Not only bounded to peculiar arts, But oft in those, confin'd to single parts. Like kings we lose the conquests gain'd before, By vain ambition still to make them more; Each might his sev'ral province well command, Would all but stoop to what they understand.
Unerring Nature, still divinely bright, One clear, unchang'd, and universal light, Life, force, and beauty, must to all impart, At once the source, and end, and test of art. Art from that fund each just supply provides, Works without show, and without pomp presides: In some fair body thus th' informing soul With spirits feeds, with vigour fills the whole, Each motion guides, and ev'ry nerve sustains; Itself unseen, but in th' effects, remains.
Some, to whom Heav'n in wit has been profuse, Want as much more, to turn it to its use; For wit and judgment often are at strife, Though meant each other's aid, like man and wife. Hear how learn'd Greece her useful rules indites, When to repress, and when indulge our flights: High on Parnassus' top her sons she show'd, And pointed out those arduous paths they trod; Held from afar, aloft, th' immortal prize, And urg'd the rest by equal steps to rise.
Just precepts thus from great examples giv'n, She drew from them what they deriv'd from Heav'n. The gen'rous critic fann'd the poet's fire, And taught the world with reason to admire. Then criticism the Muse's handmaid prov'd, To dress her charms, and make her more belov'd; But following wits from that intention stray'd; Who could not win the mistress, woo'd the maid; Against the poets their own arms they turn'd, Sure to hate most the men from whom they learn'd.
So modern 'pothecaries, taught the art By doctor's bills to play the doctor's part, Bold in the practice of mistaken rules, Prescribe, apply, and call their masters fools. Some on the leaves of ancient authors prey, Nor time nor moths e'er spoil'd so much as they: Some drily plain, without invention's aid, Write dull receipts how poems may be made: These leave the sense, their learning to display, And those explain the meaning quite away.
Without all these at once before your eyes, Cavil you may, but never criticise. Be Homer's works your study and delight, Read them by day, and meditate by night; Thence form your judgment, thence your maxims bring, And trace the Muses upward to their spring; Still with itself compar'd, his text peruse; And let your comment be the Mantuan Muse.
When first young Maro in his boundless mind A work t' outlast immortal Rome design'd, Perhaps he seem'd above the critic's law, And but from Nature's fountains scorn'd to draw: But when t' examine ev'ry part he came, Nature and Homer were, he found, the same. Convinc'd, amaz'd, he checks the bold design, And rules as strict his labour'd work confine, As if the Stagirite o'erlook'd each line.
Learn hence for ancient rules a just esteem; To copy nature is to copy them. Some beauties yet, no precepts can declare, For there's a happiness as well as care. Music resembles poetry, in each Are nameless graces which no methods teach, And which a master-hand alone can reach.
Thus Pegasus, a nearer way to take, May boldly deviate from the common track. Great wits sometimes may gloriously offend, And rise to faults true critics dare not mend; From vulgar bounds with brave disorder part, And snatch a grace beyond the reach of art, Which, without passing through the judgment, gains The heart, and all its end at once attains.
In prospects, thus, some objects please our eyes, Which out of nature's common order rise, The shapeless rock, or hanging precipice. But tho' the ancients thus their rules invade, As kings dispense with laws themselves have made Moderns, beware!
The critic else proceeds without remorse, Seizes your fame, and puts his laws in force. I know there are, to whose presumptuous thoughts Those freer beauties, ev'n in them, seem faults. Some figures monstrous and misshap'd appear, Consider'd singly, or beheld too near, Which, but proportion'd to their light, or place, Due distance reconciles to form and grace. A prudent chief not always must display His pow'rs in equal ranks, and fair array, But with th' occasion and the place comply, Conceal his force, nay seem sometimes to fly.
Those oft are stratagems which errors seem, Nor is it Homer nods, but we that dream. Still green with bays each ancient altar stands, Above the reach of sacrilegious hands, Secure from flames, from envy's fiercer rage, Destructive war, and all-involving age. See, from each clime the learn'd their incense bring!
In praise so just let ev'ry voice be join'd, And fill the gen'ral chorus of mankind! Whose honours with increase of ages grow, As streams roll down, enlarging as they flow! Nations unborn your mighty names shall sound, And worlds applaud that must not yet be found!
Oh may some spark of your celestial fire The last, the meanest of your sons inspire, That on weak wings, from far, pursues your flights; Glows while he reads, but trembles as he writes To teach vain wits a science little known, T' admire superior sense, and doubt their own! Of all the causes which conspire to blind Man's erring judgment, and misguide the mind, What the weak head with strongest bias rules, Is pride, the never-failing vice of fools.
Whatever Nature has in worth denied, She gives in large recruits of needful pride; For as in bodies, thus in souls, we find What wants in blood and spirits, swell'd with wind; Pride, where wit fails, steps in to our defence, And fills up all the mighty void of sense!
If once right reason drives that cloud away, Truth breaks upon us with resistless day; Trust not yourself; but your defects to know, Make use of ev'ry friend—and ev'ry foe. A little learning is a dang'rous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, And drinking largely sobers us again. Fir'd at first sight with what the Muse imparts, In fearless youth we tempt the heights of arts, While from the bounded level of our mind, Short views we take, nor see the lengths behind, But more advanc'd, behold with strange surprise New, distant scenes of endless science rise!
