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See the blind beggar dance, the cripple sing,
The sot a hero, lunatic a king;
The starving chymist in his golden views
Supremely blest, the poet in his Muse.
See some strange comfort every state attend,
And pride bestow'd on all, a common friend :
See some fit passion every age supply;
Hope travels through, 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 plaything gives his youth delight,
A little louder, but as empty quite :
Scarfs, garters, gold, amuse his riper stage,
And beads and prayer-books are the toys of age:
Pleas'd with this bauble still, as that before;
"Till tir'd he sleeps, and Life's poor play is o'er.
Meanwhile Opinion gilds with varying rays
Those painted clouds that beautify our days:
Each want of happiness by Hope supplied,
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 lost, 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 still must rise;
"Tis this, Though man's a fool, yet GOD IS WISE.
Attract, attracted to, the next in place
Form'd and impell'd its neighbor 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 bubbles 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 Heaven 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 labors of this lord of all.
Know, Nature's children all divide her care;
OF THE NATURE AND STATE OF MAN WITH RE- The fur that warms a monarch, warm'd a bear.
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.
I. The whole universe one system of society. Grant that the powerful still the weak control; Nothing made wholly for itself, nor yet wholly Be man the wit and tyrant of the whole : for another. The happiness of animals mutual. Nature that tyrant checks; he only knows, II. Reason or instinct operate alike to the good And helps, another creature's wants and woes. of each individual. Reason or instinct operate Say, will the falcon, stooping from above, also to society in all animals. III. How far Smit with her varying plumage, spare the dove! society carried by instinct. How much farther Admires the jay the insect's gilded wings? by reason. IV. Of that which is called the state Or hears the hawk when Philomela sings? of nature. Reason instructed by instinct in the Man cares for all: to birds he gives his woods, invention of arts, and in the forms of society. To beasts his pastures, and to fish his floods: V. Origin of political societies. Origin of mon- For some, his interest prompts him to provide, archy Patriarchal government. VI. Origin of For more his pleasure, yet for more his pride: true religion and government, from the same All feed on one vain patron, and enjoy principle, of love. Origin of superstition and Th' extensive blessing of his luxury. tyranny, from the same principle of fear. The That very life his learned hunger craves, influence of self-love operating to the social and He saves from famine, from the savage saves; public good. Restoration of true religion and Nay, feasts the animal he dooms his feast, government on their first principle. Mixed gov- And, till he ends the being, makes it blest: ernment. Various forms of each, and the true Which sees no more the stroke, or feels the pain, end of all. Than favor'd man by touch ethereal slain. The creature had his feast of life before; Thou too must perish, when thy feast is o'er! To each unthinking being, Heaven, 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, of Death still draws nearer, never seeming near. Great standing miracle! that Heaven assign'd Its only thinking thing this turn of mind.
HERE then we rest; the Universal Cause
Acts to one end, but acts by various laws."
In all the madness of superfluous health,
The train of pride, the impudence of wealth,
Let this great truth be present night and day;
But most be present, if we preach or pray.
I. Look round our world; behold the chain
Combining all below and all above.
See plastic Nature working to this end,
The single atoms each to other tend,
II. Whether with reason, or with instinct blest, Know, all enjoy that power 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 th' 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 labors 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 powers
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
Heavens not his own, and worlds unknown before?
Who calls the council, states the certain day?
Who forms the phalanx, and who points the way?
III. God, in the nature of each being, founds
Its proper bliss, and sets its proper bounds:
But as he fram'd a 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 through 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 once 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 preserve the kind.
IV. Nor think, in Nature's state they blindly
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 undress'd,
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 plow, the worm to weave;
Learn of the little Nautilus to sail,
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 aëreal on the waving tree.
Learn each small people's genius, policies,
The ants' republic, and the realm of bees;
How those in common all their wealth bestow,
And anarchy without confusion know;
And these for ever, though a monarch reign,
Their separate cells and properties maintain.
Mark what unvaried laws preserve each state,
Laws wise as Nature, and as fix'd 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 wenk 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."
