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vinced of their immortality, are not far from being |
Christians. For it is hard to conceive, that a man,
fully conscious eternal pain or happiness will cer-
tainly be his lot, should not earnestly, and impar-
tially, inquire after the surest means of escaping
one, and securing the other. And of such an
earnest and impartial inquiry, I well know the
Here, therefore, in proof of this most fundamental
truth, some plain arguments are offered; argu-
ments derived from principles which infidels admit
in common with believers; arguments, which ap-
pear to me altogether irresistible; and such as,
I am satisfied, will have great weight with all,
who give themselves the small trouble of looking
seriously into their own bosoms, and of observing,
with any tolerable degree of attention, what daily
passes round about them in the world. If some
arguments shall, here, occur, which others have
declined, they are submitted, with all deference,
to better judgments in this, of all points the most
important. For, as to the being of a God, that is
no longer disputed; but it is undisputed for this
reason only; viz. because, where the least pre-
tence to reason is admitted, it must for ever be
indisputable. And of consequence no man can be
betrayed into a dispute of that nature by vanity;
which has a principal share in animating our mod-
ern combatants against other articles of our belief.
SHE* (for I know not yet her name in Heaven)
Not early, like Narcissa, left the scene;
Nor sudden, like Philander. What avail?
This seeming mitigation but inflames;
This fancied medicine heightens the disease.
The longer known, the closer still she grew;
And gradual parting is a gradual death,
'Tis the grim tyrant's engine, which extorts,
By tardy pressure's still increasing weight,
From hardest hearts, confession of distress.
But why more woe? More comfort let it be,
Nothing is dead, but that which wish'd to die;
Nothing is dead, but wretchedness and pain;
Nothing is dead, but what encumber'd, gall'd,
Block'd up the pass, and barr'd from real life.
Where dwells that wish most ardent of the wise?
Too dark the Sun to see it; highest stars
Too low to reach it; Death, great Death alone,
O'er stars and Sun triumphant, lands us there.
Nor dreadful our transition; though the mind,
An artist at creating self-alarms,
Rich in expedients for inquietude,
Is prone to paint it dreadful. Who can take
Death's portrait true? The tyrant never sat.
Our sketch all random strokes, conjecture all;
Close shuts the grave, nor tells one single tale.
Death, and his image rising in the brain,
Bear faint resemblance; never are alike;
Fear shakes the pencil; Fancy loves excess;
Dark Ignorance is lavish of her shades:
And these the formidable picture draw.
But grant the worst; 'tis past; new prospects rise;
And drop a veil eternal o'er her tomb.
Far other views our contemplation claim,
Views that o'erpay the rigors of our life;
Views that suspend our agonies in death.
Wrapt in the thought of immortality,
Wrapt in the single, the triumphant thought!
Long life might lapse, age unperceiv'd come on;
And find the soul unsated with her theme.
Its nature, proof, importance, fire my song.
O that my song could emulate my soul!
Like her, immortal. No!-the soul disdains
A mark so mean; far nobler hope inflames;
If endless ages can outweigh an hour,
Let not the laurel, but the palm, inspire.
Thy nature, immortality! who knows?
And yet who knows it not? It is but life
In stronger thread of brighter color spun,
And spun for ever; dipt by cruel fate
O the long, dark approach through years of pain, In Stygian dye, how black, how brittle here !
Death's gallery! (might I dare to call it so)
With dismal doubt, and sable terror, hung:
Sick hope's pale lamp, its only glimmering ray;
There, fate my melancholy walk ordain'd,
Forbid self-love itself to flatter, there.
How oft I gaz'd, prophetically sad!
How oft I saw her dead, while yet in smiles!
In smiles she sunk her grief to lessen mine.
She spoke me comfort, and increas'd my pain.
Like powerful armies trenching at a town,
By slow, and silent, but resistless sap,
In his pale progress gently gaining ground,
Death urg'd his deadly siege; in spite of art,
Of all the balmy blessings Nature lends
To succor frail humanity. Ye stars!
