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But it compos'd, and gave him such a cast,
As folly might mistake for want of joy.
A cast, unlike the triumph of the proud;
A modest aspect, and a smile at heart.
O for a joy from thy Philander's spring!
A spring perennial, rising in the breast,
And permanent, as pure! no turbid stream
Of rapturous exultation, swelling high;
Which, like land-floods, impetuous pour awhile,
Then sink at once, and leave us in the mire.
What does the man, who transient joy prefers?
What, but prefer the bubbles to the stream?
Vain are all sudden sallies of delight;
Convulsions of a weak, distemper'd joy.
Joy's a fixt state; a tenure, not a start.
Bliss there is none, but unprecarious bliss:
That is the gem: sell all, and purchase that.
Why go a-begging to contingencies,
Not gain'd with ease, nor safely lov'd, if gain'd?
At good fortuitous, draw back, and pause;
Suspect it; what thou canst ensure, enjoy ;
And nought but what thou giv'st thyself, is sure.
Reason perpetuates joy that reason gives,
And makes it as immortal as herself:
To mortals, nought immortal, but their worth.
Worth, conscious worth! should absolutely reign;
And other joys ask leave for their approach;
Nor, unexamin'd, ever leave obtain.
Thou art all anarchy; a mob of joys
Wage war, and perish in intestine broils;
Not the least promise of internal peace!
No bosom-comfort! or unborrow'd bliss!
Thy thoughts are vagabonds; all outward-bound,
Mid sands, and rocks, and storms, to cruise for
If gain'd, dear-bought; and better miss'd than gain'd.
Much pain must expiate what much pain procur'd.
Fancy, and sense, from an infected shore,
Thy cargo bring; and pestilence the prize.
Then, such thy thirst, (insatiable thirst!
By fond indulgence but inflam'd the more!)
Fancy still cruises, when poor sense is tir'd.
Imagination is the Paphian shop,
Where feeble happiness, like Vulcan, lame,
Bids foul ideas, in their dark recess,
And hot as Hell (which kindled the black fires),
With wanton art, those fatal arrows form,
Which murder all thy time, health, wealth, and fame.
Wouldst thou receive them, other thoughts there are,
On angel-wing, descending from above,
Which these, with art divine, would counter-work,
And form celestial armour for thy peace.
In this is seen imagination's guilt;
But who can count her follies? She betrays thee,
To think in grandeur there is something great.
For works of curious art, and ancient fame,
Thy gemus hungers, elegantly pain'd;
And foreign climes must cater for thy taste.
Hence, what disaster!-Though the price was paid,
That persecuting priest, the Turk of Rome,
Whose foot (ye gods!) though cloven, must be kiss'd,
Detain'd thy dinner on the Latian shore;
(Such is the fate of honest Protestants!)
And poor magnificence is starv'd to death.
Hence just resentment, indignation, ire!
Be pacified; if outward things are great,
'Tis magnanimity great things to scorn;
Pompous expenses, and parades august,
And courts, that insalubrious soil to peace.
Truc happiness ne'er enter'd at an eye;
True happiness resides in things unseen.
No smiles of fortune ever blest the bad,
Nor can her frowns rob innocence of joys;
That jewel wanting, triple crowns are poor :
So tell his holiness, and be reveng'd.
Pleasure, we both agree, is man's chief good;
Or only contest, what deserves the name.
Give pleasure's name to nought, but what has pass'd
Th' authentic seal of reason, (which, like Yorke,
Demurs on what it passes,) and defies
The tooth of Time; when past, a pleasure still;
Dearer on trial, lovelier for its age,
And doubly to be priz'd, as it promotes
Our future, while it forms our present, joy.
Some joys the future overcast; and some
Throw all their beams that way, and gild the tomb.
Some joys endear eternity; some give
Abhorr'd annihilation dreadful charms.
Are rival joys contending for thy choice?
Consult thy whole existence, and be safe;
That oracle will put all doubt to flight.
Short is the lesson, though my lecture long,
Be good and let Heaven answer for the rest.
