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Why this exertion? Why this strange regard
From Heaven's Omnipotent indulg'd to man?—
Because, in man, the glorious dreadful power,
Extremely to be pain'd, or blest, for ever.
Duration gives importance; swells the price.
An angel, if a creature of a day,
What would he be? A trifle of no weight;
Or stand, or fall; no matter which; he's gone.
Because immortal, therefore is indulg'd
This strange regard of deities to dust.
Hence, Heaven looks down on Earth with all her eyes:
Hence, the soul's mighty moment in her sight:
Hence, every soul has partisans above,
And every thought a critic in the skies:
Hence, clay, vile clay! has angels for its guard,
And every guard a passion for his charge:
Hence, from all age, the cabinet divine
Has held high counsel o'er the fate of man.
Nor have the clouds those gracious counsels hid:
Angels undrew the curtain of the throne,
And Providence came forth to meet mankind:
In various modes of emphasis and awe,
He spoke his will, and trembling Nature heard;
He spoke it loud, in thunder and in storm.
Witness, thou Sinai! whose cloud-cover'd height,
And shaken basis, own'd the present God;
Witness, ye billows! whose returning tide,
Breaking the chain that fasten'd it in air,
Swept Egypt, and her menaces, to Hell:
Witness, ye flames! th' Assyrian tyrant blew
To sevenfold rage, as impotent, as strong:
And thou, Earth! witness, whose expanding jaws
Clos'd o'er presumption's sacrilegious sons:*
Has not each element, in turn, subscrib'd
The soul's high price, and sworn it to the wise?
Has not flame, ocean, etler, earthquake, strove
To strike this truth through adamantine man?
If not all adamant, Lorenzo! hear;
All is delusion; Nature is wrapt up
In tenfold night, from reason's keenest eye;
There's no consistence, meaning, plan, or end,
In all beneath the Sun, in all above
(As far as man can penetrate,) or Heaven
Is an immense, inestimable prize;
Or all is nothing, or that prize is all.-
And shall each toy be still a match for Heaven,
And full equivalent for groans below?
Who would not give a trifle to prevent
What he would give a thousand worlds to cure?
Lorenzo! thou hast seen (if thine to see)
All Nature, and her God (by Nature's course,
And Nature's course controll'd) declare for me:
The skies above proclaim, " immortal man!"
And, "man immortal!" all below resounds.
The world a system of theology,
Read by the greatest strangers to the schools;
If honest, learn'd; and sages o'er a plow.
Is not, Lorenzo! then, impos'd on thee
This hard alternative; or, to renounce
Thy reason, or thy sense; or, to believe?
What then is unbelief? "Tis an exploit ;
A strenuous enterprise: to gain it, man
Must burst through every bar of common sense;
Of common shame, magnanimously wrong;
And what rewards the sturdy combatant?
His prize, repentance; infamy, his crown.
But wherefore, infamy ?-For want of faith,
Down the steep precipice of wrong he slides;
There's nothing to support him in the right
Faith in the future wanting is, at least
In embryo, every weakness, every guilt;
And strong temptation ripens it to birth.
If this life's gain invites him to the deed,
Why not his country sold, his father slain?
"Tis virtue to pursue our good supreme;
And his supreme, his only good is here.
Ambition, avarice, by the wise disdain'd,
Is perfect wisdom, while mankind are fools,
And think a turf, or tomb-stone, covers all :
These find employment, and provide for sense
A richer pasture, and a larger range;
And sense by right divine ascends the throne,
When virtue's prize and prospect are no more;
Virtue no more we think the will of Heaven.
Would Heaven quite beggar virtue, if belov'd?
Has virtue charms ?"-I grant her heavenly
But if unportion'd, all will interest wed;
Though that our admiration, this our choice.
The virtues grow on immortality;
That root destroy'd, they wither and expire.
A deity believ'd, will nought avail;
Rewards and punishments make God ador'd;
And hopes and fears give conscience all her power.
As in the dying parent dies the child,
Virtue, with immortality, expires.
