The Poetical Works Of Alexander Pope, Vol. 1
Alexander Pope et al
Part 4 out of 7
Ease, health, and life, for this they must resign,
(Unsure the tenure, but how vast the fine!)
The great man's curse, without the gains, endure,
Be envied, wretched, and be flatter'd, poor; 510
All luckless wits their enemies profess'd,
And all successful, jealous friends at best.
Nor Fame I slight, nor for her favours call;
She comes unlook'd for, if she comes at all.
But if the purchase costs so dear a price,
As soothing folly, or exalting vice;
Oh! if the Muse must flatter lawless sway,
And follow still where fortune leads the way;
Or if no basis bear my rising name,
But the fallen ruins of another's fame; 520
Then teach me, Heaven! to scorn the guilty bays,
Drive from my breast that wretched lust of praise,
Unblemish'd let me live, or die unknown;
Oh, grant an honest fame, or grant me none!'
* * * * *
ELOISA TO ABELARD.
Abelard and Eloisa flourished in the twelfth century; they were two of
the most distinguished persons of their age in learning and beauty, but
for nothing more famous than for their unfortunate passion. After a long
course of calamities, they retired each to a several convent, and
consecrated the remainder of their days to religion. It was many years
after this separation that a letter of Abelard's to a friend, which
contained the history of his misfortune, fell into the hands of Eloisa.
This, awakening all her tenderness, occasioned those celebrated letters
(out of which the following is partly extracted) which give so lively a
picture of the struggles of grace and nature, virtue and passion.
In these deep solitudes and awful cells,
Where heavenly-pensive Contemplation dwells,
And ever-musing Melancholy reigns,
What means this tumult in a vestal's veins?
Why rove my thoughts beyond this last retreat?
Why feels my heart its long-forgotten heat?
Yet, yet I love!--From Abelard it came,
And Eloisa yet must kiss the name.
Dear fatal name! rest ever unreveal'd,
Nor pass these lips in holy silence seal'd: 10
Hide it, my heart, within that close disguise
Where, mix'd with God's, his loved idea lies:
Oh write it not, my hand!--the name appears
Already written--wash it out, my tears!
In vain lost Eloisa weeps and prays,
Her heart still dictates, and her hand obeys.
Relentless walls! whose darksome round contains
Repentant sighs, and voluntary pains:
Ye rugged rocks! which holy knees have worn;
Ye grots and caverns, shagg'd with horrid thorn! 20
Shrines! where their vigils pale-eyed virgins keep,
And pitying saints, whose statues learn to weep!
Though cold like you, unmoved and silent grown,
I have not yet forgot myself to stone.
All is not Heaven's while Abelard has part,
Still rebel nature holds out half my heart;
Nor prayers nor fasts its stubborn pulse restrain,
Nor tears for ages taught to flow in vain.
Soon as thy letters trembling I unclose,
That well-known name awakens all my woes. 30
Oh, name for ever sad! for ever dear!
Still breathed in sighs, still usher'd with a tear.
I tremble too, where'er my own I find,
Some dire misfortune follows close behind.
Line after line my gushing eyes o'erflow,
Led through a sad variety of woe;
Now warm in love, now withering in my bloom,
Lost in a convent's solitary gloom!
There stern religion quench'd the unwilling flame,
There died the best of passions, Love and Fame. 40
Yet write, oh! write me all, that I may join
Griefs to thy griefs, and echo sighs to thine.
Nor foes nor fortune take this power away;
And is my Abelard less kind than they?
Tears still are mine, and those I need not spare,
Love but demands what else were shed in prayer;
No happier task these faded eyes pursue;
To read and weep is all they now can do.
Then share thy pain, allow that sad relief;
Ah, more than share it, give me all thy grief! 50
Heaven first taught letters for some wretch's aid,
Some banish'd lover, or some captive maid;
They live, they speak, they breathe what love inspires,
Warm from the soul, and faithful to its fires;
The virgin's wish without her fears impart,
Excuse the blush, and pour out all the heart,
Speed the soft intercourse from soul to soul,
And waft a sigh from Indus to the Pole.
Thou know'st how guiltless first I met thy flame,
When Love approach'd me under Friendship's name; 60
My fancy form'd thee of angelic kind,
Some emanation of the all-beauteous Mind.
Those smiling eyes, attempering every ray,
Shone sweetly lambent with celestial day.
Guiltless I gazed; Heaven listen'd while you sung;
And truths divine came mended from that tongue.
From lips like those, what precept fail'd to move?
Too soon they taught me 'twas no sin to love:
Back through the paths of pleasing sense I ran,
Nor wish'd an angel whom I loved a man. 70
Dim and remote the joys of saints I see;
Nor envy them that heaven I lose for thee.
How oft, when press'd to marriage, have I said,
Curse on all laws but those which Love has made!
Love, free as air, at sight of human ties,
Spreads his light wings, and in a moment flies.
Let wealth, let honour, wait the wedded dame,
August her deed, and sacred be her fame; 80
Before true passion all those views remove;
Fame, wealth, and honour! what are you to Love?
The jealous god, when we profane his fires,
Those restless passions in revenge inspires,
And bids them make mistaken mortals groan,
Who seek in love for aught but love alone.
Should at my feet the world's great master fall,
Himself, his throne, his world, I'd scorn them all:
Not Caesar's empress would I deign to prove;
No, make me mistress to the man I love;
If there be yet another name more free,
More fond than mistress, make me that to thee! 90
Oh, happy state! when souls each other draw,
When love is liberty, and nature law:
All then is full, possessing and possess'd,
No craving void left aching in the breast:
Even thought meets thought, ere from the lips it part,
And each warm wish springs mutual from the heart.
This, sure, is bliss (if bliss on earth there be)
And once the lot of Abelard and me.
Alas, how changed! what sudden horrors rise!
A naked lover bound and bleeding lies! 100
Where, where was Eloise? her voice, her hand,
Her poniard, had opposed the dire command.
Barbarian, stay! that bloody stroke restrain;
The crime was common, common be the pain.
I can no more; by shame, by rage suppress'd,
Let tears and burning blushes speak the rest.
Canst thou forget that sad, that solemn day,
When victims at yon altar's foot we lay?
Canst thou forget what tears that moment fell,
When, warm in youth, I bade the world farewell? 110
As with cold lips I kiss'd the sacred veil,
The shrines all trembled, and the lamps grew pale:
Heaven scarce believed the conquest it survey'd,
And saints with wonder heard the vows I made.
Yet then, to those dread altars as I drew,
Not on the cross my eyes were fix'd, but you:
Not grace, or zeal, love only was my call,
And if I lose thy love, I lose my all.
Come! with thy looks, thy words, relieve my woe;
Those still at least are left thee to bestow. 120
Still on that breast enamour'd let me lie,
Still drink delicious poison from thy eye,
Pant on thy lip, and to thy heart be press'd;
Give all thou canst--and let me dream the rest.
Ah, no! instruct me other joys to prize,
With other beauties charm my partial eyes,
Full in my view set all the bright abode,
And make my soul quit Abelard for God.
Ah, think at least thy flock deserves thy care,
Plants of thy hand, and children of thy prayer. 130
From the false world in early youth they fled,
By thee to mountains, wilds, and deserts led.
You raised these hallow'd walls; the desert smiled,
And Paradise was open'd in the wild.
No weeping orphan saw his father's stores
Our shrines irradiate, or emblaze the floors;
No silver saints, by dying misers given,
Here bribed the rage of ill-requited Heaven:
But such plain roofs as Piety could raise,
And only vocal with the Maker's praise. 140
In these lone walls, (their day's eternal bound)
These moss-grown domes with spiry turrets crown'd,
Where awful arches make a noonday night,
And the dim windows shed a solemn light;
Thy eyes diffused a reconciling ray,
And gleams of glory brighten'd all the day.
But now no face divine contentment wears,
'Tis all blank sadness, or continual tears.
See how the force of others' prayers I try,
(Oh pious fraud of amorous charity!) 150
But why should I on others' prayers depend?
Come thou, my father, brother, husband, friend!
Ah, let thy handmaid, sister, daughter move,
And all those tender names in one--thy love!
The darksome pines that, o'er yon rocks reclined,
Wave high, and murmur to the hollow wind,
The wandering streams that shine between the hills,
The grots that echo to the tinkling rills,
The dying gales that pant upon the trees,
The lakes that quiver to the curling breeze; 160
No more these scenes my meditation aid,
Or lull to rest the visionary maid.
But o'er the twilight groves and dusky caves,
Long-sounding aisles, and intermingled graves,
Black Melancholy sits, and round her throws
A death-like silence, and a dread repose:
Her gloomy presence saddens all the scene,
Shades every flower, and darkens every green,
Deepens the murmur of the falling floods,
And breathes a browner horror on the woods. 170
Yet here for ever, ever must I stay;
Sad proof how well a lover can obey!
Death, only death, can break the lasting chain;
And here, even then, shall my cold dust remain;
Here all its frailties, all its flames resign,
And wait till 'tis no sin to mix with thine.