So pleas'd at first, the tow'ring Alps we try, Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the sky; Th' eternal snows appear already past, And the first clouds and mountains seem the last; But those attain'd, we tremble to survey The growing labours of the lengthen'd way, Th' increasing prospect tires our wand'ring eyes, Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise!
A perfect judge will read each work of wit With the same spirit that its author writ, Survey the whole, nor seek slight faults to find, Where nature moves, and rapture warms the mind; Nor lose, for that malignant dull delight, The gen'rous pleasure to be charm'd with wit. But in such lays as neither ebb, nor flow, Correctly cold, and regularly low, That shunning faults, one quiet tenour keep; We cannot blame indeed—but we may sleep.
In wit, as nature, what affects our hearts Is not th' exactness of peculiar parts; 'Tis not a lip, or eye, we beauty call, But the joint force and full result of all. Thus when we view some well-proportion'd dome, The world's just wonder, and ev'n thine, O Rome! Whoever thinks a faultless piece to see, Thinks what ne'er was, nor is, nor e'er shall be. In ev'ry work regard the writer's end, Since none can compass more than they intend; And if the means be just, the conduct true, Applause, in spite of trivial faults, is due.
As men of breeding, sometimes men of wit, T' avoid great errors, must the less commit: Neglect the rules each verbal critic lays, For not to know such trifles, is a praise.
Most critics, fond of some subservient art, Still make the whole depend upon a part: They talk of principles, but notions prize, And all to one lov'd folly sacrifice. Once on a time, La Mancha's knight, they say, A certain bard encount'ring on the way, Discours'd in terms as just, with looks as sage, As e'er could Dennis of the Grecian stage; Concluding all were desp'rate sots and fools, Who durst depart from Aristotle's rules.
Our author, happy in a judge so nice, Produc'd his play, and begg'd the knight's advice, Made him observe the subject and the plot, The manners, passions, unities, what not? All which, exact to rule, were brought about, Were but a combat in the lists left out. Some to conceit alone their taste confine, And glitt'ring thoughts struck out at ev'ry line; Pleas'd with a work where nothing's just or fit; One glaring chaos and wild heap of wit.
Poets, like painters, thus, unskill'd to trace The naked nature and the living grace, With gold and jewels cover ev'ry part, And hide with ornaments their want of art.
True wit is nature to advantage dress'd, What oft was thought, but ne'er so well express'd, Something, whose truth convinc'd at sight we find, That gives us back the image of our mind. As shades more sweetly recommend the light, So modest plainness sets off sprightly wit.
For works may have more wit than does 'em good, As bodies perish through excess of blood. Others for language all their care express, And value books, as women men, for dress: Their praise is still—"the style is excellent": The sense, they humbly take upon content.
Words are like leaves; and where they most abound, Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found. False eloquence, like the prismatic glass, Its gaudy colours spreads on ev'ry place; The face of Nature we no more survey, All glares alike, without distinction gay: But true expression, like th' unchanging sun, Clears, and improves whate'er it shines upon, It gilds all objects, but it alters none.
Expression is the dress of thought, and still Appears more decent, as more suitable; A vile conceit in pompous words express'd, Is like a clown in regal purple dress'd: For diff'rent styles with diff'rent subjects sort, As several garbs with country, town, and court. Some by old words to fame have made pretence, Ancients in phrase, mere moderns in their sense; Such labour'd nothings, in so strange a style, Amaze th' unlearn'd, and make the learned smile.
Unlucky, as Fungoso in the play, These sparks with awkward vanity display What the fine gentleman wore yesterday! And but so mimic ancient wits at best, As apes our grandsires, in their doublets dress'd. In words, as fashions, the same rule will hold; Alike fantastic, if too new, or old; Be not the first by whom the new are tried, Not yet the last to lay the old aside.
But most by numbers judge a poet's song; And smooth or rough, with them is right or wrong: In the bright Muse though thousand charms conspire, Her voice is all these tuneful fools admire, Who haunt Parnassus but to please their ear, Not mend their minds; as some to church repair, Not for the doctrine, but the music there.
These equal syllables alone require, Tho' oft the ear the open vowels tire, While expletives their feeble aid do join, And ten low words oft creep in one dull line, While they ring round the same unvaried chimes, With sure returns of still expected rhymes. Where'er you find "the cooling western breeze", In the next line, it "whispers through the trees": If "crystal streams with pleasing murmurs creep", The reader's threaten'd not in vain with "sleep".
Then, at the last and only couplet fraught With some unmeaning thing they call a thought, A needless Alexandrine ends the song, That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along. Leave such to tune their own dull rhymes, and know What's roundly smooth, or languishingly slow; And praise the easy vigour of a line, Where Denham's strength, and Waller's sweetness join.
True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance. Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows, And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows; But when loud surges lash the sounding shore, The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar. When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw, The line too labours, and the words move slow; Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain, Flies o'er th' unbending corn, and skims along the main.
Hear how Timotheus' varied lays surprise, And bid alternate passions fall and rise! While, at each change, the son of Libyan Jove Now burns with glory, and then melts with love; Now his fierce eyes with sparkling fury glow, Now sighs steal out, and tears begin to flow: Persians and Greeks like turns of nature found, And the world's victor stood subdu'd by sound!