Who tells me he denies his soul immortal,
Whate'er his boast, has told me, he's a knave.
His duty 'tis, to love himself alone;
Nor care though mankind perish, if he smiles.
Who thinks ere long the man shall wholly die,
Is dead already; nought but brute survives.
And are there such ?-Such candidates there are
For more than death; for utter loss of being,
Being, the basis of the Deity!
Ask you the cause?—The cause they will not tell
Nor need they: O the sorceries of sense!
They work this transformation on the soul,
Dismount her, like the serpent at the fall,
Dismount her from her native wing, (which soar'd
Erewhile ethereal heights.) and throw her down,
To lick the dust, and crawl in such a thought.
Is it in words to paint you? O ye fall'n!
Fall'n from the wings of reason, and of hope!
Erect in stature, prone in appetite !
Patrons of pleasure, posting into pain!
Lovers of argument, averse to sense!
Boasters of liberty, fast bound in chains!
Lords of the wide creation, and the shame!
More senseless than th' irrationals
More base than those you rule! Than those you pity
Far more undone! O ye most infamous
Of beings, from superior dignity!
Deepest in woe from means of boundless bliss!
Ye curst by blessings infinite! because
Most highly favor'd, most profoundly lost!
Ye motley mass of contradiction strong!
And are you, too, convinc'd, your souls fly off
In exhalation soft, and die in air,
From the full flood of evidence against you?
In the coarse drudgeries and sinks of sense,
Your souls have quite worn out the make of Heaven
By vice new-cast, and creatures of your own:
But though you can deform, you can't destroy;
To curse, not uncreate, is all your power.
Lorenzo this black brotherhood renounce ;
Renounce St. Evremont, and read St. Paul.
Ere rapt by miracle, by reason wing'd,
His mounting mind made long abode in Heaven.
This is free-thinking, unconfin'd to parts,
To send the soul, on curious travel bent,
Through all the provinces of human thought;
To dart her flight through the whole sphere of man;
Of this vast universe to make the tour;
In each recess of space, and time, at home;
Familiar with their wonders; diving deep;
And, like a prince of boundless interests there,
Still most ambitious of the most remote;
To look on truth unbroken, and entire;
Truth in the system, the full orb; where truths
By truths enlighten'd, and sustain'd, afford
An arch-like, strong foundation, to support
Th' incumbent weight of absolute, complete
Conviction; here, the more we press, we stand
More firm who most examine, most believe.
Parts, like half-sentences, confound; the whole
Conveys the sense, and God is understood;
Who not in fragments writes to human race:
Read his whole volume, sceptic! then reply.
This, this, is thinking free, a thought that grasps
Beyond a grain, and looks beyond an hour.
Turn up thine eyes, survey this midnight scene;
What are Earth's kingdoms, to yon boundless orbs,
Of human souls, one day, the destin'd range?
And what yon boundless orbs, to godlike man?
Those numerous worlds that throng the firmament,
And ask more space in Heaven, can roll at large
In man's capacious thought, and still leave room
For ampler orbs, for new creations, there.
Can such a soul contract itself, to gripe
A point of no dimension, of no weight?
It can; it does: the world is such a point:
And, of that point, how small a part enslaves!
How small a part-of nothing, shall I say? Why not?-Friends, our chief treasure! how they drop!
Lucia, Narcissa fair, Philander, gone!
The grave, like fabled Cerberus, has op'd
A triple mouth; and, in an awful voice,
Loud calls my soul, and utters all I sing.
How the world falls to pieces round about us,
And leaves us in a ruin of our joy!
What says this transportation of my friends?
It bids me love the place where now they dwell,
And scorn this wretched spot they leave so poor.
Eternity's vast ocean lies before thee;
There; there, Lorenzo! thy Clarissa sails.
Give thy mind sea-room; keep it wide of Earth,
That rock of souls immortal; cut thy cord;
Weigh anchor; spread thy sails; call every wind;
Eye thy Great Pole-star; make the land of life.