Ah, wretch! believed the spouse of God in vain,
Confess'd within the slave of love and man.
Assist me, Heaven! but whence arose that prayer?
Sprung it from piety, or from despair? 180
Even here, where frozen chastity retires,
Love finds an altar for forbidden fires.
I ought to grieve, but cannot what I ought;
I mourn the lover, not lament the fault;
I view my crime, but kindle at the view,
Repent old pleasures, and solicit new;
Now turn'd to Heaven, I weep my past offence,
Now think of thee, and curse my innocence.
Of all affliction taught a lover yet,
'Tis sure the hardest science to forget! 190
How shall I lose the sin, yet keep the sense,
And love the offender, yet detest the offence?
How the dear object from the crime remove,
Or how distinguish penitence from love?
Unequal task! a passion to resign,
For hearts so touch'd, so pierced, so lost as mine.
Ere such a soul regains its peaceful state,
How often must it love, how often hate!
How often hope, despair, resent, regret,
Conceal, disdain,--do all things but forget! 200
But let Heaven seize it, all at once 'tis fired;
Not touch'd, but rapt; not waken'd, but inspired!
Oh come! oh teach me nature to subdue,
Renounce my love, my life, myself--and you.
Fill my fond heart with God alone, for He
Alone can rival, can succeed to thee.
How happy is the blameless Vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot:
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each prayer accepted, and each wish resign'd; 210
Labour and rest, that equal periods keep;
'Obedient slumbers that can wake and weep;'
Desires composed, affections ever even;
Tears that delight, and sighs that waft to heaven.
Grace shines around her with serenest beams,
And whispering angels prompt her golden dreams.
For her the unfading rose of Eden blooms,
And wings of seraphs shed divine perfumes;
For her the spouse prepares the bridal ring,
For her white virgins hymeneals sing, 220
To sounds of heavenly harps she dies away,
And melts in visions of eternal day.
Far other dreams my erring soul employ,
Far other raptures, of unholy joy:
When at the close of each sad, sorrowing day,
Fancy restores what vengeance snatch'd away,
Then conscience sleeps, and leaving nature free,
All my loose soul unbounded springs to thee.
O curst, dear horrors of all-conscious night!
How glowing guilt exalts the keen delight! 230
Provoking demons all restraint remove,
And stir within me every source of love.
I hear thee, view thee, gaze o'er all thy charms,
And round thy phantom glue my clasping arms.
I wake:--no more I hear, no more I view,
The phantom flies me, as unkind as you.
I call aloud; it hears not what I say:
I stretch my empty arms; it glides away.
To dream once more I close my willing eyes;
Ye soft illusions, dear deceits, arise! 240
Alas, no more! methinks we wandering go
Through dreary wastes, and weep each other's woe,
Where round some mouldering tower pale ivy creeps,
And low-brow'd rocks hang nodding o'er the deeps.
Sudden you mount, you beckon from the skies;
Clouds interpose, waves roar, and winds arise.
I shriek, start up, the same sad prospect find,
And wake to all the griefs I left behind.
For thee the Fates, severely kind, ordain
A cool suspense from pleasure and from pain; 250
Thy life a long dead calm of fix'd repose;
No pulse that riots, and no blood that glows.
Still as the sea, ere winds were taught to blow,
Or moving spirit bade the waters flow;
Soft as the slumbers of a saint forgiven,
And mild as opening gleams of promised heaven.
Come, Abelard! for what hast thou to dread?
The torch of Venus burns not for the dead.
Nature stands check'd; Religion disapproves;
Even thou art cold--yet Eloisa loves. 260
Ah hopeless, lasting flames! like those that burn
To light the dead, and warm the unfruitful urn.
What scenes appear where'er I turn my view?
The dear ideas, where I fly, pursue,
Rise in the grove, before the altar rise,
Stain all my soul, and wanton in my eyes.
I waste the matin lamp in sighs for thee,
Thy image steals between my God and me,
Thy voice I seem in every hymn to hear,
With every bead I drop too soft a tear. 270
When from the censer clouds of fragrance roll,
And swelling organs lift the rising soul,
One thought of thee puts all the pomp to flight,
Priests, tapers, temples, swim before my sight:
In seas of flame my plunging soul is drown'd,
While altars blaze, and angels tremble round.
While prostrate here in humble grief I lie,
Kind, virtuous drops just gathering in my eye,
While praying, trembling, in the dust I roll,
And dawning grace is opening on my soul: 280
Come, if thou dar'st, all charming as thou art!
Oppose thyself to heaven; dispute my heart;
Come, with one glance of those deluding eyes
Blot out each bright idea of the skies;
Take back that grace, those sorrows, and those tears;
Take back my fruitless penitence and prayers;
Snatch me, just mounting, from the blest abode;
Assist the fiends, and tear me from my God!
No, fly me, fly me, far as pole from pole;
Rise Alps between us! and whole oceans roll! 290
Ah, come not, write not, think not once of me,
Nor share one pang of all I felt for thee!
Thy oaths I quit, thy memory resign;
Forget, renounce me, hate whate'er was mine.
Fair eyes, and tempting looks (which yet I view)
Long loved, adored ideas, all adieu!
O Grace serene! O Virtue heavenly fair!
Divine oblivion of low-thoughted care!
Fresh blooming Hope, gay daughter of the sky! 300
And Faith, our early immortality!
Enter, each mild, each amicable guest;
Receive, and wrap me in eternal rest!
See in her cell sad Eloisa spread,
Propp'd on some tomb, a neighbour of the dead.
In each low wind methinks a spirit calls,
And more than echoes talk along the walls.
Here, as I watch'd the dying lamps around,
From yonder shrine I heard a hollow sound.
'Come, sister, come!' (it said, or seem'd to say)
'Thy place is here, sad sister, come away! 310
Once like thyself, I trembled, wept, and pray'd,
Love's victim then, though now a sainted maid:
But all is calm in this eternal sleep;
Here Grief forgets to groan, and Love to weep,
Even Superstition loses every fear:
For God, not man, absolves our frailties here.'
I come, I come! prepare your roseate bowers,
Celestial palms, and ever-blooming flowers.
Thither, where sinners may have rest, I go,
Where flames refined in breasts seraphic glow: 320
Thou, Abelard! the last sad office pay,
And smooth my passage to the realms of day;
See my lips tremble, and my eyeballs roll,
Suck my last breath, and catch my flying soul!
Ah, no!--in sacred vestments may'st thou stand,
The hallow'd taper trembling in thy hand,
Present the cross before my lifted eye,
Teach me at once, and learn of me to die.
Ah, then thy once-loved Eloisa see!
It will be then no crime to gaze on me. 330
See from my cheek the transient roses fly!
See the last sparkle languish in my eye!
Till every motion, pulse, and breath be o'er;
And even my Abelard be loved no more.
O Death all-eloquent! you only prove
What dust we doat on when 'tis man we love.
Then too, when fate shall thy fair frame destroy,
(That cause of all my guilt, and all my joy!)
In trance ecstatic may thy pangs be drown'd,
Bright clouds descend, and angels watch thee round, 340
From opening skies may streaming glories shine,
And saints embrace thee with a love like mine.
May one kind grave unite each hapless name,
And graft my love immortal on thy fame!
Then, ages hence, when all my woes are o'er,
When this rebellious heart shall beat no more;
If ever chance two wandering lovers brings
To Paraclete's white walls and silver springs,
O'er the pale marble shall they join their heads,
And drink the falling tears each other sheds; 350
Then sadly say,--with mutual pity moved,
'Oh, may we never love as these have loved!'
From the full choir when loud hosannas rise,
And swell the pomp of dreadful sacrifice,
Amid that scene, if some relenting eye
Glance on the stone where our cold relics lie,
Devotion's self shall steal a thought from heaven,
One human tear shall drop, and be forgiven.
And sure, if Fate some future bard shall join
In sad similitude of griefs to mine, 360
Condemn'd whole years in absence to deplore,
And image charms he must behold no more;
Such if there be, who love so long, so well,
Let him our sad, our tender story tell;
The well-sung woes will soothe my pensive ghost;
He best can paint them who shall feel them most.
* * * * *
EPISTLE TO ROBERT EARL OF OXFORD AND EARL MORTIMER.
Such were the notes thy once-loved Poet sung,
Till Death untimely stopp'd his tuneful tongue.
Oh just beheld and lost! admired and mourn'd!
With softest manners, gentlest arts adorn'd!
Blest in each science, blest in every strain!
Dear to the Muse! to Harley dear--in vain!
For him, thou oft hast bid the world attend,
Fond to forget the statesman in the friend;
For Swift and him, despised the farce of state,
The sober follies of the wise and great; 10
Dext'rous, the craving, fawning crowd to quit,
And pleased to 'scape from Flattery to Wit.
