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ARGUMENT OF EPISTLE II.
Of the Nature and State of Man, with respect to
Himself, as an Individual.
1. THE business of Man not to pry into God, but to study himself.
His Middle Nature; bis Powers and Frailties, ver. I to 19. The Limits of bis Capacity, ver. 19,&c. II. The two principles of Man, Self-love and Reason, botb necessary, ver. 53, &c. Self-love the stronger, and why, ver. 67, &c. Their End the same, 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 itself, and bow we deceive ourselves in it, ver. 217. VI. Tbat, bowever, 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, ver. 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.
I. KNOW 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 reas'ning but to err; 10 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 ; Great Lord of all things, yet a prey to all; Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurld: The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!
Ver. 2. Ed. Ist.'
The only science of mankind is man.
For more perfection than this state can bear,
Go, wond'rous creature ! mount where science
guides, Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides; 20 Instruct the planets in what orbs to run, Correct old time, and regulate the sun : Go, soar with Plato, to th' empyreal sphere, To the first good, first perfect, and first fair ; Or tread the mazy round his follow'rs trod, 25 And quitting, sense call imitating God; As Eastern 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 saw A mortal man unfold all nature's law,
As wisely sure a modest ape might aim
Till set on end, and married to his mind.
Then drop into thyself, &c.
Show by what rules the wand'ring planets stray,
Admir'd such wisdom in an earthly shape,
Could he, whose rules the rapid comet bind, 35
Trace science then, with modesty thy guide : First 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 ;
50 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 :
Could he, who taught each planet where to roll,