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O Britain! infamous for suicide;
An island in thy manners! far disjoin'd
From the whole world of rationals beside,
In ambient waves plunge thy polluted head,
Wash the dire stain, nor shock the continent.
But thou be shock'd, while I detect the cause
Of self-assault, expose the monster's birth,
And bid abhorrence hiss it round the world.
Blame not thy clime, nor chide the distant sun;
Immoral climes kind nature never made.
The cause I sing in Eden might prevail,
And proves it is thy folly, not thy fate.
The soul of man (let man in homage bow
Who names his soul) a native of the skies!
High-born,andfree, her freedom should maintain,
Unsold, unmortgag'd for earth's little bribes.
Th' illustrious stranger, in this foreign land
Like strangers, jealous of her dignity,
Studious of home, and ardent to return,
Of earth suspicious, earth's enchanted cup
With cool reserve light-touching, should indulge
On immortality her godlike taste;
There take large draughts; make her chief
But some reject this sustenance divine;
To beggarly vile appetites descend;
Ask alins of earth forgifts that came from heaven;
Sink into slaves; and sell, for present hire,
Their rich reversion, and (what shares its fate)
Their native freedom, to the prince who sways
This nether world. And when his payments fail,
When his full basket gorges them no more;
Or their pall'd palates loath the basket full,
Are, instantly, with wild demoniac rage,
For breaking all the chains of Providence,
And bursting their confinement; tho' fast barr'd
By laws divine and human; guarded strong
With horrors doubled to defend the pass,
The blackest nature, er dire guilt can raise ;
And moated round with fathomless destruction,
Sure to receive, and whelm them in their all.
Such Britons! is the cause, to you unknown,
Or worse, o'erlook'd; o'erlook'd by magistrates,
Thus, criminals themselves. I grant the deed
Is madness; but the madness of the heart.
And what is that? our utmost bound of guilt.
A sensual, unreflecting life is big
With monstrous births, and suicide, to crown
The black infernal brood. The bold to break
Heaven's law supreme, and desperately rush
Thro' sacred nature's murder, on their own,
Because they never think of death, they die.
When by the bed of languishment we sit,
Or, o'er our dying friends, in anguish hang,
Wipe the cold dew, or stay the sinking head,
Number their moments, and in ev'ry clock,
Start at the voice of an eternity;
See the din lamp of life just feebly lift
An agonizing beam, at us to gaze.
Then sink again, and quiver into death.
(That most pathetic herald of our own;)
How read we such sad scenes? as sent to man
In perfect vengeance? no; in pity sent,
To melt him down, like wax, and then impress
Indelible, death's image on his heart;
Bleeding for others, trembling for himself.
We bleed, we tremble; we forget, we smile:
The shind turns fool, before the cheek is dry:
Our quick returning følly cancels all:
As the tide rushing rases what is writ
In yielding sands, and smooths the letter'd shore.
§ 200. Tears.
LORENZO! hast thou ever weigh'd a sigh?
Or studied the philosophy of tears?
Hast thou descended deep into the breast,
And seen their source? If not, descend with me,
And trace these briny riv lets to their springs.
Our funeral tears from diff'rent causes rise:
Of various kinds they flow. From tender hearts,
By soft contagion call'd, some burst at once,
And stream obsequious to the leading eye.
Some ask more time, by curious art distill'd.
Some hearts, in sceret hard, unapt to melt,
Struck by the public eye, gush out amain.
ban-Some weep to share the fame of the deceas'd,
So high in merit, and to them so dear: [share.
They dwell on praises, which they think they
Some mourn in proof that something they could
They weep not to relieve their grief, but show.
Some weep in perfect justice to the dead,
As conscious all their love is in arrear.
Some mischievously weep, not unappriz'd,
Tears, sometimes, aid the conquest of an eye.
As seen through crystal, how their roses glow,
While liquid pearl runs trickling down their
By kind construction some are deem'd to weep,
Because a decent veil conceals their joy.
