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Not worlds possest can raise it; worlds destroy'd Till stumbling 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 blest to mourn
Creation's obsequies. What treasure, this!
The monarch is a beggar to the man.
§ 212. Immortality. IMMORTAL! ages past, yet nothing gone! Mom without eve! a race without a goal! Unshorten'd by progression infinite! Futurity for ever future! life
Beginning still, where computation ends!
'Tis the description of a Deity
Tis the description of the meanest slave.
Immortal! what can strike the sense so strong,
As this the soul? it thunders to the thought;
Reason amazes, gratitude o'erwhelins;
No more we slumber on the brink of fate;
Rous'd at the sound, th' exulting soul ascends,
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 [stars.
Would others envy! how would thrones adore!
Because 'tis common, is the blessing lost?
How this ties up the bounteous hand of Heaven!
O vain, vain, vain! all else: eternity!
A glorious, and a needful refuge that,
From vile imprisonment in abject views.
Tis immortality, 'tis that alone,
Amidst life's pains, abasements, emptiness,
The soul can comfort, elevate, and fill.
Eternity depending covers all;
Sets earth at distance, casts her into shades ;
Blends her distinctions; abrogates her pow'rs;
The low, the lofty, joyous, and severe,
Fortune's dread frowns, and fascinating smiles,
Make one promiscuous, and neglected heap,
The man beneath; if I may call him man,
Whom immortality's full force inspires.
Nothing terrestrial touches his high thought;
Suns shine unseen, and thunders roll unheard,
By minds quite conscious of their high descent,
Their present province, and their future prize;
Divinely darting upward every wish,
Warm on the wing, in glorious absence lost.
Doubt you this truth? why labors your
Are there on earth (let me not call them men)
Who lodge a soul immortal in their breasts;
Unconscious as the mountain of its ore,
Or rock, of its inestimable gem?
When rocks shall melt, and mountains vanish,
Shall know their treasure; treasure, thep, no
§ 214. Disbelief of a Future State.
ARE there (still more amazing!) who resist
The rising thought? who smother in its
The glorious truth? who struggle to be brutes?
Who thro' this bosom-barrier burst their way,
And, with rever'd ambition, strive to sink?
Who labor downwards thro' th' opposing pow'rs,
Of instinct, reason, and the world against them,
To dismal hopes, and shelter in the shock
of endless night? night darker than the grave's?
Who fight the proofs of immortality?
To contradict them see all nature rise!
What object, what event, the moon beneath,
But argues, or endears, an after-scene?
To reason proves, or weds it to desire?
All things proclaim it needful; some advance
One precious step beyond, and prove it sure."
A thousand arguments swarm round my pen,
From heaven, and earth, and man. Indulgea,
By nature, as her common habit worn. [few,
Thou! whose all-providential eye surveys,
Whose hand directs, whose Spirit fills, and warms
Creation, and holds empire far beyond!
Eternity's inhabitant august!
Of two eternities amazing Lord!
One past, ere man's, or angel's, had begun;
Aid, while I rescue from the foe's assault
Thy glorious immortality in man.
$215. Man's Immortality proved by Nature.
NATURE, thy daughter, ever-changing birth
Of thee the great Immutable, to man
Speaks wisdom; is his oracle supreme;
And he who most consults her, is most wise.
be-Look nature through, 'tis revolution all. [night
All change, no death. Day follows night;
The dying day; stars rise, and set, and rise;
Earth takes th' example. See the suminer gay,
With her green chaplet, and ambrosial flow'rs,
adinire,Droops into pallid autuinn; winter grey,
If earth's whole orb by some due distanc'd eye
Was seen at once, her tow ring alps would sink,
And level'd Atlas leave an even sphere.
Thus earth, and all that earthly, minds
Is swallow'd in eternity's vast round.
To that stupendous view when souls awake,
So large of late, so mountainous to man,
Time's toys subside'; and equal all below.
$213. Man ignorant of his real Greatness.
I spite of all the truths the Muse has sung,
Are there who wrap the world so close about
They see no farther than the clouds; and dance
On heedless vanity's fantastie toe,
Horrid with frost, and turbulent with storin,
Blows autumn, and his golden fruits away,
Then melts into the spring; soft spring, with
Favonian, from warm chambers of the south,
Recalls the first. All, to re-flourish, fades:
As in a wheel, all sinks, to re-ascend :
Emblems of man, who passes, not expires.
