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Where are they? with the years beyond the Flood? | Unkindled, unconceiv'd; and from an eye
It is the signal that demands dispatch;
How much is to be done! my hopes and fears
Start up alarm'd, and o'er life's narrow verge
Look down on what? a fathomless abyss;
A dread eternity! how surely mine!
And can eternity belong to me,
Poor pensioner on the bounties of an hour?
How poor! how rich! how abject! how august!
How complicate! how wonderful is Man!
How passing wonder HE who made him such!
Who centred in our make such strange extremes!
From different natures marvellously mixt,
Connexion exquisite of distant worlds!
Distinguish'd link in being's endless chaip!
Midway from nothing to the Deity!
A beam ethereal sullied, and absorb'd!
Tho' sullied, and dishonor'd, still divine!
Dim miniature of greatness absolute!
An heir of glory! a frail child of dust!
Helpless inmortal! insect infinite!
A worm! a god! I tremble at myself;
And in myself am lost! at home a stranger,
Thought wanders up and down, surpris'd aghast,
And wond'ring at her own: how reason reels!
O what a miracle to man is man!
Triumphantly distress'd, what joy, what dread!
Alternately transported and alarm'd!
What can preserve my life, or what destroy?
An angel's arm can't snatch me from the grave;
Legions of angels can't confine me there.
Tis past conjecture; all things rise in proof: While o'er my limbs Sleep's soft dominion spread,
What tho' my soul fantastic measures trod
Oer fairy fields; or mourn'd along the gloom
Of pathless woods; or down the craggy steep
Harl'd headlong, swam with pain the mantled
Or scal'd the cliff or danc'd on hollow winds,
With antic shapes, wild natives of the brain?
Her ceaseless flight, tho' devious, speaks her nature
Of subtler essence than the trodden clod;
Active, aerial, tow ring, unconfin'd,
Unfetter'd with her gross companion's fall:
Ev'n silent night proclaims my soul immortal :
Ev'n silent night proclaims eternal day:
For human weal, heaven husbands all events,
Dull sleep instructs, nor sport vain dreams in vain.
$147. Vanity of Lamentation over the Dead. WHY then their loss deplore, that are not lost? Why wanders wretched thought their tombs
In infidel distress? are angels there? Slumbers, rak'd up in dust, ethereal fire? They live! they greatly live a life on earth
Of tenderness, let heavenly pity fall
On me, more justly number'd with the dead:
This is the desert, this the solitude:
How populous! how vital, is the grave!
This is creation's melancholy vault,
The vale funereal, the sad cypress gloom;
The land of apparitions, empty shades;
All, all on earth is shadow, all beyond
Is substance; the reverse is folly's creed;
How solid all, where change shall be no more!
$148. Life and Eternity.
THIS is the bud of being, the dim dawn;
Life's theatre as yet is shut, and death,
Strong death alone can heave the massy bar,
This gross impediment of clay remove,
And make us embryos of existence free.
From real life, but little more remote
Is he, not yet a candidate for light,
The future embryo, slumbering in his sire.
Embryos we must be, till we burst the shell.
Yon ambient azure shell, and spring to life,
The life of gods-O transport! and of man.
Yet man, fool man! here buries all his thoughts;
Inters celestial hopes without one sigh:
Prisoner of earth, and pent beneath the moon,
Here pinions all his wishes: wing'd by heaven
To fly at infinite, and reach it there,
Where seraphs gather immortality,
On life's fair tree, fast by the throne of God.
What golden joys ambrosial clust'ring glow
In his full beam, and ripen for the Just,
Where momentary ages are no more!
Where time, and pain, and chance, and death
And is it in the flight of threescore years,
To push eternity from human thought,
And smother souls immortal in the dust!
A soul immortal, spending all her fires,
Wasting her strength in strenuous idleness,
Thrown into tumult, raptur'd, or alarm'd,
At aught this scene can threaten or indulge,
Resembles ocean into tempest wrought,
To waft a feather or to drown a fly.
