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Hence Satire's power: 'Tis her corrective part,
To calm the wild disorders of the heart.
She points the arduous height were Glory lies,
And teaches mad Ambition to be wise:
In the dark bosom wakes the fair desire,
Draws good from ill, a brighter flame from fire:
Strips black Oppression of her gay disguise,
And bids the hag in native horrour rise;
Strikes towering Pride and lawless Rapine dead,
And plants the wreath on Virtue's awful head.
Nor boasts the Muse a vain imagin'd power,
Though oft she mourns those ills she cannot cure. 100
The worthy court her, and the worthless fear;
Who shun her piercing eye, that eye revere.
Her awful voice the vain and vile obey,
And every foe to Wisdom feels her sway.
Smarts, pedants, as she smiles, no more are vain;
Desponding fops resign the clouded cane':
Hush'd at her voice, pert Folly's self is still,
And Dulness wonders while she drops her quill,
Like the arm'd bee, with art most subtly true,
From poisonous Vice she draws a healing dew: 110
Weak are the ties that civil arts can find,
To quell the ferment of the tainted mind:
Cunning evades, securely wrapp'd in wiles !
And Force, strong-sinew'd, rends th' unequal toils:
The stream of vice impetuous drives along,.
Too deep for Policy, for Power too strong.
Ev'n fair Religion, native of the skies,
Scorn'd by the crowd, seeks refuge with the wise;
The crowd with laughter spurns her awful train,
And Mercy courts, and Justice frowns in vain. 120
But Satire's shaft can pierce the harden'd breast:
She plays a ruling passion on the rest :
Undaunted storms the battery of his pride,
And awes the brave, that earth and Heaven defy'd.
When fell Corruption by her vassals crown'd,
Derides fall'n Justice prostrate on the ground;
Swift to redress an injur'd people's groan,
Bold Satire shakes the tyrant on her throne;
Powerful as Death, defies the sordid train,
And slaves and sycophants surround in vain.
But with the friends of vice, the foes of satire,
All truth is spleen; all just reproof, ill-nature,
Well may they dread the Muse's fatal skill;
Well may they tremble when she draws her quill:
Her magic quill, that, like Ithuriel's spear,
Reveals the cloven hoof, or lengthen'd ear:
Bids Vice and Folly take their natural shapes,
Turns dutchesses to strumpets, beaux to apes;
Drags the vile whisperer from his dark abode,
Till all the demon starts up from the toad.
O sordid maxim, form'd to screen the vile,
That true Good-nature still must wear a smile!
In frowns array'd her beauties stronger rise,
| When love of virtue wakes her scorn of vice:
Where Justice calls, 'tis cruelty to save;
And 'tis the Law's good-nature hangs the knave,
Who combats Virtue's foe is Virtue's friend;
Then judge of Satire's merit by her end :
To guilt alone her vengeance stands confin'd,
The object of her love is all mankind.
Scarce more the friend of man, the wise must own,
Ev'n Allen's bounteous hand, than Satire's frowni
This to chastise, as that to bless was giv'n:
Alike the faithful ministers of Heaven,
Oft in unfeeling hearts the shaft is spent
Though strong th' example, weak the punishment
They least are pain'd, who merit satire most:
Folly the Laureat's, vice was Chartres' boast:
You visit oft his awful page with care,
And view that bright assemblage treasur'd there; 20
You trace the chain that links his deep design,
And pour new lustre on the glowing line,
Yet deign to hear the efforts of a Muse,
Whose eye, not wing, his ardent flight pursues;
Intent from this great archetype to draw
Satire's bright form, and fix her equal law;
Pleas'd if from hence th' unlearn'd may comprehend,
And reverence his and Satire's generous end.
In every breast there burns an active flame,
The love of glory, or the dread of shame :
The passion one, though various it appear,
As brighten'd into hope, or dimm'd by fear.
