« AnteriorContinuar »
One common b
ne common soul.
Nobility. Greatness. Fame. Superior talents. | Heaven breathes through every member of the whole, With pictures of human infelicity in men, possessed of them all. VII. That virtue only But Fortune's gifts if each alike possest, constitutes a happiness, whose object is universal, And each were equal, must not all contest? and whose prospect eternal. That the perfec- If then to all men happiness was meant, tion of virtue and happiness consists in a con- God in externals could not place content. formity to the order of Providence here, and a Fortune her gifts may variously dispose, resignation to it here and hereafter.
And these be happy call’d, unhappy those;
But Heaven's just balance equal will appear, OH HAPPINESS! our being's end and aim ! While those are plac'd in hope, and these in fear: Good, Pleasure, Ease, Content! whate'er thy name: Not present good or ill, the joy or curse, That something still which prompts th' eternal sigh, But future views of better, or of worse. For which we bear to live, or dare to die,
On, sons of Earth! attempt ye still to rise, Wlich still so near us, yet beyond us lies,
By mountains pil'd on mountains, to the skies? O'erlook'd, seen double, by the fool and wise : Heaven still with laughter the vain toil surveys, Plant of celestial seed! if dropp'd below,
And buries madmen in the heaps they raise. Say, in what mortal soil thou deign'st to grow ? Know, all the good that individuals find, Fair opening to some court's propitious shine, Or God and Nature meant to mere mankind, Or deep with diamonds in the flaming mine? Reason's whole pleasure, all the joys of sense, Twin'd with the wreaths Parnassian laurels yieid, Lie in three words, Health, Peace, and Competence. Or reap'd in iron harvests of the field?
But Health consists with Temperance alone; Where grows? where grows it not? If vain our toil, ' And Peace, oh Virtue! Peace is all thy own. We ought to blame the culture, not the soil : The good or bad the gifts of Fortune gain; Fix'd to no spot is happiness sincere,
But these less taste them, as they worse obtain, 'Tis no where to be found, or every where : Say, in pursuit of profit or delight, 'Tis never to be bought, but always free,
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, thee.
| Which meets contempt, or which compassion first ? Ask of the learn'd the way ? 'The learn'd are blind : Count all th' advantage prosperous Vice attains, This bids to serve, and that to shun mankind; 'Tis but what Virtue Aies from and disdains : Some place the bliss in action, some in ease, And grant the bad what happiness they would, Those call it pleasure, and contentment these : One they must want, which is to pass for good. Sorne, sunk to beasts, find pleasure end in pain;
Oh blind to truth, and God's whole scheme below, Some, swell’d to gods, confess ev'n virtue vain ; Who fancy bliss to Vice, to Virtue woe! Or, indolent, to each extreme they fall,
Who secs and follows that great scheme the best, To trust in ev'ry thing, or doubt of all.
Best knows the blessing, and will most be blest. Who thus define it, say they more or less, But fools, the good alone, unhappy call, Than this, that happiness is happiness?
For ills or accidents that chance to all. Take Nature's path, and mad Opinion's leave; See Falkland dies, the virtuous and the just! All states can reach it, and all heads conceive; See godlike Turenne prostrate on the dust! Obvious her goods, in no extreme they dwell; See Sidney bleeds annid the martial strife! There needs but thinking right, and meaning well; Was this their virtue, or contempt of life ? And, mourn our various portions as we please, Say, was it virtue, more though Heaven ne'er gave, Equal is common sense, and common ease.
Lamented Digby! sunk thee to the grave ? Remember, man, “ the Universal Cause
| Tell me, if virtue made the son expire, Acts not by partial, but by gen'ral laws;"
Why, full of days and honour, lives the sire ? And makes what happiness we justly call,
| Why drew Marseilles' good bishop purer breath, Sabsist not in the good of one, but all.
When Nature sicken'd, and each gale was death? There's not a blessing individuals find,
Or why so long (in life if long can be)
What makes all physical or moral ill ?
There deviates Nature, and here wanders will.
Or partial ill is universal good,
Short, and but rare, till man improv'd it all. Each has his share; and who would more obtain, We just as wisely might of Heaven complain Shall find, the pleasure pays not half the pain. | That righteous Ábel was destroyed by Cain,
Order is Heaven's first law; and this confest, | As that the virtuous son is ill at ease
That such are bappier, shocks all common sense. Prone for his favourites to reverse his laws ?
