As we are at war with the power, it were well if we were at war with the manners, of France. A land of levity is a land of guilt. A serious mind is the native soil of every virtue; and the single character that does true honour to mankind. The soul's immortality has been the favourite theme with the serious of all ages. Nor is it strange: it is a subject by far the most interesting and important that can enter the mind of man. Of highest moment this subject always was, and always will be. Yet this its highest moment seems to admit of increase, at this day; a sort of occasional importance is superadded to the natural weight of it; if that opinion which is advanced in the Preface to the preceding Night be just. It is there supposed, that all our infidels, whatever scheme, for argument's sake, and to keep themselves in countenance, they patronise, are betrayed into their deplorable error, by some doubts of their immortality, at the bottom. And the more I consider this point, the more I am persuaded of the truth of that opinion. Though the distrust of a futurity is a strange error; yet it is an error into which bad men may naturally be distressed. For it is impossible to bid defiance to final ruin, without some refuge in imagination, some presumption of escape. And what presumption is there? There are but two in nature; but two, within the compass of human thought. And these are, -- That either God will not, or can not, punish. Considering the divine attributes, the first is too gross to be digested by our strongest wishes. And since omnipotence is as much a divine attribute as holiness, that God cannot punish, is as absurd a supposition as the former. God certainly can punish as long as wicked men exist. In non-existence, therefore, is their only refuge; and, consequently, non-existence is their strongest wish. And strong wishes have a strange influence on our opinions; they bias the judgment in a manner almost incredible. And since on this member of their alternative, there are some very small appearances in their favour, and none at all on the other, they catch at this reed, they lay hold on this chimera, to save themselves from the shock and horror of an immediate and absolute despair.
On reviewing my subject, by the light which this argument, and others of like tendency, threw upon it, I was more inclined than ever to pursue it, as it appeared to me to strike directly at the main root of all our infidelity. In the following pages it is, accordingly, pursued at large; and some arguments for immortality, new at least to me, are ventured on in them. There also the writer has made an attempt to set the gross absurdities and horrors of annihilation in a fuller and more affecting view than is (I think) to be met with elsewhere.
The gentlemen, for whose sake this attempt was chiefly made, profess great admiration for the wisdom of heathen antiquity: what pity it is they are not sincere! If they were sincere, how would it mortify them to consider, with what contempt and abhorrence their notions would have been received by those whom they so much admire! What degree of contempt and abhorrence would fall to their share, may be conjectured by the following matter of fact (in my opinion) extremely memorable. Of all their heathen worthies, Socrates (it is well known) was the most guarded, dispassionate, and composed: yet this great master of temper was angry; and angry at his last hour; and angry with his friend; and angry for what deserved acknowledgment; angry for a right and tender instance of true friendship towards him. Is not this surprising? What could be the cause? The cause was for his honour; it was a truly noble, though, perhaps, a too punctilious, regard for immortality. For his friend asking him, with such an affectionate concern as became a friend, |where he should deposit his remains,| it was resented by Socrates, as implying a dishonourable supposition, that he could be so mean, as to have a regard for anything, even in himself, that was not immortal.
This fact well considered, would make our infidels withdraw their admiration from Socrates; or make them endeavour, by their imitation of this illustrious example, to share his glory: and, consequently, it would incline them to peruse the following pages with candour and impartiality; which is all I desire; and that, for their sakes: for I am persuaded, that an unprejudiced infidel must, necessarily, receive some advantageous impressions from them.
July 7, 1744.
THE INFIDEL RECLAIMED.
In the Sixth Night arguments were drawn, from Nature, in proof of Immortality: here, others are drawn from Man: from his Discontent, ver.29; from his Passions and Powers, 63; from the gradual growth of Reason, 81; from his fear of Death, 86; from the nature of Hope, 104; and of Virtue, 159, &c.; from Knowledge and Love, as being the most essential properties of the soul, 253; from the order of Creation, 290, &c.; from the nature of Ambition, 337, &c.; Avarice, 460; Pleasure, 477. A digression on the grandeur of the Passions, 521. Immortality alone renders our present state intelligible, 545. An objection from the Stoics' disbelief of immortality answered, 585. Endless questions unresolvable, but on the supposition of our immortality, 606. The natural, most melancholy, and pathetic complaint of a worthy man, under the persuasion of no Futurity, 653, &c. The gross absurdities and horrors of annihilation urged home on Lorenzo, 843, &c. The soul's vast importance, 992, &c.; from whence it arises, 1080. The Difficulty of being an Infidel, 1133; the Infamy, 1148; the Cause, 1188; and the Character, 1203, of an Infidel state. What true free-thinking is, 1218. The necessary punishment of the false, 1273. Man's ruin is from himself, 1303. An Infidel accuses himself with guilt and hypocrisy, and that of the worst sort, 1319. His obligation to Christians, 1337. What danger he incurs by Virtue, 1345. Vice recommended to him, 1364. His high pretences to Virtue and Benevolence exploded, 1373. The Conclusion, on the nature of Faith, 1406; Reason, 1440; and Hope, 1445; with an apology for this attempt, 1472.
Heaven gives the needful, but neglected, call.
What day, what hour, but knocks at human hearts,
To wake the soul to sense of future scenes? 3
Deaths stand, like Mercuries, in every way,
And kindly point us to our journey's end.
Pope, who could'st make immortals! art thou dead?
I give thee joy: nor will I take my leave;
So soon to follow. Man but dives in death;
Dives from the sun, in fairer day to rise;
The grave, his subterranean road to bliss.10
Yes, infinite indulgence plann'd it so;
Through various parts our glorious story runs;
Time gives the preface, endless age unrolls
The volume (ne'er unroll'd!) of human fate.
This, earth and skies already have proclaim'd.
The world's a prophecy of worlds to come;
And who, what God foretells (who speaks in things,
Still louder than in words) shall dare deny?
If Nature's arguments appear too weak,
Turn a new leaf, and stronger read in Man.20
If man sleeps on, untaught by what he sees,
Can he prove infidel to what he feels?
He, whose blind thought futurity denies,
Unconscious bears, Bellerophon! like thee,
His own indictment; he condemns himself;
Who reads his bosom, reads immortal life;
Or, Nature, there, imposing on her sons,
Has written fables; man was made a lie.
Why Discontent for ever harbour'd there?
Incurable consumption of our peace! 30
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 blasts with mud and straw 34
Disquieted 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?
Not so; but to their master is denied
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, 42
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, though perhaps, debauch'd
By sense, his reason sleeps, nor dreams the cause.50
The cause how obvious, when his reason wakes!
His grief is but his grandeur in disguise;
And discontent is immortality.
Shall sons of ether, shall the blood of heaven,
Set up their hopes on earth, and stable here,
With brutal acquiescence in the mire?
Lorenzo, no! they shall be nobly pain'd;
The glorious foreigners, distress'd, shall sigh
On thrones; and thou congratulate the sigh:
Man's misery declares him born for bliss; 60
His anxious heart asserts the truth I sing,
And gives the sceptic in his head the lie.
Our heads, our hearts, our passions, and our powers,
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: 68
What prize on earth can pay us for the storm?
Meet objects for our passions Heaven ordain'd,
Objects that challenge all their fire, and leave
No fault, but in defect: bless'd Heaven! avert
A bounded ardour for unbounded bliss!
O for a bliss unbounded! Far beneath
A soul immortal, is a mortal joy.
Nor are our powers to perish immature;
But, after feeble effort here, beneath
A brighter sun, and in a nobler soil,
Transplanted from this sublunary bed,
Shall flourish fair, and put forth all their bloom.80
Reason progressive, Instinct is complete;
Swift Instinct leaps; slow Reason feebly climbs.
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.
Were man to live coeval with the sun,
The patriarch-pupil would be learning still;
Yet, dying, leave his lesson half unlearn'd.
Men perish in advance, as if the sun
Should set ere noon, in eastern oceans drown'd; 90
If fit, with dim, illustrious to compare,
The sun's meridian with the soul of man.
To man, why, stepdame Nature! so severe?
Why thrown aside thy masterpiece half wrought,
While meaner efforts thy last hand enjoy?
Or, if abortively, poor man must die,
Nor reach, what reach he might, why die in dread?
Why cursed with foresight? wise to misery?
Why of his proud prerogative the prey?
Why less pre-eminent in rank than pain? 100
His immortality alone can tell;
Full ample fund to balance all amiss, 102
And turn the scale in favour of the just!
His immortality alone can solve
The darkest of enigmas, human hope;
Of all the darkest, if at death we die.
Hope, eager Hope, th' assassin of our joy,
All present blessings treading under foot,
Is scarce a milder tyrant than Despair.
With no past toils content, still planting new, 110
Hope turns us o'er to death alone for ease.
Possession, why more tasteless than pursuit?
Why is a wish far dearer than a crown?
That wish accomplish'd, why the grave of bliss?
Because, in the great future buried deep,
Beyond our plans of empire and renown,
Lies all that man with ardour 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; 120
And makes his hope his sublunary joy.
Man's heart eats all things, and is hungry still;
|More, more!| the glutton cries: for something new
So rages appetite, if man can't mount,
He will descend. He starves on the possess'd.
Hence, the world's master, from ambition's spire,
In Caprea plunged; and dived 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.130
Old Rome consulted birds; Lorenzo! thou
With more success, the flight of Hope survey;
Of restless Hope, for ever on the wing.
High perch'd o'er every thought that falcon sits,
To fly at all that rises in her sight;
And never stooping, but to mount again 136
Next moment, she betrays her aim's mistake,
And owns her quarry lodged beyond the grave.
There should it fail us (it must fail us there,
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: 143
What true self-interest 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 sovereign good.
In self-applause is virtue's golden prize;
No self-applause attends it on thy scheme:
Whence self-applause? From conscience of the right.
And what is right, but means of happiness? 151
No means of happiness when virtue yields;
That basis failing, falls the building too,
And lays in ruin every virtuous joy.
The rigid guardian of a blameless heart,
So long revered, so long reputed wise,
Is weak; with rank knight-errantries o'errun.
Why beats thy bosom with illustrious dreams
Of self-exposure, laudable, and great?
Of gallant enterprise, and glorious death? 160
Die for thy country! -- Thou romantic fool!
Seize, seize the plank thyself, and let her sink:
Thy country! what to thee? -- the Godhead, what?
(I speak with awe!) though He should bid thee bleed?
If, with thy blood, thy final hope is spilt,
Nor can Omnipotence reward the blow,
Be deaf; preserve thy being; disobey.
Nor is it disobedience: know, Lorenzo!
Whate'er th' Almighty's subsequent command,
His first command is this: -- |Man, love thyself.| 170
In this alone, free agents are not free.
Existence is the basis, bliss the prize;
If virtue costs existence, 'tis a crime;
Bold violation of our law supreme,
Black suicide; though nations, which consult
Their gain, at thy expence, resound applause.
Since Virtue's recompence 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? 180
Why to be good in vain, is man betray'd?
Betray'd by traitors lodged in his own breast,
By sweet complacencies from virtue felt?
Why whispers Nature lies on Virtue's part?
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? 190
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 rush on death -- because he cannot die.
But if man loses all, when life is lost,
He lives a coward, or a fool expires.200
A daring infidel (and such there are,
From pride, example, lucre, rage, revenge,
Or pure heroical defect of thought), 203
Of all earth's madmen, most deserves a chain.
When to the grave we follow the renown'd
For valour, virtue, science, all we love,
And all we praise; for worth, whose noontide beam,
Enabling us to think in higher style,
Mends our ideas of ethereal powers;
Dream we, that lustre of the moral world 210
Goes out in stench, and rottenness the close?
Why was he wise to know, and warm to praise,
And strenuous to transcribe, in human life,
The Mind Almighty? Could it be, that Fate,
Just when the lineaments began to shine,
And dawn the Deity, should snatch the draught,
With night eternal blot it out, and give
The skies alarm, lest angels too might die?
If human souls, why not angelic too
Extinguish'd? and a solitary God, 220
O'er ghastly ruin, frowning from his throne?
Shall we this moment gaze on God in man?
The next, lose man for ever in the dust?
From dust we disengage, or man mistakes;
And there, where least his judgment fears a flaw.
Wisdom and worth, how boldly he commends!
Wisdom and worth, are sacred names; revered,
Where not embraced; applauded; deified;
Why not compassion'd too? If spirits die,
Both are calamities, inflicted both, 230
To make us but more wretched: Wisdom's eye
Acute, for what? to spy more miseries;
And worth, so recompensed, new-points their stings.
Or man surmounts the grave, or gain is loss,
And worth exalted humbles us the more.