Where falls this censure? Ito'erwhelms myself.
How was my heart enerusted by the world!
O how self-fetter'd was my groveling soul!
How, like a worm, was I wrapt round and round
In silken thought, which reptile Fancy spun,
Till darken'd Reason lay quite clouded o'er
With soft conceit of endless comfort here,
Nor yet put forth her wings to reach the skies!
Our waking dreams are fatal: how I dreamt Of things impossible! (could sleep do more?) Of joys perpetual in perpetual change! Of stable pleasures on the tossing wave! Eternal sunshine in the storms of life! How richly were my noon-tide trances hung With gorgeous tapestries of pictur'd joys! Joy behind joy, in endless perspective! Till at Death's toll, whose restless iron tongue Calls daily for his millions at a meal, Starting, I woke, and found myself undone ! I Where
Where now my phrensy's pompous furniture!
The cobweb'd cottage with its ragged wall
Of mould'ring mud, is royalty to me!
The spider's thread is cable to man's tie
On earthly bliss; it breaks at every breeze.
$149. Time and Death.
O YE blest scenes of permanent delight!
Full above measure! lasting beyond bound!
Could you, so rich in rapture, feat an end,
That ghastly thought would drink up all your
And quite unparadise the realms of light.
Safe are you lodg'd above these rolling spheres,
The baleful influence of whose giddy dance
Sheds sad vicissitudes on all beneath.
Here teems with revolutions every hour;
And rarely for the better; or the best,
More mortal than the common births of fate:
Each moment has its sickle, emulous
Of Time's enormous scythe, whose ample sweep Strikes empires from the root; each moment plies
His little weapon in the narrower sphere
Of sweet domestic comfort, and cuts down
The fairest bloom of sublunary bliss.
Bliss! sublunary bliss! proud worlds, and vain!
Implicit treason to divine decree!
A bold invasion of the rights of heaven!
I clasp'd the phantoms, and found them air,
O had I weigh'd it ere my fond embrace
What darts of agony had miss'd my heart!
Death! great proprietor of all! "Tis thine
To tread out empire, and to quench the stars :
The sun himself by thy permission shines;
And, one day, thou shalt pluck him from his
Amid such mighty plunder, why exhaust
Thy partial quiver on a mark s mean?
Why thy peculiar rancour wreck'd on me?
Insatiate archer! could not one suffice?
Thy shaft flew thrice, and thrice my peace was
And thrice, ere thrice yon moon had fill'd her
O Cynthia why so pale? dost thou lament
Thy wretched neighbour? grieve, to see thy
Of ceaseless change outwhirl'd in human life?
In ev'ry varied posture, place, and hour,
How widow'd every thought of every joy !
Thought, busy thought! too busy for my peace,
Thro' the dark postern of time long elaps'd
Led softly, by the stillness of the night,
Surays, wretched rover! o'er the pleasing past,
In quest of wretchedness, perversely strays;
And finds all desert now; and meets the ghosts
Of my departed joys, a numerous train!
I rue the riches of my former fate;
Sweet comfort's blasted clusters make me sigh:
I tremble at the blessings once so dear;
And ev'ry pleasure pains me to the heart.
Yet why complain? or why complain for one?
I mourn for millions: 'Tis the common lot;
In this shape, or in that, has fate entail'd
The mother's throes on all of woman born,
Not more the children, than sure heirs of pain.
$150. Oppression, Want, and Disease. WAR, famine, pest, volcano, storm, and fire, Intestine broils, oppression with her heart Wrapt up in triple brass, besiege mankind: God's image, disinherited of day,
Here plung'd in mines, forgets a sun was made;
There beings, deathless as their haughty lord,
Are hammer'd to the galling oar for life;
And plough the winter's wave, and reap despair:
Some, for hard masters, broken under arms,
In battle lopt away, with half their limbs,
Beg bitter bread thro' realins their valor sav'd,
If so the tyrant, or his minion doom;
Want and incurable Disease (fell pair!)
