"These Reason, with an energy Divine, / O'erleaps, and claims the Future and Unseen; / The vast Unseen, the Future fathomless! / When the great soul buoys up to this high point, / Leaving gross Nature's sediments below, / Then, and then only, Adam's offspring quits / The sage and hero of the fields and woods, / Asserts his rank, and rises into man."
— Young, Edward (bap. 1683, d. 1765)
What close connexion ties them to my theme.
First, what is true ambition? The pursuit
Of glory, nothing less than man can share.
Were they as vain as gaudy-minded man,
As flatulent with fumes of self-applause,
Their arts and conquests animals might boast,
And claim their laurel crowns as well as we;
But not celestial. Here we stand alone;
As in our form, distinct, pre-eminent:
If prone in thought, our stature is our shame,
And man should blush his forehead meets the skies.
The Visible and Present are for brutes,
A slender portion, and a narrow bound!
These Reason, with an energy Divine,
O'erleaps, and claims the Future and Unseen;
The vast Unseen, the Future fathomless!
When the great soul buoys up to this high point,
Leaving gross Nature's sediments below,
Then, and then only, Adam's offspring quits
The sage and hero of the fields and woods,
Asserts his rank, and rises into man.
This is ambition: this is human fire.
(ll. 234-256, p. 155 in CUP edition)
Edward Young, Night the Sixth. The Infidel Reclaim'd. In Two Parts. Containing, The Nature, Proof, and Importance of Immortality. Part the First. Where, among other things, Glory, and Riches, are particularly consider'd. Humbly Inscrib'd to the Right Honourable Henry Pelham, First Lord Commissioner of the Treasury, and Chancellor of the Exchequer. (London: R. Dodsley, 1744). <Link to ECCO>
Text from The Complete Works, Poetry and Prose, of the Rev. Edward Young, LL.D., 2 vols. (London: William Tegg, 1854). <Link to Google Books>
Reading Edward Young, Night Thoughts, ed. Stephen Cornford (New York: Cambridge UP, 1989).