Thou wilt not patronise a scheme that makes 236
Weakness and vice the refuge of mankind.
|Has virtue, then, no joys?| -- Yes, joys dear-bought.
Talk ne'er so long, in this imperfect state,
Virtue and vice are at eternal war,
Virtue's a combat; and who fights for nought?
Or for precarious, or for small reward?
Who virtue's self-reward so loud resound, 243
Would take degrees angelic here below,
And virtue, while they compliment, betray,
By feeble motives, and unfaithful guards.
The crown, th' unfading crown, her soul inspires:
'Tis that, and that alone, can countervail
The body's treacheries, and the world's assaults:
On earth's poor pay our famish'd virtue dies.250
Truth incontestible! in spite of all
A Bayle has preach'd, or a Voltaire believed.
In man the more we dive, the more we see
Heaven's signet stamping an immortal make.
Dive to the bottom of his soul, the base
Sustaining all; what find we? knowledge, love.
As light and heat, essential to the sun,
These to the soul. And why, if souls expire?
How little lovely here? how little known?
Small knowledge we dig up with endless toil; 260
And love unfeign'd may purchase perfect hate.
Why starved, on earth, our angel appetites;
While brutal are indulged their fulsome fill?
Were then capacities divine conferr'd,
As a mock-diadem, in savage sport,
Rank insult of our pompous poverty,
Which reaps but pain, from seeming claims so fair?
In future age lies no redress? and shuts
Eternity the door on our complaint?
If so, for what strange ends were mortals made! 270
The worst to wallow, and the best to weep;
The man who merits most, must most complain:
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 power;
And these demonstrate boundless objects too.
Objects, powers, appetites, Heaven suits in all;
Nor, nature through, e'er violates this sweet,
Eternal concord, on her tuneful string.280
Is Man the sole exception from her laws?
Eternity struck off from human hope
(I speak with truth, but veneration too),
Man is a monster, the reproach of Heaven,
A stain, a dark impenetrable cloud
On Nature's beauteous aspect; and deforms
(Amazing blot!), deforms her with her lord.
If such is man's allotment, what is heaven?
Or own the soul immortal, or blaspheme.
Or own the soul immortal, or invert 290
All order. Go, mock-majesty! go, man!
And bow to thy superiors of the stall;
Through every scene of sense superior far:
They graze the turf untill'd; they drink the stream
Unbrew'd, and ever full, and unembitter'd
With doubts, fears, fruitless hopes, regrets, despairs;
Mankind's peculiar! reason's precious dower!
No foreign clime they ransack for their robes;
Nor brothers cite to the litigious bar;
Their good is good entire, unmix'd, unmarr'd; 300
They find a paradise in every field,
On boughs forbidden where no curses hang:
Their ill no more than strikes the sense; unstretch'd
By previous dread, or murmur in the rear: 304
When the worst comes, it comes unfear'd; one stroke
Begins, and ends, their woe: they die but once;
Bless'd, incommunicable privilege! for which
Proud man, who rules the globe, and reads the stars,
Philosopher, or hero, 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.312
O sole and sweet solution! that unties
The difficult, and softens the severe;
The cloud on nature's beauteous face dispels;
Restores bright order; casts the brute beneath;
And re-enthrones us in supremacy
Of joy, even here: admit immortal life,
And virtue is knight-errantry no more;
Each virtue brings in hand a golden dower, 320
Far richer in reversion: Hope exults;
And though much bitter in our cup is thrown,
Predominates, and gives the taste of heaven.
O wherefore is the Deity so kind?
Astonishing beyond astonishment!
Heaven our reward -- for heaven enjoy'd below.
Still unsubdued 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 330
New, unexpected witnesses against thee?
Ambition, pleasure, and the love of gain!
Canst thou suspect that these, which make the soul
The slave of earth, should own her heir of heaven?
Canst thou suspect what makes us disbelieve
Our immortality, should prove it sure?
First, then, Ambition summon to the bar.
Ambition's shame, extravagance, disgust 338
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,
Though for best deeds, and from the best of men:
And why? Because immortal. Art divine
Has made the body tutor to the soul;
Heaven 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; 350
While o'er us, in tremendous judgment sit
Far more than man, with endless praise, and blame.
Ambition's boundless appetite outspeaks
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:
Wild dream! which ne'er had haunted human thought,
Had not our natures been eternal too.361
Instinct points out an interest 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 th' ambitious, 'tis ambition's cure.
|And is this all?| cried Cæsar at his height,
Disgusted. This third proof Ambition brings 370
Of immortality. The first in fame.
Observe him near, your envy will abate: 372
Shamed 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:
It calls in whispers, yet the deafest hear.
And can Ambition a fourth proof supply?
It can, and stronger than the former three; 380
Yet quite o'erlook'd by some reputed wise.
Though disappointments in ambition pain,
And though success disgusts; yet still, Lorenzo!
In vain we strive to pluck it from our hearts;
By Nature planted for the noblest ends.
Absurd the famed advice to Pyrrhus given,
More praised, than ponder'd; specious, but unsound;
Sooner that hero's sword the world had quell'd,
Than Reason, his ambition. Man must soar.
An obstinate activity within, 390
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; 400
The praise of mortals, or the praise of Heaven.
Nor absolutely vain is human praise,
When human is supported by divine.
I'll introduce Lorenzo to himself; 404
Pleasure and Pride (bad masters!) share our hearts.
As love of pleasure is ordain'd to guard
And feed our bodies, and extend our race;
The love of praise is planted to protect,
And propagate the glories of the mind.
What is it, but the love of praise, inspires,
Matures, refines, embellishes, exalts,
Earth's happiness? From that, the delicate, 412
The grand, the marvellous, of civil life,
Want and convenience, underworkers, lay
The basis, on which love of glory builds.
Nor is thy life, O Virtue! less in debt
To praise, thy secret stimulating friend.
Were men not proud, what merit should we miss!
Pride made the virtues of the Pagan world.
Praise is the salt that seasons right to man, 420
And whets his appetite for moral good.
Thirst of applause is Virtue's second guard;
Reason, her first; but reason wants an aid;
Our private reason is a flatterer;
Thirst of applause calls public judgment in,
To poise our own, to keep an even scale,
And give endanger'd Virtue fairer play.
Here a fifth proof arises, stronger still:
Why this so nice construction of our hearts?
These delicate moralities of sense; 430
This constitutional reserve of aid
To succour virtue, when our reason fails;
If virtue, kept alive by care and toil,
And oft, the mark of injuries on earth,
When labour'd to maturity (its bill
Of disciplines, and pains, unpaid), must die?
Why freighted rich, to dash against a rock?
Were man to perish when most fit to live, 438
O how misspent were all these stratagems,
By skill divine inwoven in our frame!
Where are Heaven's holiness and mercy fled?
Laughs Heaven, at once, at Virtue, and at Man?
If not, why that discouraged, this destroy'd?
Thus far Ambition. What says Avarice?
This her chief maxim, which has long been thine:
|The wise and wealthy are the same,| -- I grant it.
To store up treasure with incessant toil,
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; 450
'Tis thine to tell us where true treasure lies:
But, Reason failing to discharge her trust,
Or to the deaf discharging it in vain,
A blunder follows; and blind Industry,
Gall'd by the spur, but stranger to the course
(The course where stakes of more than gold are won),
O'erloading, with the cares of distant age,
The jaded spirits of the present hour,
Provides for an eternity below.
|Thou shalt not covet,| is a wise command; 460
But bounded to the wealth the sun surveys:
Look farther, the command stands quite reversed,
And avarice is a virtue most divine.
Is faith a refuge for our happiness?
Most sure: and is it not for reason too?
Nothing this world unriddles, but the next.
Whence inextinguishable thirst of gain?
From inextinguishable life in man.
Man, if not meant, by worth, to reach the skies,
Had wanted wing to fly so far in guilt.470
Sour grapes, I grant, ambition, avarice,
Yet still their root is immortality: 472
These its wild growths so bitter, and so base,
(Pain and reproach!) Religion can reclaim,
Refine, exalt, throw down their poisonous lee,
And make them sparkle in the bowl of bliss.
See, the third witness laughs at bliss remote,
And falsely promises an Eden here:
Truth she shall speak for once, though prone to lie,
A common cheat, and Pleasure is her name.480
To Pleasure never was Lorenzo deaf;
Then hear her now, now first thy real friend.
Since Nature made us not more fond than proud
Of happiness (whence hypocrites in joy!
Makers of mirth! artificers of smiles!),
Why should the joy most poignant sense affords,
Burn us with blushes, and rebuke our pride? --
Those heaven-born blushes tell us man descends,
Even in the zenith of his earthly bliss:
Should Reason take her infidel repose, 490
This honest instinct speaks our lineage high;
This instinct calls on darkness to conceal
Our rapturous relation to the stalls.
Our glory covers us with noble shame,
And he that's unconfounded, is unmann'd.
The man that blushes, is not quite a brute.
Thus far with thee, Lorenzo, will I close:
Pleasure is good, and man for pleasure made;
But pleasure full of glory, as of joy;
Pleasure, which neither blushes, nor expires.500
The witnesses are heard; the cause is o'er;
Let Conscience file the sentence in her court,
Dearer than deeds that half a realm convey;
Thus seal'd by Truth, th' authentic record runs:
|Know all; know, infidels, -- unapt to know!
'Tis immortality your nature solves; 506
'Tis immortality deciphers man,
And opens all the mysteries 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 sateless thirst of pleasure, gold, and fame,
Declares him born for blessings infinite: 513
What less than infinite makes unabsurd
Passions, which all on earth but more inflames?
Fierce passions, so mismeasured to this scene,
Stretch'd out, like eagles' wings, beyond our nest,
Far, far beyond the worth of all below,
For earth too large, presage a nobler flight,
And evidence our title to the skies.| 520
Ye gentle theologues, of calmer kind!
Whose constitution dictates to your pen,
Who, cold yourselves, think ardour comes from hell!
Think not our passions from Corruption sprung,
Though to Corruption now they lend their wings;
That is their mistress, not their mother. All
(And justly) Reason deem divine: I see,
I feel a grandeur in the passions too,
Which speaks their high descent, and glorious end;
Which speaks them rays of an eternal fire.530
In Paradise itself they burn'd as strong,
Ere Adam fell; though wiser in their aim.
Like the proud Eastern, struck by Providence,
What though our passions are run mad, and stoop
With low, terrestrial appetite, to graze
On trash, on toys, dethroned from high desire?
Yet still, through their disgrace, no feeble ray
Of greatness shines, and tells us whence they fell:
But these (like that fallen monarch when reclaim'd), 539
When Reason moderates the rein aright,
Shall reascend, remount their former sphere,
Where once they soar'd illustrious; ere seduced
By wanton Eve's debauch, to stroll on earth,
And set the sublunary world on fire.
But grant their phrensy lasts; their phrensy fails
To disappoint one providential end,
For which Heaven blew up ardour in our hearts:
Were Reason silent, boundless Passion speaks
A future scene of boundless objects too,
And brings glad tidings of eternal day.550
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;
A crystalline transparency prevails,
And strikes full lustre through the human sphere:
Consider man as mortal, all is dark,
And wretched; Reason weeps at the survey.
The learn'd Lorenzo cries, |And let her weep,
Weak, modern Reason: ancient times were wise.560
Authority, that venerable guide,
Stands on my part; the famed Athenian porch
(And who for wisdom so renown'd as they?)
Denied this immortality to man.|
I grant it; but affirm, they proved it too.
A riddle this! -- have patience; I'll explain.
What noble vanities, what moral flights,
Glittering through their romantic wisdom's page,
Make us at once despise them, and admire?
Fable is flat to these high-season'd sires; 570
They leave th' extravagance of song below.
|Flesh shall not feel; or, feeling, shall enjoy
The dagger, or the rack; to them, alike 573
A bed of roses, or the burning bull.|
In men exploding all beyond the grave,
Strange doctrine, this! As doctrine, it was strange;
But not, as prophecy; for such it proved,
And, to their own amazement, was fulfill'd:
They feign'd a firmness Christians need not feign.
The Christian truly triumph'd in the flame: 580
The Stoic saw, in double wonder lost,
Wonder at them, and wonder at himself,
To find the bold adventures of his thought
Not bold, and that he strove to lie in vain.
Whence, then, those thoughts? those towering thoughts, that flew
Such monstrous heights? -- From instinct, and from pride.
The glorious instinct of a deathless soul,
Confusedly conscious of her dignity,
Suggested truths they could not understand.
In Lust's dominion, and in Passion's storm, 590
Truth's system broken, scatter'd fragments lay,
As light in chaos, glimmering through the gloom:
Smit with the pomp of lofty sentiments,
Pleased Pride proclaim'd, what Reason disbelieved.
