« PreviousContinue »
Themselves, when fome alarming shock of fate
Strikes thro' their wounded hearts the fudden
But their hearts wounded, like the wounded air,
Soon clofe; where pafs'd the fhaft, no trace is found:
As, from the wing no fcar the fky retains;
The parted wave no furrow from the keel;
So dies in human hearts the thought of death:
Ev'n with the tender tear which nature sheds
O'er those we love, we drop it in their grave.
Can I forget Philander? that were strange;
O my full heart! but thould I give it vent,
The longeft night, tho' longer far, would fail,
And the lark liften to my midnight fong.
189. NIGHT II. Avarice of Time recommended. HE mourns the dead, who lives as they defire.
In act no trifle, and no blank in time.
This greatens, fills, immortalizes all:
This, the bleft art of turning all to gold;
This, the good heart's prerogative to raise
A royal tribute, from the poorest hours.
Immenfe revenue! every moment pays.
If nothing more than purpofe in thy power,
Thy purpofe firm, is equal to the deed:
Who does the beft his circumftance allows,
Does well, acts nobly; angels could no more.
Our outward act, indeed, admits restraint;
Tis not in things o'er thought to domincer;
Guard well thy thoughts; our thoughts are heard
On all-important time, thro' every age,
Tho' much, and warm, the wife have urg'd; the
Is yet unborn, who duly weighs an hour. [ma■
"I've loft a day"-the prince who nobly cry'd,
in-Had been an emperor without his crown;
He spoke, as if deputed by mankind.
Where is that thrift, that avarice of Time, (Bleft av`rice!) which the thought of death Spires.
O time than gold more facred; more a load
Than lead, to fools; and fools reputed wife.
What moment granted man without account?
What years are fquander'd, wisdom's debt unpaid?
Hafte, hafte, he lies in wait, he 's at the door,
Infidious death, fhould his ftrong hand arrest,
No compofition sets the prisoner free.
Eternity's inexorable chain
Faft binds; and vengeance claims the full arrear.
How late I fhudder'd on the brink! how late
Life call'd for her laft refuge in despair!
For what calls thy difeafe? for moral aid.
Thou think'st it folly to be wife too soon.
Youth is not rich in time; it may be, poor :
Part with it as with money, fparing; pay
No moment, but in purchafe of its worth:
And what its worth, afk death-beds, they can tell.
Part with it as with life, reluctant; big
With holy hope of nobler time to come.
Is this our duty, wifdom, glory, gain?
And fport we like the natives of the bough,
When vernal funs infpire? Amusement reigns
Man's great demand: to trifle is to live:
And is it then a trifle, too, to die?-
Who wants amufement in the flame of battle?
Is it not treafon to the foul immortal,
Her foes in arms, eternity the prize?
Will toys amufe, when med'cines cannot cure?
When fpirits ebb, when life's inchanting scenes
Their lufire lofe, and leffen in our fight?
(As lands, and cities with their glitt'ring fpires
To the poor fhatter'd bark, by fudden ftorm
Thrown off to fea, and foon to perish there)
Will toys amufe-no: thrones will then be toys,
And earth and skies seem dust upon the fcale.
Redeem we time?—its lofs we dearly buy :
What pleads Lorenzo for his high-priz'd fports:
He pleads time's numerous blanks; he loudly
The ftraw-like trifles on life's common ftream.
From whom thofe blanks and trifles, but from thee?
No blank, no trifle, nature made or meant.
Virtue, or purpos'd virtue, ftill be thine:
This cancels thy complaint at once; this leaves
So fhould all fpeak: fo reafon fpeaks in all :
From the foft whispers of that God in man,
Why fly to folly, why to phrenfy fly,
For refcue from the bleffing we poffefs?
Time, the fupreme !-Time is eternity;
Pregnant with all eternity can give,
Pregnant with all that makes arch-angels fmile.
Who murders time, he crushes in the birth
A pow'r ethereal, only not ador’d.
$ 190. Inconfifiency of Man.
AH! how unjust to nature, and himself,
Is thoughtlefs, thanklefs, inconfiftent man
Like children babbling nonfenfe in their sports,
We cenfure nature for a span too fhort;
That fpan too fhort, we tax as tedious too;
Torture invention, all expedients tire,
To lafh the ling'ring moments into speed;
And whirl us (happy riddance) from ourselves.