With this minute distinction, emblems just,
Nature revolves, but man advances; both
Eternal, that a circle, this a line.
That gravitates, this soars. Th' aspiring soul
Ardent, and tremulous, like flame ascends;
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 mass, and shall for ever roll.
No single atom, once in being, lost,
With change of counsel charges the Most High.
Matter, immortal? and shall spirit die?
Above the nobler, shall less noble rise?
Shall iman alone, for whom all else revives,
No resurrection know? shall inan alone,
Imperial man! be sown in barren ground,
Less privileg'd than grain, on which he feeds?
Is man, whom alone is power to prize
The bliss of being, or with previous pain
Deplore its period, by the spleen of fate
Severely doom'd death's single unredeem'd?
§ 216. NIGHT VII. Discontent.
WHY discontent for ever harbor'd there;
Incurable consumption of our peace!
Resolve me, why, the cottager, and king,
He whom sea-sever'd realms obey, and he
Who steals his whole dominion from the waste.
Repelling winter's blast, with mud and straw,
Disquietude alike, draw sigh for sigh,
In fate so distant, in complaint so near.
Is it, that things terrestrial can't content ?
Deep in rich pasture, will thy flocks complain?
SO ; but to their master is deny'd
To share their sweet serene. 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 suffice,
Poor in abundance, famish'd at a feast,
Sighs on for something more, when most enjoy'd.
Is heaven then kinder to thy flocks, than thee?
Not so; thy pasture richer, but remote;
In part, remote; for that remoter part
Man bleats from instinct, tho', perhaps, debauch'd
By sense, his reason sleeps, nor dreains the cause.
The cause how obvious, when his reason wakes!
His grief is but his grandeur in disguise;
And discontent is immortality.
Shall sons of æther, shall the blood of heav'n,
Set up their hopes on earth, and stable here,
With brutal acquiescence in the mire?
No, no, my friend: they shall be nobly pain'd;
The glorious foreigners distrest, shall sigh
On thrones; and thou congratulate the sigh:
Man's misery declares him born for bliss ;
His anxious heart asserts the truth I sing.
Our heads, our hearts, our passions, and our
Speak the same language; call us to the skies.
Unripen'd these, in this inclement clime,
Scarce rise above conjecture, and mistake;
And for this land of trifles, those too strong,
Tumultuous rise, and tempest human life;
What prize on earth can pay us for the storm?
Meet objects for our passions Heav'n ordain'd,
Objects that challenge all their fire, and leave
Brutes soon 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 sun,
The patriarch-pupil would be learning still;
Yet, dying, leave his lesson half unlearnt.
Men perish in advance, as if the sun
Should set ere noon, in eastern oceans drown'd.
To man, why, stepdame nature, so severe ?
While meaner efforts thy last hand enjoy?
Why thrown aside thymaster-piece half-wrought,
Or, if abortively poor man must die,
Nor reach, what reach he might, why die in
Why curst with foresight? wise to misery?
Why of his proud prerogative the prey?
Why less pre-eminent in rank than pain? –
His immortality alone can tell,
Full ample fund to balance all amiss,
And turn the scale in favor of the just.
§ 218. Human Hope.
His immortality alone can solve
That darkest of ænigmas, human hope;
Of all the darkest if at death we die.
All present blessings treading under foot,
Hope, eager hope, th' assassin at our joy,
Is scarce a milder tyrant than despair.
With no past toils content, still planning new,
Hope turns us o'er to death alone for ease.
Why is a wish far dearer than a crown ?
Possession, why more tasteless than pursuit?
That wish accomplish'd, why the grave of bliss?
Because in the great future bury'd deep,
Beyond our plans of empire, and renown,
Lies all that man with ardor should pursue;
And he who made him, bent him to the right.
Man's heart th' Almighty to the future sets
By secret and inviolable springs;
And makes his hope his sublunary joy.
Man's heart cats all things, and is hungry still;
"More, more, the glutton cries:" for something
So rages appetite, if man can't mount,
He will descend. He starves on the possest.
Hence the world's master, from ambition's spire,
In Caprea plung'd; and div'd beneath the brute,
In that rank sty why wallow'd empire's son
Supreme? Because he could no higher fly;
His riot was ambition in despair.
See restless hope, for ever on the wing!
High perch'd o'er ev'ry thought that falcon sits,
To fly at all that rises in her sight;
And never stooping, but to mount again !
