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'Tis past! That hand we grasped, alas, in vain!
Then was the drama ended. Not till then,
- When by a good man's grave I muse alone,
But the day is almost spent; And stars are kindling in the firmament, To us how silent--though like ours perchance Busy and full of life and circumstance; Where some the paths of Wealth and Power pursue, Of Pleasure some, of Happiness a few;
And, as the sun goes round-a sun not ours-
P. 66, 1. 17.
P. 66, 1. 28.
foot we find; “ I have considered,” says Solomon, “ all the works that are under the sun; and behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” But who believes it, till Death tells it us? It is Death alone that can suddenly make man to know himself. He tells the proud and insolent, that they are but abjects, and humbles them at the instant. He takes the account of the rich man, and proves him a beggar, a naked beggar. He holds a glass before the eyes of the most beautiful, and makes them see therein their deformity; and they acknowledge it.
O eloquent, just, and mighty Death! whom none could advise, thou hast persuaded; what none have dared, thou hast done; and whom all the world have flattered, thou only hast cast out and despised: thou hast drawn together all the far-stretched greatness, all the pride, cruelty and ambition of man, and covered it all over with these two narrow words, Hic jacet.
P. 67, 1. 14. Through the dim curtains of Futurity. Fancy can hardly forbear to conjecture with what temper Milton surveyed the silent progress of his work, and marked his reputation stealing its way in a kind of subterraneous current through fear and silence. I cannot but conceive him calm and confident, little disappointed, not at all dejected, relying on his own merit with steady consciousness, and waiting, without impatience, the vicissitudes of opinion, and the impartiality of a future generation.
P. 67, 1. 27.
Do what he will, fc. These ideas, whence are they derived; or, as Plato would have expressed himself, how were they acquired? There could not be a better argument for his doctrine of a præ-existent state.
P. 68, 1. 15.
But soon ’tis pastThis light, which is so heavenly in its lustre, and which is every where and on every thing when we look round us on our arrival here ; which, while it lasts, never leaves us, rejoicing us by night as well as by day and lighting up our very dreams; yet, when
it fades, fades so fast, and, when it goes, goes out for ever—we may address it in the words of the Poet, words which we might apply so often in this transitory life. Too soon your value from your loss we learn !
Epistles in Verse, ii. P. 68, 1. 17.
like the stone That sheds awhile a lustre all its own, See “ Observations on a Diamond that shines in the dark.”
Boyle's Works, I. 789.
P. 69, l. 3. Schooled and trained up to Wisdom from his birth;
Cicero, in his Essay De Senectute, has drawn his images from the better walks of life; and Shakspeare, in his Seven Ages, has done so too. But Shakspeare treats his subject satirically; Cicero as a Philosopher. In the venerable portrait of Cato we discover no traces of “ the lean and slippered Pantaloon.”
Every object has a bright and a dark side ; and I have endeavoured to look at things as Cicero has done. By some however I may be thought to have followed too much my own dream of happiness; and in such a dream indeed I have often passed a solitary hour. It was Castle-building once; now it is no longer so. But whoever would try to realize it, would not perhaps repent of his endeavour.
P. 69, 1. 5. The hour arrives, the moment wished and feared;
A Persian Poet has left us a beautiful thought on this subject, which the reader, if he has not met