Some weep in earnest; and yet weep in vain;
As deep in indiscretion, as in woe.
Passion, blind passion! impotently pours
Tears, that deserve more tears; while reason sleeps
Or gazes, like an idiot, unconcern'd;
Nor comprehends the meaning of the storm.
They weep impetuous, as the summer storm,
And full as short! the cruel grief soon tam'd,
They make a pastime of the stingless tale!
Far as the deep-resounding knell, they spread
The dreadful news, and hardly feel it more.
No grain of wisdom pays them for their woe.
When the sick soul, her wonted stay withdrawn,
Reclines on earth, and sorrows in the dust;
Instead of learning there her true support,
She crawls to the next shrub, or bramble vile,
The stranger weds, and blossoms as before,
In all the fruitless fopperies of life.
$201. Inattention to the Voice of Death. WHAT thus infatuates? what enchantment plants
The phantom of an age, 'twixt us and death,
Already at the door? He knocks, we hear him,
And yet we will not hear. What mail defends
Our untouch'd hearts? what miracle turns off
The pointed thought, which from a thousand
Is dally darted, and is daily shunn'd; [quivers
We stand as in a battle, throngs on throngs
Around us falling; wounded oft ourselves;
Tho bleeding with our wounds, inmortal still!
We see time's furrows on another's brow,
And death intrench'd, preparing his assault;
How few themselves, in that just mirror, see!
Absurd Longevity! More, more, it cries:
More life, more wealth, more trash of every kind!
And wherefore mad for more, when relish fails?
Shall folly labor hard to mend the bow,
While nature is relaxing ev'ry string?
Ask thought for joy; grow rich and hoard within.
Think you the soul, when this life's rattles cease,
Has nothing of more manly to succeed?
Contract the taste immortal; learn even now
To relish what alone subsists hereafter :
Divine or none, henceforth your joys for ever.
Of age, the glory is to wish to die.
That wish is praise and promise; it applauds
Past life, and promises our future bliss.
What weakness see not children in their sires?
Grey-hair'd authority to faults of youth,
flow shocking! it makes folly thrice a fool;
And our first childhood might our last despise.
What folly can be ranker? like our shadows,
Our wishes lengthen, as our sun declines.
No wish should loiter, then, this side the grave.
Our hearts should leave the world, before the
Calls for our carcases to mend the soil.
Enough to live in tempest; die in port.
Age should fly concourse, cover in retreat
Defects of judgement, and the will subdue;
Walk thoughtful on the silent, solemn shore
Of that vast ocean it must sail so soon;
And put good works on board; and wait the wind
That shortly blows us into worlds unknown;
li anconsider'd, too, a dreadful scene!
§ 202. Little Learning required, to be Good.
BUT you are learn'd; in volumes deep you sit;
In wisdom shallow pompous ignorance!
Learnwell to know how much need notbe known;
And what that knowledge, which impairs your
Our needful knowledge, like our needful food,
Unhedg'd, lies open in life's common field;
And bids all welcome to the vital feast.
You scorn what lies before you in the
Of nature and experience, moral truth;
And dive in science for distinguish'd names,
Sinking in virtue, as you rise in fame.
Your learning, like the lunar beam, affords
Light, but not heat; it leaves you undevout.
If you would learn death's character, attend.
All casts of conduct, all degrees of health,
All dies of fortune, and all dates of age,
Together shook in his impartial urn,
Come forth at random. Or if choice is made,
The choice is quite sarcastic, and insults
All bold conjecture, and fond hopes of man.
§ 203. The Cuprice and universal Power of Death.
LIKE other tyrants, Death delights to smite,
What smitten most proclaims the pride of power,
And arbitrary nod. His joy supreme,
To bid the wretch survive the fortunate;
The feeble wrap th' athletic in his shroud;
And weeping fathers build their children's tomb;
Me thine, Narcissa!-what tho' short thy date?
Virtue, not rolling suns, the mind matures.
That life is long, which answers life's great end.
The time that bears no fruit, deserves no name:
The man of wisdom is the man of years.