On hopeless multitudes remorseless seise
At once; and make a refuge of the grave:
How groaning hospitals eject their dead!
What numbers groan for sad admission there!
What numbers, once in Fortune's lap high fed,
Solicit the cold hand of charity!
To shock us more, solicit it in vain!
Not Prudence can defend, or Virtue save; Disease invades the chastest temperance; And punishment the guiltless; and alarm Thro' thickest shades pursues the fond of peace: Man's caution often into danger turns, And, his guard falling, crushes him to death. Not Happiness itself makes good her name; Our very wishes gives us not our wish; How distant oft the thing we dote on most, From that for which we dote, felicity!
The smoothest course of nature has its pains, And truest friends, thro' error, wound our rest; Without misfortune, what calamities! And what hostilities without a foe! Nor are foes wanting to the best on earth. But endless is the list of human ills, And sighs might sooner fail, than cause to sigh.
$151. Reflections on viewing a Map of the World.
A PART how small of the terraqueous globe
Is tenanted by man! the rest a waste,
Rocks, deserts, frozen seas, and burning sands;
Wild haunts of monsters, poisons, stings, and
Such is earth's melancholy map! but, far
More sad; this earth is a true map of man:
So bounded are its haughty lord's delights
To woe's wide empire; where deep troubles toss;
Loud sorrows howl; envenom'd passions bite;
Ravenous calamities our vitals seise,
And threat'ning fate wide opens to devour.
§ 152. Sympathy.
WHAT then am I, who sorrow for myself?
In age, in infancy, from other's aid
Is all our hope; to teach us to be kind.
That, Nature's first, last lesson to mankind:
The selfish heart deserves the pain it feels;
More generous sorrow, while it sinks, exalts,
And conscious virtue mitigates the pang.
Nor Virtue, more than Prudence, bids me give
Swoln thought a second channel; who divide,
They weaken too, the torrent of their grief.
Take then, O world! thy much indebted tear:
How sad a sight is human happiness [hour!
To those whose thought can pierce beyond an
O thou! whate'er thou art, whose heart exults!
Wouldst thou I should congratulate thy fate?
I know thou wouldst; thy pride demands it from
Let thy pride pardon, what thy nature needs, [me,
The salutary censure of a friend: [blest;
Thou happy wretch! by blindness art thou
By dotage dandled to perpetual smiles:
Know, smiler! at thy peril art thou pleas'd;
Thy pleasure is the promise of thy pain.
Misfortune, like a creditor severe,
But rises in demand for her delay;
She makes a scourge of past prosperity,
To sting thee more, and double thy distress.
§ 153. The Instability and Insufficiency
LORENZO! Fortune makes her court to thee,
Thy fond heart dances, while the syren sings.
I would not damp, but to secure thy joys:
Think not that fear is sacred to the storm:
Stand on thy guard against the smiles of fate.
Is heaven tremendous in its frown! most sure:
And in its favors formidable too;
Its favors here are trials, not rewards:
A call to duty, not discharge from care;
And should alarmn us, full as much as woes;
O'er our scann'd conduct give a jealous eye;
Awe Nature's tumult, and chastise her joys,
We penetrate, we prophesy in vain.
Time is dealt out by particles: and each,
Ere mingled with the streaming sands of life,
By fate's inviolable oath is sworn
Deep silence, "Where eternity begins."
§ 155. Presumption of depending on To-morrow.
There's no prerogative in human hours:
By Nature's law, what may be, may be now;
In human hearts what bolder thought can rise,
Where is to-morrow? In another world.
Than man's presumption on to-morrow's dawn?
For numbers this is certain; the reverse
Is sure to none; and yet on this perhaps,
This peradventure, infamous for fies,
As on a rock of adamant we build
Our mountain hopes; spin out eternal schemes,
And, big with life's futurities, expire.
§ 156. Sudden Death.
Nor ev'n Philander had bespoke his shroud;
Nor had he cause, a warning was deny'd.
As sudden, tho' for years admonish'd home.
