« PreviousContinue »
Love's element! true joy's illuftrious home!
From earth's fad contrast (now deplor’d) more fair.
These are the thoughts that aggrandife the
How great (while yet we tread the kindred clod,
And every moment fear to fink beneath
The clod we tread; foon trodden by our fons)-
How great, in the wild whirl of time's purfuits,
To ftop, and paufe, involv'd in high prefage;
Through the long vifto of a thousand years,
To ftand contemplating our distant felves,
As in a magnifying mirror feen,
Enlarg'd, ennobled, elevate, divine!
To prophety our own futurities!
Togaze in thought on what all thought transcends!
To talk, with fellow-candidates, of joys;
As far beyond conception, as defert,
Ourfelves th' aftonifh'd talkers and the tale!
When mount we? when thefe fhackles caft
This cell of the creation this fmall neft,
Stuck in a corner of the universe,
Wrapt up in fleccy cloud, and fine-spun air?
Fine-ipun to fenfe, but grofs and feculent
To fouls celeftial; fouls ordain'd to breathe
Ambrofial gales; and drink a purer sky;
Greatly triumphant on time's farther fhore.
In an eternity what scenes shall strike!
What webs of wonder thall unravel there!
The bare ideas! folid happiness
So diftant from its fhadow chas'd below!
And chafe we ftill the phantom thro' the fire,
O'er bog, and brake, and precipice, 'till death?
And toil we ftill for fublunary pay?
Defy the dangers of the field, and flood,
Or, fpider-like, fpin out our precious all,
Our more than vitals fpin in curious webs
Of fubtle thought, and exquifite defign;
|(Fine net-work of the brain !) to catch a fly?
The momentary buz of vain renown!
A name, a mortal immortality.
$237. Exalted Station.
What full day pour on all the paths of heaven,WHAT is ftation high?
And light th' Almighty's footsteps in the deep!
How fhall the bleffed day of our discharge
Unwind, at once, the labyrinths of fate,
And traiten its inextricable maze !
This blifs fupreme of the fupremely bleft!
Death, only death, the queftion can refolve.
By death cheap-bought th' ideas of our joy;
$236. Genius connected with Ignominy.
ENIUS and art, ambition's boafted wings,
Our boast but ill deferve. A feeble aid!
Heart-merit wanting, mount we ne'er so high,
Our height is but the gibbet of our name.
When I behold a genius bright and bafe,
Of towering talents, and terrestrial aims;
Methinks, I fee, as thrown from her high sphere,
The glorious fragments of a foul immortal,
With rubbish mixt, and glittering in the dust.
Hearts are proprietors of all applause.
Right ends, and means, make wifdom: worldly-
Is but half-witted, at its highest praife. [wife
If inextinguishable thirst in man
To know; how rich, how full our banquet here!
Here, not the moral world alone unfolds;
The world material lately feen in fhades,
And in thofe fhades, by fragments only feen,
And feen those fragments by the labouring eye,
Unbroken, now, illuftrious, and entire,
Its ample iphere, its univerfal frame,
In full dimentions, fwells to the furvey;
And enters, at one glance, the ravish'd fight.
How fhall the ftranger man's illumin'd eye,
In the vaft ocean of unbounded ipace,
Behold an infinite of floating worlds
Divide the crystal waves of ether pure,
In endlefs voyage, without port! the least
Of thefe diffeminated orbs how great!
Yet what are thefe to the ftupendous whole?
As particles, as atoms ill-perceiv'd.
If admiration is a fource of joy,
What tranfport hence! Yet this the leaft in
What this to that illuftrious robe He wears,
Who tofs'd this mafs of wonders from his hand,
A fpecimen, an earnest of his power!
'Tis, to that glory, whence all glory flows,
As the mead's meaneft flow'ret to the fun,
Which gave it birth. But what, this Sun of
'Tis a proud mendicant; it boafts, and
It begs an alms of homage from the throng,
And oft the throng denies its charity.
Monarchs, and minifters, are awful names;
Whoever wear them, challenge our devoir.
