Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

EPISTLE III. of the Nature and State of Man with respect

to Society.

ARGUMENT. 1. The whole universe one system of society.Nothing

made wholly for itself, nor yet wholly for another The happiness of animals mutual.-2. Reason or instinct operate alike to the good of each individual.-Reason or instinct operate also to society in all animals.-3. How far society is carried by instinct ;-how much far. ther by reason.-4. Of that which is called the state of nature. -Reason instructed by instinct in the invention of arts ;-ard in the forms of society.---5. Origin of political societies ;--origin of monarchy;---patriarchal government.---6. Origin of true religion, and government, from the same principle of love ;--origin of superstition and tyranny, from the same principle of fear. The influence of self-love operating to the social and public good.--Restoration of true religion and government on their first principle..--Mixed government. Various forms

of each, and the true end of all. HERE then we rest :-" the Universal Cause

Acts to one end, but acts by various laws." In all the madness of superfluous health, The trim of pride, the impudence of wealth, Let this great truth be present night and day, But most be present, if we preach or pray.

1. Look round our world; behold the chain of love Combining all below and all above. See plastic Nature working to this end, The single atoms each to other tend, Attract, attracted to, the 'next in place Form'd and impelld its neighbour to embrace. See matter next, with various life endued, Press to one centre still, the general good: See dying vegetables life sustain, See life dissolving vegetate again : All forms that perish other forms supply, (By turns we catch the vital breath, and die)

Like babbles on the sea of matter borne,
They rise, they break, and to that sea return.
Nothing is foreign ; parts relate to whole;
One all-extending, all-preserving, soul
Connects each being, greatest with the least,
Made beast in aid of man, and man of beast;
All serv'd, all serving ; nothing stands alone;
The chain holds on, and where it ends unknown.

Has God, thou fool! work'd solely for thy good,
Thy joy, thy pastime, thy attire, thy food ?
Who for thy table feeds the wanton fawn,
For him as kindly spread the flowery lawn:
Is it for thee the lark ascends and sings ?-
Joy tunes his voice, joy elevates his wings.
Is it for thee the linnet pours his throat?-
Loves of his own and raptures swell the note.
The bounding steed you pompously bestride,
Shares with his lord the pleasure and the pride.
Is thine alone the seed that strews the plain ?
The birds of Heav'n shall vindicate their grain,
Thine the full harvest of the golden year?-
Part pays, and justly, the deserving steer.
The hog, that ploughs not, nor obeys thy call,
Lives on the labours of this lord of all.

Know Nature's children all divide her care;
The fur that warms a monarch warm'd a bear.
While man exclaims, “ See all things for my use !"

See man for mine!” replies a pamper'd goose
And just as short of reason he must fall,
Who thinks all made for one, not one for all.

Grant that the powerful still the weak control;
Be man the wit and tyrant of the whole :
Nature that tyrant checks; he only knows,
And helps, another creature's wants and woes.
Say, will the falcon, stooping from above,
Smit with her varying plumage, spare the dove?
Admires the jay the insect's gilded wings ?
Or bears the hawk when Philomela sings ?-
Man cares for all: to birds he gives his woods,
To beasts his pastures, and to fish his floods;

For some his interest prompts him to provide,
For more his pleasure, yet for more his pride :
All feed on one vain patron, and enjoy
The extensive blessing of his luxury,
That very life his learned hunger craves,
He saves from famine, from the savage saves;
Nay, feasts the animal he dooms his feast,
And till he ends the beiug makes it blest;
Which sees no more the stroke, or feels the pain,
Than favour'd man by touch etherial slain.
The creature had his feast of life before;
Thou too must perish when thy feast is o'er !

To each unthinking being, Heav'n, a friend,
Gives not the useless knowledge of its end :
To man imparts it, but with such a view
As, while he dreads it, makes him hope it too:
The hour conceal'd, and so remote the fear,
Death still draws nearer, never seeming near.
Great standing miracle! that Heav'n assign'd
Its only thinking thing this turn of mind.