The lisping infant, and the hoary sire,
And youth and manhood feel the heart-born fire:
The charms of praise the coy, the modest woo,
And only fly, that Glory may pursue.:
She, power resistless, rules the wise and great;
Bends ev'n reluctant hermits at her feet;
Haunts the proud city, and the lowly shade,
And sways alike the sceptre and the spade.
Thus Heaven in pity wakes the friendly flame,
To urge mankind on deeds that merit fame:
But man, vain man, in folly only wise,
Rejects the manna sent him from the skies:
With rapture hears corrupted Passion's call,
Still proudly prone to mingle with the stall,
As each deceitful shadow tempts his view,
He for the imag'd substance quits the true;
Fager to catch the visionary prize,
In quest of glory plunges deep in vice;
Till madly zealous, impotently vain,
He forfeits every praise he pants to gain.
Thus still imperious Nature plies her part;
And still her dictates work in every heart.
Each power that sovereign Nature bids enjoy,
Man may corrupt, but man can ne'er destroy,
Like mighty rivers, with resistless force
The passions rage, obstructed in their course;
Swell to new heights, forbidden paths explore,
And drown those virtues which they fed before. 60
the deadliest foe to Virtue's flame,
Our worst of evils, is perverted Shame.
Beneath this load, what abject numbers groan,
Th' entangled slaves to folly not their own!
Meanly by fashionable fear oppress'd,
We seek our virtues in each other's breast;
Blind to ourselves, adopt each foreign vice,
Another's weakness, interest, or caprice.
Each fool to low ambition, poorly great,
That pines in splendid wretchedness of state,
Tir'd in the treacherous chase, would nobly yield,
And, but for shame, like Sylla, quit the field:
The demon Shame paints strong the ridicule,
And whispers close, The world will call you fool,"
Behold yon wretch by impious Fashion driven,
Believes and trembles while he scoffs at Heaven.
By weakness strong, and bold through fear alone,
He dreads the sneer by shallow coxcombs thrown;
Dauntless pursues the path Spinoza trod;
To man a coward, and a brave to God.
Faith, Justice, Heaven itself now quit their hold,
When to false Fame the captive heart is sold:
Hence, blind to truth, relentless Cato dy'd ;
Nought could subdue his virtue, but his pride,
Hence chaste Lucretia's innocence betray'd
Fell by that honour which was meant its aid.
Thus Virtue sinks beneath unnumber'd woes,
When passions, born her friends, revolt her foes,
Then where's the wrong, to gibbet high the name
Of fools and knaves already dead to shame?
Oft Satire acts the faithful surgeon's part;
Generous and kind, though painful, is her art:
With caution bold, she only strikes to heal :
Though Folly raves to break the friendly steel,
Then sure no fault impartial Satire knows,
Kind ev'n in vengeance, kind to Virtue's foes.
Whose is the crime, the scandal too be theirs ;
The knave and fool are their own libellers,
DARE nobly then: but, conscious of your trust,
As ever warn and bold be eyer just:
Nor court applause in these degenerate days:
The villain's censure is extorted praise.
But chief, be steady in a noble end,
And shew mankind that Truth has yet a friend,
'Tis mean for empty praise of wit to write,
As foplings grin to show their teeth are white :
To brand a doubtful folly with a smile,
Or madly blaze unknown defects, is vile:
"Tis doubly vile, when, but to prove your art,
You fix an arrow in a blameless heart.
O lost to Honour's voice, O doom'd to shame,
Thou fiend accurst, thou murderer of Fame!
Fell ravisher, from Innocence to tear
That name, than liberty, than life more dear!
Where shall thy baseness meet its just return,
Or what repay thy guilt, but endless scorn?
And know, immortal Truth shall mock thy toil:
Immortal Truth shall bid the shaft recoil;
With rage retorted, wing the deadly dart;
And empty all its poison in thy heart.
