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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.
What's fame? a fancied life in others' breath,
A thing beyond us, ev'n before our death.
Just what you hear you have; and what's un.
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 Cæsar 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;
W what t'oblivion better were resigu'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 exil'd 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?
'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 comforts too.
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 much for other oft is wholly lost;
How inconsistent greater goods with these ;
How sometimes life is risqu'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.
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,
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.
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,
But stain'd' with blood, or ill exchang’d for gold:
Then see them broke with toils, or sunk in ease,
Or infanjous for plunder'd provinces.
O wealth ill-fated! which no act of fame
E'er taught to shine, or sanctify'd from shame!
What greater bliss attends their close of life?
Some greedy minion, or imperious wife,
The trophy'd arches, storied halls invade,
And haunt their slumbers in the pompous shade
Alas! not dazzled with their noon-tide
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 (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 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 mirth unfeeling folly wears,
Less pleasing far than virtue's very tears :
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 blest;
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 th' immense desigu,
Joins heaven and earth, and mortal and divine; O
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 lengthend on to faith, and unconfin'd,
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 virtúe with his greatest bliss;
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 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.
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,
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' overflowings 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 ! 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 ;
Correct with spirit, eloquent with ease,
Intent to reason, or polite to please,
0! while along the stream of time thy pame
Expanded dies, 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?
That, urg'd by thee, I turn'd the tuneful art
From sounds 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 is, ourselves to know.