Two kinds of life has double-natur'd man,
And two of death; the last far more severe.
Life animal is nurtur'd by the Sun;
Thrives on his bounties, triumphs in his beams.
Life rational subsists on higher food,
Triumphant in his beans, who made the day.
When we leave that Sun, and are left by this,
(The fate of all who die in stubborn guilt,)
"Tis utter darkness; strictly double death.
We sink by no judicial stroke of Heaven,
But Nature's course; as sure as plummets fall.
Since God, or man, must alter, ere they meet,
(Since light and darkness blend not in one sphere,)
"Tis manifest, Lorenzo! who must change.
If, then, that double death should prove thy lot,
Blame not the bowels of the Deity;
Man shall be blest, as far as man permits.
Not man alone, all rationals, Heaven arms
With an illustrious, but tremendous, power
To counteract its own most gracious ends;
And this, of strict necessity, not choice;
That power denied, men, angels, were no more
But passive engines, void of praise or blame.
A nature rational implies the power
Of being blest, or wretched, as we please;
Else idle reason would have nought to do;
And he that would be barr'd capacity
Of pain, courts incapacity of bliss.
Heaven wills our happiness, allows our doom;
Invites us ardently, but not compels;
Heaven but persuades, almighty man decrees;
Man is the maker of immortal fates.
Man falls by man, if finally he falls;
And fall he must, who learns from death alone
The dreadful secret-That he lives for ever.
Why this to thee?-Thee yet, perhaps, in doubt
Of second life? But wherefore doubtful still?
Eternal life is nature's ardent wish:
What ardently we wish, we soon believe:
Thy tardy faith declares that wish destroy'd:
What has destroy'd it ?-Shall I tell thee what?
When fear'd the future, 'tis no longer wish'd;
And, when unwish'd, we strive to disbelieve.
"Thus infidelity our guilt betrays."
Nor that the sole detection! Blush, Lorenzo!
Blush for hypocrisy, if not for guilt.
The future fear'd?—An infidel, and fear?
Fear what? A dream? A fable?-How thy dread
Unwilling evidence, and therefore strong,
Affords my cause an undesign'd support!
How disbelief affirms what it denies!
It, unawares, asserts immortal life."
Surprising! infidelity turns out
A creed, and a confession of our sins:
Apostates, thus, are orthodox divines.
Lorenzo! with Lorenzo clash no more;
Nor longer a transparent vizor wear.
Think'st thou, religion only has her mask?
Our infidels are Satan's hypocrites,
Pretend the worst, and, at the bottom, fail.
When visited by thought (thought will intrude,)
Like him they serve, they tremble and believe.
Is their hypocrisy so foul as this;
So fatal to the welfare of the world?
What detestation, what contempt, their due!
And, if unpaid, be thank'd for their escape
That Christian candor they strive hard to scorn:
If not for that asylum, they might find
A Hell on Earth; nor 'scape a worse below.
With insolence, and impotence of thought,
Instead of racking fancy, to refule,
Reform thy manners, and the truth enjoy.—
But shall I dare confess the dire result?
Can thy proud reason brook so black a brand?
From purer manners, to sublimer faith,
Is Nature's unavoidable ascent;
An honest Deist, where the Gospel shines,
Matur'd to nobler, in the Christian ends.
When that blest change arrives, e'en cast aside
This song superfluous; life immortal strikes
Conviction, in a flood of light divine.
A Christian dwells, like Uriel,* in the Sun;
Meridian evidence puts doubt to flight;
And ardent hope anticipates the skies.
Of that bright Sun, Lorenzo! scale the sphere;
"Tis easy! it invites thee; it descends
Millions of mysteries! each darker far,
From Heaven to woo, and waft thee whence it came: Than that thy wisdom would, unwisely, shun.
Read and revere the sacred page; a page
Where triumphs immortality; a page
Which not the whole creation could produce;
Which not the conflagration shall destroy:
"Tis printed in the mind of gods for ever,
In Nature's ruins not one letter lost.
