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A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw :
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me, That with music loud and long
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
FROM "THE ANCIENT MARINER."
304. A CALM ON THE EQUATOR.
The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.
Down dropped the breeze, the sails dropped down 'Twas sad as sad could be;
And we did speak only to break
The silence of the sea!
All in a hot and copper sky,
The bloody Sun, at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the Moon.
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion:
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.
With throats unslaked, with black lips baked, We could nor laugh nor wail;
Through utter drought all dumb we stood!
I bit my arm, I sucked the blood,
And cried, A sail, a sail!
With throats unslaked, with black lips baked
Agape they heard me call:
Gramercy! they for joy did grin,
And all at once their breath drew in,
As they were drinking all.
See! see! (I cried) she tacks no more!
Hither to work us weal;
Without a breeze, without a tide,
She steadies with upright keel!
The western wave was all a-flame.
Almost upon the western wave
When that strange shape drove suddenly
And straight the Sun was flecked with bars,
As if through a dungeon-grate he peered
Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud)
Are those her sails that glance in the Sun,
Are those her ribs through which the Sun
And is that Woman all her crew?
Is that a Death? and are there two?
Is Death that Woman's mate?
Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Night-mare Life-in-Death was she,
Who thicks man's blood with cold.
The naked hulk alongside came,
And the twain were casting dice;
"The game is done! I've won, I've won!' Quoth she, and whistles thrice.
The Sun's rim dips; the stars rush out:
At one stride comes the dark;
With far-heard whisper, o'er the sea,
Off shot the spectre-bark.
We listened and looked sideways up!
Fear at my heart, as at a cup,
My life-blood seemed to sip!
The stars were dim, and thick the night,
The steersman's face by his lamp gleamed white
From the sails the dew did drip
Till clomb above the eastern bar
The hornéd Moon, with one bright star,
FROM "THE Friend."
Monsters and madmen canonized, and Galileo blind in a dungeon! It is not so in our times. Heaven be praised, that in this respect, at least, we are, if not better, yet better off than our forefathers. But to what and to whom (under Providence) do we owe the improvement? To any radical change in the moral affections of inankind in general? In order to answer this question in the affirmative, I must forget the infamous empirics whose advertisements pollute and disgrace all our newspapers, and almost paper the walls of our cities; and the vending of whose poisons and poisonous drams (with shame and anguish be it spoken) supports a shop in every market-town! I must forget that other opprobrium of the nation, that mother vice, the lottery! I must forget that a numerous class plead prudence for keeping their fellow-men ignorant and incapable of intellectual enjoyments, and the revenue for upholding such temptations as men so ignorant will not withstand - yes! that even senators and officers of state hold forth the revenue as a sufficient plea for upholding, at every fiftieth door throughout the kingdom, temptations to the most pernicious vices. * * No! let us not deceive ourselves. Like the man who used to pull off his hat with great demonstration of respect whenever he spoke of himself, we are fond of styling our own the enlightened age, though, as Jortin, I think, has wittily remarked, the golden age would be more appropriate.
To whom, then, do we owe our ameliorated condition? To the successive few in every age (more, indeed, in one generation than in another, but relatively to the mass of mankind always few), who, by the intensity and permanence of their action, have compensated for the limited sphere within which it is at any one time intelligible, and whose good deeds posterity reverence in their results, though the mode in which we repair the inevitable waste of time, and the style of our additions, too generally furnish a sad proof how little we understand the principles.
Still, however, there are truths so self-evident, or so immediately and palpably deduced from those that are, or are acknowledged for such, that they are at once intelligible to all men who possess the common advantages of the social state; although by sophistry, by evil habits, by the neglect, false persuasions, and impostures of an anti-Christian priesthood, joined in one conspiracy with the violence of tyrannical governors, the understandings of men may become so darkened, and their consciences so lethargic, that there may arise a necessity for the republication of these truths, and this, too, with a voice of loud alarm and impassioned warning. Such were the doctrines proclaimed by the first Christians to the pagan world: such were the lightnings flashed by Wicklif, Huss, Luther, Calvin, Zuinglius,
Latimer, and others, across the papal darkness; and such in our own I'mes, the agitating truths with which Thomas Clarkson and his excelent confederates, the Quakers, fought and conquered the legal. ized banditti of men-stealers, the numerous and powerful perpetrators an.' udvocates of rapine, murder, and (of blacker guilt than either) slavery. Truths of this kind being indispensable to man, considered as a moral being, are above all expedience, all accidental consequences ⚫ fol, as sure as God is holy and man immortal, there can be no evil su gut as the ignorance or disregard of them. It is the very madness of mock prudence to oppose the removal of a poisoned dish on account of the pleasant sauces or nutritious viands which would be lost with it! The dish contains destruction to that for which alone we ought to wish the palate to be gratified, or the body to be nourished. The prejudices of one age are condemned even by the prejudiced of the succeeding ages: for endless are the modes of folly, and the fool joins with the wise in passing sentence on all modes but his own. Who cried out with greater horror against the murderers of the prophets than those who likewise cried out, Crucify him! crucify him! The truth-haters of every future generation will call the truth-haters of the preceding ages by their true names, for even these the stream of time carries onward. In fine, truth, considered in itself, and in the effects natural to it, may be conceived as a gentle spring or watersource, warm from the genial earth, and breathing up into the snowdrift that is piled over and around its outlet. It turns the obstacle into its own form and character, and, as it makes its way, increases its stream. And should it be arrested in its course by a chilling season, it suffers delay, not loss, and awaits only for a change in the wind to awaken and again roll onward.
307. ADVantage of METHOD.
What is that which first strikes us, and strikes us at once, in a man of education; and which, among educated men, so instantly distinguishes the man of superior mind, that (as was observed with eminent propriety of the late Edmund Burke) "we cannot stand under the same archway, during a shower of rain, without finding him out"} Not the weight or novelty of his remarks; not any unusual interest of facts communicated by him: for we may suppose both the one and the other precluded by the shortness of our intercourse, and the triviality of the subjects. The difference will be impressed and felt though the conversation should be confined to the state of the weather or the pavement. Still less will it arise from any peculiarity in his words and phases; for if he be, as we now assume, a well-educated man, as well as a man of superior powers, he will not fail to follow the golden rule of Julius Cæsar, and, unless where new things necessitate new terms, he will avoid an unusual word as a rock. It must have been mong the earliest lessons of his youth that the breach of this precept,