With caution next, the dangerous power apply;
An eagle's talon asks an eagle's eye :
Let Satire then her proper object know,
And ere she strike, be sure she strike a foe,
Nor fondly deem the real fool confest,
Because blind Ridicule conceives a jest:
Before whose altar Virtue oft hath bled,
And oft a destin'd victim shall be lcd:
Lo Shaftesbury rears her high on Reason's throne,
And loads the slave with honours not her own: 200
Big-swoln with folly, as her smiles provoke,
Prophaneness spawns, pert dunces nurse the joke!
Come, let us join awhile this tittering crew,
And own the ideot guide for once is true;
Deride our weak forefathers' musty rule,
Who therefore smil'd because they saw a fool;
Sublimer logic now adorns our isle,
We therefore see a fool, because we smile.
Truth in her gloomy cave why fondly seek?
Lo gay she sits in Laughter's dimpled cheek: 210
Contemns each surly academic foe,
And courts the spruce freethinker and the beau.
Dædalian arguments but few can trace,
But all can read the language of Grimace.
Hence mighty Ridicule's all-conquering hand
Shall work Herculean wonders through the land:
Bound in the magic of her cobweb chain,
You, mighty Warburton, shall rage in vain,
In vain the trackless maz of Truth you scan,
And lend th' informing clue to erring man : 920
No more shall Reason boast her power divine,
Her base eternal shook by Folly's mine!
Truth's sacred fort th' exploded laugh shall win;
And coxcombe vanquish Berkeley by a grin,
But you, more sage, reject th' inverted rule,
That truth is e'er explor'd by Ridicule :
On truth, on falsehood, let her colours fall,
She throws a dazzling glare alike on all ;
As the gay prism but mocks the flatter'd eye,
And gives to every object every dye.
Beware the mad adventurer: bold and blind
She hoists her sail, and drives with every wind;
Deaf as the storm to sinking Virtue's groan,
Nor heeds a friend's destruction, or her own.
Let clear-ey'd Reason at the helm preside,
Bear to the wind, or stem the furious tide;
Then Mirth may urge, when Reason can explore,
This point the way, that waft us glad to shore.
Though distant times may rise in Satire's page,
Yet chief 'tis her's to draw the present age: 240
With Wisdom's lustre, Folly's shade contrast;
And judge the reigning manners by the past:
Bid Britain's heroes (awful shades!) arise,
And ancient Honour beam on modern Vice:
Point back to minds ingenuous, actions fair,
Till the sons blush at what their fathers were:
Ere yet t'was beggary the great to trust;
Ere yet 'twas quite a folly to be just ;
When low-born sharpers only dar'd a lye,
Or falsify'd the card, or cogg'd the dye;
Fre Lewdness the stain'd garb of Honour wore,
Or Chastity was carted for the whore;
Vice flutter'd in the plumes of Freedom dress'd;
Or public Spirit was the public jest.
Be ever, in a just expression, bold,
Yet ne'er degrade fair Satire to a scold:
Let no unworthy mien her form debase,
But let her smile, and let her frown with grace:
In mirth be temperate, temperate in her spleen;
Nor, while she preaches modesty, obscene. 260
Deep let her wound, not rankle to a sore,
Nor call his lordship ~, her grace a -:
The Muse's charms resitless then assail,
When wrapp'd in Irony's transparent veil :
Her beauties half-conccal'd, the more surprise,
And keener lustre sparkles in her eyes.
Then be your line with sharp encomiums grac'd:
Style Clodius honourable, Bufa chaste.
Dart not on Folly an indignant eye:
Who e'er discharg'd artillery on a fly?
Deride not Vice: absurd the thought and vain,
To bind the tiger in so weak a chain.
Nay more; when flagrant crimes your laughter
The knave exults: to smile, is to approve.
The Muse's labour then success shall crown,
When Folly feels her smile, and Vice her frown.
Know next what measures to each theme belong,
And suit your thoughts and numbers to your song!
On wing proportion'd to your quarry rise,
| And stoop to earth, or soar among the skies. 280
Thus when a modish folly you rehearse,
Free the expression, simple be the verse.
