Page images
PDF
EPUB

1

ARGUMENT OF

E P I S T L E

II.

Of the Nature and State of Man with respect to

Himself, as an Individual.

I. The business of Man not to pry into God, but to study

himself. His Middle Nature : his Powers and Frailties, ver. I to 19. The Limits of his Capacity, ver. 19, &c., II. The two Principles of Man, Self-love and Reason, both necessary, ver. 53, &c. Self-love the stronger, and why, ver. 67, &c. Their end the fame, ver. 81, &c. III. The Passions, and their use, ver. 93 to 130. The Predominant Passion, and its force, ver. 132 to 160. Its Necessity, in directing Men to different purposes, ver. 165, &c. Its providential Use, in fixing our Principle, and ascertaining our Virtue, ver. 177. IV. Virtue and Vice joined in our mixed Nature; the limits near, yet the things separate and evident: What is the Office of Reason, ver. 202 to 216. V. How odious Vice in itfelf, and how we deceive ourselves into it, ver. 217. VI. That, however, the Ends of Providence and general Good are answered in our Passions and Imperfections, ver. 238, &c. How usefully these are distributed to all Orders of Men, vér. 241. How useful they are to Society, ver. 251. And to Individuals, ver. 263. In every state, and every age of life, ver. 273, &c.

EPISTLE

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

I. NOW then thyself, presume not God to scan,

The proper study 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 side, 5 With too much weakness for the Stoic's pride, He hangs between ; in doubt to act, or rest; In doubt to deem himself a God, or Beast; In doubt his Mind or Body to prefer; Born but to die, and reasoning but to err; Alike in ignorance, his reason such, Whether he thinks too little, or too much : Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus’d; Still by himself abus'd or disabus’d; Created half to rise, and half to fall;

15 Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all; Sole judge of Truth, in endless Error hurl'd: The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!

Go, wondrous creature! mount where Science guides, Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides;

Instruct VARIATIONS. Ver. 2. Ed. ift.

The only science of Mankind is Man.
After ver. 18. in the MS.

For more perfection than this state can bear
In vain we figh, Heaven made us as we are.
As wisely sure a modest Ape might aim
To be like Man, whose faculties and frame

He

20

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Could he, whose rules the rapid Comet bind, 35
Describe or fix one movement of his Mind?
Who saw its fires here rise, and there descend,
Explain his own beginning, or his end;
Alas, what wonder! Man's superior part
Uncheck'd may rise, and climb from art to art; 40
But when his own great work is but begun,
What Reason weaves, by Paffion is undone.

Trace Science then, with Modesty thy guide ;
Firft strip off all her equipage of Pride;
Deduct what is but Vanity or. Dress,

45
Or Learning's Luxury, or Idleness;
Or tricks to shew the stretch of human brain,
Mere curious pleasure, or ingenious pain ;
Expunge the whole, or lop th’excrescent parts
Of all our Vices have created Arts;
Then see how little the remaining sum,
Which serv’d the past, and must the times to come!

II. Two Principles in human nature reign; Self-love, to urge, and Reason, to restrain; Nor this a good, nor that a bad we call,

55 Each works its end, to move or govern all : And to their proper operation still, Ascribe all Good, to their improper Ill.

Self-love, the spring of motion, acts the soul; Reason's comparing balance rules the whole,

Man,
VARIATION.
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 ?

50

60

Ha

65

Man, but for that, no action could attend,
And, but for this, were active to no end :
Fix'd like a plant on his peculiar spot,
To draw nutrition, propagate, and rot :
Or, meteor-like, flame lawless through the void,
Destroying others, by himself destroy’d.

Most strength the moving principle requires ;
Active its task, it prompts, impels, inspires.
Sedate and quiet the comparing lies,
Form'd but to check, deliberate, and advise. 70
Self-love, still stronger, as its objects nigh;
Reason's at distance, and in prospect lie :
That sees immediate good by present senfe
Reason, the future and the consequence.
Thicker than arguments, temptations throng, 75
At best more watchful this, but that more strong.
The A&tion of the stronger to fuspend
Reason ftill use, to Reason ftill attend.
Attention, habit, and experience gains;
Each strengthens Reason, and Self-love restrains. 80
Let subtle schoolmen teach these friends to fight,
More ftudious to divide than to unite;
And Grace and Virtue, Sense and Reason fplit,
With all the rash dexterity of wit.
Wits, just like Fools, at war about a name, 85
Have full as oft no meaning, or the same.

Self-
VARIATION.
After ver. 86. in the MS.

of good and evil Gods what frighted Fools,
Of good and evil Reason puzzled Schools,
Deceiv'd, deceiving, taught

« PreviousContinue »