How many fall as sudden, not as safe!
Of human ills the last extreme beware,
Beware, Lorenzo! a slow-sudden death.
How dreadful that deliberate surprise!
Be wise to-day, 'tis madness to defer;
Next day the fatal precedent will plead !
Thus on, till wisdom is push'd out of life;
Procrastination is the thief of time,
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves
The vast concerns of an eternal scene!
If not so frequent, would not this be strange?
That 'tis so frequent, this is stranger still.
Lest, while we clasp we kill them; nay invert,$157. Man's Proneness to pospone Improvement.
Of man's miraculous mistakes, this bears
The palm, "that all men are about to live."
For ever on the brink of being born:
All pay themselves the compliment to think
They, one day, shall not drivel; and their pride
On this reversion takes up ready praise;
At least their own; their future selves applauds;
Time lodg'd in their own hands is folly's vails,
How excellent that life they ne'er will lead !
That lodg'd in fate's, to wisdom they consign.
All promise is poor dilatory man,
And that thro' every stage: when young,
In full content, we sometimes nobly rest,
Unanxious for ourselves; and only wish,
As duteous sons, our fathers were more wise:
At thirty man suspects himself a fool;
Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan;
beck-At fifty chides his infamous delay,
To worse than simple misery, their charms :
Revolted joys, like foes in civil war,
Like bosom friendships to resentment sour'd,
With rage envenom'd rise against our peace.
Beware what earth calls happiness; beware
All joys, but joys that never can expire:
Who builds on less than an immortal base,
Fond as he seems, condemns his joys to death.
Mine died with thee, Philander! thy last sigh
Dissolv'd the charm; the disenchanted earth
Lost all her lustre; where, her glittering towers?
Her golden mountains, where? all darken'd
To naked waste; a dreary vale of tears! [down
The great magician's dead! thou poor pale piece
Of outcast earth, in darkness! what a change
From yesterday! thy darling hope so near, [in
(Long-labor'd prize!) death's subtle seed with-
(Sly, treach'rous miner!) working in the dark,
Smil'd at thy well-concerted scheme, and
The worm to riot on that rose so red,
Unfaded ere it fell; one moment's prey!
$154. Man short-sighted. THE present moment terminates our sight; Clouds thick as those on doomsday, drown the next;
Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve ;
In all the magnanimity of thought
Resolves, and re-resolves: then dies the same.
$158. Man insensible of his own Mortality. AND why! because he thinks himself immortal. All men think all men mortal, but themselves; I 2 Themselves,
Themselves, when some alarming shock of fate | In act no trifle, and no blank in time.
Strikes thro' their wounded hearts the sudden
But their hearts wounded, like the wounded air,
Soonclose, where pass'd the shaft, no trace is found:
As, from the wing no scar the sky 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 should I give it vent,
The longest night, tho' longer far, would fail,
And the lark listen to my midnight song.
$159. NIGHT 11. Avarice of Time recommended.
HE mourns the dead, who lives as they desire.
Where is that thrift, that avarice of Time,
(Blest av'rice!) which the thouglit of death
O time! than gold more sacred; more a load
Than lead, to tools; and fools reputed wise.
What moment granted man without account?
What years are squander'd, wisdom's debt unpaid?
Haste, haste, it lies in wait, he's at the door,
Insidious death, should his strong hand arrest,
No composition sets the prisoner free.
Eternity's inexorable chain
Fast binds; and vengeance claims the full arrear.
How late I shudder'd on the brink! how late
Life call'd for her last refuge in despair!
For what calls thy disease? for moral aid.
Thou think'st it folly to be wise too soon.
Youth is not rich in time; it may be, poor:
Part with it as with money, sparing; pay
No moment, but in purchase of its worth:
And what its worth, ask death-beds, they can
Part with it as with life, reluctant; big [tell.
With holy hope of nobler time to come.
Is this our duty, wisdom, glory, gain?
