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THE subject propos'd; verse 1, to 30. Difficulty of treating it poetically; v. 45. The ideas of the divine mind, the origin of every quality pleasing to the imagination; v. 56, to 78. The natural variety of constitution in the minds of men, with its final cause; to v. 96. The ideas of a fine imagination, and the state of the mind in the enjoyment of those pleasures which it affords; v. 100, to 132. All the primary pleasures of imagination result from the perception of greatness, or wonderfulness, or beauty in objects; v. 145. The pleasure from greatness, with its final cause; v. 151, to 221. Pleasures from novelty or wonderfulness, with its final cause; v. 222. to 270. Pleasure from beauty, with its final cavse; v. 275, to 372. The connection of beauty with truth and good, applied to the conduct of life; v. 384. Invitation to the study of moral philosophy; to v. 428. The different degrees of beauty in different species of objects; v. 448. Colour; shape; natural concretes; vegetables; animals; the mind; v. 445, to 475. The sublime, the fair, the wonderful of the mind; v. 497, to 526. The connection of the imagination and the moral faculty; 557. Conclusion.

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1 WITH what attractive charms this goodly frame
2 Of nature touches the consenting hearts
3 Of mortal men; and what the pleasing stores
4 Which beauteous imitation thence derives
5 To deck the poet's, or the painter's toil;
6 My verse unfolds. Attend, ye gentle POW'RS
7 OF MUSICAL DELIGHT! and while I sing
Lin. 7.]
The word MUSICAL is here taken in its original and most extensive import; comprehending as well the pleasures we receive from the beauty or magnificence of natural objects, as those which arise from poetry, painting, music, or any other of the elegant and imaginative arts. In which sense it has been already used in our language by writers of unquestionable authority.
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8 Your gifts, your honours, dance around my strain.
9 Thou, smiling queen of every tuneful breast,
10 Indulgent FANCY! from the fruitful banks
11 Of Avon, whence thy rosy fingers cull
12 Fresh flow'rs and dews to sprinkle on the turf
13 Where Shakespeare lies, be present: and with thee
14 Let FICTION come, upon her vagrant wings
15 Wafting ten thousand colours thro' the air,
16 And, by the glances of her magic eye,
17 Combining each in endless, fairy forms,
18 Her wild creation. Goddess of the lyre
19 Which rules the accents of the moving sphere,
20 Wilt thou, eternal HARMONY! descend,
21 And join this festive train? for with thee comes
22 The guide, the guardian of their lovely sports,
23 Majestic TRUTH; and where TRUTH deigns to come,
24 Her sister LIBERTY will not be far.
25 Be present all ye GENII who conduct
26 The wand'ring footsteps of the youthful bard,
27 New to your springs and shades: who touch his ear
28 With finer sounds: who heighten to his eye
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29 The bloom of nature, and before him turn
30 The gayest, happiest attitudes of things.
31 Oft have the laws of each poetic strain
32 The critic-verse imploy'd; yet still unsung
33 Lay this prime subject, tho' importing most
34 A poet's name: for fruitless is th' attempt
35 By dull obedience and the curb of rules,
36 For creeping toil to climb the hard ascent
37 Of high Parnassus. Nature's kindling breath
38 Must fire the chosen genius; nature's hand
39 Must point the path, and imp his eagle-wings
40 Exulting o'er the painful steep to soar
41 High as the summit: there to breathe at large
42 Aethereal air; with bards and sages old,
43 Immortal sons of praise. These flatt'ring scenes
44 To this neglected labour court my song;
45 Yet not unconscious what a doubtful task
Yet not unconscious.]
Lucret. l. 2. v. 921.
Nec me animi fallit quam sint obscura, sed acri
Percussit thyrso laudis spes magna meum cor,
Et simul incussit suavem mi in pectus amorem
Musarum; quo nunc instinctus mente vigenti
Avia Piëridum peragro loca, nullius ante
Trita solo: juvat integros accedere fonteis,
Atque haurire: juvatque novos discerpere flores;
Insignem meo capiti petere inde coronam,
Unde prius nulli velarint tempora Musae.
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46 To paint the finest features of the mind,
47 And to the most subtile and mysterious things
48 Give colour, strength and motion. But the love
49 Of nature and the muses bids explore,
50 Thro' secret paths erewhile untrod by man,
51 The fair poetic region, to detect
52 Untasted springs, to drink inspiring draughts;
53 And shade my temples with unfading flow'rs
54 Cull'd from the laureate vale's profound recess,
55 Where never poet gain'd a wreath before.
56 From heav'n my strains begin; from heaven descends
57 The flame of genius to the human breast,
58 And love and beauty, and poetic joy
59 And inspiration. Ere the radiant sun
60 Sprung from the east, or 'mid the vault of night
61 The moon suspended her serener lamp;
62 Ere mountains, woods, or streams adorn'd the globe;
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63 Or wisdom taught the sons of men her lore;
64 Then liv'd th' eternal ONE: then deep-retir'd
65 In his unfathom'd essence, view'd at large
66 The uncreated images of things;
67 The radiant sun, the moon's nocturnal lamp,
68 The mountains, woods and streams, the rolling globe,
69 And wisdom's form coelestial. From the first
70 Of days, on them his love divine he fix'd,
71 His admiration: till in time compleat,
72 What he admir'd and lov'd, his vital smile
73 Unfolded into being. Hence the breath
74 Of life informing each organic frame,
75 Hence the green earth, and wild resounding waves;
76 Hence light and shade alternate; warmth and cold;
77 And clear autumnal skies and vernal show'rs,
78 And all the fair variety of things.
79 But not alike to every mortal eye
80 Is this great scene unveil'd. For since the claims
81 Of social life, to diff'rent labours urge
82 The active pow'rs of man; with wise intent
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83 The hand of nature on peculiar minds
84 Imprints a diff'rent byass, and to each
85 Decrees its province in the common toil.
86 To some she taught the fabric of the sphere,
87 The changeful moon, the circuit of the starrs,
88 The golden zones of heav'n: to some she gave
89 To weigh the moment of eternal things,
90 Of time, and space, and fate's unbroken chain,
91 And will's quick impulse: others by the hand
92 She led o'er vales and mountains, to explore
93 What healing virtue swells the tender veins
94 Of herbs and flow'rs; or what the beams of morn
95 Draw forth, distilling from the clifted rind
96 In balmy tears. But some, to higher hopes
97 Were destin'd; some within a finer mould
98 She wrought, and temper'd with a purer flame.
99 To these the sire omnipotent unfolds
100 The world's harmonious volume, there to read
101 The transcript of himself. On every part
102 They trace the bright impressions of his hand:
103 In earth or air, the meadow's purple stores,
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104 The moon's mild radiance, or the virgin's form
105 Blooming with rosy smiles, they see portray'd
106 That uncreated beauty, which delights
107 The mind supreme. They also feel her charms,
108 Enamour'd; they partake th' eternal joy.
109 As Memnon's marble harp, renown'd of old
As Memnon's marble harp.]

The statue of Memnon, so famous in antiquity, stood in the temple of Serapis at Thebes, one of the great cities of old Egypt. It was of a very hard, iron-like stone, and, according to Juvenal, held in its hand a lyre, which being touch'd by the sun-beams, emitted a distinct and agreeable sound. Tacitus mentions it as one of the principal curiosities which Germanicus took notice of in his journey through Egypt,; and Strabo affirms that he, with many others, heard it.

110 By fabling Nilus, to the quivering touch
111 Of Titan's ray, with each repulsive string
112 Consenting, sounded thro' the warbling air
113 Unbidden strains; ev'n so did nature's hand
114 To certain species of external things,
115 Attune the finer organs of the mind:
116 So the glad impulse of congenial pow'rs,
117 Or of sweet sound, or fair-proportion'd form,
118 The grace of motion, or the bloom of light,
119 Thrills thro' imagination's tender frame,
120 From nerve to nerve: all naked and alive
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121 They catch the spreading rays: till now the soul
122 At length discloses every tuneful spring,
123 To that harmonious movement from without,
124 Responsive. Then the inexpressive strain
125 Diffuses its inchantment: fancy dreams
126 Of sacred fountains and Elysian groves,
127 And vales of bliss: the intellectual pow'r
128 Bends from his awful throne a wond'ring ear,
129 And smiles: the passions gently sooth'd away,
130 Sink to divine repose, and love and joy
131 Alone are waking; love and joy, serene
132 As airs that fan the summer. O! attend,
133 Whoe'er thou art whom these delights can touch,
134 Whose candid bosom the refining love
135 Of nature warms, O! listen to my song;
136 And I will guide thee to her fav'rite walks,
137 And teach thy solitude her voice to hear,
138 And point her loveliest features to thy view.
139 Know then, whate'er of nature's pregnant stores,
140 Whate'er of mimic art's reflected forms
141 With love and admiration thus inflame
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142 The pow'rs of fancy, her delighted sons
143 To three illustrious orders have referr'd;
144 Three sister-graces, whom the painter's hand,
145 The poet's tongue confesses; the sublime,
146 The wonderful, the fair. I see them dawn!
147 I see the radiant visions, where they rise,
148 More lovely than when Lucifer displays
149 His beaming forehead thro' the gates of morn,
150 To lead the train of Phoebus and the spring.
151 Say, why was man so eminently rais'd
Say, why was man, &c.]

In apologizing for the frequent negligence of the sublimest authors of Greece,Those god-like geniuses, says Longinus, were wellassured that nature had not intended man for a low-spirited or ignoble being: but bringing us into life and the midst of this wide universe, as before a multitude assembled at some heroic solemnity that we might be spectators of all her magnificence, and candidates high in emulation for the prize of glory; she has therefore implanted in our souls an inextinguishable love of every thing great and exalted, of every thing which appears divine beyond our comprehension. Whence it comes to pass, that even the whole world is not an object sufficient for the depth and rapidity of human imagination, which often sallies forth beyond the limits of all that surrounds us. Let any man cast his eye through the whole circle of our existence, and consider how especially it abounds in excellent and grand objects, he will soon acknowledge for what injoyments and pursuits we were destined. Thus by the very propensity of nature we are led to admire, not little springs or shallow rivulets, however clear and delicious, but the Nile, the Rhine, the Danube, and much more than all, the ocean, &c. Dionys. Longin. de Sublim. §. xxxiv.

152 Amid the vast creation; why ordain'd
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153 Thro' life and death to dart his piercing eye,
154 With thoughts beyond the limit of his frame;
155 But that th' Omnipotent might send him forth
156 In sight of mortal and immortal pow'rs,
157 As on a boundless theatre, to run
158 The great career of justice; to exalt
159 His gen'rous aim to all diviner deeds;
160 To shake each partial purpose from his breast;
161 And thro' the mists of passion and of sense,
162 And thro' the tossing tide of chance and pain
163 To hold his course unfalt'ring, while the voice
164 Of truth and virtue, up the steep ascent
165 Of nature, calls him to his high reward,
166 Th' applauding smile of heav'n? Else wherefore burns
167 In mortal bosoms, this unquenched hope
168 That breathes from day to day sublimer things,
169 And mocks possession? wherefore darts the mind,
170 With such resistless ardor to embrace
171 Majestic forms? impatient to be free,
172 Spurning the gross controul of wilful might;
173 Proud of the strong contention of her toils;
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174 Proud to be daring? Who but rather turns
175 To heav'n's broad fire his unconstrained view,
176 Than to the glimm'ring of a waxen flame?
177 Who that, from Alpine heights, his lab'ring eye
178 Shoots round the wide horizon to survey
179 The Nile or Ganges rowl his wasteful tide
180 Thro' mountains, plains, thro' empires black with shade,
181 And continents of sand; will turn his gaze
182 To mark the windings of a scanty rill
183 That murmurs at his feet? The high-born soul
184 Disdains to rest her heav'n-aspiring wing
185 Beneath its native quarry. Tir'd of earth
186 And this diurnal scene, she springs aloft
187 Thro' fields of air; pursues the flying storm;
188 Rides on the volley'd lightning thro' the heav'ns;
189 Or yok'd with whirlwinds and the northern blast,
190 Sweeps the long tract of day. Then high she soars
191 The blue profound, and hovering o'er the sun,
192 Beholds him pouring the redundant stream
193 Of light; beholds his unrelenting sway
194 Bend the reluctant planets to absolve
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195 The fated rounds of time. Thence far effus'd
196 She darts her swiftness up the long career
197 Of devious comets; thro' its burning signs
198 Exulting circles the perennial wheel
199 Of nature, and looks back on all the starrs,
200 Whose blended light, as with a milky zone,
201 Invests the orient. Now amaz'd she views
202 Th' empyreal waste, where happy spirits hold,
Th' empyreal waste.]