Yet, with a sigh o'er all mankind, I grant
In this our day of proof, our land of hope,
The good man has his clouds that intervene ;
Clouds, that obscure his sublunary day,
But never conquer: e'en the best must own,
Patience, and resignation, are the pillars
Of human peace on Earth. The pillars, these:
But those of Seth not more remote from thee,
Till this heroic lesson thou hast learnt;
To frown at pleasure, and to smile in pain.
Fir'd at the prospect of unclouded bliss,
Heaven in reversion, like the Sun, as yet
Beneath th' horizon, cheers us in this world;
It sheds, on souls susceptible of light,
The glorious dawn of our eternal day.
"This," says Lorenzo, " is a fair harangue : But can harangues blow back strong Nature's
Or stem the tide Heaven pushes through our veins,
Which sweeps away man's impotent resolves,
And lays his labour level with the world?"
Themselves men make their comment on mankind;
And think nought is, but what they find at home:
Thus weakness to chimera turns the truth.
Nothing romantic has the Muse prescrib'd.
Above, Lorenzo saw the man of Earth,
The mortal man; and wretched was the sight.
To balance that, to comfort, and exalt,
Now see the man immortal: him, I mean,
Who lives as such; whose heart, full bent on Heaven,
Leans all that way, his bias to the stars.
The world's dark shades, in contrast set, shall raise
His lustre more; though bright, without a soil:
Observe his aweful portrait, and admire;
Nor stop at wonder; imitate, and live.
Some angel guide my pencil, while I draw,
What nothing less than angel can exceed!
A man on Earth devoted to the skies;
Like ships in seas, while in, above the world.
With aspect mild, and elevated eye,
Behold him seated on a mount serene,
Above the fogs of sense, and passion's storm;
All the black cares, and tumults, of this life,
Like harmless thunders, breaking at his feet,
Excite his pity, not impair his peace.
Earth's genuine sons, the sceptred, and the slave,
A mingled mob! a wandering herd! he sees,
Bewilder'd in the vale; in all unlike !
His full reverse in all! what higher praise?
What stronger demonstration of the right?
The present all their care; the future, his.
When public welfare calls, or private want,
They give to fame; his bounty he conceals.
Their virtues varnish nature; his exalt.
Mankind's esteem they court; and he, his own.
Theirs, the wild chase of false felicities;
His, the compos'd possession of the true.
Alike throughout is his consistent peace,
All of one colour, and an even thread;
While party-colour'd shreds of happiness,
With hideous gaps between, patch up for them
A madman's robe; each puff of fortune blows
The tatters by, and shows their nakedness.
He sees with other eyes than theirs where they Behold a sun, he spies a Deity:
What makes them only smile, makes him adore.
Where they see mountains, he but atoms sees;
An empire, in his balance, weighs a grain.
They things terrestrial worship, as divine:
His hopes immortal blow them by, as dust,
That dims his sight and shortens his survey,
Which longs, in infinite, to lose all bound.
Titles and honours (if they prove his fate)
He lays aside to find his dignity;
No dignity they find in aught besides.
They triumph in externals (which conceal
Man's real glory), proud of an eclipse.
Himself too much he prizes to be proud,
And nothing thinks so great in man, as man.
Too dear he holds his interest, to neglect
Another's welfare, or his right invade;
Their interest, like a lion, lives on prey,
They kindle at the shadow of a wrong;
Wrong he sustains with temper, looks on Heaven,
Nor stoops to think his injurer his foe; [peace.
Nought, but what wounds his virtue, wounds his
A cover'd heart their character defends;
A cover'd heart denies him half his praise.
With nakedness his innocence agrees;
While their broad foliage testifies their fall.
Their no-joys end, where his full feast begins:
His joys create, theirs murder, future bliss.
To triumph in existence, his alone;
And his alone, triumphantly to think
His true existence is not yet begun.
His glorious course was, yesterday, complete;
Death, then, was welcome; yet life still is sweet.
But nothing charms Lorenzo, like the firm
Undaunted breast-And whose is that high praise?