(Not now first made familiar to my sight)
And thou, O Moon! bear witness; many a night
He tore the pillow from beneath my head,
Tied down by sore attention to the shock,
By ceaseless depredations on a life
Dearer than that he left me.
Of observation! darker every hour!
Less dread the day that drove me to the brink,
And pointed at eternity below;
When my soul shudder'd at futurity;
When, on a moment's point, th' important die
Of life and death spun doubtful, ere it fell,
And turn'd up life; my title to more woe.
How short our correspondence with the Sun!
And while it lasts, inglorious! Our best deeds,
How wanting in their weight! Our highest joys,
Small cordials to support us in our pain,
And give us strength to suffer. But how great,
To mingle interests, converse amities,
With all the sons of reason, scatter'd wide
Through habitable space, wherever born,
Howe'er endow'd! To live free citizens
Of universal Nature! To lay hold
By more than feeble faith on the Supreme!
To call Heaven's rich unfathomable mines
(Mines, which support archangels in their state)
Our own! To rise in science, as in bliss,
Initiate in the secrets of the skies!
To read creation; read its mighty plan
In the bare bosom of the Deity!
The plan, and execution, to collate!
To see, before each glance of piercing thought,
All cloud, all shadow, blown remote; and leave
No mystery-but that of love divine,
Which lifts us on the seraph's flaming wing,
From Earth's aceldama, this field of blood,
Of inward anguish, and of outward ill,
From darkness, and from dust, to such a scene!
Love's element! true joy's illustrious home!
From Earth's sad contrast (now deplor'd) more fair'
What exquisite vicissitude of fate!
Blest absolution of our blackest hour'
Lorenzo, these are thoughts that make man, man, In endless voyage, without port? The least
The wise illumine, aggrandize the great.
How great, (while yet we tread the kindred clod,
And every moment fear to sink beneath
The clod we tread; soon trodden by our sons,)
How great, in the wild whirl of time's pursuits,
To stop, and pause, involv'd in high presage,
Through the long vista of a thousand years,
To stand contemplating our distant selves,
As in a magnifying mirror seen,
Enlarg'd, ennobled, elevate, divine!
To prophesy our own futurities;
To gaze in thought on what all thought transcends!
To talk, with fellow-candidates, of joys
As far beyond conception as desert,
Ourselves th' astonish'd talkers, and the tale!
Lorenzo, swells thy bosom at the thought?
The swell becomes thee: 'tis an honest pride.
Revere thyself;-and yet thyself despise.
His nature no man can o'er-rate; and none
Can under-rate his merit. Take good heed,
Nor there be modest, where thou shouldst be proud;
That almost universal error shun.
How just our pride, when we behold those heights!
Not those ambition paints in air, but those
Reason points out, and ardent virtue gains;
And angels emulate our pride how just!
When mount we? When these shackles cast?
This cell of the creation? this small nest,
Stuck in a corner of the universe,
Wrapt up in fleecy cloud, and fine-spun air?
Fine-spun to sense; but gross and feculent
To souls celestial; souls ordain'd to breathe
Ambrosial gales, and drink a purer sky;
Greatly triumphant on time's further shore,
Where virtue reigns, enrich'd with full arrears;
While pomp imperial begs an alms of peace.
In empire high, or in proud science deep,
Ye born of Earth! on what can you confer,
With half the dignity, with half the gain,
The gust, the glow of rational delight,
As on this theme, which angels praise and share?
Man's fates and favors are a theme in Heaven.
What wretched repetition cloys us here!
What periodic potions for the sick!
Distemper'd bodies! and distemper'd minds!
In an eternity, what scenes shall strike!
Adventures thicken! novelties surprise!
What webs of wonder shall unravel, there!
What full day pour on all the paths of Heaven,
And light th' Almighty's footsteps in the deep!
How shall the blessed day of our discharge
Unwind, at once, the labyrinths of fate,
And straighten its inextricable maze!
If inextinguishable thirst in man
To know, how rich, how full, our banquet there!
There, not the moral world alone unfolds;
The world material, lately seen in shades,
And, in those shades, by fragments only seen,
And seen those fragments by the laboring eye,
Unbroken, then, illustrious and entire,
Its ample sphere, its universal frame,
In full dimensions, swells to the survey;
And enters, at one glance, the ravisht sight.
