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The only point where human bliss stands still,
And tastes the good without the fall to ill;
Where only merit constant pay receives,
Is bless'd 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, though 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, acquired,
For ever exercised, yet never tired;
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 Heaven could on all bestow!
Which who but feels can taste, but thinks can know:
Yet poor with fortune, and with learning blind,
The bad must miss, the good untaught will find;
Slave to no sect, who takes no private road,
But looks through Nature up to Nature's God;
Pursues that chain which links the' immense design,
Joins Heaven and Earth, and mortal and divine;
Sees that no being any bliss can know,
But touches some above and some below;
Learns from this union of the rising whole,
The first, last purpose of the human soul;
And knows where faith, law, morals, all began,
All end, in love of God and love of man.
For him alone Hope leads from goal to goal,
And opens still and opens on his soul,
Till lengthen'd on to Faith, and unconfined,
It pours the bliss that fills up all the mind.
He sees why Nature plants in man alone
Hope of known bliss, and faith in bliss unknown:
(Nature, whose dictates to no other kind
Are given in vain, but what they seek they find)
Wise is her present; she connects in this
His greatest virtue with his greatest bliss ;
At once his own bright prospect to be bless'd,
And strongest motive to assist the rest.
Self-love thus push'd to social, to divine,
Gives thee to make thy neighbour's blessing thine.
Is this too little for the boundless heart?
Extend it, let thy enemies have part:
Grasp the whole world of reason, life, and sense,
In one close system of benevolence:
Happier as kinder, in whate'er degree,
And height of bliss but height of charity.
God loves from whole to parts: but human soul Must rise from individual to the whole. Self-love but serves the virtuous mind to wake, As the small pebble stirs the peaceful lake; The centre moved, a circle straight succeeds, Another still, and still another spreads; Friend, parent, neighbour, first it will embrace; His country next, and next all human race; Wide and more wide, the' o'erflowings of the mind Take every creature in of every kind:
Earth smiles around, with boundless bounty bless'd, And Heaven beholds its image in his breast.
Come then, my friend! my genius! come along; O master of the poet and the song!
And while the Muse now stoops, or now ascends,
To man's low passions, or their glorious ends,
Teach me, like thee, in various nature wise,
To fall with dignity, with temper rise;
Form'd by thy converse, happily to steer
From grave to gay, from lively to severe;
Correct with spirit, eloquent with ease,
Intent to reason, or polite to please.
O! while along the stream of time thy name
Expanded flies, and gathers all its fame,
Say, shall my little bark attendant sail,
Pursue the triumph, and partake the gale?
When statesmen, heroes, kings, in dust
Whose sons shall blush their fathers were thy foes,
Shall then this verse to future age pretend
Thou wert my guide, philosopher, and friend?
That, urged by thee, I turn'd the tuneful art
From sounds to things, from fancy to the heart;
For Wit's false mirror held up Nature's light,
Show'd erring Pride-whatever is, is right;
That reason, passion, answer one great aim;
That true self-love and social are the same;
That virtue only makes our bliss below,
And all our knowledge is-ourselves to know,
DEO OPT. MAX.
FATHER of all! in every age,
In every clime, adored,
By saint, by savage, and by sage,
Jehovah, Jove, or Lord!
Thou great First Cause, least understood;
Who all my sense confined
To know but this, that thou art good,
And that myself am blind;
Yet gave me, in this dark estate,
To see the good from ill;
And binding Nature fast in Fate,
Left free the human will.
What conscience dictates to be done,
Or warns me not to do;
This teach me more than Hell to shun,
That more than Heaven pursue.
What blessings thy free bounty gives,
Let me not cast away;
For God is paid when man receives;
To' enjoy is to obey.
Yet not to earth's contracted span
Thy goodness let me bound,
Or think thee Lord alone of man,
When thousand worlds are round.
Let not this weak unknowing hand
Presume thy bolts to throw,
And deal damnation round the land
On each I judge thy foe.
If I am right, thy grace impart,
Still in the right to stay;
If I am wrong, O teach my heart
To find that better way.
Save me alike from foolish pride,
Or impious discontent,
At aught thy wisdom has denied,
Or aught thy goodness lent.
Teach me to feel another's woe,
To hide the fault I see:
That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.
Mean though I am, not wholly so,
Since quicken'd by thy breath:
O lead me, wheresoe'er I go,
Through this day's life or death!
This day be bread and peace my lot:
All else beneath the sun
Thou know'st if best bestow'd or not, And let thy will be done.
To Thee, whose temple is all space,
Whose altar, earth, sea, skies!
One chorus let all being raise!
All Nature's incense rise!