The pow'r of music all our hearts allow, And what Timotheus was, is Dryden now. Avoid extremes; and shun the fault of such, Who still are pleas'd too little or too much. At ev'ry trifle scorn to take offence, That always shows great pride, or little sense; Those heads, as stomachs, are not sure the best, Which nauseate all, and nothing can digest.
Yet let not each gay turn thy rapture move, For fools admire, but men of sense approve; As things seem large which we through mists descry, Dulness is ever apt to magnify. Some foreign writers, some our own despise; The ancients only, or the moderns prize. Thus wit, like faith, by each man is applied To one small sect, and all are damn'd beside.
Meanly they seek the blessing to confine, And force that sun but on a part to shine; Which not alone the southern wit sublimes, But ripens spirits in cold northern climes; Which from the first has shone on ages past, Enlights the present, and shall warm the last; Though each may feel increases and decays, And see now clearer and now darker days. Regard not then if wit be old or new, But blame the false, and value still the true.
Some ne'er advance a judgment of their own, But catch the spreading notion of the town; They reason and conclude by precedent, And own stale nonsense which they ne'er invent. Some judge of authors' names, not works, and then Nor praise nor blame the writings, but the men. Of all this servile herd, the worst is he That in proud dulness joins with quality, A constant critic at the great man's board, To fetch and carry nonsense for my Lord.
What woeful stuff this madrigal would be, In some starv'd hackney sonneteer, or me? But let a Lord once own the happy lines, How the wit brightens! Before his sacred name flies every fault, And each exalted stanza teems with thought! The vulgar thus through imitation err; As oft the learn'd by being singular; So much they scorn the crowd, that if the throng By chance go right, they purposely go wrong: So Schismatics the plain believers quit, And are but damn'd for having too much wit.
Some praise at morning what they blame at night; But always think the last opinion right. A Muse by these is like a mistress us'd, This hour she's idoliz'd, the next abus'd; While their weak heads, like towns unfortified, Twixt sense and nonsense daily change their side. Ask them the cause; they're wiser still, they say; And still tomorrow's wiser than today. We think our fathers fools, so wise we grow; Our wiser sons, no doubt, will think us so. Once school divines this zealous isle o'erspread; Who knew most Sentences, was deepest read; Faith, Gospel, all, seem'd made to be disputed, And none had sense enough to be confuted: Scotists and Thomists, now, in peace remain, Amidst their kindred cobwebs in Duck Lane.
If Faith itself has different dresses worn, What wonder modes in wit should take their turn? Oft, leaving what is natural and fit, The current folly proves the ready wit; And authors think their reputation safe Which lives as long as fools are pleased to laugh. Some valuing those of their own side or mind, Still make themselves the measure of mankind; Fondly we think we honour merit then, When we but praise ourselves in other men.
Parties in wit attend on those of state, And public faction doubles private hate. Pride, Malice, Folly, against Dryden rose, In various shapes of Parsons, Critics, Beaus; But sense surviv'd, when merry jests were past; For rising merit will buoy up at last.
Might he return, and bless once more our eyes, New Blackmores and new Milbourns must arise; Nay should great Homer lift his awful head, Zoilus again would start up from the dead. Envy will merit, as its shade, pursue, But like a shadow, proves the substance true; For envied wit, like Sol eclips'd, makes known Th' opposing body's grossness, not its own. When first that sun too powerful beams displays, It draws up vapours which obscure its rays; But ev'n those clouds at last adorn its way, Reflect new glories, and augment the day.
Here, then, we rest: Look round our world; behold the chain of love Combining all below and all above. See plastic Nature working to this end, The single atoms each to other tend, Attract, attracted to, the next in place Formed and impelled its neighbour to embrace. See matter next, with various life endued, Press to one centre still, the general good. See dying vegetables life sustain, See life dissolving vegetate again: All forms that perish other forms supply By turns we catch the vital breath, and die , Like bubbles on the sea of matter borne, They rise, they break, and to that sea return.
Has God, thou fool! Who for thy table feeds the wanton fawn, For him as kindly spread the flowery lawn: Is it for thee the lark ascends and sings?
Joy tunes his voice, joy elevates his wings. Is it for thee the linnet pours his throat? Loves of his own and raptures swell the note. The bounding steed you pompously bestride, Shares with his lord the pleasure and the pride. Is thine alone the seed that strews the plain? The birds of heaven shall vindicate their grain.
Thine the full harvest of the golden year? Part pays, and justly, the deserving steer: The hog, that ploughs not nor obeys thy call, Lives on the labours of this lord of all.
Know, Nature's children all divide her care; The fur that warms a monarch, warmed a bear. While man exclaims, "See all things for my use! And just as short of reason he must fall, Who thinks all made for one, not one for all. Grant that the powerful still the weak control; Be man the wit and tyrant of the whole: Nature that tyrant checks; he only knows, And helps, another creature's wants and woes. Say, will the falcon, stooping from above, Smit with her varying plumage, spare the dove?
Admires the jay the insect's gilded wings? Or hears the hawk when Philomela sings? Man cares for all: All feed on one vain patron, and enjoy The extensive blessing of his luxury. That very life his learned hunger craves, He saves from famine, from the savage saves; Nay, feasts the animal he dooms his feast, And, till he ends the being, makes it blest; Which sees no more the stroke, or feels the pain, Than favoured man by touch ethereal slain.