Pride, like the Delphic priestess, with a swell,
Raved nonsense, destined to be future sense,
When life immortal, in full day, shall shine;
And death's dark shadows fly the Gospel sun.
They spoke, what nothing but immortal souls
Could speak; and thus the truth they question'd, proved.
Can then absurdities, as well as crimes, 601
Speak man immortal? All things speak him so.
Much has been urged; and dost thou call for more?
Call; and with endless questions be distress'd,
All unresolvable, if earth is all.
|Why life, a moment; infinite, desire? 606
Our wish, eternity? Our home, the grave?
Heaven's promise dormant lies in human hope;
Who wishes life immortal, proves it too.
Why happiness pursued, though never found?
Man's thirst of happiness declares it is,
(For nature never gravitates to nought);
That thirst unquench'd declares it is not here.613
My Lucia, thy Clarissa call to thought;
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, 620
And putting all our present joys to death?
Why labours Reason? Instinct were as well;
Instinct far better; what can choose, can err:
O how infallible the thoughtless brute!
'Twere well his Holiness were half as sure.
Reason with inclination, why at war?
Why sense of guilt? why Conscience up in arms?|
Conscience of guilt, is prophecy of pain,
And bosom-council to decline the blow.
Reason with inclination ne'er had jarr'd, 630
If nothing future paid forbearance here:
Thus on -- these, and a thousand pleas uncall'd,
All promise, some insure, a second scene;
Which, were it doubtful, would be dearer far
Than all things else most certain; were it false,
What truth on earth so precious as the lie?
This world it gives us, let what will ensue;
This world it gives, in that high cordial, hope:
The future of the present is the soul.
How this life groans, when sever'd from the next! 640
Poor mutilated wretch, that disbelieves!
By dark distrust his being cut in two,
In both parts perishes; life void of joy,
Sad prelude of eternity in pain!
Couldst thou persuade me, the next life could fail
Our ardent wishes; how should I pour out
My bleeding heart in anguish, new, as deep!
Oh! with what thoughts, thy hope, and my despair,
Abhorr'd annihilation! blasts the soul,
And wide extends the bounds of human woe! 650
Could I believe Lorenzo's system true,
In this black channel would my ravings run:
|Grief from the future borrow'd peace, erewhile.
The future vanish'd! and the present pain'd!
Strange import of unprecedented ill!
Fall, how profound! Like Lucifer's, the fall!
Unequal fate! his fall, without his guilt!
From where fond Hope built her pavilion high,
The gods among, hurl'd headlong, hurl'd at once
To night! to nothing! darker still than night.660
If 'twas a dream, why wake me, my worst foe,
Lorenzo! boastful of the name of friend?
O for delusion! O for error still!
Could vengeance strike much stronger than to plant
A thinking being in a world like this,
Not over-rich before, now beggar'd quite;
More cursed than at the fall? -- The sun goes out!
The thorns shoot up! What thorns in every thought!
Why sense of better? It embitters worse.
Why sense? why life? If but to sigh, then sink 670
To what I was! twice nothing! and much woe!
Woe, from Heaven's bounties! woe from what was wont
To flatter most, high intellectual powers.
Thought, virtue, knowledge! -- blessings, by thy scheme,
All poison'd into pains. First, knowledge, once 675
My soul's ambition, now her greatest dread.
To know myself, true wisdom? -- No, to shun
That shocking science, parent of despair!
Avert thy mirror: if I see, I die.
|Know my Creator! climb his bless'd abode
By painful speculation, pierce the veil,
Dive in his nature, read his attributes,
And gaze in admiration -- on a foe, 683
Obtruding life, withholding happiness!
From the full rivers that surround his throne,
Not letting fall one drop of joy on man;
Man gasping for one drop, that he might cease
To curse his birth, nor envy reptiles more!
Ye sable clouds! ye darkest shades of night!
Hide him, for ever hide him, from my thought, 690
Once all my comfort; source, and soul of joy!
Now leagued with furies, and with thee, against me.
|Know his achievements? study his renown?
Contemplate this amazing universe,
Dropp'd 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?
Through nature's ample range, in thought, to stroll, 700
And start at man, the single mourner there,
Breathing high hope, chain'd down to pangs, and death?
Knowing is suffering: and shall Virtue share
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, 707
Angelic worth, soon shuffled in the dark
With every vice, and swept to brutal dust?
Merit is madness; virtue is a crime;
A crime to reason, if it costs us pain
Unpaid: what pain, amidst a thousand more,
To think the most abandon'd, after days 713
Of triumph o'er their betters, find in death
As soft a pillow, nor make fouler clay!
|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 favourites of the skies: 720
Ye towering hopes! abortive energies!
That toss, and struggle, in my lying breast,
To scale the skies, and build presumptions there,
As I were heir of an eternity.
Vain, vain ambitions! trouble me no more.
Why travel far in quest of sure defeat?
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; 730
Ye new, but truest patrons of our peace!
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.
Instinct, than reason, makes more wholesome meals,
And sends all-marring murmur far away.
For sensual life they best philosophize; 740
Theirs, that serene, the sages sought in vain: 741
'Tis man alone expostulates with Heaven;
His all the power, and all the cause, to mourn.
Shall human eyes alone dissolve in tears?
And bleed, in anguish, none but human hearts?
The wide-stretch'd realm of intellectual woe,
Surpassing sensual far, is all our own.
In life so fatally distinguish'd, why
Cast in one lot, confounded, lump'd, in death?
|Ere yet in being, was mankind in guilt? 750
Why thunder'd this peculiar clause against us,
All-mortal, and all-wretched! -- Have the skies
Reasons of state, their subjects may not scan,
Nor humbly reason, when they sorely sigh?
All-mortal, and all-wretched! -- 'Tis too much:
Unparallell'd in nature: 'tis too much
On being unrequested at thy hands,
Omnipotent! for I see nought but power.
|And why see that? Why thought? To toil, and eat,
Then make our bed in darkness, needs no thought.760
What superfluities are reasoning 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 Heaven to make one emmet more? 770
Too much for chaos to permit my mass
A longer stay with essences unwrought,
Unfashion'd, untormented into man?
Wretched preferment to this round of pains!
Wretched capacity of phrensy, thought! 775
Wretched capacity of dying, life!
Life, thought, worth, wisdom, all (O foul revolt!)
Once friends to peace, gone over to the foe.
|Death, then, has changed his nature too: O Death!
Come to my bosom, thou best gift of Heaven!
Best friend of man! since man is man no more.
Why in this thorny wilderness so long,
Since there's no promised land's ambrosial bower, 783
To pay me with its honey for my stings?
If needful to the selfish schemes of Heaven
To sting us sore, why mock'd our misery?
Why this so sumptuous insult o'er our heads?
Why this illustrious canopy display'd?
Why so magnificently lodged Despair?
At stated periods, sure returning, roll 790
These glorious orbs, that mortals may compute
Their length of labours, and of pains; nor lose
Their misery's full measure? -- Smiles with flowers,
And fruits, promiscuous, ever-teeming earth,
That man may languish in luxurious scenes,
And in an Eden mourn his wither'd joys?
Claim earth and skies man's admiration, due
For such delights! Blest animals! too wise
To wonder, and too happy to complain!
|Our doom decreed demands a mournful scene: 800
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 colour 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 desire;
If, from her humble chamber in the dust, 809
While proud thought swells, and high desire inflames,
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 death,
Once I beheld a sun; a sun which gilt
That sable cloud, and turn'd it all to gold:
How the grave's alter'd! fathomless, as hell!
A real hell to those who dreamt of heaven.
Annihilation! how it yawns before me!
Next moment I may drop from thought, from sense, 820
The privilege of angels, and of worms,
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 powers,
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, 830
On that enormous, unrefunding tomb,
How just this verse! this monumental sigh!|
Beneath the lumber of demolish'd worlds,
Deep in the rubbish of the general wreck,
Swept ignominious to the common mass
Of matter, never dignified with life,
Here lie proud rationals; the sons of heaven!
The lords of earth! the property of worms!
Beings of yesterday, and no to-morrow!
Who lived in terror, and in pangs expired! 840
All gone to rot in chaos; or to make
Their happy transit into blocks or brutes, 842
Nor longer sully their Creator's name.
Lorenzo! hear, pause, ponder, and pronounce.
Just is this history? If such is man,
Mankind's historian, though divine, might weep.
And dares Lorenzo smile! -- I know thee proud;
For once let Pride befriend thee; Pride looks pale
At such a scene, and sighs for something more.
Amid thy boasts, presumptions, and displays, 850
And art thou then a shadow? less than shade?
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?
Charm riches? Why choose beggary in the grave,
Of every hope a bankrupt! and for ever?
Ambition, pleasure, avarice, persuade thee
To make that world of glory, rapture, wealth, 860
They lately proved, the soul's supreme desire.
What art thou made of? Rather, how unmade?
Great Nature's master-appetite destroy'd!
Is endless life, and happiness, despised?
Or both wish'd, here, where neither can be found?
Such man's perverse, eternal war with Heaven!
Darest 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 deity, blown up 870
In sport, and then in cruelty destroy'd?
Oh! for what crime, unmerciful Lorenzo!
Destroys thy scheme the whole of human race?
Kind is fell Lucifer, compared to thee: 874
Oh! spare this waste of being half divine;
And vindicate th' economy of Heaven.
Heaven 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 bless'd, or worthy so to be?
Heaven starts at an annihilating God.
Is that, all Nature starts at, thy desire? 882
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.890
And, oh! what depth of horror lies enclosed!
For non-existence no man ever wish'd,
But, first, he wish'd the Deity destroy'd.
If so; what words are dark enough to draw
Thy picture true? The darkest are too fair.
Beneath what baleful planet, in what hour
Of desperation, by what fury's aid,
In what infernal posture of the soul,
All hell invited, and all hell in joy
At such a birth, a birth so near of kin, 900
Did thy foul fancy whelp so black a scheme
Of hopes abortive, faculties half-blown,
And deities begun, reduced to dust?
There's nought (thou say'st) but one eternal flux
Of feeble essences, tumultuous driven
Through Time's rough billows into Night's abyss.
Say, in this rapid tide of human ruin,
Is there no rock, on which man's tossing thought 908
Can rest from terror, dare his fate survey,
And boldly think it something to be born?
Amid such hourly wrecks of being fair,
Is there no central, all-sustaining base,
All-realising, all-connecting power,
Which, as it call'd forth all things, can recall,
And force Destruction to refund her spoil?
Command the grave restore her taken prey?
Bid death's dark vale its human harvest yield,
And earth, and ocean, pay their debt of man,
True to the grand deposit trusted there?
Is there no potentate, whose outstretch'd arm, 920
When ripening time calls forth th' appointed hour,
Pluck'd from foul Devastation's famish'd maw,
Binds present, past, and future, to his throne?
His throne, how glorious, thus divinely graced,
By germinating beings clustering round!
A garland worthy the divinity!
A throne, by Heaven's omnipotence in smiles,
Built (like a Pharos towering in the waves)
Amidst immense effusions of his love!
An ocean of communicated bliss! 930
An all-prolific, all-preserving God!
This were a God indeed. -- And such is man,
As here presumed: he rises from his fall.
Think'st 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 where, oh! where,
Will the swarm settle? -- When the trumpet's call,
As sounding brass, collects us, round Heaven's throne
Conglobed, we bask in everlasting day, 941
(Paternal splendour!) and adhere for ever.942
Had not the soul this outlet to the skies,
In this vast vessel of the universe,
How should we gasp, as in an empty void!
How in the pangs of famish'd hope expire?
How bright my prospect shines! how gloomy, thine!
A trembling world! and a devouring God!
Earth, but the shambles of Omnipotence!
Heaven's face all stain'd with causeless massacres 950
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,
Where nought substantial but our misery?
Where joy (if joy) but heightens our distress,
So soon to perish, and revive no more?
The greater such a joy, the more it pains.
A world, so far from great, (and yet how great
It shines to thee!) there's nothing real in it; 960
Being, a shadow; consciousness, a dream!
A dream, how dreadful! universal blank
Before it, and behind! Poor man, a spark
From non-existence struck by wrath divine,
Glittering a moment, nor that moment sure,
'Midst upper, nether, and surrounding night,
His sad, sure, sudden, and eternal tomb!
Lorenzo! dost thou feel these arguments?
Or is there nought but vengeance can be felt?
How hast thou dared the Deity dethrone? 970
How dared indict Him of a world like this?
If such the world, creation was a crime;
For what is crime, but cause of misery?
Retract, blasphemer! and unriddle this,
Of endless arguments above, below,
Without us, and within, the short result -- 976
|If man's immortal, there's a God in heaven.|
But wherefore such redundancy? such waste
Of argument? One sets my soul at rest!
