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The whole UNIVERSE one SYSTEM of SOCIETY.
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 impell'd its neighbour to embrace.
See matter next, with various life endu'd,
Press to one centre still, the gen'ral 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 flow'ry 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 shall 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.
NOR think, in NATURE'S STATE they blindly trod;
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 cloath'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 undrest,
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 gen'ral groan,
Murders their species, and betrays his own.
But just disease to luxury succeeds,
And ev'ry death its own avenger breeds;
The fury-passions from that blood began,
And turn'à on Man a fiercer savage, Man.
REASON instructed by INSTINCT in the INVENTION of ARTS, and in FORMS of SOCIETY.
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 aërial 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, tho' a Monarch reign,
"Their sep❜rate cells and properties maintain.
"Mark what unvary'd 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 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."
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, thro' love or fear.
Did here the trees with ruddier burdens 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 int'rest 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.
The GIFTS of FORTUNE UNEQUALLY DISTRIBUTED: Happiness does not consist in the superabundance of these,
BUT IN HEALTH, PEACE, AND COMPETENCE.
ORDER is Heaven's first law; and this confest,
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 diff'rence 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 :
Heav'n breathes thro' ev'ry member of the whole
One common blessing, as one common soul.
But Fortune's gifts if each alike possest,
And each were equal, must not all contest?
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 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?
Heav'n 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.
Bay, in pursuit of profit or delight,
Who risk the most, that take wrong means, or right?
Of Vice or Virtue, whether blest or curst,
Which meets contempt, or which compassion first?
Count all th' advantage prosp rous Vice attains,
"Tis but what Virtue flies from and disdains:
And grant the bad what happiness they wou'd,
One they must want, which is, to pass for good.
HONOUR consists in ACTING our PART well.
HONOUR and shame from no Condition rise:
Act well your part, there all the honour lies.
Fortune in Men has some small diff'rence made,
One flaunts in rags, one flutters in brocade;
The cobler apron'd, and the parson gown'd,
The friar hooded, and the monarch crown'd.
"What differ more (you cry) than crown and cowl!”
I'll tell you, friend! a wise man and a fool.
You'll find, if once the monarch acts the monk,
Or, cobler-like, the parson will be drunk,
Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow;
The rest is all but leather and prunella.
VIRTUE the sole FOUNDATION of HAPPINESS.
KNOW then this truth (enough for Man to know)
"Virtue alone is happiness below."
The only point where human bliss stands still,
And tastes the good without the fall to ill;
Where only Merit constant pay receives,
Is blest in what it takes, and what it gives;
The joy unequall'd, if its end it gain,
And if it lose, attended with no pain:
Without satiety, tho' e'er so bless'd,
And but more relish'd as the more distress'd:
The broadest mirth, unfeeling Folly wears,
Less pleasing far than Virtue's very tears:
Good, from each object, from each place acquir'd,
For ever exercis'd, yet never tir'd;
Never elated, while one man's oppress'd;
Never dejected, while another's bless'd;
And where no wants, no wishes can remain,
Since but to wish more Virtue, is to gain.
See the sole bliss Heav'n could on all bestow!
Which who but feels can taste, but thinks can know :
poor with fortune, and with learning blind,
The bad must miss, the good, untaught, will find;