« AnteriorContinuar »
Here gai rulous old age winds up his.tale;
And jovial youth of lightsome vacant heart,
Whose ev'ry day was made of melody,
Hears not the voice of mirth: the shrill-tongu'd shrew,
Meek as the turtle-dove, forgets her chiding.
Here are the wise, the gen’rous, and the brave;
The just, the good, the worthless, the prophane,
The downright clown, the perfectly well-bred;
The fool, the churl, the scoundrel, and the mean;
The supple statesman, and the patriot stern;
The wrecks ct nations, and the spoils of time,
With all the lumber of six thousand years,
Poor man! how happy once in thy first state!
When yet but warm from thy great Maker's handy.
He stamp'd thee with his image, and well pleas'd,
Smild on his last fair work! then all was well,
Sound was the body, and the soul serene;
Like two sweet instruments, ne'er out of tune,
That play their several parts. Not head nor heart,
Offer'd to ach; nor was there cause they should,
For all was pure within: no fell remorse,
Nor anxious castings up of what might be.
Alarm’d his peaceful bosom: summer seas
Shew not more smooth, when kiss'd by southern winds,
Just ready to expire. Scarce importun'd,
The gen'rous soil with a luxuriant hand
Offer'd the various produce of the year
And ev'ry thing most perfect in its kind.
Blessed, thrice blessed day! but ah, how short!
Bless'd as the pleasing dreams of holy men,
But fugitive, like those, and quickly gone.
O slipp'ry state of things! what sudden turns,
What strange vicissitudes, in the first leaf
Of man's sad history! to-day most happy,
And ere to-morrow's sun has set, most abject!
How scant the space between these vast extremes !
Thus far’d it with our sire: not long he enjoy'd
His paradise! scarce had the happy tenant
Of the fair spot, due time to prove its sweets,
Or sum them up, when strait he must be gone,
Ne'er to return again. And must he go?
Can nought compound for the first dire offence
Of erring man? like one that is condemn’d,
Fain would he trifle time with idle talk,
And parley with his fate. But 'tis in vain.
Not all the lavish odours of the place,
Offer'd in incense, can procure his pardon,
Or mitigate his doom. A mighty angel
With flaming sword forbids his longer stay,
And drives the loit'rer forth; nor inust he take
One last and farewell round. At once he lost
His glory and his God. If mortal now, .
And sorely maim'd, no wonder! Man has sinna.
Sick of his bliss, and bent on new adventures, .
Evil he would needs try: nor tried in vain.
Dreadful experiment! destructive measure!
Where the worst thing could happen, is success.
Alas! too well he sped: the good he scorn'd
Stalk'd off reluctant, like an ill-us'd ghost,
Not to return; or if it did, its visits
Like those of angels, short, and far between;
Whilst the black dæmon, with his hell-scap'd train,
Admitted once into its better room,
Grew loud and mutinous, nor would be gone;
Lording it o'er the man, who now too late
Saw the rash error which he could not mend;
An error fatal not to him alone,
But to his future sons, his fortune's heirs.
Inglorious bondage! human nature groans
Beneath the vassalage so vile and cruel,
And its vast body bleeds through ev'ry vein.
What hayoc hast thou made, foul monster, sin!
Greatest and first of ills! the fruitful parent
Of woes of all dimensions! but for thee
Sorrow had never been. All noxious things
Of vilest nature, other sorts of evils,
Are kindly circumscrib’d, and have their bounds.
The fierce volcano, from its burning entrails
That belches molten stone, and globes of fire,
Involvid in pitchy clouds of smoke and stencha
Mars the adjacent fields for some leagues round,
And there it stops. The big śwoln inundation,
Of mischief more diffusive, raving loud,
Burles whole tracts of country, threat'ning inore;
But that too has its shore it cannot pass.
More dreadful far then these, has sin laid waste,
Nut here and there a country, but a world;
Dispatching at a wide extended blow
Entire mankind, and for their sakes defacing
A whole creation's beauty with rude hands; ' .
Blasting the foodful grain, the loaded branches,
And marking all along its way with ruin.
Accursed thing! O where shall fancy find
A proper name to call thee by, expressive
Of all thy horrors? pregnant womb of ills!
Of temper so transcendently malign,
That toads and serpents of most deadly kind
Compar'd to thee are harmless. Sicknesses
Of ev'ry size and symptom, racking pains,
And bluest plagues are thine! see how the fiend
Profusely scatters the contagion round!
Whilst decp mouth'd slaughter bellowing at her heels,
Wades deep in blood new spilt; yet for to-morrow
Shapes out new work of great uncommon daring,
And inly pines till the dread blow is struck.
But hold! I've gone too far; too much discover'd
My father's nakedness, and nature's shame.
Here let me pause! and drop an honest tear.
One burst of filial duty and condolence;
O’er all those ample deserts Death hath spread,
This chaos of mankind. Ogreat man-eater!
Whose ev'ry day is carnival, not sated yet!
Unheard of epicure without a fellow!
The variest gluttons do not always cram;
Some intervals of abstinence are sought
To edge the appetite ; thou seekest none.
Methinks the countless swarms thou hast devour'd
And thousands that each hour thou gobblest up,
This, less than this, might gorge thee to the full.
But ah! rapacious still, thou gap'st for more ; .
Like one, whole days defrauded of his meals,
On whom lank hunger lays his skinny hand,
And whets to keenest eagerness his cravings;
As if Diseases, Massacres, and Poison,
Famine and war, were not thy caterers !
But know that thou must render up thy dead, And with high interest too! they are not thine ; But only in thy keeping for a season,
Till the great promis'd day of restitution;
When loud diffusive sound from brazen trump
Of strong lung'd cherub shall alarm thy captives,
And rouze the long, long sleepers into life,
Day-light, and liberty.--
Then must thy gates fly open, and reveal
The mines, that lay long forming under ground,
In their dark cells immur'd; but now full ripe,
And pure as silver from the crucible,
That twice has stood the torture of the fire,
And inquisition of the forge. : we know,
Th' Illustrious Deliverer of mankind,
The Son of God, thee foil'd. Him in thy pow'r
Thou could'st not hold; self-vigorous he rose,
And shaking off thy fetters, soon retook
Those spoils his voluntary yielding lent.
(Sure pledge of our releasement from thy thrall!
Twice twenty days he sojourn'd here on earth,
And shewed himself alive to chosen witnesses
By proofs so strong, that the most slow assenting
Had not a scruple left. This having done,
He mounted up to heav'n. Methinks I see him
Climb the aërial heights, and glide along
Athwart the severing clouds; but the faint eye
Flung backward in the chace, soon drops its hold,
Disabled quite, and jaded with pursuing.
Heaven's portals wide expand to let him in;
Nor are his friends shut out: as some great prince
Not for himself alone procures admission,
But for his train: it was his royal will,
That where he is, there should his followers be.
Death only lies between, a gloomy path!