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By strides as swift. Eternity is all;
And whose eternity? who triumphs there?
Bathing for ever in the font of bliss'
For ever basking in the Deity!
Lorenzo! who?-thy conscience shall reply.
O give it leave to speak; 'twill speak ere long
Thy leave unask'd. Lorenzo! hear it now,
While useful its advice, its accent mild.
By the great edict, the divine decree,
Truth is deposited with man's last hour;
An honest hour, and faithful to her trust;
Truth! eldest daughter of the Deity!
Truth! of his council when he made the worlds;
Nor less, when he shall judge the worlds he made;
Though silent long, and sleeping ne'er so sound, 830
Smother'd with errors, and oppress'd with toys,
That heaven-commission'd hour no sooner calls,
But from her cavern in the soul's abyss,
Like him they fable under Ætna whelm'd,
The goddess bursts in thunder and in flame,
Loudly convinces, and severely pains.
Dark demons I discharge, and hydra-stings;
The keen vibration of bright Truth-is Hell;
Just definition! though by schools untaught.
Ye deaf to truth! peruse this parson'd page,
And trust, for once, a prophet and a priest ;—
'Men may live fools, but fools they cannot die.'
TO THE RIGHT HON. THE EARL OF LITCHFIELD.
LORENZO to recriminate is just.
'Fondness for fame is avarice of air.'
I grant the man is vain who writes for praise
Praise no man e'er deserved, who sought no more.
As just thy second charge. I grant the Masc
Has often blush'd at her degenerate sons,
Retain'd by Sense to plead her filthy cause,
To raise the low, to magnify the mean,
And subtilize the gross into refined;
As if to magic numbers' powerful charm
'Twas given to make a civet of their song
Obscene, and sweeten ordure to perfume.
Wit, a true pagan, deifies the brute,
And lifts our swine enjoyments from the mire.
The fact notorious, nor obscure the cause.
We wear the chains of pleasure and of pride:
These share the man, and these distract him too;
Draw different ways, and clash in their commands.
Pride, like an eagle, builds among the stars;
But Pleasure, larklike, nests upon the ground.
Joys, shared by brute creation, Pride resents;
Pleasure embraces; man would both enjoy,
And hoth at once: a point how hard to gain!
But what can't Wit, when stung by strong desire?
Wit dares attempt this arduous enterprise.
Since joys of Sense can't rise to Reason's taste,
In subtle Sophistry's laborious forge
Wit hammers out a reason new, that stoops
To sordid scenes, and meets them with applauso.
Wit calls the Graces the chaste zone to loose,
Nor less than a plump god to fill the bowl:
A thousand phantoms and a thousand spells,
A thousand opiates scatters to delude,
But let not these inexpiable strains
Condemn the Muse that knows her dignity,
Nor meanly stops at time, but holds the world
As 'tis, in Nature's ample field, a point,
A point in her esteem; from whence to start,
And run the round of universal space,
To fascinate, inebriate, lay asleep,
And the fool'd mind delightfully confound.
Thus that which shock'd the judgment shocks no more;
That which gave pride offence, no more offends.
Pleasure and Pride, by nature mortal foes,
At war eternal, which in man shall reign.
By Wit's address patch up a fatal peace,
And hand in hand lead on the rank debauch,
From rank, refined to delicate and gay.
Art, cursed Art! wipes off the' indebted blush
From Nature's cheek, and bronzes every shame.
Man smiles in ruin, glories in his guilt,
And Infamy stands candidate for praise.
All writ by man in favour of the soul,
These sensual ethics far, in bulk, transcend.
The flowers of eloquence, profusely pour'd
O'er spotted Vice, fill half the letter'd world.
Can powers of genius exercise their page,
And consecrate enormities with song!
To visit being universal there,
And being's Source, that utmost flight of mind ·
Yet spite of this so vast circumference,
Well knows but what is moral nought is great.
Sing sirens only? do not angels sing?
There is in Poesy a decent pride,
Which well becomes her when she speaks to Prose, Her younger sister, haply not more wise.
Think'st thou, Lorenzo, to find pastimes here? No guilty passion blown into a flame, No foible flatter'd, dignity disgraced, No fairy field of fiction, all on flower, No rainbow colours, here, or silken tale; But solemn counsels, images of awe, Truths, which Eternity lets fall on man, With double weight through these revolving spheres, This death-deep silence, and incumbent shade: Thoughts such as shall revisit your last hour, Visit uncall'd, and live when life expires; And thy dark pencil, Midnight! darker still In melancholy dipp'd, imbrowns the whole.
Yet this, e'en this, my laughter-loving friends '
Lorenzo! and thy brothers of the sinile'
If what imports you most can most engage,
Shall steal your ear, and chain you to my song.
Or if you fail me, know the wise shall taste
The truths I sing; the truths I sing shall feel;
And, feeling, give assent; and their assent
Is ample recompense; is more than praise.
But chiefly thine, O Litchfield !-nor mistake;
Think not unintroduced I force my way.
Narcissa, not unknown, not unallied
By virtue, or by blood, illustrious youth!
To thee, from blooming amaranthine bowers,
Where all the language harmony, descends
Uncall'd, and asks admittance for the Muse;
A Muse that will not pain thee with thy praise:
Thy praise she drops, by nobler still inspired.
O thou, bless'd Spirit! whether the Supreme,
Great antemundane Father! in whose breast
Embryo-Creation, unborn being dwelt,
And all its various revolutions roll'd
Present, though future, prior to themselves;
Whose breath can blow it into nought again,
Or from his throne some delegated power,
Who, studious of our peace, dost turn the thought
vain and vile to solid and sublime!
Unseen thou lead'st me to delicious draughts
Of inspiration, from a purer stream,
And fuller of the God, than that which burst
From famed Castalia; nor is yet allay'd
My sacred thirst, though long my soul has ranged 110 Through pleasing paths of moral and divine,
By thee sustain'd, and lighted by the stars.
By them best lighted are the paths of thought ;
Nights are their days, their most illumined hours.
By day the soul, o'erborne by life's career,
Stunn'd by the din, and giddy with the glare,
Reels far from reason, jostled by the throng.
By day the soul is passive, all her thoughts
Imposed, precarious, broken, ere mature.
By night, from objects free, from passion cool,
Thoughts uncontroll'd and unimpress'd, the births
Of pure election, arbitrary range,
Not to the limits of one world confined;
But from ethereal travels light on earth,
As voyagers drop anchor, for repose.
Let Indians, and the gay, like Indians, fond
Of feather'd fopperies, the un adore:
Darkness has inore divinity for me;
It strikes thought inward; it drives back the soul
To settle on herself, our point supreme!
There lies our theatre; there sits our judge.
Darkness the curtain drops o'er life's dull scene;
'Tis the kind hand of Providence stretch'd out
'Twixt man and vanity; 'tis Reason's reign,
And Virtue's too; these tutelary shades
Are man's asylum from the tainted throng.
Night is the good man's friend, and guardian too ;
It no les rescues virtue than inspires.
Virtue, for ever frail as fair below,
Her tender nature suffers in the crowd,