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AN ESSAY ON MAN.
OF THE NATURE AND STATE OF MAN WITH RESPECT
1. The whole universe one system of society. Nothing made
wholly for itself, nor yet wholly for another. The happiness of animals mutual. 2. Reason or instinct operate alike to the good of each individual. Reason or instinct operate also to society in all animals. 3. How far society carried by instinct;-how much farther by reason. 4. Of that which is called the state of nature. Reason instructed by instinct in the invention of arts ;—and in the forms of society. 5. Origin of political societies ;-origin of monarchy ;-patriarchal government. 6. Origin of true religion and government, from the same principle of love; -origin of superstition and tyranny, from the same principle of fear. The influence of self-love operating to the social and public good. Restoration of true religion and government on their first principle. Mixed government. Various forms of each, and the true end of all.
HERE then we rest:-" the Universal Cause
Let this great truth be present night and day,
1. Look round our world; behold the chain of
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 spreads 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
Know Nature's children all divide her care;
Grant that the powerful still the weak control; Be man the wit and tyrant of the whole ; Nature that tyrant checks ; he only knows, And helps another creature's wants and woes. Say will the falcon, stooping from above, Smit with her varying plumage, spare the dove? Admires the jay the insects gilded wings ? Or hears the hawk when Philomela sings ?Man cares for all: to birds he gives his woods, To beasts his pastures, and to fish his floods ; For some his interest prompts him to provide, For more his pleasure, yet for more his pride: All feed on one vain patron, and enjoy Th’extensive blessing of his luxury. That very life his learned hunger craves, He saves from famine, from the savage saves ;
Nay, feasts the animal he dooms his feast,
To each unthinking being, Heaven, a friend,
2. 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 labours 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
Who taught the nations of the field and wood
3. God in the nature of each being founds Its proper bliss, and sets its
proper bounds; But as he fram'd the 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 thro' 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.