In hoary youth Methusalems may die,
O how misdated on their flattering tombs!
All more than common menaces an end:
A blaze betokens brevity of life.
To plant the soul on her eternal guard,
in awful expectation of our end, [but so
Thus runs Death's dread commission; "Strike,
"As most alarins the living by the dead."
Hence stratagem delights him, and surprise,
And cruel sport with man's securities.
Not simple conquest, triumph is his aim, [most.
And where least fear'd, there conquest triumphs.
What are his arts to lay our fears asleep!!
Tiberian arts his purposes wrap up
In deep dissimulation's darkest night.
Like princes unconfest in foreign courts,
Who travel under cover, Death assumes
The name and look of life, and dwells among us.
Behind the rosy bloom he loves to lurk,
Or ambush in a smile; or wanton dive
In dimples deep; love's eddies, which draw in
Unwary hearts, and sink them in despair.
Most happy they whoin least his arts deceive.
One eye on Death, and one full fix'd on heaven,
Becomes a mortal and immortal man.
Where is not death? sure as night follows day,
Death treads in Pleasure's footsteps round the
When Pleasure treads the paths which Reason
When, against reason, riot shuts the door,
And gaicty supplies the place of sense.
Then foremost at the banquet and the ball,
Death leads the dance, or damps the deadly die;
Nor ever fails the midnight bowl to crown.
Gaily carousing to his gay compeers,
Inly he laughs, to see them laugh at him,
As absent far: and when the revel burns,
When fear is banish'd, and triumphant thought
Calling for all the joys beneath the moon,
Against hiin turns the key: and bids him sup
With their progenitors-He drops his mask;
Frowns out at full; they start, despair, expire!
Scarce with more sudden terror and surprise,
From his black mask of nitre, touch'd by fire
He bursts, expands, roars, blazes, and devours.
And is not this triumphant treachery,
And more than simple conquest in the fiend?
And now, gay trifler, dost thou wrap thy soul
In soft security, because unknown
Which moment is commission'd to destroy?
In death's uncertainty thy danger lies.
When, on a moment's point, th' important die
Of life and death, spun doubtful, ere it fell,
And turn'd up life; my title to more woe.
But why niore woc? more comfort let it be.
Nothing is dead, but that which wish'd to die;
Nothing is dead, but wretchedness and pain:
Nothing is dead, but what encumber'd, gall'd,
Block'd up the pass, and barr'd from real life.
Where dwells that wish most ardent of the wise?
Too dark the sun to see it; highest stars
Too low to reach it; death, great death alone,
O'er stars and sun triumphant, lands us there.
Nor dreadful our transition; tho' the mind,
An artist at creating self-alarms,
Rich in expedients for inquietude,
Is prone to paint it dreadful. Who can take
Death's portrait true? the tyrant never sat.
Our sketch, all random strokes, conjecture all,
Close shuts the grave, nor tells one single tale.
Death, and his image rising in the brain,
Bear faint resemblance; never are alike;
Fear shakes the pencil, Fancy loves excess,
Dark Ignorance is lavish of her shades;
And these the formidable picture draw.
Is death uncertain? therefore thou be fix'd;
Fix'd as a sentinel, all eve, all ear,
All expectation of the coming foe.
Rouse, stand in arms, nor lean against thy spear,
Lest slumber steal one moment o'er thy soul,
And fate surprise thee nodding. Watch, be strong;
Thus give each day the merit, and renown,
Of dying well; tho' doom'd but once to die;
Nor let life's period hidden (as from most),
Hide too from thee, the precious use of life.
Does wealth with youth and gaiety conspire
To weave a triple wreath of happiness?
That shining mark invites the tyrant's spear.
As if to damp our elevated aims,
And strongly preach humility to man,
O how portentous is prosperity!
How, comet-like, it threatens while it shines!
Few years but yield us proof of Death's ambition,
To cull his victims from the fairest fold,
And sheath his shafts in all the pride of life.