One obvious, and at hand, and, oh! -- at heart.
So just the skies, Philander's life so pain'd,
His heart so pure; that, or succeeding scenes
Have palms to give, or ne'er had he been born.983
|What an old tale is this!| Lorenzo cries. --
I grant this argument is old; but truth
No years impair; and had not this been true,
Thou never hadst despised it for its age.
Truth is immortal as thy soul; and fable
As fleeting as thy joys: be wise, nor make
Heaven's highest blessing, vengeance; oh, be wise! 990
Nor make a curse of immortality.
Say, know'st thou what it is, or what thou art?
Know'st thou th' importance of a soul immortal?
Behold this midnight glory: worlds on worlds!
Amazing pomp! redouble this amaze;
Ten thousand add; add twice ten thousand more;
Then weigh the whole; one soul outweighs them all;
And calls th' astonishing magnificence
Of unintelligent creation, poor.
For this, believe not me; no man believe: 1000
Trust not in words, but deeds; and deeds no less
Than those of the Supreme; nor His, a few;
Consult them all; consulted, all proclaim
Thy soul's importance: tremble at thyself;
For whom Omnipotence has waked so long:
Has waked, and work'd, for ages; from the birth
Of Nature to this unbelieving hour.
In this small province of His vast domain
(All nature bow, while I pronounce His Name!)
What has God done, and not for this sole end, 1010
To rescue souls from death? The soul's high price
Is writ in all the conduct of the skies.
The soul's high price is the creation's key,
Unlocks its mysteries, and naked lays
The genuine cause of every deed divine:
That is the chain of ages, which maintains
Their obvious correspondence, and unites
Most distant periods in one bless'd design:
That is the mighty hinge, on which have turn'd
All revolutions, whether we regard 1020
The natural, civil, or religious, world;
The former two but servants to the third:
To that their duty done, they both expire,
Their mass new-cast, forgot their deeds renown'd;
And angels ask, |Where once they shone so fair?|
To lift us from this abject, to sublime;
This flux, to permanent; this dark, to day;
This foul, to pure; this turbid, to serene;
This mean, to mighty! -- for this glorious end
Th' Almighty, rising, his long Sabbath broke! 1030
The world was made; was ruin'd; was restored;
Laws from the skies were publish'd; were repeal'd;
On earth, kings, kingdoms, rose; kings, kingdoms, fell;
Famed sages lighted up the Pagan world;
Prophets from Sion darted a keen glance
Through distant age; saints travell'd; martyrs bled;
By wonders sacred nature stood controll'd;
The living were translated; dead were raised;
Angels, and more than angels, came from heaven;
And, oh! for this, descended lower still; 1040
Guilt was hell's gloom; astonish'd at his guest,
For one short moment Lucifer adored:
Lorenzo! and wilt thou do less? -- For this,
That hallow'd page, fools scoff at, was inspired, 1044
Of all these truths thrice venerable code!
Deists! perform your quarantine; and then
Fall prostrate, ere you touch it, lest you die.
Nor less intensely bent infernal powers
To mar, than those of light, this end to gain.
Oh, what a scene is here! -- Lorenzo, wake!
Rise to the thought; exert, expand thy soul
To take the vast idea: it denies 1052
All else the name of great. Two warring worlds!
Not Europe against Afric; warring worlds!
Of more than mortal! mounted on the wing!
On ardent wings of energy, and zeal,
High hovering o'er this little brand of strife!
This sublunary ball -- but strife, for what?
In their own cause conflicting? No; in thine,
In Man's. His single interest blows the flame; 1060
His the sole stake; his fate the trumpet sounds,
Which kindles war immortal. How it burns!
Tumultuous swarms of deities in arms!
Force, force opposing, till the waves run high,
And tempest nature's universal sphere.
Such opposites eternal, steadfast, stern,
Such foes implacable, are Good, and Ill;
Yet man, vain man, would mediate peace between them.
Think not this fiction, |There was war in heaven.|
From heaven's high crystal mountain, where it hung,
Th' Almighty's outstretch'd arm took down his bow, 1071
And shot his indignation at the deep:
Re-thunder'd hell, and darted all her fires. --
And seems the stake of little moment still?
And slumbers man, who singly caused the storm?
He sleeps. -- And art thou shock'd at mysteries?
The greatest, thou. How dreadful to reflect,
What ardour, care, and counsel, mortals cause 1078
In breasts divine! how little in their own!
Where'er I turn, how new proofs pour upon me!
How happily this wondrous view supports
My former argument! How strongly strikes
Immortal life's full demonstration, here!
Why this exertion? Why this strange regard
From heaven's Omnipotent indulged to man? --
Because, in man, the glorious dreadful power,
Extremely to be pain'd, or bless'd, for ever.
Duration gives importance; swells the price
An angel, if a creature of a day,
What would he be? a trifle of no weight; 1090
Or stand, or fall; no matter which; he's gone.
Because immortal, therefore is indulged
This strange regard of deities to dust.
Hence, Heaven looks down on earth with all her eyes;
Hence, the soul's mighty moment in her sight:
Hence, every soul has partisans above,
And every thought a critic in the skies:
Hence, clay, vile clay! has angels for its guard,
And every guard a passion for his charge:
Hence, from all age, the cabinet divine 1100
Has held high counsel o'er the fate of man.
Nor have the clouds those gracious counsels hid,
Angels undrew the curtain of the throne,
And Providence came forth to meet mankind:
In various modes of emphasis and awe,
He spoke his will, and trembling Nature heard;
He spoke it loud, in thunder and in storm.
Witness, thou Sinai! whose cloud-cover'd height,
And shaken basis, own'd the present God:
Witness, ye billows! whose returning tide, 1110
Breaking the chain that fasten'd it in air,
Swept Egypt, and her menaces, to hell: 1112
Witness, ye flames! th' Assyrian tyrant blew
To sevenfold rage, as impotent, as strong:
And thou, earth! witness, whose expanding jaws
Closed o'er Presumption's sacrilegious sons:
Has not each element, in turn, subscribed
The soul's high price, and sworn it to the wise?
Has not flame, ocean, ether, earthquake, strove
To strike this truth, through adamantine man? 1120
If not all-adamant, Lorenzo! hear;
All is delusion; Nature is wrapt up,
In tenfold night, from Reason's keenest eye;
There's no consistence, meaning, plan, or end,
In all beneath the sun, in all above
(As far as man can penetrate), or heaven
Is an immense, inestimable prize;
Or all is nothing, or that prize is all. --
And shall each toy be still a match for Heaven,
And full equivalent for groans below? 1130
Who would not give a trifle to prevent
What he would give a thousand worlds to cure?
Lorenzo! thou hast seen (if thine to see)
All nature, and her God (by nature's course,
And nature's course controll'd), declare for me:
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.1140
Is not, Lorenzo, then, imposed on thee
This hard alternative; or, to renounce
Thy reason, or thy sense; or, to believe?
What then is unbelief? 'Tis an exploit;
A strenuous enterprise: to gain it, man 1145
Must burst through every bar of common sense,
Of common shame, magnanimously wrong:
And what rewards the sturdy combatant?
His prize, repentance; infamy, his crown.
But wherefore infamy? -- For want of faith,
Down the steep precipice of wrong he slides;
There's nothing to support him in the right.1152
Faith in the future wanting, is, at least
In embryo, every weakness, every guilt;
And strong temptation ripens it to birth.
If this life's gain invites him to the deed,
Why not his country sold, his father slain?
'Tis virtue to pursue our good supreme;
And his supreme, his only good, is here.
Ambition, avarice, by the wise disdain'd, 1160
Is perfect wisdom, while mankind are fools,
And think a turf, or tombstone, covers all:
These find employment, and provide for Sense
A richer pasture, and a larger range;
And Sense by right divine ascends the throne,
When Virtue's prize and prospect are no more;
Virtue no more we think the will of Heaven.
Would Heaven quite beggar Virtue, if beloved?
|Has Virtue charms?| -- I grant her heavenly fair;
But if unportion'd, all will Interest wed; 1170
Though that our admiration, this our choice.
The virtues grow on immortality;
That root destroy'd, they wither and expire.
A Deity believed, will nought avail;
Rewards and punishments make God adored;
And hopes and fears give Conscience all her power.
As in the dying parent dies the child,
Virtue, with immortality, expires.
Who tells me he denies his soul immortal, 1179
Whate'er his boast, has told me, he's a knave.
His duty 'tis, to love himself alone;
Nor care though mankind perish, if he smiles.
Who thinks ere long the man shall wholly die,
Is dead already; nought but brute survives.
And are there such? -- Such candidates there are
For more than death; for utter loss of being,
Being, the basis of the Deity!
Ask you the cause? -- The cause they will not tell:
Nor need they: oh the sorceries of Sense!
They work this transformation on the soul; 1190
Dismount her, like the serpent at the fall,
Dismount her from her native wing (which soar'd
Erewhile ethereal heights), and throw her down,
To lick the dust, and crawl in such a thought.
Is it in words to paint you? O ye fallen!
Fallen from the wings of Reason, and of Hope!
Erect in stature, prone in appetite!
Patrons of pleasure, posting into pain!
Lovers of argument, averse to sense!
Boasters of liberty, fast bound in chains! 1200
Lords of the wide creation, and the shame!
More senseless than th' irrationals you scorn!
More base than those you rule! than those you pity,
Far more undone! O ye most infamous
Of beings, from superior dignity!
Deepest in woe, from means of boundless bliss!
Ye cursed by blessings infinite! because
Most highly favour'd, most profoundly lost!
Ye motley mass of contradiction strong!
And are you, too, convinced, your souls fly off 1210
In exhalation soft, and die in air,
From the full flood of evidence against you?
In the coarse drudgeries, and sinks of Sense, 1213
Your souls have quite worn out the make of Heaven,
By vice new-cast, and creatures of your own:
But though you can deform, you can't destroy;
To curse, not uncreate, is all your power.
Lorenzo! this black brotherhood renounce;
Renounce St Evremont, and read St Paul.
Ere rapt by miracle, by Reason wing'd, 1220
His mounting mind made long abode in heaven.
This is freethinking, unconfined to parts,
To send the soul, on curious travel bent,
Through all the provinces of human thought;
To dart her flight, through the whole sphere of man;
Of this vast universe to make the tour;
In each recess of space, and time, at home;
Familiar with their wonders; diving deep;
And, like a prince of boundless interests there,
Still most ambitious of the most remote; 1230
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 fragments writes to human race: 1240
Read his whole volume, sceptic! then reply.
This, this, is thinking free, a thought that grasps
Beyond a grain, and looks beyond an hour.
Turn up thine eye, survey this midnight scene;
What are earth's kingdoms, to yon boundless orbs,
Of human souls, one day, the destined range?
And what yon boundless orbs, to godlike man? 1247
Those numerous worlds that throng the firmament,
And ask more space in heaven, can roll at large
In man's capacious thought, and still leave room
For ampler orbs, for new creations, there.
Can such a soul contract itself, to gripe
A point of no dimension, of no weight? 1253
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 they drop!
Lucia, Narcissa fair, Philander, gone!
The grave, like fabled Cerberus, has oped
A triple mouth; and, in an awful voice, 1260
Loud calls my soul, and utters all I sing.
How the world falls to pieces 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 lies before thee;
There, there, Lorenzo! thy Clarissa sails.
Give thy mind sea-room; keep it wide of earth,
That rock of souls immortal; cut thy cord; 1270
Weigh anchor; spread thy sails; call every wind;
Eye thy great Pole-star; make the land of life.
Two kinds of life has double-natured man,
And two of death; the last far more severe.
Life animal is nurtured by the sun;
Thrives on his bounties, triumphs in his 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), 1280
'Tis utter darkness; strictly double death.
We sink by no judicial stroke of Heaven,
But nature's course; as sure as plummets fall.
Since God, or man, must alter, ere they meet
(Since light and darkness blend not in one sphere),
'Tis manifest, Lorenzo! who must change.
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, Heaven arms 1290
With an illustrious, but tremendous, power
To counteract its own most gracious ends;
And this, of strict necessity, not choice;
That power denied, men, angels, were no more
But passive engines, void of praise, or blame.
A nature rational implies the power
Of being blest, 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.1300
Heaven wills our happiness, allows our doom;
Invites us ardently, but not compels.
Heaven but persuades, almighty man decrees;
Man is the maker of immortal fates.
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: 1310
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; 1314
And, when unwish'd, we strive to disbelieve.
|Thus infidelity our guilt betrays.|
Nor that the sole detection! blush, Lorenzo!
Blush for hypocrisy, if not for guilt.