Ne se peut-il point qu'il y a un grand espace audelà de la region des etoiles? Que ce soit le ciel empyreé, ou non, toûjours cet espace immense qui environne toute cette region, pourra être rempli de bonheur & de gloire. Il pourre être conçu comme l'ocean, se rendent les fleuves de toutes les creatures bienheureuses, quand elles seront venues à leur perfection dans le systême des etoiles. Leibnitz dans la Theodicee, part. i. §. 19.

203 Beyond this concave heav'n, their calm abode;
204 And fields of radiance, whose unfading light
Whose unfading light, &c.]

It was a notion of the great M. Huygens, that there may be fix'd stars at such a distance from our solar system, as that their light shall not have had time to reach us, even from the creation of the world to this day.

205 Has travell'd the profound six thousand years,
206 Nor yet arrives in sight of mortal things.
207 Ev'n on the barriers of the world untir'd
208 She meditates th' eternal depth below;
209 Till, half recoiling, down the headlong steep
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210 She plunges; soon o'erwhelm'd and swallow'd up
211 In that immense of being. There her hopes
212 Rest at the fated goal. For from the birth
213 Of mortal man, the sov'reign Maker said,
214 That not in humble or in brief delight,
215 Not in the fading echoes of renown,
216 Pow'rs purple robes, or pleasure's flow'ry lap,
217 The soul should find injoyment: but from these
218 Turning disdainful to an equal good,
219 Thro' all th' ascent of things inlarge her view,
220 Till every bound at length should disappear,
221 And infinite perfection close the scene.
222 Call now to mind what high, capacious pow'rs
223 Lie folded up in man; how far beyond
224 The praise of mortals, may th' eternal growth
225 Of nature to perfection half divine,
226 Expand the blooming soul? What pity then
227 Should sloth's unkindly fogs depress to earth
228 Her tender blossom; choak the streams of life,
229 And blast her spring! Far otherwise design'd
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230 Almighty wisdom; nature's happy cares
231 Th'obedient heart far otherwise incline.
232 Witness the sprightly joy when aught unknown
233 Strikes the quick sense, and wakes each active pow'r
234 To brisker measures: witness the neglect
235 Of all familiar prospects, tho' beheld
the neglect
Of all familiar prospects, &c.]

It is here said, that in consequence of the love of novelty, objects which at first were highly delightful to the mind, lose that effect by repeated attention to them. But the instance of habit is oppos'd to this observation; for there, objects at first distasteful are in time render'd intirely agreeable by repeated attention.

The difficulty in this case will be remov'd, if we consider, that when objects at first agreeable, lose that influence by frequently recurring, the mind is wholly passive and the perception involuntary; but habit, on the other hand. generally supposes choice and activity accompanying it: so that the pleasure arises here not from the object, but from the mind's conscious determination of its own activity; and consequently increases in proportion to the frequency of that determination.

It will still be urged perhaps, that a familiarity with disagreeable objects renders them at length acceptable, even when there is no room for the mind to resolve or act at all. In this case, the appearance must be accounted for, one of these ways.

The pleasure from habit may be meerly negative. The object at first gave uneasiness: this uneasinest gradually wears off as the object grows familiar; and the mind finding it at last intirely removed, reckons its situation really pleasurable, compar'd with what it had experienced before.

The dislike conceiv'd of the object at first, might be owing to prejudice or want of attention. Consequently the mind being necessitated to review it often, may at length perceive its own mistake, and be reconcil'd to what it had look'd on with aversion. In which case, a sort of instinctive justice naturally leads it to make amends for the injury, by running toward th e other extreme of fondness and attachment.

Or lastly, tho' the object itself should always continue disagreeable, yet circumstances of pleasure or good fortune may occur along with it. Thus an association may arise in the mind, and the object never be remember'd without those pleasing circumstances attending it; by which means the disagreeable impression it at first occasion'd will in time be quite obliterated.

236 With transport once; the fond, attentive gaze
237 Of young astonishment; the sober zeal
238 Of age, commenting on prodigious things.
239 For such the bounteous providence of heav'n,
240 In every breast implanting this desire
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241 Of objects new and strange, to urge us on
this desire
Of objects new and strange ]

These two ideas are oft confounded; tho' it is evident the meer novelty of an object makes it agreeable, even where the mind is not affected with the least degree of wonder: whereas wonder indeed always implies novelty, being never excited by common or well-known appearances. But the pleasure in both cases is explicable from the same final cause, the acquisition of knowledge and inlargement of our views of nature: and on this account it is natural to treat of them together.

242 With unremitted labour to pursue
243 Those sacred stores that wait the ripening soul,
244 In truth's exhaustless bosom. What need words
245 To paint its pow'r? For this, the daring youth
246 Breaks from his weeping mother's anxious arms,
247 In foreign climes to rove: the pensive sage
248 Heedless of sleep, or midnight's harmful damp,
249 Hangs o'er the sickly taper; and untir'd
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250 The virgin follows, with inchanted step,
251 The mazes of some wild and wond'rous tale,
252 From morn to eve; unmindful of her form,
253 Unmindful of the happy dress that stole
254 The wishes of the youth, when every maid
255 With envy pin'd. Hence finally, by night
256 The village-matron, round the blazing hearth,
257 Suspends the infant-audience with her tales,
258 Breathing astonishment! of witching rhymes,
259 And evil spirits; of the death-bed call
260 To him who robb'd the widow, and devour'd
261 The orphan's portion; of unquiet souls
262 Ris'n from the grave to ease the heavy guilt
263 Of deeds in life conceal'd; of shapes that walk
264 At dead of night, and clank their chains, and wave
265 The torch of hell around the murd'rer's bed.
266 At every solemn pause the croud recoil
267 Gazing each other speechless, and congeal'd
268 With shiv'ring sighs: till eager for th' event,
269 Around the beldame all arrect they hang,
270 Each trembling heart with grateful terrors quell'd.
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271 But lo! disclos'd in all her smiling pomp,
272 Where BEAUTY onward moving claims the verse
273 Her charms inspire: the freely-flowing verse
274 In thy immortal praise, O form divine,
275 Smooths her mellifluent stream. Thee, BEAUTY, thee
276 The regal dome, and thy enlivening ray
277 The mossy roofs adore: thou, better sun!
278 For ever beamest on th' inchanted heart
279 Love, and harmonious wonder, and delight
280 Poetic. Brightest progeny of heav'n!
281 How shall I trace thy features? where select
282 The roseate hues to emulate thy bloom?
283 Haste then, my song, thro' nature's wide expanse,
284 Haste then, and gather all her comeliest wealth,
285 Whate'er bright spoils the florid earth contains,
286 Whate'er the waters, or the liquid air,
287 To deck thy lovely labour. Wilt thou fly
288 With laughing Autumn to th'Atlantic isles,
Atlantic isles.]

By these islands, which were also called the Fortunate, the ancients are now generally supposed to have meant the Canaries. They were celebrated by the poets for the mildness and fertility of the climate; for the gardens of the daughters of Hesperus, the brother of Atlas; and the dragon which constantly watched their golden fruit, till it was slain by the Tyrian Hercules.

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289 And range with him th'Hesperian field, and see,
290 Where'er his fingers touch the fruitful grove,
291 The branches shoot with gold; where'er his step
292 Marks the glad soil, the tender clusters glow
293 With purple ripeness, and invest each hill
294 As with the blushes of an evening sky?
295 Or wilt thou rather stoop thy vagrant plume,
296 Where, gliding thro' his daughter's honour'd shades,
Where gliding thro' his daughter's honour'd shades.]

Daphne, the daughter of Penéus, transformed into a laurel.

297 The smooth Penéus from his glassy flood
298 Reflects purpureal Tempe's pleasant scene?
299 Fair Tempe! haunt belov'd of fylvan pow'rs,
300 Of nymphs and fauns; where in the golden age
301 They play'd in secret on the shady brink
302 With ancient Pan: while round their choral steps
303 Young hours and genial gales with constant hand
304 Show'r'd blossoms, odours, show'r'd ambrosial dews,
305 And spring's Elysian bloom. Her flow'ry store
306 To thee nor Tempe shall refuse; nor watch
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307 Of winged Hydra guard Hesperian fruits
308 From thy free spoil. O bear then, unreprov'd,
309 Thy smiling treasures to the green recess
310 Where young Dione stays. With sweetest airs
311 Intice her forth to lend her angel-form
312 For beauty's honour'd image. Hither turn
313 Thy graceful footsteps; hither, gentle maid,
314 Incline thy polish'd forehead: let thy eyes
315 Effuse the mildness of their azure dawn;
316 And may the fanning breezes waft aside
317 Thy radiant locks, disclosing as it bends
318 With airy softness from the marble neck
319 The cheek fair-blooming, and the rosy lip
320 Where winning smiles and pleasure sweet as love,
321 With sanctity and wisdom, temp'ring blend
322 Their soft allurement. Then the pleasing force
323 Of nature, and her kind parental care,
324 Worthier I'd sing: then all th' enamour'd youth,
325 With each admiring virgin to my lyre
326 Should throng attentive, while I point on high
327 Where beauty's living image, like the morn
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328 That wakes in Zephyr's arms the blushing May,
329 Moves onward; or as Venus, when she stood
330 Effulgent on the pearly car, and smil'd,
331 Fresh from the deep, and conscious of her form,
332 To see the Tritons tune their vocal shells,
333 And each coerulean sister of the flood
334 With fond acclaim attend her o'er the waves,
335 To seek th' Idalian bow'r. Ye smiling band
336 Of youths and virgins, who thro' all the maze
337 Of young desire with rival-steps pursue
338 This charm of beauty; if the pleasing toil
339 Can yield a moment's respite, hither turn
340 Your favourable ear, and trust my words.
341 I do not mean to wake the gloomy form
342 Of superstition drest in wisdom's garb,
343 To damp your tender hopes; I do not mean
344 To bid the jealous thund'rer fire the heav'ns,
345 Or shapes infernal rend the groaning earth
346 To fright you from your joys: my chearful song
347 With better omens calls you to the field,
348 Pleas'd with your gen'rous ardour in the chace,
349 And warm as you. Then tell me, for you know,
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350 Does beauty ever deign to dwell where health
351 And active use are strangers? Is her charm
352 Confess'd in aught, whose most peculiar ends
353 Are lame and fruitless? Or did nature mean
354 This awful stamp the herald of a lye;
355 To hide the shame of discord and disease,
356 And catch with fair hypocrisy the heart
357 Of idle faith? O no! with better cares,
358 Th' indulgent mother, conscious how infirm
359 Her offspring tread the paths of good and ill,
360 By this illustrious image, in each kind
361 Still most illustrious where the object holds
362 Its native pow'rs most perfect, she by this
363 Illumes the headlong impulse of desire,
364 And sanctifies his choice. The generous glebe
365 Whose bosom smiles with verdure, the clear tract
366 Of streams delicious to the thirsty soul,
367 The bloom of nectar'd fruitage ripe to sense,
368 And every charm of animated things,
369 Are only pledges of a state sincere,
370 Th' integrity and order of their frame,
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371 When all is well within, and every end
372 Accomplish'd. Thus was beauty sent from heav'n,
373 The lovely ministress of truth and good
374 In this dark world: for truth and good are one,
375 And beauty dwells in them, and they in her,
Truth and good are one,
And beauty dwells in them, &c.]