Next moment, she betrays her aim's mistake,
And owns her quarry lodg'd beyond the grave.
And strenuous to transcribe, in human life,
The mind almighty? could it be, that fate,
Just when the lineaments began to shine, [ever?
Should snatch the draught, and blot it out for
Shall we, this moment, gaze on God in man?
The next, lose man for ever in the dust?
There should it fail as (it must fail us there,From dust we disengage, or man mistakes;
If being fails) more mournful riddles rise,
And virtue vies with hope in mystery.
Why virtue? Where its praise, its being, fled?
Virtue is true self-interest pursued;
What, true self-int'rest of quite mortal man?
To close with all that makes him happy here,
If vice (as sometimes) is our friend on earth,
Then vice is virtue, 'tis our sov'reign good.
The rigid guardian of a blameless heart,
So long rever'd, so long reputed wise,
Is weak; with rank knight-errantries o'errun.
Why beats thy bosom with iilustrious dreams
Of gallant enterprise, and glorious death?
Die for thy country? -- thou romantic fool!
Seise, seise the plank thyself; and let her sink!
Thy country! what to thee? (I speak with awe)
The godhead, what? tho' he should bid thee
If, with thy blood, thy final hope is split, [bleed?
Nor can Omnipotence reward the blow,
Be deaf; preserve thy being; disobey.
$219. The Madness of Infidelity.
SINCE virtue's recompense is doubtful, here,
If man dies wholly, well may we demand,
Why is man suffer'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 sweet complacencies from virtue felt?
Why whispers nature lies on virtue's parts?
Or if blind instinct (which assumes the name
Of sacred conscience) plays the fool in man,
Why reason made accomplice in the cheat?
Why are the wisest, loudest in her praise ?
Can man by reason's beam be led astray?
Or, at his peril, imitate his God?
Since virtue sometimes ruins us on earth,
Or, both are true, or man survives the grave.
Or man survives the grave, or own, Lorenzo,
Thy boast supreme, a wild absurdity.
Dauntless thy spirit; cowards are thy scorn.
Grant man immortal, and thy scorn is just.
The man immortal, rationally brave,
Dares rash on death, because he cannot die.
But if man loses all, when life is lost;
Ile lives a coward, or a fool expires.
A daring infidel (and such there are,
From pride, example, lucre, rage, revenge,
Or pure heroical defect of thought),
Of all earth's madmen, most deserves a chain.
When, to the grave, we follow the renown'd
For valor, virtue, science, all we love, [bean
And all we prae; for worth, whose noontide
Mends our ideas of ethereal pow'rs;
Dream we, that lustre of the moral world
Goes out in stench, and rottenness the close?
Why was he wise to know, and warm to praise,
And there, where least his judgement fears a flaw! -
Wisdom, and worth, how boldly he commends
Wisdom and worth are sacred names; rever'd;"
Where not embrac'd; applauded! deify'd!
Why not compassion'd too? If spirits die,
Both are calamities, inflicted both,
To make us but more wretched; wisdom's ye.
Acute, for what? To spy more miseries;
And worth, so recompens'd, new points their
Or man the grave surmounts, or gain is loss,
And worth exalted humbles us the more.
Were then capacities divine conferr'd,
Ás a mock diadem, in savage-sport,
Rank insuit of our pompous poverty,
Which reaps but pain, from seeming claims so
In future age lies no redress? and shuts
Eternity the door on our complaint?
If so, for what strange ends were mortals made?
The worst to wallow, and the best to weep.
Can we conceive a disregard in heaven,
What the worst perpetrate, or best endure?
This cannot be. To love, and know, in man
Is boundless appetite, and boundless pow'r;
And these demonstrate boundless objects too.
Objects, pow'rs, appetites, heav'n suits in all;
Nor, nature thro', e'er violates this sweet,
Eternal concord, on her tuneful string.
Is man the sole exception from her laws?
Eternity struck off from human hope,
Man is a monster, the reproach of heav'n,
A stain, a dark impenetrable cloud
On nature's beauteous aspect; and deforms,
(Amazing blot!) deforms her with her lord.
Or own the soul immortal, or invert
All order. Go, mock-majesty! go, man,
And bow to thy superiors of the stall;
Thro' every scene of sense superior far [stream
They graze the turf untill'd; they drink the
Unbrew'd, and ever full, and unimbitter'd
With doubts, fears, fruitless hopes, regrets, de-
Mankind's peculiar! reason's precious dow'r!