Shall burning Ætna, if a sage requires,
Forget to thunder, and recall her fires ?
On air or sea new motions be imprest,
When the loose mountain trembles from on high, Bliss is the same in subject or in king,
Shall gravitation cease, if you go by ? In who obtain defence, or who defend,
Or some old temple, nodding to its fall, In him who is, or him who finds a friend :
For Chartres' head reserve the hanging wall ?
But still this world (so fitted for the knave) | “What differ more," you cry, “than crown and Contents us not. A better shall we have ?
cowl!” A kingdom of the just then let it be:
I'll tell you, friend ! a wise man and a fool. But first consider how those just agree.
You'll find, if once the monarch acts the monk, The good must merit God's peculiar care;
Or, cobbler-like, the parson will be drunk, But who, but God, can tell us who they are ? Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow; One thinks on Calvin Heaven's own spirit fell; The rest is all but leather or prunella. Another deems him instrument of Hell ;
Stuck o'er with titles, and hung round with If Calvin feels Heaven's blessing, or its rod,
strings This cries, there is, and that, there is no God. | That thou mayst be by kings, or whores of kings. What shocks one part, will edify the rest,
Boast the pure blood of an illustrious race, Nor with one system can they all be blest.
In quiet flow from Lucrece to Lucrece: The very best will variously incline,
| But, by your father's worth if yours you rate, And what rewards your virtue, punish mine. Count me those only who were good and great, WHATEVER IS, IS RIGHT.—This world, 'tis true, , Go! if your ancient, but ignoble blood Was made for Cæsar-but for Titus too;
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?
Nor own your fathers have been fools so long. “ But sometimes Virtue starves, while Vice is fed.” What can ennoble sots, or slaves, or cowards? What then? Is the reward of Virtue bread ?
Alas! not all the blood of all the Howards. That, Vice may merit, 'tis the price of toil;
Look next on greatness ; say, where greatness The knave deserves it, when he tills the soil;
lies: The knave deserves it, when he tempts the main, .“ Where but among the heroes and the wise ?" Where folly fights for kings, or dives for gain. | Heroes are much the same, the point's agreed, The good man may be weak, be indolent;
From Macedonia's madman to the Swede : Nor is his claim to plenty, but content.
The whole strange purpose of their lives, to find, But grant him riches, your demand is o'er ? Or make, an enemy of all mankind! “ No shall the good want health, the good want Not one looks backward, onward still he goes, power?"
Yet ne'er looks forward further than luis nose. Add health and power, and every earthly thing, No less alike the politic and wise : “Why bounded power? why private? why noking?" All sly slow things, with circumspective eyes: Nay, why external for internal given ?
Men in their loose unguarded hours they take,
What nothing earthly gives, or can destroy, Who noble ends by noble means obtains,
Like Socrates, that man is great indeed.
A thing beyond us, ev'n before our death.
All that we feel of it begins and ends
To all beside as much an empty shade
An Eugene living, as a Cæsar dead : As well as dream such trifles are assign'd,
Alike or when, or where they shone, or shine, As toys and empires, for a godlike mind;
Or on the Rubicon, or on the Rhine. Rewards, that either would to virtue bring
A wit's a feather, and a chief a rod : No joy, or be destructive of the thing;
An honest man's the noblest work of God. How oft by these at sixty are undone
Fame but from death a villain's name can save, The virtues of a saint at twenty-one!
As Justice tears his body from the grave; To whom can riches give repute, or trust,
When what t'oblivion better were resign'd, Content, or pleasure, but the good and just ? Is hung on high to poison half mankind. Judges and senates have been bought for gold; All fame is foreign, but of true desert; Esteern and love were never to be sold.
Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart : Oh fool! to think God hates the worthy mind, One self-approving hour whole years outweighs The lover and the love of human-kind,
Of stupid starers, and of loud huzzas;
In parts superior what advantage lies?
