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Then say not Man's imperfect, Heaven in fault; Say, rather, Man's as perfect as he ought: His knowledge measur'd to his state and place; His time a moment, and a point his space. If to be perfect in a certain sphere, What matter, soon or late, or here, or there? The blest to day is as completely so, As who began a thousand years ago.
[Fate, III. Heaven from all creatures hides the book of 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 ? 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 flowery food, And licks the hand just rais'd to shed his blood. Oh blindness to the future ! kindly given, That each may fill the circle mark'd by Heaven : Who sees with equal eye, as God of all, A hero perish, or a sparrow fall, Atoms or systems into ruin hurld, And now a bubble burst, and now a world.
Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar, Wait the great 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 : 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 poor Indian ! whose untutor’d mind Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind;
His soul proud Science never taught to stray
Far as the solar walk, or milky way;
Yet simple Nature to his hope has given,
Behind the cloud-topt hill, an humbler Heaven;
Some safer world in depth of woods embrac'd,
Some happier island in the watery waste,
Where slaves once more their native land behold,
No fiends torment, no Christians thirst for gold.
To be, contents his natural desire,
He asks no angel's wing, no seraph's fire;
But thinks, admitted to that equal sky,
His faithful dog shall bear him company.
IV. Go, wiser thou ! and in thy scale of sense,
Weigh thy opinion against Providence;
Call imperfection what thou fancy'st such;
Say, here he gives too little, there too much :
Destroy ail creatures for thy sport or gust,
Yet say, if man's unhappy, God's unjust;
If man alone ingross not Heaven's high care,
Alone made perfect here, immortal there :
Snatch from his hand the balance and the rod,
Re-judge his justice, be the god of God.
In Pride, in reasoning Pride, our errour lies;
All quit their sphere, and rush into the skies,
Pride still is aiming at the blest abodes,
Men would be angels, angels would be gods.
Aspiring to be gods, if angels fell,
Aspiring to be angels, men rebel :
And who but wishes to invert the laws
Of order, sins against th' Eternal Cause.
V. Ask for what end the heavenly bodies shine, Earth for whose use ? Pride answers, “ Tis for mine :
For me kind Nature wakes her genial power ;
Suckles' each herb, and spreads out every flower ;
Annual for me, the grape, the rose, renew
The juice nectareous, and the balmy dew;
For me, the mine a thousand treasures brings;
For me, health gushes from a thousand springs;
Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise;
My foot-stool Earth, my canopy the skies.”
But errs not Nature from this gracious end,
From burning suns when livid deaths descend,
When earthquakes swallow, or when tempests sweep
Towns to one grave, whole nations to the deep?
“ No,” 'tis reply'd, “ the first Almighty Cause
Acts not by partial, but by general laws;
Th' exceptions few; some change since all begun:
And what created perfect ?” Why then man ?
If the great end be human happiness,
Then Nature deviates ; and ean man do less ?
As much that end a constant course requires
Of showers and sun-shine, as of man's desires ;
As much eternal springs and cloudless skies,
As men for ever temperate, calm, and wise.
If plagues or earthquakes break not Heaven's design,
Why then a Borgia, or a Catiline ?
Who knows, but he whose hand the lightning forms,
Who heaves old Ocean, and who wings the storms;
Pours fierce ambition in a Cæsar's mind,
Or turns young Ammon loose to scourge mankind?
From pride, from pride our very reasoning springs :
Account for moral as for natural things :
Why charge we Heaven in those, in these acquit ?
In both, to reason right, is to submit.
Better for us, perhaps, it might appear,
Were there all harmony, all virtue here;
That never air or ocean felt the wind,
That never passion discompos’d the mind.
But all subsists by elemental strife ;
And passions are the elements of life,
The general order, since the whole began,
Is kept in Nature, and is kept in man, [soar,
• VI. What would this man? Now upward will he
And, little less than angel, would be more;
Now looking downwards, just as griev'd appears
To want the strength of bulls, the fur of bears.
Made for his use all creatures if he call,
Say what their use, had he the powers of all ?
Nature to these without profusion, kind,
The proper organs, proper powers assign'd;
Each seeming want compensated of course,
Here with degrees of swiftness, there of force;
All in exact proportion to the state ;
Nothing to add, and nothing to abate.
Each beast, each insect, happy in its own :
Is Heaven unkind to man, and man alone?
Shall he alone, whom rational we call,
Be pleas'd with nothing, if not blest with all ?
The bliss of man (could Pride that blessing find)
Is not to act or think beyond mankind;
No powers of body or of soul to share,
But what his nature and his state can bear.
Why has not man a microscopic eye ?
For this plain reason, man is not a fly.
Say what the use, were finer optics given,
T' inspect a mite, not comprehend the Heaven ?
Or touch, if tremblingly alive all o'er,
To smart and agonize at every pore?
Or quick effluvia darting through the brain,
Die of a rose in aromatic pain ?
If Nature thunder'd in his opening ears,
And stunn'd him with the music of the spheres,
How would he wish that Heaven had left him still
The whispering zephyr, and the purling rill!
Who finds not Providence all good and wise,
Alike in what it gives, and what denies ?
VII. Far as creation's ample range extends,
The scale of sensual, mental powers ascends :
Mark how it mounts to man's imperial race,
From the green myriads in the peopled grass :
What modes of sight betwixt each wide extreme,
The mole's dim curtain, and the lynx's beam;
Of smell, the headlong lioness between,
And hound sagacious on the tainted green;
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 poisonous herbs extracts the healing dew!
How Instinct varies in the grovelling swine,
Compar'd, half-reasoning elephant, with thine!
'Twixt that, and Reason, what a nice barrier!
For ever separate, yet for ever 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 !