When flooded with abundance, purpled o'er
With recent honors, bloom'd with ev'ry bliss ;
Set up in ostentation, made to gaze,
The gaudy centre of the public eye;
When fortune, thus, has toss'd her child in air,
Snateh'd from the covert of an humble state,
How often have I seen him dropp'd at once,
Our morning,s envy, and our evning's sigh!
As if her bounties were the signal giv'n,
The flow'ry wreath, to mark the sacrifice,
And call Death's arrows on the destin'd prey.
But grant the worst; 'tis past; new prospects
And drop a veil eternal o'er her tomb.
Far other views our contemplation claim,
Views that o'erpay the rigors of our life;
Views that suspend our agonies in death.
Wrapt in the thought of immortality,
Long life, might lapse, age unperceiv'd come on;
And find the soul unsated with her theme.
Its nature, proof, importance, fire my song.
NIGHT VI. The Death of Narcissa.
SHE (for I know not yet her name in heaven)
Not early, like Narcissa, left the scene;
Nor sudden, like Philander. What avail?
This seeming mitigation but inflames ;
This fancy'd medicine heightens the disease.
The longer known, the closer still she
And gradual parting is a gradual death.
O the long dark approach thro' years of pain,
Death's gallery with sable terror hung;
Sick hope's pale lamp its only glimmering ray!
There fate my melancholy walk ordain'd.
How oft I gaz'd, prophetically sad!
How oft I saw her dead while yet in smiles!
In smiles she sunk her grief to lessen 'mine:
She spoke me comfort, and increas'd my pain.
Like powerful armies trenching at a town;
By slow and silent, but resistless sap,
In his pale progress gently gaining ground,
Death urg'd his deadly siege: in spite of art,
Of all the balmy blessings nature lends
To succour frail humanity. Ye stars!
And thou, O moon! bear witness; many a night
Ile tore the pillow from beneath my head,
Tied down iny sore attention to the shock,
By ceaseless depredations on a life,
Dearer than that he left me. Dreadful post
Of observation! darker every hour!
Less dread the day that drove me to the brink,
And pointed at eternity below.
When my soul shudder'd at futurity,
$205. Reflections on Man and Immortality.
THY nature, immortality, who knows?
And yet who knows it not? It is but life
In stronger thread of brighter color spun,
And spun for ever; black and brittle here!
How short our correspondence with the sun!
And while it lasts, inglorious! our best deeds,
How wanting in their weight! our highest joys,
Sinal cordials to support us in our pain,
And give us strength to suffer. But how great
To mingle interests, converse, amities,
With all the sons of Reason, scatter'd wide
Through habitable space, wherever born,
Howe'er endow'd! to live free citizens
|Of universal Nature! to lay hold
By more than feeble faith on the Supreme!
To call heaven's rich unfathomable mines
Our own! to rise in science as in bliss,
Initiate in the secrets of the skies!
To read creation; read its mighty plan
In the bare bosom of the Deity!
The plan and execution to collate!
To see, before each glance of piercing thought,
All cloud, all shadow blown remote; and leave
No mystery but that of love divine,
Which lifts us on the seraph's flaming wing,
From earth's Aceldama, this field of blood,
Of inward anguish, and of outward ill;
From darkness, and from dust, to such a scene!
Love's element! true joy's illustrious home!
From earth sad contrast (now deplor'd) more fait.
These are the thoughts that aggrandise the
How great (while yet we tread the kindred clod,
And every moment fear to sink beneath
The clod we tread; soon trodden by our sons)-
How great, in the wild whirl of time's pursuits,
To stop, and pause, involv'd in high presage ;
Through the long visto of a thousand years,
To stand contemplating our distant selves,
As in a magnifying mirror seen,
Enlarg'd, ennobled, elevate, divine!
To prophesy our own futurities!
Togaze in thought on what allthought transcends!
To talk, with fellow-candidates, of joys,
As far beyond conception, as desert,
Ourselves th' astonish'd talkers and the tale!
When mount we? when these shackles cast?