Truths would you teach, or save a sinking land ? Sees, that no being any bliss can know,
Learns from this union of the rising whole
The first, last purpose of the human soul; Bring then these blessings to a strict account ; And knows where faith, law, morals, all began, Make fair deductions; see to what they mount : All end in love of God, and love of man. How much of other each is sure to cost;
For him alone, Hope leads from goal to goal, How much for other oft is wholly lost ;
And opens still, and opens on his soul: How inconsistent greater goods with these;
Till lengthen'd on to Faith, and unconfin'd, How sometimes life is risk'd, and always ease : It pours the bliss that fills up all the mind. Think, and if still the things thy envy call,
He sees, why Nature plants in man alone Say, wouldst thou be the man to whom they fall? Hope of known bliss, and faith in bliss unknown : 'To sigh for ribbands, if thou art so silly,
(Nature, whose dictates to no other kind Mark how they grace Lord Umbra, or Sir Billy. Are given in vain, but what they seek they find :) Is yellow dirt the passion of thy life?
Wise is her present; she connects in this
His greatest virtue with his greatest bliss ;
Self-love thus push'd to social, to divine,
Is this too little for the boundless heart?
In one close system of benevolence:
And height of bliss but height of charity.
His country next; and next all human race; 0! wealth ill-fated ; which no act of fame
Wide and more wide, th' o'erflowings of the mind E'er taught to shine, or sanctify'd from shame!
Take every creature in, of every kind; What greater bliss attends their close of life? Earth smiles around, with boundless bounty blest, Some greedy minion, or imperious wife,
And Heaven beholds its image in his breast. The trophy'd arches, story'd halls invade,
Come then, my friend! my genius! come along! And haunt their slumbers in the pompous shade. | Oh master of the poet, and the song! Alas! not dazzled with their noon-tide ray, And while the Muse now stoops, or now ascends, Compute the morn and evening to the day ; To man's low passions, or their glorious ends, The whole amount of that enormous fame,
Teach me, like thec, in various nature wise, A tale, that blends their glory with their shame! To fall with dignity, with temper rise;
Know then this truth (enough for man to know), Form'd by thy converse, happily to steer, 4 Virtue alone is happiness below."
From grave to gay, from lively to severe; The only point where human bliss stands still, Correct with spirit, eloquent with ease, And tastes the good without the fall to ill;
Intent to reason, or polite to please. Where only merit constant pay receives,
Oh ! while along the stream of time thy name Is blest in what it takes, and what it gives;
Expanded flies, and gathers all its fame; The joy unequall'd, if its end it gain,
Say, shall my little bark attendant sail, And if it lose, attended with no pain :
Pursue the triumph, and partake the gale ? Without satiety, though e'er so blest,
When statesmen, heroes, kings, in dust repose, And but more relish'd as the more distress'd : Whose sons shall blush their fathers were thy foes, The broadest mirth unfeeling Folly wears,
Shall then this verse to future age pretend Less pleasing far than Virtue's very tears :
Thou wert my guide, philosopher, and friend? Good, from each object, from each place acquir'd, That, urg'd by thee, I turn'd the tuneful art, For ever exercis'd, yet never tir'd;
From sounds to things, from fancy to the heart; Neper elated, while one man's oppressid ;
For Wit's false mirror held up Nature's light; Never dejected, while another's blest;
Show'd erring Pride, WHATEVER IS, IS RIGHT ; And where no wants, no wishes can remain, That reason, passion, answer one great aim; Since but to wish more virtue, is to gain.
That true self-love and social are the same;
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;
Maxims are drawn from notions, these from guess. Est brevitate opus, ut currat sententia, neu se There's some peculiar in each leaf and grain, Impediat verbis lassas onerantibus aures:
Some unmark'd fibre, or some varying vein : Et sermone opus est modo tristi, sæpe jocoso, Shall only man be taken in the gross ? Defendente vicem modo Rhetoris atque Poëta,
Grant but as many sorts of mind as moss. Interdum urbani, parcentis viribus, atque
That each from other differs, first confess;
Next, that he varies from himself no less;
And all opinion's colours cast on life.
Quick whirls, and shifting eddies, of our minds?
On human actions reason though you can,
It may be reason, but it is not man : OF THE KNOWLEDGE AND CHARACTERS OF MEN.
| His principle of action once explore,
That instant 'tis his principle no more.
Like following life through creatures you dissect, Argument.
You lose it in the moment you detect.
Yet more ; the difference is as great between 1. That it is not sufficient for this knowledge to
to | The optics seeing, as the objects seen.