2. Whether with reason or with instinct blest,
Know all enjoy that pow'r which suits them best;
To bliss alike by that direction tend,
And find the means proportion'd to their end.
Say, where full instinct is the' unerring guide,
What pope or council can they need beside ?
Reason, however able, cool at best,
Cares not for service, or but serves when prest,
Stays till we call, and then not often near;
But honest instinct comes a volunteer,
Sure never to o'ershoot, but just to hit,
While still too wide or short is human wit ;
Sure by quick nature happiness to gain,
Which heavier reason labours at in vain.
This, too, serves always ; reason, never long;
One must go right, the other may go wrong.
See then the acting and comparing pow'rs
One in their nature, which are two in ours;
And reason raise o'er instinct as you can,
In this 'tis God directs, in that 'tis man.

Who taught the nations of the field and wood To shun their poison, and to choose their food ? Prescient, the tides or tempests to withstand, Build on the wave, or arch beneath the sand? Who made the spider parallels design, Sure as De Moivre, without rule or line? Who bid the stork, Columbus like, explore Heav'ns pot his own, and worlds unknown before Who calls the council, states the certain day, Who forms the phalanx, and who points the way?

3. God in the nature of each being founds Its proper bliss, and sets its proper bounds ; But as he fram'd the whole the whole to bless, On mutual wants built mutual happiness: So from the first eternal order ran, And creature link'd to creature, man to man." Whate'er of life all-quickening ether keeps, Or breathes thro' air, or shoots beneath the deeps, Or pours profuse on earth, one nature feeds The vital flame, and swells the genial seeds. Not man alone, but all that roam the wood, Or wing the sky, or roll along the flood, Each loves itself, but not itself alone, Each sex desires alike, till two are one. Nor ends the pleasure with the fierce embrace: They love themselves a third time in their race. Thus beast and bird their common charge attend, The mothers nurse it, and the sires defend; The young dismiss'd to wander earth or air, There stops the instinct, and there ends the care; The link dissolves, each seeks a fresh embrace, Another love succeeds another race. A longer care man's helpless kind demands; That longer care contracts more lasting bands : Reflection, reason, still the ties improve, At ouce extend the interest and the love; With choice we fix, with sympathy we burn; Each virtue in each passion takes its turn; And still new needs, new helps, new habits, rise, That graft benevolence on charities.

Still as one brood, and as another rose,
These natural love maintain'd, habitual those :
The last, scarce ripen'd into perfect man,
Saw helpless him from whom their life began :
Memory and forecast just returns engage,
That pointed back to youth, this on to age;
While pleasure, gratitude, and hope, combin'd,
Still spread the interest, and preserv'd the kind.

4. Nor think in Nature's state they blindly trod;
The state of Nature was the reign of God :
Self-love and social at her birth began,
Union the bond of all things, and of man.
Pride then was not, nor arts that pride to aid ;
Man walk'd with beast, joint tenant of the shade;
The same his table, and the same his bed ;
No murder cloth'd him, and no murder fed :
In the same temple, the resounding wood,
All vocal beings hymn'd their equal God :
The shrine with gore unstain'd, with gold undrest,
Unbrib'd, unbloody, stood the blameless priest :
Heaven's attribute was universal care,
And man's, prerogative to rule, but spare.
Ah ! how unlike the man of times to come!
Of half that live the butcher and the tomb;
Who, foe to nature, hears the general groan,
Murders their species, and betrays his own.
But just disease to luxury succeeds,
And every death its own avenger breeds ;
The fury-passions from that blood began,
And turn'd on man a fiercer savage, man.

See him from nature rising slow to art! To copy instinct then was reason's part: Thus then to man the voice of nature spake “ Go, from the creatures thy instructions take; Learn from the birds what food the thickets yield; Learn from the beasts the physic of the field; Thy arts of building from the bee receive; Learn of the mole to plough, the worm to weave; Leard of the little nautilus to sail, Spread the thin oar, and catch the driving gale.

« AnteriorContinuar »