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The sounding seas o'erwhelming, when the might
Of these eruptions, working from the depth
Of man's strong apprehension, shakes his frame
Even to the base ; from every naked sense
Of pain or pleasure dissipating all
Opinion's feeble coverings, and the veil
Spun from the cobweb fashion of the times
To hide the feeling heart? Then Nature speaks
Her genuine language, and the words of men,
Big with the very motion of their souls,
Declare with what accumulated force
The impetuous nerve of passion urges on
The native weight and energy of things.
Yet more: her honours where nor beauty claims
Nor shows of good the thirsty sense allure,
From Passion's power alone our nature holds
Essential pleasure. Passion's fierce illapse
Rouses the mind's whole fabric; with supplies
Of daily impulse keeps the elastic powers
Intensely pois'd, and polishes anew
By that collision all the fine machine :
Else rust would rise, and foulness, by degrees
Encumbering, choke at last what Heaven design'd
For ceaseless motion and a round of toil.
does every passion thus to man
Administer delight ? That name indeed
Becomes the rosy breath of Love; becomes
The radiant smiles of Joy, the applauding hand
Of Admiration : but the bitter shower
That Sorrow sheds upon a brother's grave,
But the dumb palsy of nocturnal Fear,
Or those consuming fires that gnaw the heart
Of panting Indignation, find we there
To move delight?- Then listen while my tongue
The unalter'd will of Heaven with faithful awe
Reveals ; what old Harmodius, wont to teach
My early age; Harmodius, who had weigh’d
Within his learned mind whate'er the schools
Of Wisdom, or thy lonely-whispering voice,
O faithful Nature ! dictate of the laws
Which govern and support this mighty frame
Of universal being. Oft the hours
From morn to eve have stolen unmark'd away,
While mute attention hung upon his lips,
As thus the sage his aweful tale began.
“'T was in the windings of an ancient wood,
When spotless youth with solitude resigns
To sweet philosophy the studious day,
What time pale Autumn shades the silent eve,
Musing I rov'd. Of good and evil much,
And much of mortal man, my thought revolv'd ;
When starting full on Fancy's gushing eye
The mournful image of Parthenia's fate,
That hour, O long belov'd and long deplor'd !
When blooming youth, nor gentlest Wisdom's arts,
Nor Hymen's honours gather'd for thy brow,
Nor all thy lover's, all thy father's tears
Avail'd to snatch thee from the cruel grave;
Thy agonizing looks, thy last farewell,
Struck to the inmost feeling of my soul
As with the hand of Death. At once the shade
More horrid nodded o'er me, and the winds
With hoarser murmuring shook the branches. Dark
As midniglit storms, the scene of human things
Appear'd before me ; deserts, burning sands,
Where the parch'd adder dies; the frozen south,
And Desolation blasting all the west
With rapine and with murder : tyrant Power
Here sits enthron'd with blood; the baleful charms
Of Superstition there infect the skies,
And turn the Sun to horrour. Gracious Heaven!
What is the life of man? Or cannot these,
Not these portents thy aweful will suffice?
That, propagated thus beyond their scope,
They rise to act their cruelties anew
In afflicted bosom, thus decreed
The universal sensitive of pain,
The wretched heir of evils not its own!
“ Thus I impatient; when, at once effus'd, A flashing torrent of celestial day
[scent Burst through the shadowy void. With slow deA purple cloud came floating through the sky, And poisid at length within the circling trees, Hung obvious to my view ; till opening wide Its lucid orb, a more than human form Emerging lean’d majestic o'er my head, And instant thunder shook the conscious grove. Then melted into air the liquid cloud, Then all the shining vision stood reveal'd. A wreath of palm his ample forehead bound, And o'er his shoulder, mantling to his knee, Flow'd the transparent robe, around his waist Collected with a radiant zone of gold Ethereal : there in mystic signs engravid, I read his office high, and sacred name, Genius of human kind. Appallid I gaz'd
The godlike presence ; for athwart his brow
Displeasure, temper'd with a mild concern,
Look'd down reluctant on me, and his words
Like distant thunders broke the murmuring air.
“ • Vain are thy thoughts, () child of mortal
And impotent thy tongue. Is thy short span
Capacious of this universal frame?
Thy wisdom all-sufficient? Thou, alas !
Dost thou aspire to judge between the Lord
Of Nature and his works? to lift thy voice
Against the sovereign order he decreed,
All good and lovely ? to blaspheme the bands
Of tenderness innate, and social love,
Holiest of things ! by which the general orb
Of being, as by adamantine links,
Was drawn to perfect union, and sustain'd
From everlasting ? Hast thou felt the pangs
Of softening sorrow, of indignant zeal
So grievous to the soul, as thence to wish
The ties of Nature broken from thy frame;
That so thy selfish, unrelenting heart
Might cease to mourn its lot, no longer then
The wretched heir of evils not its own ?
O fair benevolence of generous minds !
O man by Nature form’d for all mankind !'
“ He spoke ; abash'd and silent I remain'd,
As conscious of my tongue's offence, and aw'd
Before his presence, though my secret soul
Disdain'd the imputation. On the ground
I fix'd my eyes ; till from his airy couch
He stoop'd sublime, and touching with his hand
My dazzling forehead, • Raise thy sight,' he cry'd, . And let thy sense convince thy erring tongue.'
“ I look'd, and lo! the former scene was chang’d; For verdant alleys and surrounding trees, A solitary prospect, wide and wild, Rush'd on my senses. ’T was an horrid pile Of hills, with many a shaggy forest mix'd, With many a sable cliff and glittering stream. A loft, recumbent o'er the hanging ridge, The brown woods way'd; while ever-trickling
springs Wash'd from the naked roots of oak and pine The crumbling soil; and still at every fall Down the steep windings of the channel'd rock, Remurmuring rush'd congregated floods With hoarser inundation ; till at last They reach'd a grassy plain, which from the skirts Of that high desert spread her verdant lap, And drank the gushing moisture, where, confin'd In one smooth current, o'er the lilied vale Clearer than glass it flow'd. Autumnal spoils, Luxuriant spreading to the rays
of morn, Blush'd o’er the cliffs, whose half-encircling mound As in a sylvan theatre enclos’d That flowery level. On the river's brink I spy'd a fair pavilion, which diffus'd Its floating umbrage 'mid the silver shade Of osiers. Now the western Sun reveal'd Between two parting cliffs his golden orb, And pour'd across the shadow of the hills, On rocks and floods, a yellow stream of light That cheer'd the solemn scene. My listening powers