Do you imagine, says Socrates to his libertine disciple, that what is good is not also beautiful? Have you not observ'd that these appearances always co-incide? Virtue, for instance, in the same respect as to which we call it good, is ever acknowledg'd to be beautiful also. In the characters of men we always This the Athenians did in a peculiar manner by the words〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. join the two denominations together. The beauty of human bodies corresponds, in like manner, with that oeconomy of parts which constitutes them good; and in all the circumstances which occurr in life, the same object is constantly accounted both beautiful and good, inasmuch as it answers the purposes for which it was design'd. Xenophont. memorab. Socrat. 1. 3. c. 8.

This excellent observation has been illustrated and extended by the noble restorer of ancient philosophy; see the Characteristicks, vol. 2. p. 399. & 422. & vol. 3. p. 181. And his most ingenious disciple has particularly shewn, that it holds in the general laws of nature, in the works of art, and the conduct of the sciences. Inquiry into the original of our ideas of beauty and virtue; Treat. 1. §. 8. As to the connection between beauty and truth, there are two opinions concerning it. Some philosophers assert an independent and invariable law in nature, in consequence of which all rational beings must alike perceive beauty in some certain proportions, and deformity in the contrary. And this necessity being supposed the same with that which commands the assent or dissent of the understanding, it follows of course that beauty is founded on the universal and unchangeable law of truth.

But others there are who believe beauty to be meerly a relative and arbitrary thing; that indeed it was a benevolent design in nature to annex so delightful a sensation to those objects which are best and most perfect in themselves, that so we might be ingaged to the choice of them at once and without staying to infer their usefulness from their structure and effects; but that it is not impossible, in a physical sense, that two beings, of equal capacities for truth, should perceive, one of them beauty, and the other deformity, in the same relations. And upon this supposition, by that truth which is always connected with beauty, nothing more can be meant than the conformity of any object to those proportions upon which, after careful examination, the beauty of that species is found to depend. Polycletus for instance, the famous sculptor of Sicyon, from an accurate mensuration of the several parts of the most perfect human bodies, deduced a canon or system of proportions, which was the rule of all succeeding artists. Suppose a statue modell'd according to this canon. A man of meer natural taste, upon looking at it, without entering into its proportions, confesses and admires its beauty; whereas a professor of the art applies his measures to the head, the neck, or the hand, and, without attending to its beauty, pronounces the workmanship to be just and true.

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376 With like participation. Wherefore then,
377 O sons of earth! would you dissolve the tye?
378 O wherefore, with a rash, imperfect aim,
379 Seek you those flow'ry joys with which the hand
380 Of lavish fancy paints each flatt'ring scene
381 Where beauty seems to dwell, nor once inquire
382 Where is the sanction of eternal truth,
383 Or where the seal of undeceitful good,
384 To save your search from folly? Wanting these,
385 Lo! beauty withers in your void imbrace,
386 And with the glitt'ring of an idiot's toy
387 Did fancy mock your vows. Nor let the gleam
388 Of youthful hope that shines upon your hearts,
389 Be chill'd or clouded at this awful task
390 To learn the lore of undeceitful good,
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391 And truth eternal. Tho' the pois'nous charms
392 Of baleful superstition, guide the feet
393 Of servile numbers, thro' a dreary way
394 To their abode, thro' desarts, thorns and mire;
395 And leave the wretched pilgrim all forlorn
396 To muse, at last, amid the ghostly gloom
397 Of graves, and hoary vaults, and cloister'd cells;
398 To walk with spectres thro' the midnight shade,
399 And to the screaming owl's accursed song
400 Attune the dreadful workings of his heart;
401 Yet be not you dismay'd. A gentler star
402 Your lovely search illumines. From the grove
403 Where wisdom talk'd with her Athenian sons,
404 Could my ambitious hand intwine a wreath
405 Of PLATO'S olive with the Mantuan bay,
406 Then should my pow'rful voice at once dispel
407 These monkish horrors: then in light divine
408 Disclose th' Elysian prospect, where the steps
409 Of those whom nature charms, thro' blooming walks,
410 Thro' fragrant mountains and poetic streams,
411 Amid the train of sages, heroes, bards,
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412 Led by their winged Genius and the choir
413 Of laurell'd science and harmonious art,
414 Proceed exulting to th' eternal shrine,
415 Where truth inthron'd with her coelestial twins,
416 The undivided part'ners of her sway,
417 With good and beauty reigns. O let not us,
418 Lull'd by luxurious pleasure's languid strain,
419 Or crouching to the frowns of bigot-rage,
420 O let not us a moment pause to join
421 The god-like band. And if the gracious pow'r
422 That first awaken'd my untutor'd song,
423 Will to my invocation breathe anew
424 The tuneful spirit; then thro' all our paths,
425 Ne'er shall the sound of this devoted lyre
426 Be wanting; whether on the rosy mead,
427 When summer smiles, to warn the melting heart
428 Of luxury's allurement; whether firm
429 Against the torrent and the stubborn hill
430 To urge bold virtue's unremitted nerve,
431 And wake the strong divinity of soul
432 That conquers chance and fate; or whether struck
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433 For sounds of triumph, to proclaim her toils
434 Upon the lofty summit, round her brow
435 To twine the wreathe of incorruptive praise;
436 To trace her hallow'd light thro' future worlds,
437 And bless heav'n's image in the heart of man.
438 Thus with a faithful aim have we presum'd,
439 Advent'rous, to delineate nature's form;
440 Whether in vast, majestic pomp array'd,
441 Or drest for pleasing wonder, or serene
442 In beauty's rosy smile. It now remains,
443 Thro' various being's fair-proportion'd scale,
444 To trace the rising lustre of her charms,
445 From their first twilight, shining forth at length
446 To full meridian splendour. Of degree
447 The least and lowliest, in th'effusive warmth
448 Of colours mingling with a random blaze,
449 Doth beauty dwell. Then higher in the line
450 And variation of determin'd shape,
451 Where truth's eternal measures mark the bound
452 Of circle, cube, or sphere. The third ascent
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453 Unites this varied symmetry of parts
454 With colour's bland allurement; as the pearl
455 Shines in the concave of its azure bed,
456 And painted shells indent their speckled wreathe.
457 Then more attractive rise the blooming forms
458 Thro' which the breath of nature has infus'd
459 Her genial pow'r to draw with pregnant veins
460 Nutritious moisture from the bounteous earth,
461 In fruit and seed prolific: thus the flow'rs
462 Their purple honours with the spring resume;
463 And such the stately tree which autumn bends
464 With blushing treasures. But more lovely still
465 Is nature's charm, where to the full consent
466 Of complicated members, to the bloom
467 Of colour, and the vital change of growth,
468 Life's holy flame and piercing sense are giv'n,
469 And active motion speaks the temper'd soul:
470 So moves the bird of Juno; so the steed
471 With rival ardour beats the dusty plain,
472 And faithful dogs with eager airs of joy
473 Salute their fellows. Thus doth beauty dwell
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474 There most conspicuous, ev'n in outward shape,
475 Where dawns the high expression of a mind:
476 By steps conducting our inraptur'd search
477 To that eternal origin, whose pow'r,
478 Thro' all th' unbounded symmetry of things,
479 Like rays effulging from the parent sun,
480 This endless mixture of her charms diffus'd.
481 MIND, MIND alone, bear witness, earth and heav'n!
482 The living fountains in itself contains
483 Of beauteous and sublime: here hand in hand,
484 Sit paramount the Graces; here inthron'd,
485 Coelestial Venus, with divinest airs,
486 Invites the soul to never-fading joy.
487 Looks then abroad thro' nature, to the range
488 Of planets, suns, and adamantine spheres
489 Wheeling unshaken thro' the void immense;
490 And speak, O man! does this capacious scene
491 With half that kindling majesty dilate
492 Thy strong conception, as when Brutus rose
As when Brutus rose, &c.]

Cicero himself describes this fact Caesare interfecto statim cruentum altè extollens M. Brutus pugionem, Ciceronem nominatim exclamavit, atque ei recuperatam libertatem est gratulatus. Cic. Philipp. 2. 12.

[Page 37]
493 Refulgent from the stroke of Caesar's fate,
494 Amid the croud of patriots; and his arm
495 Aloft extending, like eternal Jove
496 When guilt brings down the thunder, call'd aloud
497 On Tully's name, and shook his crimson steel,
498 And bade the father of his country, hail!
499 For lo! the tyrant prostrate on the dust,
500 And Rome again is free? Is aught so fair
501 In all the dewy landscapes of the spring,
502 In the bright eye of Hesper or the morn,
503 In nature's fairest forms, is aught so fair
504 As virtuous friendship? as the candid blush
505 Of him who strives with fortune to be just?
506 The graceful tear that streams for other's woes?
507 Or the mild majesty of private life,
508 Where peace with ever-blooming olive crowns,
509 The gate; where honour's liberal hands effuse
510 Unenvy'd treasures, and the snowy wings
511 Of innocence and love protect the scene?
512 Once more search, undismay'd, the dark profound
513 Where nature works in secret; view the beds
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514 Of min'ral treasure, and th' eternal vault
515 That bounds the hoary ocean; trace the forms
516 Of atoms moving with incessant change
517 Their elemental round; behold the seeds
518 Of being, and the energy of life
519 Kindling the mass with ever-active flame:
520 Then to the secrets of the working mind
521 Attentive turn; from dim oblivion call
522 Her fleet, ideal band; and bid them, go!
523 Break thro' time's barrier, and o'ertake the hour
524 That saw the heav'ns created: then declare
525 If aught were found in those external scenes
526 To move thy wonder now. For what are all
527 The forms which brute, unconscious matter wears,
528 Greatness of bulk, or symmetry of parts?
529 Not reaching to the heart, soon feeble grows
530 The superficial impulse; dull their charms,
531 And satiate soon, and pall the languid eye.
532 Not so the moral species, or the pow'rs
533 Of genius and design; th' ambitious mind
534 There sees herself: by these congenial forms
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535 Touch'd and awaken'd, with intenser act
536 She bends each nerve, and meditates well-pleas'd
537 Her features in the mirror. For of all
538 Th' inhabitants of earth, to man alone
539 Creative wisdom gave to lift his eye
540 To truth's eternal measures; thence to frame
541 The sacred laws of action and of will,
542 Discerning justice from unequal deeds,
543 And temperance from folly. But beyond
544 This energy of truth, whose dictates bind
545 Assenting reason, the benignant sire,
546 To deck the honour'd paths of just and good,
547 Has added bright imagination's rays:
548 Where virtue rising from the awful depth
549 Of truth's mysterious bosom, doth forsake
Where virtue rising from the awful depth.
Of truth's mysterious bosom, &c.]

According to the opinion of those who assert moral obligation to be founded on an immutable and universal law, and that pathetic feeling which is usually call'd the moral sense, to be determin'd by the peculiar temper of the imagination and the earliest associations of ideas.

