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That mine to speak, and theirs was to obey ;
For I in knowledge more than power did sway: 685
And the astonish'd world in me beheld
Moses eclips'd, and Jesse's son excell'd.
Humble a second bow'd, and took the word ;
Foresaw my name by future age ador’d:
O live, faid he, thou wiseft of the wise ; 690
As none has equallid, none shall ever rise
Excelling thee. -

Parent of wicked, bane of honest deeds,
Pernicious Flattery! thy malignant feeds,
In an ill hour, and by a fatal hand,
Sadly diffus'd o'er Virtue’s gleby land,
With rising pride amidst the corn appear,
And choak the hopes and harvest of the year.

And now the whole perplex'd ignoble crowd,
Mute to my questions, in my praises loud, 700
Echo'd the word : whence things arose, or how
They thus exist, the aptest nothing know:
What yet is not, but is ordain’d to be,
All veil of doubt apart, the dullest see!

My prophets and my sophists finish'd here *705 The civil efforts of the verbal war: Not so my rabbins and logicians yield; Retiring, still they combat; from the field Of open arms unwilling they depart, And sculk behind the subterfuge of art. To speak one thing, mix'd dialects they join, Divide the simple, and the plain define ;

710

Fix fancy'd laws, and form imagin'd rules,
Terms of their art, and jargon of their schools,
Ill-grounded maxims, by false glofs enlarg’d, 715
And captious science against reason charg'd.

Soon their crude notions with each other fought :
The adverse fect deny'd what this had taught;
And he at length the amplest triumph gain’d,
Who contradicted what the last maintain’d.

O wretched impotence of human mind!
We erring still excuse for error find,
And darkling grope, not knowing we are blind.

Vain man! since first thy blushing fire essay'd
His folly with connected leaves to shade, 725
How does the crime of thy resembling race
With like attempt that pristine error trace!
Too plain thy nakednefs of soul espy'd,
Why doit thou strive the confcious shame to hide
By masks of eloquence and veils of pride ? 730)

With outward smiles their flattery I receiv'd; Own'd my fick mind by their discourse reliev'd; But bent, and inward to myself, again Perplex'd, these matters I revolv'd in vain. My search still tir’d, my labour still renew'd, 735 At length I ignorance and knowledge view'd, Impartial ; both in equal balance laid, Light flew the knowing scale, the doubtful heavy

weigh’d. Forc'd by reflective reason, I confess, That human science is uncertain guess.

740 Alas!

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Alas! we grasp at clouds, and beat the air,
Vexing that spirit we intend to clear.
Can thought beyond the bounds of matter climb ?
Or who shall tell me what is space or time?
In vain we lift up our presumptuous eyes 745
To what our Maker to their ken denies :
The searcher follows fast ; the object faster flies.
The little which imperfectly we find,
Seduces only the bewilder'd mind
To fruitless search of something yet behind. 750J.
Various discussions tear our heated brain ;
Opinions often turn ; ftill doubts remain ;
And who indulges thought, increases pain.

How narrow limits were to wisdom given !
Earth she surveys ; she thence would measure heaven:
Through mists obscure now wings her tedious way;
Now wanders dazzled with too bright a day;
And from the summit of a pathless coast
Sees infinite, and in that fight is loft.

Remember, that the curs’d desire to know, 760
Offspring of Adam ! was thy source of woe.
Why wilt thou then renew the vain pursuit,
And ralhly catch at the forbidden fruit ;
With empty labour and eluded strife
Seeking, by knowledge, to attain to life ; 765
For ever from that fatal tree debarr’d,
Which flaming swords and angry cherubs guard ?

TEXTS CHIEFLY ALLUDED TO IN BOOK II. 6. I said in my own heart, Go to now, I will prove thee

“ with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure." Eccl. ii. 1. “ I made me great works, I builded me houses, I

“ planted me vineyards.” Ver. 4. 6I made me gardens and orchards; and I planted trees

“ in them of all kind of fruits.” Ver. 5. “ I made me pools of water, to water therewith the

“ wood that bringeth forth trees.” Ver. 6. “ Then I looked on all the works that my hands had

“ wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: “ And behold all was vanity and vexation of spirit;

“ and there was no profit under the fun.” Ver. 11. “ I gat me men-fingers and women-fingers, and the de

“ lights of the sons of men, as musical instruments,

“ and that of all sorts.” Ver. 8. “ I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine (yet

“ acquainting mine heart with wisdom) and to lay “ hold on folly, till I might see what was that good “ for the sons of men, which they should do under .“ heaven, all the days of their life.” Ver. 3. “ Then I said in my heart, As it happeneth unto the

“ fool, so it happeneth even unto me; and why was “ I then more wife? Then I said in my heart, that

“ this also is vanity.” Ver. 15. * Therefore I hated life, because the work that is wrought

“ under the sun is grievous unto me.” Ch. ii. ver. 27. “ Dead flies cause the ointment to send forth a stinking

“ savour: so doth a little folly him that is in repu

“ tation for wisdom and honour.” Chap. X. ver. I. • The memory of the just is blessed, but the memory of

“ the wicked shall rot." Proverbs, ch. x. ver. 7.

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Solomon, again seeking happiness, inquires if wealth

and greatness can produce it: begins with the magnificence of gardens and buildings, the luxury of mufic and feasting; and proceeds to the hopes and defires of love. In two episodes are shewn the follies and troubles of that paffion. Solomon, still disappointed, falls under the temptations of libertinism and idolatry ; recovers his thought; reasons aright; and concludes that, as to the pursuit of pleasure and sensual delight, All is Vanity and Vexation of Spirit,

For weha be thy hoping and up from the enarn’d, rece

TRY then, O man, the moments to deceive,

That from the womb attend thee to the grave : For weary'd nature find some apter scheme: Health be thy hope, and Pleasure be thy theme. From the perplexing and unequal ways, Where ftudy brings thee; from the endless maze, Which doubt persuades to run, forewarn’d, recede To the gay field and flowery path, that lead

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