No foreign clime they ransack for their robes,
Nor brothers cite to the litigious bar:
Their good is good entire, unmixt, unmarr'd;
They find a paradise in ev'ry field,
On boughs forbidden, where no curses hang;'
Their ill no more than strikes the sense, un-
By previous dread or murmur in the rear;
When the worst comes, it comes unfear'd; one
Begins and ends their woe: they die but once;
Blest, incommunicable privilege!
For which who rules the globe, and reads the
Philosopher, or here, sighs in vain.
Account for this prerogative in brutes:
No day, no glimpse of day to solve the knot,
But what beams on it from eternity.
O sole and sweet solution! that unites
The difficult, and softens the severe;
The cloud on nature's beauteous face dispels
Restores bright order, casts the brute beneath;
And re-inthrones us in supreniaey
Of joy, ev'n here, admit immortal life,
And virtue is knight-errantry no more
Each virtue brings in hand a golden dow's,
Far richer in reversion: hope exults;
And, tho' much bitter in our cup is thrown,
Predominates, and gives the taste of heav'n.
O wherefore is the Deity so kind?
Heav'n our reward for heav'n enjoy'd below.
Still unsubdu'd thy stubborn heart? For there
The traitor lurks, who doubts the truth I sing:
Reason is guiltless; will alone rebels.
What, in that stubborn heart, if I should find
New, unexpected witnesses against thee?
Ambition, and the fateless love of gain! [soul
Canst thou suspect that these, which make the
The slave of earth, should own her heir of
Canst thou suspect, what makes us disbelieve Our immorality, should prove it sure?
§ 220. Ambition and Fame. FIRST, then, ambition summon to the bar: Ambition's shame, extravagance, disgust, And inextinguishable nature, speak: Each much deposes: hear them in their turn. Thy soul how passionately fond of fame! How anxious that fond passion to conceal ! We blush detected in designs on praise, Tho' for best deeds, and from the best of men: And why? because immortai. Art divine Has made the body tutor to the soul: Heav'n kindly gives our blood a moral flow; Bids it ascend the glowing cheek, and there Upbraid that little heart's inglorious aim, Which stoops to court a character from man; While o'er us, in tremendous judgement, sit Far more than man, with endless praise, and
Ambition's boundless appetite out-speaks The verdict of its shame. When souls take fire At high presumptions of their own desert, One age is poor applause; the mighty shout, The thunder by the living few begun, Late time must echo! worlds unborn resound: We wish our names eternally to live: [thought. Wild dream! which ne'er had haunted human Had not our natures been eternal too. Instinct points out an int'rest in hereafter; But our blind reason sees not where it lies; Or, seeing, gives the substance for the shade. Fame is the shade of immortality, And in itself a shadow; soon as caught, Contemn'd; it shrinks to nothing in the grasp. Consult the ambitious; 'tis ambition's cure. "And is this all?" cry'd Cæsar at his height, Disgusted. This third proof ambition brings
Of immortality. The first in faine,
Observe him near, your envy will abate:
Sham'd at the disproportion vast between
The passion, and the purchase, he will sigh
At such success, and blush at his renown:
And why? because far richer prize invites
His heart; far more illustrious glory calls.
And can ambition a fourth proof supply?
It can, and stronger than the former three.
Tho' disappointments in ambition pain,
And tho 'success disgusts, yet still we strive
In vain to pluck it from us: man must soar:
An obstinate activity within,
An insuppressive spring will toss him up,
In spite of fortune's load. Not kings alone,
Each villager has his ambition too:
No Sultan prouder than his fetter'd slave:
Slaves build their little Babylons of straw,
Echo the proud Assyrian, in their hearts.
And cry, Behold the wonders of my might!"
And why? because immortal as their lord:
And souls immortal must for ever heave
At something great; the glitter, or the gold;
The praise of mortals, or the praise of heav'n.
THUS far ambition. What says avarice?
This her chief maxim, which has long been
“The wise and wealthy are the same." I grant
To store up treasure, with incessant toil, [it.
This is man's province, this his highest praise.
To this great end keen instinct stings him on;
To guide that instinct, reason! is thy charge;
'Tis thine to tell us where true treasure lies:
A blunder follows, and blind industry,
But reason failing to discharge her trust,
O'erloading, with the cares of distant age,
The jaded spirits of the present hour,
Providing for eternity below.
