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I. NOW then thyself, presume not Goď to scan,
The proper tłudy of Mankind is Man.
Plac'd on this isthmus of a middle state,
A Being darkly wise, and rudely great :
With too much knowledge for the Sceptic fide,
With too much weakness for the Stoic's pride,
He hangs between ; in doubt to act, or reft ;
In doubt to deem himself a God, or Eeast;
In doubt his Mind or Body to prefer ;
Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err ;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little, or too much :
Chaos of Thought and Paffion, all confus'd;
till by himselt abus'd or disabus'd ;
Created half to rise, and half to fall;
· 15 Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all ;
VER. 2. The proper study, etc.] The poet having shewn, in the first epistle, that the ways of God are too high for our comprehension, rightly draws this conclusion : and metho. dically makes it the subject of his Introduction to the second, which treats of the Nature of Man.
Ver. 2. Ed. ift.
The only science of Mankind is Man.
Felf Love still stronger, as it's Ulvects nigh,
Reason's at distance, and in prospect-lie;-
That sees immediate Good
by preséntdense, Reason the future, and the Consertencenter
Sole judge of Truth, in endless Error hurld :
The glory, jeft, and riddle of the world!
Go, wond'rous creature ! mount where Science
Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides ;
Instruct the planets in what orbs to ran,
Correct old Time, and regulate the Sun ;
VER. 22. Correct old Time,] This alludes to Sir Isaac Newton's Grecian Chronology, which he reformed on those two
After ver. 18. In the MS.
For more perfection than this state can bear
In vain we figh, Heav'n made us as we are.
As wisely sure a modest Ape might aim
To be like Man, whose faculties and frame
He sees, he feels, as you or I to be
An Angel thing we neither know nor see.
Obferve how near he edges on our race;
What human tricks! how risible of face !
It must be lo — why else have I the sense
Of more than monkey charms and excellence?
Why elfe to walk on two so oft essay'd;
And why this ardent longing for a maid !
So Pug might plead, and call his Gods unkind
'Till set on end, and married to his mind.
Go, reasoning Thing! assume the Doctor's chair.
As Plato deep, as Seneca severe :
Fix moral fitness, and to God give rule,
Then drop into thyself, etc.
Ver. 21. Ed: 4th and sth.
Shew by what rules the wand'ring planets stray,
Correct.old Time, and teach the Sun his Way,
Go, soar with Plato to th' empyreal sphere,
To the first good, first perfe&, and first fair ;
Or tread the mazy round his follow'rs trod, 2;
And quitting sense call imitating God;
As Eaftern priests in giddy circles run,
And turn their heads to imitate the Sun.
Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule
Then drop into thyself, and be a fool!
Superior beings, when of late they faw
A mortal Man unfold all Nature's Law,
Admir'd such wisdom in an earthly shape,
And shew'd a Newton as we fhew an Ape.
Could he, whofe rules the rapid Cemet bind, 35
Describe or fix one movement of his Mind :
Who saw its fires here rife, and there' defcend,
Explain his own beginning, or his end?
sublime conceptions, the difference between the reigns of kings, and the generations of men ; and the position of the colures of the equinoxes and rolstices at the time of the Argonautic expedition.
VER. 37. Who saw its fires bere rife, etc.] Sir Isaac Newton, in calculating the velocity of a Comer's motion, and the course it describes, when it becomes visible in its descent to, and ascent from the Sun, conjectured, with the
VER. 35. Ed. first.
Could he, who taught each Planet, where to roll,
Describe or fix one movement of the Soul ?
Who mark'd their points to rise or to descend,
Explain his own beginning or his end ?