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No powers of body or of soul to share,
But what his nature and his state can bear.
For this plain reason, man is not a fly.
To smart and agonize at every pore?
Or quick effluvia darting through the brain,
If nature thunder'd in his opening ears,
And stunn'd him with the music of the spheres, How would he wish that Heaven had left him still The whispering zephyr and the purling rill? Who finds not Providence all good and wise, Alike in what it gives and what denies ?
7. Far as creation's ample range extends The scale of sensual, mental powers 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 beam! 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 poisonous herbs extracts the healing dew!
How instinct varies in the groveling swine,
What thin partitions sense from thought divide !
Where, one step broken, the great scale's destroy'd:
That system only, but the whole must fall.
Let earth unbalanc'd from her orbit fly,
9. What if the foot, ordain'd the dust to tread,
All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
As full, as perfect, in vile man that mourns
10. 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 bless'd as thou canst bear;
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,
AN ESSAY ON MAN.
OF THE NATURE AND STATE OF MAN WITH RESPECT
TO HIMSELF AS AN INDIVIDUAL.
1. THE business of man not to pry into God, but to study himself. His middle nature; his powers and frailties. The limits of his capacity. 2. The two principles of man, self-love and reason, both necessary. Self-love the stronger, and why. Their end the same. 3. The passions, and their use. The predominant passion, and its force. Its necessity, in directing men to different purposes. Its providential use, in fixing our principle, and ascertaining our virtue. Virtue and vice joined in our mixed nature; the limits near, yet the things separate and evident: what is the office of reason. 5. How odious vice in itself, and how we deceive ourselves into it. 6. That, however, the ends of Providence and general good are answered in our passions and imperfections. How usefully these are distributed to all orders of men: how useful they are to society; and to the individuals, in every state, and every age of life.
1. Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of mankind is man.
Plac'd on this isthmus of a middle state,