Art, brainless art! our furious charioteer,
Drives headlong towards the precipice of death;
Death, moft our dread; death thus more dreadful
O what a riddle of abfurdity!
Leifure is pain; take off our chariot-wheels:
How heavily we drag the load of life!
Bleft leifure is our curfe, like that of Cain
It makes us wander; wander earth around
To fly that tyrant, Thought. As Atlas groan'd
The world beneath, we groan beneath an hour.
We cry for mercy to the next amufement:
Yet when Death kindly tenders us relief,
We call him cruel; years to moments shrink.
And feems to creep, decrepit with his age;
Time, in advance, behind him hides his wings,
Behold him, when paft by; what then is feen
But his broad pinions fwifter than the winds
Rucful, aghaft! cry out at his carcer.
And all mankind, in contradiction strong,
We throw away our funs, as made for fport;
We wafte, not use our time: we breathe, not live;
And barely breathing, man, to live ordain'd,
Wrings, and oppreffes with enormous weight.
And why fince time was given for ufe, not waste,
Enjoy'd to fly, with tempeft, tide, and stars,
To keep his fpeed, nor ever wait for man:
Time's ufe was doom'd a pleasure; wafte, a pain,
That man might feel his error, if unfeen;
And, ieeling, Hy to labour for his cure.
Life's cares are comforts; fuch by heav'n defign'd;
He that has none, must make them, or be wretched.
Cars are employments; and without employ
The foul is on a rack, the rack of reft;
To fouls mott adverfe; action all their joy.
Here, then, the riddle, mark'd above, unfolds;
Then time turns torment, when man turns a fool.
We rave, we wrestle with great nature's plan;
We thwart the deity; and tis decreed,
Who thwart his will, fhall contradict their own.
Hence our unnatural quarrel with ourselves;
Our thoughts at enmity; our boom-broil.
We puth time from us, and we with him back;
Life we think long, and fhort; death feck, and fhun.
Oh the dark days of vanity! while here,
How raiteless! and how terrible, when gone!
Gone? they ne'er go; when paft, they haunt us
The fpirit walks of ev'ry Day deceas'd, [still;
And fimiles an angel; or a fury frowns.
Nor death nor life delights us. If time paft,
And time poffeft, both pain us, what can pleafe
That which the deity to please ordain'd,
Time us'd. The man who confecrates his hours
By vigorous effort, and an honeft aim,
At once he draws the fting of life and death:
He walks with nature; and her paths are peace.
Our error's caufe, and cure, are feen: fee next
Time's nature, origin, importance, speed;
And thy great gain from urging his career.-
He looks on time, as nothing: Nothing elfe
Is truly man's: what wonders can he do?
And will: to ftand blank neuter he difdains.
Not on thofe terms was time (heaven's ftranger!)
On his important embassy to man.
When the dread fire, on emanation bent
And big with nature, arifing in his might,
Call'd forth creation (for then time was born)
By godhead ftreaming thro' a thoufand worlds:
Not on thofe terms, from the great days of heaven,
From old eternity's myfterious orb,
Was time cut off, and caft beneath the skies;
The fkies, which watch him in his new abode,
Meafuring his motions by revolving spheres:
Hours, days, and months, and years, his children,
Like numerous wings, around him, as he flies:
Or, rather, as unequal plumes, they shape
His ample pinions, swift as darted flame,
To gain his goal, to reach his antient reft,
And join anew eternity his fire;
New-wing thy fhort, fhort day's too rapid flight?
Man flies from time, and time from man: toofoon
In fad divorce this double flight must end;
And then, where are we, where, Lorenzo ! then,
Thy fports? thy pomp-I grant thee, in a state
Not unambitious; in the ruffled shroud,
Thy Parian tomb's triumphant arch beneath.
Has death his fopperies? then well may life
Put on her plume, and in her rainbow fhine.
When worlds, that count his circles now, unhing'd
(Fate the loud fignal founding) headlong rush
To timeless night, and chaos, whence they rofe.