In artless numbers paint th' ambitious peer,
That mounts the box, and shines a charioteer :
In strains familiar sing the midnight toil
Of camps and senates disciplin'd by Hoyle;
Patriots and chiefs, whose deep design invades,
And carries off the captive king-of spades!
Let Satire here in milder vigour shine,
And gayly graceful sport along the line;
Bid courtly Passion quit her thin pretence,
And smile each affectation into sense.
Not so when Virtue, by her guards betray'd, Spurn'd from her throne, implores the Muse's aids
When crimes, which erst in kindred darkness lay,
Rise frontless, and insult the eye of day;
Indignant Hymen veils his hallow'd fires,
And white-rob'd Chastity with tears retires;
When rank Adultery on the genial bed
Hot from Cocytus rears her baleful head;
When private Faith and public Trust are sold,
And traitors barter liberty for gold:
When fell Corruption dark and deep, like Fate,
Saps the foundation of a sinking state:
When Giant-Vice and Irreligion rise,
On mountain'd falsehoods to invade the skies:
Then warmer numbers glow through Satire's page,
And all her smiles are darken'd into rage :
On eagle-wing she gains Parnassus' height,
Not lofty Epic soars a nobler flight:
Then keener indignation fires her eye;
Then flash her lightnings, and her thunders fly;
Wide and more wide her flaming bolts are hurl'd,
Till all her wrath involves the guilty world,
Yet Satire oft assumes a gentler mien,
And beams on Virtue's friends a smile serene!
She wounds reluctant; pours her balm with joy;
Glad to commend where worth attracts her eye.
But chief, when virtue, learning, arts decline,
She joys to see unconquer'd Merit shine;
Where bursting glorious, with departing ray,
True genius gilds the close of Britain's day:
With joys she sees the stream of Roman art
From Murray's tongue flow purer to the heart:
Sees Yorke to Fame, ere yet to manhood known,
And just to every virtue, but his own;
Hears unstain'd Cam with generous pride proclaim
A sage's, critic's, and a poet's name :
Beholds, where Widcombe's happy hills ascend,
Each orphan'd art and virtue find a friend,
To Hagley's honour'd shade directs her view;
And culls each flower, to form a wreath for you.
But tread with cautious step this dangerous
Beset with faithless precipices round :
Truth be your guide: disdain Ambition's call;
And if you fall with Truth, you greatly fall.
'Tis Virtue's native lustre that must shine;
The poet can but set it in his line :
And who unmov'd with laughter can behold
A sordid pebble meanly grac'd with gold?
Let real merit then adorn your lays,
For shame attends on prostituted praise:
And all your wit, your most distinguish'd art,
But makes us grieve you want an honest heart.
Nor think the Muse by Satire's laws confin'd:
She yields description of the noblest kind.
Inferior art the landscape may design,
And paint the purple evening in the line:
Her daring thought essays a higher plan;
Her hand delineates passion, pictures man.
And great the toil, the latent soul to trace,
To paint the heart, and catch internal grace;
By turns bid vice or virtue strike our eyes,
Now bid a Wolsey or a Cromwell rise;
Now, with a touch more sacred and refin'd,
Call forth a Chesterfield's or Lonsdale's mind,
Here sweet or strong may every colour flow,
Here let the pencil warm, the canvas glow :
Of light and shade provoke the noble strife,
And wake each striking feature into life,
THROUGH ages thus has Satire keenly shin'd:
The friend to truth, to virtue, and mankind:
Yet the bright flame from virtue ne'er had sprung'
And man was guilty ere the poet sung.
This Muse in silence joy'd each better age,
Till glowing crimes had wak'd her into rage.
Truth saw her honest spleen with new delight,
And bade her wing her shafts, and urge their flight.
First on the sons of Greece she prov'd her art,
And Sparta felt the fierce Iambic dart.