V. Great Nature spoke; observant man obey'd;
Cities were built, societies were made:
Here rose one little state; another near
Grew by like means, and join'd through love or fear
Did here the trees with ruddier burthens bend,
And there the streams in purer rills descend,
What War could ravish, Commerce could bestow;
And he return'd a friend, who came a foe.
Converse and Love mankind might strongly draw,
When Love was Liberty, and Nature Law.
Thus states were form'd; the name of king unknown,
Till common interest plac'd the sway in one.
"Twas Virtue only, (or in arts or arms,
Diffusing blessings, or averting harms,)
The same which in a sire the sons obey'd,
A prince the father of a people made.
VI. Till then, by Nature crown'd, each patriarch
King, priest, and parent, of his growing state:
On him, their second Providence, they hung,
Their law his eye, their oracle his tongue.
He from the wondering furrow call'd the food,
Taught to command the fire, control the flood,
Draw forth the monsters of th' abyss profound,
Or fetch th' aerial eagle to the ground.
Till drooping, sickening, dying, they began
Whom they rever'd as God to mourn as Man :
Then, looking up from sire to sire, explor'd
One great First Father, and that first ador'd.
Or plain tradition, that this All begun,
Convey'd unbroken faith from sire to son;
The worker from the work distinct was known,
And simple Reason never sought but one:
Ere Wit oblique had broke that steady light,
Man, like his Maker, saw that all was right;
To virtue, in the paths of pleasure trod,
And own'd a father when he own'd a God.
Love all the faith, and all th' allegiance then;
For Nature knew no right divine in men,
No ill could fear in God: and understood
A sovereign being, but a sovereign good.
True faith, true policy, united ran;
That was but love of God, and this of man.
Who first taught souls enslav'd, and realms undone,
Th' enormous faith of many made for one;
That proud exception to all Nature's laws,
T' invert the world and counter-work its cause?
Force first made conquest, and that conquest, law;
Till Superstition taught the tyrant awe,
Then shar'd the tyranny, then lent it aid,
And gods of conquerors, slaves of subjects made:
She midst th' lightning's blaze, and thunder's sound,
When rock'd the mountains, and when groan'd the
She taught the weak to bend, the proud to pray,
To power unseen, and mightier far than they :
She, from the rending earth, and bursting skies,
Saw gods descend, and fiends infernal rise:
Here fix'd the dreadful, there the blest abodes;
Fear made her devils, and weak Hope her gods;
Gods partial, changeful, passionate, unjust,
Whose attributes were rage, revenge, or lust;
Such as the souls of cowards might conceive,
And, form'd like tyrants, tyrants would believe.
Zeal, then, not charity, became the guide;
And Hell was built on spite, and Heaven on pride.
Then sacred seem'd th' ethereal vault no more;
Altars grew marble then, and reek'd with gore:
Then first the Flamen tasted living food;
Next his grim idol, smear'd with human blood;
With heaven's own thunders shook the world below,
And play'd the god an engine on his foe.
So drives Self-love, through just, and through
To one man's power, ambition, lucre, lust:
The same Self-love, in all, becomes the cause
Of what restrains him, government and laws.
For, what one likes, if others like as well,
What serves one will, when many wills rebel?
How shall he keep, what, sleeping or awake,
A weaker may surprise, a stronger take?
His safety must his liberty restrain:
All join to guard what each desires to gain.
Fore'd into virtue thus, by self-defence,
Ev'n kings learn'd justice and benevolence:
Self-love forsook the path it first pursued.
And found the private in the public good.
"Twas then the studious head or generous mind, Follower of God, or friend of human-kind,
Poet or patriot, rose but to restore
The faith and moral, Nature gave before;
Relum'd her ancient light, not kindled new;
If not God's image, yet his shadow drew:
Taught power's due use to people and to kings,
Taught nor to slack, nor strain its tender strings,
The less, or greater, set so justly true,
That touching one must strike the other too;
Till jarring interests of themselves create
Th' according music of a well-mix'd state.