Why fpur the speedy? why with levities
E well-array'd! ye lilies of our land! Ye lilies male! who neither toil, nor fpin; Ye delicate! who nothing can fupport, Yourselves moft infupportable! for whom The winter rofe muft blow, and filky foft Favonius breathe fill fofter, or be chid; And other worlds fend odours, fauce, and fong, And robes, and notions, fram'd in foreign looms! O ye who deem one moment unamus'd, A mifery, fay, dreamers of gay dreams! How will you weather an eternal night, Where fuch expedients fail? where wit's a fool; Mirth mourns; dreams vanish; laughter finks in
TREAHEROUS Confcience! while the feems On rofe and myrtle, lull'd with fyren fong; to fleep, While fhe feeins, nodding o'er her charge, to drop On headlong appetite the flacken'd rein, The fly informer minutes every fault, And her dread diary with horror fills: Not the grofs act alone employs her pen: She dawning purposes of heart explores, Unnoted, notes each moment mifapply'd; In leaves more durable than leaves of brafs Writes our whole hiftory; which death shall read In every pale delinquent's private car; Than this: and endless age in groans refound. And judgment publish: publish to more worlds And think'st thou ftill thou canft be wife too foon?
Hell threatens; all exerts; in effort, all;
More than creation labours!-Labours more?
And is there in creation, what, amidst
This tumult univerfal, wing'd dispatch,
And ardent energy, fupinely yawns -
Man fleeps; and man alone; and man, whofe fate,
Fate irreversible, entire, extreme,
Endlefs, hair-hung, breeze-fhaken, o'er the gulph
A moment trembles; drops! man, the fole caufe
Of this furrounding ftorm! and yet he fleeps,
As the ftorm rock'd to reft.-Throw years away?
Throw empires, and be blamelefs! moments feize,
Heaven 's on their wing: a moment we may with
When worlds want wealth to buy. Bid day ftand
Bid him drive back his car, recall, retake [ftill,
Fate's hafty prey; implore him, re-import
The period paft; re-give the given hour!
Lorenzo-O for yesterday to come!
Such is the language of the man awake;
And is his ardour vain? Lorenzo! no:
To-day is yesterday return'd; return'd
Full power'd to cancel, expiate, raife, adorn,
And reinftate us on the rock of peace.
Let it not fhare its predeceffor's fate;
Nor, like its elder fifters, die a fool.
Shall we be poorer for the plenty pour'd?
More wretched for the clemencies of heaven?
$195. The Depravity of Man.
A moment, and the world 's blown up to thee; The fun is darkness, and the stars are duft.
9197 Vanity of Human Enjoyments, taught by Experience.
'TIS greatly wife to talk with our paft hours;
And ask them, what report they bore to
And how they might have borne more welcome
Their anfwers form what men experience call:
If Wifdom's friend, her best: if not, worst foe.
O reconcile them! kind Experienee cries,
"There's nothing here,but what as nothing weighs;
The more our joy, the more we know it vain;
WHERE fhall I find him? angels, tell me And by fuccefs are tutor'd to defpair."
You know him; he is near you: point him out;
Shall I fee glories beaming from his brow?
Or trace his footsteps by the rifing flow'rs?
Your golden wings, now hov'ring o'er him shed
Protection; now, are waving in applaufe
To that bleft fon of forefight! lord of fate!
That awful independent on To-morrow!
Whofe work is done; who triumphs in the paft;
Whofe yesterdays look backwards with a fmile;
Nor, like the Parthian, wound him as they fly.
If not by guilt, they wound us by their flight,
If folly bounds our profpect by the grave;
All feeling of futurity benumb'd;
All relifh of realities expir'd;
Renounc'd all correfpondence with the skies;
Embruted every faculty divine;
Heart-buried in the rubbish of the world:
The world, that gulph of fouls, immortal fouls,
Souls elevate, angelic, wing'd with fire
To reach the diftant fkies, and triumph there
On thrones, which shall not mourn their mafters
Tho' we from earth; ethereal, they that fell.
Such veneration due, O man, to man!
Which hangs out, Death is one eternal night?
A night, that glooms us in the noon-tide ray,
And wraps our thought, at banquets, in the throud.
Life's little ftage is a finall eminence,
Inch high the grave above; that home of man,
Where dwells the multitude: we gaze around,
We read their monuments; we figh; and while
We figh, we fink; and are what we deplor'd;
Lamenting, or lamented, all our lot!