This cell of the creation? this small nest,
Stuck in a corner of the universe,
Wrapt up in fleecy cloud, and fine-spun-air?
Fine-spun to sense, but gross and feculent
To souls celestial; souls ordain'd to breathe
Ambrosial gales; and drink a purer sky;
Greatly triumphant on time's farther shore.
In an eternity what scenes shall strike!
What webs of wonder shall unravel there!
What dull day pour on all the paths of heaven,
And light th' Almighty's footsteps in the deep!
How shall the blessed day of our discharge
Unwind, at once, the labyrinth's of fate,
And straighten its inextricable maze!
If inextinguishable thirst in man Toknow; how rich, how full our banquet here! Here, not the moral world alone unfolds; The world material lately seen in shades, And in those shades, by fragments only seen, And seen those fragments by the laboring eye, Unbroken, now, illustrious, and entire, Its ample sphere, its universal frame, In full dimensions, swells to the survey; And enters, at one glance, the ravish'd sight. How shall the stranger man's illumin'd eye, In the vast ocean of unbounded space, Behold an infinite of floating worlds Divide the crystal waves of ether pure, In endless voyage, without port! the least Of these disseminated orbs how great! Yet what are these to the stupendous whole? As particles, as atoms ill-perceiv'd.
If admiration is a source of joy, What transport hence! Yet this the least in What this to that illustrious robe He wears, Who toss'd this mass of wonders from his hand, A specimen, an carnest of his power! Tis, to that glory, whence all glory flows, As the mead's meanest flow'ret to the sun, Which gave it birth. But what, this. Sun of
This bliss supreme of the supremely blest! Death, only death, the question can resolve. By death cheap-bought th' ideas of our joy;
The bare ideas! solid happiness
So distant from its shadow chas'd below!
And chase we still the phantom thro' the fire,
O'er bog, and brake, and precipice, 'till death?
And toil we still for sublunary pay?
Defy the dangers of the field, and flood,
Or, spider-like, spin out our precious all,
Our more than vitals spin in curious webs
Of subtle thought, and exquisite design;
(Fine net-work of the brain!) to catch a fly?
The momentary buz of vain renown!
A name, a mortal immortality.
§ 206. Genius connected with Ignominy. GENIUS and art, ambition's boasted wings, Our boast but ill deserve. A feeble aid! Heart-merit wanting, mount we ne'er so high, When I behold a genius bright and base, Our height is but the gibbet of our name. Of towering talents, and terrestrial aims; Methinks, I see, as thrown from her high sphere, The glorious fragments of a soul immortal, With rubbish mixt, and glittering in the dust.
Hearts are proprietors of all applause, Right ends, and means, make wisdom: worldlyIs but half-witted, at its highest praise. [wise
$207. Exalted Station.
WHAT is station high?
"Tis a proud mendicant; it boasts, and begs;
It begs an alums of homage from the throng,
And oft the throng denies its charity.
Monarchs and ministers are awful nanies;
Whoever wear them, challenge our devoir.
Religion, public order, both exact
External homage, and a supple knee,
To beings pompously set up, to serve
The meanest slave; all more is merit's due;
Her sacred and inviolable right,
Nor ever paid the monarch, but the man.
Our hearts ne'er bow but to superior worth;
Nor ever fail of their allegiance there.
Fools indeed drop the man in their account,
And vote the mantle into majesty.
Let the small savage boast his silver fur;
His royal robe unborrow'd, and unbought,
His own, descending fairly from his sires.
Shall man be proud to wear his livery,
And souls in ermine scorn a soul without?
Can place or lessen us, or aggrandise?
Pigmies are pigmies still, tho' percht on alps,
And pyramids are pyramids in vales.
Each man makes his own stature, builds himself;
Virtue alone out-builds the pyramids;
Her monuments shall last, when Egypt's fall.
Of these sure truths dost thou demand the cause?
The cause is lodg'd in immortality.
Hear, and assent. Thy bosom burns for pow'r;
Ti: thine. And art thou greater than before a
Then thou before was something less than man.
