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النشر الإلكتروني

AN ESSAY ON MAN.

EPISTLE III.

OF THE NATURE AND STATE OF MAN WITH RESPECT

TO SOCIETY.

ARGUMENT.

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
Acts to one end, but acts by various laws.”
In all the madness of superfluous health,
The trim of pride, the impudence of wealth,

Let this great truth be present night and day,
But most be present, if we preach or pray.

1. Look round our world; behold the chain of
Combining all below and all above. [love
See plastic nature working to this end,
The single atoms each to other tend,
Attract, attracted to, the next in place
Form'd and impell’d its neighbour 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 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
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 ploughs 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.

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,
And till he ends the being makes it blest ;
Which sees no more the stroke, or feels the pain,
Than favour'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,
Death still draws nearer, never seeming near.
Great standing miracle! that Heaven assign'd
Its only thinking thing this turn of mind.

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
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 bade 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?

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.

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