The future fear'd? -- an infidel, and fear?
Fear what? a dream? a fable? -- How thy dread,
Unwilling evidence, and therefore strong,
Affords my cause an undesign'd support! 1322
How disbelief affirms, what it denies!
|It, unawares, asserts immortal life.| --
Surprising! infidelity turns out
A creed, and a confession of our sins:
Apostates, thus, are orthodox divines.
Lorenzo! with Lorenzo clash no more;
Nor longer a transparent visor wear.
Think'st thou, Religion only has her mask? 1330
Our infidels are Satan's hypocrites,
Pretend the worst, and, at the bottom, fail.
When visited by thought (thought will intrude),
Like him they serve, they tremble, and believe.
Is there hypocrisy so foul as this?
So fatal to the welfare of the world?
What detestation, what contempt, their due!
And, if unpaid, be thank'd for their escape
That Christian candour they strive hard to scorn.
If not for that asylum, they might find 1340
A hell on earth; nor 'scape a worse below.
With insolence, and impotence of thought,
Instead of racking fancy, to refute,
Reform thy manners, and the truth enjoy. --
But shall I dare confess the dire result?
Can thy proud reason brook so black a brand?
From purer manners, to sublimer faith,
Is nature's unavoidable ascent; 1348
An honest deist, where the Gospel shines,
Matured to nobler, in the Christian ends.
When that bless'd change arrives, even 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.
Of that bright sun, Lorenzo! scale the sphere;
'Tis easy! it invites thee; it descends
From heaven to woo, and waft thee whence it came:
Read and revere the sacred page; a page 1360
Where triumphs immortality; a page
Which not the whole creation could produce;
Which not the conflagration shall destroy;
'Tis printed in the mind of gods for ever,
In nature's ruins not one letter lost.
In proud disdain of what even gods adore,
Dost smile? -- Poor wretch! thy guardian angel weeps.
Angels, and men, assent to what I sing;
Wits smile, and thank me for my midnight dream.
How vicious hearts fume phrensy to the brain! 1370
Parts push us on to pride, and pride to shame;
Pert infidelity is Wit's cockade,
To grace the brazen brow that braves the skies,
By loss of being, dreadfully secure.
Lorenzo! if thy doctrine wins the day,
And drives my dreams, defeated, from the field;
If this is all, if earth a final scene,
Take heed; stand fast; be sure to be a knave;
A knave in grain! ne'er deviate to the right:
Should'st thou be good -- how infinite thy loss! 1380
Guilt only makes annihilation gain.1381
Bless'd scheme! which life deprives of comfort, death
Of hope; and which Vice only recommends.
If so, where, infidels! your bait thrown out
To catch weak converts? where your lofty boast
Of zeal for virtue, and of love to man?
Annihilation! I confess, in these.
What can reclaim you? Dare I hope profound
Philosophers the converts of a song?
Yet know, its title flatters you, not me; 1390
Yours be the praise to make my title good;
Mine, to bless Heaven, and triumph in your praise.
But since so pestilential your disease,
Though sovereign is the medicine I prescribe,
As yet, I'll neither triumph, nor despair:
But hope, ere long, my midnight dream will wake
Your hearts, and teach your wisdom -- to be wise:
For why should souls immortal, made for bliss,
E'er wish (and wish in vain!) that souls could die?
What ne'er can die, oh! grant to live; and crown 1400
The wish, and aim, and labour of the skies;
Increase, and enter on the joys of heaven:
Thus shall my title pass a sacred seal,
Receive an imprimatur from above,
While angels shout -- An Infidel Reclaimed!
To close, Lorenzo! spite of all my pains,
Still seems it strange, that thou should'st live for ever?
Is it less strange, that thou should'st live at all?
This is a miracle; and that no more.
Who gave beginning, can exclude an end.1410
Deny thou art: then, doubt if thou shalt be.
A miracle with miracles enclosed,
Is man; and starts his faith at what is strange?
What less than wonders, from the Wonderful; 1414
What less than miracles, from God, can flow?
Admit a God -- that mystery supreme!
That Cause uncaused! all other wonders cease;
Nothing is marvellous for Him to do:
Deny Him -- all is mystery besides;
Millions of mysteries! each darker far,
Than that thy wisdom would, unwisely, shun.
If weak thy faith, why choose the harder side? 1422
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 labour, but repose.
To faith, and virtue, why so backward, man?
From hence: -- the present strongly strikes us all; 1430
The future, faintly: can we, then, be men?
If men, Lorenzo! the reverse is right.
Reason is man's peculiar: Sense, the brute's.
The present is the scanty realm of Sense;
The future, Reason's empire unconfined:
On that expending all her godlike power,
She plans, provides, expatiates, triumphs, there;
There, builds her blessings; there, expects her praise;
And nothing asks of Fortune, or of men.
And what is Reason? Be she thus defined; 1440
Reason is upright stature in the soul.
Oh! be a man; -- and strive to be a god.
|For what? (thou say'st) -- to damp the joys of life?|
No; to give heart and substance to thy joys.
That tyrant, Hope; mark how she domineers;
She bids us quit realities, for dreams;
Safety and peace, for hazard and alarm;
That tyrant o'er the tyrants of the soul, 1448
She bids Ambition quit its taken prize,
Spurn the luxuriant branch on which it sits,
Though bearing crowns, to spring at distant game;
And plunge in toils and dangers -- for repose.
If hope precarious, and of things, when gain'd,
Of little moment, and as little stay,
Can sweeten toils and dangers into joys;
What then, that hope, which nothing can defeat,
Our leave unask'd? rich hope of boundless bliss!
Bliss, past Man's power to paint it; Time's, to close!
This hope is earth's most estimable prize:
This is man's portion, while no more than man: 1460
Hope, of all passions, most befriends us here;
Passions of prouder name befriend us less.
Joy has her tears; and Transport has her death;
Hope, like a cordial, innocent, though 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 vigour to the mind!
A joy attemper'd! a chastised delight!
Like the fair summer evening, mild, and sweet! 1470
'Tis man's full cup; his paradise below!
A blest hereafter, then, or hoped, or gain'd,
Is all; -- our whole of happiness: full proof,
I chose no trivial or inglorious theme.
And know, ye foes to song! (well-meaning men,
Though quite forgotten half your Bible's praise!)
Important truths, in spite of verse, may please:
Grave minds you praise; nor can you praise too much:
If there is weight in an eternity,
Let the grave listen; -- and be graver still.1480
THE MAN OF THE WORLD ANSWERED.
IN WHICH ARE CONSIDERED,
THE LOVE OF THIS LIFE; THE AMBITION AND PLEASURE, WITH THE WIT AND WISDOM, OF THE WORLD.
And has all nature, then, espoused my part?
Have I bribed heaven, and earth, to plead against thee?
And is thy soul immortal? -- What remains?
All, all, Lorenzo! -- Make immortal blest.
Unblest immortals! -- What can shock us more?
And yet Lorenzo still affects the world;
There stows his treasure; thence his title draws,
Man of the world (for such would'st thou be call'd),
And art thou proud of that inglorious style?
Proud of reproach? for a reproach it was, 10
In ancient days; and Christian, -- in an age,
When men were men, and not ashamed of heaven,
Fired their ambition, as it crown'd their joy.
Sprinkled with dews from the Castalian font,
Fain would I re-baptize thee, and confer
A purer spirit, and a nobler name.
Thy fond attachments, fatal, and inflamed,
Point out my path, and dictate to my song:
To thee, the world how fair! how strongly strikes
Ambition! and gay pleasure stronger still! 20
Thy triple bane! the triple bolt that lays 21
Thy virtue dead! Be these my triple theme;
Nor shall thy wit, or wisdom, be forgot.
Common the theme; not so the song; if she
My song invokes, Urania deigns to smile.
The charm that chains us to the world, her foe,
If she dissolves, the man of earth, at once,
Starts from his trance, and sighs for other scenes;
Scenes, where these sparks of night, these stars shall shine
Unnumber'd suns (for all things, as they are, 30
The blest behold); and, in one glory, pour
Their blended blaze on man's astonish'd sight;
A blaze -- the least illustrious object there.
Lorenzo! since eternal is at hand,
To swallow Time's ambitions; as the vast
Leviathan, the bubbles vain, that ride
High on the foaming billow; what avail
High titles, high descent, attainments high,
If unattain'd our highest? O Lorenzo!
What lofty thoughts, these elements above, 40
What towering hopes, what sallies from the sun,
What grand surveys of destiny divine,
And pompous presage of unfathom'd fate,
Should roll in bosoms, where a spirit burns,
Bound for eternity! in bosoms read
By Him, who foibles in archangels sees!
On human hearts He bends a jealous eye,
And marks, and in heaven's register enrols,
The rise, and progress, of each option there;
Sacred to doomsday! That the page unfolds, 50
And spreads us to the gaze of gods and men.
And what an option, O Lorenzo, thine!
This world! and this, unrivall'd by the skies!
A world, where lust of pleasure, grandeur, gold,
Three demons that divide its realms between them, 55
With strokes alternate buffet to and fro
Man's restless heart, their sport, their flying ball;
Till, with the giddy circle sick, and tired,
It pants for peace, and drops into despair.
Such is the world Lorenzo sets above
That glorious promise angels were esteem'd
Too mean to bring; a promise, their Adored 62
Descended to communicate, and press,
By counsel, miracle, life, death, on man.
Such is the world Lorenzo's wisdom woos,
And on its thorny pillow seeks repose;
A pillow, which, like opiates ill prepared,
Intoxicates, but not composes; fills
The visionary mind with gay chimeras,
All the wild trash of sleep, without the rest; 70
What unfeign'd travel, and what dreams of joy!
How frail, men, things! how momentary, both!
Fantastic chase of shadows hunting shades!
The gay, the busy, equal though unlike;
Equal in wisdom, differently wise!
Through flowery meadows, and through dreary wastes,
One bustling, and one dancing, into death.
There's not a day, but, to the man of thought,
Betrays some secret, that throws new reproach
On life, and makes him sick of seeing more.80
The scenes of business tell us -- |What are men;|
The scenes of pleasure -- |What is all beside;|
There, others we despise; and here, ourselves:
Amid disgust eternal, dwells delight?
'Tis approbation strikes the string of joy.
What wondrous prize has kindled this career,
Stuns with the din, and chokes us with the dust,
On life's gay stage, one inch above the grave?
The proud run up and down in quest of eyes; 89
The sensual, in pursuit of something worse;
The grave, of gold; the politic, of power;
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,
Whirl'd, straw-like, round and round, and then engulf'd,
Where gay delusion darkens to despair!
|This is a beaten track.| -- Is this a track
Should not be beaten? Never beat enough,
Till enough learn'd the truths it would inspire.100
Shall Truth be silent, because Folly frowns?
Turn the world's history; what find we there,
But Fortune's sports, or Nature's cruel claims,
Or Woman's artifice, or Man's revenge,
And endless inhumanities on man?
Fame's trumpet seldom sounds, but, like the knell,
It brings bad tidings: how it hourly blows
Man's misadventures round the listening world!
Man is the tale of narrative old time;
Sad tale; which high as Paradise begins; 110
As if, the toil of travel to delude,
From stage to stage, in his eternal round,
The Days, his daughters, as they spin our hours
On Fortune's wheel, where accident unthought
Oft, in a moment, snaps life's strongest thread,
Each, in her turn, some tragic story tells,
With, now and then, a wretched farce between;
And fills his chronicle with human woes.
Time's daughters, true as those of men, deceive us;
Not one, but puts some cheat on all mankind: 120
While in their father's bosom, not yet ours,
They flatter our fond hopes, and promise much
Of amiable; but hold him not o'er-wise, 123
Who dares to trust them; and laugh round the year
At still-confiding, still-confounded, man,
Confiding, though confounded; hoping on,
Untaught by trial, unconvinced by proof,
And ever looking for the never seen.
Life to the last, like harden'd felons, lies;
Nor owns itself a cheat, till it expires.130
Its little joys go out by one and one,
And leave poor man, at length, in perfect night;
Night darker, than what, now, involves the pole.
O Thou, who dost permit these ills to fall,
For gracious ends, and would'st that man should mourn!
O Thou, whose hands this goodly fabric framed,
Who know'st it best, and would'st that man should know!
What is this sublunary world? A vapour;
A vapour all it holds; itself, a vapour;
From the damp bed of chaos, by Thy beam 140
Exhaled, ordain'd to swim its destined hour
In ambient air, then melt, and disappear.
Earth's days are number'd, nor remote her doom;
As mortal, though less transient, than her sons;
Yet they doat on her, as the world and they
Were both eternal, solid; Thou, a dream.