' consider man in the abstract: books will not
All manners take a tincture from our own ; serve the purpose, nor yet our own experience
Or come discolour'd through our passions shown. singly. General maxims, unless they be formed
Or Fancy's beam enlarges, multiplies, upon hoth, will be but notional. Some pecu
Contracts, inverts, and gives ten thousand dyes. liarity in every man, characteristic to himself,
Nor will life's stream for observation stay, yet varying from himself.
Difficulties arising | It hurries all too fast to mark their way :
Difficulties arising | from our own passions, fancies, faculties. The
In vain sedate reflections we would make, shortness of life to observe in, and the uncertainty
rtainty | When half our knowledge we must snatch, not take. of the principles of action in men to observe by.
rve by. | Oft, in the passion's wild rotation tost, Our own principle of action often hid from our
| Our spring of action to ourselves is lost : selves. Some few characters plain, but in general Tir'd, not determin'd, to the last we yield, confounded, dissembled, or inconsistent. The
And what comes then is master of the field. same man utterly different in different places and
As the last image of that troubled heap, seasons. Unimaginable weaknesses in the greatest. When sense subsides and fancy sports in sleep, Nothing constant and certain but God and na- (Though past the recollection of the thought,) ture. No judging of the inotives from the ac- Becomes the stuff of which our dream is wrought: tions; the same actions proceeding froin contrary Something as dim to our internal view, motives, and the same motives influencing con- Is thus, perhaps, the cause of most we do. trary actions. II. Yet, to form characters, we True, some are open, and to all men known; can only take the strongest actions of a man's | Others, so very close, they're hid from none; life, and try to make them agree: the utter un (So darkness strikes the sense no less than light,) certainty of this, from nature itself, and from
IS, Irom nature itself, and from Thus gracious Chandos is belov'd at sight; policy. Characters given according to the rank And every child hates Shylock, though his soul of men of the world : and some reason for it. | Still sits at squat, and peeps not from its hole. Education alters the nature, or at least character | At half mankind when generous Manly raves, of many. Actions, passions, opinions, manners, All know 'ris virtue, for he thinks them knaves : humours, or principles, all subject to change. When universal homage Umbra pays, No judging by nature. III. It only remains to All see 'tis vice, an itch of vulgar praise. find (if we can) his ruling passion : that will / When flattery glares, all hate it in a queen, certainly influence all the rest, and can reconcile While one there is who charms us with his spleen. the seeming or real inconsistency of all his ac- ! But these plain characters we rarely find : tions. Instanced in the extraordinary character Though strong the bent, yet quick the turns of mind: of Clodio. A caution against mistaking second | Or puzzling contraries confound the whole ; qualities for first, which will destroy all possibility | Or affectations quite reverse the soul. of the knowledge of mankind. Examples of the The dull, flat falsehood serves for policy; strength of the ruling passion, and its continu And, in the cunning, truth itself's a lie : ation to the last breath.
Unthought-of frailties cheat us in the wise;
The fool lies hid in inconsistencies. Yes, you despise the man to books confin'd,
See the same man, in vigour, in the gout; Who from his study rails at human-kind;
Alone, in company; in place, or out; Though what he learns he speaks, and may advance Early at business, and at hazard late; Some general maxims, or be right by chance. Mad at a fox-chace, wise at a debate; The coxcomb bird, so talkative and grave, | Drunk at a borough, civil at a ball; That from his cage cries cuckold, whore, and knave,
Friendly at Hackney, faithless at Whitehall. Though many a passenger he rightly call,
Catius is ever moral, ever grave, You hold hiin no philosopher at all.
| Thinks who ondures a knave, is next a kaave,
Save just at dinner then presers, no doubt, 'Tis education forms the common mind;
Just as the twig is bent, the tree's inclin'd. Who would not praise Patricio's high desert, | Boastful and rough, your first son is a 'squire ; His hand unstain'd, his uncorrupted heart,
The next a tradesman meek, and much a liar : His comprehensive head! all interests weigh'd, Tom struts a soldier, open, bold, and brave; All Europe sav'd, yet Britain not betray'd. Will sneaks a scrivener, an exceeding knave : He thanks you not, his pride is in piquette, Is le a churchman ? then he's fond of power : Newmarket fame, and judgment at a bet. [ron!) | A quaker ? sly: a presbyterian ? sour:
What made (say, Montagne, or more sage Char A smart free-thinker? all things in an hour. Otho a warrior, Cromwell a buffoon?