550 The unadorn'd condition of her birth;
551 And dress'd by fancy in ten thousand hues,
552 Assumes a various feature, to attract,
[Page 40]
553 With charms responsive to each gazer's eye,
554 The hearts of men. Amid his rural walk,
555 Th' ingenuous youth whom solitude inspires
556 With purest wishes, from the pensive shade
557 Beholds her moving, like a virgin-muse
558 That wakes her lyre to some indulgent theme
559 Of harmony and wonder: while among
560 The herd of servile minds, her strenuous form
561 Indignant flashes on the patriot's eye,
562 And thro' the rolls of memory appeals
563 To ancient honour; or in act serene,
564 Yet watchful, raises the majestic sword
565 Of public pow'r, from dark ambition's reach
566 To guard the sacred volume of the laws.
567 Genius of ancient Greece! whose faithful steps
568 Well-pleas'd I follow thro' the sacred paths
569 Of nature and of science; nurse divine
570 Of all heroic deeds and fair desires!
571 O! let the breath of thy extended praise
572 Inspire my kindling bosom to the height
[Page 41]
573 Of this untemper'd theme. Nor be my thoughts
574 Presumptuous counted, if, amid the calm
575 That sooths this vernal evening into smiles,
576 I steal impatient from the sordid haunts
577 Of strife and low ambition, to attend
578 Thy sacred presence in the sylvan shade,
579 By their malignant footsteps ne'er profan'd.
580 Descend, propitious! to my favour'd eye;
581 Such in thy mien, thy warm, exalted air,
582 As when the Persian tyrant, foil'd and stung
583 With shame and desperation, gnash'd his teeth
584 To see thee rend the pageants of his throne;
585 And at the lightning of thy lifted spear
586 Crouch'd like a slave. Bring all thy martial spoils,
587 Thy palms, thy laurels, thy triumphal songs,
588 Thy smiling band of arts, thy godlike sires
589 Of civil wisdom, thy heroic youth
590 Warm from the schools of glory. Guide my way
591 Thro' fair Lycéum's

The school of Aristotle,

walk, the green retreats
592 Of Academus,

The school of Plato.

and the thymy vale,
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593 Where oft inchanted with Socratic sounds,
594 Ilissus

One of the rivers on which Athens was situated. Plato, in some of his finest dialogues, lays the scene of the conversation with Socrates on its banks.

pure devolv'd his tuneful stream
595 In gentler murmurs. From the blooming store
596 Of these auspicious fields, may I unblam'd
597 Transplant some living blossoms to adorn
598 My native clime: while far above the flight
599 Of fancy's plume aspiring, I unlock
600 The springs of ancient wisdom; while I join
601 Thy name, thrice honour'd! with th'immortal praise
602 Of nature; while to my compatriot youth
603 I point the high example of thy sons,
604 And tune to Attic themes the British lyre.
End of the FIRST BOOK.
[Page 43]



[Page 44]


THE separation of the works of imagination from philosophy, the cause of their abuse among the moderns; to verse 41. Prospect of their re-union under the influence of public liberty; to v. 61. Enumeration of accidental pleasures, which increase the effect of objects delightful to the imagination. The pleasures of sense; v. 73. Particular circumstances of the mind; v. 84. Discovery of truth; v. 97. Perception of contrivance and design; v. 121. Emotions of the passions; v. 136. All the natural passions partake of a pleasing sensation, with the final cause of this constitution illustrated by an allegorical vision, and exemplified in sorrow, pity, terror and indignation; from v. 155 to the end.

[Page 45]



1 WHEN shall the laurel and the vocal string
2 Resume their honours? When shall we behold
3 The tuneful tongue, the Promethéan hand
4 Aspire to ancient praise? Alas! how faint,
5 How slow the dawn of beauty and of truth
6 Breaks the reluctant shades of Gothic night
7 Which yet involve the nations! Long they groan'd
8 Beneath the furies of rapacious force;
9 Oft as the gloomy north, with iron-swarms
10 Tempestuous pouring from her frozen caves,
[Page 46]
11 Blasted th' Italian shore, and swept the works
12 Of liberty and wisdom down the gulph
13 Of all-devouring night. As long immur'd
14 In noontide darkness by th' glimm'ring lamp,
15 Each muse and each fair science pin'd away
16 The sordid hours: while foul, barbarian hands
17 Their mysteries profan'd, unstrung the lyre,
18 And chain'd the soaring pinion down to earth.
19 At last the Muses rose, and spurn'd their bonds,
At last the Muses rose, &c.]

About the age of Hugh Capet, the founder of the third race of French kings, the poets of Provence were in high reputation; a sort of stroling bards or rhapsodists, who went about the courts of princes and noblemen, entertaining them at festivals with music and poetry. They attempted both the epic ode and satire, and abounded in a wild and fantastic vein of fable, partly allegorical, and partly founded on traditionary legends of the Saracen wars. These were the rudiments of the Italian poetry. But their taste and composition must have been extremely barbarous, as we may judge by those who followed the turn of their fable in much politer times; such as Boiardo, Bernardo Tasso, Ariosto, &c.

20 And wildly warbling scatter'd, as they flew,
21 Their blooming wreaths from fair Valclusa's

The famous retreat of Francesco Petrarcha, the father of Italian poetry, and his mistress Laura, a lady of Avignon.

22 To Arno's

The river which runs by Florence, the birth-place of Dante and Boccacio.

myrtle border from the shore
[Page 47]
23 Of soft Parthenope.

Or Naples, the birth-place of Sannazaro. The great Torquato Tasso was born at Sorrento in the kingdom of Naples.

But still the rage
24 Of dire ambition and gigantic pow'r,
the rage
Of dire ambition, &c.]

This relates to the cruel wars among the republics of Italy, and the abominable politics of its little princes, about the the fifteenth century. These at last, in conjunction with the papal power, intirely extinguished the spirit of liberty in that country, and establish'd that abuse of the fine arts which has since been propagated over all Europe.

25 From public aims and from the busy walk
26 Of civil commerce, drove the bolder train
27 Of penetrating science to the cells,
28 Where studious ease consumes the silent hour
29 In shadowy searches and unfruitful care.
30 Thus from their guardians torn, the tender arts
Thus from their guardians torn, the tender arts, &c.]

Nor were they only losers by the separation. For philosophy itself, to use the words of a noble philosopher,being thus sever'd from the sprightly arts and sciences, must consequently grow dronish, insipid, pedantic, useless, and directly opposite to the real knowledge and practice of the world. Insomuch, thata gentleman, says another excellent writer, cannot easily bring himself to like so austere and ungainly a form: so greatly is it changed from what was once the delight of the finest gentlemen of antiquity, and their recreation after the hurry of public affairs! From this condition it cannot be recovered but by uniting it once more with the works of imagination; and we have had the pleasure of observing a very great progress made towards their union in England within these few years. It is hardly possible to conceive them at a greater distance from each other than at the revolution, when Locke stood at the head of one party, and Dryden of the other. But the general spirit of liberty, which has ever since been growing, naturally invited our men of wit and genius to improve that influence which the arts of persuasion give them with the people, by applying them to subjects of importance to society. Thus poetry and eloquence became considerable; and philosophy is now of course obliged to borrow of their imbellishments, in order even to gain audience with the public.

31 Of mimic fancy and harmonious joy,
[Page 48]
32 To priestly domination and the lust
33 Of lawless courts, their amiable toil
34 For three inglorious ages have resign'd,
35 In vain reluctant: and Torquato's tongue
36 Was tun'd for slavish paeans at the throne
37 Of tinsel pomp; and Raphael's magic hand
38 Effus'd its fair creation to inchant
39 The fond adoring herd in Latian fanes
40 To bind belief; while on their prostrate necks
41 The sable tyrant plants his heel secure.
42 But now behold! the radiant aera dawns,
43 When freedom's ample fabric, fix'd at length
44 For endless years on Albion's happy shore
45 In full proportion, once more shall extend
46 To all the kindred pow'rs of social bliss
47 A common mansion, a parental roof.
48 There shall the Virtues, there shall Wisdom's train,
[Page 49]
49 Their long-lost friends rejoining, as of old,
50 Imbrace the smiling family of arts,
51 The Muses and the Graces. Then no more
52 Shall vice, distracting their delicious gifts
53 To aims abhorr'd, with high distaste and scorn
54 Turn from their charms the philosophic eye,
55 The patriot-bosom: then no more the paths
56 Of public care or intellectual toil,
57 Alone by footsteps haughty and severe
58 In gloomy state be trod: th' harmonious Muse
59 And her persuasive sisters then shall plant
60 Their sheltring laurels o'er the bleak ascent,
61 And shed their flow'rs along the rugged way.
62 Arm'd with the lyre, already have we dar'd
63 To pierce divine philosophy's retreats,
64 And teach the Muse her lore; already strove
65 Their long-divided honours to unite,
66 While temp'ring this deep argument we sang
67 Of truth and beauty. Now the same task
68 Impends; now urging our ambitious toil,
69 We hasten to recount the various springs
[Page 50]
70 Of adventitious pleasure, which adjoin
71 Their grateful influence to the prime effect
72 Of objects grand or beauteous, and inlarge
73 The complicated joy. The sweets of sense,
74 Do they not oft with kind accession flow,
75 To raise harmonious fancy's native charm?
76 So while we taste the fragrance of the rose,
77 Glows not her blush the fairer? While we view
78 Amid the noontide walk a limpid rill
79 Gush thro' the trickling herbage, to the thirst
80 Of summer yielding the delicious draught
81 Of cool refreshment; o'er the mossy brink
82 Shines not the surface clearer, and the waves
83 With sweeter music murmur as they flow?
84 Nor this alone; the various lot of life
85 Oft from external circumstance assumes
86 A moment's disposition to rejoice
87 In those delights which at a different hour
88 Would pass unheeded. Fair the face of spring,
89 When rural songs and odours wake the morn,
[Page 51]
90 To every eye; but how much more to his
91 Round whom the bed of sickness long diffus'd
92 Its melancholy gloom! how doubly fair,
93 When first with fresh-born vigour he inhales
94 The balmy breeze, and feels the blessed sun
95 Warm at his bosom, from the springs of life
96 Chasing oppressive damps and languid pain!
97 Or shall I mention, where coelestial truth
98 Her awful light discloses, to effuse
99 A more majestic pomp on beauty's frame?
100 For man loves knowledge, and the beams of truth
101 More welcome touch his understanding's eye,
102 Than all the blandishments of sound, his ear,
103 Than all of taste his tongue. Nor ever yet
104 The melting rainbow's vernal-tinctur'd hues
105 To me have shone so pleasing, as when first
106 The hand of science pointed out the path
107 In which the sun-beams gleaming from the west
108 Fall on the watry cloud, whose darksome veil
109 Involves the orient; and that trickling show'r
[Page 52]
110 Piercing thro' every crystalline convex
111 Of clust'ring dew-drops to their flight oppos'd,
112 Recoil at length where concave all behind
113 Th' internal surface of each glassy orb
114 Repells their forward passage into air;
115 That thence direct they seek the radiant goal
116 From which their course began; and, as they strike
117 In diff'rent lines the gazer's obvious eye,
118 Assume a diff'rent lustre, thro' the brede
119 Of colours changing from the splendid rose
120 To the pale violet's dejected hue.
121 Or shall we touch that kind access of joy,
122 That springs to each fair object, while we trace,
123 Thro' all its fabric, wisdom's artful aim
124 Disposing every part, and gaining still
125 By means proportion'd her benignant end?
126 Speak, ye, the pure delight, whose favour'd steps
127 The lamp of science thro' the jealous maze
128 Of nature guides, when haply you reveal
129 Her secret honours: whether in the sky,
[Page 53]
130 The beauteous laws of light, the central pow'rs
131 That wheel the pensile planets round the year;
132 Whether in wonders of the rowling deep,
133 Or smiling fruits of pleasure-pregnant earth,
134 Or fine-adjusted springs of life and sense,
135 You scan the counsels of their author's hand.
136 What, when to raise the meditated scene,
137 The flame of passion, thro' the struggling soul
138 Deep-kindled, shows across that sudden blaze
139 The object of its rapture, vast of size,
140 With fiercer colours and a night of shade?
141 What? like a storm from their capacious bed
142 The sounding seas o'erwhelming, when the might
143 Of these eruptions, working from the depth
144 Of man's strong apprehension, shakes his frame
145 Ev'n to the base; from every naked sense
146 Of pain or pleasure dissipating all
147 Opinion's feeble cov'rings, and the veil
148 Spun from the cobweb-fashion of the times
149 To hide the feeling heart? Then nature speaks
[Page 54]
150 Her genuine language, and the words of men,
151 Big with the very motion of their souls,
152 Declare with what accumulated force,
153 Th' impetuous nerve of passion urges on
154 The native weight and energy of things.
155 Yet more; her honours where nor beauty claims,
156 Nor shews of good the thirsty sense allure,
157 From passion's pow'r alone our nature holds
From passion's power alone, &c.]

