Page images
PDF
EPUB

Where only merit constant pay receives,
Is bless'd in what it takes, and what it gives ;
The joy unequallid, if its end it gain,
And if it lose, attended with no pain :
Without satiety, though e'er so bless'd,
And but more relish'd as the more distress'd:
The broadest mirth unfeeling folly wears,
Less pleasing far than virtue's very tears : 320
Good, from each object, from each place acquired,
For ever exercised, yet never tired;
Never elated, while one man 's oppress'd;
Never dejected, while another 's bless'd:
And where no wants, no wishes can remain,
Since but to wish more virtue, is to gain.

See the sole bliss Heaven could on all bestow !
Which who but feels can taste, but thinks can

know ;
Yet poor with fortune, and with learning blind,
The bad must miss, the good untaught will find; 330
Slave to no sect, who takes no private road,
But looks through nature, up to nature's God;
Pursues that chain which links th' immense de-

sign,
Joins heaven and earth, and mortal and divine;
Sees that no being any bliss can know,
But touches some above, and some below;
Learns from this union of the rising whole,
The first, last purpose of the hunian soul;
And knows where faith, law, morals, all began,
All end, in love of God and love of man.

310
For him alone, hope leads from goal to goal,
And opens still, and opens on his soul;
Till lengthened on to faith, and unconfined,
It pours the bliss that fills up all the mind.
He sees why nature plants in man alone
Hope of known bliss, and faith in bliss unknown
(Nature, whose dictates to no other kind
Are given in vain, but what they seek they find):
Wise is her present; she connects in this
His greatest virtue with his greatest bliss; 350
At once his own bright prospect to be bless'd;
And strongest motive to assist the rest.

Self-love thus push'd to social, to divine,
Gives thee to make thy neighbour's blessing thine.
Is this too little for the boundless heart?
Extend it, let thy enemies have part;
Grasp the whole world of reason, life, and sense,
In one close system of benevolence :
Happier as kinder, in whate’er degree,
And height of bliss but height of charity.

360
God loves from whole to parts: but human soul
Must rise from individual to the whole.
Self-love but serves the virtuous mind to wake,
As the small pebble stirs the peaceful lake;
The centre 1ooved, a circle straight succeeds,
Another still, and still another spreads;
Friend, parent, neighbour, first it will embrace;
His country next, and next all human race;
Wide and more wide, th' o'erflowings of the mind
Take every creature in, of every kind;

370 Earth smiles around, with boundless bounty bless'd, And Heaven beholds its image in his breast.

Come then, my friend ! my genius! come along: O master of the poet, and the song! And while the muse now stoops, or now ascends, To man's low passions, or their glorious ends, Teach me, like thee, in various nature wise, To fall with dignity, with temper rise ; Form'd by thy converse, happily to steer From grave to gay, from lively to severe

380 Correct with spirit, eloquent with ease, Intent to reason, or polite to please. 0! while along the stream of time thy name Expanded flies, and gathers all its fame, Say, shall my little bark attendant sail, Pursue the triumph, and partake the gale ? When statesmen, heroes, kings, in dust repose, Whose sons shall blush their fathers were thy foes, Shall then this verse to future age pretend Thou wert my guide, philosopher, and friend? 390 That, urged by thee, I turn'd the tuneful art From sou to things, from fancy to the heart; For wit's false mirror held up nature's light, Show'd erring pride, WHATEVER IS, IS RIGHT ;

That reason, passion, answer one great aim ;
That true self-love and social are the same;
That virtue only makes our bliss below;
And all our knowledge is, ourselves to know.

THE UNIVERSAL PRAYER.

DEO OPT. MAX.

It may be proper to observe, that some passages in the preceding Essay, having been unjustly suspected of a tendency towards fate and naturalism, the author composed this prayer as the sum of all, to shew that his system was founded in free-will, and terminated in piety: That the First Cause was as well the Lord and Governor of the universe as the Creator of it; and that, by submission to his will (the great principle enforced throughout the Essay) was not meant the suffering ourselves to be carried along by a blind determination, but the resting in a religious acquies. cence and confidence, full of hope and immortality. To give all this the greater weight, the poet chose for his model the Lord's Prayer, which, of all others, best deserves the title prefixed to this paraphrase.

FATHER of all! in every age,

In every clime adored,
By saint, by savage, and by sage,

Jehovah, Jove, our Lord !
Thou Great First Cause, least understood;

Who all my sense confined
To know but this, that thou art good,

And that myself am blind ;
Yet gave me, in this dark estate,

To see the good from ill;
And, binding Nature fast in Fate,

Left free the human will:
What conscience dictates to be done,

Or warns me not to do,
This, teach me more than hell to shun,

That, more than heaven pursue.

What blessings thy free bounty gives,

Let me not cast away;
For God is paid when man receives ;

T' enjoy is to obey.
Yet not to earth's contracted span

Thy goodness let me bound,
Or think thee Lord alone of man,

When thousand worlds are round: Let not this weak, unknowing hand

Presume thy bolts to throw,
And deal damnation round the land,

On each I judge thy foe.
If I am right, thy grace impart,

Still in the right to stay;
If I am wrong, O teach my heart

To find that better way.
Save me alike from foolish pride,

Or impious discontent,
At aught thy wisdom has denied,
. Or aught thy goodness lent.
Teach me to feel another's woe,

To hide the fault I see;
That mercy I to others shew,

That mercy shew to me.
Mean though I am, not wholly so,

Since quickened by thy breath;
O lead me, wheresoe'er I go,

Through this day's life or death. This day, be bread and peace my lot:

All else beneath the sun,
Thou know'st if best bestow'd or not,

And let thy will be done.
To thee, whose temple is all space,

Whose altar, earth, sea, skies !
One chorus let all being raise !

All Nature's incense rise !

MORAL ESSAYS,
In Four Epistles to several Persons.
Est brevitate opus, ut currat sententia, neu se
Impediat verbis lassas onerantibus aures :
Et sermone opus est modo tristi, sæpe jocoso,
Defendente vicem modo rhetoris atque poëtæ,
Interdum urbani, parcentis viribus, atque
Extenuantis eas consulto.-Hor.

ADVERTISEMENT. THE Essay on Man was intended to have been comprised in four books:

The first of which, the author has given us under that title, in four epistles.

The second was to have consisted of the same number : 1. Of the extent and limits of human reason. 2. Of those arts and sciences, and of the parts of them, which are useful, and therefore attainable, together with those which are unuseful, and therefore unattainable. 3. Of the nature, ends, use, and application of the different capacities of men. 4. Of the use of learning, of the science of the world, and of wit; concluding with a satire against a misapplication of them, illustrated by pictures, characters, and examples.

The third book regarded civil regimen, or the science of politics, in which the several forms of a republic were to be examined and explained; together with the several modes of religious worship, as far forth as they affect society ; between which the author always supposed there was the most interesting relation and closest connexion ; so that this part would have treated of civil and religious society in their full extent.

The fourth and last book concerned private ethics, or practical morality, considered in all the circumstances, or, ders, professions, and stations of human life.

The scheme of all this had been maturely digested, and communicated to Lord Bolingbroke, Dr. Swift, and one or two more, and was intended for the only work of his riper years; but was, partly through ill health, partly through discouragements from the depravity of the times, and partly on prudential and other considerations, interrupted, postponed, and, lastly, in a manner laid aside.

But as this was the author's favourite work, which more

« PreviousContinue »