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Uprais'd his drooping head, and shew'd afar.
A happier scene of things; the promis'd Seed
Trampling upon the Serpent's humbled crest;
Death of his sting disarm'd; and the dark grave,
Made pervious to the realms of endless day,
No more the limit but the gate of life.
Cheer'd with the view, Man went to till the ground,
From whence he rose; sentenc'd indeed to toil
As to a punishment, yet (ev'n in wrath,
So merciful is Heav'n) this toil became
The solace of his woes, the sweet employ
Of many,a live-long hour, and surest guard.
Against Disease and Death Death, tho' denounc'dy
Was yet a distant ill, by feeble arm
Of Age, his sole support, led slowly on.
Not then, as since, the short-liv'd sons of men
Flock'd to his realms in countless multitudes;
Scarce in the course of twice five hundred years,
One solitary ghost went shiv'ring down
To his unpeopled shore. In sober state,
Through the sequcster'd vale of rural life,',
The venerable Patriarch guiteless held
The tenor of his way; Labour prepar'd
His simple fare, and Temp'rance rul'd his board.
Tir'd with his daily toil, at early eve
He sunk to sudden rest; gentle and pure
As breath of evening Zephyr, and as sweet, .
Were all his slumbers; with the Sun he rose,
Alert and vigorous as He, to run
His destin'd course.' Thus nerv'd with giant strength
He stemm'd the tide of time, and stood the shock
Of-ages rolling harmless o'er his head.
At life's meridian point arriv'd; he stood,
And, looking round, saw all the valleys fillid
With nations from his loins; full-well content
To leave his race thus scatter'd o'er the earth,
Along the gentle slope of life's decline
He bent his gradual way, till, full of years,
He dropp'd like mellow fruit into his grave;
Such in the infancy of Time was Man;
So calm was life, so impotent was Death!
O had he but preserv'd these few remains,
The shatter'd fragments, of lost happiness,
Snatch'd by the hand of Heav'n from the sad wreck
Of innocence primeval; still had he liv'd
In ruin great ; tho' fall’n, yet not forlorn;
Though mortal, yet not every where beset
With Death in ev'ry shape! But he, impatient
To be completely wretched, hastes to fill up
The measure of his woes—'Twas Man himself
Brought Death into the world; and Man himself
Gave keenness to his darts, quicken'd his pace;
And multiply'd destruction on mankind.
First Envy, eldest born of Hell, embrued Her hands in blood, and taught the Sons of Men To make a Death which Nature never made. And God abhorr’d; with violence rude to break The thread of life ere half its length was run,
And rob a wretched brother of his being.
- With joy Ambition saw, and soon improv'd
The execrable deed. 'Twas not enough
By subtle fraud to snatch a single life,
Puny impiety! whole kingdoms fell
To sate the lust of power : more horrid still,
The foulest stain and scandel of our nature,
Becanie its boast. One Murder made a Villain;
Millions a He:0. Princes were privileg'd
To kill, and numbers sanctified the crime,
Ah! why will Kings forget that they are Men?
And Men that they are brethren? Why delight
In human sacrifice; Why burst the ties
Of Nature, that should knit their souls together
In one soft bond of amity and love?
Yet still they breathe destruction, still go on
Inhumanly ingenious to find out
New pains for life, new terrors for the grave,
Artificers of Death! Still Monarchs dream
Of universal empire growing up
From universal ruin. Blast the design
Great God of Hosts, let not thy creatures fall
Unpitied viciims at ambition's shrine!
Yet say, should Tyrants learn at last to fel,
And the loud din of batile cease to brayi
Should dove-eyed Peace o'er all the earih extend
Her olive branch, and give the world repose,
Would Death be foild? Would health, and strength, and
Defy his pow'r? Has he no arts in store, [youth,
No other shafts save those of war? Alas!
Ey'n in the smile of Peace, that smile which sheds
A heav'nly sunshine o'er the soul; there basks
Thai serpent Luxury. War its thousands slays;:
Peace its ten thousands. In th’embattled plain, : ;'
Tho' Death exults, and claps his raven wings,
Yet rcigns he not ev’n there so absolute, si
So merciless, as in yon frantic scenes' ! .
Of midnight revel and tumultucus mirth,
Where in th' intoxicating draught conceald,
Or couch'd beneath the glance of lawless lové,
He snares the simple youth, who nought suspecting
Means to be blestbut finds himself undone.
Down the smooth stream of life the stripling darts,
Gay as the morn; bright glows the vernal sky,
Hope swells his sails, and passion steers his course,
Safe glides his little bark along the shore
Where Virtue takes her stand; but if too far.
He launches forth beyond Discretion's mark,
Sudden the tempest scowls;, the-surges roar,
Blot his fair day, and plunge him in the deep.
O sad but sure mischance! O happier far
To lie like gallant Howe 'midst Indian wilds
A breathless corse, cut off by savage hands
In earliest prime, a generous sacrifice
To fredom's holy cause; than so to fall,
Torn immature from life's meridian joys,
A prey to Vice, Intemp’rance, and Disease,
Yet die ev'n thus, thus rather perish still, Ye sons of Pleasure, by the Almighty strick'n, Than ever dare (though oft alas! ye dare) To lift against yourselves the murd'rous steel, To wrest from God's own hand the sword of Justice, And be your own avengers! Hold, rash Man, Though with anticipating speed thou'st rang d 'ii..? Through okery region of delight, nor left 71. One joy to gild the evening of thy days;: ... . Though life seem one uncomfortable void, i ; ; Guilt at thy heels, before thy face despair; ? ; il Yet gay this scene, and light this load of woe it! Compar'd with thy hereafter. , Think, O think
And, ere thou plunge into the vast abyss,
Pause on the verge a while: look down and see
Thy future mansion. Why that start of horror?
From thy slack hand why drops the uplifted steel?
Didst thou not think such vengeance must await
The wretch, that with his crimes all fresh about him
Rushes irreverant, unprepar’d, uncallid,
Into his Maker's presence, throwing back
With insolent disdain, his choicest gift?
Live then, while Heav'n in pity lends thee life,
And think it all too short to wash away, .!.
By penitential tears and deep contrition,
The scarlet of thy crimes. So shalt thou find.
Rest to thy soul; so unappallid shall meet :*
Death when he comes, not wantonly invite .
His ling'ring stroke. Ee it thy sole concern i
With innocence to live : with patience wait. .
Th' appointed hour: too soon that hour will come,
Tho' nature run her course. But nature's God,
If need require, by thousand various ways,
Without thy aid, can shorten that short span; 5
And quench the lamp of life. O when he comes,
Rous'd by the cry of wickedness extreme,
To heav'n ascending from some guilty land,
Now ripe for vengeance; when he comes array'd
In all the terrors of almighty wrath,. -
Forth from his bosom plucks his ling'ring arm,
And on the miscreants pours destruction down;
Who can abide his coming? who can bear
His whole displeasure? In no common form
Death then appears, but starting into size
Enormous; measures with gigantic stride