Religion, public order, both exact
External homage, and a fupple knee,
To beings pompously fet up, to serve
The meanest flave; all more is merit's due;
Her facred and inviolable right,
Nor ever paid the monarch, but the man.
Our hearts ne'er bow but to fuperior worth;
Nor ever fail of their allegiance there.
Fools indeed drop the man in their account,
And vote the mantle into majefty.
Let the fmall favage boaft his filver fur;
His royal robe unborrow'd, and unbought,
His own, defcending fairly from his fires.
Shall man be proud to wear his livery,
And fouls in crmine fcorn a foul without?
Can place or leffen us, or aggrandize?
Pigmies are pigmics ftill, tho' percht on alps,
And pyramids are pyramids in vales.
Each man makes his own ftature, builds him-
Virtue alone out-builds the pyramids;
Her monuments fhail laft, when Egypt's fall.
Of thefe fure truths doft thou demand the cause?
The caufe is lodg'd in immortality.
Hear, and affent. Thy bofom burns for pow'r;
'Tis thine. And art thou greater than before?
Then thou before waft fomething less than man.
Has thy new poft betray'd thee into pride?
That pride defames humanity, and calls [raife.
The being mean, which ftaffs or strings can
§ 238. Tite
$238. True Greatness.
HAT prince, and that alone, is truly great,
Who draws the fword reluctant, gladly
On empire builds what empire far outweighs, And makes his throne a fcaffold to the fkies.
Why this fo rare becaufe forgot of all The day of death; that venerable day, [nounce Which fits as judge; that day which fhall On all our days, abfolve them, or condemn. Lorenzo! never fhut thy thought against it; Be levees ne'er fo full, afford it room, And give it audience in the cabinet, That friend confulted, flatteries apart, Will tell thee fair, if thou art great, or mean. To dote on aught may leave us, or be left, Is that ambition then let flames defcend, Point to the centre their inverted spires: When blind ambition quite mistakes her road, And downward pores, for that which fhines Subftantial happiness, and true renown; [above, Then, like an idiot gazing on the brook, We leap at ftars, and faften in the mud; At glory grafp, and fink in infamy.
239. The Torment of Ambition.
Thy ftrength in man, like length of wing in birds,
Superior wonders in himself forgot,
His admiration waste on objects round,
When heaven makes him the foul of all he fees?
Abfurd! not rare! fo great, fo mean, is man.
When difengag'd from earth, with greater ease
And fwifter flight, tranfports us to the skies.
By toys entangled, or in guilt bemir'd,
It turns a curle; it is our chain, and fcourge,
In this dark dungeon, where confin'd we lie,
Clofe-grated by the fordid bars of sense;
All profpect of eternity fhut out;
And but for execution ne'er fet free.
$240. True Riches.
Where thy truc treafure? Gold fays, "not
error in ambition, justly charg'd,
Find we Lorenzo wifer in his wealth?
And, "not in me," the diamond. Gold is poor;
India 's infolvent: feek it in thyfelf;
Seek in thy naked felf, and find it there:
In being fo defcended, form'd, endow'd;
Sky-born, fky-guided, fky-returning race!
Erect, immortal, rational, divine!
In fenfes, which inherit earth and heavens;
Enjoy the various riches nature yields;
Far nobler! give the riches they enjoy;
Give tafte to fruits; and harmony to groves;
Their radiant beams to gold, and gold's bright
Take in at once the landfcape of the world, [fire;
At a fmall inlet, which a grain might clofe,
And half create the wondrous world they fee.
Cur fenfes, as our reafon, are divine.
But for the magic organ's powerful charm,
Earth were a rude, uncolour'd chaos ftill.
Ours is the cloth, the pencil, and the paint,
Which beautifies creation's ample dome.
Say then, fhall man, his thoughts all fent abroad,
What wealth in fenfes fuch as thefe! what In fancy, fir'd to form a fairer scene [wealth Than fenfe furveys! in memory's firm record, Which, fhould it perish, could this world recall, From the dark shadows of o'erwhelming years! In colours fresh, originally bright Preferve its portrait, and report its fate! What wealth in intellect, that fovereign power! Which fenfe, and fancy, fummons to the bar; Interrogates, approves, or reprehends: And from the mafs thofe underlings import, From their materials fifted, and refin'd, Forms art, and science, government, and law. What wealth in fouls that foar, dive, range around,
Difdaining limit, or from place, or time,
And hear at once, in thought extenfive, hear
Th' almighty fiat, and the trumpet's found!