They doat! -- on what? Immortal views apart,
A region of outsides! a land of shadows!
A fruitful field of flowery promises!
A wilderness of joys! perplex'd with doubts, 150
And sharp with thorns! a troubled ocean, spread
With bold adventurers, their all on board!
No second hope, if here their fortune frowns;
Frown soon it must. Of various rates they sail,
Of ensigns various; all alike in this,
All restless, anxious; toss'd with hopes, and fears,
In calmest skies; obnoxious all to storm; 157
And stormy the most general blast of life:
All bound for happiness; yet few provide
The chart of knowledge, pointing where it lies;
Or Virtue's helm, to shape the course design'd:
All, more or less, capricious fate lament,
Now lifted by the tide, and now resorb'd, 163
And farther from their wishes than before:
All, more or less, against each other dash.
To mutual hurt, by gusts of passion driven,
And suffering more from folly, than from fate.
Ocean! thou dreadful and tumultuous home
Of dangers, at eternal war with man!
Death's capital, where most he domineers, 170
With all his chosen terrors frowning round,
(Though lately feasted high at Albion's cost,)
Wide-opening, 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-flatter'd, unexperienced, high in hope, 180
When young, with sanguine cheer, and streamers gay,
We cut our cable, launch into the world,
And fondly dream each wind and star our friend;
All, in some darling enterprise embark'd:
But where is he can fathom its extent?
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 proof,
Full against wind and tide, some win their way; 190
And when strong effort has deserved the port,
And tugg'd it into view, 'tis won! 'tis lost!
Though strong their oar, still stronger is their fate:
They strike; and, while they triumph, they expire.
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 engulf'd;
It floats a moment, and is seen no more: 200
One Cæsar lives; a thousand are forgot.
How few, beneath auspicious planets born
(Darlings of Providence! fond Fate's elect!),
With swelling sails make good the promised port,
With all their wishes freighted! Yet even these,
Freighted with all their wishes, soon complain;
Free from misfortune, not from nature free,
They still are men; and when is man secure?
As fatal time, as storm! the rush of years
Beats down their strength; their numberless escapes 210
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.
Woe then apart (if woe apart can be
From mortal man), and fortune at our nod,
The gay, rich, great, triumphant, and august!
What are they? -- The most happy (strange to say!
Convince me most of human misery; 220
What are they? Smiling wretches of to-morrow! 221
More wretched, then, than e'er their slave can be;
Their treacherous blessings, at the day of need,
Like other faithless friends, unmask, and sting:
Then, what provoking indigence in wealth!
What aggravated impotence in power!
High titles, then, what insult of their pain!
If that sole anchor, equal to the waves,
Immortal Hope! defies not the rude storm,
Takes comfort from the foaming billow's rage, 230
And makes a welcome harbour of the tomb.
Is this a sketch of what thy soul admires?
|But here (thou say'st) the miseries of life
Are huddled in a group. A more distinct
Survey, perhaps, might bring thee better news.|
Look on life's stages: they speak plainer still;
The plainer they, the deeper wilt thou sigh.
Look on thy lovely boy; in him behold
The best that can befall the best on earth;
The boy has virtue by his mother's side: 240
Yes, on Florello look: a father's heart
Is tender, though the man's is made of stone;
The truth, through such a medium seen, may make
Impression deep, and fondness prove thy friend.
Florello lately cast on this rude coast
A helpless infant; now a heedless child;
To poor Clarissa's throes, thy care succeeds;
Care full of love, and yet severe as hate!
O'er thy soul's joy how oft thy fondness frowns!
Needful austerities his will restrain; 250
As thorns fence in the tender plant from harm.
As yet, his reason cannot go alone;
But asks a sterner nurse to lead it on.
His little heart is often terrified;
The blush of morning, in his cheek, turns pale; 255
Its pearly dewdrop trembles in his eye;
His harmless eye! and drowns an angel there.
Ah! what avails his innocence? The task
Enjoin'd must discipline his early powers;
He learns to sigh, ere he is known to sin;
Guiltless, and sad! a wretch before the fall!
How cruel this! more cruel to forbear.262
Our nature such, with necessary pains,
We purchase prospects of precarious peace:
Though not a father, this might steal a sigh.
Suppose him disciplined aright (if not,
'Twill sink our poor account to poorer still);
Ripe from the tutor, proud of liberty,
He leaps enclosure, bounds into the world!
The world is taken, after ten years' toil, 270
Like ancient Troy; and all its joys his own.
Alas! the world's a tutor more severe;
Its lessons hard, and ill deserve his pains;
Unteaching all his virtuous nature taught,
Or books (fair Virtue's advocates!) inspired.
For who receives him into public life?
Men of the world, the terræ-filial breed,
Welcome the modest stranger to their sphere
(Which glitter'd long, at distance, in his sight),
And, in their hospitable arms, enclose: 280
Men, who think nought so strong of the romance,
So rank knight-errant, as a real friend:
Men, that act up to Reason's golden rule,
All weakness of affection quite subdued:
Men, that would blush at being thought sincere,
And feign, for glory, the few faults they want;
That love a lie, where truth would pay as well;
As if to them, Vice shone her own reward.
Lorenzo! canst thou bear a shocking sight? 289
Such, for Florello's sake, 'twill now appear:
See, the steel'd files of season'd veterans,
Train'd to the world, in burnish'd falsehood bright;
Deep in the fatal stratagems of peace;
All soft sensation, in the throng, rubb'd off;
All their keen purpose, in politeness, sheath'd;
His friends eternal -- during interest;
His foes implacable -- when worth their while;
At war with every welfare, but their own;
As wise as Lucifer; and half as good;
And by whom none, but Lucifer, can gain -- 300
Naked, through these (so common fate ordains),
Naked of heart, his cruel course he runs,
Stung out of all, most amiable in life,
Prompt truth, and open thought, and smiles unfeign'd;
Affection, as his species, wide diffused;
Noble presumptions to mankind's renown;
Ingenuous trust, and confidence of love.
These claims to joy (if mortals joy might claim)
Will cost him many a sigh; till time, and pains,
From the slow mistress of this school, Experience, 310
And her assistant, pausing, pale, Distrust,
Purchase a dear-bought clue to lead his youth
Through serpentine obliquities of life,
And the dark labyrinth of human hearts.
And happy! if the clue shall come so cheap:
For, while we learn to fence with public guilt,
Full oft we feel its foul contagion too,
If less than heavenly virtue is our guard.
Thus, a strange kind of cursed necessity
Brings down the sterling temper of his soul, 320
By base alloy, to bear the current stamp,
Below call'd wisdom; sinks him into safety;
And brands him into credit with the world; 323
Where specious titles dignify disgrace,
And nature's injuries are arts of life;
Where brighter reason prompts to bolder crimes;
And heavenly talents make infernal hearts;
That unsurmountable extreme of guilt!
Poor Machiavel! who labour'd hard his plan,
Forgot, that genius need not go to school;
Forgot, that man, without a tutor wise,
His plan had practised, long before 'twas writ.332
The world's all title-page; there's no contents;
The world's all face; the man who shows his heart,
Is hooted for his nudities, and scorn'd.
A man I knew, who lived upon a smile;
And well it fed him; he look'd plump and fair;
While rankest venom foam'd through every vein.
Lorenzo! what I tell thee, take not ill!
Living, he fawn'd on every fool alive; 340
And, dying, cursed the friend on whom he lived.
To such proficients thou art half a saint.
In foreign realms (for thou hast travell'd far)
How curious to contemplate two state-rooks,
Studious their nests to feather in a trice,
With all the necromantics of their art,
Playing the game of faces on each other,
Making court sweetmeats of their latent gall,
In foolish hope, to steal each other's trust;
Both cheating, both exulting, both deceived; 350
And, sometimes, both (let earth rejoice) undone!
Their parts we doubt not; but be that their shame;
Shall men of talents, fit to rule mankind,
Stoop to mean wiles, that would disgrace a fool;
And lose the thanks of those few friends they serve?
For who can thank the man, he cannot see?
Why so much cover? It defeats itself.357
Ye, that know all things! know ye not, men's hearts
Are therefore known, because they are conceal'd?
For why conceal'd? -- The cause they need not tell.
I give him joy, that's awkward at a lie;
Whose feeble nature Truth keeps still in awe;
His incapacity is his renown.363
'Tis great, 'tis manly, to disdain disguise;
It shows our spirit, or it proves our strength.
Thou say'st, 'tis needful: is it therefore right?
Howe'er, I grant it some small sign of grace,
To strain at an excuse: And would'st thou then
Escape that cruel need? Thou may'st, with ease;
Think no post needful that demands a knave.370
When late our civil helm was shifting hands,
So Pulteney thought: think better, if you can.
But this, how rare! the public path of life
Is dirty; -- yet, allow that dirt its due,
It makes the noble mind more noble still:
The world's no neuter; it will wound, or save;
Or virtue quench, or indignation fire.
You say, the world, well known, will make a man:
The world, well known, will give our hearts to Heaven,
Or make us demons, long before we die.380
To show how fair the world, thy mistress, shines,
Take either part, sure ills attend the choice;
Sure, though not equal, detriment ensues.
Not Virtue's self is deified on earth;
Virtue has her relapses, conflicts, foes;
Foes, that ne'er fail to make her feel their hate.
Virtue has her peculiar set of pains.
True friends to virtue, last, and least, complain;
But if they sigh, can others hope to smile?
If Wisdom has her miseries to mourn, 390
How can poor Folly lead a happy life? 391
And if both suffer, what has earth to boast,
Where he most happy, who the least laments?
Where much, much patience, the most envied state,
And some forgiveness, needs, the best of friends?
For friend, or happy life, who looks not higher,
Of neither shall he find the shadow here.
The world's sworn advocate, without a fee,
Lorenzo smartly, with a smile, replies:
|Thus far thy song is right; and all must own, 400
Virtue has her peculiar set of pains. --
And joys peculiar who to Vice denies?
If vice it is, with nature to comply:
If Pride, and Sense, are so predominant,
To check, not overcome, them, makes a saint.
Can Nature in a plainer voice proclaim
Pleasure, and glory, the chief good of man?|
Can Pride, and Sensuality, rejoice?
From purity of thought, all pleasure springs;
And, from an humble spirit, all our peace.410
Ambition, pleasure! let us talk of these:
Of these, the Porch, and Academy, talk'd;
Of these, each following age had much to say:
Yet, unexhausted, still, the needful theme.
Who talks of these, to mankind all at once
He talks; for where the saint from either free?
Are these thy refuge? -- No: these rush upon thee;
Thy vitals seize, and, vulture-like, devour;
I'll try, if I can pluck thee from thy rock,
Prometheus! from this barren ball of earth; 420
If Reason can unchain thee, thou art free.
And, first, thy Caucasus, Ambition, calls;
Mountain of torments! eminence of woes!
Of courted woes! and courted through mistake!
'Tis not ambition charms thee; 'tis a cheat 425
Will make thee start, as H -- -- at his moor.
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,
By Fortune stuck, to mark us from the throng,
Is glory lodged: 'tis lodged in the reverse;
In that which joins, in that which equals, all, 432
The monarch and his slave; -- |A deathless soul,
Unbounded prospect, and immortal kin,
A Father God, and brothers in the skies;|
Elder, indeed, in time; but less remote
In excellence, perhaps, than thought by man;
Why greater what can fall, than what can rise?
If still delirious, now, Lorenzo! go;
And with thy full-blown brothers of the world, 440
Throw scorn around thee; cast it on thy slaves;
Thy slaves, and equals: how scorn cast on them
Rebounds on thee! If man is mean, as man,
Art thou a god? If Fortune makes him so,
Beware the consequence: a maxim that,
Which draws a monstrous picture of mankind,
Where, in the drapery, the man is lost;
Externals fluttering, and the soul forgot.
Thy greatest glory, when disposed to boast,
Boast that aloud, in which thy servants share.450
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,
When, through death's straits, earth's subtle serpents creep,
Which wriggle into wealth, or climb renown.
As crooked Satan the forbidden tree, 458
They leave their party-colour'd robe behind,
All that now glitters, while they rear aloft
Their brazen crests, and hiss at us below.
Of fortune's fucus strip them, yet alive;
Strip them of body, too; nay, closer still,
Away with all, but moral, in their minds;
And let what then remains, impose their name,
Pronounce them weak, or worthy; great, or mean.
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, 470
Whate'er his fate, or fame, who greatly dies;
High-flush'd with hope, where heroes shall despair.
If this a true criterion, many courts,
Illustrious, might afford but few grandees.
Th' Almighty, from his throne, on earth surveys
Nought greater, than an honest, humble heart;
An humble heart, His residence! pronounced
His second seat; and rival to the skies.
