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E P I S T L E I.
WAKE, my St. John! leave all meaner things
To low ambition, and the pride of Kings.
The exordium of this poem relates to the whole work, of which the Elay on Man was only the first book. The 6tb, 7th, and gih lines allude to the subjects of this Elay, viz. the general Order and Design of Providence; the Constitution of the human Mind ; the origin, use, and end of the Passions and Affections, both selfish and social; and the wrong pursuits of Power, Pleasure, and Happiness. The roth, 19th, 12th, etc. have relation to the subjects of the books intended to follow, viz, the Characters and Capacities of Men, and the Limits of Science, which once transgressed, ignorance begins, and error follows. The 1 zih and 14th, to the Knowlege of Mankind, and the various Manners of the age. Vol. III.
Laugh where we must, be candid where we can ; 15 But vindicate the ways of God to Man.
I. Say first, of God above, or Man below, What can we reason, but from what we know ! Of Man, what fee we but his station here, From which to reason, or to which refer? Thro' worlds unnumber'd tho’ the God be known, "Tis ours to trace him only in our own. He, who thro' vast immensity can pierce, See worlds on worlds compose one universe, Observe how fyftem into system runs,
25 What other planets circle other suns, What vary'd Being peoples ev'ry star, May tell why Heav'n has made us as we are. But of this frame the bearings and the ties, The trong connections, nice dependencies, 30 Gradations just, has thy pervading soul -Look'd thro’? or can a part contain the whole ?
Is the great chain, that draws all to agree, And drawn supports, upheld by God, or thee? II. Presumptuous Man ! the reason wouldīt thou find,
35 Why form’d so weak, fo little, and so blind ? First, if thou canst, the harder reason guess, Why form’d no weaker, blinder, and no less ?
2. 21. Thro' worlds unnumber'd, etc.] Hunc cognoscimus folummodo per Proprietates suas et Attributa, et per sapien tiflimas et optimas rerum structuras et causas finales, Newtoni Princ. Scbol. gen. sub fin.
Ask of thy mother earth, why oaks are made
Of Systems poslible, if 'tis confeft
Respecting Man, whatever wrong we call, May, must be right, as relative to all. In human works, tho’ labour'd on with pain, A thoufand movements scarce one purpose gain; In God's, one single can its end produce; 55 Yet serves to second tco some other use. So Man, who here fecms principal alone, Perhaps acts second to fome sphere unknown, Touches some wheel, or verges to some goal ; 'Tis but a part we fee, and not a whole.
When the proud iteed shall know why man restrains His fiery course, or drives him o'er the plains; When the dull Ox, why now he breaks the clod, Is now a victim, and now Ægypt's God:
VARIATIONS. In the former Editions ver. 64.
Now wears a garland an Ægyptian God.
Then shall Man's pride and dulness coniprehend 65
Then fay not Man's imperfect, Heav'n in fault;
75 As who began a thousand years ago. III. Heav'n from all creatures hides the book of
Fate, All but the page prescrib'd, their present state : From brutes what men, from men what spirits know: Or who could suffer Being here below?
80 The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day, Had he thy Reason, would he skip and play ? Pleas'd to the last, he crops the flow'ry food, And licks the hand just rais'd to shed his blood. Oh blindness to the future ! kindly giv’n, 85 That each my fill the circle mark'd by Heav'n :
If to be perfect in a certain sphere,
Who fees with equal eye, as God of all,
90 Hope humbly then ; with trembling pinions foar; Wait the
teacher Death ; and God adore. What future bliss, he gives not thee to know, But gives that Hope to be thy blessing now. Hope springs eternal in the human breast :
95 Man never Is, but always To be blest : The soul, uneasy, and confin'd from home, Rests and expatiates in a life to come. Lo, the
Indian ! whose untutor'd inind Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind; 100 His foul, proud Science never taught to stray Far as the solar walk, or milky way; Yet simple Nature to his hope has giv'n, Behind the cloud-topt-hill, an humbler heav'n ; Some safer world in depth of woods embrac'd, 105 Some happier island in the watry waste,
After ver 88. in the MS.
No great, no little ; 'tis as much decreed
That Virgil's Gnat should die as Cæsar bleed,
What bliss above he gives not thee to know,