Awake, my St. John!1 leave all meaner things
To low ambition and the pride of kings.
Let us (since life can little more supply
Than just to look about us and to die)
Expatiate free o'er all this scene of
A mighty maze! but not without a plan;
A wild, where weeds and flowers promiscuous shoot;
Or garden, tempting with forbidden fruit.
Together let us beat this ample field,
Try what the open, what the covert
The latent tracts, the giddy heights explore
Of all who blindly creep, or sightless soar;
Eye nature's walks, shoot folly as it flies,
And catch the manners living as they rise;
Laugh where we must, be candid where we
But vindicate the ways of God to man.
1. "... the name of St. John was always pronounced "Sinjin" by the common people of that day; and so it must have been by Lord Bolingbroke himself, else his friend Pope would never have addressed him in a line so unmusical as "Awake, my St. John, leave all meaner things."
Nor would Swift, the friend and companion of both, have written ... "Where folly, pride, and faction sway / Remote from St. John, Pope, and Gray." from
Georgia scenes, characters, incidents, etc., in the first half-century of the
republic (1870) by Augustus Baldwin Longstreet (The Turn Out pp 81-82)
(That we can judge only with regard to our own system, being ignorant of the relations of systems and
hear this poem
click arrow to start
Say, first, of God above, or man below,
What can we reason but from what we know?
Of man, what see we, but his station here,
From which to reason, or to which refer?
Through worlds unnumber'd though the God be known,
'Tis ours to trace him only in our own.
He, who through vast immensity can pierce,
See worlds on worlds compose one universe,
Observe how system into system runs,
What other planets circle other suns,
What varied Being peoples every star,
May tell why Heaven has made us as we are.
But of this frame, the bearings, and the ties,
The strong connections, nice dependencies,
Gradations just, has thy pervading soul
Look'd through? or can a part contain the whole?
Is the great chain, that draws all to agree,
And drawn supports, upheld by God or thee?
It has been asserted that the Essay an Man was in substance the work of
[Lord Henry St. John] Bolingbroke; that his Lordship supplied the materials in prose, and that Pope turned them into verse. The subject has been carefully examined by Mr.
Roscoe (Life of Pope, p. 394, et seq.), who, from a comparison of dates and contemporary documents has, I think, satisfactorily
shewn [sic], 1. That the Essay on Man was begun, and a great part of it completed, several years before Lord Bolingbroke had commenced to write on the subject. 2. That Lord Bolingbroke continued to write his philosophical work long after Pope had published his Essay. 3. That his Lordship has himself explicitly stated, that the Poem of Pope was an original, and not imitated.
Poetical Works of Alexander Pope (Pope, Dyce), W. Pickering (1835)