Such is the world's great harmony, that springs
From order, union, full consent of things:
Where small and great, where weak and mighty
To serve, not suffer, strengthen, not invade;
More powerful each as needful to the rest,
And, in proportion as it blesses, blest;
Draw to one point, and to one centre bring
Beast, man, or angel, servant, lord, or king.
For forms of government let fools contest;
Whate'er is best administer'd is best:
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 thwarts this one great end;
And all of God, that bless mankind, or mend.
Man, like the generous 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 general frame,
And bade self-love and social be the same.
OF THE NATURE AND STATE OF MAN WITH RESPECT TO HAPPINESS.
I. False notions of happiness, philosophical and popular, answered. II. It is the end of all men, and attainable by all. 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. As it is necessary for order, and the peace and welfare of society, that external goods should be unequal, happiness is not made to consist in these. But, notwithstanding that inequality, the balance of happiness among mankind is kept even by Providence, by the two passions of Hope and Fear. III. What the happiness of individuals is, as far as is consistent with the constitution of this world; and that the good man has here the advantage. The error of imputing to virtue what are only the calamities of nature, or of fortune. IV. The folly of expecting that God should alter his general laws in favor of particulars. V. That we are not judges who are good; but that, whoever they are, they must be happiest. VI. That external goods are not the proper rewards, but often inconsistent with, or destructive of. virtue. That even these can make no man happy without virtue: instanced in riches. Honors.
Nobility. Greatness. Fame. Superior talents. Heaven breathes through every member of the whole With pictures of human infelicity in men, pos- One common blessing, as one common soul. sessed of them all. VII. That virtue only consti- But Fortune's gifts if each alike possest, tutes a happiness, whose object is universal, and And each were equal, must not all contest? whose prospect eternal. That the perfection of If then to all men happiness was meant, virtue and happiness consists in a conformity to God in externals could not place content. the order of Providence here, and a resignation to it here and hereafter.
OH HAPPINESS! our being's end and aim!
Good, Pleasure, Ease, Content! whate'er thy 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?
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 nowhere to be found, or everywhere:
"Tis never to be bought, but always free,
Fortune her gifts may variously dispose,
And these be happy call'd, unhappy those;
But Heaven's 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.
Oh, sons of Earth! attempt ye still to rise,
By mountains pil'd on mountains, to the skies?
Heaven still with laughter the vain toil surveys,
And buries madmen in the heaps they raise.
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! Peace is all thy own.
The good or bad the gifts of Fortune gain;
But these less taste them, as they worse obtain.
Say, in pursuit of profit or delight,
Who risk the most, that take wrong means, or right?
And, fled from monarchs, St. John! dwells with Of Vice or Virtue, whether blest or curst,
Ask of the learn'd the way? The learn'd are blind:
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'ry thing, 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 general 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 sorne way leans and hearkens to the kind:
No bandit fierce, no tyrant mad with pride,
No cavern'd hermit, rests self-satisfied:
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:
Which meets contempt, or which compassion first?
Count all th' advantage prosperous Vice attains,
"Tis but what Virtue flies from and disdains:
And grant the bad what happiness they would,
One they must want, which is to pass for good.
Oh blind to truth, and God's whole scheme below,
Who fancy bliss to Vice, to Virtue woe!
Who sees and follows that great scheme the best,
Best knows the blessing, and will most be blest.
But fools, the good alone, unhappy call,
For ills or accidents that chance to all.
See Falkland dies, the virtuous and the just!
See godlike Turenne prostrate on the dust!
See Sidney bleeds amid the martial strife!
Was this their virtue, or contempt of life?
Say, was it virtue, more though Heaven ne'er gave
Lamented Digby! sunk thee to the grave?
Tell me, if virtue made the son expire,
Why, full of days and honor, lives the sire?
Why drew Marseilles' good bishop purer breath,
When Nature sicken'd, and each gale was death'
Or why so long (in life if long can be)
Lent Heaven a parent to the poor and me
What makes all physical or moral ill?
