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HAVING propofed to write fome pieces on Hu
man Life and Manners, fuch as (to ufe my lord Bacon's expreffion come home to Mens Business and Bofoms, I thought it more fatisfactory to begin with confidering Man in the abstract, his Nature and his State; fince, to prove any moral duty, to enforce any moral precept, or to examine the perfection or imperfection. of any creature whatsoever, it is neceffary firft to know what conditian and relation it is placed in, and what is. the proper end and purpofe of its being.
The fcience of human Nature is like all other feiences, 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 fuch finer nerves and veffels, the conformations and uses of which will for ever efcape our observation. The dif putes are all upon these last, and I will venture to say, they have less sharpened the wits then the hearts of men against each other, and have deminished the practice, more than advanced the theory of Morality. If I could fatter myself that this Effay has any merit, it is in fteering betwixt the extremes of doctrines feemingly •pposite, in paffing over terms utterly unintelligible,
and in forming a temperate yet not inconfifient, and a Short yet not imperfet fyftem of Ethics.
This I might have done in profe; but I chose verse, and even rhyme, for two reasons. The one will appear obvious; that principles, maxims or precepts fo written, both ftrike the reader more ftrongly at first, and are more easily retained by him afterwards the other may feem odd, but it is true; I found I could express them more fhortly this way than in profe itfelf; and nothing is more certain, than that much of the force as well as grace of arguments or inftructions, depends on their concifenefs. I was unable to treat this part of my subject more in detail, without becoming dry and tedious; or more poetically, without facrificing perfpicuity 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 confidered 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. Confequently, thefe Epiftles in their progrefs, (if I have health and leisure to make any progress) will be lefs dry, and more fufceptible of poetical ornament. I am here only opening the fountains, and clearing the paffage. To deduce the rivers, to follow them in their courfe, and to obferve their effects,may be a task more agreeable.
ESSAY O ON MAN,
H. St. JOHN, LORD BOLINGBROKE.
Of the Nature and State of Man with respect to the UNIVERSE.
OF Man in the abstract.-I. That we can judge only with regard to our own fyftem, being ignorant of the relations of fyftems and things, ver. 17, etc. II. That man is not to be deemed imperfect, but a Being fuited 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, etc. III. That it is partly upon his ignorance of future events, and partly upon the hope of a future ftate, that all his happiness in the present depencis, ver. 77, etc. IV. The pride of aiming at
more knowledge, and pretending to more Perfection, the cause of Man's error and misery. The impiety of putting himself in the place of GoD, and judging of the fitness or ur fitncis, perfection or imperfection, justice or injustice, of his difpenfations, ver. 109, etc. V. The al surdity of conceiting himfelf the final caufe of the creation, or expecting that perfection in the moral world, which is not in the natural, ver. 131, etc. VI. The unreefonableness of his complaints against Providence, while on the one hand he demands the Perfections of the Angels, and on the other the bodily qualifications of the Brutes; though, to poffefs any of the fenfitive faculties in a higher degree, would render him miferable, ver. 173, etc. VII. That throughout the whole vifible world, an univerfal order and gradation in the fenfual and mental faculties is obferved, which caufes a fubordination of creature to creature, and of all creatures to Man. The gradations of fenfe, infine, thought, reflection, reason; that Reafun alone countervails all the other faculties, ver. 207. VIII. How much further this order and fubordination 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, madnefs, and pride of such a defire, ver. 250. X. The confequence of all, the abfolute fubmiffion due to Providence, both as to our present and future ftate, ver. 281, etc. to the end.
AWAKE, my St. JOHN! leave all meaner things
To low ambition, and the pride of Kings. Let us (fince Life can little more fupply 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 flow'rs promifcuous shoot; Or Garden, tempting with forbidden fruit. Together let us beat this ample field, Try what the open, what the covert yield! The latent tracts, the giddy heights, explore Of all who blindly creep, or fightless foar; Eye Nature's walks, shoot Folly as it flies, And catch the Manners living as they rife: Laugh where we must, be candid where we can; But vindicate the ways of God to Man.
I. Say firft, of GoD above, or Man below, What can we reafon but from what we know? Of Man, what fee we but his station here, From which to reason, or to which refer? Thro' worlds unnumber'd tho' the GoD be known, 'Tis ours to trace him only in our own.
He, who thro' vaft immensity can pierce,
See worlds on worlds compofe one univerfe,