To Latium next, avenging Satire flew ;
The flaming falchion rough Lucilius drew,
With dauntless warmth in Virtue's cause engag'd,
And conscious villains trembled as he rag'd.
Then sportive Horace caught the generous fire;
For Satire's bow resign'd the sounding lyre;
Each arrow polish'd in his hand was seen,
And, as it grew more polish'd, grew more keen.
His art, conceal'd in study'd negligence,
Politely sly, cajol'd the foes of sense;
He seem'd to sport and trifle with the dart,
But, while he sported, drove it to the heart.
In graver strains majestic Persius wrote,
Big with a ripe exuberance of thought:
Greatly sedate, contemn'd a tyrant's reign,
And lash'd Corruption with a calin disdain.
More ardent eloquence, and boundless rage,
Inflam'd bold Juvenal's exalted page.
His mighty numbers aw'd corrupted Rome,
And swept audacious Greatness to its doom;
The headlong torrent, thundering from on high,
Rent the proud rock that lately brav'd the sky.
But lo! the fatal victor of mankind,
As countless insects from the north-east pour,
Swoln Luxury!-pale Ruin stalks behind!
To blast the Spring, and ravage every flower;
So barbarous millions spread contagious death:
The sickening laurel wither'd at their breath.
Deep Superstition's night the skies o'erhung,
No longer Genius woo'd the Nine to love,
Beneath whose baleful dews the poppy sprung. 400
But Dulness nodded in the Muse's grove:
Wit, spirit, freedom, were the sole offence,
Nor aught was held so dangerous as sense.
At length, again fair Science shot her ray,
Dawn'd in the skies, and spoke returning day,
Now, Satire, triumph o'er thy flying foe,
340 Now load thy quiver, string thy slacken'd bow!
'Tis done-See great Erasmus breaks the spell,
And wounds triumphant Folly in her cell!
(In vain the solemn cowl surrounds her face,
Vain all her bigot cant, her sour grimace)
With shame compell'd her leaden throne to quit,
And own the force of Reason urg'd by Wit.
'Twas then plain Donne in honest vengeance rose,
His wit harmonious, though his rhyme was prose:
He 'midst an age of puns and pedants wrote
With genuine sense, and Roman strength of thought.
Yet scarce had Satire well relum'd her flame,
(With grief the Muse records her country's shame)
Ere Britain saw the foul revolt commence,
And treacherous Wit began her war with Sense.
Then rose a shameless mercenary train,
Whom latest time shall view with just disdain:
A race fantastic, in whose gaudy line
Untutor'd thought and tinsel beauty shine:
Wit's shatter'd mirror lies in fragments bright,
360 Reflects not Nature, but confounds the sight.
Dry morals the court-poet blush'd to sing;
"Twas all his praise to say
Proud for a jest obscene, a patron's nod,
"the oddest thing." 430
To martyr Virtue, or blaspheme his God.
Ill-fated Dryden! who, unmov'd, can see Th' extremes of wit and meanness join'd in thee? Flames that could mount, and gain their kindred Low creeping in the putrid sink of Vice: A Muse whom Wisdom woo'd, but woo'd in vain, The pimp of Power, the prostitute to Gain: Wreaths, that should deck fair Virtue's form alone, To strumpets, traitors, tyrants, vilely thrown: 440 Unrival'd parts, the scorn of honest fame; And genius rise, a monument of shame!
More happy France: immortal Boileau there Supported Genius with a sage's care: Him with her love propitious Satire blest, And breath'd her airs divine into his breast: Fancy and Sense to form his line conspire, And faultless Judgment guides the purest fire.