Bold, on creation's outfide walk, and view
What was, and is, and more than e'er fhall be;
Commanding, with omnipotence of thought,
Creations new, in fancy's field to rife!.
Souls, that can grafp whate'er th' almighty made,
What wealth, in faculties of endless growth,
And wander wild
In liberty to choose, in power to reach,
And in duration (how thy riches rife !)
Duration to perpetuate-boundless blifs!
§ 241. The Vanity of Wealth. HIGH-BUILT abundance, heap on heap!
To breed new wants, and beggar us the more;
Then make a richer fcramble for the throng:
Soon as this feeble pulfe, which leaps fo long,
Almoft by miracles is tir'd with play,
Like rubbish, from difploding engines thrown,
Our magazines of hoarded trifles fly;
Fly diverfe; fly to foreigners, to foes;
New mafters court, and call the former fool,
(How justly) for dependence on their stay.
Wide fcatter firft, our play-things, then our duft.
Much learning fhews how little mortals know:
Much wealth, how little worldlings can enjoy :
At beft it babies us with endless toys,
And keeps us children till we drop to duft.
As monkeys at a mirror ftand amaz'd,
They fail to find what they fo plainly fee;
Thus men in fhining riches fee the face
Of happiness, nor know it is a fhade;
But gaze, and touch, and peep, and peep again,
And with, and wonder it is abfent ftill.
How few can rescue opulence from want! Who lives to nature, rarely can be poor; Who lives to fancy, never can be rich. Poor is the man in debt; the man of gold, In debt to fortune, trembles at her pow'r. The man of reafon fimiles at her, and death. O what a patrimony, this! a being Of fuch inherent ftrength and majesty,
Not worlds poffeft can raise it; worlds deftroy'd Till ftumbling at a straw, in their career,
Can 't injure; which hold on its glorious course, Headlong they plunge, where end both dance
When thine, O nature, ends; too bleft to mourn
Creation's obfequies. What treasure, this!
The monarch is a beggar to the man.
IMMORTAL! ages paft, yet nothing gone! Morn without eve! a race without a goal! Unfhorten'd by progreffion infinite! Futurity for ever future! life Beginning ftill, where computation ends! 'Tis the defcription of a deity! 'Tis the defcription of the meanest flave.
Immortal! what can ftrike the fense so strong,
As this the foul? it thunders to the thought;
Reafon amazes; gratitude o'erwhelms ;
No more we flumber on the brink of fate;
Rous'd at the found, th' exulting foul afcends,
And breathes her native air; an air that feeds
Ambition high, and fans ethereal fires;
Quick-kindles all that is divine within us;
Nor leaves one loitering thought beneath the
Immortal! was but one immortal, how [ftars.
Would others envy! how would thrones adore!
Becaufe 'tis common, is the bleffing loft?
How this ties up the bounteous hand of Heaven!
O vain, vain, vain! all elfe: eternity!
A glorious, and a needful refuge, that
From vile imprisonment in abject views.
'Tis immortality, 'tis that alone,
Amid life's pains, abafements, emptiness,
The foul can comfort, elevate, and fill.
Eternity depending covers all;
Sets earth at diftance, cafts her into fhades;
Biends her diftinctions; abrogates her pow'rs;
The low, the lofty, joyous, and fevere,
Fortune's dread frowns, and fafcinating smiles,
Mike one promifcuous, and neglected heap,
The man beneath; if I may call him man,
Whom immortality's full force infpires.
Nothing terreftrial touches his high thought;
Suns fhine unfeen, and thunders roll unheard,
By minds quite confcious of their high defcent,
Their prefent province, and their future prize;
Divinely darting upward every wish,
Warm on the wing, in glorious abfence loft.