They yield to pleasure, though they danger brave,
And show no fortitude, but in the field;
If there they show it, 't is for glory shown;
Nor will that cordial always man their hearts.
A cordial his sustains that cannot fail;
By pleasure unsubdued, unbroke by pain,
He shares in that Omnipotence he trusts.
All-bearing, all-attempting, till he falls;
And when he falls, writes VICI on his shield.
From magnanimity, all fear above;
From nobler recompense, above applause;
Which owes to man's short out-look all its charms.
Backward to credit what he never felt,
Lorenzo cries, -"Where shines this miracle?
From what root rises this immortal man?"
A root that grows not in Lorenzo's ground;
The root dissect, nor wonder at the flower.
He follows nature (not like thee *) and shows us An uninverted system of a man.
His appetite wears reason's golden chain,
And finds, in due restraint, its luxury.
His passion, like an cagle well reclaim'd,
Is taught to fly at nought, but infinite.
Patient his hope, unanxious is his care,
His caution fearless, and his grief (if grief
The gods ordain) a stranger to despair.
And why? Because, affection, more than meet,
His wisdom leaves not disengag'd from Heaven.
Those secondary goods that smile on Earth,
He, loving in proportion, loves in peace.
They most the world enjoy, who least admire.
His understanding 'scapes the common cloud
Of fumes, arising from a boiling breast.
His head is clear, because his heart is cool,
By worldly competitions uninflam'd.
The moderate movements of his soul admit
Distinct ideas, and matur'd debate,
An eye impartial, and an even scale;
Whence judgment sound, and unrepenting choice.
Thus, in a double sense, the good are wise;
On its own dunghill, wiser than the world.
What, then, the world? It must be doubly weak ;
Strange truth! as soon would they believe ther
Yet thus it is; nor otherwise can be;
So far from aught romantic, what I sing.
Bliss has no being, virtue has no strength,
But from the prospect of immortal life.
Who think Earth all, or (what weighs just the same
Who care no further, must prize what it yields;
Fond of its fancies, proud of its parades.
Who thinks Earth nothing, can't its charms admire
He can't a foe, though most malignant, hate,
Because that hate would prove his greater foe.
'T is hard for them (yet who so loudly boast
Good-will to men?) to love their dearest friend;
For may not he invade their good supreme,
Where the least jealousy turns love to gall?
All shines to them, that for a season shines.
Each act, each thought, he questions, "What its
Its colour what, a thousand ages hence?"
And what it there appears, he deems it now.
Hence, pure are the recesses of his soul.
The god-like man has nothing to conceal.
His virtue, constitutionally deep,
Has habit's firmness, and affection's flame;
Angels, allied, descend to feed the fire;
And death, which others slays, makes him a god
And now, Lorenzo! bigot of this world!
Wont to disdain poor bigots caught by Heaven!
Stand by thy scorn, and be reduc'd to nought:
For what art thou?—Thou boaster! while thy glare,
Thy gaudy grandeur, and mere worldly worth,
Like a broad mist, at distance, strikes us most;
And like a mist, is nothing when at hand;
His merit, like a mountain, on approach,
Swells more, and rises nearer to the skies,
By promise now, and by possession soon,
(Too soon, too much, it cannot be) his own.
From this thy just annihilation rise,
Lorenzo! rise to something, by reply.
The world, thy client, listens, and expects;
And longs to crown thee with immortal praise.
Canst thou be silent? No;
for wit is thine;
And wit talks most, when least she has to say,
And reason interrupts not her career.
She'll say-That mists above the mountains rise;
And, with a thousand pleasantries, amuse;
She 'll sparkle, puzzle, flutter, raise a dust,
And fly conviction, in the dust she rais'd.
Wit, how delicious to man's dainty taste!
'T is precious, as the vehicle of sense;
But, as its substitute, a dire disease.
Pernicious talent! flatter'd by the world,
By the blind world, which thinks the talent rare.
Wisdom is rare, Lorenzo! wit abounds;
Passion can give it; sometimes wine inspires
The lucky flash; and madness rarely fails.
