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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 fix'd 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, form'd like tyrants, tyrants would believe. 260
Zeal, then, not charity, became the guide;
And hell was built on spite, and heaven on pride.
Then sacred seem'd the ethereal vault no more;
Altars grew marble then, and reek'd with gore
Then first the flamen tasted living food,
Next his grim idol smear'd with human blood;
With Heaven's own thunders shook the world below,
And play'd 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,
E'en kings learn'd justice and benevolence:
Self-love forsook the path it first pursued,
And found the private in the public good.
'Twas then the studious head or generous mind, Follower of God, or friend of human-kind, Poet or patriot, rose but to restore The faith and moral nature gave before; Resumed her ancient light, not kindled new; If not God's image, yet his shadow drew;
Taught power's due use to people and to kings,
Taught nor to slack, nor strain its tender strings, 290
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-mix'd 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, bless'd :
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 administer'd 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 thwarts 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 link'd the general frame, And bade self-love and social be the same.
ARGUMENT OF EPISTLE IV.
Of the Nature and State of Man with respect to Happiness.
1. False notions of happiness, philosophical and popu lar, answered, from ver. 12 to 77. II. It is the ene
of all men, and attainable by all, ver. 30. God in tends 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, ver. 37. 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, ver. 51. But, notwithstanding that inequali y, the balance of happiness among mankind is kept even by Providence, by the two passions of hope and fear, ver. 70. III. 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 advan tage, ver. 77. The error of imputing to virtue what are only the calamities of nature, or of fortune, ver. 94. IV. The folly of expecting that God should alter his general laws in favour of particulars, ver. 121. V. That we are not judges who are good; but that, whoever they are, they must be happiest, ver. 133, &c. VI. That external goods are not the proper rewards, but often inconsistent with, or destructive of, virtue, ver. 167. That even these can make no man happy without virtue; instanced in riches, ver. 185. Ho nours, ver. 193 Nobility, ver. 205. Greatness, ver. 217. Fame, ver. 237. Superior talents, ver. 257, &c With pictures of human infelicity in men possessed of them all, ver. 269, &c. VII. That virtue only con. stitutes a happiness, whose object is universal, and whose prospect eternal, ver. 307. 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, ver. 326, &c.
OH Happiness! our being's end and aim!
Good, pleasure, ease, content! whate'er thy name:
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'erlook'd, seen double, by the fool and wise,
Plant of celestial seed! if dropp'd below
Say, in what mortai soil thou deign'st to grow
Fair opening to some court's propitious shine,
Or deep with diamonds in the flaming mine?
Twined with the wreaths Parnassian laurels yield,
Or reap'd in iron harvests of the field?
Where grows where grows it not? If vain our toil
We ought to blame the culture, not the soil:
Fix'd to no spot is happiness sincere,
Tis no where to be found, or every where;
'Tis never to be bought, but always free,
And fled from monarchs, St. John! dwells with thee.
1. Ask of the learn'd the way? The learn'd 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, swell'd to gods, confers e'en virtue vain :
Or, indolent, to each extreme they fall,
To trust in every thing, or doubt of all.
Who thus define it, say they more or less
Than this, that happiness is happiness?
II. 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 neuring well;
And, mourn cur various portions as we plea
Equal is common sense, and common case.
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 cavern'd 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 confess'd,
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 possess'd,
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 call'd, unhappy those;
But Heaven's just balance equal will appear,
While those are placed in hope, and these in fear: "O
Not present good or ill, the joy or curse,
But future views of better or of worse.
O, sons of earth! attempt ye still to rise,
By mountains piled on mountains, to the skies?
Heaven still with laughter the vain toil surveys,
And buries madmen in the heaps they raise.
III. 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, 80 But health consists with temperance alone; And peace, O virtue! peace is all thy own. The good or bad the gifts of fortune gain; But these less taste them, as they worse obtain.