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Who knows but He, whose hand the lightning forms, Who heaves old ocean, and who wings the storms, Pours fierce ambition in a Cæsar's mind,
Or turns young Ammon loose to scourge mankind? From pride, from pride, our very reasoning springs; Account for moral as for natural things:
Why charge we Heav'n in those, in these acquit ?
In both to reason right is to submit.
Better for us, perhaps, it might appear,
Were there all harmony, all virtue here;
That never air or ocean felt the wind,
That never passion discompos'd the mind;
But all subsists by elemental strife;
And passions are the elements of life.
The general order since the whole began,
Is kept in nature, and is kept in man.
6. What 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 the 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 bless'd with all? The bliss of man (could pride that blessing find)
Is not to act or think beyond mankind;
No powers 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,
To' inspect a mite, not comprehend the heav'n?
Or touch, if tremblingly alive all o'er,
To smart and agonize at every pore?
Or, quick effluvia darting through the brain,
Die of a rose in aromatic pain?
If nature thunder'd in his opening ears,
And stunn'd him with the music of the spheres,
How would he wish that Heav'n 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, 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 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,
Compar'd, half-reas'ning elephant, with thine!
'Twixt that and reason what a nice barrier!
For ever separate, yet for ever near !
Remembrance and reflection how allied;
What thin partitions sense from thought divide!
And middle natures, how they long to join,
Yet never pass the' insuperable line!
Without this just gradation could they be
Subjected, these to those, or all to thee?
The pow'rs of all subdued by thee alone,
Is not thy reason all these pow'rs in one?
8. See through 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 etherial, 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 the' 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 fly,
Planets and suns run lawless through the sky;
Let ruling angels from their spheres be hurl'd,
Being on being wreck'd, and world on world;
Heav'n'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!-O madness! pride! impiety!
9. What if the foot, ordain'd the dust to tread, Or hand to toil, aspir'd to be the head? What 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 general 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 through all, and yet in all the same, Great in the earth as in the' etherial frame,
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees;
Lives through all life, extends through all extent,
Spreads undivided, operates unspent ;
Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part,
As full, as perfect, in a hair as heart;
As full, 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!
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, Heav'n bestows on thee.
Submit-in this or any other sphere,
Secure to be as bless'd 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, Whatever is is right.
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.-4. 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 impera fections.---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,
A being darkly wise and rudely great;
With too much knowledge for the sceptic side,
With too much weakness for the stoic's pride,
He hangs between, in doubt to act or rest;
In doubt to deem himself a god or beast;
In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
Born but to die, and reasoning but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little or too much :
Chaos of thought and passion, all confus'd;
Still by himself abus'd or disabus'd;
Created half to rise, and half to fall;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;