The creature had his feast of life before; Thou too must perish when thy feast is o'er! To each unthinking being, Heaven, a friend, Gives not the useless knowledge of its end: To man imparts it; but with such a view As, while he dreads it, makes him hope it too; The hour concealed, and so remote the fear, Death still draws nearer, never seeming near.
Whether with reason, or with instinct blest, Know, all enjoy that power which suits them best; To bliss alike by that direction tend, And find the means proportioned to their end. Say, where full instinct is the unerring guide, What pope or council can they need beside? Reason, however able, cool at best, Cares not for service, or but serves when pressed, Stays till we call, and then not often near; But honest instinct comes a volunteer, Sure never to o'er-shoot, but just to hit; While still too wide or short is human wit; Sure by quick nature happiness to gain, Which heavier reason labours at in vain, This too serves always, reason never long; One must go right, the other may go wrong.
See then the acting and comparing powers One in their nature, which are two in ours; And reason raise o'er instinct as you can, In this 'tis God directs, in that 'tis man. Who taught the nations of the field and wood To shun their poison, and to choose their food? Prescient, the tides or tempests to withstand, Build on the wave, or arch beneath the sand? Who made the spider parallels design, Sure as Demoivre, without rule or line?
Who did the stork, Columbus-like, explore Heavens not his own, and worlds unknown before? Who calls the council, states the certain day, Who forms the phalanx, and who points the way?
God in the nature of each being founds Its proper bliss, and sets its proper bounds: But as He framed a whole, the whole to bless, On mutual wants built mutual happiness: So from the first, eternal order ran, And creature linked to creature, man to man. Whate'er of life all-quickening ether keeps, Or breathes through air, or shoots beneath the deeps, Or pours profuse on earth, one nature feeds The vital flame, and swells the genial seeds.
Not man alone, but all that roam the wood, Or wing the sky, or roll along the flood, Each loves itself, but not itself alone, Each sex desires alike, till two are one. Nor ends the pleasure with the fierce embrace; They love themselves, a third time, in their race.
Thus beast and bird their common charge attend, The mothers nurse it, and the sires defend; The young dismissed to wander earth or air, There stops the instinct, and there ends the care; The link dissolves, each seeks a fresh embrace, Another love succeeds, another race.
A longer care man's helpless kind demands; That longer care contracts more lasting bands: Reflection, reason, still the ties improve, At once extend the interest and the love; With choice we fix, with sympathy we burn; Each virtue in each passion takes its turn; And still new needs, new helps, new habits rise. That graft benevolence on charities. Still as one brood, and as another rose, These natural love maintained, habitual those.
The last, scarce ripened into perfect man, Saw helpless him from whom their life began: Memory and forecast just returns engage, That pointed back to youth, this on to age; While pleasure, gratitude, and hope combined, Still spread the interest, and preserved the kind.
Nor think, in Nature's state they blindly trod; The state of nature was the reign of God: Self-love and social at her birth began, Union the bond of all things, and of man. Pride then was not; nor arts, that pride to aid; Man walked with beast, joint tenant of the shade; The same his table, and the same his bed; No murder clothed him, and no murder fed.
In the same temple, the resounding wood, All vocal beings hymned their equal God: The shrine with gore unstained, with gold undressed, Unbribed, unbloody, stood the blameless priest: Heaven's attribute was universal care, And man's prerogative to rule, but spare. Of half that live the butcher and the tomb; Who, foe to nature, hears the general groan, Murders their species, and betrays his own.
But just disease to luxury succeeds, And every death its own avenger breeds; The fury-passions from that blood began, And turned on man a fiercer savage, man. See him from Nature rising slow to art!
To copy instinct then was reason's part; Thus then to man the voice of Nature spake-- "Go, from the creatures thy instructions take: Learn from the birds what food the thickets yield; Learn from the beasts the physic of the field; Thy arts of building from the bee receive; Learn of the mole to plough, the worm to weave; Learn of the little nautilus to sail, Spread the thin oar, and catch the driving gale.
Here too all forms of social union find, And hence let reason, late, instruct mankind: Here subterranean works and cities see; There towns aerial on the waving tree. Learn each small people's genius, policies, The ant's republic, and the realm of bees; How those in common all their wealth bestow, And anarchy without confusion know; And these for ever, though a monarch reign, Their separate cells and properties maintain. Mark what unvaried laws preserve each state, Laws wise as nature, and as fixed as fate.
In vain thy reason finer webs shall draw, Entangle justice in her net of law, And right, too rigid, harden into wrong; Still for the strong too weak, the weak too strong. Great Nature spoke; observant men obeyed; Cities were built, societies were made: Here rose one little state: Did here the trees with ruddier burdens bend, And there the streams in purer rills descend? What war could ravish, commerce could bestow, And he returned a friend, who came a foe.
Converse and love mankind might strongly draw, When love was liberty, and Nature law. Thus States were formed; the name of king unknown, 'Till common interest placed the sway in one. Till then, by Nature crowned, each patriarch sate, King, priest, and parent of his growing state; On him, their second providence, they hung, Their law his eye, their oracle his tongue.