Absent or dead, still let a friend be dear,
(A sigh the absent claims, the dead a tear,)
Recall those nights that closed thy toilsome days,
Still hear thy Parnell in his living lays,
Who, careless now of interest, fame, or fate,
Perhaps forgets that Oxford e'er was great;
Or deeming meanest what we greatest call,
Behold thee glorious only in thy fall. 20
And sure, if aught below the seats divine
Can touch immortals, 'tis a soul like thine:
A soul supreme, in each hard instance tried,
Above all pain, all passion, and all pride,
The rage of power, the blast of public breath,
The lust of lucre, and the dread of death.
In vain to deserts thy retreat is made;
The Muse attends thee to thy silent shade:
'Tis hers the brave man's latest steps to trace,
Rejudge his acts, and dignify disgrace. 30
When interest calls off all her sneaking train,
And all the obliged desert, and all the vain,
She waits, or to the scaffold, or the cell,
When the last lingering friend has bid farewell.
Even now she shades thy evening-walk with bays,
(No hireling she, no prostitute to praise),
Even now, observant of the parting ray,
Eyes the calm sunset of thy various day;
Through Fortune's cloud one truly great can see,
Nor fears to tell that Mortimer is he. 40
* * * * *
EPISTLE TO JAMES CRAGGS, ESQ.,
SECRETARY OF STATE.
A soul as full of worth, as void of pride,
Which nothing seeks to show, or needs to hide,
Which nor to guilt nor fear its caution owes,
And boasts a warmth that from no passion flows.
A face untaught to feign; a judging eye,
That darts severe upon a rising lie,
And strikes a blush through frontless flattery.
All this thou wert; and being this before,
Know, kings and fortune cannot make thee more.
Then scorn to gain a friend by servile ways,
Nor wish to lose a foe these virtues raise;
But candid, free, sincere, as you began,
Proceed--a minister, but still a man.
Be not (exalted to whate'er degree)
Ashamed of any friend, not even of me:
The patriot's plain, but untrod path pursue;
If not, 'tis I must be ashamed of you.
* * * * *
EPISTLE TO MR JERVAS,
WITH MR DRYDEN'S TRANSLATION OF FRESNOY'S 'ART OF PAINTING.'
This verse be thine, my friend, nor thou refuse
This from no venal or ungrateful Muse.
Whether thy hand strike out some free design,
Where life awakes, and dawns at every line;
Or blend in beauteous tints the colour'd mass,
And from the canvas call the mimic face:
Read these instructive leaves, in which conspire
Fresnoy's close art, and Dryden's native fire:
And, reading, wish like theirs our fate and fame,
So mix'd our studies, and so join'd our name; 10
Like them to shine through long succeeding age,
So just thy skill, so regular my rage.
Smit with the love of sister-arts we came,
And met congenial, mingling flame with flame;
Like friendly colours found them both unite,
And each from each contract new strength and light.
How oft in pleasing tasks we wear the day,
While summer suns roll unperceived away!
How oft our slowly-growing works impart,
While images reflect from art to art! 20
How oft review; each finding, like a friend,
Something to blame, and something to commend!
What flattering scenes our wandering fancy wrought,
Rome's pompous glories rising to our thought!
Together o'er the Alps methinks we fly,
Fired with ideas of fair Italy.
With thee on Raphael's monument I mourn.
Or wait inspiring dreams at Maro's urn:
With thee repose where Tully once was laid,
Or seek some ruin's formidable shade: 30
While fancy brings the vanish'd piles to view.
And builds imaginary Rome anew.
Here thy well-studied marbles fix our eye;
A fading fresco here demands a sigh:
Each heavenly piece unwearied we compare,
Match Raphael's grace with thy loved Guide's air,
Carracci's strength, Correggio's softer line,
Paulo's free stroke, and Titian's warmth divine.
How finish'd with illustrious toil appears
This small, well-polish'd gem, the work of years! 40
Yet still how faint by precept is express'd
The living image in the painter's breast!
Thence endless streams of fair ideas flow,
Strike in the sketch, or in the picture glow;
Thence Beauty, waking all her forms, supplies
An angel's sweetness, or Bridgewater's eyes.
Muse! at that name thy sacred sorrows shed,
Those tears eternal, that embalm the dead;
Call round her tomb each object of desire,
Each purer frame inform'd with purer fire: 50
Bid her be all that cheers or softens life,
The tender sister, daughter, friend, and wife:
Bid her be all that makes mankind adore;
Then view this marble, and be vain no more!
Yet still her charms in breathing paint engage;
Her modest cheek shall warm a future age.
Beauty, frail flower that every season fears,
Blooms in thy colours for a thousand years.
Thus Churchill's race shall other hearts surprise,
And other beauties envy Worsley's eyes; 60
Each pleasing Blount shall endless smiles bestow,
And soft Belinda's blush for ever glow.
Oh, lasting as those colours may they shine,
Free as thy stroke, yet faultless as thy line;
New graces yearly like thy works display,
Soft without weakness, without glaring gay;
Led by some rule, that guides, but not constrains;
And finish'd more through happiness than pains.
The kindred arts shall in their praise conspire,
One dip the pencil, and one string the lyre. 70
Yet should the Graces all thy figures place,
And breathe an air divine on every face;
Yet should the Muses bid my numbers roll
Strong as their charms, and gentle as their soul;
With Zeuxis' Helen thy Bridgewater vie,
And these be sung till Granville's Myra die:
Alas! how little from the grave we claim!
Thou but preserv'st a face, and I a name.
* * * * *
EPISTLE TO MISS BLOUNT,
WITH THE WORKS OF VOITURE.
In these gay thoughts the Loves and Graces shine,
And all the writer lives in every line;
His easy art may happy nature seem,
Trifles themselves are elegant in him.
Sure, to charm all was his peculiar fate,
Who without flattery pleased the fair and great;
Still with esteem no less conversed than read;
With wit well-natured, and with books well-bred:
His heart, his mistress, and his friend did share,
His time, the Muse, the witty, and the fair. 10
Thus wisely careless, innocently gay,
Cheerful he play'd the trifle, Life, away;
Till Fate scarce felt his gentle breath suppress'd,
As smiling infants sport themselves to rest.
Even rival wits did Voiture's death deplore,
And the gay mourn'd who never mourn'd before;
The truest hearts for Voiture heaved with sighs,
Voiture was wept by all the brightest eyes:
The Smiles and Loves had died in Voiture's death,
But that for ever in his lines they breathe. 20
Let the strict life of graver mortals be
A long, exact, and serious comedy;
In every scene some moral let it teach,
And if it can, at once both please and preach.
Let mine an innocent gay farce appear,
And more diverting still than regular,
Have humour, wit, a native ease and grace,
Though not too strictly bound to time and place:
Critics in wit, or life, are hard to please,
Few write to those, and none can live to these. 30
Too much your sex is by their forms confined,
Severe to all, but most to womankind;
Custom, grown blind with age, must be your guide;
Your pleasure is a vice, but not your pride;
By nature yielding, stubborn but for fame;
Made slaves by honour, and made fools by shame.
Marriage may all those petty tyrants chase,
But sets up one, a greater, in their place;
Well might you wish for change, by those accursed,
But the last tyrant ever proves the worst. 40
Still in constraint your suffering sex remains,
Or bound in formal, or in real chains:
Whole years neglected, for some months adored,
The fawning servant turns a haughty lord.
Ah, quit not the free innocence of life,
For the dull glory of a virtuous wife;
Nor let false shows, or empty titles please:
Aim not at joy, but rest content with ease!
The gods, to curse Pamela with her prayers,
Gave the gilt coach and dappled Flanders mares, 50
The shining robes, rich jewels, beds of state,
And, to complete her bliss, a fool for mate.
She glares in balls, front boxes, and the Ring,
A vain, unquiet, glittering, wretched thing!
Pride, pomp, and state but reach her outward part:
She sighs, and is no duchess at her heart.
But, madam, if the Fates withstand, and you
Are destined Hymen's willing victim too:
Trust not too much your now resistless charms,
Those, age or sickness, soon or late, disarms: 60
Good-humour only teaches charms to last,
Still makes new conquests, and maintains the past;
Love, raised on beauty, will like that decay,
Our hearts may bear its slender chain a day;
As flowery bands in wantonness are worn,
A morning's pleasure, and at evening torn;
This binds in ties more easy, yet more strong,
The willing heart, and only holds it long.
Thus Voiture's early care still shone the same,
And Monthansier was only changed in name: 70
By this, even now they live, even now they charm,
Their wit still sparkling, and their flames still warm.
Now crown'd with myrtle, on the Elysian coast,
Amid those lovers, joys his gentle ghost:
Pleased, while with smiles his happy lines you view,
And finds a fairer Rambouillet in you.
The brightest eyes of France inspired his Muse;
The brightest eyes of Britain now peruse;
And dead, as living, 'tis our author's pride
Still to charm those who charm the world beside.
* * * * *
EPISTLE TO MRS TERESA BLOUNT.
ON HER LEAVING THE TOWN AFTER THE CORONATION.