And sport we like the natives of the bough,
When vernal suns inspire? Amusement reigns
Man's great demand: : to trifle is to live:
And is it then a trifle, too, to die?-
Who wants amusement in the flame of battle?
Is it not treason to the soul immortal,
Her foes in arms, eternity the prize?
This greatens, fills, immortalizes all!
This, the blest art of turning all to gold;
This, the good heart's prerogative to raise
A royal tribute, from the poorest hours.
Immense revenue! every moment pays.
If nothing more than purpose in thy power,
Thy purpose firm, is equal to the deed:
Who does the best his circumstance allows,
Does well, acts nobly, angels could no more,
Our outward act, indeed, admits restraint;
'Tis not in things o'er thought to domineer;
Guard well thy thoughts; our thoughts are
heard in heaven.
On all-important time, thro' every age,
Tho' much, and warm, the wise have urg'd; the
Is yet unborn who duly weighs an hour. [man
"I've lost a day"-the prince who nobly cry'd,
Had been an emperor without his crown;
He spoke, as if deputed by mankind.
So should all speak: so reason speaks in all:
From the soft whispers of that god in man,
Why fly to folly, why to phrensy fly,
For rescue from the blessing we possess?
Time, the supreme! -Time is eternity;
Pregnant with all eternity can give,
Pregnant with all that makes arch-angels smile
Who murders time, he crushes in the birth
A pow'r ethereal, only not ador'd.
§ 160. Inconsistency of Man.
AH! how unjust to nature, and himself,
Is thoughtless, thankless, inconsistent man!
Like children babbling nonsense in their sports,
We censure nature for a span too short;
That span too short, we tax as tedious too;
Torture invention, all expedients tire,
To lash 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, most our dread, death thus more dread-
O what a ridicule of absurdity! ful made.
Leisure is pain; take off our chariot wheels:
How heavily we drag the load of life!
Blest leisure is our curse; like that of Cain
Will toys amuse, when med'cines cannot cure?It makes us wander, wander earth around
When spirits ebb, when life's enchanting scenes
Their lustre lose, and lessen in our sight?
(As lands, and cities with their glitt'ring spires
To the poor shatter'd bark, by sudden storm
Thrown off to sea, and soon to perish there)
Will toys amuse?—no: thrones will then be toys,
And earth and skies seem dust upon the scale.
Redeem we time?-its loss we dearly buy:
What pleads Lorenzo for his high-priz'd sports?
He pleads time's numerous blanks; he loudly
The straw-like trifles on life's common stream.
From whom those blanks and trifles, but from
No blank, no trifle, nature made or meant: [thee?
Virtue, or purpos'd virtue, still be thine:
This cancels thy complaint at once; this leaves
To fly that tyrant, Thought. As Atlas groan'd
The world beneath, we groan beneath an hour.
We cry for mercy to the next amusement:
Yet when Death kindly tenders us relief,
We call him cruel; years to moments shrink.
Time, in advance, behind him hides his wings,
And seems to creep, decrepit with his age;
Behold him, when past by; what then is seen
But his broad pinions swifter than the winds &
And all mankind, in contradiction strong,
Rueful, aghast! cry out at his carcer.
$161. Waste of Time.
LEAVE to thy foes these errors, and these ills:
To nature just, their cause and cure explore;
No niggard, nature; men are prodigals:
We throw away our suns, as made for sport;
We waste, not use our time: we breathe, not live;
And barely breathing, man, to live ordain'd,
Wrings, and oppresses with enormous weight
And why? since time was given for use, not waste,
Enjoy'd to fly, with tempest, tide, and stars,
To keep his speed, nor ever wait for man:
Time's use was doom'd a pleasure; waste, a pain,
That man might feel his error, if unseen;
And, feeling, fly to labor for his cure. [sign'd;
Life's cares are comforts; such by heav'n de-
He that has none, must make them, or be wretch-
Cares are employments; and without employ[ed.
The soul is on a rack, the rack of rest;
To souls most adverse; 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 't is decreed,
Who thwart his will, shall contradict their own.