The private path, the secret acts of men,
If noble, far the noblest of our lives! 480
How far above Lorenzo's glory sits
Th' illustrious master of a name unknown;
Whose worth unrivall'd, and unwitness'd, loves
Life's sacred shades, where gods converse with men;
And Peace, beyond the world's conceptions, smiles!
As thou (now dark), before we part, shalt see.
But thy great soul this skulking glory scorns.
Lorenzo's sick, but when Lorenzo's seen;
And, when he shrugs at public business, lies.
Denied the public eye, the public voice, 490
As if he lived on others' breath, he dies.
Fain would he make the world his pedestal; 492
Mankind the gazers, the sole figure, he.
Knows he, that mankind praise against their will,
And mix as much detraction as they can?
Knows he, that faithless Fame her whisper has,
As well as trumpet? that his vanity
Is so much tickled from not hearing all?
Knows this all-knower, that from itch of praise,
Or, from an itch more sordid, when he shines, 500
Taking his country by five hundred ears,
Senates at once admire him, and despise,
With modest laughter lining loud applause,
Which makes the smile more mortal to his fame?
His fame, which (like the mighty Cæsar), crown'd
With laurels, in full senate, greatly falls,
By seeming friends, that honour, and destroy.
We rise in glory, as we sink in pride:
Where boasting ends, there dignity begins:
And yet, mistaken beyond all mistake, 510
The blind Lorenzo's proud -- of being proud;
And dreams himself ascending in his fall.
An eminence, though fancied, turns the brain:
All vice wants hellebore; but of all vice,
Pride loudest calls, and for the largest bowl;
Because, unlike all other vice, it flies,
In fact, the point, in fancy most pursued.
Who court applause, oblige the world in this;
They gratify man's passion to refuse.
Superior honour, when assumed, is lost; 520
Even good men turn banditti, and rejoice,
Like Kouli-Kan, in plunder of the proud.
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, 526
Gay Pleasure! proud Ambition is her slave;
For her, he soars at great, and hazards ill;
For her, he fights, and bleeds, or overcomes;
And paves his way, with crowns, to reach her smile:
Who can resist her charms? -- or, should? Lorenzo!
What mortal shall resist, where angels yield?
Pleasure's the mistress of ethereal powers; 533
For her contend the rival gods above;
Pleasure's the mistress of the world below;
And well it was for man, that Pleasure charms:
How would all stagnate, but for Pleasure's ray!
How would the frozen stream of action cease!
What is the pulse of this so busy world?
The love of pleasure: that, through every vein, 540
Throws motion, warmth; and shuts out death from life.
Though various are the tempers of mankind,
Pleasure's gay family hold all in chains:
Some most affect the black; and some, the fair;
Some honest pleasure court; and some, obscene.
Pleasures obscene are various, as the throng
Of passions, that can err in human hearts;
Mistake their objects, or transgress their bounds.
Think you there's but one whoredom? Whoredom, all,
But when our reason licenses delight.550
Dost doubt, Lorenzo? thou shalt doubt no more.
Thy father chides thy gallantries; yet hugs
An ugly, common harlot, in the dark;
A rank adulterer with others' gold!
And that hag, Vengeance, in a corner, charms.
Hatred her brothel has, as well as Love,
Where horrid epicures debauch in blood.
Whate'er the motive, pleasure is the mark:
For her, the black assassin draws his sword;
For her, dark statesmen trim their midnight lamp, 560
To which no single sacrifice may fall;
For her, the saint abstains; the miser starves;
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, shame, toil, danger, we defy;
And, with an aim voluptuous, rush on death.
Thus universal her despotic power!
And as her empire wide, her praise is just.
Patron of pleasure! doater on delight! 570
I am thy rival; pleasure I profess;
Pleasure the purpose of my gloomy song.
Pleasure is nought but virtue's gayer name;
I wrong her still, I rate her worth too low;
Virtue the root, and pleasure is the flower;
And honest Epicurus' foes were fools.
But this sounds harsh, and gives the wise offence;
If o'erstrain'd wisdom still retains the name.
How knits Austerity her cloudy brow,
And blames, as bold, and hazardous, the praise 580
Of Pleasure, to mankind, unpraised, too dear!
Ye modern Stoics! hear my soft reply;
Their senses men will trust: we can't impose;
Or, if we could, is imposition right?
Own honey sweet; but, owning, add this sting;
|When mix'd with poison, it is deadly too.|
Truth never was indebted to a lie.
Is nought but virtue to be praised, as good?
Why then is health preferr'd before disease?
What nature loves is good, without our leave.590
And where no future drawback cries, |Beware!|
Pleasure, though not from virtue, should prevail.
'Tis balm to life, and gratitude to Heaven;
How cold our thanks for bounties unenjoy'd! 594
The love of pleasure is man's eldest-born,
Born in his cradle, living to his tomb;
Wisdom, her younger sister, though more grave,
Was meant to minister, and not to mar,
Imperial Pleasure, queen of human hearts.
Lorenzo! thou, her majesty's renown'd,
Though uncoift, counsel, learned in the world!
Who think'st thyself a Murray, with disdain 602
May'st look on me. Yet, my Demosthenes!
Canst thou plead Pleasure's cause as well as I?
Know'st thou her nature, purpose, parentage?
Attend my song, and thou shalt know them all;
And know thyself; and know thyself to be
(Strange truth!) the most abstemious man alive.
Tell not Calista; she will laugh thee dead;
Or send thee to her hermitage with L -- -- .610
Absurd presumption! Thou who never knew'st
A serious thought! shalt thou dare dream of joy?
No man e'er found a happy life by chance;
Or yawn'd it into being with a wish;
Or, with the snout of grovelling appetite,
E'er smelt it out, and grubb'd it from the dirt.
An art it is, and must be learn'd; and learn'd
With unremitting effort, or be lost;
And leaves us perfect blockheads, in our bliss.
The clouds may drop down titles and estates; 620
Wealth may seek us; but Wisdom must be sought;
Sought before all; but (how unlike all else
We seek on earth!) 'tis never sought in vain.
First, Pleasure's birth, rise, strength, and grandeur, see.
Brought forth by Wisdom, nursed by Discipline,
By Patience taught, by Perseverance crown'd,
She rears her head majestic; round her throne, 627
Erected in the bosom of the just,
Each virtue, listed, forms her manly guard.
For what are virtues? (formidable name!)
What, but the fountain, or defence, of joy?
Why, then, commanded? Need mankind commands,
At once to merit, and to make, their bliss? --
Great Legislator! scarce so great, as kind! 634
If men are rational, and love delight,
Thy gracious law but flatters human choice;
In the transgression lies the penalty;
And they the most indulge, who most obey.
Of Pleasure, next, the final cause explore;
Its mighty purpose, its important end.640
Not to turn human brutal, but to build
Divine on human, Pleasure came from heaven.
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?
'Tis from the pleasure of repast, we live;
'Tis from the pleasure of applause, we please; 650
'Tis from the pleasure of belief, we pray
(All prayer would cease, if unbelieved the prize):
It serves ourselves, our species, and our God;
And to serve more, is past the sphere of man.
Glide, then, for ever, pleasure's sacred stream!
Through Eden, as Euphrates ran, it runs,
And fosters every growth of happy life;
Makes a new Eden where it flows; -- but such
As must be lost, Lorenzo! by thy fall.
|What mean I by thy fall?| -- Thou'lt shortly see,
While Pleasure's nature is at large display'd; 661
Already sung her origin, and ends.
Those glorious ends, by kind, or by degree,
When Pleasure violates, 'tis then a vice,
A vengeance too; it hastens into pain.
From due refreshment, life, health, reason, joy;
From wild excess, pain, grief, distraction, death;
Heaven's justice this proclaims, and that her love.
What greater evil can I wish my foe,
Than his full draught of pleasure, from a cask 670
Unbroach'd by just authority, ungauged
By temperance, by reason unrefined?
A thousand demons lurk within the lee.
Heaven, others, and ourselves! uninjured these,
Drink deep; the deeper, then, the more divine;
Angels are angels, from indulgence there;
'Tis unrepenting pleasure makes a god.
Dost think thyself a god from other joys?
A victim rather! shortly sure to bleed.
The wrong must mourn: can Heaven's appointments fail?
Can man outwit Omnipotence? strike out 681
A self-wrought happiness unmeant by Him
Who made us, and the world we would enjoy?
Who forms an instrument, ordains from whence
Its dissonance, or harmony, shall rise.
Heaven bid the soul this mortal frame inspire!
Bid virtue's ray divine inspire the soul
With unprecarious flows of vital joy;
And, without breathing, man as well might hope
For life, as, without piety, for peace.690
|Is virtue, then, and piety the same?| --
No; piety is more; 'tis virtue's source;
Mother of every worth, as that of joy.
Men of the world this doctrine ill digest;
They smile at piety; yet boast aloud 695
Good will to men; nor know they strive to part
What Nature joins; and thus confute themselves.
With piety begins all good on earth;
'Tis the first-born of rationality.
Conscience, her first law broken, wounded lies;
Enfeebled, lifeless, impotent to good;
A feign'd affection bounds her utmost power.702
Some we can't love, but for th' Almighty's sake;
A foe to God was ne'er true friend to man;
Some sinister intent taints all he does;
And, in his kindest actions, he's unkind.
On piety, humanity is built;
And, on humanity, much happiness;
And yet still more on piety itself.
A soul in commerce with her God, is heaven; 710
Feels not the tumults and the shocks of life;
The whirls of passions, and the strokes of heart.
A Deity believed, is joy begun;
A Deity adored, is joy advanced;
A Deity beloved, is joy matured.
Each branch of piety delight inspires;
Faith builds a bridge from this world to the next,
O'er death's dark gulf, and all its horror hides;
Praise, the sweet exhalation of our joy,
That joy exalts, and makes it sweeter still; 720
Prayer 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 heaven, and sets his foot on hell.
Lorenzo! when wast thou at church before?
Thou think'st the service long: but is it just?
Though just, unwelcome: thou hadst rather tread
Unhallow'd ground; the Muse, to win thine ear, 729
Must take an air less solemn. She complies.
Good conscience! at the sound the world retires;
Verse disaffects it, and Lorenzo smiles:
Yet has she her seraglio full of charms;
And such as age shall heighten, not impair.
Art thou dejected? Is thy mind o'ercast?
Amid her fair ones, thou the fairest choose,
To chase thy gloom. -- |Go, fix some weighty truth;
Chain down some passion; do some generous good;
Teach ignorance to see, or grief to smile;
Correct thy friend; befriend thy greatest foe; 740
Or with warm heart, and confidence divine,
Spring up, and lay strong hold on Him who made thee.|
Thy gloom is scatter'd, sprightly spirits flow;
Though 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, though never censured yet as sin
(Pardon a thought that only seems severe),
Is half immoral: Is it much indulged? 750
By venting spleen, or dissipating thought,
It shows a scorner, or it makes a fool;
And sins, as hurting others, or ourselves.
'Tis pride, or emptiness, applies the straw,
That tickles little minds to mirth effuse;
Of grief approaching, the portentous sign!
The house of laughter makes a house of woe.
A man triumphant is a monstrous sight;
A man dejected is a sight as mean.
What cause for triumph, where such ills abound? 760
What for dejection, where presides a Power,
Who call'd us into being to be bless'd?
So grieve, as conscious, grief may rise to joy; 763
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.
Yet would'st thou laugh (but at thy own expense),
This counsel strange should I presume to give -- 770
|Retire, and read thy Bible, to be gay.|
There truths abound of sovereign aid to peace;
Ah! do not prize them less, because inspired,
As thou, and thine, are apt and proud to do.
If not inspired, that pregnant page had stood,
Time's treasure, and the wonder of the wise!
Thou think'st, perhaps, thy soul alone at stake;
Alas! -- should men mistake thee for a fool; --
What man of taste for genius, wisdom, truth,
Though tender of thy fame, could interpose? 780
Believe me, sense here acts a double part,
And the true critic is a Christian too.
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;
The joys of conquest, are the joys of man;
And glory the victorious laurel spreads
O'er pleasure's pure, perpetual, placid stream.790
There is a time, when toil must be preferr'd,
Or joy, by mistimed fondness, is undone.
A man of pleasure, is a man of pains.
Thou wilt not take the trouble to be blest.
False joys, indeed, are born from want of thought;
From thoughts full bent, and energy, the true;
And that demands a mind in equal poise, 797
Remote from gloomy grief, and glaring joy.
Much joy not only speaks small happiness,
But happiness that shortly must expire.
Can joy, unbottom'd in reflection, stand?
And, in a tempest, can reflection live?
Can joy, like thine, secure itself an hour?