There deviates Nature, and here wanders will.
God sends not ill; if rightly understood,
Or partial ill is universal good,
Or change admits, or Nature lets it fall,
Short, and but rare, till man improv'd it all.
We just as wisely might of Heaven complain
That righteous Abel was destroyed by Cain,
As that the virtuous son is ill at ease
When his lewd father gave the dire disease.
Think we, like some weak prince, th' Eternal Cause
Prone for his favorites to reverse his laws?
Shall burning Etna, if a sage requires,
Forget to thunder, and recall her fires?
On air or sea new motions be imprest,
Oh blameless Bethel! to relieve thy breast?
When the loose mountain trembles from on high,
Shall gravitation cease, if you go by?
Or some old temple, nodding to its fall,
For Chartres' head reserve the hanging wall?
But still this world (so fitted for the knave)
A better shall we have?
Contents us not.
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 Cæsar-but for Titus too;
What differ more," you cry, "than crown and
I'll tell you, friend! a wise man and a fool.
You'll find, if once the monarch acts the monk,
Or, cobbler-like, the parson will be drunk,
Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow;
The rest is all but leather or prunella.
Stuck o'er with titles, and hung round with
That thou may'st be by kings, or whores of kings.
Boast the pure blood of an illustrious race,
In quiet flow from Lucrece to Lucrece :
But, by your father's worth if yours you rate,
Count me those only who were good and great.
Go! if your ancient, but ignoble blood
Has crept through scoundrels ever since the Flood,
And which more blest? who chain'd his country, say, Go! and pretend your family is young;
Or he whose virtue sigh'd to lose a day?
But sometimes Virtue starves, while Vice is fed."
What then? Is the reward of Virtue bread?
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
Add health and power, and every earthly thing,
"Why bounded power? why private? why no king?"
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?
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.
Honor and shame from no condition rise;
Act well your part, there all the honor 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.
Nor own your fathers have been fools so long.
What can ennoble sots, or slaves, or cowards!
Alas! not all the blood of all the Howards.
Look next on greatness; say, where greatness
"Where but among the heroes and the wise?"
Heroes are much the same, the point's agreed,
From Macedonia's madman to the Swede;
The whole strange purpose of their lives, to find,
Or make, an enemy of all mankind !
Not one looks backward, onward still he goes,
Yet ne'er looks forward further than his nose.
No less alike the politic and wise:
All sly slow things, with circumspective eyes:
Men in their loose unguarded hours they take,
Not that themselves are wise, but others weak.
But grant that those can conquer, these can cheat:
"Tis phrase absurd to call a villain great;
Who wickedly is wise, or madly brave,
Is but the more a fool, the more a knave.
Who noble ends by noble means obtains,
Or, failing, smiles in exile or in chains,
Like good Aurelius let him reign, or bleed
Like Socrates, that man is great indeed.
What's fame? a fancied life in others' breath,
A thing beyond us, ev'n before our death.
Just what you hear, you have; and what's unknown,
The same, my lord, if Tully's, or your own.
All that we feel of it begins and ends
In the small circle of our foes or friends;
To all beside as much an empty shade
An Eugene living, as a Cæsar dead;
Alike or when, or where they shone, or shine,
Or on the Rubicon, or on the Rhine.
A wit's a feather, and a chief a rod :
An honest man's the noblest work of God.
Fame but from death a villain's name can save,
As Justice tears his body from the grave;
When what t'oblivion better were resign'd,
Is hung on high to poison half mankind.
All fame is foreign, but of true desert;
Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart:
One self-approving hour whole years outweighs
Of stupid starers, and of loud huzzas;
And more true joy Marcellus exil'd feels,
Than Cæsar with a senate at his heels.
In parts superior what advantage lies?
Tell (for you can) what is it to be wise?
"Tis but to know how little can be known;
To see all others' faults, and feel our own:
Condemn'd in business or in arts to drudge,
Without a second, or without a judge: