« PreviousContinue »
Then shall man's pride and dulness comprehend
His actions', passions', being's use and end;
Why doing, suff'ring, check’d, impell’d; and why
This hour a slave, the next a deity.
Then say not, man's imperfect, heaven in fault;
Say rather, man's as perfect as he ought:
His knowledge measur'd to his state and place;
His time a moment, and a point his space.
If to be perfect in a certain sphere,
What matter, soon or late, or here, or there?
The blest to-day is as completely so,
As who began a thousand years ago.
Our HAPPINESS partly owing to our IGNORANCE of FU
TURE EVENTS, partly to our Hope of a FUTURE STATE,
HEAVEN from all creatures hides the book of fate,
All but the page prescrib'd, their present state:
From brutes what men, from men what spirits know:
Or who could suffer being here below?
The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day,
Had he thy reason, would he skip and play? .
Pleas'd to the last, he crops the flow'ry food,
And licks the hand just rais'd to shed his blood.
Oh blindness to the future! kindly giv'n,
That each may fill the circle mark'd by heav'n:
Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,
A hero perish, or a sparrow fall,
Atoms or systems into ruin hurl'd,
And now a bubble burst, and now a world.
Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar;
Wait the great teacher Death; and God adore,
What future bliss, he gives not thee to know,
But gives that hope to be thy blessing now,
Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man nevers is, but always to be blest:
The soul, uneasy, and confin'd from home,
Kests and expatiates on a life to come.
Lo, the poor Indian! whose untutor'd mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind;
His soul proud science never taught to stray
Far as the solar walk, or milky way;
Yet simple nature to his hope has giv'n,
Behind the cloud-topt hill, an humbler heav'n;
Some safer world in depth of woods embrac'd,
Some happier island in the wat'ry waste,
IVhere slaves once more their native land behold,
No fiends torinent, no Christians thirst for gold.
To be, contents his natural desire,
He asks no angel's wing, no seraph's fire;
But thinks, acınitted to that equal sky,
His faithful dog shall bear him company.
The UNREASONABLENESS of our COMPLAINTS
Wuat would this Man? Now upward will he soar,
And little less than Angel, would be more;
Now looking downwards, just as griev'd appears,
To want the strength of bulls, the fur of bears.
Made for his use all creatures if he call,
Say what their use, had he the pow'rs of all;
Nature to these, without profusion, kind,
The proper organs, proper pow'rs assign'd;
Each seeming want compensated of course :
Here with degrees of swiftness, there of force;
All in exact proportion to their state;
Nothing to add, and nothing to abate.
Each beast, each insect, happy in its own;
Is Heav'n unkind to Man, and Man alone?
Shall he alone, whom rational we call,
Be pleas'd with nothing, if not blest with all?
The bliss of Man (could Pride that blessing find)
Is not to act or think beyond mankind;
No pow'rs of body or of soul to share,
But what his nature and his state can bear.
Why has not Man a microscopic eye?
For this plain reason, man is not a fly.
Say what the use, were finer optics giv'n,
T' inspect a mite, not comprehend the heay'n?
Or touch, if tremblingly-alive all o'er,
To smart and agonise at ev'ry pore?
• Or quick effluvia darting thro' the brain,
Die of a rose in aromatic pain?
If Nature thunder'd in his op'ning ears,
And stunn'd him with the music of the spheres,
How would he wish that Heaven had left him still
The whisp'ring zephyr, and the purling rill! ·
Who finds not Providence all good and wise,
Alike in what it gives, and what denies?
ORDER- and SUBORDINATION prevail through all the
WORKS of God, which form one entire WHOLE.
Far as Creation's ample range extends,
The scale of sensual, mental pow'rs ascends:
Mark how it mounts to Man's imperial race,
From the green myriads in the peopled grass :
What modes of sight betwixt each wide extreme,
The mole's dim curtain, and the lynx's bean: .
Of smell, the headlong lioness between,
And hound sagacious on the tainted green:
Of hearing, from the life that fills the flood,
To that which warbles through the vernal wood?
The spider's touch, how exquisitely fine!
Feels at each thread, and lives along the line:
In the nice bee, what sense so subtly true
From pois'nous herbs extracts the healing dew ?
How instinct varies in the grov'ling swine,
Compar'd, half-reas'ning elephant, with thine !
'Twixt that, and reason, what a nice barrier ?
For ever sep'rate, yet for ever near!
Remembrance and reflection how ally'd ;
What thin partitions sense from thought divide!
And middle natures, how they long to join,
Yet never pass th' insuperable line!
Without this just gradation, could they be
Subjected, these to those, or all to thee?
The pow'rs of all subdu'd by thee alone,
Is not thy Reason all these pow'rs in one ?
See, thro' this air, this ocean, and this earth,
All matter quick, and bursting into birth."
Above, how high progressive life may go!
Around, how wide! how deep extend below!
Vast chain of being! which from God began,
Natures, æthereal, human, angel, man,
Beast, bird, fish, insect, what no eye can see,
No glass can reach ; from infinite to thee,
From thee to nothing:-On superior pow'rs
Were we to press, inferior might on ours;
Or in the full creation leave a void,
Where, one step broken, the great scale's destroy'd:
From Nature's chain whatever link you strike,
Tenth, or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike.
And, if each system in gradation roll
Alike essential to th' amazing whole,
The least confusion but in one, not all
That system only, but the whole must fall.
Let earth unbalanc'd from her orbit fiy,
Planets and suns run lawless thro' the sky;
Let ruling angels from their spheres be hurld,
Being on being wreck'd, and world on world ;
Heaven's whole foundations to their centre nod,
And nature tremble to the throne of God:
All this dread ORDER break-for whom? for thee?
Vile worm !---oh Madness! Pride! Impiety!
What if the foot, ordain'd the dust to tread,
Or hand, to toil, aspir'd to be the head?
Wliat if the head, the eye, or ear repin'd
To serve mere engines to the ruling Mind ?
Just as absurd for any part to claim
To be another in this gen'ral frame:
Just as absurd, to mourn the tasks or pains
The great directing mind of all ordains.
All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and God the soul;
That, chang'd thro' all, and yet in all the sanie;
Great in the earth, as in th'athereal frame ;
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees,
Lives thro' all life, extends thro' all extent,
Spreads undivided, operates unspent ;
Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part,
As full, as perfect, in a hair as heart;
As fall, as perfect, in vile Man that mourns,
As the rapt Seraph that adores and burns :
To him no high, no low, no great, no small;
He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all.
Cease then, nor ORDER Imperfection name :
Our proper bliss depends on what we blame. ·
Know thy own point: This kind, this due degree
Of blindness, weakness, Heaven bestows on thee,
Submit.- In this, or any other sphere,
Secure to be as blest as thou canst bear:
Safe in the hand of one disposing Pow'r,
Or in the natal, or the mortal hour.
All Nature is but Art unknown to thee;
All Chance, Direction which thou canst not see;
All Discord, Harmony not understood; | All partial Evil, universal Good :
And, spite of Pride, in erring Reason's spite,
One truth is clear, WII ATEVER IS, IS RIGHT.
The different Offices of Reason and SELF-LOVE.
Two Principles in human nature reign;
Self-love, to urge, and Reason, to restrain;
Nor this a good, nor that a bad we call,
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.
Man, but for that, no action could attend,
And, but for this, were active to rio end : · Fix'd like a plant on his peculiar spot,
To draw nutrition, propayate, and rot:
Or, meteor-like, flame lawless thro’ the void,
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,
Self-love, still stronger, as its objects 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,
At best more watchful this, but that more strong.
The Action of the stronger to suspend,
Reason still use, to Reason still attend.