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Nobility. Greatness. Fame. Superior talents. With pictures of human infelicity in men, possessed of them all. VII. That virtue only constitutes a happiness, whose object is universal, and whose prospect eternal. That the perfection of virtue and happiness consists in a conformity to the order of Providence here, and a resignation to it here and hereafter.
Oh HarriNEss! our being's end and aim Good, Pleasure, Ease, Content whate'erthy name: That something still which prompts th' eternal sigh, For which we bear to live, or dare to die, Which still so near us, yet beyond us lies, O'erlook'd, seen double, by the fool and wise: Plant of celestial seed! if dropp'd below, Say, in what mortal soil thou deign'st to grow 2 Fair opening to some court's propitious shine, Or deep with diamonds in the flaming mine? Twin'd with the wreaths Parnassian laurels yield, Or reap'd in iron harvests of the field? Where grows? where grows it not? If vain our toil, We ought to blame the culture, not the soil: Fix'd to no spot is happiness sincere, 'Tis no where to be found, or every where: 'Tis never to be bought, but always free, And fled from monarchs, St. John dwells with thec. Ask of the learn'd the way ? The learn'd areblind: This bids to serve, and that to shun mankind; Some place the bliss in action, some in ease, Those call it pleasure, and contentment these : Some, sunk to beasts, find pleasure end in pain; Some, swell'd to gods, confess ev'n virtue vain; Or, indolent, to each extreme they fall, To trust in ev'rything, or doubt of all. Who thus define it, say they more or less, Than this, that happiness is happiness? Take Nature's path, and mad Opinion's leave; All states can reach it, and all heads conceive; 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 ease. Remember, man, “the Universal Cause Acts not by partial, but by gen'ral laws;” And makes what happiness we justly call, Subsist not in the good of one, but all. There’s not a blessing individuals find, But some way leans and hearkens to the kind: No bandit fierce, no tyrant mad with pride, No cavern'd hermit, rests self-satisfy'd: Who most to shun or hate mankind pretend, Seek an admirer, or would fix a friend: Abstract what others feel, what others think, All pleasures sicken, and all glories sink: Each has his share; and who would more obtain, Shall find, the pleasure pays not half the pain. Order is Heaven's first law; and this confest, Some are, and must be, greater than the rest, More rich, more wise; but who infers from hence That such are happier, shocks all common sense. Heaven to mankind impartial we confess, If all are equal in their happiness; But mutual wants this happiness increase; All Nature's difference keeps all Nature's peace. Condition, circumstance, is not the thing; Bliss is the same in subject or in king, In who obtain defence, or who defend, In him who is, or him who finds a friend:
Heaven breathes through every member of the whole,
For Chartres' head reserve the hanging wall? B. b
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 feels Heaven's blessing, or its rod, This cries, there is, and that, there is no God. What shocks one part, will edify the rest, Nor with one system can they all be blest. The very best will variously incline, And what rewards your virtue, punish mine. WHATEveR is, is RIGHT.-This world, 'tis true, . Was made for Caesar—but for Titus too; And which more blest? who chain'd his country, say, Or he whose virtue sigh'd to lose a day? “But sometimes Virtue starves, while Vice is fed.” What then 2 Is the reward of Virtue bread 2 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 good want power?” Add health and power, and every earthly thing, “Why bounded power? why private? why noking?” Nay, why external for internal given? Why is not man a god, and Earth a Heaven? Who ask and reason thus, will scarce conceive God gives enough, while he has more to give; Immense the power, immense were the demand; Say, at what part of Nature will they stand? What nothing earthly gives, or can destroy, The soul's calm sun-shine, and the heart-felt joy, Is Virtue's prize: A better would you fix? Then give Humility a coach and six, Justice a conqueror's sword, or Truth a gown, Or Public Spirit its great cure, a crown. Weak, foolish man! will Heaven reward us there With the same trash mad mortals wish for here? The boy and man an individual makes, Yet sigh'st thou now for apples and for cakes? Go, like the Indian, in another life Expect thy dog, thy bottle, and thy wife; As well as dream such trifles are assign'd, As toys and empires, for a godlike mind; Rewards, that either would to virtue bring No joy, or be destructive of the thing; How oft by these at sixty are undone The virtues of a saint at twenty-one! To whom can riches give repute, or trust, Content, or pleasure, but the good and just 2 Judges and senates have been bought for gold; Esteem and love were never to be sold. Oh fool! to think God hates the worthy mind, The lover and the love of human-kind, 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 made, One flaunts in rags, one flutters in brocade; The cobbler apron'd, and the parson gown'd, The friar hooded, and the monarch crown'd.
