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Of hearing, from the life that fills the flood
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;
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?
The pow'rs of all subdued by thee alone,
Is not thy reason all these pow'rs in one?
Where, one step broken, the great scale's destroyed:
From Nature's chain whatever link you strike,
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;
VIII. See through this air, this ocean, and this earth All matter quick and bursting into birth. Above, how high progressive life may go! 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, From thee to nothing. On superior pow'rs Were we to press, inferior might on ours; Or in the full creation leave a void,
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 soul, 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, Heav'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.
To a Lady
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 :
All eyes may see from what the change arose,
All eyes may see-a pimple on her nose.
Papillia, wedded to her am'rous spark,
Sighs for the shades-"How charming is a park!"
A park is purchased; but the fair he sees
All bathed in tears-"Oh, odious, odious trees!"
Ladies like variegated tulips show:
'Tis to their changes half their charms we owe;
Fine by defect, and delicately weak,
Their happy spots the nice admirer take.
'T was thus Calypso once each heart alarmed,
Awed without virtue, without beauty charmed;
Her tongue bewitched as oddly as her eyes,
Less wit than mimic, more a wit than wise;
Strange graces still and stranger flights she had-
Was just not ugly, and was just not mad;
Yet ne'er so sure our passion to create
As when she touched the brink of all we hate.
Narcissa's nature, tolerably mild,
To make a wash would hardly stew a child;
Has ev'n been proved to grant a lover's pray'r,
And paid a tradesman once to make him stare;
Gave alms at Easter, in a Christian trim,
And made a widow happy, for a whim.
Why, then, declare good nature is her scorn,
When 't is by that alone she can be borne?
Why pique all mortals, yet affect a name?
A fool to pleasure, yet a slave to fame:
Now deep in Taylor and the "Book of Martyrs,"
Now drinking citron with his Grace and Chartres;
Now conscience chills her, and now passion burns,
And atheism and religion take their turns;
A very heathen in the carnal part,
Yet still a sad, good Christian at her heart.
But what are these to great Atossa's mind?
Scarce once herself, by turns all womankind!
Who, with herself or others, from her birth
Finds all her life one warfare upon earth;
Shines in exposing knaves and painting fools,
Yet is whate'er she hates and ridicules;
No thought advances, but her eddy brain
Whisks it about, and down it goes again.
Full sixty years the world has been her trade,
The wisest fool much time has ever made;
From loveless youth to unrespected age,
No passion gratified except her rage;
So much the fury still outran the wit,
The pleasure missed her, and the scandal hit.
Who breaks with her provokes revenge from hell,
But he's a bolder man who dares be well:
Her ev'ry turn with violence pursued,
Nor more a storm her hate than gratitude;
To that each passion turns, or soon or late;
Love, if it makes her yield, must make her hate.
Superiors? death! and equals? what a curse!
But an inferior not dependent? worse.
Offend her, and she knows not to forgive;
Oblige her, and she'll hate you while you live;
But die, and she 'll adore you-then the bust
And temple rise-then fall again to dust.
Last night her lord was all that's good and great;
A knave this morning, and his will a cheat.
Strange! by the means defeated of the ends,
By spirit robbed of pow'r, by warmth of friends,
By wealth of foll'wers! without one distress,
Sick of herself through very selfishness!
Atossa, curst with every granted pray'r,
Childless with all her children, wants an heir:
To heirs unknown descends th' unguarded store,
Or wanders, Heav'n-directed, to the poor.
Ah, friend! to dazzle let the vain design;
To raise the thought and touch the heart be thine!
That charm shall grow, while what fatigues the Ring
Flaunts and goes down, an unregarded thing:
So when the sun's broad beam has tired the sight,
All mild ascends the moon's more sober light;
Serene in virgin modesty she shines,
And unobserved the glaring orb declines.
Oh, blest with temper whose unclouded ray
Can make to-morrow cheerful as to-day;
She who can love a sister's charms, or hear
Sighs for a daughter with unwounded ear;