From some superior point (where, who can tell?
Suffice it, 'tis a point where gods reside)
How shall the stranger man's illumin'd eye,
In the vast ocean of unbounded space,
Behold an infinite of floating worlds
Divide the crystal waves of ether pure,
Of these disseminated orbs, how great!
Great as they are, what numbers these surpass,
Huge, as leviathan, to that small race,
Those twinkling multitudes of little life,
He swallows unperceiv'd? Stupendous these!
Yet what are these stupendous to the whole!
As particles, as atoms ill perceiv'd ;
As circulating globules in our veins;
So vast the plan. Fecundity divine!
Exuberant source! perhaps, I wrong thee still.
If admiration is a source of joy,
What transport hence! yet this the least in Heaven.
What this to that illustrious robe he wears,
Who toss'd this mass of wonders from his hand,
A specimen, an earnest of his power?
"Tis to that glory, whence all glory flows,
As the mead's meanest floweret to the Sun,
Which gave it birth. But what, this Sun of Heaven?
This bliss supreme of the supremely blest?
Death, only Death, the question can resolve.
By Death, cheap-bought th' ideas of our joy;
The bare ideas! solid happiness
So distant from its shadow chas'd below.
And chase we still the phantom through the fire,
O'er bog, and brake, and precipice, till death?
And toil we still for sublunary pay?
Defy the dangers of the field and flood,
Or, spider-like, spin out our precious all,
Our more than vitals spin (if no regard
To great futurity) in curious webs
Of subtle thought, and exquisite design;
(Fine net-work of the brain!) to catch a fly?
The momentary buzz of vain renown!
A name; a mortal immortality!
Or (meaner still!) instead of grasping air,
For sordid lucre, plunge we in the mire?
Drudge, sweat, through every shame, for every gain
For vile contaminating trash; throw up
Our hope in Heaven, our dignity with man?
And deify the dirt, matur'd to gold?
Ambition, avarice; the two demons these,
Which goad through every slough our human herd,
Hard-travel'd from the cradle to the grave.
How low the wretches stoop! How steep they climb! These demons burn mankind; but most possess Lorenzo's bosom, and turn out the skies.
Is it in time to hide eternity?
And why not in an atom on the shore
To cover ocean? or a mote, the Sun?
Glory and wealth! have they this blinding power?
What if to them I prove Lorenzo blind?
Would it surprise thee? Be thou then surpris'd;
Thou neither know'st; their nature learn from me.
Mark well, as foreign as these subjects seem,
What close connexion ties them to my theme.
First, what is true ambition? The pursuit
Of glory, nothing less than man can share.
Were they as vain as gaudy-minded man,
As flatulent with fumes of self-applause,
Their arts and conquests animals might boast,
And claim their laurel crowns, as well as we;
But not celestial. Here we stand alone;
As in our form, distinct, pre-eminent;
If prone in thought, our stature is our shame :
And man should blush, his forehead meets the skies
The visible and present are for brutes,
A slender portion! and a narrow bound!
These reason, with an energy divine,
O'erleaps; and claims the future and unseen;
The vast unseen! the future fathomless!
When the great soul buoys up to this high point,
Leaving gross Nature's sediments below,
Then, and then only, Adam's offspring quits
The sage and hero of the fields and woods,
Asserts his rank, and rises into man.
This is ambition: this is human fire.
Can parts or place (two bold pretenders!) make
Lorenzo great, and pluck him from the throng?
Genius and art, ambition's boasted wings,
Our boast but ill deserve. A feeble aid!
Dedalian enginery! If these alone
Assist our flight, fame's flight is glory's fall.
Heart-merit wanting, mount we ne'er so high,
Our height is but the gibbet of our name.
A celebrated wretch, when I behold;
When I behold a genius bright, and base,
Of towering talents, and terrestrial aims;
Methinks I see, as thrown from her high sphere,
The glorious fragments of a soul immortal,
With rubbish mix'd, and glittering in the dust.