Is death at diftance? no: he has been on thee; And given fure earneft of his final blow. [now? Thofe hours, which lately fmil'd, where are they Pallid to thought, and ghaltly! drown'd, all
In that great deep, which nothing difembogues; And, dying, they bequeath'd thee finall renown. The rest are on the wing: how fleet their flight! Already has the fatal train took fire;
Nor is it only thus, but must be fo:
Who knows not this, tho' grey, is ftill a child. Loose then from earth the gralp of fond defire, Weigh anchor, and some happier clime explore.
$198. Death unavoidable.
SINCE by life's paffing breath, blown up from
Light as the fummer's duft, we take in air
A moment's giddy flight; and fall again;
Join the dull mafs, increase the trodden foil,
And fleep till earth herfelf fhall be no more;
Since then (as emmets their finall world o'er-
We, fore amaz'd, from out earth's ruins crawl,
And rife to fate extreme, of foul or fair,
As man's own choice, controuler of the fkies!
As man's defpotic will, this hour, decrees;
Should not each warning give a strong alarm ?
Warning, far lels than that of bofoi torn
From botom, bleeding o'er the facred dead ?
Should not cach dial trike us as we pafs,
Portentous, as the written wall, which ftruck,
O'er midnight bowls, the proud Affyrian pale?
Like that, the dial speaks; and points to thee;
thy kingdom is departing from thee;
And, while it lafts, is emptier than my fhade."
Know; like the Median, fate is in thy walls:
Man's make inclofes the fure feeds of death;
Life feeds the murderer: ingrate ! he thrives
On her own meal; and then his nurfe devours.
$199. Life compared to the Sun-dial.
AT folar fhadow, as it measures life, It life refembles too: life fpeeds away From point to point, tho' feeming to stand still: The cunning fugitive is swift by stealth: Too fubtle is the movement to be feen, Yet foon man's hour is up, and we are gone. Warnings point out our danger, gnomons, time: As thefe are ufelefs when the fun is fet, So thofe, but when more glorious reafon fhines. Reafon fhould judge in all; in reafon's cye, That fedentary fhadow travels hard: But all mankind miftake their time of day; Even age itself : fresh hopes are hourly fown In furrow'd brows. So gentle life's defcent, We fhut our eyes, and think it is a plain :
We take fair days in winter, for the fpring: 'We turn our bleffings into bane; fince oft Man must compute that age he cannot feel: He scarce believes he's older for his years. Thus, at life's lateft eve, we keep in store One difappointment fure, to crown the reft; The difappointment of a promis'd hour.
§ 200. Death of the good Man.
SO fung Philander, O! the cordial warmth,
And elevating fpirit, of a friend,
For twenty fummers ripening by my fide;
All feculence of falsehood long thrown down;
All focial virtues rifing in his foul;
As crystal clear; and fmiling, as they rife!
On earth how loft! Philander is no more.
How blethings brighten as they take their flight!
His Bight Philander took; it were profane
To quench a glory lighted at the skies,
And caft in fhadows his illuftrious clofe.
Strange! the theme most affecting, moft fublime,
Momentous moft to man, should fleep unfung;
Man's highest triumph! man's profoundest fali!
The death-bed of the juft! is yet undrawn
By mortal hand; it merits a divine:
Angels fhould paint it, angels ever there;
There, on a poft of honour, and of joy.
The chamber where the good man meets his
Is privileg'd beyond the common walk
Of virtuous life, quite in the verge of heaven.
Fly, ye profane! or elfe draw near with awe,
For, here, refiftlefs demonftration dwells;
Here tir'd diffimulation drops her mask,
Here real and apparent are the fame.
You fee the man; you fee his hold on heaven:
Heaven waits not the last moment, owns its friends
On this fide death; and points them out to men;
A lecture, filent, but of fovereign pow'r,
To vice, confufion; and to virtue, peace!
His God fuftains him in his final hour!
His final hour brings glory to his God!
Man's glory heaven vouchfafes to call its own.
Amazement ftrikes devotion burfts to flame!
Chriftians adore! and infidels believe.
At that black hour, which general horror sheds
On the low level of th' inglorious throng,
Sweet peace, and heavenly hope, and humble joy,
Divinely beam on his exalted foul;
Deftruction gild, and crown him for the skies.
Life, take thy chance, but oh for fuch an end!
