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Along the funny bank, or watery mead,
Ten thousand stalks their various blossoms spread:
Peaceful and lowly in their native foil,
They neither know to spin, nor care to toil ;
Yet with confess’d magnificence deride
Our vile attire, and impotence of pride.
The Cowslip smiles, in brighter yellow dress’d,
Than that which veils the nubile virgin's breaft:
A fairer red stands blushing in the Rose,
Than that which on the bridegroom's vestment flows.
Take but the humbleft Lilly of the field;
And if our pride will to our reason yield,
It must by sure comparison be shown
That on the regal seat great David's son,
Array'd in all his robes, and types of power,
Shines with less glory, than that simple flower.
Of fishes next, my friends, I would enquire,
How the mute race engender, or respire ;
From the small fry that glide on Jordan's stream
Unmark'd, a multitude without a name,
To that Leviathan, who o’er the seas
Immense rolls onward his impetuous ways,
And mocks the wind, and in the tempest plays.
How they in warlike bands march greatly forth
From freezing waters, and the colder North,
To southern climes directing their career,
Their station changing with th' inverted year.
How all with careful knowledge are endued,
To chuse their proper bed, and wave, and food :
To guard their spawn, and educate their brood.
Of Birds, how each according to her kind
Proper materials for her neft can find,
And build a frame, which deepest thought in man
Would or amend, or imitate in vain.
How in small flights they know to try their young,
And teach the callow child her parent's song.
Why these frequent the plain, and those the wood,
Why every land has her specific brood :
Where the tall Crane, or winding Swallow goes,
Fearful of gathering winds, and falling snows:
If into rocks, or hollow trees they creep,
In temporary death confin’d to sleep ;
Or conscious of the coming evil, fly
To milder regions, and a fouthern sky.
Of beasts and creeping insects shall we trace
The wond'rous nature, and the various race;
Or wild or tame, or friend to man or foe,
Of us what they, or what of them we know?
Tell me, ye studious, who pretend to see
Far into nature's bosom, whence the Bee
Was first inform’d her vent’rous flight to steer
Through tractless paths, and an abyss of air.
Whence the avoids the slimy marsh, and knows
The fertile hills, where sweeter herbage grows,
And honey making flowers their opening buds
How from the thicken'd mist, and setting fun,
Finds she the labour of her day is done?
Who taught her against winds and rain to strive,
To bring her burden to the certain hive,
And through the liquid fields again to pass
Duteous, and hearkening to the founding brass?
And, O thou fluggard, tell me why the Ant,
'Midit summer's plenty thinks of winter's want:
By constant journies careful to prepare!
Her ftores; and bringing home the corny ear,
By what instruction does the bite the grain,
Left hid in earth, and taking root again,
It might elude the forefight of her care?
Distinct in either insect's deed appear
The marks of thought, contrivance, hope, and fear.
Fix thy corporeal, and internal eye
On the young Gnat, or new engender'd Fly;
On the vile Worm that yesterday began
To crawl; thy fellow-creatures, abject man!
Like thee they breathe, they move, they tafte, they fee,
'They show their paflions by their acts, like thee:
Darting their stings, they previously declare
Design’d revenge, and fierce intent of war:
Laying their eggs, they evidently prove
The genial power, and full effects of love.
Each then has organs to digest his food,
One to beget, and one receive the brood :
Has limbs and finews, blood, and heart, and brain,
Life and her proper functions to sustain,
Tho' the whole fabric smaller than a grain.
What more can our pernicious reason grant
To the large Whale, or castled Elephant,
To those enormous terrors of the Nile,
The crested Snake, and long-tail'd Crocodile ;
Than that all differ but in shape and name,
Each destin’d to a less or larger frame ?
For potent nature loves a various act,
Prone to enlarge, or studious to contract:
Now forms her work too small, now too immense,
And scorns the measures of our feeble sense.
The object spread too far, or rais'd too highig,
Denies its real image to the eye;
Too little it eludes the dazzled fight;
Becomes mix'd blackness, or unparted light.
Water and air the various form confound;
The straight looks crooked, and the square grows
Thus while with fruitless hope, and wearied pain,
We seek great Nature's power, but seek in vain;
Safe fits the goddess in her dark retreat;
Around her, myriads of Ideas wait,
And endless shapes which the myiterious queen:
Can take or quit, can alter or retain:
As from our lost pursuit she wills to hide
Her clofe decrees, and chasten human pride.
Untam’d and fierce the Tiger still remains :
He tires his life in biting out his chains:
For the kind gift of water and of food,
Ungrateful, and returning ill for good,
He seeks his keeper's flesh, and thirsts his blood :
While the strong Camel, and the generous Horse,
Restrain'd and aw'd by man's inferior force,
Do to the rider's will their rage submit,
And answer to the spur, and own the bit;
Stretch their glad mouths to meet the feeder's hand,
Pleas'd with his weight, and proud of his command.
Again: the lonely Fox roams far abroad,
On secret rapine bent, and midnight fraud;
Now hunts the cliff, now traverses the lawn;
And flies the hated neighbourhood of man;
While the kind Spaniel and the faithful Hound,
Likeft that Fox in shape and species found,
Refuses through these cliffs and lawns to roam:
Pursues the noted path, and covets home;
Does with kind joy domestic faces meet;
Takes what the glutted child denies to eat;
And dying licks his long-lov'd master's feet.
By what immediate cause they are inclin'd,
In many acts, 'tis hard I own, to find.
I see in others, or I think I see,
That strict their principles, and ours agree.
Evil like us they shun, and covet good;
Abhor the poison, and receive the food.
Like us they love or hate; like us they know,
To joy the friend, or grapple with the foe.
With seeming thought their actions they intend,
And use the means proportion’d to the end.
Then vainly the philosopher avers,
That reason guides our deed, and instinct theirs,
How can we juftly different causes frame,
When the effects entirely are the same,
Instinct and reason how can we divide ?
Tis the fool's ignorance, and the pedant's pride.