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Like good Aurelius let him reign, or bleed
Like Socrates, that man is great indeed.
What's fame? a fancied life in other's breath,
A thing beyond us, e'en before our death.
Just what you hear you have; and what's unknown,
The same (my lord) if Tully's, or your own. 240
All that we feel of it begins and ends
In the small circle of our foes or friends;
To all beside as much an empty shade
As Eugene living, as a Cæsar dead;
Alike or when or where they shone shine,
Or on the Rubicon, or on the Rhine.
A wit's a feather, and a chief a rod;
An honest man's the noblest work of God.
Fame but from death a villain's name can save,
As justice tears his body from the grave; 250
When what to oblivion better were resign'd,
Is hung on high to poison half mankind.
All fame is foreign but of true desert,
Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart
One self-approving hour whole years outweighs
Of stupid starers, and of loud huzzas;
And more true joy Marcellus exiled feels
Than Cæsar with a senate at his heels.
In parts superior what advantage lies ? Tell (for you can) what is it to be wise?
260 'Tis but to know how little can be known, To see all others' faults, and feel our own; Condemn'd in business or in arts to drudge, Without a second, or without a judge; Truths would you teach, or save a sinking land; All fear, none aid you, and few understand. Painful pre-eminence! yourself to view Above life's weakness, and its coin forts too.
Bring then these blessings to a strict account : Make fair deductions; see to what they 'mount: 270 How much of other each sure to cost; llow each for other oft is wholly lost ;
How inconsistent greater goods with these
How sometimes life is risk'd, and always ease;
Think, and if still the things thy envy call,
Say, wouldst thou be the man to whom they fall ?
To sigh for ribands if thou art so silly,
Mark how they grace Lord Umbra, or Sir Billy.
Is yellow dirt the passion of thy life?
Look but on Gripus, or on Gripus' wife. 280
If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shined,
The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind;
Or ravish'd with the whistling of a name,
See Cromwell damn'd to everlasting fame!
Ifall united, thy ambition call,
From ancient story learn to scorn them all.
There, in the rich, the honour'd, famed, and great,
See the false scale of happiness complete!
In hearts of kings, or arms of queens who lay,
How happy! those to ruin, these betray. 290
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 raised the hero sunk the man:
Now Europe's laurels on their brows behold,
But stain'd with blood, or ill exchanged for gold :
Then see them broke with toils, or sunk in ease,
Or infamous for plunder'd provinces.
O wealth ill-fated! which no act of fame
E’er taught to shine, or sanctified from shame! 300
What greater bliss attends their close of life?
Some greedy minion, or imperious wife,
The trophied arches, storied halls invade,
And haunt their slumbers in the pompous shade.
Alas! not dazzled with their noon-tide ray,
Compute the morn and evening to the day;
The whole amount of that enormous fame,
A tale that blends their glory with their shame!.
Know then this truth, fenough 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 bless'd 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 :
Without satiety, though e'er so bless'd,
And but more relish'd as the more distress'd:
The broadest mirih unfeeling fotly wears,
Less pleasing far than virtue's very tears :
Good, from each object, from each place acquired,
For ever exercised, yet never tired;
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.
See the sole bliss Heaven 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, 330
But looks through nature up to nature's God;
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 the 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.
340 For him alone hope leads from goal to goal, And opens still, and opens on his soul; Till lengthen'd on to faith, and unconfined, It pours the bliss that fills up all the mind. 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 given 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 bless'd;
And strongest motive to assist the rest.
Self love thus push'd to social, to divine,
Gives thee to make thy neighbour's blessing thine.
Is this too little for the boundless heart?
Extend it, let thy enemies have part;
Grasp the whole world 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. 360
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 moved, a circle straight succeeds, Another still, and still another spreads; Friend, parent, neighbour, 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 :
370 Earth smiles around, with boundless bounty bless'd, And Heaven beholds its image in his breast.
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; 380 Correct with spirit, eloquent with ease, Intent to reason, or polite to please. 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 ? 390
That, urged by thee, I turn'd the tuneful art
From sound to things, from fancy to the heart;
For wit's false mirror held up nature's light,
Show'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, ourselves to know.
It may be proper to observe, that some passages in the preceding Essay having been unjustly suspected of a tendency towards fate and naturalism, the author composed this pray. er as the sum of all, to show that his system was founded in free-will, and terminated in piety: that the First Cause was as well the Lord and Governor of the universe as the Crea. tor of it; and that, by submission to his will (the great principle enforced throughout the Essay) was not meant the suffering ourselves to be carried along by a blind determin. ation, but a resting in a religious acquiescence, and confi. dence full of hope and immortality. To give all this the greater weight, the poet chose for his model the Lord's Prayer, which, of all others, best deserves the title prefixed to this paraphrase.
Father of all! in every age,
In every clime adored,
By saint, by savage, and by sage,
Jehovah, Jove, or Lord !