Hence our unnatural quarrel with ourselves;
Our thoughts at enmity; our bosom-broil.
We push time from us; and we wish him back;
Life we think long, and short; death seek, and
Oh the dark days of vanity! while here, [shun.
How tasteless! and how terrible, when gone!
Gone? they ne'er go; when past, they haunt us
The spirit walks of ev'ry Day deceas'd, [still;
And smiles an angel; or a fury frowns.
Nor death nor life delights us.
If time past,
And time possest, both pain us, what can please?
That which the Deity to please ordain'd,
Time us'd. The man who consecrates his hours,
By vigorous effort, and an honest aim,
At once he draws the sting of life and death:
He walks with nature; and her paths are peace.
Our error's cause, and cure, are seen: see next
Time's nature, origin, importance, speed,
And thy great gain from urging his career. -
He looks on time as nothing: Nothing else
Is truly man's: what wonders can he do?
And will: to stand blank neuter he disdains.
Not on those terins was time (heaven's stran-
On his important embassy to man. [ger!) sent
When the dread sire, on emanation bent
And big with nature, arising in his might,
Call'd forth creation (for then a time was born)
By godhead streaming thro' a thousand worlds:
Not on those terms, from the great days of
From old eternity's mysterious orb, [heaven,
Was time cut off; and cast beneath the skies;
The skies which watch him in his new abode,
Measuring his motions by revolving spheres:
Hours, days, and months, and years, his chil-
New wing thy short, short day's too rapid flight?
Man flies from time, and time from inan: too
In sad divorce this double flight must end; [soon
And then, where are we? where, Lorenzo! then,
Thy sports? 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 shine.
$162. False Delicacy.
Ye lilies male! who neither toil, nor spin;
YE well-array'd! ye lilies of our land!
Ye delicate! who nothing can support,
Yourselves most insupportable! for whom
The winter rose must blow, and silky soft
Favonius breathe still softer, or be chid;
And other worlds send odors, sauce, and song,
And robes, and notions, fram'd in foreign
O ye who deem one moment unamus'd, [looms!
A misery, say, dreamers of gay dreams!
How will you weather an eternal night,
Where such expedients fail? where wit's a fool;
Mirth mourns; dreams vanish; laughter sinks
O TREACHEROUS conscience! while she seems
On rose and myrtle, lull'd with syren song;
While she seems, nodding o'er her charge, to
On headlong appetite the slacken'd rein, [drop
The sly informer minutes every fault,
And her dread diary with horror fills:
Not the gross act afone employs her pen
She dawning purposes of heart explores,
Unnoted, notes each moment misapply'd;
In leaves more durable than leaves of brass
Writes our whole history; which death shall
In ev'ry pale delinquent's private ear;
And judgement publish : publish to more worlds
Than this: and endless age in groans resound.
Andthink'st thou still thou canst be wisetoo soon?
§ 164. Man's Supineness.
TIME flies, death urges, knells call, heaven invites,
Hell threatens; all exerts; in effort, all;
More than creation labors! - Labors more?
And is there in creation, what, amidst
This tumult universal, wing'd dispatch,
And ardent energy, supinely yawns! -
Man sleeps; and man alone; and man, whose
Fate irreversible, entire, extreme, [gulph
Endless, hair-hung, breeze-shaken, o'er the
A moment trembles; drops! man, the sole cause
Of this surrounding storm! and yet he sleeps,
[hing'd As the storm rock'd to rest.-Throw years away?
un-Throw empires, and be blameless! moments seise,
Heaven's on their wing: a moment we may wish
When worlds want wealth to buy. Bid day stand
Bid him drive back his car, recall, retake [still,
Like numerous wings, around him, as he flies:
Or rather, as unequal plumes, they shape
His ample pinions, swift as darted flanie,
To gain his goal, to reach his antient rest,
And join anew eternity his sire;
When worlds, that count his circles now,
(Fate the loud signal sounding) headlong rush
To timeless night, and chaos, whence they rose.
Why spur the speedy? why with levities