§ 201. NIGHT III. Picture of Narciffa, Defcrip-
tion of ber Funeral, and a Reflection upon Man.
SWEET harmonift! and beautiful as fweet!
And young as beautiful! and foft as young!
And gay as foft! and innocent as gay!
And happy (if aught happy here) as good!
For fortune fond had built her neft on high.
Like birds quite exquifite of note and plume,
Transfix'd by fatc (who loves a lofty mark)
How from the fummit of the grove the fell,
And left it unharmonious! all its charms
Extinguish'd in the wonders of her fong!
Her fong ftill vibrates in my ravish'd ear,
Still melting there, and with voluptuous pain
(0 to forget her!) thrilling thro' my heart!
Song, Beauty, Youth, Love, Virtue, Joy! this
Of bright ideas, flow'rs of paradise, [group
As yet unforfeit ! in one blaze we bind,
Kneel, and prefent it to the fkies; as all
We guefs of heaven, and these were all her own.
And the was mine; and I was-was!-most
Gay title of the deepest mifery! [bleft-
As bodies grow more pond'rous robb'd of life,
Good loft weighs more in grief than gain'd in joy.
Like bloffom'd trees o'erturn'd by vernal storm,
Lovely in death the beauteous ruin lay;
And if in death ftill lovely, lovelier there;
Far lovelier! pity fwells the tide of love.
nd will not the fevere excufe a figh?
Scorn the proud man that is afham'd to weep;
Our tears indulg'd indeed deferve our fhame.
Ye that e'er loft an angel! pity me.
Whatever farce the boastful hero plays, Virtue alone has majefty in death; And greater ftill, the more the tyrant frowns. Philander! he feverely frown'd on thee, "No warning given! unceremonious fate! "A fudden ruth from life's meridian joys! Soon as the luftre languish'd in her eye, “A restless bed of pain a plunge opaque Dawning a dimmer day on human fight; Beyond conjecture! feeble nature's dread! And on her cheek, the refidence of spring, "Strong reafon's fhudder at the dark unknown! Pale omen fat, and fcatter'd fears around "A fun extinguifh'd! a juft opening grave! On all that faw (and who could cease to gaze "And oh! the last, laft: what? (can words ex-That once had feen with haste, parental haste, "prefs? [friend!" I flew, I fnatch'd her from the rigid north, "Thought reach ?) the laft, laft-filence of a Her native bed, on which black Boreas blew, Thro nature's wreck, thro' vanquifh'd agonies, Like the ftars ftruggling thro' this midnight gloom. What gleams of joy! what more than human peace!
Where the frail mortal? the poor abject worn?
No, not in death, the mortal to be found.
His comforters he comforts; great in ruin,
With unreluctant grandeur, gives, not yields
His foul fublime; and clofes with his fate.
How our hearts burnt within us at the fcene!
Whence this brave bound o'er limits fixt to man?
And bore her nearer to the fun; the fun
As if the fun could envy) check'd his beam,
Denied his wonted fuccour; nor with more
Regret beheld her drooping, than the bells
Of lilies; faireft lilies, not fo fair!
Queen lilies and ye painted populace
Who dwell in fields, and lead ambrofial lives;
In morn and ev'ning dew your beauties bathe,
And drink the fun; which gives your cheeks to
And out-blush (mine excepted) every fair! [glow;
You gladlier grew, ambitious of her hand,
Which often cropp'd your odours, incenfe meet
To thought fo pure! Ye lovely fugitives!
Coeval race with man! for man you fmile;
Why not fimile at him too? You hare indeed
His fudden pafs, but not his conftant pain.
So man is made, nought minifters delight,
But what his glowing paffions can engage;
And glowing paffions, bent on aught below,
Muft foon or late with anguish turn the fcale;
And anguish, after rapture, how fevere!
Rapture Bold man! who tempts the wrath divine,
By plucking fruit denied to mortal taste,
While here prefuming on the rights of Heaven.
For transport doft thou call on ev'ry hour,
Lorenzo At thy friend's expence be wife;
Lean not on earth, 'twill pierce thee to the heart;
A broken reed at beft, but oft a fpear;
On its fharp point peace bleeds, and hope expires.
Turn, hopeless thoughts! turn from her :-
Refenting rallies, and wakes ev'ry woe.
