Purpose Of An Essay On Man

Purpose Of An Essay On Man-67
Know, then, thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of mankind is man.

Know, then, thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of mankind is man.Placed on this isthmus of a middle state, A being darkly wise, and rudely great: With too much knowledge for the sceptic side, With too much weakness for the stoic’s pride, He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest; In doubt to deem himself a god, or beast; In doubt his mind or body to prefer; Born but to die, and reasoning but to err; Alike in ignorance, his reason such, Whether he thinks too little, or too much: Chaos of thought and passion, all confused; Still by himself abused, or disabused; Created half to rise, and half to fall; Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all; Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurled: The glory, jest, and riddle of the world! mount where science guides, Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides; Instruct the planets in what orbs to run, Correct old time, and regulate the sun; Go, soar with Plato to th’ empyreal sphere, To the first good, first perfect, and first fair; Or tread the mazy round his followers trod, And quitting sense call imitating God; As Eastern priests in giddy circles run, And turn their heads to imitate the sun.Suffice that Reason keep to Nature’s road, Subject, compound them, follow her and God.

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Self-love and reason to one end aspire, Pain their aversion, pleasure their desire; But greedy that, its object would devour, This taste the honey, and not wound the flower: Pleasure, or wrong or rightly understood, Our greatest evil, or our greatest good. Modes of self-love the passions we may call; ’Tis real good, or seeming, moves them all: But since not every good we can divide, And reason bids us for our own provide; Passions, though selfish, if their means be fair, List under Reason, and deserve her care; Those, that imparted, court a nobler aim, Exalt their kind, and take some virtue’s name.

In lazy apathy let stoics boast Their virtue fixed; ’tis fixed as in a frost; Contracted all, retiring to the breast; But strength of mind is exercise, not rest: The rising tempest puts in act the soul, Parts it may ravage, but preserves the whole.

Yes, Nature’s road must ever be preferred; Reason is here no guide, but still a guard: ’Tis hers to rectify, not overthrow, And treat this passion more as friend than foe: A mightier power the strong direction sends, And several men impels to several ends: Like varying winds, by other passions tossed, This drives them constant to a certain coast.

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.

What crops of wit and honesty appear From spleen, from obstinacy, hate, or fear!

See anger, zeal and fortitude supply; Even avarice, prudence; sloth, philosophy; Lust, through some certain strainers well refined, Is gentle love, and charms all womankind; Envy, to which th’ ignoble mind’s a slave, Is emulation in the learned or brave; Nor virtue, male or female, can we name, But what will grow on pride, or grow on shame.

As man, perhaps, the moment of his breath Receives the lurking principle of death; The young disease that must subdue at length, Grows with his growth, and strengthens with his strength: So, cast and mingled with his very frame, The mind’s disease, its ruling passion came; Each vital humour which should feed the whole, Soon flows to this, in body and in soul: Whatever warms the heart, or fills the head, As the mind opens, and its functions spread, Imagination plies her dangerous art, And pours it all upon the peccant part.

Nature its mother, habit is its nurse; Wit, spirit, faculties, but make it worse; Reason itself but gives it edge and power; As Heaven’s blest beam turns vinegar more sour.

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.

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