Struck at the splendid, melancholy sight,
At once compassion soft, and envy, rise—
But wherefore envy? Talents, angel-bright,
If wanting worth, are shining instruments
In false ambition's hand, to finish faults
Illustrious, and give infamy renown.
Great ill is an achievement of great powers.
Plain sense but rarely leads us far astray.
Reason the means, affections choose our end;
Means have no merit, if our end amiss.
If wrong our hearts, our heads are right in vain;
What is a Pelham's head, to Pelham's heart?
Hearts are proprietors of all applause.
Right ends, and means, make wisdom: worldly-wise
Is but half-witted, at its highest praise.
Let genius then despair to make thee great;
Nor flatter station. What is station high?
"Tis a proud mendicant; it boasts, and begs;
It begs an alms of homage from the throng,
And oft the throng denies its charity.
Monarchs and ministers are awful names!
Whoever wear them, challenge our devoir.
Religion, public order, both exact
External homage, and a supple knee,
To beings pompously set up, to serve
The meanest slave; all more is merit's due,
Her sacred and inviolable right,
Nor ever paid the monarch, but the man.
Our hearts ne'er bow but to superior worth;
Nor ever fail of their allegiance there.
Fools, indeed, drop the man in their account,
And vote the mantle into majesty.
Let the small savage boast his silver fur;
His royal robe unborrow'd, and unbought,
His own, descending fairly from his sires.
Shall man be proud to wear his livery,
And souls in ermine scorn a soul without?
Can place or lessen us, or aggrandize?
Has thy new post betray'd thee into pride?
That treacherous pride betrays the dignity;
That pride defames humanity, and calls
The being mean, which staffs or strings can raise.
That pride, like hooded hawks, in darkness soars,
From blindness bold, and towering to the skies.
"Tis born of ignorance, which knows not man;
An angel's second; nor his second, long.
A Nero quitting his imperial throne,
And courting glory from the tinkling string,
But faintly shadows an immortal soul,
With empire's self, to pride, or rapture, fir'd.
If nobler motives minister no cure,
E'en vanity forbids thee to be vain.
High worth is elevated place: 'tis more;
It makes the post stand candidate for thee;
Makes more than monarchs, makes an honest man;
Though no exchequer it commands, 'tis wealth;
And though it wears no riband, 'tis renown;
Renown, that would not quit thee, though disgrac'd
Nor leave thee pendent on a master's smile.
Other ambition Nature interdicts;
Nature proclaims it most absurd in man,
By pointing at his origin, and end;
Milk, and a swathe, at first, his whole demand;
His whole domain, at last, a turf, or stone;
To whom, between, a world may seem too small.
Souls truly great dart forward on the wing
Of just ambition, to the grand result:
The curtains fall: there, see the buskin'd chief
Unshod behind this momentary scene;
Reduc'd to his own stature, low or high,
As vice, or virtue, sinks him, or sublimes;
And laugh at this fantastic mummery,
This antic prelude of grotesque events,
Where dwarfs are often stilted, and betray
A littleness of soul by worlds o'er-run.
And nations laid in blood. Dread sacrifice
To Christian pride! which had with horror shock'd
The darkest Pagans offer'd to their gods.
O thou most Christian enemy to peace;
Again in arms? Again provoking fate?
That prince, and that alone, is truly great,
Who draws the sword reluctant, gladly sheathes;
On empire builds what empire far outweighs,
And makes his throne a scaffold to the skies.
Why this so rare? Because forgot of all
The day of death; that venerable day,
Which sits as judge; that day, which shall pronounce
On all our days, absolve them, or condemn.
Lorenzo, never shut thy thought against it;
Be levees ne'er so full, afford it room,
And give it audience in the cabinet.
That friend consulted, flatteries apart,
Will tell thee fair, if thou art great, or mean.
To dote on aught may leave us, or be left,
Is that ambition? Then let flames descend,
Point to the centre their inverted spires,
And learn humiliation from a soul,
Pygmies are pygmies still, though perch'd on alps; Which boasts her lineage from celestial fire.
And pyramids are pyramids in vales.