This very mysterious kind of pleasure which is often found in the exercise of passions generally counted painful, has been taken taken notice of by several authors. Lucretius resolves it into self-love,Suave mari magno, &c. lib. II. 1.As if a man was never pleas'd in being moved at the distress of a tragedy, without a cool reflection that tho' these fictitious personages were so unhappy, yet he himself was perfectly at ease and in safety. The ingenious and candid author of the reflexions critiques sur la poesie & sur la peinture, accounts for it by the general delight which the mind takes in its own activity, and the abhorrence it feels of an indolent and unattentive state: And this, join'd with the moral applause of its own temper, which attends these emotions when natural and just, is certainly the true foundation of the pleasure, which as it is the origin and basis of tragedy and epic, deserved a very particular consideration in this poem.

158 Essential pleasure. Passion's fierce illapse
159 Rouzes the mind's whole fabric; with supplies
160 Of daily impulse keeps th' elastic pow'rs
161 Intensely poiz'd, and polishes anew
162 By that collision all the fine machine:
163 Else rust would rise, and foulness, by degrees
[Page 55]
164 Incumb'ring, choak at last what heav'n design'd
165 For ceaseless motion and a round of toil.
166 But say, does every passion men endure
167 Thus minister delight? That name indeed
168 Becomes the rosy breath of love; becomes
169 The radiant smiles of joy, th' applauding hand
170 Of admiration: but the bitter show'r
171 That sorrow sheds upon a brother's grave,
172 But the dumb palsy of nocturnal fear,
173 Or those consuming fires that gnaw the heart
174 Of panting indignation, find we there
175 To move delight? Then listen, while my tongue
176 Th' unalter'd will of heav'n with faithful awe
177 Reveals; what old Harmodious wont to teach
178 My early age; Harmodius, who had weigh'd
179 Within his learned mind whate'er the schools
180 Of wisdom, or thy lonely-whisp'ring voice,
181 O faithful nature! dictate of the laws
182 Which govern and support this mighty frame
183 Of universal being. Oft the hours
184 From morn to eve have stole unmark'd away,
[Page 56]
185 While mute attention hung upon his lips,
186 As thus the sage his awful tale began.
187 'Twas in the windings of an ancient wood,
188 When spotless youth with solitude resigns
189 To sweet philosophy the studious day,
190 What time pale autumn shades the silent eve,
191 Musing I rov'd. Of good and evil much,
192 And much of mortal man my thought revolv'd;
193 When starting full on fancy's gushing eye,
194 The mournful image of Parthenia's fate,
195 That hour, O long belov'd and long deplor'd!
196 When blooming youth, nor gentlest wisdom's arts,
197 Nor Hymen's honours gather'd for thy brow,
198 Nor all thy lover's, all thy father's tears
199 Avail'd to snatch thee from the cruel grave;
200 Thy agonizing looks, thy last farewel
201 Struck to the inmost feeling of my soul
202 As with the hand death. At once the shade
203 More horrid nodded o'er me, and the winds
204 With hoarser murm'ring shook the branches. Dark
[Page 57]
205 As midnight storms, the scene of human things
206 Appear'd before me; desarts, burning sands,
207 Where the parch'd adder dies; the frozen south,
208 And desolation blasting all the west
209 With rapine and with murder: tyrant-pow'r
210 Here sits inthron'd in blood; the baleful charms
211 Of superstition there infect the skies,
212 And turn the sun to horror. Gracious heav'n!
213 What is the life of man? Or cannot these,
214 Not these portents thy awful will suffice?
215 That propagated thus beyond their scope,
216 They rise to act their cruelties anew
217 In my afflicted bosom, thus decreed
218 The universal sensitive of pain,
219 The wretched heir of evils not its own!
220 Thus I, impatient; when at once effus'd,
221 A flashing torrent of coelestial day
222 Burst thro' the shadowy void. With slow descent
223 A purple cloud came floating thro' the sky,
224 And pois'd at length within the circling trees,
[Page 58]
225 Hung obvious to my view: till opening wide
226 Its lucid orb, a more than human form
227 Emerging lean'd majestic o'er my head,
228 And instant thunder shook the conscious grove.
229 Then melted into air the liquid cloud,
230 And all the shining vision stood reveal'd.
231 A wreath of palm his ample forehead bound,
232 And o'er his shoulder, mantling to his knee,
233 Flow'd the transparent robe, around his waist
234 Collected with a radiant zone of gold
235 Aethereal: there in mystic signs ingrav'd,
236 I read his office high and sacred name,
237 Genius of human kind. Appall'd I gaz'd
238 The godlike presence; for athwart his brow
239 Displeasure, temper'd with a mild concern,
240 Look'd down reluctant on me, and his words
241 Like distant thunders broke the murm'ring air.
242 Vain are thy thoughts, O child of mortal birth,
243 And impotent thy tongue. Is thy short span
244 Capacious of this universal frame?
[Page 59]
245 Thy wisdom all-sufficient? Thou, alas!
246 Dost thou aspire to judge between the lord
247 Of nature and his works? to lift thy voice
248 Against the sov'reign order he decreed
249 All good and lovely? to blaspheme the bands
250 Of tenderness innate and social love,
251 Holiest of things! by which the general orb
252 Of being, as with adamantine links,
253 Was drawn to perfect union and sustain'd
254 From everlasting? Hast thou felt the pangs
255 Of soft'ning sorrow, of indignant zeal
256 So grievous to the soul, as thence to wish
257 The ties of nature broken from thy frame;
258 That so thy selfish, unrelenting heart
259 May cease to mourn its lot, no longer then
260 The wretched heir of evils not its own?
261 O fair benevolence of gen'rous minds!
262 O man by nature form'd for all mankind!
263 He spoke; abash'd and silent I remain'd,
264 As conscious of my lips' offence, and aw'd
[Page 60]
265 Before his presence, tho' my secret soul
266 Disdain'd the imputation. On the ground
267 I fix'd my eyes; till from his airy couch
268 He stoop'd sublime, and touching with his hand
269 My dazzled forehead, Raise thy sight, he cry'd,
270 And let thy sense convince thy erring tongue.
271 I look'd, and lo! the former scene was chang'd;
272 For verdant alleys and surrounding trees,
273 A solitary prospect, wide and wild,
274 Rush'd on my senses. 'Twas a horrid pile
275 Of hills with many a shaggy forest mix'd,
276 With many a sable cliff and glitt'ring stream.
277 Aloft recumbent o'er the hanging ridge,
278 The brown woods wav'd, while ever-trickling springs
279 Wash'd from the naked roots of oak and pine,
280 The crumbling soil; and still at every fall
281 Down the steep windings of the channel'd rock,
282 Remurm'ring rush'd the congregated floods
283 With hoarser inundation; till at last
284 They reach'd a grassy plain, which from the skirts
[Page 61]
285 Of that high desart spread her verdant lap,
286 And drank the gushing moisture, where confin'd
287 In one smooth current, o'er the lilied vale
288 Clearer than glass it flow'd. Autumnal spoils
289 Luxuriant spreading to the rays of morn,
290 Blush'd o'er the cliffs, whose half-incircling mound
291 As in a sylvan theatre inclos'd
292 That flow'ry level. On the river's brink
293 I spy'd a fair pavilion, which diffus'd
294 Its floating umbrage 'mid the silver shade
295 Of osiers. Now the western sun reveal'd
296 Between two parting cliffs his golden orb,
297 And pour'd across the shadow of the hills,
298 On rocks and floods, a yellow stream of light
299 That chear'd the solemn scene. My list'ning pow'rs
300 Were aw'd, and every thought in silence hung,
301 And wond'ring expectation. Then the voice
302 Of that coelestial pow'r, the mystic show
303 Declaring, thus my deep attention call'd.
[Page 62]
304 Inhabitant of earth, to whom is giv'n
Inhabitant of earth, &c.]

The account of the oeconomy of providence here introduced, as the most proper to calm and satisfy the mind, when under the compunction of private evils, seems to have come originally from the Pythagorean school: but of all the ancient philosophers, Plato has most largely insisted upon it, has established it with all the strength of his capacious understanding, and ennobled it with all the magnificence of his divine imagination. He has one passage so full and clear on the head, that I am persuaded the reader will be pleased to see it here, tho' somewhat long. Addressing himself to such as are not satisfied concerning divine providence,The being who presides over the whole, says he, has dispos'd and complicated all things for the happiness and virtue of the whole, every part of which, according to the extent of its influence, does and suffers what is fit and proper. One of these parts is yours, O unhappy man! which tho' in itself most inconsiderable and minute, yet being connected with the universe, ever seeks to co-operate with that supreme order. You in the mean time are ignorant of the very end for which all particular natures are brought into existence, that the all-comprehending nature of the whole may be perfect and happy; existing, as it does, not for your sake, but the cause and reason of your existence, which, as in the symmetry of every artificial work, must of necessity concur with the general design of the artist, and be subservient to the whole of which it is a part. Your complaint therefore is ignorant and groundless; since according to the various energy of creation, and the common laws of nature, there is a constant provision of that which is best at the same time for you and for the whole. For the governing intelligence clearly beholding all the actions of animated and selfmoving creatures, and that mixture of good and evil which diversifies them, considering first of all by what disposition of things, and what situation of each individual in the general system, vice might be depressed and subdued, and virtue made secure of victory and happiness with the greatest facility and in the highest degree possible. In this manner he order'd thro' the entire circle of being, the internal constitution of every mind, where should be its station in the universal fabric, and thro' what variety of circumstances it should proceed in the whole tenour of its existence. He goes on in his sublime manner to assert a future state of retribution, as well for those who, by the exercise of good dispositions being harmonized and assimilated to the divine virtue, are consequently removed to a place of unblemish'd sanctity and happiness; as of those who by the most flagitious arts have arisen from contemptible beginnings to the greatest affluence and power, and whom therefore you look upon as unanswerable instances of negligence in the Gods, because you are ignorant of the purposes to which they are subservient, and in what manner they contribute to that supreme intention of good to the whole. Plato de Leg. x. 16.

This theory has been deliver'd of late, especially abroad, in a manner which subverts the freedom of human actions; whereas Plato appears very careful to preserve it, and has been in that respect imitated by the best of his followers.