As some fond virgin, whom her mother's care
Drags from the town to wholesome country air,
Just when she learns to roll a melting eye,
And hear a spark, yet think no danger nigh;
From the dear man unwilling she must sever,
Yet takes one kiss before she parts for ever:
Thus from the world fair Zephalinda flew,
Saw others happy, and with sighs withdrew;
Not that their pleasures caused her discontent,
She sigh'd not that they staid, but that she went. 10
She went to plain-work, and to purling brooks,
Old-fashion'd halls, dull aunts, and croaking rooks:
She went from opera, park, assembly, play,
To morning-walks, and prayers three hours a-day:
To part her time 'twixt reading and bohea,
To muse, and spill her solitary tea;
Or o'er cold coffee trifle with the spoon,
Count the slow clock, and dine exact at noon;
Divert her eyes with pictures in the fire,
Hum half a tune, tell stories to the 'squire; 20
Up to her godly garret after seven,
There starve and pray, for that's the way to heaven.
Some 'squire, perhaps, you take delight to rack;
Whose game is whist, whose treat, a toast in sack;
Who visits with a gun, presents you birds,
Then gives a smacking buss, and cries--No words!
Or with his hound comes hallooing from the stable,
Makes love with nods, and knees beneath a table;
Whose laughs are hearty, though his jests are coarse,
And loves you best of all things--but his horse. 30
In some fair evening, on your elbow laid,
You dream of triumphs in the rural shade;
In pensive thought recall the fancied scene,
See coronations rise on every green;
Before you pass the imaginary sights
Of lords, and earls, and dukes, and garter'd knights,
While the spread fan o'ershades your closing eyes;
Then give one flirt, and all the vision flies.
Thus vanish sceptres, coronets, and balls,
And leave you in lone woods, or empty walls! 40
So when your slave, at some dear idle time,
(Not plagued with headaches, or the want of rhyme)
Stands in the streets, abstracted from the crew,
And while he seems to study, thinks of you;
Just when his fancy paints your sprightly eyes,
Or sees the blush of soft Parthenia rise,
Gay pats my shoulder, and you vanish quite,
Streets, chairs, and coxcombs rush upon my sight;
Vex'd to be still in town, I knit my brow,
Look sour, and hum a tune, as you do now. 50
* * * * *
TO MRS M. B. ON HER BIRTHDAY.
Oh, be thou blest with all that Heaven can send,
Long health, long youth, long pleasure, and a friend:
Not with those toys the female world admire,
Riches that vex, and vanities that tire.
With added years, if life bring nothing new,
But, like a sieve, let every blessing through,
Some joy still lost, as each vain year runs o'er,
And all we gain, some sad reflection more;
Is that a birthday? 'tis alas! too clear
'Tis but the funeral of the former year. 10
Let joy or ease, let affluence or content,
And the gay conscience of a life well spent,
Calm every thought, inspirit every grace,
Glow in thy heart, and smile upon thy face
Let day improve on day, and year on year,
Without a pain, a trouble, or a fear;
Till death unfelt that tender frame destroy,
In some soft dream, or ecstasy of joy,
Peaceful sleep out the Sabbath of the tomb,
And wake to raptures in a life to come. 20
* * * * *
TO MR THOMAS SOUTHERN, ON HIS BIRTHDAY, 1742.
Resign'd to live, prepared to die,
With not one sin, but poetry,
This day Tom's fair account has run
(Without a blot) to eighty-one.
Kind Boyle, before his poet lays
A table, with a cloth of bays;
And Ireland, mother of sweet singers,
Presents her harp still to his fingers.
The feast, his towering genius marks
In yonder wild goose and the larks; 10
The mushrooms show his wit was sudden;
And for his judgment, lo, a pudden!
Roast beef, though old, proclaims him stout,
And grace, although a bard, devout.
May Tom, whom Heaven sent down to raise
The price of prologues and of plays,
Be every birthday more a winner,
Digest his thirty-thousandth dinner;
Walk to his grave without reproach,
And scorn a rascal and a coach. 20
* * * * *
VER. 15. Originally thus in the MS.:--
And oh, since Death must that fair frame destroy,
Die, by some sudden ecstasy of joy;
In some soft dream may thy mild soul remove,
And be thy latest gasp a sigh of love.
TO MR JOHN MOORE,
AUTHOR OF THE CELEBRATED WORM-POWDER.
1 How much, egregious Moore, are we
Deceived by shows and forms!
Whate'er we think, whate'er we see,
All humankind are worms.
2 Man is a very worm by birth,
Vile reptile, weak and vain!
A while he crawls upon the earth,
Then shrinks to earth again.
3 That woman is a worm, we find
E'er since our grandame's evil;
She first conversed with her own kind,
That ancient worm, the Devil.
4 The learn'd themselves we book-worms name,
The blockhead is a slow-worm;
The nymph whose tail is all on flame,
Is aptly term'd a glow-worm:
5 The fops are painted butterflies,
That flutter for a day;
First from a worm they take their rise,
And in a worm decay.
6 The flatterer an earwig grows;
Thus worms suit all conditions;
Misers are muck-worms, silk-worms beaux.
And death-watches, physicians.
7 That statesmen have the worm, is seen
By all their winding play;
Their conscience is a worm within,
That gnaws them night and day.
8 Ah, Moore! thy skill were well employ'd,
And greater gain would rise,
If thou couldst make the courtier void
The worm that never dies!
9 O learned friend of Abchurch Lane,
Who sett'st our entrails free!
Vain is thy art, thy powder vain,
Since worms shall eat even thee.
10 Our fate thou only canst adjourn
Some few short years--no more;
Even Button's Wits to worms shall turn,
Who maggots were before.
TO MR C., ST JAMES'S PLACE.
1 Few words are best; I wish you well:
Bethel, I'm told, will soon be here;
Some morning walks along the Mall,
And evening friends, will end the year.
2 If in this interval, between
The falling leaf and coming frost,
You please to see, on Twit'nam green,
Your friend, your poet, and your host:
3 For three whole days you here may rest
From office business, news, and strife;
And (what most folks would think a jest)
Want nothing else except your wife.
* * * * *
I. ON CHARLES EARL OF DORSET, IN THE CHURCH OF WITHYAM, IN SUSSEX.
'His saltem accumulem donis, et fungar inani Munere!'
Dorset, the grace of courts, the Muses' pride,
Patron of arts, and judge of nature, died.
The scourge of pride, though sanctified or great,
Of fops in learning, and of knaves in state:
Yet soft his nature, though severe his lay,
His anger moral, and his wisdom gay.
Bless'd satirist! who touch'd the mean so true,
As show'd vice had his hate and pity too.
Blest courtier! who could king and country please,
Yet sacred keep his friendships, and his ease.
Blest peer! his great forefathers' every grace
Reflecting, and reflected in his race;
Where other Buckhursts, other Dorsets shine,
And patriots still, or poets, deck the line.
II. ON SIR WILLIAM TRUMBULL.
A pleasing form; a firm, yet cautious mind;
Sincere, though prudent; constant, yet resign'd:
Honour unchanged, a principle profess'd,
Fix'd to one side, but moderate to the rest:
An honest courtier, yet a patriot too;
Just to his prince, and to his country true:
Fill'd with the sense of age, the fire of youth,
A scorn of wrangling, yet a zeal for truth;
A generous faith, from superstition free:
A love to peace, and hate of tyranny;
Such this man was; who now, from earth removed,
At length enjoys that liberty he loved.
III. ON THE HON. SIMON HARCOURT, ONLY SON OF THE LORD CHANCELLOR
HARCOURT, AT THE CHURCH OF STANTON HARCOURT, IN OXFORDSHIRE, 1720.
To this sad shrine, whoe'er thou art, draw near;
Here lies the friend most loved, the son most dear:
Who ne'er knew joy, but friendship might divide,
Or gave his father grief but when he died.
How vain is reason, eloquence how weak!
If Pope must tell what Harcourt cannot speak.
Oh, let thy once-loved friend inscribe thy stone,
And, with a father's sorrows, mix his own!
IV. ON JAMES CRAGGS, ESQ. IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY.
JACOBUS CRAGGS REGI MAGNAE BRITANNIA A SECRETIS ET CONSILIIS
SANCTIORIBUS, PRINCIPIS PARITER AC POPULI AMOR ET DELICIAE: VIXIT
TITULIS ET INVIDIA MAJOR ANNOS, HEU PAUCOS, XXXV. OB. FEB. XVI. MDCCXX.
Statesman, yet friend to Truth! of soul sincere,
In action faithful, and in honour clear!
Who broke no promise, served no private end,
Who gain'd no title, and who lost no friend;
Ennobled by himself, by all approved,
Praised, wept, and honour'd by the Muse he loved.
V. INTENDED FOR MR ROWE, IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY.
Thy relics, Rowe, to this fair urn we trust,
And sacred place by Dryden's awful dust:
Beneath a rude and nameless stone he lies,
To which thy tomb shall guide inquiring eyes.
Peace to thy gentle shade, and endless rest!
Blest in thy genius, in thy love, too, blest!
One grateful woman to thy fame supplies
What a whole thankless land to his denies.