But see, at length, the British genius smile, And shower her bounties o'er her favour'd isle: 450 Behold for Pope she twines the laurel crown, And centers every poet's power in one: Each Roman's force adorns his various page; Gay smiles, collected strength, and manly rage. Despairing Guilt and Dulness loath the sight, As spectres vanish at approaching light: In this clear mirror with delight we view Each image justly fine, and boldly true: Here Vice, dragg'd forth by Truth's supreme decree, Beholds and hates her own deformity; 460 While self-seen Virtue in the faithful line With modest joys surveys her form divine. But oh, what thoughts, what numbers shall I find, But faintly to express the poet's inind! Who yonder stars' effulgence can display, Unless he dip his pencil in the ray? Who paint a god, unless the god inspire? What catch the lightning, but the speed of fire? So, mighty Pope, to make thy genius known, All power is weak, all numbers-but thy own. 470 Each Muse for thee with kind contention strove, For thee the Graces left th' Idalian grove; With watchful fondness o'er thy cradle hung, Attun'd thy voice, and form'd thy infant tongue. Next, to her bard majestic Wisdom came; The bard enraptur'd caught the heavenly flame: With taste superior scorn'd the venal tribe, Whom fear can sway, or guilty greatness bribe; At Fancy's call who rear the wanton sail, Sport with the stream, and trifle in the gale: 480 Sublimer views thy daring spirit bound ; Thy mighty voyage was Creation's round; Intent new worlds of wisdom to explore, And bless mankind with Virtue's sacred store : A nobler joy than wit can give, impart ; And pour a moral transport o'er the heart. Fantastic wit shoots momentary fires,
And, like a meteor, while we gaze, expires:
Wit, kindled by the sulphurous breath of Vice,
Like the blue lightning, while it shines, destroys:
But genius, fir'd by Truth's eternal ray,
Burns clear and constant, like the source of day:
Like this its beam, prolific and refin'd,
Feeds, warms, inspirits, and exalts the mind;
Mildly dispels each wintery passion's gloom,
And opens all the virtues into bloom.
This praise, immortal Pope, to thee be given.
Thy genius was indeed a gift from Heaven.
Hail, bard unequal'd, in whose deathless line
Reason and wit with strength collected shine; 500
Where matchless wit but wins the second praise,
Lost, nobly lost, in truth's superior blaze.
Did friendship e'er mislead thy wandering Muse?
That friendship sure may plead the great excuse =
That sacred friendship which inspir'd thy song,
Fair in defect, and amiably wrong.
Errour like this ev'n Truth can scarce reprove;
"Tis almost virtue when it flows from love.
Ye deathless names, ye sons of endless praise, By virtue crown'd with never-fading bays! Say, shall an artless Muse, if you inspire, Light her pale lamp at your immortal fire? Or if, O Warburton, inspir'd by you, The daring Muse a nobler path pursue, By you inspir'd, on trembling pinions soar, The sacred founts of social bliss explore, In her bold numbers chain the tyrant's rage, And bid her country's glory fire her page; If such her fate, do thou, fair Truth, descend, And watchful guard her in an honest end : Kindly severe, instruct her equal line To court no friend, nor own a foe but thine. But if her giddy eye should vainly quit Thy sacred paths, to run the maze of Wit; If her apostate heart should e'er incline To offer incense at Corruption's shrine; Urge, urge thy power, the black attempt confound, And dash the smoaking censer to the ground. Thus aw'd to fear, instructed bards may see That guilt is doom'd to sink in infamy.
ESSAY ON MAN:
TO H. ST. JOHN, LORD BOLINGBROKE
HAVING proposed to write some pieces on human life and manners, such as (to use my lord Bacon's expression) come home to me business 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 enforce any moral precept, or to examine the perfection or imperfection 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 sciences, reduced to a few clear points: there are not many certain truths in this world. It is therefore in the anatomy 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, the conformations and uses of which will for ever escape our observation. The disputes are all upon these last; and I will venture to say, they have less sharpened the wits than the hearts of men against each other, and have diminished the practice, more than advanced the theory of morality. If I could flatter myself that this Essay has any inerit, it is in steering betwixt the extremes of doctrines seemingly opposite, in passing over terms utterly unintelligible, and in forming 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. will appear 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 express 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 perspicuity to ornament, without wandering from the precision, or breaking the chain of reasoning: if any man can unite all these without diminution of any of them, I freely confess he will compass a thing above my capacity.