Doubt you this truth? why labours your be-
If earth's whole orb by fome due diftanc'd eye
Was feen at once, her tow'ring alps would fink,
And level'd Atlas leave an even sphere.
Thus earth, and all that earthly minds admire,
Is fwallow'd in eternity's vaft round.
To that ftupendous view when fouls awake,
So large of late, fo mountainous to man,
Time' 's toys fubfide; and equal all below.'
243. Man ignorant of his real Greatnefs. IN fpite of all the truths the mufe has fung, Are there who wrap the world fo clofe about them, They fee no farther than the clouds; and dance On heedle's vanity's fantastic toe,
Are there on earth (let me not call them men)
Who lodge a foul immortal in their breasts;
Unconscious as the mountain of its ore,
Or rock, of its inestimable gem?
When rock fhall melt, and mountains vanish,
Shall know their treafure; treasure, then, no
§ 245. Man's Immortality proved by Nature. NATURE, thy daughter, ever-changing birth Of thee the great Immutable, to man, Speaks wifdom; is his oracle fupreme; And he who moft confults her, is moft wife. Look nature through, 'tis revolution all. [night, All change, no death. Day follows night; and The dying day; ftars rife, and fet, and rife; Earth takes th' example. See, the fummer gay, With her green chaplet, and ambrofial flow'rs, Droops into pallid autumn; winter grey, Horrid with froft, and turbulent with ftorm, Blows autumn, and his golden fruits away, Then melts into the fpring; foft fpring, with breath
Favonian, from warm chambers of the fouth, Recalls the first. All, to re-flourish, fades: As in a wheel, all finks, to re-afcend: Emblems of man, who paffes, not expires.
With this minute diftinction, emblems juft. Nature revolves, but man advances; both Eternal, that a circle, this a line.
That gravitates, this foars. Th' afpiring foul
Ardent, and tremulous, like flame, afcends
Zeal, and humility, her wings to heaven.
The world of matter, with its various forms,
All dies into new life. Life born from death
Rolls the vast mafs, and fhall for ever roll.
No fingle atom, once in being, loft,
With change of counfel, charges the Moft High.
Matter, immortal? and shall spirit die?
Above the nobler, fhall lefs noble rife?
Shall man alone, for whom all elfe revives,
No refurrection know? fhall man alone,
Imperial man! be sown in barren ground,
Lefs privileg'd than grain, on which he feeds?
Is man, in whom alone is power to prize
The blifs of being, or with previous pain
Deplore its period, by the fpleen of fate
Severely doom'd death's fingle unredeem'd?
§ 246. NICHT VII. Discontent.
WHY difcontent for ever harbour'd there?
Incurable confumption of our peace!
Refolve me, why, the cottager, and king,
Ile whom fea-fever'd realms obey, and he
Who fteals his whole dominion from the waste,
Repelling winter's blaft, with mud and straw,
Difquieted alike, draw figh for figh,
In fate fo diftant, in complaint fo near.
Is it, that things terreftrial can't content?
Deep in rich pafture, will thy flocks complain
Not fo; but to their mafter is deny'd
To fhare their fweet ferene. Man, ill at ease,
In this, not his own place, this foreign field,
Where nature fodders him with other food,
Than was ordain'd his cravings to fuffice,
Poor in abundance, famith'd at a feaft,
Sighs on for fomething more, when moft enjoy'd.
Is heaven then kinder to thy flocks, than thee
Not fo; thy pafture richer, but remote;
In part, remote; for that remoter part
Man bleats from inftinet, tho', perhaps, debauch'd
By fenfe, his reafon fleeps, nor dreams the caufe.
The cause how obvious, when his reason wakes!
His grief is but his grandeur in difguife;
And difcontent is immortality.
Shall fons of æther, fhall the blood of heav'n,
Set up their hopes on earth, and stable here,
With brutal acquiefcence in the mire?
No, no, my friend: they fhall be nobly pain'd;
The glorious foreigners diftreft, fhall figh
On thrones; and thou congratulate the figh:
Man's mifery declares him born for blifs;
His anxious heart afferts the truth I fing.
Our heads, our hearts, our paflions, and our
Speak the fame language; call us to the fkies.