VI. ON MRS CORBET, WHO DIED OF A CANCER IN HER BREAST.
Here rests a woman, good without pretence,
Blest with plain reason, and with sober sense:
No conquests she, but o'er herself, desired,
No arts essay'd, but not to be admired.
Passion and pride were to her soul unknown,
Convinced that virtue only is our own.
So unaffected, so composed a mind;
So firm, yet soft; so strong, yet so refined;
Heaven, as its purest gold, by tortures tried;
The saint sustain'd it, but the woman died.
VII. ON THE MONUMENT OF THE HONOURABLE EGBERT DIGBY, AND HIS SISTER
ERECTED BY THEIR FATHER THE LORD DIGBY, IN THE CHURCH OF SHERBORNE, IN
Go! fair example of untainted youth,
Of modest wisdom, and pacific truth:
Composed in sufferings, and in joy sedate,
Good without noise, without pretension great.
Just of thy word, in every thought sincere,
Who knew no wish but what the world might hear:
Of softest manners, unaffected mind,
Lover of peace, and friend of human kind:
Go live! for Heaven's eternal year is thine,
Go, and exalt thy moral to divine.
And thou, bless'd maid! attendant on his doom,
Pensive hast follow'd to the silent tomb,
Steer'd the same course to the same quiet shore,
Not parted long, and now to part no more!
Go then, where only bliss sincere is known!
Go, where to love and to enjoy are one!
Yet take these tears, Mortality's relief,
And till we share your joys, forgive our grief:
These little rites, a stone, a verse receive;
'Tis all a father, all a friend can give!
VIII. ON SIR GODFREY KNELLER, IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY, 1723.
Kneller, by Heaven, and not a master, taught,
Whose art was Nature, and whose pictures Thought;
Now for two ages having snatch'd from Fate
Whate'er was beauteous, or whate'er was great,
Lies crown'd with princes' honours, poets' lays,
Due to his merit, and brave thirst of praise.
Living, great Nature fear'd he might outvie
Her works; and, dying, fears herself may die.
IX. ON GENERAL HENRY WITHERS, IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY, 1729.
Here, Withers, rest! thou bravest, gentlest mind,
Thy country's friend, but more of human kind.
Oh, born to arms! oh, worth in youth approved!
Oh, soft humanity, in age beloved!
For thee the hardy veteran drops a tear,
And the gay courtier feels the sigh sincere.
Withers, adieu! yet not with thee remove
Thy martial spirit, or thy social love!
Amidst corruption, luxury, and rage,
Still leave some ancient virtues to our age:
Nor let us say (those English glories gone)
The last true Briton lies beneath this stone.
X. ON MR ELIJAH FENTON, AT EASTHAMSTEAD, IN BERKS, 1730.
This modest stone, what few vain marbles can,
May truly say, Here lies an honest man:
A poet, blest beyond the poet's fate,
Whom Heaven kept sacred from the proud and great:
Foe to loud praise, and friend to learned ease,
Content with science in the vale of peace.
Calmly he look'd on either life, and here
Saw nothing to regret, or there to fear;
From Nature's temperate feast rose satisfied,
Thank'd Heaven that he had lived, and that he died.
XI. ON MR GAY, IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY, 1732.
Of manners gentle, of affections mild;
In wit, a man; simplicity, a child:
With native humour tempering virtuous rage,
Form'd to delight at once and lash the age:
Above temptation in a low estate,
And uncorrupted, even among the great:
A safe companion, and an easy friend,
Unblamed through life, lamented in thy end.
These are thy honours! not that here thy bust
Is mix'd with heroes, or with kings thy dust;
But that the worthy and the good shall say,
Striking their pensive bosoms--Here lies Gay.
XII. INTENDED FOR SIR ISAAC NEWTON, IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY.
TESTANTUR TEMPUS, NATURA, COELUM:
HOC MARMOR FATETUR.
Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night
God said, Let Newton be! and all was light.
XIII. ON DR FRANCIS ATTERBURY, BISHOP OF ROCHESTER, WHO DIED IN EXILE
AT PARIS, 1732.
Yes, we have lived--one pang, and then we part!
May Heaven, dear father! now have all thy heart.
Yet ah! how once we loved, remember still,
Till you are dust like me.
Dear shade! I will:
Then mix this dust with thine--O spotless ghost!
O more than fortune, friends, or country lost!
Is there on earth one care, one wish beside?
Yes--Save my country, Heaven!
--He said, and died.
XIV. ON EDMUND DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM, WHO DIED IN THE NINETEENTH YEAR OF
HIS AGE, 1735.
If modest youth, with cool reflection crown'd,
And every opening virtue blooming round,
Could save a parent's justest pride from fate,
Or add one patriot to a sinking state;
This weeping marble had not ask'd thy tear,
Or sadly told how many hopes lie here!
The living virtue now had shone approved,
The senate heard him, and his country loved.
Yet softer honours, and less noisy fame
Attend the shade of gentle Buckingham:
In whom a race, for courage famed and art,
Ends in the milder merit of the heart;
And chiefs or sages long to Britain given,
Pays the last tribute of a saint to Heaven.
XV. FOR ONE WHO WOULD NOT BE BURIED IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY.
Heroes and kings! your distance keep:
In peace let one poor poet sleep,
Who never flatter'd folks like you:
Let Horace blush, and Virgil too.
XVI. ANOTHER, ON THE SAME.
Under this marble, or under this sill,
Or under this turf, or e'en what they will;
Whatever an heir, or a friend in his stead,
Or any good creature shall lay o'er my head,
Lies one who ne'er cared, and still cares not a pin
What they said, or may say, of the mortal within:
But who, living and dying, serene still and free,
Trusts in God, that as well as he was, he shall be.
XVII. ON TWO LOVERS STRUCK DEAD BY LIGHTNING.
When Eastern lovers feed the funeral fire,
On the same pile the faithful pair expire.
Here pitying Heaven that virtue mutual found,
And blasted both, that it might neither wound.
Hearts so sincere, the Almighty saw well pleased,
Sent his own lightning, and the victims seized.
[Lord Harcourt, on whose property the unfortunate pair lived, was
apprehensive that the country people would not understand the above, and
Pope wrote the subjoined]:--
NEAR THIS PLACE LIE THE BODIES OF
JOHN HEWET AND SARAH DREW,
AN INDUSTRIOUS YOUNG MAN,
AND VIRTUOUS MAIDEN OF THIS PARISH;
WHO, BEING AT HARVEST-WORK
(WITH SEVERAL OTHERS),
WERE IN ONE INSTANT KILLED BY LIGHTNING,
THE LAST DAY OF JULY 1718.
Think not, by rigorous judgment seized,
A pair so faithful could expire;
Victims so pure Heaven saw well pleased,
And snatch'd them in celestial fire.
Live well, and fear no sudden fate;
When God calls virtue to the grave,
Alike 'tis justice soon or late,
Mercy alike to kill or save.
Virtue unmoved can hear the call,
And face the flash that melts the ball.
AN ESSAY ON MAN:
IN FOUR EPISTLES TO HENRY ST JOHN, LORD BOLINGBROKE.
Having proposed to write some pieces on human life and manners, such as
(to use my Lord Bacon's expression) come home to men's business and
bosoms, I thought it more satisfactory to begin with considering man in
the abstract, his nature and his state; since, to prove any moral duty,
to enforce any moral precept, or to examine the perfection or
imperfection of any creature whatsoever, it is necessary first to know
what condition and relation it is placed in, and what is the proper end
and purpose of its being.
The science of human nature is, like all other sciences, reduced to a
few clear points: there are not many certain truths in this world. It is
therefore in the anatomy of the mind as in that of the body; more good
will accrue to mankind by attending to the large, open, and perceptible
parts, than by studying too much such finer nerves and vessels, the
conformations and uses of which will for ever escape our observation.
The disputes are all upon these last, and, I will venture to say, they
have less sharpened the wits than the hearts of men against each other,
and have diminished the practice, more than advanced the theory, of
morality. If I could flatter myself that this essay has any merit, it is
in steering betwixt the extremes of doctrines seemingly opposite, in
passing over terms utterly unintelligible, and in forming a _temperate_
yet not _inconsistent_, and a _short_ yet not _imperfect_ system of
This I might have done in prose; but I chose verse, and even rhyme, for
two reasons. The one will appear obvious; that principles, maxims, or
precepts so written, both strike the reader more strongly at first, and
are more easily retained by him afterwards: the other may seem odd, but
is true; I found I could express them more shortly this way than in
prose itself; and nothing is more certain, than that much of the force
as well as grace of arguments or instructions, depends on their
conciseness. I was unable to treat this part of my subject more in
detail, without becoming dry and tedious; or more poetically, without
sacrificing perspicuity to ornament, without wandering from the
precision, or breaking the chain of reasoning: If any man can unite all
these without diminution of any of them, I freely confess he will
compass a thing above my capacity.
