Attention, habit and experience gains;
By Alexander Pope (1688-1744).
[Analysis - NO or YES.]
EPISTLE I (extracts)
He, who thro' vast immensity can pierce,
See worlds on worlds compose one universe,
Observe how system into system runs,
What other planets circle other suns,
Look'd thro'? or can a part contain the whole?
Is the great chain that draws all to agree, -
And, drawn, supports - upheld by God or thee?
As of thy mother Earth, why oaks are made
Taller or stronger than the weeds they shade.
And all that rises, rise in due degree;
Then, in the sale of reas'ning life, 'tis plain
There must be, somewhere, such a rank as Man.
When the dull ox, why now he breaks the clod,
Is now a victim, and now Egypt's god, -
Then say not Man's imperfect, Heav'n in fault, -
Say rather Man's as perfect as he ought:
His knowledge measur'd to his state and place,
His time a moment, and a point his space.
The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day,
Had he thy reason, would he skip and play?
Pleas'd to the last he crops the flow'ry food,
And licks the hand just rais'd to shed his blood.
Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,
A hero perish, or a sparrow fall,
Atoms or systems into ruin hurl'd,
And now a bubble burst, and now a world.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blest:
The soul uneasy and confin'd from home,
Rest and expatiates in a life to come.
Lo, the poor Indian! whose untutor'd mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind;
His soul proud Science never taught to stray
Far as the solar walk or milky way;
Yet simple Nature to his hope has giv'n,
Behind the cloud-topp'd hill, a humbler heav'n;
Some safer world in depth of woods embrac'd,
Some happier island in the wat'ry waste,
Where slaves once more their native land behold,
No fiends torment, no Christians thirst for gold!
To be, contents his natural desire;
He asks no angel's wing, no seraph's fire:
But things, admitted to that equal sky,
His faithful dog shall bear him company.
Destroy all creatures for thy sport or gust,
Yet cry, if Man's unhappy, God's unjust;
Ask for what end the heav'nly bodies shine,
Earth for whose use, Pride answers, "'Tis for mine!
"For me kind Nature wakes her genial pow'r,
"Suckles each herb and spreads out ev'ry flow'r;
Better for us, perhaps, it might appear,
Were there are harmony, all virtue here;
That never air or ocean felt the wind;
That never passion discompos'd the mind.
But all subsists by elemental strife;
And passions are the elements of life.
The gen'ral Order since the whole began
Is kept in Nature, and is kept in Man.
Here with degrees of swiftness, there of force:
All in exact proportion to the state;
Nothing to add, and nothing to abate.
Each beast, each insect, happy in its own:
Is Heav'n unkind to Man, and Man alone?
Shall he alone, whom rational we call,
Be pleas'd with nothing, if not bless'd with all?
The spider's tough how exquisitely fine!
Feels at each thread, and lives along the line:
In the nice bee, what sense so subtly true
From pois'nous herbs extracts the healing dew?
Or in the full creation leave a void,
Where, one step broken, the great scale's destroy'd:
From Nature's chain whatever link you strike,
Tenth or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike.
All this dread order break - for whom? for thee?
Vile worm! - oh madness! pride! impiety!
Safe in the hand of one disposing Pow'r,
Or in the natal, or the mortal hour.
All Nature is but Art, unknown to thee;
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see
All discord, harmony not understood,
All partial evil, universal good:
And, spite of pride, in erring reason's spite,
One truth is clear, whatever is, is right.
Alas what wonder! Man's superior part
Uncheck'd may rise and climb from art to art;
But when his own great work is but begun,
What Reason weaves, by Passion is undone.
Two Principles in human nature reign;
Self-love, to urge, and Reason, to restrain;
Self-love still stronger, as its objects nigh;
Reason's at distance, and in prospect lie:
Each strengthens Reason, and Self-love restrains.
Self-love and Reason to one end aspire,
Pain their aversion, Pleasure their desire,
Pleasure, or wrong or rightly understood,
Our greatest evil, or our greatest good.
Passions, tho' selfish, if their means be fair,
List under reason, and deserve her care
On life's vast ocean diversely we sail,
Reason the card, but passion is the gale;
Love, Hope, and Joy, fair Pleasure's smiling train,
Hate, Fear, and Grief, the family of Pain,
These mix'd with art, and to due bounds confin'd,
Make and maintain the balance of the mind:
What can she more than tell us we are fools?
Teach us to mourn our nature, not to mend.
A sharp accuser but a helpless friend!
As, in some well-wrought picture, light and shade
And oft so mix, the diff'rence is too nice,
Where ends the virtue, or begins the vice.