Can joy, like thine, meet accident unshock'd? 804
Or ope the door to honest poverty?
Or talk with threatening death, and not turn pale?
In such a world, and such a nature, these
Are needful fundamentals of delight:
These fundamentals give delight indeed;
Delight, pure, delicate, and durable; 810
Delight, unshaken, masculine, divine;
A constant, and a sound, but serious joy.
Is joy the daughter of severity?
It is: -- yet far my doctrine from severe.
|Rejoice for ever:| it becomes a man;
Exalts, and sets him nearer to the gods.
|Rejoice for ever!| Nature cries, |Rejoice!|
And drinks to man, in her nectareous cup,
Mix'd up of delicates for every sense;
To the great Founder of the bounteous feast, 820
Drinks glory, gratitude, eternal praise;
And he that will not pledge her, is a churl.
Ill firmly to support, good fully taste,
Is the whole science of felicity:
Yet sparing pledge: her bowl is not the best
Mankind can boast. -- |A rational repast;
Exertion, vigilance, a mind in arms,
A military discipline of thought,
To foil temptation in the doubtful field;
And ever-waking ardour for the right.| 830
'Tis these, first give, then guard, a cheerful heart.831
Nought that is right, think little; well aware,
What reason bids, God bids; by His command
How aggrandized, the smallest thing we do!
Thus, nothing is insipid to the wise;
To thee, insipid all, but what is mad;
Joys season'd high, and tasting strong of guilt.
|Mad! (thou reply'st, with indignation fired);
Of ancient sages proud to tread the steps,
I follow Nature.| -- Follow Nature still, 840
But look it be thine own: is Conscience, then,
No part of nature? Is she not supreme?
Thou regicide! Oh, raise her from the dead!
Then, follow Nature; and resemble God.
When, spite of Conscience, pleasure is pursued,
Man's nature is unnaturally pleased:
And what's unnatural, is painful too
At intervals, and must disgust even thee!
The fact thou know'st; but not, perhaps, the cause.
Virtue's foundations with the world's were laid; 850
Heaven mix'd her with our make, and twisted close
Her sacred interests with the strings of life.
Who breaks her awful mandate, shocks himself,
His better self: and is it greater pain,
Our soul should murmur, or our dust repine?
And one, in their eternal war, must bleed.
If one must suffer, which should least be spared?
The pains of mind surpass the pains of sense:
Ask, then, the gout, what torment is in guilt.
The joys of sense to mental joys are mean: 860
Sense on the present only feeds; the soul
On past, and future, forages for joy.
'Tis hers, by retrospect, through time to range;
And forward time's great sequel to survey.
Could human courts take vengeance on the mind, 865
Axes might rust, and racks and gibbets fall:
Guard, then, thy mind, and leave the rest to fate.
Lorenzo! wilt thou never be a man?
The man is dead, who for the body lives,
Lured, by the beating of his pulse, to list
With every lust, that wars against his peace;
And sets him quite at variance with himself.872
Thyself, first, know; then love: a self there is
Of Virtue fond, that kindles at her charms.
A self there is, as fond of every vice,
While every virtue wounds it to the heart:
Humility degrades it, Justice robs,
Bless'd Bounty beggars it, fair Truth betrays,
And godlike Magnanimity destroys.
This self, when rival to the former, scorn; 880
When not in competition, kindly treat,
Defend it, feed it: -- but when Virtue bids,
Toss it, or to the fowls, or to the flames.
And why? 'Tis love of pleasure bids thee bleed;
Comply, or own self-love extinct, or blind.
For what is vice? self-love in a mistake:
A poor blind merchant buying joys too dear.
And virtue, what? 'tis self-love in her wits,
Quite skilful in the market of delight.
Self-love's good sense is love of that dread Power, 890
From whom herself, and all she can enjoy.
Other self-love is but disguised self-hate;
More mortal than the malice of our foes;
A self-hate, now, scarce felt; then felt full sore,
When being, cursed; extinction, loud implored;
And every thing preferr'd to what we are.
Yet this self-love Lorenzo makes his choice;
And, in this choice triumphant, boasts of joy.
How is his want of happiness betray'd, 899
By disaffection to the present hour!
Imagination wanders far afield:
The future pleases: why? the present pains. --
|But that's a secret.| Yes, which all men know;
And know from thee, discover'd unawares.
Thy ceaseless agitation, restless roll
From cheat to cheat, impatient of a pause;
What is it? -- 'tis the cradle of the soul,
From Instinct sent, to rock her in disease,
Which her physician, Reason, will not cure.
A poor expedient! yet thy best; and while 910
It mitigates thy pain, it owns it too.
Such are Lorenzo's wretched remedies!
The weak have remedies; the wise have joys.
Superior wisdom is superior bliss.
And what sure mark distinguishes the wise?
Consistent wisdom ever wills the same;
Thy fickle wish is ever on the wing.
Sick of herself, is Folly's character,
As Wisdom's is, a modest self-applause.
A change of evils is thy good supreme; 920
Nor, but in motion, canst thou find thy rest.
Man's greatest strength is shown in standing still.
The first sure symptom of a mind in health,
Is rest of heart, and pleasure felt at home.
False pleasure from abroad her joys imports;
Rich from within, and self-sustain'd, the true.
The true is fix'd, and solid as a rock;
Slippery the false, and tossing, as the wave.
This, a wild wanderer on earth, like Cain;
That, like the fabled, self-enamour'd boy, 930
Home-contemplation her supreme delight;
She dreads an interruption from without, 932
Smit with her own condition; and the more
Intense she gazes, still it charms the more.
No man is happy, till he thinks, on earth
There breathes not a more happy than himself:
Then envy dies, and love o'erflows on all;
And love o'erflowing makes an angel here.
Such angels, all, entitled to repose
On Him who governs fate. Though tempest frowns, 940
Though nature shakes, how soft to lean on Heaven!
To lean on Him, on whom archangels lean!
With inward eyes, and silent as the grave,
They stand, collecting every beam of thought,
Till their hearts kindle with divine delight:
For all their thoughts, like angels, seen of old
In Israel's dream, come from, and go to, heaven.
Hence are they studious of sequester'd scenes;
While noise, and dissipation, comfort thee.
Were all men happy, revellings would cease, 950
That opiate for inquietude within.
Lorenzo! never man was truly blest,
But it composed, 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; 960
Which, like land floods, impetuous pour a while,
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.966
Joy's a fix'd 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 loved, if gain'd?
At good fortuitous, draw back, and pause;
Suspect it; what thou canst insure, enjoy; 973
And nought but what thou givest 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, unexamined, ever leave obtain.980
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 pleasure;
If gain'd, dear-bought; and better miss'd than gain'd.
Much pain must expiate, what much pain procured.
Fancy, and Sense, from an infected shore,
Thy cargo bring; and pestilence the prize.990
Then, such thy thirst (insatiable thirst!
By fond indulgence but inflamed the more!),
Fancy still cruises, when poor Sense is tired.
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.
Would'st thou receive them, other thoughts there are,
On angel-wing, descending from above, 1001
Which these, with art divine, would counterwork,
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 genius hungers, elegantly pain'd;
And foreign climes must cater for thy taste.
Hence, what disaster! -- Though the price was paid, 1010
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 starved 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.1020
True happiness ne'er enter'd at an eye;
True happiness resides in things unseen.
No smiles of Fortune ever bless'd the bad,
Nor can her frowns rob Innocence of joys;
That jewel wanting, triple crowns are poor:
So tell his Holiness, and be revenged.
Pleasure, we both agree, is man's chief good;
Our 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, 1030
Demurs on what it passes), and defies
The tooth of time; when past, a pleasure still;
Dearer on trial, lovelier for its age, 1033
And doubly to be prized, 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? 1040
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: even the best must own,
Patience, and resignation, are the pillars 1050
Of human peace on earth. The pillars, these:
But those of Seth not more remote from thee,
Till this heroic lesson thou hast learn'd;
To frown at pleasure, and to smile in pain.
Fired 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: 1060
But can harangues blow back strong nature's stream;
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.1067
Nothing romantic has the Muse prescribed.
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 foil:
Observe his awful 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! 1080
A man on earth devoted to the skies;
Like ships in sea, 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, 1090
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 composed possession of the true.1100
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; 1110
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.1120
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;
Nought, but what wounds his virtue, wounds his peace.
A cover'd heart their character defends; 1130
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; 1134
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? 1142
They yield to pleasure, though they danger brave,
And show no fortitude, but in the field;
If there they show it, 'tis 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; 1150
And when he falls, writes VICI on his shield.
From magnanimity, all fear above;
From nobler recompence, above applause;
Which owes to man's short outlook 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 1160
An uninverted system of a man.
His appetite wears Reason's golden chain,
And finds, in due restraint, its luxury.
His passion, like an eagle 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.1168
And why? -- because affection, more than meet,
His wisdom leaves not disengaged 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 uninflamed.
The moderate movements of his soul admit
Distinct ideas, and matured debate,
An eye impartial, and an even scale; 1180
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 their creed.
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) 1190
Who care no farther, 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.
'Tis 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.1200
Each act, each thought, he questions, |What its weight,
Its colour what, a thousand ages hence?| -- 1202
And what it there appears, he deems it now.
Hence, pure are the recesses of his soul.
The godlike 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! 1210
Wont to disdain poor bigots caught by Heaven!
Stand by thy scorn, and be reduced 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.1220
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, 1230
And fly conviction, in the dust she raised.
Wit, how delicious to man's dainty taste!
'Tis 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.1236
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, 'twere well was this the worst;
Chance often hits it; and, to pique thee more, 1243
See Dulness, blundering on vivacities,
Shakes her sage head at the calamity,
Which has exposed, and let her down to thee.
But Wisdom, awful 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; 1250
Or if there found, 'tis 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, 'tis dangerous; in religion, death:
Shall Wit turn Christian, when the dull believe?
Sense is our helmet, wit is but the plume;
The plume exposes, 'tis our helmet saves.1260
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;
Whom dull fools scorn, and bless their want of wit.
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, 1270
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, 1280
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-toned tubes, well strain'd;
A nice machine! scarce ever tuned 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 immersed, or fell despair.1290
Art thou yet dull enough despair to dread,
And startle at destruction? If thou art,
Accept a buckler, take it to the field;
(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 pertains
To one of these; but prize not all alike;
The goods of fortune to thy body's health,
Body to soul, and soul submit to God.| 1300
Would'st thou build lasting happiness? do this;
Th' inverted pyramid can never stand.
Is this truth doubtful? It outshines the sun;
Nay, the sun shines not, but to show us this, 1304
The single lesson of mankind on earth.
And yet -- yet, what? No news! Mankind is mad;
Such mighty numbers list against the right,
(And what can't numbers, when bewitch'd, achieve!)
They talk themselves to something like belief,
That all earth's joys are theirs: as Athens' fool
Grinn'd from the port, on every sail his own.
They grin; but wherefore? and how long the laugh?
Half ignorance, their mirth; and half, a lie; 1313
To cheat the world, and cheat themselves, they smile.
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, 1320
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! gored 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, 1330
Th' envenom'd phial, and the fatal ball;
The strangling cord, and suffocating stream;
The loathsome rottenness, and foul decays
From raging riot (slower suicides!)
And pride in these, more execrable still!
How horrid all to thought! -- but horrors, these,
That vouch the truth; and aid my feeble song.
From vice, sense, fancy, no man can be blest: 1338
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, exercised 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 privileged from chance, time, death!
A joy, which death shall double, judgment crown! 1350
Crown'd higher, and still higher, at each stage,
Through bless'd 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, 1360
Makes serious thought man's wisdom, joy, and praise,
Nor need you blush (though sometimes your designs
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; 1370
What wonder then, if they pronounce you light? 1371
Is their esteem alone not worth your care?
Accept my simple scheme of common sense:
Thus, save your fame, and make two worlds your own.
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.1380
Haste, haste! a man, by nature, is in haste;
For who shall answer for another hour?
'Tis 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 prose)
Has ventured into light; well pleased the verse
Should be forgot, if you the truths retain; 1390
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 incensed,
Denies thee long to live: nor shalt thou rest,
When thou art dead; in Stygian shades arraign'd 1400
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; 1404
Prudent, as Prussia, in her zeal for Gaul.
|Are all, then, fools?| Lorenzo cries. -- Yes, all,
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, 1410
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; --
|Thy wisdom all can do, but -- make thee wise.|
Nor think this censure is severe on thee;
Satan, thy master, I dare call a dunce.1417
CONTAINING, AMONG OTHER THINGS,
I. A MORAL SURVEY OF THE NOCTURNAL HEAVENS.
II. A NIGHT ADDRESS TO THE DEITY.