What is now published, is only to be considered as a general map of Man,
marking out no more than the greater parts, their extent, their limits,
and their connexion, but leaving the particular to be more fully
delineated in the charts which are to follow. Consequently, these
epistles in their progress (if I have health and leisure to make any
progress) will be less dry, and more susceptible of poetical ornament. I
am here only opening the _fountains_, and clearing the passage. To
deduce the _rivers_, to follow them in their course, and to observe
their effects, may be a task more agreeable.
OF THE NATURE AND STATE OF MAN WITH RESPECT TO THE UNIVERSE.
Of man in the abstract.--
I. That we can judge only with regard to our own system, being ignorant
of the relations of systems and things, ver. 17, &c. II. That Man is not
to be deemed imperfect, but a being suited to his place and rank in the
creation, agreeable to the general order of things, and conformable to
ends and relations to him unknown, ver. 35, &c. III. That it is partly
upon his ignorance of future events, and partly upon the hope of a
future state, that all his happiness in the present depends, ver. 77,
&c. IV. The pride of aiming at more knowledge, and pretending to more
perfection, the cause of Man's error and misery. The impiety of putting
himself in the place of God, and judging of the fitness or unfitness,
perfection or imperfection, justice or injustice of his dispensations,
ver. 109, &c. V. The absurdity of conceiting himself the final cause of
the creation, or expecting that perfection in the moral world, which is
not in the natural, ver. 131, &c. VI. The unreasonableness of his
complaints against Providence, while on the one hand he demands the
perfections of the angels, and on the other the bodily qualifications of
the brutes; though to possess any of the sensitive faculties in a higher
degree, would render him miserable, ver. 173, &c. VII. That throughout
the whole visible world, an universal order and gradation in the sensual
and mental faculties is observed, which causes a subordination of
creature to creature, and of all creatures to Man. The gradations of
sense, instinct, thought, reflection, reason; that reason alone
countervails all the other faculties, ver. 207. VIII. How much further
this order and subordination of living creatures may extend, above and
below us; were any part of which broken, not that part only, but the
whole connected creation must be destroyed, ver. 233. IX. The
extravagance, madness, and pride of such a desire, ver. 259. X. The
consequence of all, the absolute submission due to Providence, both as
to our present and future state, ver. 281, &c. to the end.
AWAKE, my St John! leave all meaner things
To low ambition, and the pride of kings.
Let us (since life can little more supply
Than just to look about us and to die)
Expatiate free o'er all this scene of Man;
A mighty maze! but not without a plan;
A wild, where weeds and flowers promiscuous shoot;
Or garden, tempting with forbidden fruit.
Together let us beat this ample field,
Try what the open, what the covert yield; 10
The latent tracts, the giddy heights, explore
Of all who blindly creep, or sightless soar;
Eye Nature's walks, shoot folly as it flies,
And catch the manners living as they rise;
Laugh where we must, be candid where we can;
But vindicate the ways of God to Man.
I. Say first, of God above, or Man below,
What can we reason, but from what we know?
Of Man, what see we but his station here,
From which to reason, or to which refer? 20
Through worlds unnumber'd, though the God be known,
'Tis ours to trace him only in our own.
He who through vast immensity can pierce,
See worlds on worlds compose one universe,
Observe how system into system runs,
What other planets circle other suns,
What varied being peoples every star,
May tell why Heaven has made us as we are.
But of this frame the bearings, and the ties,
The strong connexions, nice dependencies, 30
Gradations just, has thy pervading soul
Look'd through? or can a part contain the whole?
Is the great chain, that draws all to agree,
And drawn, supports, upheld by God, or thee?
II. Presumptuous Man! the reason wouldst thou find,
Why form'd so weak, so little, and so blind?
First, if thou canst, the harder reason guess,
Why form'd no weaker, blinder, and no less?
Ask of thy mother earth, why oaks are made
Taller or stronger than the weeds they shade? 40
Or ask of yonder argent fields above,
Why Jove's satellites are less than Jove?
Of systems possible, if 'tis confess'd
That Wisdom infinite must form the best,
Where all must full or not coherent be,
And all that rises, rise in due degree;
Then, in the scale of reasoning life, 'tis plain,
There must be, somewhere, such a rank as Man:
And all the question (wrangle e'er so long)
Is only this, if God has placed him wrong? 50
Respecting Man, whatever wrong we call,
May, must be right, as relative to all.
In human works, though labour'd on with pain,
A thousand movements scarce one purpose gain;
In God's, one single can its end produce;
Yet serves to second, too, some other use.
So Man, who here seems principal alone,
Perhaps acts second to some sphere unknown,
Touches some wheel, or verges to some goal;
'Tis but a part we see, and not a whole. 60
When the proud steed shall know why Man restrains
His fiery course, or drives him o'er the plains;
When the dull ox, why now he breaks the clod,
Is now a victim, and now Egypt's god:
Then shall man's pride and dulness comprehend
His actions', passions', being's use and end;
Why doing, suffering, check'd, impell'd; and why
This hour a slave, the next a deity.
Then say not Man's imperfect, Heaven in fault;
Say rather, Man's as perfect as he ought: 70
His knowledge measured to his state and place;
His time a moment, and a point his space.
If to be perfect in a certain sphere,
What matter, soon or late, or here or there?
The blest to-day is as completely so,
As who began a thousand years ago.
III. Heaven from all creatures hides the book of Fate,
All but the page prescribed, their present state:
From brutes what men, from men what spirits know:
Or who could suffer being here below? 80
The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day,
Had he thy reason, would he skip and play?
Pleased to the last, he crops the flowery food,
And licks the hand just raised to shed his blood.
Oh blindness to the future! kindly given,
That each may fill the circle mark'd by Heaven:
Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,
A hero perish, or a sparrow fall,
Atoms or systems into ruin hurl'd,
And now a bubble burst, and now a world. 90
Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar;
Wait the great teacher, Death; and God adore.
What future bliss, He gives not thee to know,
But gives that hope to be thy blessing now.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
Lo, the poor Indian! whose untutor'd mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind; 100
His soul, proud science never taught to stray
Far as the solar walk, or milky-way;
Yet simple nature to his hope has given,
Behind the cloud-topp'd hill, an humbler heaven;
Some safer world in depth of woods embraced,
Some happier island in the watery waste,
Where slaves once more their native land behold,
No fiends torment, no Christians thirst for gold.
To be, contents his natural desire,
He asks no angel's wing, no seraph's fire; 110
But thinks, admitted to that equal sky,
His faithful dog shall bear him company.
IV. Go, wiser thou! and in thy scale of sense,
Weigh thy opinion against Providence;
Call imperfection what thou fanciest such,
Say, here he gives too little, there too much:
Destroy all creatures for thy sport or gust,
Yet cry, If Man's unhappy, God's unjust:
If Man alone engross not Heaven's high care,
Alone made perfect here, immortal there: 120
Snatch from his hand the balance and the rod,
Re-judge his justice, be the God of God.
In pride, in reasoning pride, our error lies;
All quit their sphere, and rush into the skies.
Pride still is aiming at the blest abodes,
Men would be angels, angels would be gods.
Aspiring to be gods, if angels fell,
Aspiring to be angels, men rebel:
And who but wishes to invert the laws
Of ORDER, sins against the Eternal Cause. 130
V. Ask for what end the heavenly bodies shine,
Earth for whose use? Pride answers, ''Tis for mine:
For me kind Nature wakes her genial power,
Suckles each herb, and spreads out every flower;
Annual for me the grape, the rose renew,
The juice nectareous, and the balmy dew;
For me, the mine a thousand treasures brings;
For me, health gushes from a thousand springs;
Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise;
My footstool earth, my canopy the skies.' 140
But errs not Nature from this gracious end,
From burning suns when livid deaths descend,
When earthquakes swallow, or when tempests sweep
Towns to one grave, whole nations to the deep?
'No' 'tis replied, 'the first Almighty Cause
Acts not by partial, but by general laws;
Th' exceptions few; some change, since all began:
And what created perfect?'--Why then Man?
If the great end be human happiness,
Then Nature deviates; and can Man do less? 150
As much that end a constant course requires
Of showers and sunshine, as of Man's desires;
As much eternal springs and cloudless skies,
As men for ever temperate, calm, and wise.
If plagues or earthquakes break not Heaven's design,
Why then a Borgia, or a Catiline?
Who knows but He, whose hand the lightning forms,
Who heaves old Ocean, and who wings the storms,
Pours fierce ambition in a Caesar's mind,
Or turns young Ammon loose to scourge mankind? 150
From pride, from pride, our very reasoning springs;
Account for moral, as for natural things:
Why charge we Heaven in those, in these acquit?
In both, to reason right, is to submit.
Better for us, perhaps, it might appear,
Were there all harmony, all virtue here;
That never air or ocean felt the wind,
That never passion discomposed the mind.
But all subsists by elemental strife;
And passions are the elements of life. 170
The general order, since the whole began,
Is kept in Nature, and is kept in Man.
VI. What would this Man? Now upward will he soar,
And, little less than angel, would be more;
Now looking downwards, just as grieved appears
To want the strength of bulls, the fur of bears.
Made for his use all creatures if he call,
Say, what their use, had he the powers of all?