305 The gracious ways of providence to learn,
306 Receive my sayings with a stedfast ear
307 Know then, the sov'reign spirit of the world,
308 Tho' self-collected from eternal time,
309 Within his own deep essence he beheld
310 The circling bounds of happiness unite;
311 Yet by immense benignity inclin'd
[Page 63]
312 To spread around him that primaeval joy
313 Which fill'd himself, he rais'd his plastic arm,
314 And sounded thro' the hollow depth of space
315 The strong, creative mandate. Strait arose
316 These heav'nly orbs, the glad abodes of life
317 Effusive kindled by his breath divine
318 Thro' endless forms of being. Each inhal'd
319 From him its portion of the vital flame,
320 In measure such, that from the wide complex
321 Of coexistent orders, one might rise,
[Page 64]
322 One order, all-involving and intire.
one might rise,
One order, &c.]

See the meditations of Antoninus, and the characteristics, passim.

323 He too beholding in the sacred light
324 Of his essential reason, all the shapes
325 Of swift contingence, all successives ties
326 Of action propagated thro' the sum
327 Of possible existence, he at once,
328 Down the long series of eventful time,
329 So fix'd the dates of being, so dispos'd,
330 To every living soul of every kind,
331 The field of motion and the hour of rest,
332 That all conspir'd to his supreme design,
333 To universal good: with full accord
334 Answ'ring the mighty model he had chose,
335 The best and fairest of unnumber'd worlds
The best and fairest, &c.]

This opinion is so old, that Timaeus Locrus calls the supreme being,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the artificer of that which is best; and represents him as resolving in the beginning to produce the most excellent work, and as copying the world most exactly from his own intelligible and essential idea;so that it yet remains, as it was at first, perfect in beauty, and will never stand in need of any correction or improvement. There is no room for a cauiton here, to understand these expressions not of any particular circumstances of human life separately consider'd, but of the sum or universal system of life and being. See also the vision at the end of the Theodicée of Leibnitz.

336 That lay from everlasting in the store
[Page 65]
337 Of his divine conceptions. Nor content,
338 By one exertion of creating pow'r
339 His goodness to reveal; thro' every age,
340 Thro' every moment up the tract of time,
341 His parent-hand with ever-new increase
342 Of happiness and virtue has adorn'd
343 The vast harmonious frame: his parent-hand,
344 From mute shell-fish gasping on the shore,
345 To men, to angels, to coelestial minds,
346 For ever leads the generations on
347 To higher scenes of being; while supply'd
348 From day to day by his enlivening breath,
349 Inferior orders in succession rise
350 To fill the void below. As flame ascends,
As flame ascends, &c.

This opinion, tho' not held by Plato or any of the ancients, is yet a very natural consequence of his principles. But the disquisition is too complex and extensive to be enter'd upon here.

351 As bodies to their proper center move,
352 As the poiz'd ocean to th' attracting moon
353 Obedient swells, and every headlong stream
354 Devolves its winding waters to the main;
355 So all things which have life aspire to GOD,
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356 The sun of being, boundless, unimpair'd,
357 Center of souls! Nor does the faithful voice
358 Of nature cease to prompt their eager steps
359 Aright; nor is the care of heav'n witheld
360 From granting to the task proportion'd aid;
361 That in their stations all may persevere
362 To climb th' ascent of being, and approach
363 For ever nearer to the life divine.
364 That rocky pile thou see'st, that verdant lawn
365 Fresh-water'd from the mountains. Let the scene
366 Paint in thy fancy the primaeval seat
367 Of man, and where the will supreme ordain'd
368 His mansion, that pavilion fair-diffus'd
369 Along the shady brink, in this recess
370 To wear th' appointed season of his youth;
371 Till riper hours should open to his toil
372 The high communion of superior minds,
373 Of consecrated heroes and of gods.
374 Nor did the sire omnipotent forget
375 His tender bloom to cherish; nor witheld
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376 Coelestial footsteps from his green abode.
377 Oft from the radiant honours of his throne,
378 He sent whom most he lov'd, the sov'reign fair,
379 The effluence of his glory, whom he plac'd
380 Before his eyes for ever to behold;
381 The goddess from whose inspiration flows
382 The toil of patriots, the delight of friends;
383 Without whose work divine, in heav'n or earth,
384 Nought lovely, nought propitious comes to pass,
385 Nor hope, nor praise, nor honour. Her the sire
386 Gave it in charge to rear the blooming mind,
387 The folded pow'rs to open, to direct
388 The growth luxuriant of his young desires,
389 And from the laws of this majestic world
390 To teach him what was good. As thus the nymph
391 Her daily care attended, by her side
392 With constant steps her gay companion stay'd,
393 The fair Euphrosyné, the gentle queen
394 Of smiles, and graceful gladness, and delights
395 That chear alike the hearts of mortal men
396 And pow'rs immortal. See the shining pair!
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397 Behold, where from his dwelling now disclos'd,
398 They quit their youthful charge and seek the skies.
399 I look'd, and on the flow'ry turf there stood,
400 Between two radiant forms, a smiling youth
401 Whose tender cheeks display'd the vernal flow'r
402 Of beauty; sweetest innocence illum'd
403 His bashful eyes, and on his polish'd brow
404 Sate young simplicity. With fond regard
405 He view'd th' associates, as their steps they mov'd;
406 The younger chief his ardent eyes detain'd,
407 With mild regret invoking her return.
408 Bright as the star of evening she appear'd
409 Amid the dusky scene. Eternal youth
410 O'er all her form its glowing honours breath'd;
411 And smiles eternal, from her candid eyes,
412 Flow'd like the dewy lustre of the morn
413 Effusive trembling on the placid waves.
414 The spring of heav'n had shed its blushing spoils
415 To bind her sable tresses: full diffus'd
416 Her yellow mantle floated in the breeze;
417 And in her hand she wav'd a living branch
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418 Rich with immortal fruits, of pow'r to calm
419 The wrathful heart, and from the bright'ning eyes
420 To chase the cloud of sadness. More sublime
421 The heav'nly part'ner mov'd. The prime of age
422 Compos'd her steps. The presence of a god,
423 High on the circle of her brow inthron'd,
424 From each majestic motion darted awe,
425 Devoted awe! till, cherish'd by her looks
426 Benevolent and meek, confiding love
427 To filial rapture soften'd all the soul.
428 Free in her graceful hand she poiz'd the sword
429 Of chaste dominion. An heroic crown
430 Display'd the old simplicity of pomp
431 Around her honour'd head. A matron's robe,
432 White as the sunshine streams thro' vernal clouds,
433 Her stately form invested. Hand in hand
434 Th' immortal pair forsook th' enamell'd green,
435 Ascending slowly. Rays of limpid light
436 Gleam'd round their path; coelestial sounds were heard,
437 And thro' the fragrant air aethereal dews
438 Distill'd around them; till at once the clouds
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439 Disparting wide in midway sky, withdrew
440 Their airy veil, and left a bright expanse
441 Of empyréan flame, where spent and drown'd,
442 Afflicted vision plung'd in vain to scan
443 What object it involv'd. My feeble eyes
444 Indur'd not. Bending down to earth I stood,
445 With dumb attention. Soon a female voice,
446 As watry murmurs sweet, or warbling shades,
447 With sacred invocation thus began.
448 Father of gods and mortals! whose right arm
449 With reins eternal guides the moving heav'ns,
450 Bend thy propitious ear. Behold well-pleas'd
451 I seek to finish thy divine decree.
452 With frequent steps I visit yonder seat
453 Of man, thy offspring; from the tender seeds
454 Of justice and of wisdom, to evolve
455 The latent honours of his generous frame;
456 Till thy conducting hand shall raise his lot
457 From earth's dim scene to these aethereal walks,
458 The temple of thy glory. But not me,
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459 Not my directing voice he oft requires,
460 Or hears delighted: this inchanting maid,
461 Th' associate thou hast giv'n me, her alone
462 He loves, O father! absent, her he craves;
463 And but for her glad presence ever join'd,
464 Rejoices not in mine: that all my hopes
465 This thy benignant purpose to fulfil,
466 I deem uncertain; and my daily cares
467 Unfruitful all and vain, unless by thee
468 Still farther aided in the work divine.
469 She ceas'd; a voice more awful thus reply'd.
470 O thou! in whom for ever I delight,
471 Fairer than all th' inhabitants of heaven,
472 Best image of thy author! far from thee
473 Be disappointment, or distaste, or blame;
474 Who soon or late shalt every work fulfil,
475 And no resistance find. Is man refuse
476 To hearken to thy dictates; or allur'd
477 By meaner joys, to any other pow'r
478 Transfer the honours due to thee alone;
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479 That joy which he pursues he ne'er shall taste,
480 That pow'r in whom delighteth ne'er behold.
481 Go then once more, and happy be thy toil;
482 Go then! but let not this thy smiling friend
483 Partake thy footsteps. In her stead, behold!
484 With thee the son of Nemesis I send;
485 The fiend abhorr'd! whose vengeance takes account
486 Of sacred order's violated laws.
487 See where he calls thee, burning to be gone,
488 Fierce to exhaust the tempest of his wrath
489 On yon devoted head. But thou, my child,
490 Controul his cruel frenzy, and protect
491 Thy tender charge. That when despair shall grasp
492 His agonizing bosom, he may learn,
493 Then he may learn to love the gracious hand
494 Alone sufficient in that hour of ill,
495 To save his feeble spirit; then confess
496 Thy genuine honours, O excelling fair!
497 When all the plagues that wait the deadly will
498 Of this avenging daemon, all the storms
499 Of night infernal, serve but to display
[Page 73]
500 The energy of thy superior charms
501 With mildest awe triumphant o'er his rage,
502 And shining clearer in the horrid gloom.
503 Here ceas'd that awful voice, and soon I felt
504 The cloudy curtain of refreshing eve
505 Was clos'd once more, from that immortal fire
506 Shelt'ring my eye-lids. Looking up, I view'd
507 A vast gigantic spectre striding on
508 Thro' murm'ring thunders and a waste of clouds,
509 With dreadful action. Black as night his brow
510 Relentless frowns involv'd. His savage limbs
511 With sharp impatience violent he writh'd,
512 As thro' convulsive anguish; and his hand
513 Arm'd with a scorpion-lash, full oft he rais'd
514 In madness to his bosom; while his eyes
515 Rain'd bitter tears, and bellowing loud he shook
516 The void with horror. Silent by his side
517 The virgin came. No discomposure stirr'd
518 Her features. From the glooms which hung around,
519 No stain of darkness mingled with the beam
[Page 74]
520 Of her divine effulgence. Now they stoop
521 Upon the river-bank; and now to hail
522 His wonted guests, with eager steps advanc'd
523 The unsuspecting inmate of the shade.
524 As when a famish'd wolf, that all night long
525 Had rang'd the Alpine snows, by chance at morn
526 Sees from a cliff incumbent o'er the smoke
527 Of some lone village, a neglected kid
528 That strays along the wild for herb or spring;
529 Down from the winding ridge he sweeps amain,
530 And thinks he tears him: so with tenfold rage,
531 The monster sprung remorseless on his prey.
532 Amaz'd the stripling stood; with panting breast
533 Feebly he pour'd the lamentable wail
534 Of helpless consternation, struck at once,
535 And rooted to the ground. The queen beheld
536 His terror, and with looks of tend'rest care
537 Advanc'd to save him. Soon the tyrant felt
538 Her awful pow'r. His keen, tempestuous arm
539 Hung nerveless, nor descended where his rage
[Page 75]
540 Had aim'd the deadly blow: then dumb retir'd
541 With sullen rancour. Lo! the sov'reign maid
542 Folds with a mother's arms the fainting boy,
543 Till life rekindles in his rosy cheek;
544 Then grasps his hand, and chears him with her tongue.
545 O wake thee, rouze thy spirit! Shall the spite
546 Of yon tormentor thus appall thy heart,
547 While I, thy friend and guardian, am at hand
548 To rescue and to heal? O let thy soul
549 Remember, what the will of heav'n ordains
550 Is ever good for all; and if for all,
551 Then good for thee. Nor only by the warmth
552 And soothing sunshine of delightful things,
553 Do minds grow up and flourish. Oft misled
554 By that blind light, the young unpractis'd views
555 Of reason wander thro' a fatal road,
556 Far from their native aim: as if to lye
557 Inglorious in the fragrant shade, and wait
558 The soft access of ever-circling joys,
559 Were all the end of being. Ask thyself,
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560 This pleasing error did it never lull
561 Thy wishes? Has thy constant heart refus'd
562 The silken fetters of delicious ease?
563 Or when divine Euphrosyné appear'd
564 Within this dwelling, did not thy desires
565 Hang far below that measure of thy fate,
566 Which I reveal'd before thee? and thy eyes,
567 Impatient of my counsels, turn away
568 To drink the soft effusion of her smiles?
569 Know then, for this the everlasting sire
570 Deprives thee of her presence, and instead,
571 O wise and still benevolent! ordains
572 This horrid visage hither to pursue
573 My steps; that so thy nature may discern
574 Its real good, and what alone can save
575 Thy feeble spirit in this hour of ill
576 From folly and despair. O yet belov'd!
577 Let not this headlong terror quite o'erwhelm
578 Thy scatter'd pow'rs; nor fatal deem the rage
579 Of this tormentor, nor his proud assault,
580 While I am here to vindicate thy toil,
[Page 77]
581 Above the generous question of thy arm.
582 Brave by thy fears, and in thy weakness strong,
583 This hour he triumphs; but confront his might,
584 And dare him to the combat, then with ease
585 Disarm'd and quell'd, his fierceness he resigns
586 To bondage and to scorn: while thus inur'd
587 By watchful danger, by unceasing toil,
588 Th' immortal mind, superior to his fate,
589 Amid the outrage of external things,
590 Firm as the solid base of this great world,
591 Rests on his own foundations. Blow, ye winds!
592 Ye waves! ye thunders! rowl your tempest on;
593 Shake, ye old pillars of the marble sky!
594 Till all its orbs and all its worlds of fire
595 Be loosen'd from their seats; yet still serene,
596 Th' unconquer'd mind looks down upon the wreck,
597 And ever stronger as the storms advance,
598 Firm thro' the closing ruin holds his way,
599 Where nature calls him to the destin'd goal.
[Page 78]
600 So spake the goddess; while thro' all her frame
601 Coelestial raptures flow'd, in every word,
602 In ev'ry motion kindling wrath divine
603 To seize who listen'd. Vehement and swift
604 As light'ning fires the aromatic shade
605 In Aethiopian fields, the stripling felt
606 Her inspiration catch his fervid soul,
607 And starting from his languor thus exclaim'd.
608 Then let the trial come! and witness thou,
609 If terror be upon me; if I shrink
610 To meet the storm, or faulter in my strength
611 When hardest it besets me. Do not think
612 That I am fearful and infirm of soul,
613 As late thy eyes beheld: for thou hast chang'd
614 My nature; thy commanding voice has wak'd
615 My languid pow'rs to bear me boldly on,
616 Where'er the will divine my path ordains
617 Thro' toil or peril: only do not thou
618 Forsake me; O be thou for ever near,
[Page 79]
619 That I may listen to thy sacred voice,
620 And guide by thy decrees my constant feet.
621 But say, for ever are my eyes bereft?
622 Say, shall the fair Euphrosyné not once
623 Appear again to charm me? Thou, in heav'n!
624 O thou eternal arbiter of things!
625 Be thy great bidding done: for who am I
626 To question thy appointment? Let the frowns
627 Of this avenger every morn o'ercast
628 The chearful dawn, and every evening damp
629 With double night my dwelling; I will learn
630 To hail them both, and unrepining bear
631 His hateful presence: but permit my tongue
632 One glad request, and if my deeds may find
633 Thy awful eye propitious, O restore
634 The rosy-featur'd maid; again to chear
635 This lonely seat, and bless me with her smiles.
636 He spoke; when instant, thro' the sable glooms
637 With which that furious presence had involv'd
638 The ambient air, a flood of radiance came
639 Swift as the light'ning-flash; the melting clouds
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640 Flew diverse, and amid the blue serene
641 Euphrosyné appear'd. With sprightly step
642 The nymph alighted on th' irriguous lawn,
643 And to her wond'ring audience thus begun.
644 Lo! I am here to answer to your vows,
645 And be the meeting fortunate! I come
646 With joyful tidings; we shall part no more
647 Hark! how the gentle Echo from her cell
648 Talks thro' the cliffs, and murm'ring o'er the stream
649 Repeats the accent; we shall part no more.
650 O my delightful friends! well-pleas'd on high
651 The father has beheld you, while the might
652 Of that stern foe with bitter trial prov'd
653 Your equal doings: then for ever spake
654 The high decree: that thou, coelestial maid!
655 Howe'er that griesly phantom on thy steps
656 May sometimes dare intrude, yet never more
657 Shalt thou descending to th' abode of man,
658 Alone indure the rancour of his arm,
659 Or leave thy lov'd Euphrosyné behind.
[Page 81]
660 She ended; and the whole romantic scene
661 Immediate vanish'd: rocks, and woods, and rills,
662 The mantling tent, and each mysterious form
663 Flew like the pictures of a morning dream,
664 When sun-shine fills the bed. A while I stood
665 Perplex'd and giddy; till the radiant pow'r
666 Who bade the visionary landscape rise,
667 As up to him I turn'd, with gentlest looks
668 Preventing my inquiry, thus began.
669 There let thy soul acknowledge its complaint
670 How blind, how impious! There behold the ways
671 Of heav'n's eternal destiny to man,
672 For ever just, benevolent and wise:
673 That VIRTUE'S awful steps, howe'er pursued
674 By vexing fortune and intrusive PAIN,
675 Should never be divided from her chast,
676 Her fair attendant, PLEASURE. Need I urge
677 Thy tardy thought thro' all the various round
678 Of this existence, that thy soft'ning soul
679 At length may learn what energy the hand
[Page 82]
680 Of virtue mingles in the bitter tide
681 Of passion swelling with distress and pain,
682 To mitigate the sharp with gracious drops
683 Of cordial pleasure? Ask the faithful youth,
684 Why the cold urn of her whom long he lov'd
685 So often fills his arms; so often draws
686 His lonely footsteps at the silent hour,
687 To pay the mournful tribute of his tears?
688 O! he will tell thee, that the wealth of worlds
689 Should ne'er seduce his bosom to forego
690 That sacred hour, when stealing from the noise
691 Of care and envy, sweet remembrance sooths
692 With virtue's kindest looks his aking breast,
693 And turns his tears to rapture Ask the croud
694 Which flies impatient from the village-walk
695 To climb the neighb'ring cliffs, when far below
696 The cruel winds have hurl'd upon the coast
697 Some helpless bark; while sacred pity melts
698 The general eye, or terror's icy hand
699 Smites their distorted limbs and horrent hair;
700 While every mother closer to her breast
[Page 83]
701 Catches her child, and pointing where the waves
702 Foam thro' the shatter'd vessel, shrieks aloud
703 As one poor wretch that spreads his piteous arms
704 For succour, swallow'd by the roaring surge,
705 As now another, dash'd against the rock,
706 Drops lifeless down: O deemest thou indeed
707 No kind indearment here by nature giv'n
708 To mutual terror and compassion's tears?
709 No sweetly-melting softness which attracts,
710 O'er all that edge of pain, the social pow'rs
711 To this their proper action and their end?
712 Ask thy own heart; when at the midnight hour,
713 Slow thro' that studious gloom thy pausing eye
714 Led by the glimm'ring taper moves around
715 The sacred volumes of the dead: the songs
716 Of Graecian bards, and records wrote by fame
717 For Graecian heroes, where the present pow'r
718 Of heav'n and earth surveys th' immortal page,
719 Ev'n as a father blessing, while he reads,
720 The praises of his son. If then thy soul,
721 Spurning the yoke of these inglorious days,
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722 Mix in their deeds and kindle with their flame;
723 Say, when the prospect blackens on thy view,
724 When rooted from the base, heroic states
725 Mourn in the dust and tremble at the frown
726 Of curst ambition; when the pious band
when the pious band, &c.]

