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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: e'en the best must own,
Patience and Resignation are the pillars
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 the horizon, cheers us in this world;
It sheds, on souls susceptible of light,
The glorious dawn of our eternal day.
This (says Lorenzo) is the 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: 1066
Thus weakness to chimera turns the truth.
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: 1076
Observe his awful portrait, and admire ;
Nor stop at wonder; imitate, and live.
*In a former Night.
Some angel guide my pencil, while I draw,
What nothing less than angel can exceed,
A man on earth devoted to the skies;
Like ships in seas, 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,
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.
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.
What makes them only smile, makes him adore.
Where they see mountains, he but atoms sees.
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 sees with other eyes than theirs: where they Behold a sun, he spies a Deity.
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:
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, on his right invade
Their interest, like a lior 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;
A cover'd heart denies him half his prais
With nakedness his innocence agrees,
While their broad foliage testifier their fall.
Their no joys end where his full feast begins;
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. 1140
But nothing charms Lorenzo like the firm
Undaunted breast.-And whose is that high praise?
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, ail attempting, till he fall;
And when he falls, writes l'ici on his shield.
From magnanimity all fear above;
From nobler recompense 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 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.
And why?-because affection, more than meet,
His wisdom leaves not disengaged from Heaven. 1170
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 the 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;
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)
Who care no farther, must prize what it yields, 1191
*See page 193, line 21.
Fond of its fancies, proud of its parades.
Who thinks earth nothing can't its charms admire ;
He 't a foe, though most malignant, hat
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 :
Each act, each thought he questions; 'What its weight,
Its colour what, a thousand ages hence?'
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.
Lorenzo! bigot of this world!
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.
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;