Unripen'd thefe in this inclement clime,
Scarce rife above conjecture, and mistake;
And for this land of trifles, those too firong,
Tumultuous rife, and tempeft human life;
What prize on earth can pay us for the storm?
Meet objects for our paffions Heav'n ordain'd,
Objects that challenge all their fire, and leave
No fault, but in defect: bleft Heav'n! avert
A bounded ardour for unbounded blifs;
O for a blifs unbounded! far beneath
A foul immortal, is a mortal joy.
Nor are our powers to perish immature;
But, after feeble effort here beneath,
Tranfplanted from this fublunary bed,
A brighter fun, and in a nobler foil,
Shall flourish fair, and put forth all their bloom.
$247. Reafon and Inftin&t. REASON progreffive, inftinct is complete ; Swift inftinct leaps; flow reafon feebly climbs.
Brutes foon their zenith reach; their little all
Flows in at once; in ages they no more
Could know, or do, or covet, or enjoy.
Was man to live coeval with the fun,
The patriarch-pupil would be learning ftill;
Yet, dying, leave his leffon half unlearnt.
Men perish in advance, as if the fun
Should fet ere noon, in eaftern oceans drown'd.
To man, why, ftepdame nature, so severe ?
Why thrown afide thy mafter-piece half-wrought,
While meaner efforts thy laft hand enjoy?
Or, if abortively poor man muft die,
Nor reach, what reach he might, why die in
Why curft with forefight? wife to mifery?
Why lefs pre-eminent in rank than pain?—
Why of his proud prerogative the prey?
His immortality alone can tell,
Full ample fund to balance all amifs,
And turn the fcale in favour of the juft.
HIS immortality alone can folve
248. Human Hope.
That darkeft of ænigmas, human hope;
Of all the darkest if at death we die.
All prefent bleffings treading under foot,
Hope, cager hope, th' affaffin of our joy,
Is fcarce a milder tyrant than defpair.
With no paft toils content, ftill planning new,
Hope turns us o'er to death alone for eafe.
Why is a wifh far dearer than a crown?
Poffeffion, why, more tasteless than pursuit ?
That with accomplish'd, why the grave of blifs?
Beyond our plans of empire, and renown,
Because in the great future bury'd deep,
Lies all that man with ardour should purfue;
And he who made him, bent him to the right.
Man's heart th' Almighty to the future iets
And makes his hope his fublunary joy.
By fecret and inviolable fprings;
Man's heart eats all things, and is hungry ftill;
More, more, the glutton cries:" for fomething
So rages appetite, if man can 't mount,
He will defcend. He ftarves on the poffeft.
Hence the world's mafter, from ambition's fpire,
In Caprea plung'd; and div'd beneath the brute.
In that rank fty why wallow'd empire's fon
Supreme? Because he could no higher fly;
His riot was ambition in despair.
See reftlefs hope, for ever on the wing! High perch'd o'er ev ry thought that falcon fits, To fly at all that rifes in her fight; And never tooping, but to mount again! Next moment, the betrays her aim's mistake, And owns her quarry lodg'd beyond the grave. There should it fail us (it muft fail us there, If being fails), more mournful riddles rife, And virtue vies with hope in mystery. Why virtue? Where its praife, its being, fled? Virtue is true felf-intereft purfu'd; What, true felf-int reft of quite-mortal man? To clofe with all that makes him happy here. If vice (as fometimes) is our friend on earth, Then vice is virtue, 'tis our fov'reign good.
The rigid guardian of a blameless heart, So long rever'd, fo long reputed wife, Is weak; with rank knight-crrantries o'er-run. Why beats thy bolom with illuftrious dreams Of gallant enterprife, and glorious death? Die for thy country?-thou romantic fool! Scize, feize the plank thyfelf, and let her fink Thy country! what to thee? (I speak with awe) The godhead what tho' he should bid thee bleed If, with thy blood, thy final hope is fplit, Nor can Omnipotence reward the blow, Be deaf; preferve thy being; difobey..
