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'Tis but to know how little can be known;
To see all others faults, and feel our own :
Condemn’d in bus’ness 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. 266
Painful pre-eminence ! yourself to view
Above life's weakness, and its comforts too.
Bring then these blessings to a strict account:
Make fair deductions ; see to what they mount; 270
How much of other each is sure to cost;
How 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, 275
Say, would'st thou be the man to whom they fall ?
To sigh for ribbands 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 shin'd,
The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind :
Or ravish'd with the whistling of a name,
See Cromwell, damn'd to everlasting fame!
If all, united, thy ambition call,
285 From ancient story learn to scorn them all. There, in the rich, the honour'd, fam’d, 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 rais'd the hero, sunk the man:
Now Europe's laurels on their brows behold, 295
But stain’d with blood, or ill exchang’d for gold :
Then see them broke with toils, or sunk in ease,
Or infamous for plunder'd provinces.
Oh wealth ill-fated! which no act of fame
E’er taught to shine, or sanctify'd from shame! 300
What greater bliss attends their close of life?
Some greedy minion, or imperious wife,
The trophy'd arches, story'd halls invade,
And haunt their slumbers in the pompous shade.
Alas! not dazzled with their noon-tide ray, 305
Compute the morn and ev'ning to the day?
The whole amount of that enormous fame,
A tale, that blends their glory with their shame!
Know then this truth (enough 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 blest in what it takes, and what it gives ;
The joy unequal'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 mirth unfeeling folly wears,
Less pleasing far than virtue's very tears :
ery tears : 320 Good, from each object, from each place acquir’d, For ever exercis'd, yet never tir'd; Never elated, while one man's oppress'd; Never dejected, while another's bless'd; And where no wants, no wishes can remain, 325 Since but to wish more virtue, is to gain.
See the sole bliss Heav'n 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, 331 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;
`After ver. 316. in the MS.
Ev'n while it seems unequal so dispose,
And chequers all the good man's joys with woes,
"Tis but to teach him to support each state, Push With patience this, with moderation that ;
And raise his base on that one solid joy,
Which conscience gives, and nothing can destroy.
Sees, that no being any bliss can know, 335
But touches some above, and some below;
Learns from this 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 unconfin’d,
It pours the bliss that fills up all the mind.
He sees, why nature plants in man alone 345
Hope of known bliss, and faith in bliss unknown :
(Nature, whose dictates to no other kind
Are giv'n in vain, but what they seek they find;) .
Wise is her present ; she connects in this
His greatest virtue with his greatest bliss ; 350
At once his own bright prospect to be blest,
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 worlds 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.
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 mov'd, a circle straight succeeds, 365.
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, th' o’erflowings of the mind
Take ev'ry creature in, of ev'ry kind; 370
Earth smiles around, with boundless bounty blest,
And Heav'n beholds its image in his breast.
Come then, my friend! my genius! come along ;
Oh 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, 376
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 ;
Correct with spirit, eloquent with ease,
Intent to reason, or polite to please.
Oh! while along the stream of time thy name
Expanded Aies, and gathers all its fame;
Say, shall my little bark attendant sail,
Pursue the triumph, and partake the gale ?
When VER. 373. Come tben, my friend ! &*c.] In the MS thus:
And now transported o'er so vast a plain,
While the wing'd couiser flies with all her rein,
While heav'n-ward now her mounting wing she feels,
Now scatter'd fools dy trembling from her heels,
Wilt thou, my St. John! keep her course in sight,
Confine her fury, and assist her fight?