Whatever cause the spirit strongly stirs,
Confers the bays, and rivals thy renown.
For thy renown, 't were well, was this the worst ;
Chance often hits it; and, to pique the more,
See dulness, blundering on vivacities,
Shakes her sage head at the calamity,
Which has expos'd, and let her down to thee.
But wisdom, aweful wisdom! which inspects,
Discerns, compares, weighs, separates, infers,
Seizes the right, and holds it to the last;
How rare! in senates, synods, sought in vain ;
Or, if there found, 't is sacred to the few;
While a lewd prostitute to multitudes,
Frequent, as fatal, wit: in civil life,
Wit makes an enterpriser; sense, a man.
Wit hates authority; commotion loves,
And thinks herself the lightning of the storm.
In states, 't is dangerous; in religion, death :
Shall wit turn Christian, when the dull believe?
Sense is our helmet, wit is but the plume;
The plume exposes, 't is our helmet saves.
Sense is the diamond, weighty, solid, sound.;
When cut by wit, it casts a brighter beam;
Yet, wit apart, it is a diamond still.
Wit, widow'd of good sense, is worse than nought;
It hoists more sail to run against a rock.
Thus, a half-Chesterfield is quite a fool;
(A field of battle is this mortal life!)
When danger threatens, lay it on thy heart;
A single sentence proof against the world;
"Soul, body, fortune! every good pertain
To one of these; but prize not all alike;
The goods of fortune to the body's health,
Body to soul, and soul submit to God."
Wouldst thou build lasting happiness? Do this;
The invert'd pyramid can never stand.
Is this truth doubtful? It outshines the Sun;
Nay the Sun shines not, but to show us this,
The single lesson of mankind on Earth.
And yet yet what?- No news! mankind is m
Such mighty numbers list against the right,
(And what can't numbers, when bewitch'd, achiev
They talk themselves to something like belief,
That all Earth's joys are theirs: as Athens' foo
Grinn'd from the port, on every sail his own.
They grin; but wherefore? and how long
Half ignorance, their mirth; and half, a lie;
To cheat the world, and cheat themselves, ey
Hard either task! The most abandon'd own,
That others, if abandon'd, are undone :
Then for themselves, the moment reason wakes,
(And Providence denies it long repose,)
O how laborious is their gaiety!
They scarce can swallow their ebullient spleen,
Scarce muster patience to support the farce,
And pump sad laughter till the curtain falls.
Scarce, did I say? Some cannot sit it out;
Oft their own daring hands the curtain draw,
And show us what their joy, by their despair.
The clotted hair! gor'd breast! blaspheming eye!
Its impious fury still alive in death!
Shut, shut the shocking scene.—But Heaven denies
A cover to such guilt; and so should man.
Look round, Lorenzo! see the reeking blade,
Th' envenom'd phial, and the fatal ball;
The strangling cord, and suffocating stream;
The loathsome rottenness, and foul decays
Whom dull fools scorn, and bless their want of wit. From raging riot (slower suicides!)
How ruinous the rock I warn thee, shun,
Where Syrens sit, to sing thee to thy fate!
A joy, in which our reason bears no part,
Is but a sorrow tickling, ere it stings.
Let not the cooings of the world allure thee;
Which of her lovers ever found her true?
Happy! of this bad world who little know:
And yet, we much must know her, to be safe.
To know the world, not love her, is thy point;
She gives but little, nor that little, long.
There is, I grant, a triumph of the pulse;
A dance of spirits, a mere froth of joy;
Our thoughtless agitation's idle child,
That mantles high, that sparkles and expires,
Leaving the soul more vapid than before.
An animal ovation! such as holds
No commerce with our reason, but subsists
On juices, through the well-ton'd tubes,
A nice machine! scarce ever tun'd aright;
And when it jars-thy Syrens sing no more,
Thy dance is done; the demi-god is thrown
(Short apotheosis!) beneath the man,
In coward gloom immers'd, or fell despair.
Art thou yet dull enough despair to dread,
And startle at destruction? If thou art,
Accept a buckler, take it to the field;
And pride in these, more execrable still!
