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CONTAINING, AMONG OTHER THINGS,
LA MORAL SURVEY OF THE NOCTURNAL HEAVENS
II, A NIGHT ADDRESS TO THE DEITY.
TO HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE.
- Fatis contraria fata rependens.
As when a traveller, a long day pass'd
15 Song sooths our pains, and age has pains to sooth. When age, care, crime, and friends embraced at heart,
Torn from my bleeding breast, and death's dark shade,
Has not the Muse asserted pleasures pure,
35 In mind are covetous of more disease ; And, when at worst, they dream themselves quite well. To know ourselves diseased is half our cure. When Nature's blush by custom is wiped off, And Conscience, deaden’d by repeated strokes, 40 Has into manners naturalized our crimes, The curse of curses is our curse to love ; To triumph in the blackness of our guilt (As Indians glory in the deepost jet,) And throw aside our senses with our peace. 45
But, grant no guilt, no shame, no least alloy ; Grant joy and glory quite unsullied shone ; Yet, still, it ili deserves Lorenzo's heart. No joy, no glory glitters in thy sight, But, through the thin partition of an hour, I see its sables wove by Destiny ; And that in sorrow buried, this in shame; While howling furies ring the doleful knell, And Conscience, now so soft thou scarce canst hear Her whisper, echoes her eternal peal.
Where the prime actors of the last year's scene , Their port so proud, their buskin, and their plume ? How many sleep, who kept the world awake With lustre and with noise ! Has Death proclaim'd A truce, and hung his sated lance on high ? 60 "Tis brandish'd still, nor shall the present year Be more tenacious of her human leaf, Or spread, of feeble life, a thinner kall.
But needless monuments to wake the thought; Life's gayest scenes speak man's mortality,
65 Though in a style more florid, full as plain As mausoleums, pyramids, and tombs. What are our noblest ornaments, but Deaths Turn'd flatterers of Life, in paint or marble, The well staind canvass, or the featured stone ? 70 Our fathers grace, or rather haunt, the scene : Joy peoples her pavilion from the dead.
• Profess'd diversions ! cannot these escape Far from it : these present us with a shroud, And talk of death, like garlands o'er a grave.
75 As some bold plunderers for Juried wealth, We ransack tombs for pastime ; from the dust Call up the sleeping hero; bid him tread The scene for our amusement. Hɔw like gods We sit ; and, wrapp'd in immortality,
80 Shed generous tears on wretches born to die ; Their fate deploring, to forget our own!
What all the pomps and triumphs of our lives
Lorenzo ! such the glories of the world! 90 What is the world itself? thy world ?-a grave. Where is the dust that has not been alive? The spade, the plough disturb our ancestors.
From human mould we reap our daily bread.
110 When down thy vale, unlock'd by midnight thought, That loves to wander in thy sunless realms, Olieath! I stretch my view, what visions rise ! What triumphs ! toils imp::rial! arts divine ! In wither d laurels glide before my sight !
115 What lengths of far famed ages, billowed high With human agitacion, roll along In unsubstantial images of air ! The melancholy ghosts of dead Renown, Whispering faint echoes of tho world's applause, 120 With penitential aspect, as they pass, All point at earth, and hiss at human pride ; The wisdom of the wise, and prancings of the great.
But, O Lorenzo! far the rest above, Of ghastly nature, and enormous size,
125 One form assaults my sight, and chills my blood, And shakes my frame. Of one departed World I see the mighty shadow : oozy wreath And dismal sea-weed crown her : o'er her urn Reclined, she weeps her desolated realms, 130 And bloated sons : and, weeping, prophesies
Another's dissolution, sooni, in flames :
For, know'st thou not, or art thou loath to know,
140 In mutual conflict would they rise, and wage Eternal war, till one was quite devour’d. But not for this ordain'd their boundless rage. When Heaven's inferior instruments of wrath, War, famine, pestilence, are found too weak 145 To scourge a world for her enormous crimes, These are let loose alternate : down they rush, Swift and tempestuous, from the eternal throne, With irresistible commission arm’d, The world, in vain corrected, to destroy ;
150 And ease Creation of the shocking scene.
Seest thou, Lorenzo! what depends on man? The fate of Nature, as for man her birth. Earth's actors change Earth’s transitory scenes, And make Creation groan with human guilt. 155 How must it groan, in a new deluge whelm’d, But not of waters! At the destined hour, By the loud trumpet summon’d to the charge, See all the formidable sons of fire, Eruptions, earthquakes, comets, lightnings, play 160 Their various engines : all at once disgorge Their blazing magazines; and take, by storm, This poor terrestrial citadel of man.
Amazing period ! when each mountain height Outburns Vesuvius; rocks eternal pour
165 Their melted mass, as rivers once they pour'd; Stars rush, and final Ruin fiercely drives Her ploughshare o'er Creation !—while aloft, More than astonishment : if more can be!