249. The Madness of Infidelity. SINCE virtue's recompenfe is doubtful, here, If man dies wholly, well may we demand, Why is man fuffer'd to be good in vain ? Why to be good in vain, is man enjoin'd? Why to be good in vain, is man betray'd? Betray'd by traitors lodg'd in his own breast, By fweet complacencies from virtue felt? Why whifpers nature lies on virtue's part? Or if blind inftinct (which affumes the name Of facred confcience) plays the fool in man, Why reafon made accomplice in the cheat? Why are the wifeft, loudeft in her praise ? Can man by reafon's beam be led aftray? Or, at his peril, imitate his God? Since virtue fometimes ruins us on earth, Or, both are true; or, man furvives the grave. Or man furvives the grave, or own, Lorenzo, Thy boaft fupreme, a wild abfurdity. Dauntless thy fpirit; cowards are thy fcorn. Grant man immortal, and thy fcorn is just. The man immortal, rationally brave, Dares rush on death, becaufe he cannot die. But if man lofes all, when life is loft, He lives a coward, or a fool expires. A daring infidel (and fuch there are, From pride, example, lucre, rage, revenge, Or pure heroical defect of thought), Of all earth's madmen, moft deferves a chain.
When, to the grave, we follow the renown'd For valour, virtue, fcience, all we love, [beam And all we praife; for worth, whole noon-tide Mends our ideas of ethereal pow'rs; Dream we, that luftre of the moral world Goes out in stench, and rottennefs the clole? Why was he wife to know, and warn to praife,
And ftrenuous to tranfcribe, in human life,
The mind Almighty? could it be, that fate,
Juft when the lincaments began to fhine, [ever?
Should fnatch the draught, and blot it out for
Shall we, this moment, gaze on God in man?
The next, lofe man for ever in the duft?
From duft we difengage, or man miftakes;
And there, where leaft his judgment fears a flaw.
Wifdom, and worth, how boldly he commends!
Wildom and worth are facred names; rever'd;
Where not embrac'd; applauded! deify'd!
Why not compaffion'd too? If fpirits die,
Both are calamities, inflicted both,
To make us but more wretched; wifdom's eye
Acute, for what? To fpy more miferies;
And worth, fo recompens'd, new points their
Or man the grave furmounts, or gain is loss.
And worth exalted humbles us the more.
Were then capacities divine conferr'd,
As a mock-diadem, in falvage-fport,
Rank infult of our pompous poverty,
Which reaps but pain, from feeming claims fo
In future age lies no redrefs? and shuts
Eternity the door on our complaint?
If fo, for what ftrange ends were mortals made?
The worft to wallow, and the best to weep.
Can we conceive a difregard in heaven,
What the worst perpetrate, or beft endure?
This cannot be. To love, and know, in man
Is boundless appetite, and boundless pow'r;
And thefe demonftrate boundless objects too.
Objects, pow'rs, appetites, heaven fuits in all;
Nor, nature thro', e'er violates this sweet,
Eternal concord, on her tuneful ftring.
Is man the fole exception from her laws?
Eternity ftruck off from human hope,
Man is a monster, the reproach of heav'n,
A ftain, a dark impenetrable cloud
On nature's beauteous afpect; and deforms,
(Amazing blot!) deforms her with her lord.
Or own the foul immortal, or invert
All order. Go, mock-majefty! go, man,
And bow to thy fuperiors of the stall;
Thro' ev'ry scene of fenfe fuperior far: [ftream
They graze the turf untill'd; they drink the
Unbrew'd, and ever full, and un-embitter'd
With doubts, fears, fruitless hopes, regrets, de-
Mankind's peculiar! reafon's precious dow'r !
No foreign clime they ranfack for their robes,
Nor brothers cite to the litigious bar:
Their good is good entire, unmixt, unmarr'd;
They find a paradife in ev'ry field,
On boughs forbidden, where no curfes hang; Their ill no more than strikes the fenfe, unftretcht
By previous dread, or murmur in the rear; When the worst comes, it comes unfear'd; one ftroke
Begins and ends their woe: they die bu once; Bleft, incommunicable privilege! [ftars, For which who rules the globe, and re ds the Philofopher, or hero, fighs in vain.