How horrid all to thought!-But horrours, these,
That vouch the truth; and aid my feeble song.
From vice, sense, fancy, no man can be blest:
Bliss is too great, to lodge within an hour:
When an immortal being aims at bliss,
Duration is essential to the name.
O for a joy from reason! joy from that,
Which makes man man; and, exercis'd aright,
Will make him more: a bounteous joy! that gives,
And promises; that weaves, with art divine,
The richest prospect into present peace:
A joy ambitious! Joy in common held
With thrones ethereal, and their greater far;
A joy high-privileg'd from chance, time, death!
A joy, which death shall double, judgment crown!
Crown'd higher, and still higher, at each stage,
well Through blest eternity's long day: yet still,
Not more remote from sorrow, than from him,
Whose lavish hand, whose love stupendous, pours
So much of Deity on guilty dust.
There, O my Lucia! may I meet thee there,
Where not thy presence can improve my bliss!
Affects not this the sages of the world?
Can nought affect them, but what fools them too?
Eternity, depending on an hour,
Makes serious thought man's wisdom, joy, and
Nor need you blush (though sometimes your de
May shun the light) at your designs on Heaven:
Sole point! where over-bashful is your blame.
Are you not wise? - You know you are: yet hear
One truth, amid your numerous schemes, mislaid,
Or overlook'd, or thrown aside, if seen;
"Our schemes to plan by this world, or the next,
Is the sole difference between wise and fool."
All worthy men will weigh you in this scale;
What wonder then, if they pronounce you light?
Is their esteem alone not worth your care?
NIGHT THE NINTH AND LAST.
CONTAINING, AMONG OTHER THINGS,
I. A Moral Survey of the Nocturnal Heavens. II. A Night Address to the Deity.
Accept my simple scheme, of common sense; [own. HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE, ONE OF HE Thus, save your fame, and make two worlds your
The world replies not; -but the world persists;
And puts the cause off to the longest day,
Planning evasions for the day of doom.
So far, at that re-hearing, from redress,
They then turn witnesses against themselves:
Hear that, Lorenzo! nor be wise to-morrow.
Haste, haste! A man, by nature, is in haste;
For who shall answer for another hour?
'T is highly prudent, to make one sure friend;
And that thou canst not do, this side the skies.
Ye sons of Earth! (nor willing to be more!)
Since verse you think from priestcraft somewhat free,
Thus, in an age so gay, the Muse plain truths
(Truths, which, at church, you might have heard in
Has ventur'd into light; well-pleas'd the verse
Should be forgot, if you the truths retain :
And crown her with your welfare, not your praise.
But praise she need not fear: I see my fate;
And headlong leap, like Curtius, down the gulf,
Since many an ample volume, mighty tome,
Must die; and die unwept; O thou minute,
Devoted page! go forth among thy foes;
Go nobly proud of martyrdom for truth,
And die a double death: mankind, incens'd,
Denies thee long to live: nor shalt thou rest
When thou art dead; in Stygian shades arraign'd
By Lucifer, as traitor to his throne,
And bold blasphemer of his friend the world;
The world, whose legions cost him slender pay,
And volunteers around his banner swarm;
Prudent, as Prussia, in her zeal for Gaul!
MAJESTY'S PRINCIPAL SECRETARIES OF STATE
As when a traveller, a long day past
In painful search of what he cannot find,
At night's approach, content with the next cot,
There ruminates, awhile, his labour lost;
Then cheers his heart with what his fate affords,
And chants his sonnet to deceive the time,
Till the due season calls him to repose:
Thus I, long-travell'd in the ways of men,
And dancing, with the rest, the giddy maze,
Where disappointment smiles at hope's career;
Warn'd by the languor of life's evening ray,
At length have hous'd me in an humble shed;
Where, future wandering banish'd from my thought,
And waiting, patient, the sweet hour of rest,
I chase the moments with a serious song.
Song soothes our pains; and age has pains to soothe.