He from the wondering furrow called the food, Taught to command the fire, control the flood, Draw forth the monsters of the abyss profound, Or fetch the aerial eagle to the ground. Till drooping, sickening, dying they began Whom they revered as God to mourn as man: Then, looking up, from sire to sire, explored One great first Father, and that first adored. Or plain tradition that this all begun, Conveyed unbroken faith from sire to son; The worker from the work distinct was known, And simple reason never sought but one: Ere wit oblique had broke that steady light, Man, like his Maker, saw that all was right; To virtue, in the paths of pleasure, trod, And owned a Father when he owned a God.
Love all the faith, and all the allegiance then; For Nature knew no right divine in men, No ill could fear in God; and understood A sovereign being but a sovereign good. True faith, true policy, united ran, This was but love of God, and this of man. Who first taught souls enslaved, and realms undone, The enormous faith of many made for one; That proud exception to all Nature's laws, To invert the world, and counter-work its cause? Force first made conquest, and that conquest, law; Till superstition taught the tyrant awe, Then shared the tyranny, then lent it aid, And gods of conquerors, slaves of subjects made: She, 'midst the lightning's blaze, and thunder's sound, When rocked the mountains, and when groaned the ground, She taught the weak to bend, the proud to pray, To power unseen, and mightier far than they: She, from the rending earth and bursting skies, Saw gods descend, and fiends infernal rise: Here fixed the dreadful, there the blest abodes; Fear made her devils, and weak hope her gods; Gods partial, changeful, passionate, unjust, Whose attributes were rage, revenge, or lust; Such as the souls of cowards might conceive, And, formed like tyrants, tyrants would believe.
Zeal then, not charity, became the guide; And hell was built on spite, and heaven on pride, Then sacred seemed the ethereal vault no more; Altars grew marble then, and reeked with gore; Then first the flamen tasted living food; Next his grim idol smeared with human blood; With heaven's own thunders shook the world below, And played the god an engine on his foe.
So drives self-love, through just and through unjust, To one man's power, ambition, lucre, lust: The same self-love, in all, becomes the cause Of what restrains him, government and laws. For, what one likes if others like as well, What serves one will when many wills rebel? How shall he keep, what, sleeping or awake, A weaker may surprise, a stronger take? His safety must his liberty restrain: All join to guard what each desires to gain.
Forced into virtue thus by self-defence, Even kings learned justice and benevolence: Self-love forsook the path it first pursued, And found the private in the public good.
Taught power's due use to people and to kings, Taught nor to slack, nor strain its tender strings, The less, or greater, set so justly true, That touching one must strike the other too; Till jarring interests, of themselves create The according music of a well-mixed state.
Such is the world's great harmony, that springs From order, union, full consent of things: Where small and great, where weak and mighty, made To serve, not suffer, strengthen, not invade; More powerful each as needful to the rest, And, in proportion as it blesses, blest; Draw to one point, and to one centre bring Beast, man, or angel, servant, lord, or king.
For forms of government let fools contest; Whate'er is best administered is best: For modes of faith let graceless zealots fight; His can't be wrong whose life is in the right: In faith and hope the world will disagree, But all mankind's concern is charity: All must be false that thwart this one great end; And all of God, that bless mankind or mend.
Man, like the generous vine, supported lives; The strength he gains is from the embrace he gives. On their own axis as the planets run, Yet make at once their circle round the sun; So two consistent motions act the soul; And one regards itself, and one the whole. Thus God and Nature linked the general frame, And bade self-love and social be the same. False Notions of Happiness, Philosophical and Popular, answered from v.
It is the End of all Men, and attainable by all, v. God intends Happiness to be equal; and to be so, it must be social, since all particular Happiness depends on general, and since He governs by general, not particular Laws, v.
As it is necessary for Order, and the peace and welfare of Society, that external goods should be unequal, Happiness is not made to consist in these, v. But, notwithstanding that inequality, the balance of Happiness among Mankind is kept even by Providence, by the two Passions of Hope and Fear, v. What the Happiness of Individuals is, as far as is consistent with the constitution of this world; and that the good Man has here the advantage, V.
The error of imputing to Virtue what are only the calamities of Nature or of Fortune, v. The folly of expecting that God should alter His general Laws in favour of particulars, v. That we are not judges who are good; but that, whoever they are, they must be happiest, v. That external goods are not the proper rewards, but often inconsistent with, or destructive of Virtue, v. That even these can make no Man happy without Virtue: Instanced in Riches, v.
With pictures of human Infelicity in Men possessed of them all, v. That Virtue only constitutes a Happiness, whose object is universal, and whose prospect eternal, v. That the perfection of Virtue and Happiness consists in a conformity to the Order of Providence here, and a Resignation to it here and hereafter, v. Oh, happiness, our being's end and aim!
Good, pleasure, ease, content! That something still which prompts the eternal sigh, For which we bear to live, or dare to die, Which still so near us, yet beyond us lies, O'erlooked, seen double, by the fool, and wise.
Plant of celestial seed! Fair opening to some Court's propitious shine, Or deep with diamonds in the flaming mine? Twined with the wreaths Parnassian laurels yield, Or reaped in iron harvests of the field? If vain our toil, We ought to blame the culture, not the soil: Fixed to no spot is happiness sincere, 'Tis nowhere to be found, or everywhere; 'Tis never to be bought, but always free, And fled from monarchs, St. Ask of the learned the way?
