« EelmineJätka »
How little lovely here? How little known?
Small knowledge we dig up with endless toil;
And love unfeign'd may purchase perfect hate.
Why stary'd, on Earth, our angel appetites;
While brutal are indulg'd 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!
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.
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
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 unimbitter'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;
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:
When the worst comes, it comes unfear'd; one stroke
Begins, and ends, their woe: they die but once;
Blest, incommunicable privilege! for which
Reason is guiltless; will alone rebels.
What, in that stubborn heart, if I should find
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,
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;
While o'er us, in tremendous judgment, sit
Far more than man, with endless praise, and blame
Ambition's boundless appetite out-speaks
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
Had not our natures been eternal too.
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
Of immortality. The first in fame,
Observe him near, your envy will abate:
Sham'd 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;
Proud man, who rules the globe, and reads the stars, It calls in whispers, yet the deafest hear.
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.
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, e'en here: admit immortal life,
And virtue is knight-errantry no more;
Each virtue brings in hand a golden dower,
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.
And can ambition a fourth proof supply?
It can, and stronger than the former three;
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 fam'd advice to Pyrrhus given,
More prais'd, 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,
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;
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;
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,
The grand, the marvellous, of civil life,
Want and convenience, under-workers, 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,
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;
This constitutional reserve, of aid
To succor virtue, when our reason fails;
If virtue, kept alive by care and toil,
And, oft, the mark of injuries on Earth,
When labor'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,
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 discourag'd, 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;
"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'er-loading, 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; But bounded to the wealth the Sun surveys: Look farther, the command stands quite revers'd, And avarice is a virtue most divine.
Is faith a refuge for our happiness?
Most true: 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.
Sour grapes, I grant, ambition, avarice,
Yet still their root is immortality:
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.
[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,
E'en in the zenith of his earthly bliss:
Should reason take her infidel repose,
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.
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;
"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,
Déclares him born for blessings infinite:
What less than infinite makes un-absurd
Passions, which all on Earth but more inflames ?
Fierce passions, so mis-measur'd 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."
Ye gentle theologues, of calmer kind!
Whose constitution dictates to your pen,
Who, cold yourselves, think ardor comes from
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.
In Paradise itself they burnt 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, dethron'd from high desire ?
Yet still through their disgrace, no feeble ray
Of greatness shines, and tells us whence they fell:
But these (like that fall'n monarch when reclaim'd,)
When reason moderates the rein aright,
Shall reascend, remount their former sphere,
Where once they soar'd illustrious; ere seduc'd
By wanton Eve's debauch, to stroll on Earth,
And set the sublunary world on fire.
But grant their frenzy lasts; their frenzy fails
To disappoint one providential end,
For which Heaven blew up ardor in our hearts:
Were reason silent, boundless passion speaks
A future scene of boundless objects too,
And brings glad tidings of eternal day.
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. Authority, that venerable guide,
Stands on my part; the fam'd Athenian porch (And who for wisdom so renown'd as they?) Denied this immortality to man."
I grant it; but affirm, they prov'd 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;
They leave the extravagance of song below.
"Flesh shall not feel; or, feeling, shall enjoy
The dagger or the rack; to them, alike
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 prov'd,
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:
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
Why life, a moment; infinite, desire?
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.
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,
And putting all our present joys to death?
Why labors 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-counsel to decline the blow.
Reason with inclination ne'er had jarr'd,
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!
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!
Could I believe Lorenzo's system true,
In this black channel would my ravings run. "Grief from the future borrow'd peace, erewhile, [pride. The future vanish'd! and the present pain'd! Such monstrous heights?-From instinct, and from Strange import of unprecedented ill!
The glorious instinct of a deathless soul,
Confus'dly conscious of her dignity,
Suggested truths they could not understand.
In lust's dominion, and in passion's storm,
Truth's system broken, scatter'd fragments lay,
As light in chaos, glimmering through the gloom:
Smit with the pomp of lofty sentiments,
Pleas'd pride proclaim'd, what reason disbeliev'd.
Pride, like the Delphic priestess, with a swell,
Rav'd nonsense, destin'd to be future sense,
When life immortal, in full day, should 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,
Can then absurdities, as well as crimes,
Speak man immortal? All things speak him so.
Much has been urg'd: and dost thou call for more?
Call; and with endless questions be distress'd,
All unresolvable, if Earth is all.
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!
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 curst than, at the fall?-The Sun goes out!
The thorns shoot up! What thorns in every thought'
Why sense of better? It imbitters worse.
Why sense? why life? If but to sigh, then sink
To what I was! twice nothing! and much woe!
Woe, from Heaven's bounties! woe from what was
To flatter most, high intellectual powers.
Thought, virtue, knowledge! Blessings, by thy scheme.
All poison'd into pains. First, knowledge, once
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 blest abode
By painful speculation, pierce the veil,
Dive in his nature, read his attributes,
And gaze in admiration-on a foe,
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,
Once all my comfort; source, and soul of joy!
Now leagu'd with furies, and with thee,* against me.
"Know his achievements? Study his renown?
Contemplate this amazing universe,
Dropt 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
And start at man, the single mourner there,
Theirs that serene, the sages sought in vain :
'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?
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:
Unparallel'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
Then make our bed in darkness, needs no thought.
What superfluities are reasoning souls!
O 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.
Breathing high hope! chain'd down to pangs, and Such are thy bounties!-Was it then too much
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,
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
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 favorites of the skies:
Ye towering hopes, abortive énergies!
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;
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.
For me, to trespass on the brutal rights?
Too much for Heaven to make one emmet more?
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 frenzy, thought!
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 chang'd 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 promis'd land's ambrosial bower,
To pay me with its honey for my stings?
If needful to the selfish schemes of Heaven
To sting us sore, why mockt our misery?
Why this so sumptuous insult o'er our heads?
Why this illustrious canopy display'd?
Why so magnificently lodg'd despair?
At stated periods, sure returning, roll
These glorious orbs, that mortals may compute
Their length of labors, 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
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 color with his fate?
Instinct, than reason, makes more wholesome meal, A Thebes, a Babylon, at vast expense
And sends all-marring murmur far away.
For sensual life they best philosophize;
Of time, toil, treasure, art, for owls and adders,
As congruous, as, for man, this lofty dome
Which prompts proud thought, and kindles high
If, from her humble chamber in the dust,
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 the 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,
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 extinguisht. 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,
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 not to-morrow!
Who liv'd in terror, and in pangs expir'd!
All gone to rol in chaos; or to make
Their happy transit into blocks or brutes,
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,
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 patronize 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,
They lately prov'd,* 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, despis'd?
Or both wish'd, here, where neither can be found?
Such man's perverse, eternal war with Heaven!
Dar'st 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
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, compar'd to thee:
O 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 blest, or worthy so to be? Heaven starts at an annihilating God.
Is that, all Nature starts at, thy desire?
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 drunk;
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.
And, oh! what depth of horror lies inclos'd!
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,
Did thy foul fancy whelp so black a scheme
Of hopes abortive, faculties half-blown,
And deities begun, reduc'd 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
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-realizing, 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,
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 grac'd,
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!
An all-prolific, all-preserving god!
This were a god indeed.-And such is man,
As here presum'd: 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, O where
Will the swarm settle ?-When the trumpet's call,
As sounding brass, collects us, round Heaven's throne
Conglob'd, we bask in everlasting day,
(Paternal splendor!) and adhere for ever.
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!