“What differ more,” you cry, “than crown and
Truths would you teach, or save a sinking land? All fear, none aid you, and few understand. Painful pre-eminence' yourself to view Above life's weakness, and its comforts too. Bring then these blessings to a strict account; Make fair deductions; see to what they mount: How much of other each is sure to cost; How much for other oft is wholly lost; How inconsistent greater goods with these; How sometimes life is risk'd, and always ease: Think, and if still the things thy envy call, Say, wouldst thou be the man to whom they fall? To sigh for ribbands, if thou art so silly, Mark how they grace Lord Umbra, or Sir Billy. Is yellow dirt the passion of thy life? Look but on Gripus, or on Gripus' wife. If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shin'd, The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind: Or ravish'd with the whistling of a name, See Cromwell, damn'd to everlasting fame ! If all, united, thy ambition call, From ancient story, learn to scorn them all. There, in the rich, the honour'd, fam'd, and great, See the false scale of happiness complete : In hearts of kings, or arms of queens who lay, How happy! those to ruin, these betray. Mark by what wretched steps their glory grows, From dirt and sea-weed, as proud Venice rose; In each, how guilt and greatness equal ran, And all that rais'd the hero, sunk the man: Now Europe's laurels on their brows behold, But stain'd with blood, or ill exchang'd for gold: Then see them broke with toils, or sunk in ease, Or infamous for plunder'd provinces. O! wealth ill-fated ; which no act of fame E'er taught to shine, or sanctify'd from shame! What greater bliss attends their close of life? Some greedy minion, or imperious wife, The trophy'd arches, story'd halls invade, And haunt their slumbers in the pompous shade. Alas! not dazzled with their noon-tide ray, Compute the morn and evening to the day; The whole amount of that enormous fame, A tale, that blends their glory with their shame! Know then this truth (enough for man to know), “Virtue alone is happiness below.” The only point where human bliss stands still, And tastes the good without the fall to ill; Where only merit constant pay receives, Is blest in what it takes, and what it gives; The joy unequall'd, if its end it gain, And if it lose, attended with no pain: Without satiety, though e'er so blest, And but more relish'd as the more distress'd : The broadest mirth unfeeling Folly wears, Less pleasing far than Virtue's very tears: Good, from each object, from each place acquir'd, For ever exercis'd, yet never tir’d; Never elated, while one man's oppress'd; Never dejected, while another's blest; And where no wants, no wishes can remain, Since but to wish more virtue, is to gain. See the sole bliss Heaven could on all bestow ! Which who but feels can taste, but thinks can know: Yet poor with fortune, and with learning blind, The bad must miss; the good, untaught, will find; Slave to no sect, who takes no private road, But looks through Nature, up to Nature's God; Pursues that chain which links th' immense design, Joins Heaven and Earth, and mortal and divine;
Sees, that no being any bliss can know, But touches some above, and some below; Learns from this union of the rising whole The first, last purpose of the human soul; And knows where faith, law, morals, all began, All end in love of God, and love of man. For him alone, Hope leads from goal to goal, And opens still, and opens on his soul: Till lengthen'd on to Faith, and unconfin'd, It pours the bliss that fills up all the mind. He sees, why Nature plants in man alone Hope of known bliss, and faith in bliss unknown : (Nature, whose dictates to no other kind Are given in vain, but what they seek they find:) Wise is her present; she connects in this His greatest virtue with his greatest bliss; At once his own bright prospect to be blest; And strongest motive to assist the rest. Self-love thus push'd to social, to divine, Gives thee to make thy neighbour's blessing thine. Is this too little for the boundless heart? Extend it, let thy enemies have part. Grasp the whole worlds of reason, life, and sense, In one close system of benevolence: Happier as kinder, in whate'er degree. And height of bliss but height of charity. God loves from whole to parts: but human soul Must rise from individual to the whole. Self-love but serves the virtuous mind to wake, As the small pebble stirs the peaceful lake; The centre mov’d, a circle straight succeeds, Another still, and still another spreads; Friend, parent, neighbour, first it will embrace; His country