« PreviousContinue »
With the vain stir. I sum up half mankind,
And add two thirds of the remaining half,
And find the total of their hopes and fears
Dreams, empty dreams. The million flit as gay
As if created only like the fly,
That spreads his motley wings in th' eye
To sport their season, and be seen no more.
The rest are fober dreamers, grave and wise,
And pregnant with discov'ries new and rare.
Some write a narrative of wars, and feats
Of heroes little known; and call the rant
An history: describe the man, of whom
His own coevals took but little note;
And paint his person, character, and views,
As they had known him from his mother's womb.
They disentangle from the puzzled skein,
In which obscurity has wrapp'd them up,
The threads of politic and shrewd design,
That ran through all his purposes, and charge
His mind with meanings that he never had,
Or, having, kept conceal’d. Some drill and bore
The folid earth, and from the strata there
Extract a register, by which we learn,
That he who made it, and reveal'd its date
To Moses, was mistaken in its
Some, more acute, and more industrious still,
Contrive creation; travel nature up
To the sharp peak of her sublimest height,
And tell us whence the stars; why some are fix'd,
And planetary fome; what gave
Rotation, from what fountain flow'd their light.
Great contest follows, and much learned duft
Involves the combatants; each claiming truth,
And truth disclaiming both. And thus they spend
The little wick of life's
In playing tricks with nature, giving laws
To distant worlds, and trifling in their own.
Is 't not a pity now, that tickling rheums
Should ever tease the lungs and blear the sight
Of oracles like these ? Great pity too,
That, having wielded th' elements, and built
A thousand fystems, each in his own way,
They should go out in fume, and be forgot ?
Ah! what is life thus spent ? and what are they
But frantic who thus spend it? all for smoke-
Eternity for bubbles, proves at last
A senseless bargain. When I see such games
Play'd by the creatures of a pow'r who swears
That he will judge the earth, and call the fool
To a sharp reck’ning that has liv'd in vain;
And when I weigh this seeming wisdom well,
it in th' infallible result
So hollow and so falfe--I feel my heart
Diffolve in pity, and account the learn'd,
If this be learning, most of all deceiv'd.
Great crimes alarm the conscience, but it seeps
While thoughtful man is plausibly amus’d.
Defend me, therefore, common sense, say I,
From reveries so airy, from the toil
Of dropping buckets into empty wells,
And growing old in drawing nothing up!
'Twere well, says one fage erudite, profound, Terribly, arch'd and aquiline his nose, And overbuilt with most impending brows, 'Twere well, could you permit the world to live As the world pleases. What's the world to you ?Much. I was born of woman, and drew milk, As sweet as charity, from human breasts. I think, articulate, I laugh and weep, And exercise all functions of a man. How then should I and any man that lives Be strangers to each other? Pierce my vein, Take of the crimson stream meand'ring there, And catechise it well; apply thy glass, Search it, and prove now if it be not blood Congenial with thine own: and, if it be, What edge of subtlety canst thou suppose Keen enough, wise and skilful as thou art,
To cut the link of brotherhood, by which
One common Maker bound me to the kind ?
True; I am no proficient, I confess,
In arts like your's. I cannot call the swift
And perilous lightnings from the angry clouds,
And bid them hide themselves in earth beneath;
I cannot analyse the air, nor catch
The parallax of yonder luminous point,
That seems half quench'd in the immense abyss :
Such pow'rs, I boast not--neither can I rest
A silent witness of the headlong rage
Or heedless folly by which thoufands die,
Bone of my bone, and kindred fouls to mine.
God never meant that man fhould fcale the heav'ns
By strides of human wisdom. In his works,
Though wond'rous, he commands us in his word
To seek bim rather, where his mercy shines.
The mind indeed, enlightend from above,
Views him in all; ascribes to the grand cause