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38 If all, united, thy ambition call,
From ancient story, learn to scorn them all.
There, in the rich, the honor'd, fam'd, and great,
See the false scale of happiness complete!
39 Mark by what wretched steps their glory grows,
From dirt and sea-weed, as proud Venice rose;
In each how guilt and greatness equal ran,
And all that rais'd the hero, sunk the man;
Now Europe's laurels on their brows behold,
But stain'd with blood, or ill exchang'd for gold:
Then see them broke with toils, or sunk in ease,
Or infamous for plunder'd provinces.
40 O wealth ill-fated! which no act of fame
E'er taught to shine, or sanctify'd from shame!
What greater bliss attends their close of life?
Some greedy minion, or imperious wife,
The trophy'd arches, story'd halls invade,
And haunt their slumbers in the pompous shade.
Alas! not dazzled with their noon-tide ray,
Compute the morn and ev'ning to the day;
The whole amount of that enormous fame,
A tale, that blends their glory with their shame!
41 Know then this truth (enough for man to know)
"Virtue alone is happiness below."
The only point where human bliss stands still,
And tastes the good without the fall to ill;
Where only merit constant pay receives,
Is blest in what it takes, and what it gives;
The joy unequall'd, if its end it gain,
And if it lose, attended with no pain:
42 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:
Good, from each object, from each place acquir'd,
For ever exercis'd, yet never tir'd;
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.
43 See the sole bliss Heav'n 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;
Slave to no sect, who takes no private road,
But looks through nature up to nature's God:
44 Pursues that chain which links th' immense design,
Joins heav'n 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 human soul;
And knows where faith, law, morals, all began,
All end, in Love of God, and Love of Man.
45 For him alone, hope leads from goal to goal,
And opens still, and opens on his soul;
Till lengthen'd on to faith, and unconfin'd,
It pours the bliss that fills up all the mind.
46 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 giv'n in vain, but what they seek they find)
Wise is her present; she connects in this
His greatest virtue with his greatest bliss;
At once his own bright prospect to be blest,
And strongest motive to assist the rest.
47 Self-love thus push'd to social, to divine,
Gives thee to make thy neighbor's blessing thine.
Is this too little for thy boundless heart?
Extend it, let thy enemies have part;
Grasp the whole worlds 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.
48 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 mov'd, a circle straight succeeds,
Another still, and still another spreads:
Friend, parent, neighbor, first it will embrace,
His country next, and next all human race;
Wide and more wide, the o'erflowings of the mind
Take every creature in, of every kind;
Earth smiles around, with boundless bounty blest,
And Heav'n beholds its image in his breast.
49 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;
Correct with spirit, eloquent with ease,
Intent to reason, or polite to please.
50 O! 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!
51 That, urg'd by thee, I turn'd the tuneful art,
From sounds to things, from fancy to the heart;
For wit's false mirror held up nature's light;
Shew'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?
2 Thou Great First Cause, least understood;
Who all my sense confin'd
To know but this, that Thou art good,
And that myself am blind;
[NOTE.-Several passages of the Essay on Man, some of which are more calculated to display dexterous feats of a vaulting imagination, than to impart demonstrable moral truth to the youthful mind;-and others being characterized by unnecessary amplification, and sometimes by a roughness of expression, unsuited to the more refined taste of the present age, have been omitted by the Compiler, as not being adapted, in his judgment, for class-reading in our public schools.]
Yet gave me, in this dark estate,
To see the good from ill;
And, binding nature fast in fate,
Left free the human will.
3 What conscience dictates to be done,
Or warns me not to do,
This, teach me more than hell to shun,
That, more than heav'n pursue.
4 What blessings thy free bounty gives,
Let me not cast away;
For God is paid when man receives,
T' enjoy, is to obey.
5 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:
6 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.
7 Save me alike from foolish pride,
Or impious discontent,
At aught thy wisdom has deny'd,
Or aught thy goodness lent.
8 Teach me to feel another's wo;
To hide the fault I see:
That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.
9 Mean though I am, not wholly so,
Since quicken'd by thy breath;
O lead me, wheresoe'er I
Through this day's life or death. 10 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.
11 To Thee, whose temple is all space, Whose altar, earth, sea, skies!
One chorus let all beings raise!
All nature's incense rise!
FRAGMENTS FROM THOMSON'S SEASONS.
Early rising,-Address to the Sun!
1 FALSELY luxurious! will not man awake;
And, springing from the bed of sloth, enjoy
The cool, the fragrant, and the silent hour,
To meditation due and sacred song?
For is there aught in sleep can charm the wise?
To lie in dead oblivion, losing half
The fleeting moments of too short a life;
Total extinction of the enlighten'd soul!
2 Or else to feverish vanity alive,
Wilder'd, and tossing through distemper'd dreams?
Who would in such a gloomy state remain
Longer than nature craves; when every Muse
And every blooming pleasure wait without,
To bless the wildly devious morning walk?
3 But yonder comes the powerful King of Day,
Rejoicing in the east. The lessening cloud,
The kindling azure, and the mountain's brow
Illum'd with fluid gold, his near approach
Betoken glad. Lo! now, apparent all,
Aslant the dew-bright earth, and color'd air,
He looks in boundless majesty abroad;
And sheds the shining day, that burnish'd plays
On rocks, and hills, and tow'rs, and wand'ring streams,
High gleaming from afar. Prime cheerer, Light!
Of all material beings first, and best!
Efflux divine! Nature's resplendent robe!
Without whose vesting beauty all were wrapt
In unessential gloom; and thou, O Sun!
Soul of surrounding worlds! in whom best seen
Shines out thy Maker! may I sing of thee?
4 'Tis by thy secret, strong, attractive force,
As with a chain indissoluble bound,
Thy system rolls entire: from the far bourne
Of utmost Saturn, wheeling wide his round
Of thirty years; to Mercury, whose disk
Can scarce be caught by philosophic eye,
Lost in the near effulgence of thy blaze.
Informer of the planetary train!