next; and next all human race; Wide and more wide, th’ o'erflowings of the mind Take every creature in, of every kind; Earth smiles around, with boundless bounty blest, And Heaven beholds its image in his breast. Come then, my friend! my genius! come along' Oh master of the poet, and the song! And while the Muse now stoops, or now ascends, To man's low passions, or their glorious ends, Teach me, like thee, in various nature wise, To fall with dignity, with temper rise; Form'd by thy converse, happily to steer, From grave to gay, from lively to severe; Correct with spirit, eloquent with ease, Intent to reason, or polite to please. Oh! while along the stream of time thy name Expanded flies, and gathers all its fame ; Say, shall my little bark attendant sail, Pursue the triumph, and partake the gale? When statesmen, heroes, kings, in dust repose, whose sons shall blush their fathers were thy foes, Shall then this verse to future age pretend Thou wert my guide, philosopher, and friend? That, urg’d by thee, I turn'd the tuneful art, From sounds to things, from fancy to the heart; For Wit's false mirror held up Nature's light; Show'd erring Pride, whateven is, is Right; That reason, passion, answer one great aim ; That true self-love and social are the same; That virtue only makes our bliss below ; And all our knowledge is, ourselves to know.
I. That it is not sufficient for this knowledge to consider man in the abstract: books will not serve the purpose, nor yet our own experience singly. General maxims, unless they be formed upon both, will be but notional. Some peculiarity in every man, characteristic to himself, yet varying from himself. Difficulties arising from our own passions, fancies, faculties. The shortness of life to observe in, and the uncertainty of the principles of action in men to observe by. Our own principle of action often hid from ourselves. Some few characters plain, but in general confounded, dissembled, or inconsistent. The same man utterly different in different places and seasons. Unimaginable weaknesses in the greatest. Nothing constant and certain but God and nature. No judging of the motives from the actions; the same actions proceeding from contrary motives, and the same motives influencing contrary actions. II. Yet, to form characters, we can only take the strongest actions of a man's life, and try to make them agree: the utter uncertainty of this, from nature itself, and from policy. Characters given according to the rank of men of the world : and some reason for it. Education alters the nature, or at least character of many. Actions, passions, opinions, manners, humours, or principles, all subject to change. No judging by nature. III. It only remains to find (if we can) his ruling passion: that will certainly influence all the rest, and can reconcile the seeming or real inconsistency of all his actions. Instanced in the extraordinary character of Clodio. A caution against mistaking second qualities for first, which will destroy all possibility of the knowledge of mankind. Examples of the
strength of the ruling passion, and its - Continuation to the last breath. 2
And yet the fate of all extremes is such, Men may be read, as well as books, too much. To observations which ourselves we make, We grow more partial for th' observer's sake; To written wisdom, as another's, less: Maxims are drawn from notions, these from gues. There's some peculiar in each leaf and grain, Some unmark'd fibre, or some varying vein: Shall only man be taken in the gross? Grant but as many sorts of mind as moss. That each from other differs, first confess; Next, that he varies from himself no less; Add nature's, custom's, reason's, passion's strife, And all opinion's colours cast on life. Our depths who fathoms, or our shallows finds, Quick whirls, and shifting eddies, of our minds? On human actions reason though you can, It may be reason, but it is not man : His principle of action once explore, That instant 'tis his principle no more. Like following life through creatures you dissect, You lose it in the moment you detect. Yet more; the difference is as great between The optics seeing, as the objects seen. All manners take a tincture from our own ; Or come discolour'd through our passions shown. Or Fancy's beam enlarges, multiplies, Contracts, inverts, and gives ten thousand dyes. Nor will life's stream for observation stay, It hurries all too fast to mark their way: In vain sedate reflections we would make, When half our knowledge we must snatch, not take. Oft, in the passion's wild rotation tost, Our spring of action to ourselves is lost; Tir'd, not