In proud disdain of what e'en gods adore,
Dost smile?-Poor wretch! thy guardian angel
Angels, and men, assent to what I sing;
Wits smile, and thank me for my midnight dream.
How vicious hearts fume frenzy to the brain!
Parts push us on to pride, and pride to shame;
Pert infidelity is wit's cockade,
To grace the brazen brow that braves the skies,
By loss of being, dreadfully secure.
Lorenzo! if thy doctrine wins the day,
And drives my dreams, defeated, from the field;
If this is all, if Earth a final scene,
Take heed; stand fast; be sure to be a knave,
A knave in grain! ne'er deviate to the right:
Shouldst thou be good-how infinite thy loss!
Guilt only makes annihilation gain.
Blest scheme! which life deprives of comfort, death
Of hope; and which vice only recommends.
If so, where, infidels! your bait, thrown out
To catch weak converts? where your lofty boast
Of zeal for virtue, and of love to man?
Annihilation! I confess, in these.
What can reclaim you? Dare I hope profound
Philosophers the converts of a song?
Yet know, its title* flatters you, not me;
Yours be the praise to make my title good;
Mine, to bless Heaven, and triumph in your praise.
But since so pestilential your disease,
Though sovereign is the medicine I prescribe,
As yet, I'll neither triumph, nor despair:
But hope, ere long, my midnight dream will wake
Your hearts, and teach your wisdom-to be wise:
For why should souls immortal, made for bliss,
E'er wish, (and wish in vain!) that souls could die?
What ne'er can die, oh! grant to live; and crown
The wish, and aim, and labor of the skies;
Increase, and enter on the joys of Heaven:
Thus shall my title pass a sacred seal,
Receive an imprimatur from above,
While angels shout-An infidel reclaim'd!
To close, Lorenzo! spite of all my pains,
Still seems it strange, that thou shouldst live for ever?
Is it less strange, that thou shouldst live at all?
This is a miracle; and that no more.
Who gave beginning, can exclude an end.
Deny thou art: then, doubt if thou shalt be.
A miracle with miracles inclos'd,
Is man and starts his faith at what is strange?
What less than wonders, from the wonderful;
What less than miracles, from God, can flow?
Admit a God-that mystery supreme!
That cause uncaus'd! all other wonders cease;
Nothing is marvellous for him to do:
Deny him-all is mystery besides :
If weak thy faith, why choose the harder side?
We nothing know, but what is marvellous;
Yet what is marvellous, we can't believe.
So weak our reason, and so great our God,
What most surprises, in the sacred page,
Or full as strange, or stranger, must be true.
Faith is not reason's labor, but repose.
To faith, and virtue, why so backward, man?
From hence:-The present strongly strikes us all,
The future, faintly; can we, then, be men?
If men, Lorenzo! the reverse is right.
Reason is man's peculiar: sense, the brute's.
The present is the scanty realm of sense;
The future, reason's empire unconfin'd:
On that expending all her godlike power,
She plans, provides, expatiates, triumphs, there;
There builds her blessings! there expects her praise.
And nothing asks of fortune, or of men.
And what is reason? Be she, thus, defin'd;
Reason is upright stature in the soul.
Oh! be a man; and strive to be a god.
For what? (thou say'st) To damp the joys of life?" No; to give heart and substance to thy joys. That tyrant, Hope; mark how she domineers; She bids us quit realities, for dreams; Safety and peace, for hazard and alarm; That tyrant o'er the tyrants of the soul, She bids ambition quit its taken prize, Spurn the luxuriant branch on which it sits, Though bearing crowns, to spring at distant game; And plunge in toils and dangers-for repose. If hope precarious, and if things, when gain'd, Of little moment, and as little stay, Can sweeten toils and dangers into joys; What then, that hope, which nothing can defeat, Our leave unask'd? Rich hope of boundless bliss! Bliss, past man's power to paint it; time's to close!
