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Hear, till unheard, the same old slabbered tale?
To taste the tasted, and at each return
Less tasteful? o'er our palates to decant
Another vintage? strain a flatter year,
Through loaded vessels and a laxer tone?
Crazy machines, to grind earth's wasted fruits!
[GOD JUST AS WELL AS MERCIFUL]
Thou most indulgent, most tremendous Power!
Still more tremendous for thy wondrous love!
That arms, with awe more awful, thy commands;
And foul transgression dips in sevenfold guilt!
How our hearts tremble at thy love immense!
In love immense, inviolably just!
Thou, rather than thy justice should be stained,
Didst stain the cross; and, work of wonders far
The greatest, that thy dearest far might bleed.
Bold thought! shall I dare speak it, or repress?
Should man more execrate, or boast, the guilt
Which roused such vengeance? which such love inflamed?
Our guilt (how mountainous!) with outstretched arms,
Stern justice and soft-smiling love embrace,
Supporting, in full majesty, thy throne,
When seemed its majesty to need support,
Or that, or man, inevitably lost;
What, but the fathomless of thought divine,
Could labour such expedient from despair,
And rescue both? both rescue! both exalt!
O how are both exalted by the deed!
The wondrous deed! or shall I call it more
A wonder in Omnipotence itself!
A mystery no less to gods than men!
Not thus our infidels th' Eternal draw,-
A God all o'er, consummate, absolute,
Full-orbed, in his whole round of rays complete.
They set at odds Heaven's jarring attributes,
And, with one excellence, another wound;
Maim Heaven's perfection, break its equal beams,
Bid mercy triumph over-God himself,
Undeified by their opprobrious praise;
A God all mercy, is a God unjust.
[MAN'S NATURE PROVES HIS IMMORTALITY]
In man, the more we dive, the more we see
Heaven's signet stamping an immortal make.
Dive to the bottom of the soul, the base
Sustaining all, what find we? Knowledge, love.
As light and heat essential to the sun,
These to the soul. And why, if souls expire?
How little lovely here! How little known!
Small knowledge we dig up with endless toil;
And love unfeigned may purchase perfect hate.
Why starved on earth our angel appetites,
While brutal are indulged their fulsome fill?
Were then capacities divine conferred
As a mock diadem, in savage sport,
Rank insult of our pompous poverty,
Which reaps but pain from seeming claims so fair?
In future age lies no redress? And shuts
Eternity the door on our complaint?
If so, for what strange ends were mortals made!
The worst to wallow, and the best to weep;
The man who merits most, must most complain:
Can we conceive a disregard in Heaven
What the worst perpetrate or best endure?
This cannot be. To love, and know, in man
Is boundless appetite, and boundless power:
And these demonstrate boundless objects, too.
Objects, powers, appetites, Heaven suits in all;
Nor, nature through, e'er violates this sweet
Eternal concord, on her tuneful string.
Is man the sole exception from her laws?
Eternity struck off from human hope,
(I speak with truth, but veneration too)
Man is a monster, the reproach of Heaven,
A stain, a dark impenetrable cloud
On Nature's beauteous aspect; and deforms
(Amazing blot!) deforms her with her lord.
If such is man's allotment, what is Heaven?
Or own the soul immortal, or blaspheme.
Or own the soul immortal, or invert
All order. Go, mock-majesty! go, man!
And bow to thy superiors of the stall;
Through every scene of sense superior far:
They graze the turf untilled; they drink the stream
Unbrewed, and ever full, and unembittered
With doubts, fears, fruitless hopes, regrets, despair.
Mankind's peculiar! reason's precious dower!
No foreign clime they ransack for their robes,
No brother cite to the litigious bar.
Their good is good entire, unmixed, unmarred;
They find a paradise in every field,
On boughs forbidden, where no curses hang:
Their ill no more than strikes the sense, unstretched
By previous dread or murmur in the rear;
When the worst comes, it comes unfeared; one stroke
Begins and ends their woe: they die but once;
Blessed incommunicable privilege! for which
Proud man, who rules the globe and reads the stars,
Philosopher or hero, sighs in vain.
Account for this prerogative in brutes:
No day, no glimpse of day, to solve the knot
But what beams on it from eternity.
O sole and sweet solution! that unties
The difficult, and softens the severe;
The cloud on Nature's beauteous face dispels,
Restores bright order, casts the brute beneath,
And re-enthrones us in supremacy
Of joy, e'en here. Admit immortal life,
And virtue is knight-errantry no more:
Each virtue brings in hand a golden dower
Far richer in reversion: Hope exults,
And, though much bitter in our cup is thrown,
Predominates and gives the taste of Heaven.
THE HAPPY SAVAGE
Oh, happy he who never saw the face
Of man, nor heard the sound of human voice!
But soon as born was carried and exposed
In some vast desert, suckled by the wolf
Or shaggy bear, more kind than our fell race;
Who with his fellow brutes can range around
The echoing forest. His rude artless mind
Uncultivated as the soil, he joins
The dreadful harmony of howling wolves,
And the fierce lion's roar; while far away
Th' affrighted traveller retires and trembles.
Happy the lonely savage! nor deceived,
Nor vexed, nor grieved; in every darksome cave,
Under each verdant shade, he takes repose.
Sweet are his slumbers: of all human arts
Happily ignorant, nor taught by wisdom
Numberless woes, nor polished into torment.
FROM AN ESSAY ON VIRTUE
Were once these maxims fixed, that God's our friend,
Virtue our good, and happiness our end,
How soon must reason o'er the world prevail,
And error, fraud, and superstition fail!
None would hereafter then with groundless fear
Describe th' Almighty cruel and severe,
Predestinating some without pretence
To Heaven, and some to Hell for no offence;
Inflicting endless pains for transient crimes,
And favouring sects or nations, men or times.
To please him none would foolishly forbear
Or food, or rest, or itch in shirts of hair,
Or deem it merit to believe or teach
What reason contradicts, within its reach;
None would fierce zeal for piety mistake,
Or malice for whatever tenet's sake,
Or think salvation to one sect confined,
And Heaven too narrow to contain mankind.
No servile tenets would admittance find
Destructive of the rights of humankind;
Of power divine, hereditary right,
And non-resistance to a tyrant's might.
For sure that all should thus for one be cursed,
Is but great nature's edict just reversed.
No moralists then, righteous to excess,
Would show fair Virtue in so black a dress,
That they, like boys, who some feigned sprite array,
First from the spectre fly themselves away:
No preachers in the terrible delight,
But choose to win by reason, not affright;
Not, conjurors like, in fire and brimstone dwell,
And draw each moving argument from Hell.
No more applause would on ambition wait,
And laying waste the world be counted great,
But one good-natured act more praises gain,
Than armies overthrown, and thousands slain;
No more would brutal rage disturb our peace,
But envy, hatred, war, and discord cease;
Our own and others' good each hour employ,
And all things smile with universal joy;
Virtue with Happiness, her consort, joined,
Would regulate and bless each human mind,
And man be what his Maker first designed.