The reader will here naturally recollect the fate of the sacred battalion of Thebes, which at the battle of Chaeronéa was utterly destroy'd, every man being found lying dead by his friend.

727 Of youths who fought for freedom and their sires,
728 Lie side by side in gore; when ruffian-pride
729 Usurps the throne of justice, turns the pomp
730 Of public pow'r, the majesty of rule,
731 The sword, the laurel, and the purple robe,
732 To slavish empty pageants, to adorn
733 A tyrant's walk, and glitter in the eyes
734 Of such as bow the knee; when honour'd urns
735 Of patriots and of chiefs, the awful bust
736 And storied arch, to glut the coward-rage
737 Of regal envy, strew the public way
738 With hallow'd ruins; when the muse's haunt,
739 The marble porch where wisdom wont to talk
740 With Socrates or Tully, hears no more,
[Page 85]
741 Save the hoarse jargon of contentious monks,
742 Or female superstition's midnight pray'r;
743 When ruthless rapine from the hand of time
744 Tears the destroying scythe, with surer blow
745 To sweep the works of glory from their base;
746 Till desolation o'er the grass-grown street
747 Expands his raven-wings, and up the wall,
748 Where senates once the price of monarchs doom'd,
749 Hisses the gliding snake thro' hoary weeds
750 That clasp the mould'ring column; thus defac'd,
751 Thus widely mournful when the prospect thrills
752 Thy beating bosom, when the patriot's tear
753 Starts from thine eye, and thy extended arm
754 In fancy hurls the thunderbolt of Jove
755 To fire the impious wreath on Philip's

The Macedonian.

756 Or dash Octavius from the trophied car;
757 Say, does thy secret soul repine to taste
758 The big distress? Or would'st thou then exchange
759 Those heart-ennobling sorrows for the lot
[Page 86]
760 Of him who sits amid the gaudy herd
761 Of mute barbarians bending to his nod,
762 And bears aloft his gold-invested front,
763 And says within himself, "I am a king,
764 "And wherefore should the clam'rous voice of woe
765 "Intrude upon mine ear? The baleful dreggs
766 Of these late ages, this inglorious draught
767 Of servitude and folly, have not yet,
768 Blest be th' eternal ruler of the world!
769 Defil'd to such a depth of sordid shame
770 The native honours of the human soul,
771 Nor so effac'd the image of its sire.
End of the SECOND BOOK.
[Page 87]



[Page 88]


PLEASURE in observing the tempers and manners of men, even where vicious or absurd; v. 1. to 14. The origin of vice, from false representations of the fancy, producing false opinions concerning good and evil; v. 14. to 62. Inquiry into ridicule; v. 73. The general sources of ridicule in the minds and characters of men, enumerated; v. 14. to 240. Final cause of the sense of ridicule; v. 263. The resemblance of certain aspects of inanimate things to the sensations and properties of the mind; v. 282, to 311. The operations of the mind in the production of the works of imagination, described; v. 358, to 414. The secondary pleasure from imitation; to v. 436. The benevolent order of the world illustrated in the arbitrary connection of these pleasures with the objects which excite them; v. 458, to 514. The nature and conduct of taste; v. 515, to 567. Concluding with an account of the natural and moral advantages resulting from a sensible and well-form'd imagination.