Each man makes his own stature, builds himself:
Virtue alone outbuilds the pyramids:
Her monuments shall last, when Egypt's fall.
Of these sure truths dost thou demand the cause?
The cause is lodg'd in immortality.
Hear, and assent. Thy bosom burns for power;
What station charms thee? I'll instal thee there;
"Tis thine. And art thou greater than before?
Then thou before wast something less than man.
Yet these are they the world pronounces wise;
The world which cancels Nature's right and wrong,
And casts new wisdom: e'en the grave man lends
His solemn face, to countenance the coin.
Wisdom for parts is madness for the whole.
This stamps the paradox, and gives us leave
To call the wisest weak, the richest poor,
The most ambitious, unambitious, mean;
In triumph, mean; and abject on a throne.
Nothing can make it less than mad in man,
To put forth all his ardor, all his art,
And give his soul her full unbounded flight,
But reaching him, who gave her wings to fly.
When blind ambition quite mistakes her road,
And downward pores, for that which shines above,
Substantial happiness, and true renown;
Then, like an idiot gazing on the brook,
We leap at stars, and fasten in the mud;
At glory grasp, and sink in infamy.
Ambition! powerful source of good and ill!
Thy strength in man, like length of wing in birds,
When disengag'd from Earth, with greater ease,
And swifter flight, transports us to the skies;
By toys entangled, or in gilt bemir'd,
It turns a curse; it is our chain, and scourge,
In this dark dungeon, where confin'd we lie,
Close grated by the sordid bars of sense;
All prospect of eternity shut out;
And, but for execution, ne'er set free.
With error in ambition justly charged,
Find we Lorenzo wiser in his wealth?
What if thy rental I reform? and draw
An inventory new to set thee right?
Where thy true treasure? Gold says, "Not in me:"
And. Not in me," the diamond. Gold is poor;
India's insolvent; seek it in thyself,
Seek in thy naked self, and find it there;
In being so descended, form'd, endow'd ;
Sky-born, sky-guided, sky-returning race!
Erect, immortal, rational, divine!
In senses which inherit Earth, and Heavens ;
Enjoy the various riches Nature yields;
Far nobler! give the riches they enjoy;
Give taste to fruits; and harmony to groves;
Their radiant beams to gold, and gold's bright fire;
Take in, at once, the landscape of the world,
At a small inlet, which a grain might close,
And half-create the wondrous world they see.
Our senses, as our reason, are divine.
But for the magic organ's powerful charm,
Earth were a rude, uncolor'd chaos, still.
Objects are but th' occasion; ours th' exploit ;
Ours is the cloth, the pencil, and the paint,
Which Nature's admirable picture draws;
And beautifies creation's ample dome.
Like Milton's Eve, when gazing on the lake,
Man makes the matchless image, man admires.
Say, then, shall man, his thoughts all sent abroad,
Superior wonders in himself forgot,
His admiration waste on objects round,
When Heaven makes him the soul of all he sees?
Absurd! not rare! so great, so mean, is man.
What wealth in senses such as these! What wealth
In fancy, fir'd to form a fairer scene
Than sense surveys! In memory's firm record,
Which, should it perish, could this world recall
From the dark shadows of o'erwhelming years!
In colors fresh, originally bright,
Preserve its portrait, and report its fate!
What wealth in intellect, that sovereign power,
Which sense and fancy summons to the bar;
Interrogates, approves, or reprehends;
And from the mass those underlings import,
From their materials sifted, and refin'd,
And in truth's balance accurately weigh'd,
Forms art, and science, government, and law;
The solid basis, and the beauteous frame,
The vitals, and the grace of civil life!
And manners (sad exception!) set aside,
Strikes out, with master-hand, a copy fair
Of his idea, whose indulgent thought
Long, long, ere chaos teem'd, plann'd human bliss.
What wealth in souls that soar, dive, range
Disdaining limit, or from place or time;
And hear at once, in thought extensive, hear
Th' Almighty fiat, and the trumpet's sound!
Bold, on creation's outside walk, and view
What was, and is, and more than e'er shall be;
Commanding, with omnipotence of thought,
Creations new in fancy's field to rise!