determin'd, to the last we yield. And what comes then is master of the field. As the last image of that troubled heap, When sense subsides and fancy sports in sleep, o: past the recollection of the thought,) omes the stuff of which our dream is wrought: Something as dim to our internal view, Is thus, perhaps, the cause of most we do. True, some are open, and to all men known; Others, so very close, they're hid from none ; So darkness strikes the sense no less than light.) husgracious Chandos is belov'd at sight; And every child hates Shylock, though his soul Still sits at squat, and peeps not from its hole. At half mankind when generous Manly raves, All know 'tis virtue, for he thinks them knaves: When universal homage Umbra pays, All see 'tis vice, an itch of vulgar praise. When flattery glares, all hate it in a queen, While one there is who charms us with his spleen. But these plain characters we rarely find : Though strong the bent, yet quick the turns of mind: Or puzzling contraries confound the whole; Or affectations quite reverse the soul. The dull, flat falsehood serves for policy; And, in the cunning, truth itself's a lie; Unthought-of frailties cheat us in the wise; The fool lies hid in inconsistencies. See the same man, in vigour, in the gout; Alone, in company; in place, or out; Early at business, and at hazard late; Mad at a fox-chace, wise at a debate; Drunk at a borough, civil at a ball; Friendly at Hackney, faithless at Whitehall. Catius is ever moral, ever grave, Thinks who ondures a knave, is next a knave,
Save just at dinner then prefers, no doubt,
And justly set the gem above the flower.
'Tis education forms the common mind; Just as the twig is bent, the tree's inclin'd. Boastful and rough, your first son is a 'squire; The next a tradesman meek, and much a liar: Tom struts a soldier, open, bold, and brave; Will sneaks a scrivener, an exceeding knave: Is he a churchman? then he's fond of power: A quaker? sly: a presbyterian 2 sour: A smart free-thinker? all things in an hour. Ask men's opinions: Scoto now shall tell How trade increases, and the world goes well; Strike off his pension, by the setting sun, And Britain, if not Europe, is undone. That gay free-thinker, a fine talker once, What turns him now a stupid, silent dunce? Some god, or spirit, he has lately found; Or chanc'd to meet a minister that frown'd. Judge we by nature? habit can efface, Interest o'ercome, or policy take place: By actions? those uncertainty divides: By passions? these dissimulation hides: Opinions? they still take a wider range: Find, if you can, in what you cannot change. Manners with fortunes, humours turn with climes, Tenets with books, and principles with times. Search then the ruling passion: there, alone, The wild are constant, and the cunning known; The fool consistent, and the false sincere; Priests, princes, women, no dissemblers here. This clue once found, unravels all the rest, The prospect clears, and Wharton stands confest. Wharton, the scorn and wonder of our days, Whose ruling passion was the lust of praise; Born with whate'er could win it from the wise, Women and fools must like him, or he dies : Though wondering senates hung on all he spoke, The club must hail him master of the joke. Shall parts so various aim at nothing new 2 He'll shine a Tully and a Wilmot too. Then turns repentant, and his God adores With the same spirit that he drinks and whores; Enough if all around him but admire, And now the punk applaud, and now the friar. Thus with each gift of Nature and of Art, And wanting nothing but an honest heart; Grown all to all, from no one vice exempt; And most contemptible, to shun contempt; His passion still, to covet general praise; His life, to forfeit it a thousand ways; A constant bounty, which no friend has made; An angel tongue, which no man can persuade; A fool, with more of wit than half mankind, Too rash for thought, for action too refin'd: A tyrant to the wife his heart approves; A rebel to the very king he loves; He dies, sad outcast of each church and state, And, harder still ! flagitious, yet not great. Ask you why Wharton broke through every rule 2 'Twas all for fear the knaves should call him fool. Nature well known, no prodigies remain, Comets are regular, and Wharton plain. Yet, in this search, the wisest may mistake, If second qualities for first they take. When Catiline by rapine swell'd his store ; When Caesar made a noble dame a whore ; In this the lust, in that the avarice, Were means, not ends; ambition was the vice. That very Caesar, born in Scipio's days,. Had aim’d, like him, by chastity, at praise. B b 3