Whence inextinguishable thirst of gain?
From inextinguishable life in man:
Man, if not meant by worth to reach the skies,
Sour grapes I grant ambition, avarice;
Had wanted wing to fly so far in guilt.
Yet still their root is immortality.
Refine, exalt, throw down their pois nous lee,
These its wild growths religion can reclaim,
And make them sparkle in the bowl of bliss.
§ 222. Address to Unbelievers. "KNOW all;-know infidels, unapt to know, 'Tis immortality your nature solves; 'Tis immortality decyphers man, And opens all the myst'ries of his make. Without it half his instincts are a riddle : Without it, all his virtues are a dream : His very crimes attest his dignity; His fateless appetite of gold, and fame, Declares him born for blessings infinite. What, less than infinite, makes unabsurd Passions, which all on earth but more inflame? Fierce passions so mismeasur'd to this scene,
Stretch'd out, like eagles' wings, beyond our nest,
Får, far, beyond the worth of all below.
For earth too large, presage a nobler flight,
And evidence our title to the skies."
Yz gentle theologues, of calmer kind!
Whose constitution dictates to your pen,
Who,cold yourselves, think ardor comes fromhell!
Think not our passions from corruption sprung
Tho' to corruption now they lend their wings
That is their inistress, not their mother. All
(And justly) reason deem divine: I see
I feel a grandeur in the passions too, [end;
Which speaks their high descent, and glorious
Which speaks them rays of an eternal fire.
In paradise itself they burnt as strong,
Ere Adam fell; the wiser in their aim.
What tho' our passions are run mad, and stoop
With low terrestrial appetite, to graze
On trash, on toys, dethron'd from high desire;
Yet still, thro' their disgrace, no feeble ray
Of greatness shines, and tells us whence they fell:
But these, when reason moderates the rein,
Shall re-ascend, re-mount their former sphere.
But grant their phrenzy lasts, their phrenzy
To disappoint one providential end; [fails
Was reason silent, boundless passion speaks
A future scene of boundless objects too,
And brings glad tidings of eternal day.
Eternal day! 'tis that enlightens all;
And all by that enlighten'd, proves it sure.
Consider man as an immortal being,
Intelligible, all; and all is great:
Consider man as mortal, all is dark,
And wretched; reason weeps at the survey.
294. Proofs of Immortality. Man's Happiness consists in the Hope of it.
Much has been urg'd; and dost thou call for
Call; and with endless questions be distret, All unresolvable, if earth is all.
Why life, a moment; infinite, desire? Our wish eternity; our home, the grave? Heaven's promise dormant lies in human hope, Who wishes life immortal, proves it too. Why happiness pursu'd, tho' never found ? Man's thirst of happiness declares it is, (For nature never gravitates to nought;) That thirst unquencht declares it is not here, Why cordial friendship riveted so deep, As, hearts to pierce at first, at parting, rend, If friend and friendship vanish in an hour? Is not this torment in the mask of joy? -Why by reflection marr'd the joys of sense! Why past and future, preying on our hearts, And putting all our present joys to death? Why labors reason? instinct were as well; Instinct far better; what can choose, can err; O how infallible the thoughtless brute! Reason with inclination why at war? Why sense of guilt? why conscience up in arms?"
Conscience of guilt, is prophecy of pain, And bosom-counsel to decline the blow. Reason with inclination ne'er had jarr'd, If nothing future paid forbearance here. Thus on-these, and a thousand pleas uncall'd, All promise, some insure, a second scene; Which, was it doubtful, would be dearer far Than all things else most certain; was it false, What truth on earth so precious as the lie? This world it gives, in that high cordial, hope; This world it gives us, let what will ensue; The future of the present is the soul: How this life groans, when sever'd from the next! Poor, mutilated wretch, that disbelieves ! By dark distrust his being cut in two, In both part perishes; life void of joy, Sad prelude of eternity in pain!
To night! to nothing! darker still than night.
If 'twas a dreain, why wake me, my worst foe?
O for delusion! O for error still! [plant
Could vengeance strike much stronger than to
A thinking being in a world like this,
Not over-rich before, now beggar'd quite;
More curst than at the Fall? The sun goes out!
The thorns shoot up! what thorns in ev'ry
Why sense of better? it imbitters worse;
Why sense? why life? if but to sigh, then sink
To what I was? twice nothing! and much woe!
Woe, from heaven's bounties! woe, from what