Nature to these, without profusion, kind,
The proper organs, proper powers assign'd; 180
Each seeming want compensated, of course,
Here with degrees of swiftness, there of force;
All in exact proportion to the state;
Nothing to add, and nothing to abate.
Each beast, each insect, happy in its own:
Is Heaven unkind to Man, and Man alone?
Shall he alone, whom rational we call,
Be pleased with nothing, if not bless'd with all?
The bliss of Man (could pride that blessing find)
Is not to act or think beyond mankind; 190
No powers of body or of soul to share,
But what his nature and his state can bear.
Why has not Man a microscopic eye?
For this plain reason, Man is not a fly.
Say, what the use, were finer optics given,
T'inspect a mite, not comprehend the heaven?
Or touch, if tremblingly alive all o'er,
To smart and agonise at every pore?
Or, quick effluvia darting through the brain,
Die of a rose in aromatic pain? 200
If nature thunder'd in his opening ears,
And stunn'd him with the music of the spheres,
How would he wish that Heaven had left him still
The whispering zephyr, and the purling rill?
Who finds not Providence all good and wise,
Alike in what it gives, and what denies?
VII. Far as Creation's ample range extends,
The scale of sensual, mental powers ascends:
Mark how it mounts, to Man's imperial race,
From the green myriads in the peopled grass: 210
What modes of sight betwixt each wide extreme,
The mole's dim curtain, and the lynx's beam!
Of smell, the headlong lioness between,
And hound sagacious on the tainted green:
Of hearing, from the life that fills the flood,
To that which warbles through the vernal wood:
The spider's touch, how exquisitely fine!
Feels at each thread, and lives along the line:
In the nice bee, what sense so subtly true
From poisonous herbs extracts the healing dew! 220
How instinct varies in the grovelling swine,
Compared, half-reasoning elephant, with thine!
'Twixt that and reason, what a nice barrier:
For ever separate, yet for ever near!
Remembrance and reflection how allied;
What thin partitions sense from thought divide:
And middle natures, how they long to join,
Yet never pass th' insuperable line!
Without this just gradation, could they be
Subjected, these to those, or all to thee? 230
The powers of all subdued by thee alone,
Is not thy reason all these powers in one?
VIII. See, through this air, this ocean, and this earth,
All matter quick, and bursting into birth:
Above, how high progressive life may go!
Around, how wide! how deep extend below!
Vast chain of being! which from God began,
Natures ethereal, human, angel, man,
Beast, bird, fish, insect, what no eye can see,
No glass can reach; from Infinite to Thee, 240
From Thee to Nothing.--On superior powers
Were we to press, inferior might on ours:
Or in the full creation leave a void,
Where, one step broken, the great scale's destroy'd:
From Nature's chain whatever link you strike,
Tenth, or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike.
And, if each system in gradation roll
Alike essential to th' amazing whole,
The least confusion but in one, not all
That system only, but the whole must fall. 250
Let earth, unbalanced, from her orbit fly,
Planets and suns run lawless through the sky;
Let ruling angels from their spheres be hurl'd,
Being on being wreck'd, and world on world;
Heaven's whole foundations to their centre nod,
And Nature trembles to the throne of God.
All this dread order break--for whom? for thee?
Vile worm!--oh madness! pride! impiety!
IX. What if the foot, ordain'd the dust to tread,
Or hand, to toil, aspired to be the head 260
What if the head, the eye, or ear repined
To serve mere engines to the ruling mind?
Just as absurd for any part to claim
To be another, in this general frame;
Just as absurd, to mourn the tasks or pains,
The great directing Mind of All ordains.
All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and God the soul;
That, changed through all, and yet in all the same;
Great in the earth, as in th' ethereal frame: 270
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees,
Lives through all life, extends through all extent.
Spreads undivided, operates unspent;
Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part,
As full, as perfect, in a hair as heart;
As full, as perfect, in vile Man that mourns,
As the rapt Seraph that adores and burns:
To Him no high, no low, no great, no small;
He fills, He bounds, connects, and equals all. 280
X. Cease then, nor Order imperfection name:
Our proper bliss depends on what we blame.
Know thy own point: this kind, this due degree
Of blindness, weakness, Heaven bestows on thee.
Submit--in this, or any other sphere,
Secure to be as bless'd as thou canst bear:
Safe in the hand of one disposing Power,
Or in the natal, or the mortal hour.
All Nature is but Art, unknown to thee;
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see; 290
All discord, harmony not understood;
All partial evil, universal good:
And, spite of pride, in erring reason's spite,
One truth is clear, WHATEVER IS, IS RIGHT.
* * * * *
In former editions, VER 64--
Now wears a garland, an Egyptian god.
Altered as above for the reason given in the note.
After VER. 68 the following lines in first edit.--
If to be perfect in a certain sphere,
What matters, soon or late, or here or there?
The blest to-day is as completely so
As who began ten thousand years ago.
After VER. 88 in the MS.--
No great, no little; 'tis as much decreed
That Virgil's gnat should die as Caesar bleed.
In the first folio and quarto:--
What bliss above He gives not thee to know,
But gives that hope to be thy bliss below.
After VER. 108 in the first edition:--
But does he say the Maker is not good,
Till he's exalted to what state he would:
Himself alone high Heaven's peculiar care,
Alone made happy when he will, and where?
VER. 238, first edition--
Ethereal essence, spirit, substance, man.
After VER. 282 in the MS.--
Reason, to think of God when she pretends,
Begins a censor, an adorer ends.
OF THE NATURE AND STATE OF MAN WITH RESPECT TO HIMSELF AS AN INDIVIDUAL.
I. The business of Man not to pry into God, but to study himself. His
middle nature; his powers and frailties, ver. 1 to 19. The limits of his
capacity, ver. 19, &c. II. The two principles of Man, self-love and
reason, both necessary, ver. 53, &c. Self-love the stronger, and why,
ver. 67, &c. Their end the same, ver. 81, &c. III. The passions, and
their use, ver. 93-130. The predominant passion, and its force, ver.
132-160. Its necessity, in directing men to different purposes, ver.
165, &c. Its providential use, in fixing our principle, and ascertaining
our virtue, ver. 177. IV. Virtue and vice joined in our mixed nature;
the limits near, yet the things separate and evident: What is the office
of reason, ver. 202-216. V. How odious vice in itself, and how we
deceive ourselves into it, ver. 217. VI. That, however, the ends of
Providence and general good are answered in our passions and
imperfections, ver. 238, &c. How usefully these are distributed to all
orders of men, ver. 241. How useful they are to society, ver. 251. And
to the individuals, ver. 263. In every state, and every age of life,
ver. 273, &c.
I. KNOW then thyself, presume not God to scan;
The proper study of mankind is Man.
Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
A being darkly wise, and rudely great:
With too much knowledge for the sceptic side,
With too much weakness for the stoic's pride,
He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;
In doubt to deem himself a god, or beast;
In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
Born but to die, and reasoning but to err; 10
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little, or too much:
Chaos of thought and passion, all confused;
Still by himself abused, or disabused;
Created half to rise, and half to fall;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl'd:
The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!
Go, wondrous creature! mount where science guides,
Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides; 20
Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
Correct old Time, and regulate the sun;
Go, soar with Plato to the empyreal sphere,
To the first Good, first Perfect, and first Fair;
Or tread the mazy round his followers trod,
And quitting sense call imitating God;
As eastern priests in giddy circles run,
And turn their heads to imitate the sun.
Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule--
Then drop into thyself, and be a fool! 30
Superior beings, when of late they saw
A mortal man unfold all Nature's law,
Admired such wisdom in an earthly shape,
And show'd a Newton as we show an ape.
Could he, whose rules the rapid comet bind,
Describe or fix one movement of his mind?
Who saw its fires here rise, and there descend,
Explain his own beginning, or his end?
Alas, what wonder! Man's superior part
Uncheck'd may rise, and climb from art to art; 40
But when his own great work is but begun,
What reason weaves, by passion is undone.
Trace Science, then, with modesty thy guide;
First strip off all her equipage of pride;
Deduct what is but vanity, or dress,
Or learning's luxury, or idleness;
Or tricks to show the stretch of human brain.
Mere curious pleasure, or ingenious pain;
Expunge the whole, or lop th' excrescent parts
Of all our vices have created arts; 50
Then see how little the remaining sum,
Which served the past, and must the times to come!
II. Two principles in human nature reign--
Self-love, to urge, and reason, to restrain;
Nor this a good, nor that a bad we call,
Each works its end, to move or govern all:
And to their proper operation still,
Ascribe all good; to their improper, ill.
Self-love, the spring of motion, acts the soul;
Reason's comparing balance rules the whole. 60
Man, but for that, no action could attend,
And, but for this, were active to no end:
Fix'd like a plant on his peculiar spot,
To draw nutrition, propagate, and rot;
Or, meteor-like, flame lawless through the void,
Destroying others, by himself destroy'd.
Most strength the moving principle requires;
Active its task, it prompts, impels, inspires.
