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EPIST L E I.
WAKE, my St. John! leave all meaner things
To low ambition, and the pride of Kings. Let us (since Life can little more supply Than just to look about us and to die) Expatiate free o'er all this scene of Man; 5 A mighty maze! but not without a plan; A Wild, where weeds and flow'rs promiscuous shoot; Or Garden, tempting with forbidden fruit. Together let us beat this ample field, Try what the open, what the covert yield ; The latent tracts, the giddy heights, explore Of all who blindly creep, or fightless foar ; Eye Nature's walks, shoot Folly as it flies, And catch the Manners living as they rise ;
The Exordium of this poem relates to the whole work, of which the Ejay on Man was only the first book. The 6th, 7th, and 8th 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 Pasions and Affections, both selfish and social; and the wrong pursuits of Power, Pleasure, and Happiness. The icth, 11th, 12th, &c. 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 13th and 14th, to the Knowledge of Mankind, and the various Manners of the age. Vol. III.
Laugh where we must, be candid where we can; 15
I. Say first, of God above, or Man below,
Is the great chain, that draws all to agree,
Ver. 21. Thro' worlds unnumber'd, etc.] Hunc cognofcimus solummodo per Proprietates suas et Attributa, et per fapientiffimas et optimas rerum ftructuras et causas finales. Newtoni Princ. Schol. gen. sub fin.
Ak of thy mother earth, why oaks are made
Of Systems poffible, if 'tis confest
Respeeting Man, whatever wrong we call, May, must be right, as relative to all. In human works, tho' labour'd on with pain, A thousand movements scarce one purpose gain; In God's, one single can its end produce ; 55 Yet ferves to second too some other use. So Man, who here seems principal alone, Perhaps acts second to some sphere unknown, Touches some wheel, or verges to some goal ; 'Tis but a part we see, and not a whole. 60
When the proud steed shall know whyMan restrains
Then shall Man's pride and dulness comprehend 65
Then say not Man's imperfect, Heav'n in fault;
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 may fill the circle mark'd by Heav'n:
After x 68. the following lines in first Ed.
If to be perfect in a certain sphere,
Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,
Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions foar ;
95 Man never Is, but always To be bleft: The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home, Rests and expatiates in a life to come. Lo, the
Indian ! whose untutor'd mind Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind; 100 His soul, proyd 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 y 88. in the MS.
No great, no little ; 'tis as much decreed
In the first Folio and Quarto,
What bliss above he gives not thee to know,