[Page 89]



1 WHAT wonder therefore, since th'indearing ties
2 Of passion link the universal kind
3 Of man so close, what wonder if to search
4 This common nature thro' the various change
5 Of sex, and age, and fortune, and the frame
6 Of each peculiar, draw the busy mind
7 With unresisted charms? The spacious west,
8 And all the teeming regions of the south
9 Hold not a quarry, to the curious flight
10 Of knowledge, half so tempting or so fair,
[Page 90]
11 As man to man. Nor only where the smiles
12 Of love invite; nor only where th' applause
13 Of cordial honour turns th' attentive eye
14 On virtue's graceful deeds. For since the course
15 Of things external acts in different ways
16 On human apprehensions, as the hand
17 Of nature temper'd to a different frame
18 Peculiar minds; so haply where the pow'rs
19 Of fancy neither lessen nor enlarge
where the pow'rs
Of fancy, &c.]

The influence of the imagination on the conduct of life is one of the most important points in moral philosophy. It were easy by an induction of facts to prove that the imagination directs almost all the passions, and mixes with almost every circumstance of action or pleasure. Let any man, even of the coldest head and soberest industry, analyse the idea of what he calls his interest; he will find that it consists chiefly of certain images of decency, beauty and order, variously combined into one system, the idol which he seeks to injoy by labour, hazard, and self-denial. It is on this account of the last consequence to regulate these images by the standard of nature and the general good; otherwise the imagination, by heightening some objects beyond their real excellence and beauty, or by representing others in a more odious or terrible shape than they deserve, may of course engage us in pursuits utterly inconsistent with the laws of the moral order.

If it be objected, that this account of things supposes the passions to be merely accidental, whereas there appears in some a natural and hereditary disposition to certain passions prior to all circumstances of education or fortune; it may be answer'd, that tho' no man is born ambitious or a miser, yet he may inherit from his parents a peculiar temper or complexion of mind, which shall render his imagination more liable to be struck with some particular objects, consequently dispose him to form opinions of good and ill, and entertain passions of a particular turn. Some men, for instance, by the original frame of their minds, are more delighted with the vast and magnificent, others on the contrary with the elegant and gentle aspects of nature. And it is very remarkable, that the disposition of the moral powers is always similar to this of the imagination; that those who are most inclin'd to admire prodigious and sublime objects in the physical world, are also most inclin'd to applaud examples of fortitude and heroic virtue in the moral. While those who are charm'd rather with the delicacy and sweetness of colours, and forms, and sounds, never fail in like manner to yield the preference to the softer scenes of virtue and the sympathies of a domestic life. And this is sufficient to account for the objection.

Among the ancient philosophers, tho' we have several hints concerning this influence of the imagination upon morals among the remains of the Socratic school, yet the Stoics were the first who paid it a due attention. Zeno, their founder, thought it impossible to preserve any tolerable regularity in life, without frequently inspecting those pictures or appearances of things which the imagination offers to the mind. (Diog. Laert. l. vii.) The meditations of M. Aurelius, and the discourses of Epictetus, are full of the same sentiments; insomuch that this latter makes the〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or right management of the fancys, the only thing for which we are accountable to providence, and without which a man is no other than stupid or frantic. Arrian. l. i. c. 12. & l. ii. c. 22. See also the Characteristics, vol. 1. from p. 313, to p. 321. where this Stoical doctrine is embellished with all the eloquence and graces of Plato.

20 The images of things, but paint in all
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21 Their genuine hues, the features which they wore
22 In nature; there opinion will be true,
23 And action right. For action treads the path
24 In which opinion says he follows good,
25 Or flies from evil; and opinion gives
26 Report of good or evil, as the scene
27 Was drawn by fancy, lovely or deform'd:
28 Thus her report can never there be true,
29 Where fancy cheats the intellectual eye,
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30 With glaring colours and distorted lines.
31 Is there a man, who at the sound of death,
32 Sees ghastly shapes of terror conjur'd up,
33 And black before him; nought but death-bed groans,
34 And fearful pray'rs, and plunging from the brink
35 Of light and being, down the gloomy air,
36 An unknown depth? Alas! in such a mind,
37 If no bright forms of excellence attend
38 The image of his country; nor the pomp
39 Of sacred senates, nor the guardian voice
40 Of justice on her throne, nor aught that wakes
41 The conscious bosom with a patriot's flame;
42 Will not opinion tell him, that to die,
43 Or stand the hazard, is a greater ill
44 Than to betray his country? And in act
45 Will he not chuse to be a wretch and live?
46 Here vice begins then. From th' inchanting cup
47 Which fancy holds to all, th' unwary thirst
48 Of youth oft swallows a Circaean draught,
49 That sheds a baleful tincture o'er the eye
50 Of reason, till no longer he discerns,
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51 And only guides to err. Then revel forth
52 A furious band that spurn him from the throne;
53 And all is uproar. Thus ambition grasps
54 The empire of the soul: thus pale revenge
55 Unsheaths her murd'rous dagger; and the hands
56 Of lust and rapine, with unholy arts,
57 Watch to o'erturn the barrier of the laws
58 That keeps them from their prey: thus all the plagues
59 The wicked bear, or o'er the trembling scene
60 The tragic muse discloses, under shapes
61 Of honour, safety, pleasure, ease or pomp,
62 Stole first into the mind. Yet not by all
63 Those lying forms which fancy in the brain
64 Engenders, are the kindling passions driv'n
65 To guilty deeds; nor reason bound in chains,
66 That vice alone may lord it: oft adorn'd
67 With solemn pageants, folly mounts his throne,
68 And plays her ideot-anticks, like a queen.
69 A thousand garbs she wears; a thousand ways
70 She wheels her giddy empire. Lo! thus far
71 With bold adventure, to the Mantuan lyre
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72 I sing of nature's charms, and touch well-pleas'd
73 A stricter note: now haply must my song
74 Unbend her serious measure, and reveal
75 In lighter strains, how folly's aukward arts
how folly's aukward arts, &c.]

Notwithstanding the general influence of ridicule on private and civil life, as well as on learning and the sciences, it has been almost constantly neglected or misrepresented, by divines especially. The manner of treating these subjects in the science of human nature, should be precisely the same as in natural philosophy; from particular facts to investigate the stated order in which they appear, and then apply the general law, thus discovered, to the explication of other appearances and the improvement of useful arts.

76 Excite impetuous laughter's gay rebuke;
77 The sportive province of the comic muse.
78 See! in what crouds the uncouth forms advance,
79 Each would outstrip the other, each prevent
80 Our careful search, and offer to your gaze,
81 Unask'd, his motley features. Wait awhile,
82 My curious friends! and let us first arrange
83 In proper orders your promiscuous throng.
84 Behold the foremost band; of slender thought,
Behold the foremost band, &c.

The first and most general source of ridicule in the characters of men, is vanity or self-applause for some desirable quality or possession which evidently does not belong to those who assume it.

85 And easy faith; whom flatt'ring fancy sooths
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86 With lying spectres, in themselves to view
87 Illustrious forms of excellence and good,
88 That scorn the mansion. With exulting hearts
89 They spread their spurious treasures to the sun;
90 And bid the world admire! but chief the glance
91 Of wishful envy draws their joy-bright eyes,
92 And lists with self-applause each lordly brow.
93 In number boundless as the blooms of spring,
94 Behold their glaring idols, empty shades
95 By fancy gilded o'er, and then set up
96 For adoration. Some in learning's garb,
97 With formal band and sable-cinctur'd gown,
98 And rags of mouldy volumes. Some elate
99 With martial splendour, steely pikes, and swords
100 Of costly frame, and gay Phoenician robes
101 Inwrought with flow'ring gold, assume the port
102 Of stately valour: list'ning by his side
103 There stands a female form; to her, with looks
104 Of earnest import, pregnant with amaze,
105 He talks of deadly deeds, of breaches, storms,
106 And sulph'rous mines, and ambush: then at once
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107 Breaks off, and smiles to see her look so pale,
108 And asks some wond'ring question of her fears.
109 Others of graver mien; behold, adorn'd
110 With holy ensigns, how sublime they move,
111 And bending oft their sanctimonious eyes,
112 Take homage of the simple-minded throng;
113 Ambassadors of heav'n! Nor much unlike
114 Is he whose visage, in the lazy mist
115 That mantles every feature, hides a brood
116 Of politic conceits; of whispers, nods,
117 And hints deep-omen'd with unwieldy schemes,
118 And dark portents of state. Ten thousand more,
119 Prodigious habits and tumultuous tongues,
120 Pour dauntless in and swell the boastful band.
121 Then comes the second order; all who seek
Then comes the second order, &c.

Ridicule from the same vanity, where tho' the possession be real, yet no merit can arise from it, because of some particular circumstances, which, tho' obvious to the spectator, are yet overlook'd by the ridiculous character.

122 The debt of praise, where watchful unbelief
123 Darts thro' the thin pretence her squinting eye
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124 On some retir'd appearance which belies
125 The boasted virtue, or annulls th' applause
126 That justice else would pay. Here side by side
127 I see two leaders of the solemn train,
128 Approaching: one a female, old and grey,
129 With eyes demure and wrinkle-furrow'd brow,
130 Pale as the cheeks of death; yet still she stuns
131 The sickning audience with a nauseous tale;
132 How many youths her myrtle chains have worn,
133 How many virgins at her triumphs pin'd!
134 Yet how resolv'd she guards her cautious heart;
135 Such is her terror at the risques of love,
136 And man's seducing tongue! The other seems
137 A bearded sage, ungentle in his mien,
138 And sordid all his habit; peevish want
139 Grins at his heels, while down the gazing throng
140 He stalks, resounding in magnific phrase
141 The vanity of riches, the contempt
142 Of pomp and pow'r. Be prudent in your zeal,
143 Ye grave associates! let the silent grace
144 Of her who blushes at the fond regard
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145 Her charms inspire, more eloquent unfold
146 The praise of spotless honour: let the man
147 Whose eye regards not his illustrious pomp
148 And ample store, but as indulgent streams
149 To chear the barren soil and spread the fruits
150 Of joy, let him by juster measure fix
151 The price of riches and the end of pow'r.
152 Another tribe succeeds; deluded long
Another tribe succeeds, &c.

Ridicule from a notion of excellence in particular objects disproportion'd to their intrinsic value, and inconsistent with the order of nature.

153 By fancy's dazzling optics, these behold
154 The images of some peculiar things
155 With brighter hues resplendent, and portray'd
156 With features nobler far than e'er adorn'd
157 Their genuine objects. Hence the fever'd heart
158 Pants with delirious hope for tinsel charms;
159 Hence oft obtrusive on the eye of scorn,
160 Untimely zeal her witless pride betrays;
161 And serious manhood, from the tow'ring aim
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162 Of wisdom, stoops to emulate the boast
163 Of childish toil. Behold yon mystic form,
164 Bedeck'd with feathers, insects, weeds and shells!
165 Not with intenser brow the Samian sage
166 Bent his fix'd eye on heav'n's eternal fires,
167 When first the order of that radiant scene
168 Swell'd his exulting thought, than this surveys
169 A muckworm's entrails or a spider's fang.
170 Next him a youth, with flow'rs and myrtles crown'd,
171 Attends that virgin form, and blushing kneels,
172 With fondest gesture and a suppliant's tongue,
173 To win her coy regard: adieu, for him,
174 The dull ingagements of the bustling world!
175 Adieu the sick impertinence of praise!
176 And hope, and action! for with her alone