The learned are blind; This bids to serve, and that to shun mankind; Some place the bliss in action, some in ease, Those call it pleasure, and contentment these; Some, sunk to beasts, find pleasure end in pain; Some, swelled to gods, confess even virtue vain; Or indolent, to each extreme they fall, To trust in everything, or doubt of all. Who thus define it, say they more or less Than this, that happiness is happiness? Take Nature's path, and mad opinions leave; All states can reach it, and all heads conceive; Obvious her goods, in no extreme they dwell; There needs but thinking right, and meaning well; And mourn our various portions as we please, Equal is common sense, and common ease.
Remember, man, "the Universal Cause Acts not by partial, but by general laws;" And makes what happiness we justly call Subsist not in the good of one, but all. There's not a blessing individuals find, But some way leans and hearkens to the kind: No bandit fierce, no tyrant mad with pride, No caverned hermit, rests self-satisfied: Who most to shun or hate mankind pretend, Seek an admirer, or would fix a friend: Abstract what others feel, what others think, All pleasures sicken, and all glories sink: Each has his share; and who would more obtain, Shall find, the pleasure pays not half the pain.
Order is Heaven's first law; and this confest, Some are, and must be, greater than the rest, More rich, more wise; but who infers from hence That such are happier, shocks all common sense.
Heaven to mankind impartial we confess, If all are equal in their happiness: But mutual wants this happiness increase; All Nature's difference keeps all Nature's peace. Condition, circumstance is not the thing; Bliss is the same in subject or in king, In who obtain defence, or who defend, In him who is, or him who finds a friend: Heaven breathes through every member of the whole One common blessing, as one common soul.
But fortune's gifts if each alike possessed, And each were equal, must not all contest? If then to all men happiness was meant, God in externals could not place content. Fortune her gifts may variously dispose, And these be happy called, unhappy those; But Heaven's just balance equal will appear, While those are placed in hope, and these in fear: Nor present good or ill, the joy or curse, But future views of better or of worse, Oh, sons of earth!
Know, all the good that individuals find, Or God and Nature meant to mere mankind, Reason's whole pleasure, all the joys of sense, Lie in three words, health, peace, and competence. But health consists with temperance alone; And peace, oh, virtue! The good or bad the gifts of fortune gain; But these less taste them, as they worse obtain. Say, in pursuit of profit or delight, Who risk the most, that take wrong means, or right; Of vice or virtue, whether blessed or cursed, Which meets contempt, or which compassion first?
Count all the advantage prosperous vice attains, 'Tis but what virtue flies from and disdains: And grant the bad what happiness they would, One they must want, which is, to pass for good. Oh, blind to truth, and God's whole scheme below, Who fancy bliss to vice, to virtue woe!
Who sees and follows that great scheme the best, Best knows the blessing, and will most be blest. But fools the good alone unhappy call, For ills or accidents that chance to all. See Falkland dies, the virtuous and the just! See god-like Turenne prostrate on the dust! See Sidney bleeds amid the martial strife!
Was this their virtue, or contempt of life? Say, was it virtue, more though Heaven ne'er gave, Lamented Digby! Tell me, if virtue made the son expire, Why, full of days and honour, lives the sire? Why drew Marseilles' good bishop purer breath, When Nature sickened, and each gale was death?
Or why so long in life if long can be Lent Heaven a parent to the poor and me? What makes all physical or moral ill? There deviates Nature, and here wanders will. God sends not ill; if rightly understood, Or partial ill is universal good, Or change admits, or Nature lets it fall; Short, and but rare, till man improved it all.
We just as wisely might of Heaven complain That righteous Abel was destroyed by Cain, As that the virtuous son is ill at ease When his lewd father gave the dire disease. Shall burning Etna, if a sage requires, Forget to thunder, and recall her fires? On air or sea new motions be imprest, Oh, blameless Bethel! When the loose mountain trembles from on high, Shall gravitation cease, if you go by? Or some old temple, nodding to its fall, For Chartres' head reserve the hanging wall?
But still this world so fitted for the knave Contents us not. A better shall we have? A kingdom of the just then let it be: But first consider how those just agree. The good must merit God's peculiar care: But who, but God, can tell us who they are? One thinks on Calvin Heaven's own spirit fell; Another deems him instrument of hell; If Calvin feel Heaven's blessing, or its rod.
This cries there is, and that, there is no God. What shocks one part will edify the rest, Nor with one system can they all be blest. The very best will variously incline, And what rewards your virtue, punish mine. Whatever is, is right. This world, 'tis true, Was made for Caesar--but for Titus too: And which more blest?
Is the reward of virtue bread? That, vice may merit, 'tis the price of toil; The knave deserves it, when he tills the soil, The knave deserves it, when he tempts the main, Where folly fights for kings, or dives for gain.
The good man may be weak, be indolent; Nor is his claim to plenty, but content. But grant him riches, your demand is o'er? Why is not man a god, and earth a heaven? Who ask and reason thus, will scarce conceive God gives enough, while He has more to give: Immense the power, immense were the demand; Say, at what part of nature will they stand? What nothing earthly gives, or can destroy, The soul's calm sunshine, and the heartfelt joy, Is virtue's prize: A better would you fix?
Then give humility a coach and six, Justice a conqueror's sword, or truth a gown, Or public spirit its great cure, a crown. The boy and man an individual makes, Yet sighest thou now for apples and for cakes?
