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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 breast :
A fairer red stands blushing in the rose
That that which on the bridegroom's vestment flows.
Take but the humbleft lily of the field;
And, if our pride will to our reason yield,
It must by sure comparison be shewn
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. 105
Of fishes next, my friends, I would inquire : 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 1107 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 choose their proper bed, and wave, and food; To guard their spawn, and educate their brood ?
Of birds, how each according to her kind 120 Proper materials for her neit can find, And build a frame, which deepest thought in man . Would or amend or imitate in vain ?
How in small fights they know to try their young,
And teach the callow child her parent's song? 125
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, 130
In temporary death confin’d to sleep;
Or, conscious of the coming evil, fly
To milder regions, and a southern sky?
Of beasts and creeping insects shall we trace
The wondrous nature, and the various race; 135
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 venturous flight to steer 140 Through trackless paths, and an abyss of air ? Whence she avoids the limy marsh, and knows The fertile hills where sweeter herbage grows, And honey-making flowerstheir opening buds disclose?) How from the thicken'd mist, and setting fun, 145 Finds she the labour of her day is done ? Who taught her against winds and rains to strive, To bring her burden to the certain hive ; And through the liquid fields again to pass Duteous, and hearkening to the sounding brass ? 150
And, O thou sluggard, tell me why the ant, 'Midst summer's plenty, thinks of winter's want,
By constant journies careful to prepare
Her stores; and, bringing home the corny ear,
By what instruction does the bite the grain,
Lest, hid in earth, and taking root again,
It might elude the foresight of her care ?
Distinct in either insect's deed appear
The marks of thought, contrivance, hope, and fear. J
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 taste, they see,
They shew their passions by their acts, like thee : 165
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 effect of love.
Each then has organs to digest his food, 170
One to beget, and one receive the brood ;
Has limbs and sinews, blood and heart, and brain, 1
Life and her proper functions to sustain,
Though the whole fabric smaller than a grain.
What more can our penurious reason grant 175
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 ?
180 For potent Nature loves a various act, Prone to enlarge, or Itudious 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 high, 185
Denies its real image to the eye ;
Too little, it eludes the dazzled light,
Becomes mixt blackness, or unparted light.
Water and air the varied form confound;
The straight looks crooked, and the square grows round.
Thus, while with fruitless hope and weary 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 mysterious queen 195
Can take or quit, can alter or retain,
As from our lost pursuit she wills, to hide
Her close decrees, and chasten human pride.
Untam'd and fierce the tiger still remains ; He tires his life in biting on his chains : For the kind gifts of water and of food Ungrateful, and returning ill for good, He seeks his keeper's flesh, and thirits his blood : While the strong camel, and the generous horse, Restrain’d and aw'd by man's inferior force, 205 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, 210 On secret rapine bent, and midnight fraud;
Now haunts the cliff, now traverses the lawn,
And flies the hated neighbourhood of man :
While the kind spaniel, and the faithful hound,
Likest that fox in shape and species found, 215
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. 2203
By what immediate cause they are inclin’d,
In many acts, ʼtis 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; 225
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 action they intend,
And use the means proportion’d to the end. 230
Then vainly the philosopher avers,
That reason guides our deed, and instinct theirs.
How can we justly different causes frame,
When the effects intirely are the same?
Instinct and reason how can we divide ?
235 'Tis the fool's ignorance, and the pedant's pride.
With the same folly, fure, man vaunts his sway,
If the brute beast refuses to obey.
For tell me, when the empty boaster's word
Proclaims himself the universal lord,