Sedate and quiet the comparing lies,
Form'd but to check, deliberate, and advise. 70
Self-love, still stronger, as its objects nigh;
Reason's at distance, and in prospect lie:
That sees immediate good by present sense;
Reason, the future and the consequence.
Thicker than arguments, temptations throng,
At best more watchful this, but that more strong.
The action of the stronger to suspend
Reason still use, to reason still attend.
Attention, habit and experience gains;
Each strengthens reason, and self-love restrains. 80
Let subtle schoolmen teach these friends to fight,
More studious to divide than to unite;
And grace and virtue, sense and reason split,
With all the rash dexterity of wit.
Wits, just like fools, at war about a name,
Have full as oft no meaning, or the same.
Self-love and reason to one end aspire,
Pain their aversion, pleasure their desire;
But greedy that its object would devour,
This taste the honey, and not wound the flower: 90
Pleasure, or wrong or rightly understood,
Our greatest evil, or our greatest good.
III. Modes of self-love the passions we may call:
'Tis real good, or seeming, moves them all:
But since not every good we can divide,
And reason bids us for our own provide;
Passions, though selfish, if their means be fair,
List under reason, and deserve her care;
Those, that imparted, court a nobler aim,
Exalt their kind, and take some virtue's name. 100
In lazy apathy let Stoics boast
Their virtue fix'd; 'tis fix'd as in a frost;
Contracted all, retiring to the breast;
But strength of mind is exercise, not rest:
The rising tempest puts in act the soul,
Parts it may ravage, but preserves the whole.
On life's vast ocean diversely we sail,
Reason the card, but passion is the gale;
Nor God alone in the still calm we find,
He mounts the storm, and walks upon the wind. 110
Passions, like elements, though born to fight,
Yet, mix'd and soften'd, in his work unite:
These 'tis enough to temper and employ;
But what composes Man, can Man destroy?
Suffice that reason keep to Nature's road;
Subject, compound them, follow her and God.
Love, Hope, and Joy, fair Pleasure's smiling train,
Hate, Fear, and Grief, the family of Pain,
These mix'd with art, and to due bounds confined,
Make and maintain the balance of the mind: 120
The lights and shades, whose well-accorded strife
Gives all the strength and colour of our life.
Pleasures are ever in our hands or eyes;
And when, in act, they cease, in prospect, rise:
Present to grasp, and future still to find,
The whole employ of body and of mind.
All spread their charms, but charm not all alike;
On different senses different objects strike;
Hence different passions more or less inflame,
As strong or weak, the organs of the frame; 130
And hence one master passion in the breast,
Like Aaron's serpent, swallows up the rest.
As Man, perhaps, the moment of his breath,
Receives the lurking principle of death;
The young disease, that must subdue at length,
Grows with his growth, and strengthens with his strength:
So, cast and mingled with his very frame,
The mind's disease, its ruling passion came;
Each vital humour which should feed the whole,
Soon flows to this, in body and in soul: 140
Whatever warms the heart, or fills the head,
As the mind opens, and its functions spread,
Imagination plies her dangerous art,
And pours it all upon the peccant part.
Nature its mother, habit is its nurse;
Wit, spirit, faculties, but make it worse;
Reason itself but gives it edge and power;
As Heaven's blest beam turns vinegar more sour.
We, wretched subjects, though to lawful sway,
In this weak queen, some favourite still obey: 150
Ah! if she lend not arms, as well as rules,
What can she more than tell us we are fools?
Teach us to mourn our nature, not to mend,
A sharp accuser, but a helpless friend!
Or from a judge turn pleader, to persuade
The choice we make, or justify it made;
Proud of an easy conquest all along,
She but removes weak passions for the strong:
So, when small humours gather to a gout,
The doctor fancies he has driven them out. 160
Yes, Nature's road must ever be preferr'd;
Reason is here no guide, but still a guard:
'Tis hers to rectify, not overthrow,
And treat this passion more as friend than foe:
A mightier power the strong direction sends,
And several men impels to several ends:
Like varying winds, by other passions tost,
This drives them constant to a certain coast.
Let power or knowledge, gold or glory, please,
Or (oft more strong than all) the love of ease; 170
Through life 'tis follow'd, even at life's expense;
The merchant's toil, the sage's indolence,
The monk's humility, the hero's pride,
All, all alike, find reason on their side.
Th' eternal Art educing good from ill,
Grafts on this passion our best principle:
'Tis thus the mercury of Man is fix'd,
Strong grows the virtue with his nature mix'd;
The dross cements what else were too refined
And in one interest body acts with mind. 180
As fruits, ungrateful to the planter's care,
On savage stocks inserted, learn to bear;
The surest virtues thus from passions shoot,
Wild nature's vigour working at the root.
What crops of wit and honesty appear
From spleen, from obstinacy, hate, or fear!
See anger, zeal and fortitude supply;
Even avarice, prudence; sloth, philosophy;
Lust, through some certain strainers well refined,
Is gentle love, and charms all womankind; 190
Envy, to which th' ignoble mind's a slave,
Is emulation in the learn'd or brave;
Nor virtue, male or female, can we name,
But what will grow on pride, or grow on shame.
Thus Nature gives us (let it check our pride)
The virtue nearest to our vice allied:
Reason the bias turns to good from ill,
And Nero reigns a Titus, if he will.
The fiery soul abhorr'd in Catiline,
In Decius charms, in Curtius is divine: 200
The same ambition can destroy or save,
And makes a patriot, as it makes a knave.
IV. This light and darkness in our chaos join'd
What shall divide? the God within the mind.
Extremes in Nature equal ends produce,
In man they join to some mysterious use;
Though each by turns the other's bound invade,
As, in some well-wrought picture, light and shade,
And oft so mix, the difference is too nice
Where ends the virtue, or begins the vice. 210
Fools! who from hence into the notion fall,
That vice or virtue there is none at all.
If white and black blend, soften, and unite
A thousand ways, is there no black or white?
Ask your own heart, and nothing is so plain;
'Tis to mistake them, costs the time and pain.
V. Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As, to be hated, needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace. 220
But where th' extreme of vice, was ne'er agreed:
Ask where's the north? at York, 'tis on the Tweed;
In Scotland, at the Orcades; and there,
At Greenland, Zembla, or the Lord knows where.
No creature owns it in the first degree,
But thinks his neighbour further gone than he;
Even those who dwell beneath its very zone,
Or never feel the rage, or never own;
What happier natures shrink at with affright,
The hard inhabitant contends is right. 230
Virtuous and vicious every man must be,
Few in th' extreme, but all in the degree;
The rogue and fool by fits is fair and wise;
And even the best, by fits, what they despise.
'Tis but by parts we follow good or ill;
For, vice or virtue, self directs it still;
Each individual seeks a several goal;
But Heaven's great view is one, and that the whole.
That counterworks each folly and caprice;
That disappoints th' effect of every vice; 240
That, happy frailties to all ranks applied;
Shame to the virgin, to the matron pride,
Fear to the statesman, rashness to the chief,
To kings presumption, and to crowds belief:
That, virtue's ends from vanity can raise,
Which seeks no interest, no reward but praise;
And build on wants, and on defects of mind,
The joy, the peace, the glory of mankind.
Heaven forming each on other to depend,
A master, or a servant, or a friend, 250
Bids each on other for assistance call,
Till one man's weakness grows the strength of all.
Wants, frailties, passions, closer still ally
The common interest, or endear the tie.
To these we owe true friendship, love sincere,
Each home-felt joy that life inherits here;
Yet from the same we learn, in its decline,
Those joys, those loves, those interests to resign;
Taught half by reason, half by mere decay,
To welcome death, and calmly pass away. 260
Whate'er the passion, knowledge, fame, or pelf,
Not one will change his neighbour with himself.
The learn'd is happy Nature to explore;
The fool is happy that he knows no more;
The rich is happy in the plenty given,
The poor contents him with the care of Heaven.
See the blind beggar dance, the cripple sing,
The sot a hero, lunatic a king;
The starving chemist in his golden views
Supremely bless'd, the poet in his Muse. 270
See some strange comfort every state attend,
And pride bestow'd on all, a common friend;
See some fit passion every age supply,
Hope travels through, nor quits us when we die.
Behold the child, by Nature's kindly law,
Pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw:
Some livelier plaything gives his youth delight,
A little louder, but as empty quite:
Scarfs, garters, gold, amuse his riper stage,
And beads and prayer-books are the toys of age: 280
Pleased with this bauble still, as that before;
Till, tired, he sleeps, and life's poor play is o'er.
Meanwhile opinion gilds with varying rays
Those painted clouds that beautify our days;
Each want of happiness by hope supplied,
And each vacuity of sense by pride:
These build as fast as knowledge can destroy;
In Folly's cup still laughs the bubble, joy;
One prospect lost, another still we gain;
And not a vanity is given in vain; 290
Even mean self-love becomes, by force divine,
The scale to measure others' wants by thine.
See! and confess, one comfort still must rise,
'Tis this, Though Man's a fool, yet God is wise.
* * * * *
VER. 2, first edition--
The only science of mankind is Man.
Back to Full Books