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He points out the office of reason, describes vice as odious in itself, and yet shews by what means we deceive our. felves into it. He proves that not only the ends of Pro. vidence are answerd in our passions and imperfections, but that the general good is often promoted by them, and shews how usefully they are distributed to all orders of men ; points out their use to fociety, and to individuals in every state, and every age of life, and thus concludes the epiftle.
Whate'er the paflion, 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 giv’n,
The poor contents him with the care of heav'n.
See the blind beggar dance, the cripple fing,
The sot a hero, lunatic a king;
The ftarving chymift in his golden views
Supremely blest, the poet in his muse.
See some strange comfort ev'ry state attend,
And pride bestow'd on all, a common friend :
See some fit paffion ev'ry age fupply,
Hope travels thro', nor quits us when we die.
Behold the child, by nature's kindly law,
Pleas'd with a rattle, tickled with a straw :
Some livelier play-thing gives his youth delight,
A little louder, but as empty quite :
Scarfs, garters, gold, amuse his riper stage ;
And beads and pray'r-books are the toys
Pleas'd with this bauble still, as that before ;
'Till tir'd he sleeps, and life's poor play is o’er ;
Mean while opinion gilds with various rays
Those painted clouds that beautify our days ;
Each want of happiness by hope supply'd,
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 loft, another still we gain ;
And not a vanity is giv'n in vain ;
Ev'n mean self-love becomes by force divine,
The scale to measure others wants by thine.
See! and confess, one comfort ftill must rise,
'Tis this, Tho' man's a fool, yet God is wife.
In his third epistle, he treats of the nature and state of man with respect to society, and considers the whole uni. verse as one system thereof, in which nothing subsists wholly for itself, nor yet wholly for another, but wherein the happiness of animals is mutual.
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 impelled its neighbour to embrace.
See matter next, with various life endu'd,
Press to one centre ftill, the gen’ral good.
See dying vegetables life sustain,
See life diffolving vegetate again :
All forms that perish other forms fupply
(By turns we catch the vital breath, and die)
Like bubbles on the sea of matter born,
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 paftime, thy attire, thy food ?
Who for thy table feeds the wanton fawn,
For him as kindly spreads the flow'ry lawn.
Is it for thee the lark ascends and fings?
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 ft-ed you pompoully beftride,
Shares with his lord the pleasure and the pride:
Is thine alone the feed 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 plows 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.
He then proceeds to shew, that reason or instinct operates alike to the good of each individual, and enforces society in all animals. He confiders how far society is carried by instinct, and how much farther by reason; he beautifully describes the state of nature, and shews how reason was instructed by instinct in the invention of arts, and in the forms of society.
Thus then to man the voice of nature speak-
• Go, from the creatures thy instruction take:
Learn from the birds what food the thickets yield ;
Learn from the beast the physic of the field ;
The arts of building from the bee receive ;
Learn of the mole to plow, the worm to weave ;
Learn of the little nautilus to fail,
Spread the thin oar, and catch the driving gale.
Here too all forms of social union find,
And hence let reason, late instruct mankind ;
Here subterranean works and cities see ;
There towns aereal on the waving tree :
Learn each. small people's genius, policies,
The ant's republic, and the realm of bees;
How those in common all their wealth bestow,
And anarchy without confusion know ;
And these for ever, tho' a monarch reign,
Their sepirate cells and properties maintain.
Mark what unvary'd laws preserve each state,
Laws wise as Nature, and as fixt as Fate.
In vain thy reason finer webs shall draw,
Entangle Justice in her net of Law,
And right, too rigid, harden into wrong ;
Still for the strong too weak, the weak too strong.
Yet, go! and thus o'er all the creatures sway,
Thus let the wiser make the rest obey ;
And for those arts mere instinct could afford,
Be crown'd as monarchs, or as gods ador'd.'
He thence traces out the origin of political societies ; of monarchy, and patriarchal governments, and shews that true religion and government had both their foundation in the principle of love, and that superstition and tyranny arose from the principle of fear. He considers the influence of self-love, as operating to the social and public good; treats of the restoration of true religion and government on their first principles ; then descants on mix'd governments and their various forms ; and lastly, points out the true end of all, in the following admirable lines.
For forms of government let fools contest;
Whate'er is beft adminifter'd is beft:
For modes of faith let graceless zealots fight;
His can't be wrong whose life is in the right
In faith and hope the world will disagree,
But all mankind's concern is charity :
All must be false that thwart this one great end,
And all of God, that bless mankind or mend.
Man, like the gen'rous vine, supported lives ;
The strength he gains is from th’ embrace he gives.
On their own axis as the planets run,
Yet make at once their circle round the sun;
So two consistent motions act the soul ;
And one regards Itself, and one the Whole.
Thus God and nature link'd the gen'ral frame,
And bade self-love and social be the same.
In his fourth epistle he treats of the nature and state of man with respect to happiness, explodes all false notions of happiness, philosophical and popular, and affirms that it is the end of all men, and attainable by all, for God intends happiness to be equal; and to be so, it must be social, since all particular happiness depends on general, and since he governs by general, not particular laws.
Take Nature's path, and mad opinions leave,
All states can reach it, and all heads conceive;
Obvious her goods, in no extream 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.
6. the universal cause A&ts not by partial, but by gen'ral laws ;'
And makes what happiness we justly call
Sublists not in the good of one, but all.
There's not a blessing individuals find,
But some way leans and hearkens to the kind.
Each has his share; and who would more obtain,
Shall find, the pleasure pays not half the pain.
He observes that as it is necessary for order, and the peace and welfare of society, that external goods should be unequal, happiness is not made to confift in these : for notwithitanding that in inequality, the balance of happiness among mankind is kept even by Providence, by the two passions of hope and fear.
If then to all men happiness was meant,
God in externals could not place content.
Fortune her gifts may variously dispose,
And these be happy callid, unhappy those ;
But Heav'ns just balance equal will appear,
While those are plac'd in hope, and these in fear:
Not present good or ill, the joy or curse,
But future views of better, or of worse.
He tells us what the happiness of individuals is, as far as is consistent with the constitution of this world ; and here it appears that the good man has evidently the advantage.
Know, all the good that individuals find, Or God and nature meant to mere mankind ; Reason's whole pleasure, all the joys of sense, Lie in three words, health, peace, and
competence. But health consists with temperance alone, And peace, oh virtue !
is all thy own. The good or bad the gifts of fortune gain, But these less taste them, as they worse obtain.
After this he points out the error of imputing to virtue what are only the calamities of nature, or of fortune, and also the folly of expecting that God hould alter his general laws in favour of particulars. He proves that we are unable to judge who are good, but concludes that whoever they are they must be happy. He observes that