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When statesmen, heroes, kings, in dust repose,
THE UNIVERSAL PRAYER.
DEO OPT. MAX.
It may be proper to observe, that some passages in the pre. ceding Essay having been unjustly suspected of a tendency towards fate and naturalism, the author composed this pray. er as the sum of all, to show that his system was founded in free-will, and terminated in piety: that the First Cause was as well the Lord and Governor of the universe as the Crea. tor of ; and that, by submission to his will (the grcat principle enforced throughout the Essay) was not meant the suffering ourselves to be carried along by a blind determin. ation, but a resting in a religious acquiescence, and confi. dence full of hope and immortality. To give all this the greater weight, the poet chose for his model the Lord's Prayer, which, of all others, best deserves the title prefixed to this paraphrase.
FATHER of all! in every age,
In every clime adored,
Jehovah, Jove, or Lord !
Thou Great First Cause, least understood,
Wno all my sense confined
And that myself am blind;
To see the good from ill;
Left free the human will:
Or warns me not to do,
That, more than heaven pursue.
Let me not cast away ;
To enjoy is to obey.
Thy goodness let me bound,
When thousand worlds are round.
Presume thy bolts to throw,
On each I judge thy foe.
Still in the right to stay :
To find that better way.
Or impious discontent,
Or aught thy goodness lent.
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 quicken'd by thy breath ; O 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,
And let thy will be done.
Whose altar, earth, sea, skies!
All Nature's incense rise!
Est brevitate opus, ut currat sententia, neu
ADVERTISEMENT. The Essay on Man was intended to have been comprised in four books:
The first of which the author has given us under that title, in four epistles.
The second was to have consisted of the same number: 1. Of the extent and limits of human rea
2. Of those arts and sciences, and of the parts of them, which are useful, and therefore attainable, together with those which are unuseful, and there. fore unattainable. 3. Of the nature, ends, use, and
application of the different capacities of men. 4. Of the use of learning, of the science of the world, and of wit; concluding with a satire against a misapplication of them, illustrated by pictures, characters, and examples.
The third book regarded civil regimen, or the science of politics, in which the several forms of a republic were to be examined and explained; together with the several modes of religious worship, as far forth as they affect society : between which the author always supposed there was the most interesting relation and closest connexion : so that this part would have treated of civil and religious society in their full extent.
The fourth and last book concerned private ethics, or practical morality, considered in all the circumstances, orders, professions, and stations of human life.
The scheme of all this had been maturely digested, and communicated to Lord Bolingbroke, Dr. Swift, and one or two more, and was intended for the only work of his riper years; but was partly through illhealth, partly through discouragements from the depravity of the times, and partly on prudential and other considerations, interrupted, postponed, and, lastly, in a manner laid aside.
But as this was the author's favourite work, which more exactly reflected the image of his strong capacious mind, and as we can have but a very imperfect idea of it from the disjecta membra poetæ that now remain, it may not be amiss to be a little moro particular concerning each of these projected books.
The first, as it treats of man in the abstract, and considers him in general under every of his relations, becomes the foundation, and furnishes out the subjects, of the three following; so that
The second book was to take up again the first and second epistles of the first book, and treat of man in his intellectual capacity at large, as has been explained above. Of this, only a small part of the conclusion (which, as we said, was to have contained a satire against the misapplication of wit and learning) may be found in the fourth book of the Dunciad, and up and down, occasionally, in the other three.
The third book, in like manner, was to re-assume the subject of the third epistle of the first, which treats of man in his social, political, and religious capacity. But this part the poet afterwards conceived might be best executed in an epic poem; as the action would make it more animated, and the fable less invidious: in which all the great principles of true and false governments and religions should be chiefly delivered in feigned examples.
The fourth and last book was to pursue the subject of the fourth epistle of the first, and to treat of ethics, or practical morality; and would have consisted of many members; of which the four following epistles were detached portions; the first two, on the characters of men and women, being the introductory part of this concluding book.
TO SIR RICHARD TEMPLE, LORD COBIIAM.
Of the Knowledge and Characters of Men. 1. That it is not suficient for this knowledge to consider
man in the abstract: books will not serve the purpose, nor yet our own experience singly, ver. 1. General max. ims, unless they be formed upon both, will be but no tional, ver. 10. Some peculiarity in every man, charac.