Snatch'd ere thy prime, and in thy bridal hour!
And when kind fortune, with thy lover, fmil'd!
And when high flavour'd thy fresh op'ning joys'
And when blind man pronounc'd thy blifs com-
And on a foreign fhore, where ftrangers wept !
Strangers to thee; and, more furprising ftill,
Strangers to kindnefs wept their eyes let fall
Inhuman tears; strange tears! that trickled down
From marble hearts! obdurate tenderneís!
A tenderness that call'd them more fevere;
In spite of nature's foft persuasion, steel'd;
While nature melted, fuperftition rav'd;
That mourn'd the dead, and this denied a grave.
Their fighs incens 'd, fighs foreign to the will!
Their will the tiger fuck'd, outrag'd the storm.
For, oh! the curs'd ungodliness of zeal!
While finful flesh relented, spirit nurs’d
In blind infallibility's embrace,
The fainted fpirit petrified the breast:
Denied the charity of duft, to spread
O'er duft! a charity their dogs enjoy.
What could I do? what fuccour? what refource:
With pious facrilege a grave I ftole,
With impious piety that grave I wrong'd;
Short in my duty, coward in my grief!
More like her murderer than friend, I crept
With foft fufpended ftep, and muflled deep
In midnight darknefs whifper'd my last figh.
I whisper'd what should echo thro' their realms;
Nor writ her name whofe tomb fhould pierce the
Prefumptuous fear! How durft I dread her foes,
While nature's loudeft dictates I obey'd?
Pardon neceffity, bleft fhade! Of grief
And indignation rival bursts I pour'd;
Half execration mingled with my pray'r;
Kindled at man, while I his God ador'd;
Sore grudg'd the favage land her facred duft;
Stamp'd the curs'd foil; and with humanity
(Denied Narciffa) wifh'd them all a grave.
Glows my refentment into guilt? What guilt
Can equal violations of the dead?
The dead how facred! Sacred is the duft
Of this heaven-labour'd form, erect, divine;
This heaven-affum'd majestic robe of earth
He deign'd to wear, who hung the vast expanse
With azure bright, and cloth'd the fun in gold.
When ev'ry paffion fleeps that can offend;
When ftrikes us ev'ry motive that can melt;
When man can wreak his rancour uncontroul'd,
That ftrongeft curb on infult and ill-will;
Then fpleen to duft? the duft of innocence ?
An angel's duft-This Lucifer tranfcends:
When he contended for the patriarch's bones,
'Twas not the ftrife of malice, but of pride;
The ftrife of pontiff pride, not pontiff gall.
Far lefs than this is fhocking, in a race
Moft wretched but from streams of mutual love;
And uncreated but for love divine;
And, but for love divine, this moment loft,
By fate reforb'd, and funk in endless night.
Man hard of heart to man! of horrid things
Moft horrid 'Mid ftupendous, highly strange!
Yet oft his courtefies are fimoother wrongs;
Pride brandishes the favours He confers,
And contumelious his humanity:
What then his vengeance Hear it not, ye stars!
And thou, pale moon! turn paler at the found!
Man is to man the foreft, fireft ill.
A previous blaft foretels the rifing storm;
O'erwhelming turrets threaten ere they fall;
Volcanos bellow ere they difembogue;
Earth trembles ere her yawning jaws devour;
And finoke betrays the wide-confuming fire:
Ruin from man is moft conceal'd when near,
And fends the dreadful tidings in the blow.
Is this the flight of fancy? Would it were!
Heaven's Sovereign faves all beings but himself
That hideous fight, a naked human heart!
NIGHT IV. Death not to be dreaded.
HOW deep implanted in the breaft of man
The dread of death! I fing its fov'reign cure.
Why start at death? where is he? death arriv'd,
Ere hope, fenfation fails; black-boding man
Is paft: not come, or gone, he 's never here.
Receives, not fuffers, death's tremendous blow.
The knell, the throud, the mattock, and the grave;
The deep damp vault, the darknefs, and the worm;
Thefe are the bugbears of a winter's eve,
The terrors of the living, not the dead.
Imagination's fool, and error's wretch,
Man makes a death which nature never made;
Then on the point of his own fancy falls;
And feels a thousand deaths, in fearing one.