Souls, that can grasp whate'er th' Almighty made,
And wander wild through things impossible!
What wealth, in faculties of endless growth,
In quenchless passions violent to crave,
In liberty to choose, in power to reach,
And in duration (how thy riches rise!)
Duration to perpetuate-boundless bliss!
Ask you, what power resides in feeble man
That bliss to gain? Is virtue's, then, unknown?
Virtue, our present peace, our future prize.
Man's unprecarious, natural estate,
Improvable at will, in virtue lies;
Its tenure sure; its income is divine.
High-built abundance, heap on heap! for what?
To breed new wants, and beggar us the more;
Then make a richer scramble for the throng?
Soon as this feeble pulse, which leaps so long
Almost by miracle, is tir'd with play,
Like rubbish from disploding engines thrown,
Our magazines of hoarded trifles fly;
Fly diverse; fly to foreigners, to foes;
New masters court, and call the former fool
|(How justly!) for dependence on their stay.
Wide scatter, first, our playthings; then, our dust.
Dost court abundance for the sake of peace?
Learn, and lament thy self-defeated scheme:
Riches enable to be richer still;
And, richer still, what mortal can resist?
Thus wealth (a cruel task-maker!) enjoins
New toils, succeeding toils, an endless train
And murders peace, which taught it first to shine
The poor are half as wretched as the rich;
Whose proud and painful privilege it is,
At once, to bear a double load of woe;
To feel the stings of envy, and of want,
Outrageous want! both Indies cannot cure.
A competence is vital to content.
Much wealth is corpulence, if not disease;
Sick, or encumber'd, is our happiness.
A competence is all we can enjoy.
O be content, where Heaven can give no more!
More, like a flash of water from a lock,
Quickens our spirits' movement for an hour;
But soon its force is spent, nor rise our joys
Above our native temper's common stream.
Hence disappointment lurks in every prize,
As bees in flowers; and stings us with success.
The rich man, who denies it, proudly feigns;
Nor knows the wise are privy to the lie.
Much learning shows how little mortals know;
Much wealth, how little worldlings can enjoy ;
At best, it babies us with endless toys,
And keeps us children till we drop to dust.
As monkeys at a mirror stand amaz'd,
They fail to find what they so plainly see;
Thus men, in shining riches, see the face
Of happiness, nor know it is a shade;
But gaze, and touch, and peep, and peep again
And wish, and wonder it is absent still.
How few can rescue opulence from want! Who lives to nature, rarely can be poor; Who lives to fancy, never can be rich. Poor is the man in debt; the man of gold, In debt to Fortune, trembles at her power. The man of reason smiles at her, and death. O what a patrimony this! A being
Of such inherent strength and majesty,
Not worlds possest can raise it; worlds destroy'd
Can't injure; which holds on its glorious course,
When thine, O Nature! ends; too blest to mourn
Creation's obsequies. What treasure, this!
The monarch is a beggar to the man.
Immortal! Ages past, yet nothing gone!
Morn without eve! a race without a goal!
Unshorten'd by progression infinite!
Futurity for ever future! Life
Beginning still where computation ends!
"Tis the description of a Deity!
'Tis the description of the meanest slave:
The meanest slave dares then Lorenzo scorn?
The meanest slave thy sovereign glory shares.
Proud youth fastidious of the lower world!
Man's lawful pride includes humility:
Stoops to the lowest; is too great to find
Inferiors; all immortal! brothers all!
Proprietors eternal of thy love.
Immortal! What can strike the sense so strong,
As this the soul? It thunders to the thought;
Reason amazes; gratitude o'erwhelms ;
No more we slumber on the brink of fate;
Rous'd at the sound, th' exulting soul ascends,
And breathes her native air; an air that feeds
Ambitions high, and fans ethereal fires;
Quick kindles all that is divine within us;
Nor leaves one loitering thought beneath the stars.
Has not Lorenzo's bosom caught the flame?
Immortal! Were but one immortal, how
Would others envy! How would thrones adore!
Because 'tis common, is the blessing lost?
How this ties up the bounteous hand of Heaven!
