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kindly throw in a little figure,
“ Sir, if it be your wisdom's aim
But, if you would depress my thought,
“ For Plato's fancies what care I ?
“ Dear Drift *, to set our matters right,
• Mr. Prior's secretary and executor.
THE VANITY OF THE WORLD.
IN THREE BOOKS.
Ο Βίος γαρ όνομ' έχει, πόνος δ' έργω σίλει.
EURIP. Siquis Deus mihi largiatur, ut ex hac ætate repuerascam, et in cunis vagiam, valde recusem.
Cic. de Senect. The bewailing of man's miseries has been elegantly
and copiously set forth by many in the writings as well of philosophers as divines; and is both a pleasant and a profitable contemplation.
Book I. - KNOWLEDGE.
Texts chiefly alluded to in Book 1. « The words of the Preacher the son of David,
king of Jerusalem."— Eccles. chap. i. ver. 1. “ Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of
vanities, all is vanity.”- Ver. 2. “ I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo,
I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge."Ver. 16.
" He spake of trees, from the cedar-tree that is in
Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall : he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes."
1 Kings, chap. iv. ver. 33. " I know, that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be
for ever : nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it; and God doeth it, that men should
fear before him.” — Eccles. chap. iii. ver. 14. “ He hath made every thing beautiful in his time :
also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh
from the beginning to the end.” Ver. 11. “ For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that
increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow.”
Ch. i. ver. 18. “ And further, by these, my son, be admonished:
of making many books there is no end: and much study is a weariness of the flesh.”- Ch. xii. Ver. 12.
The Argument. Solomon, seeking happiness from knowledge, con
venes the learned men of his kingdom; requires them to explain to him the various operations and effects of Nature; discourses of vegetables, animals, and man; proposes some questions concerning the origin and situation of the habitable Earth; proceeds to examine the system of the visible Heaven ; doubts if there may not be a plurality of worlds; inquires into the nature of spirits and angels; and wishes to be more fully informed as to the attributes of the Supreme Being. He is imperfectly answered by the rabbins and doctors ; blames his own curiosity; and concludes, that, as to human science, All is vanity.
Ye sons of men, with just regard attend,
Happiness, object of that waking dream,
But O! ere yet original man was made,