Go, like the Indian, in another life Expect thy dog, thy bottle, and thy wife: As well as dream such trifles are assigned, As toys and empires, for a God-like mind. Rewards, that either would to virtue bring No joy, or be destructive of the thing: How oft by these at sixty are undone The virtues of a saint at twenty-one!
To whom can riches give repute or trust, Content, or pleasure, but the good and just? Judges and senates have been bought for gold, Esteem and love were never to be sold.
Honour and shame from no condition rise; Act well your part, there all the honour lies. Fortune in men has some small difference made, One flaunts in rags, one flutters in brocade; The cobbler aproned, and the parson gowned, The friar hooded, and the monarch crowned, "What differ more you cry than crown and cowl?
You'll find, if once the monarch acts the monk, Or, cobbler-like, the parson will be drunk, Worth makes the man, and want of it, the fellow; The rest is all but leather or prunella. Boast the pure blood of an illustrious race, In quiet flow from Lucrece to Lucrece; But by your fathers' worth if yours you rate, Count me those only who were good and great.
What can ennoble sots, or slaves, or cowards? Look next on greatness; say where greatness lies? Not one looks backward, onward still he goes, Yet ne'er looks forward farther than his nose. No less alike the politic and wise; All sly slow things, with circumspective eyes; Men in their loose unguarded hours they take, Not that themselves are wise, but others weak.
But grant that those can conquer, these can cheat; 'Tis phrase absurd to call a villain great: Who wickedly is wise, or madly brave, Is but the more a fool, the more a knave.
Who noble ends by noble means obtains, Or failing, smiles in exile or in chains, Like good Aurelius let him reign, or bleed Like Socrates, that man is great indeed. Just what you hear, you have, and what's unknown The same my Lord if Tully's, or your own. 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 An Eugene living, as a Caesar dead; Alike or when, or where, they shone, or 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; When what the oblivion better were resigned, 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 Caesar with a senate at his heels.
In parts superior what advantage lies? Tell for you can what is it to be wise? Bring, then, these blessings to a strict account; Make fair deductions; see to what they mount; 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 risked, and always ease; Think, and if still the things thy envy call, Say, would'st thou be the man to whom they fall?
Is yellow dirt the passion of thy life? Look but on Gripus, or on Gripus' wife; If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shined, The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind: Or ravished with the whistling of a name, See Cromwell; damned to everlasting fame! If all, united, thy ambition call, From ancient story learn to scorn them all.
There, in the rich, the honoured, famed, and great, See the false scale of happiness complete! In hearts of kings, or arms of queens who lay, How happy! Mark by what wretched steps their glory grows, From dirt and seaweed 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 stained with blood, or ill exchanged for gold; Then see them broke with toils or sunk with ease, Or infamous for plundered provinces.
Some greedy minion, or imperious wife. The trophied arches, storeyed halls invade And haunt their slumbers in the pompous shade. The broadest mirth unfeeling folly 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 oppressed; Never dejected while another's blessed; 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, But looks through Nature up to Nature's God; Pursues that chain which links the immense design, Joins heaven and earth, and mortal and divine; Sees, that no being any bliss can know, 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.
For Him alone, hope leads from goal to goal, And opens still, and opens on his soul! Till lengthened 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 blest, And strongest motive to assist the rest.
Self-love thus pushed 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: 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; Earth smiles around, with boundless bounty blest, And Heaven beholds its image in his breast.
Come, then, my friend! 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; Formed 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.
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? That urged by thee, I turned the tuneful art From sounds to things, from fancy to the heart; From wit's false mirror held up Nature's light; Showed 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 is, ourselves to know.
Thou Great First Cause, least understood, Who all my sense confined To know but this, that Thou art good, And that myself am blind; Yet gave me, in this dark estate, To see the good from ill; And binding Nature fast in fate, Left free the human will. What conscience dictates to be done, Or warns me not to do, This, teach me more than Hell to shun, That, more than Heaven pursue. What blessings Thy free bounty gives, Let me not cast away; For God is paid when man receives, To enjoy is to obey.
Yet not to earth's contracted span Thy goodness let me bound, Or think Thee Lord alone of man, When thousand worlds are round: Let not this weak, unknowing hand Presume Thy bolts to throw, And deal damnation round the land, On each I judge Thy foe. If I am right, Thy grace impart, Still in the right to stay; If I am wrong, oh, teach my heart To find that better way.
Save me alike from foolish pride, Or impious discontent, At aught Thy wisdom has denied, Or aught Thy goodness lent. Teach me to feel another's woe, To hide the fault I see; That mercy I to others show, That mercy show to me. Mean though I am, not wholly so, Since quickened by Thy breath; Oh, lead me wheresoe'er I go, Through this day's life or death.
This day, be bread and peace my lot: All else beneath the sun, Thou know'st if best bestowed or not; And let Thy will be done. To Thee, whose temple is all space, Whose altar earth, sea, skies, One chorus let all being raise, All Nature's incense rise! Est brevitate opus, ut currat sententia, neu se Impediat verbis lassas onerantibus aures: Et sermone opus est modo tristi, saepe jocoso, Defendente vicem modo Rhetoris atque Poetae, Interdum urbani, parcentis viribus, atque Extenuantis eas consulto.
That it is not sufficient for this knowledge to consider Man in the Abstract: Books will not serve the purpose, nor yet our own Experience singly, v.