Ask men's opinions: Scoto now shall tell A perjured prince a leaden saint revere,
How trade increases, and the world goes well ; A godless regent tremble at a star ?
Strike off his pension, by the setting sun, The throne a bigot keep, a genius quit,
And Britain, if not Europe, is undone. Faithless through piety, and dup'd through wit? That gay free-thinker, a fine talker once, Europe a woman, child, or dotard rule,
What turns him now a stupid, silent dunce? And just her wisest monarch made a fool ?
Some god, or spirit, he has lately found;
Judge we by nature ? habit can efface,
By passions ? these dissimulation hides :
Find, if you can, in what you cannot change. That what we chanc'd, was what we meant to do. Manners with fortunes, humours turn with climes, Behold if Fortune or a mistress frowns,
Tenets with books, and principles with times. Some plunge in business, others shave their crowns; Search then the ruling passion : there, alone, To ease the soul of one oppressive weight,
The wild are constant, and the cunning known; This quits an empire, that embroils a state :
The fool consistent, and the false sincere ; The same adust complexion has impellid
Priests, princes, women, no dissemblers here. Charles to the convent, Philip to the field.
This clue once found, unravels all the rest, Not always actions show the man: we find The prospect clears, and Wharton stands confest. Who does a kindness, is not therefore kind : Wharton, the scorn and wonder of our days, Perhaps prosperity becalm’d his breast,
Whose ruling passion was the lust of praise ; Perhaps the wind just shifted from the east :
Born with whate'er could win it from the wise, Not therefore humble he who seeks retreat, Women and fools must like him, or he dies : Pride guides his steps, and bids him shun the great : Though wondering senates hung on all he spoke, Who combats bravely is not therefore brave, The club must hail him master of the joke. He dreads a death-bed like the meanest slave : Shall parts so various aim at nothing new ? Who reasons wisely is not therefore wise,
He'll shine a Tully and a Wilmot too. His pride in reasoning, not in acting, lies.
Then turns repentant, and his God adores But grant that actions best discover man; With the same spirit that he drinks and whores; Take the most strong, and sort them as you can. Enough if all around him but admire, The few that glare, each character must mark, And now the punk applaud, and now the friar. You balance not the many in the dark.
Thus with each gift of Nature and of Art, What will you do with such as disagree?
And wanting nothing but an honest heart; Suppress them, or miscall them policy?
Grown all to all, from no one vice exempt; Must then at once (the character to save)
And most contemptible, to shun contempt; The plain rough hero turn a crafty knave ? His passion still, to covet general praise ; Alas! in truth the man but chang'd his mind, His life, to forfeit it a thousand ways; Perbaps was sick, in love, or had not din'd.
A constant bounty, which no friend has made; Ask why from Britain Cæsar would retreat ? An angel tongue, which no man can persuade ; Cæsar himself might whisper, he was beat.
A fool, with more of wit than half mankind, Why risk the world's great empire for a punk? Too rash for thought, for action too refin'd: Cæsar perhaps might answer, he was drunk.
A tyrant to the wife his heart approves; But, sage historians! 'tis your task to prove
A rebel to the very king he loves; One action, conduct; one, heroic love.
He dies, sad outcast of each church and state, 'Tis from high life high characters are drawn : And, harder still! flagitious, yet not great. A saint in crape is twice a saint in lawn ;
Ask you why Wharton broke through every rule ? A judge is just, a chancellor juster still ;
'Twas all for fear the knaves should call hiin fool. A gownman learn'd; a bishop, what you will ; Nature well known, no prodigies remain, Wise, if a minister ; but, if a king, thing. Comets are regular, and Wharton plair. More wise, more learn'd, more just, more every | Yet, in this search, the wisest may mistake, Court-virtues bear, like gems, the highest rate, If second qualities for first they take. Born where Heaven's influence scarce can penetrate: When Catiline by rapine swell’d his store ; In life's low vale, the soil the virtues like,
When Cæsar made a noble dame a whore ; They please as beauties, here as wonders strike. In this the lust, in that the avarice, Though the same Sun with all diffusive rays Were means, not ends; ambition was the vicc. Blush in the rose, and in the diamond blaze,
That very Cæsar, born in Scipio's days, We prize the stronger effort of his power,
Had aim'd, like him, by chastity, at praise. And justly set the gem above the flower.