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Fair opening to some court's propitious shine,
I. Ask of the learn'd the way? The learn'd are blind.
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 : 30 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 case.
Remember, man, 'the Universal Cause
Each has his share; and who would more obtain,
Order is Heaven's first law; and this confess'd, Some
are, and must be, greater than the rest, 50 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 : 60 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 callid, unhappy those ; But Heaven's just balance equal will appear, While those are placed in hope, and these in fear: To 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.
Sav: in pursuit of profit or delight,
Oh, blind to truth, and God's whole scheme below,
What makes all physical or moral ill ?
God sends not ill, if rightly understood,
IV. Shall burning Ætna, if a sage requires, Forget to thunder, and recall her fires ! On air or sea new motions be impress’d, Oh blameless Bethel ! to relieve thy breast? 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? 130
V. 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. 140 What shocks one part will edify the rest, Nor with one system can they all be bless’d. The very best will variously incline, And what rewards your virtue, punisn mine. WHATEVER IS, IS RIGHT.-- This world, 'tis true, Was made for Cæsar-but for Titus too; And which more bless'd? who chain'd his country
say, Or he whose virtue sigh'd to lose a day?
VI. “But sometimes virtue starves while vice is fed.' What then? Is the reward of virtue bread ? 150 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 : No-shall the good want health, the gond wan
And health and power and every earthly thing-
190 Whose life is healthful, and whose conscience clear, Because he wants a thousand pounds a year.
Honour and shame from no condition rise; Act well your part, there all the honour lies. Fortune in men has some small difference mad One flaunts in rags, one flutters in brocade ;