« PreviousContinue »
Annual for me the grape, the rose, renew
135 The juice nectareous and the balmy dew; For me the mine a thousand treasures brings; For me health gushes from a thousand springs; Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise; My footstool earth, my canopy the skies."
140 But errs not Nature from this gracious end, From burning suns when livid deaths descend, When earthquakes swallow or when tempests sweep Towns to one grave, whole nations to the deep? "No," 't is replied, “the first Almighty Cause
145 Acts not by partial but by gen'ral laws; Th’ exceptions few; some change, since all began, And what created perfect?” Why then man? If the great end be human happiness, Then Nature deviates; and can man do less ?
150 As much that end a constant course requires Of show'rs and sunshine as of man's desires; As much eternal springs and cloudless skies As men forever temp'rate, calm, and wise. If plagues or earthquakes break not Heav'n's design,
155 Why then a Borgia or a Catiline ? 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 ? 160 From pride, from pride, our very reas'ning springs. Account for moral as for nat'ral 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,
165 Were there all harmony, all virtue, , here; That never air or ocean felt the wind, That never passion discomposed the mind. But all subsists by elemental strife, And passions are the elements of life.
170 The gen'ral order, since the whole began, Is kept in Nature and is kept in man.
VI. What would this man? Now upward will he soar, And, little less than angel, would be more;
Now, looking downwards, just as grieved 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 assigned;
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 pleased 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 heav'n?
Or touch, if tremblingly alive all o'er,
To smart and agonize at ev'ry pore?
Or, quick effluvia darting through the brain,
Die of a rose in aromatic pain?
If Nature thundered in his op'ning ears,
And stunned him with the music of the spheres,
How would he wish that Heav'n 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 ?
VII. 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
215 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'lling swine, Compared, half-reas'ning elephant, with thine ! 'Twixt that and reason what a nice barrier, Forever sep'rate yet forever near ! Remembrance and reflection, how allied;
225 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?
230 The pow'rs of all subdued by thee alone, Is not thy reason all these pow'rs in one?
VIII. See through this air, this ocean, and this earth All matter quick and bursting into birth. Above, how high progressive life may go!
235 Around, how wide! how deep extend below! Vast chain of being! which from God began; Natures ethereal, human, angel, man, Beast, bird, fish, insect, what no eye can see, No glass can reach; from infinite to thee,
240 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 destroyed: From Nature's chain whatever link you strike,
245 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 unbalanced from her orbit fly,
Planets and suns run lawless through the sky;
Let ruling angels from their spheres be hurled,
Being on being wrecked and world on world;
Heav'n's whole foundations to their center nod,
And Nature tremble to the throne of God.
All this dread order break-for whom? for thee?
Vile worm! Oh, madness! pride! impiety!
IX. What if the foot, ordained the dust to tread,
Or hand to toil, aspired to be the head?
What if the head, the eye, or ear repined
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, changed through all, and yet in all the same,
Great in the earth as in th' ethereal 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 scul, 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.
X. 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, Heay'n 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-Whatever is, is right.
Of the Characters of Women
Nothing so true as what you once let fall,
"Most women have no characters at all”;
Matter too soft a lasting mark to bear,
And best distinguished by black, brown, or fair.
How many pictures of one nymph we view,
All how unlike each other, all how true!
Arcadia's countess here, in ermined pride,
Is there Pastora by a fountain side;
Here Fannia, leering on her own good man,
And there a naked Leda with a swan.
Let, then, the fair one beautifully cry
In Magdalen's loose hair and lifted eye,
Or, dressed in smiles of sweet Cecilia, shine
With simp'ring angels, palms, and harps divine;
Whether the charmer sinner it or saint it,
If folly grow romantic I must paint it.
Come, then, the colours and the ground prepare!
Dip in the rainbow, trick her off in air;
Choose a firm cloud, before it fall, and in it
Catch, ere she change, the Cynthia of this minute.
Rufa, whose eye, quick-glancing o'er the park,
Attracts each light gay meteor of a spark,
Agrees as ill with Rufa studying Locke
As Sappho's diamonds with her dirty smock;
Or Sappho at her toilet's greasy task,
With Sappho fragrant at an evening masque:
So morning insects that in muck begun
Shine, buzz, and fly-blow in the setting sun.
How soft is Silia! fearful to offend,
The frail one's advocate, the weak one's friend :
To her Calista proved her conduct nice,
And good Simplicius asks of her advice.
Sudden, she storms! she raves! You tip the wink,
But spare your censure; Silia does not drink :