Wher age, care, crime, and friends embrac'd s
Torn from my bleeding breast, and death's dark
Which hovers o'er me, quench th' ethereal fire;
Canst thou, O Night! indulge one labour more?
One labour more indulge! then sleep, my strain!
Till, haply, wak'd by Raphael's golden lyre,
Where night, death, age, care, crime, and sorrow,
To bear a part in everlasting lays;
Though far, far higher set, in aim, I trust,
Symphonious to this humble prelude here.
Has not the Muse asserted pleasures pure,
"Are all, then, fools?" Lorenzo cries - Yes, all, Like those above; exploding other joys?
But such as hold this doctrine (new to thee);
"The mother of true wisdom is the will;"
The noblest intellect, a fool without it.
World-wisdom much has done, and more may do,
In arts and sciences, in wars and peace;
But art and science, like thy wealth, will leave thee,
And make thee twice a beggar at thy death.
This is the most indulgence can afford ;-
- make thee wise."
"Thy wisdom all can do, but
Nor think this censure is severe on thee:
Satan, thy master, I dare call a dunce.
Weigh what was urg'd, Lorenzo! fairly weigh;
And tell me, hast thou cause to triumph still?
I think, thou wilt forbear a boast so bold.
But if, beneath the favour of mistake,
Thy smile 's sincere; not more sincere can be
Lorenzo's smile, than my compassion for him.
The sick in body call for aid; the sick
In mind are covetous of more disease;
And when at worst, they dream themselves quite well.
To know ourselves diseas'd, is half our cure.
When nature's blush by custom is wip'd off,
And conscience, deaden'd by repeated strokes,
Has into manners naturaliz'd our crimes;
The curse of curses is, our curse to love;
To triumph in the blackness of our guilt,
(As Indians glory in the deepest jet,)
And throw aside our senses with our peace.
But grant no guilt, no shame, no least alloy;
Grant joy and glory quite unsully'd shone;
Yet, still, it ill deserves Lorenzo's heart.
No joy, no glory, glitters in thy sight,
But, through the thin partition of an hour,
I see its sables wove by destiny;
And that in sorrow buried; this, in shame ;
While howling furies ring the doleful knell ;
And conscience, now so soft thou scarce canst hear
Her whisper, echoes her eternal peal.
Where, the prime actors of the last year's scene;
Their port so proud, their buskin, and their plume?
How many sleep, who kept the world awake
With lustre, and with noise! Has Death proclaim'd
A truce, and hung his sated lance on high?
'T is brandish'd still; nor shall the present year
Be more tenacious of her human leaf,
Or spread of feeble life a thinner fall.
But needless monuments to wake the thought; Life's gayest scenes speak man's mortality, Though in a style more florid, full as plain, As mausoleums, pyramids, and tombs. What are our noblest ornaments, but deaths Turn'd flatterers of life, in paint or marble, The well-stain'd canvass, or the featur'd stone? Our fathers grace, or rather haunt, the scene. Joy peoples her pavilion from the dead.
Profest diversions! - cannot these escape?"-
Far from it: these present us with a shroud;
And talk of death, like garlands o'er a grave.
As some bold plunderers, for bury'd wealth,
We ransack tombs for pastime; from the dust
Call up the sleeping hero; bid him tread
The scene for our amusement: how like gods
We sit; and, wrapt in immortality,
Shed generous tears on wretches born to die;
Their fate deploring, to forget our own!
What all the pomps and triumphs of our lives,
But legacies in blossom? Our lean soil,
Luxuriant grown, and rank in vanities,
From friends interr'd beneath, a rich manure!
Like other worms, we banquet on the dead;
Like other worms, shall we crawl on, nor know
Our present frailties, or approaching fate?
Lorenzo! such the glories of the world!
What is the world itself? Thy world—a grave.
Where is the dust that has not been alive?
The spade, the plough, disturb our ancestors;
From human mould we reap our daily bread.
The globe around Earth's hollow surface shakes,
And is the ceiling of her sleeping sons.
O'er devastation we blind revels keep;
Whole bury'd towns support the dancer's heel.
