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All cloud, all shadow, blown remote; and leave 100
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 deplored) more fair!
What exquisite vicissitude of Fate!
Bless'd absolution of our blackest hour!
Lorenzo! these are thoughts that make man man,
The wise illumine, aggrandize the great.
How great, (while yet we tread the kindred clod,
And every moment tear to sink beneath
The clod we tread, soon trodden by our sons)
How great, in the wild whirl of Time's pursuits, 115
To stop, and pause; involved in high presage,
Through the long vista of a thousand years,
To stand contemplating our distant selves,
As in a magnifying mirror seen,
Enlarged, 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 the' astonished 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'errate, and none Can underrate 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' when quit
This cell of the creation? this small nest,
Stuck in a corner of the universe,
Wrapp'd 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 farther shore,
Where Virtue reigns, enrich'd with full arrears, 145
While Pomp imperial begs an alms of Peace.
In empire high, or in proud science deep,
Ye horn of Earth! on what can you confer,
With half the dignity, with half the gain,
The gust, the glow, of national delight,
As on this theme, which angels praise and share?
Man's fates and favours 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 the' Almighty 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! 165
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 labouring eye,
Unbroken, then, illustrious and entire,
Its ample sphere, its universal frame,
Ir full dimensions, swells to the survey,
And enters, at one glance, the ravish'd sight
From some superior point (where, who can tell?
Suffice it, 'tis a point, where gods reside,)
How shall the stranger-man's illumined eye,
In the vast ocean of unbounded space,
Behold an infinite of floating worlds
Divide the crystal waves of ether pure,
In endless voyage without port? The least
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 unperceived! Stupendous these?
Yet what are these stupendous to the whole?
As particles, as atoms ill perceived;
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 bless'd?
Death, only death, the question can resolve.
By death cheap bought the' ideas of our joy ;
The bare ideas! solid happiness
So distant from its shadow chased 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 cf the field and flood, Or, spiderlike, 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 network 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 Hoaven, our dignity with man,
And deify the dirt matured 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?
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 upseen
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? 230
What if to them I prove Lorenzo blind?
Would it surprise thee? be thou then surprised;
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, preeminent : If prone in thought, our stature is our shame ; And man should blush, his forehead meets the skies.
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 nighest praise.
Let genius, then, despair to make thee great;
Nor flatter station. What is station high?