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Nature that tyrant checks; he only knows,
70 To each unthinking being, Heaven, a friend, Gives not the useless knowledge of its end : To man imparts it; but with such a view As, while he dreads it, makes him hope it too: The hour conceal'd, and so remote the fear, Death still draws nearer, never seeming near. Great standing miracle! that Heaven assign'd Its only thinking thing this turn of mind.
II. Whether with reason or with instinct bless'd, 79 Know, all enjoy that power which suits them best; To bliss alike by that direction tend, And find the means proportion'd to their end. Say, where full instinct is th' unerring guide, What pope or council can they need beside ? Reason, however able, cool at best, Cares not for service, or but serves when press'd, Stays till we call, and then not often near ; But honest instinct comes a volunteer, Sure never to o'ershoot, but just to hit; While still too wide or short is human wit;
90 Sure by quick nature happiness to gain, Which heavier reason labours at in vain.
This too serves always, reason never long:
Who taught the nations of the field and wood
III. God, in the nature of each being, founds Its proper bliss, and sets its proper bounds : 110 But as he framed a whole the whole to bless, On mutual wants built mutual happiness; So from the first eternal order ran, And creature link'd to creature, man to man. Whate'er of life all-quickening ether keeps, Or breathes through air, or shoots beneath the deeps, Or pours profuse on earth, one nature feeds The vital flame, and swells the genial seeds. Not man alone, but all that roam the wood, Or wing the sky, or roll along the flood,
120 Each loves itself, but not itself alone, Each sex desires alike, till two are one. Nor ends the pleasure with the fierce embrace; They love themselves, a third time, in their race. Thus beast and bird their common charge attend, The mothers nurse it, and the sires defend; The young
dismiss'd to wander earth or air, There stops the instinct, and there ends the care : The link dissolves, each seeks a fresh embrace, Another love succeeds, another race.
130 A longer care man's helpless kind demands ; That longer care contracts more lasting bands; Reflection, reason, still the ties improve, At once extend the interest, and the love :
With choice we fix, with sympathy we burn;
IV. Nor think, in nature's state they blindly trod:
150 Pride then was not; nor arts, that pride to aid ; Man walk'd with beast, joint tenant of the shade; The same his table, and the same his bed ; No murder clothed him, and no murder fed. In the same temple, the resounding wood, All vocal beings hymn'd their equal God : The shrine with gore unstain'd, with gold undressid, Unbribed, unbloody, stood the blameless priest: Heaven's attribute was universal care, And man's prerogative, to rule, but spare. 160 Ah ! how unlike the man of times to come! Of half that live the butcher and the tomb; Who, foe to nature, hears the general groan, Murders their species, and betrays his own. But just disease to luxury succeeds, And every death its own avenger breeds; The fury-passions from that blood began, And turn'd on man a fiercer savage, man.
See him from nature rising slow to art! To copy instinct then was reason's part:
170 Thus then to man the voice of nature spake
Go, from the creatures thy instructions take: Learn from the birds what food the thickets yield; Learn from the beasts the physic of the field; Thy arts of building from the bec receive: Learn of the mole to plough, the worm to weave;
Learn of the little nautilus to sail,
V. Great nature spoke; observant man obey'd; Cities were built, societies were made:
200 Here rose one little state ; another near Grew by like means, and join'd through love or fear. Did here the trees with ruddier burthens bend, And there the streams in purer rills descend 3 What war could ravish, commerce could bestow; And he return'd a friend, who came a foe. Converse and love mankind might strongly draw, When love was liberty, and nature law. Thus states were form'd; the name of king unknown, Till common interest placed the sway in one. 210 'Twas virtue only (or in arts or arms, Diffusing blessings, or averting harms), The same which in a sire the sons obey'd, A prince the father of a people made.
VI. Till then, by nature crown'd, each patriarch King, priest, and parent, of his growing state: (sate, On him, their second Providence, they hung, Their law his eye, their oracle his tongue.
He from the wondering furrow call'd the food,
Who first taught souls enslaved, and realms undone, Th' enormous faith of many made for one; That proud exception to all nature's laws, T'invert the world, and counterwork its cause ? Force first made conquest, and that conquest, law; Till superstition taught the tyrant awe, Then shared the tyranny, then lent it aid, And gods of conquerors, slaves of subjects made : She 'midst the lightning's blaze, and thunder's
sound, When rock'd the mountains, and when groan'd the ground,
250 She taught the weak to bend, the proud to pray, To power unseen, and mightier far than they : She, from the rending earth, and bursting skies, Saw gods descend, and fiends infernal rise : Here fix'd the dreadful, there the bless'd abodes; Fear made her devils, and weak hope her gods; Gods partial, changeful, passionate, unjust, Whose attributes were rage, revenge, or lust :