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This light and darkness in our chaos joined, What shall divide? Extremes in nature equal ends produce, In man they join to some mysterious use; Though each by turns the other’s bound invade, As, in some well-wrought picture, light and shade, And oft so mix, the difference is too nice Where ends the virtue or begins the vice. who from hence into the notion fall, That vice or virtue there is none at all.If white and black blend, soften, and unite A thousand ways, is there no black or white?
Let power or knowledge, gold or glory, please, Or (oft more strong than all) the love of ease; Through life ’tis followed, even at life’s expense; The merchant’s toil, the sage’s indolence, The monk’s humility, the hero’s pride, All, all alike, find reason on their side.The eternal art, educing good from ill, Grafts on this passion our best principle: ’Tis thus the mercury of man is fixed, Strong grows the virtue with his nature mixed; The dross cements what else were too refined, And in one interest body acts with mind.As fruits, ungrateful to the planter’s care, On savage stocks inserted, learn to bear; The surest virtues thus from passions shoot, Wild nature’s vigour working at the root.Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule— Then drop into thyself, and be a fool!Superior beings, when of late they saw A mortal man unfold all Nature’s law, Admired such wisdom in an earthly shape And showed a Newton as we show an ape.Thus Nature gives us (let it check our pride) The virtue nearest to our vice allied: Reason the bias turns to good from ill And Nero reigns a Titus, if he will.The fiery soul abhorred in Catiline, In Decius charms, in Curtius is divine: The same ambition can destroy or save, And makes a patriot as it makes a knave.Trace Science, then, with Modesty thy guide; First strip off all her equipage of pride; Deduct what is but vanity or dress, Or learning’s luxury, or idleness; Or tricks to show the stretch of human brain, Mere curious pleasure, or ingenious pain; Expunge the whole, or lop th’ excrescent parts Of all our vices have created arts; Then see how little the remaining sum, Which served the past, and must the times to come! Two principles in human nature reign; Self-love to urge, and reason, to restrain; Nor this a good, nor that a bad we call, Each works its end, to move or govern all And to their proper operation still, Ascribe all good; to their improper, ill.Self-love, the spring of motion, acts the soul; Reason’s comparing balance rules the whole.We, wretched subjects, though to lawful sway, In this weak queen some favourite still obey: Ah!if she lend not arms, as well as rules, What can she more than tell us we are fools?