Essay on Man — Part 27


But still this world (so fitted for the knave)
Contents us not. A better shall we have?
A kingdom of the just then let it be:
But first consider how those just agree.
The good must merit God's peculiar care!
But who but God can tell us who they are?
One thinks on Calvin Heaven's own spirit fell;
Another deems him instrument of hell;
If Calvin feel Heaven's blessing, or its rod,
This cries, There is, and that, There is no God.
What shocks one part will edify the rest,
Nor with one system can they all be blest.
The very best will variously incline,
And what rewards your virtue, punish mine.
Whatever is, is right — This world, 'tis true,
Was made for Caesar — but for Titus too;
And which more blest? who chain'd his country, say,
Or he whose virtue sigh'd to lose a day?

'But sometimes virtue starves, while vice is fed.'
What then? is the reward of virtue bread?
That, vice may merit, 'tis the price of toil;
The knave deserves it, when he tills the soil.
The knave deserves it, when he tempts the main,
Where folly fights for kings, or dives for gain.
The good man may be weak, be indolent;
Nor is his claim to plenty, but content.
But grant him riches, your demand is o'er?
'No — shall the good want health, the good want power?'
Add health and power, and every earthly thing,
'Why bounded power? why private? why no king?'
Nay, why external for internal given?
Why is not man a god, and earth a heaven?
Who ask and reason thus will scarce conceive
God gives enough while he has more to give;
Immense the power, immense were the demand;
Say, at what part of nature will they stand?

Alexander Pope, 1688-1744

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