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O art ! distinguishing attribute and honour of human kind! who art not only able to imitate Nature in her graces; but even to adorn her with graces of thine own! Possessed of thee, the meanest genius grows deserving , and has a just demand for a portion of our esteem : devoid of thee, the brightest of our kind lie lost and useless, and are but poorly distinguished from the most despicable and base. When we inhabited forests in common with brutes , nor otherwise known from them than by the figure of our species, thou taughtest us to assert the sovereignty of our nature, and to assume that empire , for which Providence intended us. Thousands of utilities owe their birth to thee; thousands of elegancies, pleasures and joys, without which , life itself would be but an insipid possession. :
Wide and extensive is the reach of thy dominion. No element is there , either so violent or so subtile , so yielding or so sluggishi , as , by the powers of its nature , to be superior to thy direction. Thou dread
est not the fierce impetuosity of fire, but compellest its violence to be hoth obedient and useful. By it, thou softenest the stubborn tribe of minerals, so as to be formed and moulded into shapes innumerable. Hence weapons , armour, coin : and , previous to these and other thy works and energies , hence all those various tools and instruments, which impower thee to proceed to farther ends more excellent. Nor is the subtile air less obedient to thy power; whether thou willest it to be a minister to our pleasure, or utility. At thy command it giveih birth to sounds, which charm the soul with all the powers of harmony. Under thy instruction , it moves the ships over the seas ; while that yielding element, where, otherwise, we sink, even water itself is by thee , taught to bear us ; the vast ocean 10 promote that intercourse of nations, which ignorance would imagine it was destined to intercept. To say how thy influence is seen on earth , would be to teach the meanest what he knows already. Suffice it but to mention fields of arable and pasture ; lawns, and groves : and gardens, and plantations, cottages, villages , castles , towns , palaces, emples, and spacious cities.
Nor does thy empire end in subjects thus inanimate , its power also extends through the various race of animals ; who either patiently submit to become thy slaves, or are sure to find thee an irresistible foe. The faithful dog, the patient ox, the generous horse , and the mighty elephant are content, all, to receive their instructions from thee, and readily to lend their natural instincts or strength, to perform those offices, which thy occasions call for. If there be found any species, which are serviceable when dead, thou suggestest the means to investigate and take them : if any be so savage as to refuse being tamed, or of natures fierce enough to venture an attack, thou teachest us to scorn their brutal rage, to meet , repel, pursue , and conquer them.
Such , o Art , is thy amazing influence , when thou art employed only on these in-. ferior subjects, or natures inanimate , or, at best , irrational. But whenever thou choosest a subject more noble , and employest thyself in cultivating the mind itself, then it is thou becomest truly amiable and divine, the ever-flowing source of those sublimer beauties , of which no subject , but mind alone, is capable. Then it is thou art ena
bled to exhibit 10 mankind the admired tribe of poets and orators ; the sacred train of patriots and heroes ; the godlike list of philosophers and legislators; the forms of virtuous and equal politics, where private welfare is made the same with public , where crowds themselves prove distinterested, and virtue is made a national and popular chiaracteristic.
Hail ! sacred source of all these wonders ! Thyself instruct me, to praise thee worthily; through whom , whatever we do, is done with elegance and beauty ; without whom , what we do, is ever graceless and deformed. — Venerable power ! by what name shall I address thee? Shall I call thee ornament of mind, or art thou more truly Mind itself ? 'Tis Mind thou art, most perfect Mind : not rude , untaught; but fair, and polished : in such thou dwellest ; of such thou art the form ; nor is it a thing more possible, to separate thee from such, than it would be, to separate thee from thy own existence.
TO THE SE A.
Hail! thou inexaustible source of wonder and contemplation! - Hail! thou multitudinous ocean ! whose waves chase one another down like the generations of men, and after a momentary space, are immerged for ever in oblivion! - Thy fluctuating waters wash the varied shores of the world, and while they disjoin nations, whom a nearer connexion would involve in eternal war, they circulate their arts and their labours; and give health aud plenty to mankind.
How glorious ! how awful are the scenes thou displayest ! Whether we view thee when every wind is hushed --when the morning sun silvers the level line of the horizon - or when its evening track is marked with flaming gold, and thy unrippled bosom reflects the radiance of the over-arching Heavens ! - Or whether we behold thee in thy terrors ! - when the black tempest sweeps thy swelling billows, and the boiling surge mixes with the clouds,