O vain, vain, vain, all else! Eternity!
A glorious, and a needful refuge, that,
From vile imprisonment, in abject views.
"Tis immortality, 'tis that alone,
Amid life's pains, abasement, emptiness,
The soul can comfort, elevate, and fill.
That only, and that amply, this performs;
Lifts us above life's pains, her joys above;
Their terror those, and these their lustre lose;
Eternity depending covers all;
Eternity depending all achieves ;
Sets Earth at distance; casts her into shades;
Blends her distinctions; abrogates her powers;
The low, the lofty, joyous, and severe,
Fortune's dread frowns, and fascinating smiles,
Make one promiscuous and neglected heap,
The man beneath; if I may call him man,
Whom immortality's full force inspires.
Nothing terrestrial touches his high thought;
Suns shine unseen, and thunders roll unheard,
By minds quite conscious of their high descent,
Their present province, and their future prize;
Divinely darting upward every wish,
Warm on the wing, in glorious absence lost!
Doubt you this truth? Why labors your belief?
If Earth's whole orb by some due distanc'd eye
Were seen at once, her towering Alps would sink,
And level'd Atlas leave an even sphere.
Thus Earth, and all that earthly minds admire,
Is swallow'd in Eternity's vast round.
To that stupendous view when souls awake,
So large of late, so mountainous to man,
Time's toys subside; and equal all below.
Enthusiastic, this? Then all are weak,
But rank enthusiasts. To this godlike height
Some souls have soar'd; or martyrs ne'er had bled.
And all may do, what has by man been done.
Who, beaten by these sublunary storms,
Boundless, interminable joys can weigh,
Unraptur'd, unexalted, uninflam'd?
What slave unblest, who from to-morrow's dawn
Expects an empire? He forgets his chain,
And, thron'd in thought, his absent sceptre waves.
And what a sceptre waits us! what a throne!
Her own immense appointments to compute,
Or comprehend her high prerogatives,
In this her dark minority, how toils,
How vainly pants, the human soul divine!
Too great the bounty seems for earthly joy;
What heart but trembles at so strange a bliss?
In spite of all the truths the Muse has sung,
Ne'er to be priz'd enough! enough revolv'd!
Are there who wrap the world so close about them,
They see no further than the clouds; and dance
On heedless Vanity's fantastic toe,
Till, stumbling at a straw, in their career,
Headlong they plunge, where end both dance and
Are there, Lorenzo? Is it possible?
Are there on Earth (let me not call them men)
Who lodge a soul immortal in their breasts;
Unconscious as the mountain of its ore;
Or rock, of its inestimable gem?
When rocks shall melt, and mountains vanish, these
Shall know their treasure; treasure, then, no more.
Are there (still more amazing!) who resist
The rising thought? who smother, in its birth,
The glorious truth? who struggle to be brutes?
Who through this bosom-barrier burst their way,
And, with revers'd ambition, strive to sink?
Who labor downwards through th' opposing powers
Of instinct, reason, and the world against them,
To dismal hopes, and shelter in the shock
Of endless night; night darker than the grave's?
Who fight the proofs of immortality?
With horrid zeal, and execrable arts,
Work all their engines, level their black fires,
To blot from man this attribute divine,
(Than vital blood far dearer to the wise,)
Blasphemers, and rank atheists to themselves?
To contradict them, see all Nature rise!
What object, what event, the Moon beneath,
But argues, or endears, an after-scene?
To reason proves, or weds it to desire?
All things proclaim it needful; some advance
One precious step beyond, and prove it sure.
A thousand arguments swarm round my pen,
From Heaven, and Earth, and man. Indulge a few
By Nature, as her common habit, worn;
So pressing Providence a truth to teach,
Which truth untaught, all other truths were vain
Thou! whose all-providential eye surveys,
Whose hand directs, whose spirit fills and warms
Creation, and holds empire far beyond!
Eternity's inhabitant august!
Of two eternities amazing Lord!
One past, ere man's or angel's had begun,
Aid! while I rescue from the foe's assault
Thy glorious immortality in man :
A theme for ever, and for all, of weight,