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Fortune her gifts may variously dispose, And these be happy callid, unhappy those ; But Heav'n's just balance equal will appear, While those are plac'd in Hope, and these in Fear: 70 Not present good or ill, the joy or curse, But future views of better, or of worse.
Oh sons of earth! attempt ye still to rise, By mountains pild on mountains to the skies? Heav'n still with laughter the vain toil surveys, 75 And buries madmen in the heaps they raise.
Know, all the good that individuals find, Or God and Nature meant to mere Mankind, Reason's whole pleasure, all the joys of Sense, Licin thrce words, Health, Peace, and Competence. But Health consists with Temperancc alone ; 81 And Peace, oh Virtue! Peace is all thy own.
VER. 79. Reason's whole pleasure, &c.] This is a beautifol periphrafis for Happiness; for all we feel of good is by sensation and reflexion.
Ver 82. And Peace, &c.] Conscious Innocence (says the poet) is the only source of internal Peace; and known Innocence, of external; therefore Peace is the sole issue of Virtue ; or, in his own emphatic words, Peace is all thy own; a conclusive observation in his argument, which stands thus : Is Happiness rightly placed in Externals ? No; for it consists in Health, Peace, and Competence. Health and Competence are the product of Temperance, and Peace of perfect Innocence.
The good or bad the gifts of Fortune gain;
85 Who risk the most, that take wrong means or right? Of Vice or Virtue, whether bleft or curst, Which meets contempt, or which compassion first ? Count all th'advantage prosp'rous Vice attains, 'Tis but what Virtue Alies from and disdains :
90 And grant the bad what happiness they wou’d, One they must want, which is to pass for good. Oh blind to truth, and God's whole scheme below, Who fancy Bliss to Vice, to Virtue Woe!
Let sober Moralists correct their speech,
NOTES. Ver. 93. Ob blind to truth, &c.] Our author having thus largely confuted the mistake of Happiness's consisting in externals, proceeds to expose the terrible consequences of such an opinion on the sentiments and practice of all sorts of men, making the Diffolute impious and atheistical; the Religious uncharitable and intolerant; and the Good restless and discontent. For when it is once taken for granted, that Happiness confifts in externals, it is immediately seen, that ill men are often more happy than good; which fets all conditions on objecting to the ways of Providence: and some even on rashly attempting to rectify its dispensations, though by the violation of all Law, divine and human.
Who sees and follows that great scheme the best, 95
! ; Or why so long (in life if long can be) Lent Heav'n a parent to the poor and me?
Ver. 100. See godlike Turenne. ] This epithet has a peculiar juftness; the great man to whom it is applied, not being distinguished, from other generals, for any of his superior qualities, so much as for his providential care of those whom he led to war ; which was so uncommon, that his chief purpose, in taking on himself the command of armies, seems to have been the preservation of mankind. In this god-like care he was more distinguishably employed, throughout the whole course of that famous campaign in which he lost his life.
Ver. 110. Lent Heav'n a parent, &c.]This last instance of the poet's illustration of the ways of Providence, the
What makes all physical or moral ill!
Ir partial Ill is universal Good,
After ver. 116. in the MS.
Of ev'ry evil, since the world began,
reader sees, has a peculiar elegance ; where a tribute of piety to a parent is paid in a return of thanks to, and made subservient of, his vindication of the Great Giver and Father of all things. The mother of the author, a person of great piety and charity, died the year this poem was finished, riz 1733.
Ver.121. Think we, 1 ke some wrak Prince, &c.] Agreeably hereunto, holy Scripture, in its account of things under the common Providence of Heaven, never represents miracles as wrought for the sake of him who is the ob. ject of them, but in order to give credit to some of God's extraordinary dispensations to Mankind.
Shall burning Ætna, if a fage requires, Forget to thunder, and recall her fires ? On air or sea new motions be impreft, 125 Oh blameless Bethel! to relieve thy breaft? When the loose mountain trembles from on high, Shall gravitation cease, if you go by? Or some old temple nodding to its fall, For Chartres' head reserve the hanging wall? 130
But still this world ffo fitted for the knave)
Give each a system, all must be at ftrife;
What diff'rent systems for a Man and Wife? The joke, tho' lively, was ill plac'd ; and therefore ftruck out of the text.
NOTES. VER. 123. Shall burning Æina, &c.] Alluding to the fate of those two great Naturalifts, Empedocles and Pliny,