This hope is Earth's most estimable prize: This is man's portion, while no more than man : Hope, of all passions, most befriends us here; Passions of prouder name befriend us less. Joy has her tears; and transport has her death; Hope, like a cordial, innocent, though strong, Man's heart, at once, inspirits, and serenes; Nor makes him pay his wisdom for his joys; 'Tis all our present state can safely bear, Health to the frame! and vigor to the mind! A joy attemper'd! a chastis'd delight! Like the fair summer evening, mild and sweet! "Tis man's full cup; his Paradise below!
A blest hereafter, then, or hop'd, or gain'd,
Is all; our whole of happiness; full proof,
I chose no trivial or inglorious theme.
And know, ye foes to song! (well-meaning men,
Though quite forgotten half your Bible's praise!*)
Important truths, in spite of verse, may please:
Grave minds you praise; nor can you praise too
If there is weight in an eternity,
Let the grave listen—and be graver still.
* The poetical parts of it.
THE MAN OF THE WORLD ANSWERED.
The Love of this life; the Ambition and Pleasure, with the Wit and Wisdom of the World.
AND has all Nature, then, espous'd my part?
Have I brib'd Heaven and Earth to plead against
And is thy soul immortal?—What remains?
All, all, Lorenzo!-Make immortal, blest.
Unblest immortals!-What can shock us more?
And yet Lorenzo still affects the world;
There, stows his treasure; thence, his title draws,
Man of the world (for such wouldst thou be call'd.)
And art thou proud of that inglorious style?
Proud of reproach? for a reproach it was,
In ancient days; and CHRISTIAN-in an age
When men were men, and not asham'd of Heaven-
Fir'd their ambition, as it crown'd their joy.
Sprinkled with dews from the Castalian font,
Fain would I re-baptize thee, and confer
A purer spirit, and a nobler name.
Thy fond attachments fatal, and inflam'd,
Point out my path, and dictate to my song:
To thee, the world how fair! How strongly strikes
Ambition and gay pleasure stronger still!
Thy triple bane! the triple bolt that lays
Thy virtue dead! Be these my triple theme;
Nor shall thy wit, or wisdom, be forgot.
Common the theme; not so the song; if she My song invokes, Urania deigns to smile. The charm that chains us to the world, her foe, If she dissolves, the man of earth, at once, Starts from his trance, and sighs for other scenes; Scenes, where these sparks of night, these stars,
Unnumber'd suns, (for all things, as they are,
The blest behold); and, in one glory, pour
Their blended blaze on man's astonish'd sight;
A blaze-the least illustrious object there.
Lorenzo since eternal is at hand,
To swallow time's ambitions; as the vast
Leviathan, the bubbles vain, that ride
High on the foaming billow; what avail
High titles, high descent, attainments high,
If unattain'd our highest? O Lorenzo!
What lofty thoughts, these elements above,
What towering hopes, what sallies from the Sun,
What grand surveys of destiny divine,
And pompous presage of unfathom'd fate,
Should roll in bosoms, where a spirit burns,
Bound for eternity! In bosoms read
By him, who foibles in archangels sees!
On human hearts he bends a jealous eye,
And marks, and in Heaven's register enrols
The rise and progress of each option there;
Sacred to doomsday! That the page unfolds,
And spreads us to the gaze of gods and men.
And what an option, O Lorenzo! thine!
This world! and this, unrival'd by the skies!
A world, where lust of pleasure. grandeur, gold,
Three demons that divide its realms between them,
With strokes alternate buffet to and fro
Man's restless heart, their sport, their flying ball;
Till, with the giddy circle sick and tir'd,
It pants for peace, and drops into despair.
Such is the world Lorenzo sets above
That glorious promise angels were esteem'd
Too mean to bring; a promise, their Ador'd
Descended to communicate, and press,
By counsel, miracle, life, death, on man.
Such is the world Lorenzo's wisdom wooes,
And on its thorny pillow seeks repose;
A pillow, which, like opiates ill-prepar'd,
Intoxicates, but not composes; fills
The visionary mind with gay chimeras,
All the wild trash of sleep, without the rest ;
What unfeign'd travel, and what dreams of joy!
