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Why has not man a microscopic eye?
For this plain reason, man is not a fly.
Say what the use, were finer optics giv'n,
T' inspect a mite, not comprehend the heav'n?
Or touch, if tremblingly alive all o'er,
To smart and agonize at ev'ry pore?
Or, quick effluvia darting thro' the brain,
Die of a rose in aromatic pain ?
If nature thunder'd in his op'ning ears,
And stunned him with the music of the spheres,
How would he wish that Heav'n had left him still
The whisp’ring zephyr, and the purling rill?
Who finds not Providence all good and wise,
Alike in what it gives, and what denies ?
Far as creation's ample range extends,
The scale of sensual, mental pow'rs ascends :
Mark how it mounts, to man's imperial race,
From the green myriads in the peopled grass :
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 pois'nous herbs extracts the healing dow :
How instinct varies in the grov'ling swine,
Compar'd, half reas'ning elephant, with thine!
'Twixt that, and reason what a nice barrier,
For ever sep’rate, yet for ever near !
Remembrance and reflection how ally'd;
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?
The pow’rs of all subdu'd by thee alone,
Is not thy reason all these pow'rs in one?
See, thro' 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 æthereal, human, angel, man,
Beast, bird, fish, insect, what no eye can see,
No glass can reach ; from infinite to thee,
From thee to nothing. On superior pow'rs
Were we to press, inferior might on ours;
Or in the full creation leave a void,
Where, one step broken, the great scale's destroyed
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.
Let earth unbalanc'd from her orbit fly,
Planets and suns run lawless thro' the sky;
Let ruling angels from their spheres be hurl’d,
Being on being wreck’d, and world on world;
Heav'n's whole foundations to their centre nod,
And nature tremble to the throne of God.
All this dread order break—for whom? for thee?
Vile worm !-oh madness! pride ! impiety !
What if the foot, ordain'd the dust to tread,
Or hand, to toil, aspir'd to be the head ?
What if the head, the eye, or ear repin'd
To serve mere engines to the ruling mind ?
Just as absurd for any part to claim
To be another, in this gen'ral 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, chang'd thro' all, and yet in all the same;
Great in the earth, as in th' ethereal frame;
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees,
Lives thro' all life, extends thro' 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.
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, Heav'n bestows on thee.
Submit. In this, or any other sphere,
Secure to be as blest as thou canst bear:
Safe in the hand of one disposing pow'r,
Or in the natal, or the mortal hour.
All nature is but art, unknown to thee
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see;
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.'
Know then thyself, presume not God to scan, The proper study of mankind is man. Plac'd 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 reas'ning but to err; Alike in ignorance, his reason such, Whether he thinks too little, or too much; Chaos of thought and passion, all confus'd ; Still by himself abus'd or disabus'd; 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 !
Shut, shut the door, good John ! fatigu'd I said,
up the knocker, say I'm sick, I'm dead.
The dog-star rages! nay 'tis past a doubt,
All Bedlam, or Parnassus, is let out:
Fire in each eye, and papers in each hand,
They rave, recite, and madden round the land.
What walls can guard me, or what shades can hide ?
They pierce my thickets, thro' my grot they glide;
By land, by water, they renew the charge,
They stop the chariot, and they board the barge.
No place is sacred, not the church is free;
Ev'n Sunday shines no Sabbath-day to me:
Then from the Mint walks forth the man of rhyme,
Happy to catch me just at dinner-time.
Friend to my life! (which did not you prolong,
The world had wanted many an idle song)
What drop or nostrum can this plague remove
Or which must end me, a fool's wrath or love?
A dire dilemma ! either way I'm sped,
If foes, they write, if friends, they read me dead.
Seiz'd and tied down to judge, how wretched I!
Who can't be silent, and who will not lie.
To laugh, were want of goodness and of grace,
And to be grave, exceeds all pow'r of face.
One dedicates in high heroic prose, And ridicules beyond a hundred foes :