The moist of human frame the Sun exhales;
Winds scatter through the mighty void the dry;
Earth reposseses part of what she gave,
And the freed spirit mounts on wings of fire;
Each element partakes our scatter'd spoils;
As Nature, wide, our ruins spread: man's death
Inhabits all things, but the thought of man.
Nor man alone; his breathing bust expires,
His tomb is mortal; empires die: where now
The Roman? Greek? they stalk, an empty name!
Yet few regard them in this useful light;
Though half our learning is their epitaph.
When down thy vale, unlock'd by midnight thought,
That loves to wander in thy sunless realms,
O Death! I stretch my view; what visions rise!
What triumphs! toils imperial' arts divine!
In wither'd laurels glide before my sight!
What lengths of far-fam'd ages, billow'd high
With human agitation, roll along
In unsubstantial images of air!
The melancholy ghosts of dead renown,
Whispering faint echoes of the world's applause,
With penitential aspect, as they pass,
All point at Earth, and hiss at human pride,
The wisdom of the wise, and prancings of the great.
But, O Lorenzo! far the rest above,
Of ghastly nature, and enormous size,
One form assaults my sight, and chills my blood,
And shakes my frame. Of one departed world
I see the mighty shadow: oozy wreath
And dismal sea-weed crown her; o'er her urn
Reclin'd, she weeps her desolated realms,
And bloated sons; and, weeping, prophesies
Another's dissolution, soon, in flames.
But, like Cassandra, prophesies in vain ;
In vain, to many; not, I trust, to thee.
For, know'st thou not, or art thou loth to know,
The great decree, the counsel of the skies?
Deluge and conflagration, dreadful powers!
Prime ministers of vengeance! chain'd in caves
Distinct, apart the giant furies roar;
Apart; or, such their horrid rage for ruin,
In mutual conflict would they rise, and wage
Eternal war, till one was quite devour'd.
But not for this ordain'd their boundless rage;
When Heaven's inferior instruments of wrath,
War, famine, pestilence, are found too weak
To scourge a world for her enormous crimes,
These are let loose, alternate: down they rush,
Swift and tempestuous, from th' eternal throne,
With irresistible commission arm'd,
The world, in vain corrected, to destroy,
And ease creation of the shocking scene.
See'st thou, Lorenzo! what depends on man?
The fate of Nature; as for man, her birth.
Earth's actors change Earth's transitory scenes,
And make creation groan with human guilt.
How must it groan, in a new deluge whelm'd,
But not of waters! at the destin'd hour,
By the loud trumpet summon'd to the charge,
See, all the formidable sons of fire,
Eruptions, earthquakes, comets, lightnings, play
Their various engines; all at once disgorge
Their blazing magazines; and take, by storm,
This poor terrestrial citadel of man.
Amazing period! when each mountain-height
Out-burns Vesuvius; rocks eternal pour
Their melted mass, as rivers once they pour'd;
Stars rush; and final ruin fiercely drives
Her ploughshare o'er creation! - while aloft,
More than astonishment! if more can be!
Far other firmament than e'er was seen,
Than e'er was thought by man! far other stars!
Stars aniinate, that govern these of fire;
Far other sun! - A sun, O how unlike
The babe at Bethlem! how unlike the man
That groan'd on Calvary! - Yet he it is;
That Man of Sorrows! O how chang'd! what pomp!
In grandeur terrible, all Heaven descends!
And gods, ambitious, triumph in his train.
A swift archangel, with his golden wing,
As blots and clouds, that darken and disgrace
The scene divine, sweeps stars and suns aside.
And now, all dross remov'd, Heaven's own pure day,
Full on the confines of our ether, flames.
While (dreadful contrast!) far, how far beneath!
Hell, bursting, belches forth her blazing seas,
And storms sulphureous; her voracious jaws
Expanding wide, and roaring for her prey.
Lorenzo! welcome to this scene; the last
In Nature's course; the first in wisdom's thought.
This strikes, if aught can strike thee; this awakes
The most supine; this snatches man from death.