How frail, men, things! how momentary, both!
Fantastic chase of shadows hunting shades!
The gay, the busy, equal, though unlike;
Equal in wisdom, differently wise!
Through flowery meadows, and through dreary wastes
One bustling, and one dancing, into death.
There's not a day, but, to the man of thought,
Betrays some secret, that throws new reproach
On life, and makes him sick of seeing more.
The scenes of business tell us "What are men;"
The scenes of pleasure-" What is all beside;"
There, others we despise; and here, ourselves.
Amid disgust eternal, dwells delight?
'Tis approbation strikes the string of joy.
What wondrous prize has kindled this career,
Stuns with the din, and chokes us with the dust,
On life's gay stage, one inch above the grave?
The proud run up and down in quest of eyes;
The sensual, in pursuit of something worse;
The grave, of gold; the politic, of power;
And all, of other butterflies, as vain!
As eddies draw things frivolous and light,
How is man's heart by vanity drawn in;
On the swift circle of returning toys,
Whirl'd, straw-like, round and round, and then
Where gay delusion darkens to despair?
This is a beaten track."-Is this a track Should not be beaten? never beat enough, Till enough learn'd the truths it would inspire. Shall truth be silent, because folly frowns? Turn the world's history; what find we there, But fortune's sports, or nature's cruel claims, Or woman's artifice, or man's revenge, And endless inhumanities on man? Fame's trumpet seldom sounds, but, like the knell, It brings bad tidings: how it hourly blows Man's misadventures round the listening world! Man is the tale of narrative old time; Sad tale; which high as Paradise begins; As if, the toil of travel to delude, From stage to stage, in his eternal round. The days, his daughters, as they spin our hours On fortune's wheel, where accident unthought, Oft, in a moment, snaps life's strongest thread, Each, in her turn, some tragic story tells, With, now and then, a wretched farce between, And fills his chronicle with human woes.
Time's daughters, true as those of men, deceive us, Not one, but puts some cheat on all mankind : While in their father's bosom, not yet ours, They flatter our fond hopes; and promise much Of amiable; but hold him not o'er-wise, Who dares to trust them; and laugh round the year
At still-confiding, still-confounded, man,
Coding, though confounded; hoping on,
Untaught by trial, unconvinc'd by proof,
And ever looking for the never-seen.
Life to the last, like harden'd felons, lies;
Nor owns itself a cheat, till it expires.
Its little joy goes out by one and one,
And leaves poor man, at length, in perfect night;
Night darker than what, now, involves the Pole.
O thou, who dost permit these ills to fall [mourn!
For gracious ends, and wouldst that man should
O thou, whose hands this goodly fabric fram'd,
Who know'st it best, and wouldst that man should
What is this sublunary world? A vapor;
A vapor all it holds; itself, a vapor;
From the damp bed of chaos, by thy beam
Exhal'd, ordain'd to swim its destin'd hour
In ambient air, then melt, and disappear.
Earth's days are number'd, nor remote her doom;
As mortal, though less transient, than her sons;
Yet they dote on her, as the world and they
Were both eternal, solid; thou, a dream.
They dote! on what? Immortal views apart,
A region of outsides! a land of shadows!
A fruitful field of flowery promises!
A wilderness of joy! perplex'd with doubts,
And sharp with thorns! a troubled ocean, spread
With bold adventurers, their all on board!
No second hope, if here their fortune frowns;
Frown soon it must. Of various rates they sail,
Of ensigns various; all alike in this,
All restless, anxious; tost with hopes, and fears,
In calmest skies; obnoxious all to storm;
And stormy the most general blast of life:
All bound for happiness; yet few provide
The chart of knowledge, pointing where it lies;
Or virtue's helm, to shape the course design'd:
All, more or less, capricious fate lament,
Now lifted by the tide, and now resorb'd,
And further from their wishes than before:
All, more or less, against each other dash,
To mutual hurt, by gusts of passion driven,
And suffering more from folly, than from fate.
