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Though still, to make the destin'd course more plain,
Thick are our erring paths beset with pain;
Nor has one object equal charms to prove
The fitting centre of our restless love.
And when the great Creator's will had join'd,
Unequal pair the body and the mind,
Lest the proud spirit should neglect her clay,
He bad corporeal objects thought convey;
Each strong sensation to the soul impart,
Ecstatic transport or afflicting smart :
By that entic'd, the useful she enjoys;
By this deterr'd, she flies whate'er destroys:
Hence from the dagger's point sharp anguish flows,
And the soft couch is spread with sweet repose.
In something frail, though genʼral this design, For some exceptions every rule confine : Yet few were they, while nature's genuine store; Supply'd our wants, nor man yet sought for more; Ere diff'rent mixtures left no form the same, And vicious habits chang'd our sickly frame. Now subtle art may gild the venom'd pill, And bait with soothing sweets destructive ill.
To narrow self heav'n's impulse unconfin'd
Diffusive reigns, and takes in all our kind.
The smile of joy reflected joy imparts ;
The wretch's groans pierce sympathizing hearts.
Yet not alike are all conjoin'd with all,
Nor throng with rival heat to nature's call:
By varying instinct different ties are known,
While love superior points to each his own;
Those next the reach of our assisting hands,
And those to whom we're link'd by kindred bands;
Those who most want, and best deserve our care,
In warmer streams the sacred influence share :
Ambrosial sweets her infant's lip distils,
While through the mother's heart quick rapture
The social fires friend, servant, neighbour claim,
Which blaze collected in the patriot's flame :
Hence Britain throbs superior in thy soul,
Nor idly wak'st thou for the distant pole.
Yet farther still the saving instinct moves, And to the future wide extends our loves; Glows in our bosom for an unborn race, And warms us mutual to the kind embrace. For this, to man was giv'n the graceful air; For this, was woman form'd divinely fair.
But now to pleasure sensual views confin'd, Reach not the use, for which it was design'd: To this one point our hopes, our wishes tend, And thus mistake the motive for the end. Whate'er sensations from enjoyment flow, Our erring thought to matter's force would owe; To that ascribe our pleasures and our pains, And blindly for the cause mistake the means; In od❜rous meads the vernal gale we praise,
Or dread the storm, that blows the wintry seas;
While he's unheeded, who alone can move,
Claims all our fears, and merits all our love;
Alone to souls can sense and thought convey,
Through the dark mansions of surrounding clay.
Man, part from heav'n, and part from humble earth,
A motley substance, takes his various birth;
Close link'd to both, he hangs in diff'rent chains,
The pliant fetter length'ning as he strains.
If, bravely conscious of her native fires,
To the bold height his nobler frame aspires;
Near as she soars to join th' approaching skies,
Our earth still lessens to her distant eyes.
But if o'erpois'd she sinks, her downward course
Each moment weighs, with still augmenting force
Low and more low, the burthen'd spirit bends,
While weaker still each heav'nly link extends;
'Till prostrate, grov'ling, fetter'd to the ground,
She lies in matter's heap o'erwhelm'd and bound.
Wrapt in the toils of sin, just heav'n employs
What caus'd her guilt, to blast her lawless joys:
Love, potent guardian of our length'ning race,
Unnerves the feeble lecher's cold embrace;
And appetite, by nature giv'n to save,
Sinks the gorg'd glutton in his early grave.
What sends yon fleet o'er boist'rous seas to roll, Beneath the burning line, and frozen pole?
Why ravage men the hills, the plains, the woods?
Why spoil all nature, earth, and air, and floods?
Seek they some prize to help a sinking state?
No-this must all be done ere Bernard eat.
Tell it some untaught savage! with surprize
He asks, "How vast must be that giant's size!
"How great his pow'r, who thousands can employ !
"How great his force, who millions can destroy!"
But if the savage would, more curious, know
What potent virtues from such viands flow,
What blest effects they cause-consult with Sloane,
Let him explain the colic, gout, and stone!
Pleasure's for use; it differs in degree,
Proportion'd to the thing's necessity.
Hence various objects variously excite,
And diff'rent is the date of each delight;
But when th' allotted end we once attain,
Each step beyond it, is a step to pain.
Nor let us murmur-Hath not earth a store
For every want? it was not meant for more.
Blest is the man, as far as earth can bless, Whose measur'd passions reach no wild excess; Who, urg'd by nature's voice, her gifts enjoys, Nor other means, than nature's force, employs. While warm with youth the sprightly current flows, Each vivid sense with vigʼrous rapture glows;
And when he droops beneath the hand of age,
No vicious habit stings with fruitless rage;
Gradual, his strength, and gay sensations cease,
While joys tumultuous sink in silent peace.
Far other is his lot, who not content
With what the bounteous care of nature meant,
With labour'd skill would all her joys dilate,
Sublime their sense, and lengthen out their date :
Add, blend, compose, each various mixture try,
And wind up appetite to luxury.
Thus guilty art unknown desires implants,
And viler arts must satisfy their wants;
When to corruption by himself betray'd,
Gold blinds the slave, whom luxury has made.
The hand that form'd us, must some use intend, It gives us pow'rs proportion'd to that end; And happiness may justly be defin'd, A full attainment of the end design'd. Virtue and wisdom this alike implies, And blest must be the virtuous and the wise,
Bliss is ordain'd for all, since Heav'n intends All beings should attain their destin'd ends: For this the fair idea shines confess'd
To every mind, and glows in every breast.
Compar'd with this, all mortal joys are vain;
Inspir'd by this, we restless onward strain.
High though we mount, the object mounts more high, Eludes our grasp, and mingles with the sky.