and always Ease?
265 Think, and if still the Things thy envy call,
266 Say, would'st thou be the Man to whom they fall?
267 To sigh for Ribbands if thou art so silly,
268 Mark how they grace Lord Umbra, or Sir Billy.
269 Is yellow Dirt the passion of thy life?
270 Look but on Gripus, or on Gripus' wife.
271 If Parts allure thee, think how Bacon shin'd,
272 The wisest, brightest, meanest of Mankind:
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273 Or ravish'd with the whistling of a Name,
274 See Cromwell, damn'd to everlasting Fame!
275 If all, united, thy ambition call,
276 From ancient Story learn to scorn them all.
277 There, in the rich, the honour'd, fam'd, and great,
278 See the false Scale of Happiness compleat!
279 In hearts of Kings or arms of Queens who lay,
280 (How happy!) those to ruin, these betray,
281 Mark by what wretched steps their Glory grows,
282 From dirt and sea-weed as proud Venice rose;
283 In each, how Guilt and Greatness equal ran,
284 And all that rais'd the Hero sunk the Man.
285 Now Europe's Lawrels on their brows behold,
286 But stain'd with Blood, or ill exchang'd for Gold:
287 Then see them broke with Toils, or lost in Ease,
288 Or infamous for plunder'd Provinces.
289 Oh Wealth ill-fated! which no Act of same
290 E'er taught to shine, or sanctify'd from shame!
291 What greater bliss attends their close of life?
292 Some greedy Minion, or imperious Wife,
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293 The trophy'd Arches, story'd Halls invade,
294 And haunt their slumbers in the pompous Shade.
295 Alas! not dazled with their Noontide ray,
296 Compute the Morn and Evening to the Day:
297 The whole amount of that enormous Fame
298 A Tale! that blends their Glory with their Shame!
299 Know then this Truth (enough for man to know)
300 VIRTUE alone is Happiness below.
301 The only point where human bliss stands still,
302 And tastes the Good without the fall to Ill:
303 Where only, Merit constant pay receives,
304 Is bless'd in what it takes and what it gives:
305 The joy unequal'd, if its end it gain,
306 And if it lose, attended with no pain:
307 Without satiety, tho' e'er so bless'd,
308 And but more relish'd as the more distress'd:
309 The broadest Mirth unfeeling Folly wears,
310 Less pleasing far than Virtue's very Tears:
311 Good, from each object, from each place acquir'd,
312 For ever exercis'd, yet never tir'd;
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313 Never elated, while one Man's oppress'd;
314 Never dejected, while another's bless'd:
315 And where no wants, no wishes can remain,
316 Since but to wish more Virtue, is to gain.
317 See! the sole Bliss Heav'n could on all bestow,
318 Which who but feels, can taste, but thinks, can know:
319 Yet, poor with Fortune and with Learning blind,
320 The Bad must miss, the Good untaught will find,
321 Slave to no Sect, who takes no private road,
322 But looks thro' Nature up to Nature's GOD,
323 Pursues that Chain which links th' immense Design,
324 Joyns Heav'n, and Earth, and mortal, and divine;
325 Sees, that no Being any Bliss can know
326 But touches some above, and some below;
327 Learns, from this Union of the rising Whole,
328 The first, last Purpose of the human Soul;
329 And knows, where Faith, Law, Morals all began,
330 All end, in LOVE of GOD and LOVE of MAN.
331 For him alone, Hope leads from gole to gole,
332 And opens still, and opens, on his Soul,
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333 Till lengthen'd on to Faith, and unconfin'd,
334 It pours the bliss that fills up all the mind.
335 He sees, why Nature plants in Man alone
336 Hope of known bliss, and Faith in bliss unknown?
337 (Nature, whose dictates to no other Kind
338 Are giv'n in vain, but what they seek they find)
339 Wise is the Present: she connects in this
340 His greatest Virtue with his greatest Bliss,
341 At once his own bright Prospect to be blest,
342 And strongest Motive to assist the rest.
343 Self-Love thus push'd to Social, to Divine,
344 Gives thee to make thy Neighbour's blessing thine:
345 Is this too little for the boundless heart?
346 Extend it, let thy Enemies have part!
347 Grasp the whole Worlds, of Reason, Life, and Sense,
348 In one close System of Benevolence!
349 Happier, as kinder! in whate'er degree;
350 And height of Bliss but height of CHARITY.
351 GOD loves from whole to parts: but human Soul
352 Must rise from individual to the whole.
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353 Self-love but serves the virtuous Mind to wake,
354 As the small pebble stirs the peaceful Lake;
355 The Centre mov'd, a Circle strait succeeds,
356 Another still, and still another spreads;
357 Friend, Parent, Neighbour, first it will embrace,
358 His Country next, and next all Human-race;
359 Wide, and more wide, th' O'erflowings of the mind
360 Take ev'ry Creature in, of every kind;
361 Earth smiles around, with boundless bounty blest,
362 And Heav'n beholds its Image in his Breast,
363 Come then, my Friend! my Genius come along,
364 Oh Master of the Poet, and the Song!
365 And while the Muse now stoops, or now ascends,
366 To Man's low Passions or their glorious Ends,
367 Teach me like thee, in various Nature wise,
368 To fall with Dignity, with Temper rise,
369 Form'd by thy Converse, happily to steer
370 From grave to gay, from lively to severe,
371 Correct with spirit, eloquent with ease,
372 Intent to reason, or polite to please.
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373 O! while along the stream of Time, thy Name
374 Expanded flies, and gathers all its fame,
375 Say, shall my little Bark attendant sail,
376 Pursue the Triumph, and partake the Gale?
377 When Statesmen, Heroes, Kings, in dust repose,
378 Whose Sons shall blush their Fathers were thy foes,
379 Shall then this Verse to future age pretend
380 Thou wert my Guide, Philosopher, and Friend?
381 That urg'd by thee, I turn'd the tuneful Art
382 From Sounds to Things, from Fancy to the Heart;
383 For Wit's false Mirror held up Nature's Light;
384 Shew'd erring Pride, Whatever Is, is Right;
385 That Reason, Passion, answer one great Aim;
386 That true Self-love and Social are the same;
387 That Virtue only makes our Bliss below;
388 And all our Knowledge is, Ourselves to know.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): AN ESSAY ON MAN.
Themes: philosophical enquiry; Universe
Genres: heroic couplet; essay; address; philosophic poetry

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Source edition

An essay on man: being the first book of ethic epistles. To Henry St. John, L. Bolingbroke. London: printed by John Wright, for Lawton Gilliver, 1734, pp. []-74. [8],74p. : ill. ; 4⁰. (ESTC T5607; Foxon P852)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.