Ocean! thou dreadful and tumultuous home
Of dangers, at eternal war with man!
Death's capital, where most he domineers,
With all his chosen terrors frowning round,
(Though lately feasted high at Albion's cost*)
Wide-opening, and loud-roaring still for more!
Too faithful mirror! how dost thou reflect
The melancholy face of human life!
The strong resemblance tempts me further still:
And, haply, Britain may be deeper struck
By moral truth, in such a mirror seen,
Which Nature holds for ever at her eye.
Self-flatter'd, unexperienc'd, high in hope,
And tugg'd it into view, 'tis won! 'tis lost!
Though strong their oar, still stronger is their fate :
They strike; and while they triumph, they expire. \
In stress of weather, most; some sink outright;
O'er them, and o'er their names, the billows close;
To-morrow knows not they were ever born.
Others a short memorial leave behind,
Like a flag floating, when the bark's ingulf'd;
It floats a moment, and is seen no more:
One Cæsar lives; a thousand are forgot.
How few, beneath auspicious planets born,
(Darlings of Providence! fond Fate's elect!)
With swelling sails make good the promis'd port,
With all their wishes freighted; yet e'en these,
Freighted with all their wishes, soon complain;
Free from misfortune, not from nature free,
They still are men; and when is man secure?
As fatal time, as storm! the rush of years
Beats down their strength; their numberless escapes
In ruin end: and, now, their proud success
But plants new terrors on the victor's brow:
What pain to quit the world, just made their own!
Their nest so deeply down'd, and built so high!
Too low they build, who build beneath the stars.
Woe then apart, (if woe apart can be
From mortal man,) and fortune at our nod,
The gay! rich! great! triumphant! and august!
What are they?-The most happy (strange to say!
Convince me most of human misery;
What are they? Smiling wretches of to-morrow!
More wretched, then, than e'er their slave can be;
Their treacherous blessings, at the day of need,
Like other faithless friends, unmask, and sting;
Then, what provoking indigence in wealth!
What aggravated impotence in power!
High titles, then, what insult of their pain!
If that sole anchor, equal to the waves,
Immortal hope! defies not the rude storm,
Takes comfort from the foaming billows' rage,
And makes a welcome harbor of the tomb.
Is this a sketch of what thy soul admires?
"But here," thou say'st, "the miseries of life
Are huddled in a group. A more distinct
Survey, perhaps, might bring thee better news."
Look on life's stages: they speak plainer still;
The plainer they, the deeper wilt thou sigh.
Look on thy lovely boy; in him behold
The best that can befall the best on Earth;
The boy has virtue by his mother's side:
Yes, on Florello look: a father's heart
Is tender, though the man's is made of stone;
The truth, through such a medium seen, may make
Impression deep, and fondness prove thy friend.
Florello, lately cast on this rude coast
A helpless infant; now, a heedless child;
To poor Clarissa's throes, thy care succeeds;
Care full of love, and yet severe as hate!
When young, with sanguine cheer and streamers gay, O'er thy soul's joy how oft thy fondness frowns'
We cut our cable, launch into the world,
And fondly dream each wind and star our friend;
All, in some darling enterprise embark'd:
But where is he can fathom its extent ?
Amid a multitude of artless hands,
Ruin's sure perquisite! her lawful prize!
Some steer aright; but the black blast blows hard,
And puffs them wide of hope: with hearts of proof,
Full against wind and tide, some win their way;
And when strong effort has deserv'd the port,
Needful austerities his will restrain;
As thorns fence-in the tender plant from harm.
As yet, his reason cannot go alone;
But asks a sterner nurse to lead it on.
His little heart is often terrified;
The blush of morning, in his cheek, turns pale;
Its pearly dew-drop trembles in his eye;
His harmless eye! and drowns an angel there.
Ah! what avails his innocence? The task
Enjoin'd must discipline his early powers;
He learns to sigh, ere he is known to sin;
Guiltless, and sad! a wretch before the fall!