Has thy new post betray'd the into pride?
That pride defames humanity, and calls [raise,
The being mean, which staffs or strings can
§ 208. True Greatness.
THAT prince, and that alone, is truly great, Who draws the sword reluctant, gladly *. sheaths;
On empire builds what empire far outweighs,
And makes his throne a scaffold to the skies.
Why this so rare ? because forgot of all
The day of death; that venerable day, [nounce
Which sits as judge: that day which shall pro-
On all our days, absolve them, or condemn."
Lorenzo! never shut thy thought against it;
Be levees ne'er so full, afford it room,
And give it audience in the cabinet.
That friend consulted, flatteries apart,
Will tell thee fair, if thou art great, or mean.
True Riches. WITH error in ambition, justly charg'd, Find we Lorenzo wiser in his wealth? Where thy true treasure; Gold says, "not in
Superior wonders in himself forgot,
His admiration waste on objects round,
Absurd! not rare! so great, so mean, is man.
When litaven makes him the soul of all he sees?
What wealth in senses such as these! what
In fancy, fir'd to form a fairer scene
Than sense surveys! in memory's firm record,
Which, should it perish, could this world recall,
In colors fresh, originally bright
From the dark shadows of o'erwhelming years!
Preserve its portrait, and report its fate!
What wealth in intellect, that sovereign power!
Which sense, and fancy, summons to the bar;
Interrogates, approves, or reprehends :
And from the mass those underlings import,
From their materials sifted, and refin'd,
Forms art, and science, government, and law.
What wealth in souls that soar, dive, range
And, “not in me," the diamond. Gold is poor;
India's insolvent: seek it in thyself;
Seek in thy naked self, and find it there:
In being so descended, form'd, endow'd ;
Sky-born, sky-guided, sky-returning race!
Erect, immortal, rational, divine!
In senses, which inherit earth and heavens ;
Enjoy the various riches nature yields:
Far nobler! give the riches they enjoy ;
Give taste to fruits; and harmony to groves;
Their radiant beams to gold, and gold's bright
Take in at once the landscape of the world, [fire;
At a small inlet, which a grain might close,
And half create the wond'rous world they see.
Our senses, as our reason, are divine.
But for the magic organ's powerful charm,
Earth were a rude, uncolor'd chaos still:
Ours is the cloth, the pencil, and the paint,
Which beautifies creation's ample dome.
Say then; halkan, bis thoughts all sent abroad,
Disdaining limit, or from place, or time,
And hear at once, in thought extensive, hear
Th' almighty fiat, and the trumpet's sound!
Bold, on creation's outside walk, and view
What was, and is, and more than e'er shall be;
Commanding, with omnipotence of thought,
Creations new, in fancy's field to rise!
Souls, that can grasp whate'er th' Almighty made;
And wander wild through things impossible;
What wealth, in faculties of endless growth,
In liberty to choose, in power to reach,
And in duration (how thy riches rise!)
Duration to perpetuate-boundless bliss!
§ 211. The Vanity of Wealth. HIGH-BUILT abundance, heap on heap! for what?
To breed new wants, and beggar us the more;
Then make a richer scramble for the throng:
Soon as this feeble pulse, which leaps so long,
Almost by miracles is tir'd with play,
Like rubbish, from disploding engines thrown,
Our magazines of hoarded trifles fly;
Fly diverse; fly to foreigners, to foes;
New masters court, and call the former fool,
(How justly?) for dependence on their stay.
Wide scatter first, our play-things, then our dust.
Much learning shows how little mortals know:
Much wealth, how little worldlings can enjoy :
At best it babies us with endless toys;
And keeps us children till we drop to dust.
As monkies at a mirror stand amaz'd,
They fail to find what they so plainly see;
Thus men in shining riches see the face
But gaze, and touch, and peep, and peep again,
Of happiness, nor know it is a shade;
And wish, and wonder it is absent still."
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 reason smiles at her, and death. O what a patrimony, this! a being Of such inherent strength and majesty,