General maxims, unless they be formed upon both, will be but notional, v. Some Peculiarity in every man, characteristic to himself, yet varying from himself, v. Difficulties arising from our own Passions, Fancies, Faculties, etc.
The shortness of Life, to observe in, and the uncertainty of the Principles of action in men, to observe by, v. Our own Principle of action often hid from ourselves, v. Some few Characters plain, but in general confounded, dissembled, or inconsistent, v.
The same man utterly different in different places and seasons, v. Unimaginable weaknesses in the greatest, v. Nothing constant and certain but God and Nature, v. No judging of the Motives from the actions; the same actions proceeding from contrary Motives, and the same Motives influencing contrary actions v. Yet to form Characters, we can only take the strongest actions of a man's life, and try to make them agree: The utter uncertainty of this, from Nature itself, and from Policy, v.
Characters given according to the rank of men of the world, v. And some reason for it, v. Education alters the Nature, or at least Character of many, v. No judging by Nature, from v. It only remains to find if we can his Ruling Passion: That will certainly influence all the rest, and can reconcile the seeming or real inconsistency of all his actions, v.
Instanced in the extraordinary character of Clodio, v. A caution against mistaking second qualities for first, which will destroy all possibility of the knowledge of mankind, v.
Examples of the strength of the Ruling Passion, and its continuation to the last breath, v. Yes, you despise the man to books confined, Who from his study rails at human kind; Though what he learns he speaks, and may advance Some general maxims, or be right by chance. And yet the fate of all extremes is such, Men may be read as well as books, too much. To observations which ourselves we make, We grow more partial for the observer's sake; To written wisdom, as another's, less: Maxims are drawn from notions, those from guess.
There's some peculiar in each leaf and grain, Some unmarked fibre, or some varying vein: Shall only man be taken in the gross? Grant but as many sorts of mind as moss. That each from other differs, first confess; Next, that he varies from himself no less: Add Nature's, custom's reason's passion's strife, And all opinion's colours cast on life. Our depths who fathoms, or our shallows finds, Quick whirls, and shifting eddies, of our minds?
On human actions reason though you can, It may be reason, but it is not man: His principle of action once explore, That instant 'tis his principle no more. Like following life through creatures you dissect, You lose it in the moment you detect. Yet more; the difference is as great between The optics seeing, as the object seen.
All manners take a tincture from our own; Or come discoloured through our passions shown. Or fancy's beam enlarges, multiplies, Contracts, inverts, and gives ten thousand dyes.
Nor will life's stream for observation stay, It hurries all too fast to mark their way: In vain sedate reflections we would make, When half our knowledge we must snatch, not take. Oft, in the passion's wild rotation tost, Our spring of action to ourselves is lost: Tired, not determined, to the last we yield, And what comes then is master of the field. As the last image of that troubled heap, When sense subsides, and fancy sports in sleep Though past the recollection of the thought , Becomes the stuff of which our dream is wrought: Something as dim to our internal view, Is thus, perhaps, the cause of most we do.
True, some are open, and to all men known; Others so very close, they're hid from none So darkness strikes the sense no less than light , Thus gracious Chandos is beloved at sight; And every child hates Shylock, though his soul Still sits at squat, and peeps not from its hole.
At half mankind when generous Manly raves, All know 'tis virtue, for he thinks them knaves: When universal homage Umbra pays, All see 'tis vice, and itch of vulgar praise. When flattery glares, all hate it in a queen, While one there is who charms us with his spleen. But these plain characters we rarely find; Though strong the bent, yet quick the turns of mind: Or puzzling contraries confound the whole; Or affectations quite reverse the soul.
The dull, flat falsehood serves for policy; And in the cunning, truth itself's a lie: Unthought-of frailties cheat us in the wise; The fool lies hid in inconsistencies. See the same man, in vigour, in the gout; Alone, in company; in place, or out; Early at business, and at hazard late; Mad at a fox-chase, wise at a debate; Drunk at a borough, civil at a ball; Friendly at Hackney, faithless at Whitehall.
Catius is ever moral, ever grave, Thinks who endures a knave is next a knave, Save just at dinner--then prefers, no doubt, A rogue with venison to a saint without. Who would not praise Patritio's high desert, His hand unstained, his uncorrupted heart, His comprehensive head! He thanks you not, his pride is in piquet, Newmarket-fame, and judgment at a bet.
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An Essay on Man. Moral essays and satires by Alexander Pope. INTRODUCTION. Pope's life as a writer falls into three periods, answering fairly enough. An Essay on Man: Epistle I By Alexander Pope. To Henry St. John, Lord Bolingbroke As full, as perfect, in vile man that mourns, As the rapt seraph that adores and burns; An Essay on Man: Epistle I By Alexander Pope About this Poet The acknowledged master of the heroic couplet and one of the primary tastemakers of the Augustan age.
Essay on Man by Alexander Pope - Full Text Free Book. A critical essay is an analysis of a text such as a book, film, article, or painting. The goal of this type of paper is to offer a text or an interpretation of some aspect of a text or to situate the text in a broader context. Full Text Pope, Alexander: The Works () VOL. I. WITH Explanatory Notes and Additions never before printed. AN ESSAY ON CRITICISM. Written in the Year AN ESSAY ON CRITICISM. Written in the Year 53 And wisely curb'd proud man's pretending wit.