And virtuous and vicious ev'ry man must be,
Few in the extreme, but all in the degree;
Whate'er the passions, knowledge, fame, or pelf,
Not one will change is neighbour with himself.
The learn'd is happy nature to explore,
The fool is happy that he knows no more;
The rich is happy in the plenty given,
The poor contents him with the care of Heaven,
See the blind beggar dance, the cripple sing
The sot a hero, lunatic a king;
The starving chemist in his golden views
Supremely bless'd, the poet in his Muse.
Behold the child, by nature's kindly law,
Pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw:
Some livelier plaything give his youth delight,
A little louder, but as empty quite:
Scarfs, garters, gold, amuse his riper stage,
And beads and prayer-books are the toys of age:
Pleased with this bauble still, as that before,
Till tired he sleeps, and life's poor play is o'er.
Then, Pope picks up once again his theme of the ruling principles, reason and passion. Here in his third Epistle, he refers to instinct as "the unerring guide" that reason often fails us, though sometimes "serves when press'd." ...
Who calls the council, states the certain day,
Who forms the phalanx, and who points the way?
Thus beast and bird their common charge attend,
The mothers nurse it, and the sires defend:
The young dismiss'd to wander earth or air,
There stops the instinct, and there ends the care;
The link dissolves, each seeks a fresh embrace,
Another love succeeds, another race.
A longer care man's helpless kind demands;
That longer care contracts more lasting bands:
Reflection, reason, still the ties improve,
At one extend the interest, and the love;
With choice we fix, with sympathy we burn;
Each virtue in each passion takes its turn;
And still new needs, new helps, new habits rise
That graft benevolence on charities.
Still as one brood, and as another rose,
These natural love maintain'd, habitual those:
The last, scarce ripen'd into perfect man,
Saw helpless from him whom their life began:
Memory and forecast just returns engage;
That pointed back to youth, this on to age;
While pleasure, gratitude, and hope, combined,
Still spread the interest, and preserved the kind.
Their separate cells and properties maintain.
Mark what unvaried 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 adored.
When love was liberty, and nature law:
Thus states were form'd; the name of king unknown,
Till common interest placed the sway in one
'Twas Virtue only, or in arts or arms,
Convey'd unbroken faith from sire to son;
The worker from the work distinct was known,
So drives self-love, through just and through unjust
To one man's power, ambition, lucre, lust:
The same self-love, in all, becomes the cause
Of what restrains him, government and laws:
For, what one likes if others like as well,
What serves one will, when many wills rebel?
How shall we keep, what, sleeping or awake,
A weaker may surprise, a stronger take?
His safety must his liberty restrain:
All join to guard what each desires to gain.
Forced into virtue thus by self-defence,
Ev'n kings learn'd justice and benevolence:
Self-love forsook the path it first pursued,
And found the private in the public good.
'Twas then, the studious head or generous mind,
Follower of God or friend of human-kind,
Poet or patriot, rose but to restore
The faith and moral Nature gave before;
Relumed her ancient light, not kindled new;
If not God's image, yet his shadow drew;
Taught power's due use to people and to kings;
Taught not to slack nor strain its tender strings;
The less or greater set so justly true,
That touching one must strike the other too;
Till jarring int'rests of themselves create
Th' according music of a well-mix'd state.
Such is the world's great harmony, that springs
From order, union, full consent of things:
Where small and great, where weak and mighty made
To serve, not suffer, strengthen, not invade;
More pow'rful each as needful to the rest,
And in proportion as it blesses, blest;
Draw to one point, and to one centre bring
Beast, man, or angel, servant, lord, or king.
For forms of government let fools contest;
Whate'er is best administer'd is best:
Take Nature's path, and made Opinion's leave;
All states can reach it and all heads conceive;
Obvious her goods, in no extreme they dwell;
There needs but thinking right, and meaning well;
And mourn our various portions as we please,
Equal is common sense, and common ease.
But still this world, so fitted for the knave,
Contents us not. A better shall we have?
A kingdom of the just then let it be:
But first consider how those just agree.
The good must merit God's peculiar care;
But who but God can tell us who they are?
'Whatever is, is right.' -- This world, 'tis true,... ...
In parts superior what advantage lies!
Tell, for you can, what is it to be wise?
'Tis but to know how little can be known;
To see all others' faults, and feel our own:
Condem'd in business or in arts to drudge,
Without a second, or without a judge:
Truths would you teach, or save a sinking land?
All fear, none aid you, and few understand.
Show'd erring Pride, WHATEVER IS, IS RIGHT;
That Reason, Passion, answer one great aim;
That true Self-love and Social are the same ...
Attention, habit and experience gains;