What is now published is only to be considered as a general map of man, marking out no more than the greater 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 (if I have health and leisure to make progress) will be less dry, and more susceptible of poetical ornament. I am here only opening the fountains, and clearing the passage. To deduce the rivers, to follow them in their course, and to observe their effects, may be a task more agree
AN ESSAY ON MAN,
IN FOUR EPISTLES, TO H. ST. JOHN,
ARGUMENT OF EPISTLE L
OF THE NATURE AND STATE OF MAN WITH RESPECT TO
Or man in the abstract.-I. That we can judge only with regard to our own system, being ignorant of the relations of systems and things, ver. 17, &c. II. That man is not to be deemed 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, ver. 35, &c. III. That it is partly upon his ignorance of future events, and partly upon the hope of a future state, that all his happiness in the present depends, ver. 77, &c. IV. The pride of aiming at more knowledge, and pretending to more perfection, the cause of man's errour and misery. The impiety of putting himself in the place of God, and judging of the fitness or unfitness, perfection or imperfection, justice or injustice, of his dispensations, ver. 109, &c. V. 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, ver. 131, &c. VI. The unreasonableness of his complaints against Providence, while on the one hand he demands the perfection of the angels, and on the other the bodily qualifications of the brutes; though, to possess any of the sensitive faculties in a higher degree, would render him miserable, ver. 173, &c. VII. That
throughout the whole visible world, an universal order and gradation in the sensual and mental faculties is observed, which causes a subordination of creature to creature, and of all creatures to man. The gradations of sense, instinct, thought, reflection, reason; that reason alone countervails all the other faculties, ver. 207. VIII. How much farther this order and subordination of living creatures may extend above and below us; were any part of which broken, not that part only, but the whole connected creation must be destroyed, ver. 233. IX. The extravagance, madness, and pride of such a desire, yer. 250. X. The consequence of all the absolute submission due to Providence, both as to our present and future state, ver. 281, to the end.
AWAKE, my St. John! leave all meaner things
To low ambition and the pride of Kings.
Let us (since life can little more supply
Than just to look about us, and to die)
Expatiate free o'er all this scene of man;
A mighty maze! but not without a plan:
A wild, where weeds and flowers promiscuous shoot;
Try what the open, what the covert yield;
Or garden, tempting with forbidden fruit.
Together let us beat this ample field,
The latent tracts, the giddy heights, explore
Of all who blindly creep, or sightless soar;
Eye Nature's walks, shoot Folly as it flies,
And catch the manners living as they rise:
Laugh where we must, be candid where we can;
But vindicate the ways of God to man.
I. Say first, of God above, or man below,
What can we reason, but from what we know?
Of man, what see we but his station here,
From which to reason, or to which refer?
'Tis ours to trace him only in our own.
Through worlds unnumber'd though the God be
He, who through vast immensity can pierce,
See worlds on worlds compose one universe,
Observe how system into system runs,
What vary'd being peoples every star,
What other planets circle other suns,
May tell why Heaven has made us as we are.
The strong connections, nice dependencies,
But of this frame the bearings and the ties,
Gradations just, has thy pervading soul
Look'd through? or can a part contain the whole?
Is the great chain, that draws all to agree,
And drawn supports, upheld by God, or thee?
II. Presumptuous man! the reason wouldst thou
First, if thou canst, the harder reason guess,
Why form'd so weak, so little, and so blind?
Ask of thy mother Earth, why oaks are made
Why form'd no weaker, blinder, and no less?
Taller or weaker than the weeds they shade;
Why Jove's Satellites are less than Jove?
Or ask of yonder argent fields above,
Of systems possible, if 'tis confest,
Where all must full or not coherent be,
That Wisdom infinite must form the best,
Then, in the scale of reasoning life, 'tis plain,
And all that rises, rise in due degree;
There must be, somewhere, such a rank as man: