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Ye sable clouds! ye darkest shades of night!
Hide him, for ever hide him, from my thought,
Once all my comfort; source and soul of joy!
Know his achievements! study his renown!
Contemplate this amazing universe,
Dropt from his hand, with miracles replete !
For what? Mid miracles of nobler name,
To find one miracle of misery!
To find the being, which alone can know,
And praise his works, a blemish on his praise:
Thro' nature's ample range, in thought to stray
And start at man, the single mourner there,
Breathing high hope! chain'd down to pangs,
Knowing is suff'ring: and shall virtue shere The sigh of knowledge? virtue shares the sigh. By straining up the steep of excellent, By battles fought, and from temptation won, What gains she, but the pang of seeing worth, Angelic worth, soon, shuffled in the dark With ev'ry vice, and swept to brutal dust?
Duty; Religion! these, our duty done,
Imply reward. Religion is mistake:
Duty? there's none, but to repel the cheat.
Ye cheats! away; ye daughters of my pride!
Who feign yourselves the fav'rites of the skies:
Ye tow'ring hopes! abortive energies!
That toss and tumble in my lying breast,
To scale the skies, and build presumption there,
As I were heir of eternity;
Vain, vain ambitions! trouble me no more.
As bounded as my being, be my wish.
All is inverted, wisdom is a fool;
Sense! take the rein; blind passion! drive us on;
And, ignorance! befriend us on our way;
Yes; give the pulse full empire; live the brute,
Since, as the brute, we die: the sum of man,
Of godlike man! to revel, and to rot.
"But not on equal terms with other brutes:
Their revels a more poignant relish yield,
And safer too, they never poisons choose. [meals,
Instinct, than reason, makes more wholesome
And sends all-marring murmur far away.
For sensual life they best philosophise;
Theirs, that serene, the sages sought in vain :
"Tis man alone expostulates with heaven,
His, all the pow'r, and all the cause to mourn.
Shall human eyes alone dissolve in tears?
And bleed, in anguish, none but human hearts?
The wide-stretcht realm of intellectual woe,
Surpassing sensual far, is all our own.
In life so fatally distinguished, why
Cast in one lot, confounded, lumpt, in death?
And why then have we thought? To toil and
Then make our bed in darkness, needs no
What superfluities are reas'ning souls!
Oh give eternity! or thought destroy.
But without thought our curse were half unfelt!
Its blunted edge would spare the throbbing heart;
And therefore 'tis bestow'd. I thank thee,reason,
For aiding life's too small calamities,
And giving being to the dread of death.
Such are thy bounties! Was it then too much
For me, to trespass on the brutal rights?
Too much for heav'n to make one emmet more?
Too much for chaos to permit my mass
A longer stay with essences unwrought,
Unfashioned, untormented into man?
Wretched preferment to this round of pains!
Wretched capacity of phrensy, thought!
Wretched capacity of dying, life!
Life,thought, worth, wisdom,all (ol foul revolt!)
Once friends to peace, gone over to the foe.
"Death then has changed its nature too; Q
Come to my bosom, thou best gift of heav'n!
Best friend of man! since man is man no more.
Why in this thoruy wilderness so long,
Since there's no proinis'd land's ambrosial bow'r?
But why this sumptuous insult o'er our heads?
Why this illustrious canopy display'd?
Why so magnificently lodg'd despair?
At stated periods sure returning, roll,
These glorious orbs, that mortals may compute
Their length of labors, and of pains; nor lose
Their misery's full measure?-smiles with flow'rs,.
And fruits promiscuous, ever teeming earth...
That man inay languish in luxurious scenes,
And in an Eden mourn his with'ring joys?
Claim earth and skies man's admiration, due
For such delights! blest animals! too wise
To wonder, and too happy to complain!
"Qurdoom decreed deniands a mournful scene;
Why not a dungeon dark for the condemn'd?
Why not the dragon's subterranean den,
For man to howl in ? why not his abode
Of the same dismal color with his fate?
A Thebes, a Babylon, at vast expence
Of time, toil, treasure, art, for owls and adders,
As congruous, as, for man, this lofty dome
Which prompts proud thought, and kindles high
If from her humble chamber in the dust, [flames.
While proud thought swells, and high desire in-
The poor worm calls us for her inmates there;
And round us death's inexorable hand
Draws the dark curtain close; undrawn no more.
"Undrawn no more? behind the cloud of
Once I beheld a sun; a sun which gilt [death,
That sable cloud, and turn'd it all to gold:
How the grave's alter'd! fathomless as hell!
Annihilation! how it yawns before me!
Next moment I may drop from thought, from
The privilege of angels, and of worms, [sense,
An outcast from existence! and this spirit,
This all-pervading, this all-conscious soul,
This particle of energy divine,
Which travels nature, flies from star to star,
And visits gods, and emulates their pow'rs,
For ever is extinguish'd. Horror! death!
Death of that death I fearless once survey'd,
When horror universal shall descend,
And heaven's dark concave urn all human race,
On that enormous, unrefunding tomb,
How just this verse! this monumental sigh!
Beneath the lumber of demolish'd worlds,
Of matter, never dignify'd with life,
Here lie proud rationals; the sons of heav'n
The lords of earth! the property of worms!
Beings of yesterday, and not to-morrow!
Who liv'd in terror, and in pangs expir'd.”
Andart thou then a shadow? less than shadow?
A nothing? less than nothing? To have been,
And not to be, is lower than unborn.
Art thou ambitious why then make the worm
Thine equal? runs thy taste of pleasure high?
Why patronise sure death of every joy?
Where nought substantial, but our misery?
A world, where dark, mysterious vanity
Of good and ill the distant colors blends,
Confounds all reason, and all hope destroys;
A world so far from great (and yet how great
It shines to thee!) there's nothing real in it;
Being, a shadow! consciousness, a dream!
A dream how dreadful! universal blank
His sad, sure, sudden, and eternal tomb.
Before it, and behind! poor man a spark From non-existence struck by wrath divine, Charm riches? why choose begg'ry in the grave.Midst upper, nether, and surrounding night, Glitt'ring a moment, nor that moment sure, Of ev'ry hope a bankrupt! and for ever ?, Dar'st thou persist? And is there nought on earth But a long train of transitory forms, Rising, and breaking, millions in an hour? Bubbles of a fantastic lord, blown up In sport, and then in cruelty destroy'd? Oh! for what crime, nnmerciful Lorenzo, Destroys thy scheme the whole of human race? Kind is fell Lucifer compar'd to thee: Oh! spare this waste of being half divine; And vindicate th' œconomy of heav'n.
§ 226. The Annihilation of Man, incompatible with the Goodness of God. HEAV'N is all love; all joy in giving joy; It never had created, but to bless; And shall it then strike off the list of life, A being blest, or worthy so to be? Heav'n starts at an annihilating God.
$227. The Guilty alone wish for Annihilation.
Is that, all nature starts at, thy desire?
Art such a clod to wish thyself all clay?
What is that dreadful wish?-the dying groan
Of nature murder'd by the blackest guilt :
What deadly poison has thy nature drank ?
To nature undebauch'd no shock so great;
Nature's first wish is endless happiness;
Annihilation is an after-thought,
A monstrous wish, unborn, till virtue dies.
And oh what depth of horror lies inclos'd!
For non-existence no man ever wish'd,
But first he wish'd the Deity destroy'd.
$228. No spiritual Substance annihilated.
THINKS'T thou omnipotence a naked root,
Each blossom fair of Deity destroy'd?
Nothing is dead; nay, nothing sleeps; each soul
That ever animated human clay,
Now wakes; is on the wing: and when the call
Of that loud trump collects us round heav'ns
Conglob'd we bask in everlasting day. [throne,
How bright this prospect shines! how gloomy
A trembling world! and a devouring God!
Earth, but the shambles of omnipotence!
Heav'ns face all stain'd with causeless massacres
Of countless millions, born to feel the pang
Of being lost. Lorenzo! can it be!
This bids us shudder at the thoughts of life.
Who would be born to such a phantom world,
§ 229. The World a System of Theology.
THE skies above proclaim immortal man,
And man immortal all below resounds.
The world's a system of theology,
Read by the greatest strangers to the schools,
If honest, learn'd; and sages o'er a plough.
What then is unbelief? 'tis an exploit:
A strenuous enterprise to gain it, man
Must burst thro' ev'ry bar of common sense,
Of common shame, magnanimously wrong;
And what rewards the sturdy combatant?
His prize, repentance; infamy, his crown.
§ 230. Virtue the Fruit of Immortality.
THE virtues grow on immortality;
That root destroy'd, they wither and expire,
A Deity believ'd will nought avail;
Rewards and punishments make God ador'd;
And hopes and fears give conscience all her
As in the dying parent dies the child, [pow'r,
Virtue with inmortality expires.
Who tells me he denies his soul immortal,
Whate'er his boast, has told me, he's a knave.
His duty, 'tis to love himself alone,
Nor care, tho' mankind perish, if he smiles. [are
And are there such?-Such candidates there
For more than death; for utter loss of being;
Is it in words to paint you? O ye fall'n!
Fall'n from the wings of reason, and of hope!
Erect in stature, prone in appetite!
Patrons of pleasure, posting into pain!
Boasters of liberty, fast-bound in chains!
More senseless than th' irrationals you scorn!
Far more undone! O ye most infamous
Of beings, from superíor dignity!
And are you, too, convinc'd, your souls fly off
In exhalation soft, and die in air,
From the full flood of evidence against you?
In the course drudgeries, and sinks of sense,
Your souls have quite worn out the make of
To look on truth unbroken, and entire;
Truth in the system, the full orb; where truths
By truths enlighten'd, and sustain'd, afford
An arch-like, strong foundation, to support
Th'incumbent weight of absolute, complete
Conviction; here, the more we press, we stand
More firm, who most examine, most believe.
Parts, like half sentences, confound; the whole
Conveys the sense, and God is understood;
Who not in fraginents writes to human race;
Read his whole volume, sceptic! then, reply.
This, this is thinking free, a thought that
Beyond a grain, and looks beyond an hour.
thine eyes, survey this midnight scene;
What are earth's kingdoms to yon boundless orbs
Of human souls, one day, the destin'd range?
And what yon boundless orbs to godlike man?
Thosenumerous worldsthatthrongthe firmament.
And ask more space in heaven, can roll at large
In man's capacious thought, and still have room
For ampler orbs, for new creations, there.
Can such a soul contract itself, to gripe
A point of no dimension, or no weight?
It can; it does: the world is such a point,
And of that point how small a part enslaves.
How small a part-of nothing, shall I say?
Why not?-friends, our chief treasure, how
How the world falls to picces round about us,
And leaves us in a ruin of our joy!
What says this transportation of my friends?
It bids me love the place where now they dwell,
And scorn this wretched spot, they leave so poor.
Eternity's vast ocean lays before thee;
Give thy mind sea-room; keep it wide of earth,
That rock of souls immortal; cut thy cord;
Weigh anchor; spread thy sails; call ev'ry wind;
Eye thy great Pole-star: make the land of life.
$232. Rational and Animal Life.
Two kinds of life has double-natur'd man,
And two of death; the last far more severe.
Life animal is nurtur'd by the sun;
Thrives on its bounties, triumphs in its beams.
Life rational subsists on higher food,
Triumphant in his beams who made the day.
When we leave that sun, and are left by this,
(The fate of all who die in stubborn guilt)
"Tis utter darkness; strictly, double death.
We sink by no judicial stroke of heav'n,
But nature's course; as sure as plummets fall.
If then that double death should prove thy lot,
Blame not the bowels of the Deity:
Man shall be blest, as far as man permits.
Not man alone, all rationals heav'n arms
With an illustrious, but tremendous, pow'r,
To counteract its own most gracious ends:
And this, of strict necessity, not choice.
That pow'r deny'd, men, angels, were no more
But passive engines, void of praise, or blame.
A nature rational implies the pow'r
Of being bless'd, or wretched, as we please;
Else idle reason would have nought to do;
And he that would be barr'd capacity
Of pain, courts incapacity of bliss.
Heav'n wills our happiness, allows our doom;
Invites us ardently; but not compels;
Man falls by man, if finally he falls;
And fall he must, who learns from death alone
The dreadful secret, that he lives for ever.
Why this to thee? thee yet perhaps in doubt
Of second life: but wherefore doubtful still?
Eternal life is nature's ardent wish:
What ardently we wish, we soon believe:
Thy tardy faith declares that wish destroy'd:
What has destroy'd it?-shall I tell thee, what?
When fear'd the future, 'tis no longer wish'd,
And when unwish'd, we strive to disbelieve.
$233. The Gospel.
INSTEAD of racking fancy, to refute,
Reform thy manners, and the truth enjoy. -
Is nature's unavoidable ascent;
From purer manners, to sublimer faith,
An honest deist, where the gospel shines,
Matur'd to nobler, in the Christian ends.
When that blest change arrives, e'en cast aside
This song superfluous; life immortal strikes
Conviction, in a flood of light divine.
A Christian dwells, like Uriel in the sun :
Meridian evidence puts doubt to flight;
And ardent hope anticipates the skies.
Read, and revere the sacred page; a page
Where triumphs immortality; a page
Which not the conflagration shall destroy;
Which not the whole creation could produce;
In nature's ruins not one letter lost :
"Tis printed in the minds of gods for ever.
§ 234. The Mystery of a Future State, no Argument against it.
STILL seems it strange, that thou shouldst live for ever?
Is it less strange, that thou shouldst live at all?
This is a miracle; and that no more.
Who gave beginning, can exclude an end;
Deny thou art, then, doubt if thou shalt be.
A miracle, with miracles inclos'd,
Is man! and starts his faith at what is strange?
What less than wonders from the Wonderful?
What less than miracles from God can flow?
Admit a God, that mystery supreme!
That cause uncaus'd! all other wonders cease;
Nothing is marvellous for him to do:
Deny him-all is mystery besides.
We nothing know, but what is marvellous:
Yet what is marvellous, we can't believe.
So weak our reason, and so great our God,
What most surprises in the sacred page,
Or full as strange, or stranger, must be true.
Faith is not reason's labor, but repose.
Hope, like a cordial, innocent, tho' strong,
Man's heart, at once, inspirits and serenes ;
Nor makes him pay his wisdom for his joys;
Tis all our present state can safely bear,
Health to the frame! and vigor to the mind!
And to the modest eye chasus'd delight!
Like the fair summer-evening, mild, and sweet!
Tis man's full cup; his paradise below!
$236. NIGHT VI11. Worldly Pursuits.
Ox life's gay stage, one inch above the grave,
The proud run up and down in quest of eyes:
The sensual, in pursuit of something worse;
The grave of gold; the politic, of pow'r;
And all, of other butterflies, as vain.
As eddies draw things frivolous, and light,
How is man's heart by vanity drawn in;
On the swift circle of returning toys,
They still are men; and when is man secure?
As fetal time as storm! the rush of years
Beats down their strength: their numberless
In ruin end. and now their proud success
But plants new terrors on the victor's brow:
What pain to quit the world just made their own,
Their nest so deeply down'd, and built so high!
Too low they build, who build beneath the stars.
$238. The Love of Distinction.
AMBITION! pleasure! let us talk of these:
Dost grasp at greatness? first know what it is
Think'st thou thy greatness in distinction lies?
Not in the feather, wave it e'er so high,
Is glory lodg'd: 'tis lodg'd in the reverse;
In that which joins, in that which equals all,
The monarch, and his slave-"A deathless soul,
Unbounded prospect, and immortal kin,
Whirl'd, straw-like, round and round, and then A father God, and brothers in the skies!"
Where gay delusion darkens to despair!
§ 237. Human Life compared to the Ocoan.
OCEAN! thou dreadful and tumultuous home
Of dangers, at eternal war with man!
Death's capital! where most he domineers,
With all his chosen terrors frowning round,
Tho' lately feasted high at Albion's cost,
Wide op'ning, and loud roaring still for more!
Too faithful mirror! how dost thou reflect
The melancholy face of human life!
The strong resemblance tempts me farther still!
And, haply, Britain may be deeper struck
By moral truth, in such a mirror seen,
Which nature holds for ever at her eye.
Self-Hatter'd, unexperienc'd, high in hope,
When young, with sanguine cheer and streamers
We cut our cable, launch into the world, [gay,
And fondlydream each wind and star our friend;
All in some darling enterprise embark'd :
But where is he can fathom its event?
Amid a multitude of artless hands,
Ruin's sure perquisite! her lawful prize!
Some steer aright: but the black blast blows hard,
And puffs them wide of hope: with hearts of
Full against wind, and tide, some win their way,
And when strong effort has deserv'd the port,
And tugg'd it into view, 'tis won! 'tis lost!
They strike; and, while they triumph, they
In stress of weather, most: some sink outright;
O'er them and o'er their names the billows close;
To-morrow knows not they were ever born:
Others a short memorial leave behind;
Like a flag floating, when the bark's ingulph'd,
It floats a moment, and is seen no more;
One Cæsar lives, a thousand are forgot.
How few beneath auspicious planets born.
With swelling sails make good the promis'd port,
With all their wishes freighted! Yet even these,
Freighted with all their wishes, soon complain
We wisely strip the steed we mean to buy: ́
Judge we, in their caparisons, of men?
It nought avails thee, where, but what thou art;
All the distinctions of this little life
Are quite cutaneous, foreign to the man: [creep,
When thro'death's streightsearth's subtileserpents
Which wriggle into wealth, or climb renown,
They leave their party-color'd robe behind,
All that now glitters, while they rear aloft
Their brazen erests, and hiss at us below:
How mean that snuff of glory fortune lights,
And death puts out! dost thou demand a test.
A test at once infallible and short,
Of real greatness? that man greatly lives,
Whate'er his fate or fame, who greatly dies:
High flush'd with hope, where heroes shall
THOUGH somewhat disconcerted, steady still
To the world's cause, with half a face of joy,
Lorenzo cries, "Be, then, ambition cast;
Ambition's dearer far stands unimpeach'd.
Gay pleasure! proud ambition is her slave:
Who can resist her charms?"— Or, should?
What mortal shall resist, where angels yield?
Pleasure's the mistress of etherial pow'rs;
Pleasure's the mistress of the world below:
How would all stagnate, but for pleasure's ray?
What is the pulse of this so busy world?
The love of pleasure: that, through ev'ry vein,
Throws motion, warmth; and shuts out death
Tho' various are the tempers of mankind,
Pleasure's gay family holds all in chains.
Some most affect the black; and some the fair:
Whate'er the motive, pleasure is the mark:
For her the black assassin draws his sword;
Forher,dark statesmen trimtheir midnight-lamp,
To which no single sacrifice may fall;
The Stoic proud, for pleasure, pleasure scorn'd;
For her, affliction's daughters grief indulge,
And find, or hope, a luxury in tears:
For her, guilt, shaine, toil, danger, we defy,
And, with an aim voluptuous, rush on death:
Thus universal her despotic powr.
Patron of pleasure? I thy rival am;
Pleasure, the purpose of my gloomy song.
Pleasure is nought but vistue's gayer name
I wrong her still, I rate her worth too low:
Virtue the root, and pleasure is the flow'r.
The love of pleasure is man's eldest-born,
Born in his cradle, living to his tomb:
Wisdom, her younger sister, tho' more grave,
Was meant to minister, and not to mar
Imperial pleasure, queen of human hearts.
§2:0. Rise of Pleasure.
FIRST, pleasure's birth, rise, strength, and grandeur see,
Brought forth by wisdom, nurs'd by discipline,
By patience taught, by perseverance crown'd,
She rears her head majestic; round her throne,
Erected in the bosom of the just,
Each virtue listed, from her manly guard :
For what are virtues? (formidable name!)
What, but the fountain, or defence of joy?
Great legislator! scarce so great as kind!
If men are rational, and love delight,
Thy gracious law but flatters hunian choice:
In the transgression lies the penalty;
And they the most indulge, who most obey.
§ 241. The End of Pleasure. OF pleasure, next, the final cause explore; Its mighty purpose, its important end. Not to turn human brutal, but to build Divine on human, pleasure came from heav'n: In aid to reason was the goddess sent, To call up all its strength by such a charm, Pleasure first succours virtue; in return, Virtue gives pleasure an eternal reign. What, but the pleasure of food, friendship, faith, Supports life natural, civil, and divine? It serves ourselves, our species, and our God; Glide then for ever, pleasure's sacred stream! Through Eden as Euphrates ran, it runs, And fosters ev'ry growth of happy life; Makes a new Eden where it flows.
§ 242. Virtue and Piety. "Is virtue, then, and piety the same?" No:-piety is more; 'tis virtue's source; Mother of ev'ry worth, as that of joy, With piety begins all good on earth; Conscience, her first law broken, wounded lies; Enfeebled, lifeless, impotent to good,
A feign'd affection bounds her utmost power
Some we can't love, but for the Almighty's sake;
A foe to God was ne'er true friend to man.
On piety, humanity is built;
And, on humanity much happiness
And yet still more on piety itself,
A Deity believ'd, is joy begun;
A Deity ador'd, is joy advanc'd;
A Deity belov'd, is joy matur'd.
Each branch of piety delight inspires:
Faithbuilds a bridge from this world to the next,
O'er Death's dark gulph, and all its horror hides;
Praise, the sweet exhalation of our joy,
That joy exalts, and makes it sweeter still;
Pray'r ardent opens heaven, lets down a stream
Of glory, on the consecrated hour
Of man, in audience with the Deity.
Who worships the great God, that instant joins
The first in heav'n, and sets his foot on hell.
Thy gloom is scatter'd, sprightly spirits flow; The' wither'd is thy vine, and harp unstrung.
Dost call the bowl, the viol, and the dance, Loud mirth, mad laughter? wretched comforters, Physicians! more than half of thy disease, Laughter, tho' never censur'd yet as sin, Is half-iminoral. Is it much indulg'd? By venting spleen, or dissipating thought, It shows a scorner, or it makes a fool; And sins, as hurting others, or ourselves. The house of laughter makes a house of woe: What cause for triumph, where such ills abound? What for dejection, where presides a pow'r, Who call'd us into being to be bless'd ? So grieve, as conscious grief may rise to joy; So joy, as conscious joy to grief may fall: Most true; a wise man never will be sad; But neither will sonorous, bubbling mirth A shallow stream of happiness betray; Too happy to be sportive, he 's serene.
Retire, and read thy bible, to be gay.. Their truths abound of sov'reign aid to peace: Ah! do not prize them less, because inspir'd; If not inspir'd, that pregnant page had stood, Time's treasure! and the wonder of the wise!
But these, thou think'st are gloomy paths to joy.
True joy in sunshine ne'er was found at first:
They first, themselves offend, who greatly please,
And travel only gives us sound repose.
Heaven sells all pleasure; effort is the price;
And glory the victorious laurels spreads
The joys of conquest are the joys of man;
O'er pleasure's pure, perpetual, placid stream.
§ 244. A Man of Pleasure is a Man of Pains.
THERE is a time, when toil must be prefert d,
Or joy, by mistim'd fondness is undone.
A man of pleasure is a man of pains.
Thou wilt not take the trouble to be bless'd.