« VorigeDoorgaan »
How bright my prospect shines ! how gloomy The genuine cause of every deed divine:
That is the chain of ages, which maintains
Most distant periods in one blest design: Heaven's face all stain'd with causeless massacres That is the mighty hinge, on which have turn'd of countless millions, born to feel the pang
All revolutions, whether we regard Of being lost. Lorenzo! can it be ?
The natural, civil, or religious, world , This bids us shudder at the thoughts of life. The former two but servants to the third : Who would be born to such a phantom world, To that their duty done, they both expire, Where nought substantial but our misery? Their mass new-cast, forgot their deeds renownd: Where joy (if joy) but heightens our distress, And angels ask, “ Where once they shone so fair ?" So soon to perish, and revive no more?
To lift us from this abject, to sublime; The greater such a joy, the more it pains. This flux, lo perroanent; this dark, to-day; A world, so far from greal, (and yet how great This foul, to pure ; this turbid, to serene; It shines to thee!) there's nothing real in it; This mean, to mighty !—for this glorious cnd Being, a shadow; consciousness, a dream ; Th’Almighty, rising, his long sabbath broke! A dream, how dreadful! Universal blank The world was made ; was ruin'd; was restord; Before it, and behind! Poor man, a spark
Laws from the skies were publish'd; were repeal'd; From non-existence struck by wrath divine, On Earth kings, kingdoms, rose; kings, kingdoms, Glittering a moment, nor that moment sure, 'Midst upper, nether, and surrounding night, Fam'd sages lighted up the Pagan world; His sad, sure, sudden, and eternal tomb!
Prophets from Sion darted a keen glance Lorenzo! dost thou feel these arguments ? Through distant age; saints travel'd; martyrs bled; Or is there nought but vengeance can be felt? By wonders sacred Nature stood controllid; How hast thou dar'd the Deity dethrone ? The living were translated ; dead were rais'd ; How dard indict him of a world like this? Angels, and more than angels, came from Heaven 4 If such the world, creation was a crime ;
And, oh! for this, descended lower still: For what is crime but cause of misery?
Guilt was Hell's gloom; astonish'd at his guest, Retract, blasphemer! and unriddle this,
For one short moment Lucifer ador'd : Of endless arguments above, below),
Lorenzo! and wilt thou do less ?-For this, Without us, and within, the short result!
That hallow'd page, fools scoff at, was inspir'd, “ If man's immortal, there's a God in Heaven." Of all these truths—thrice-venerable code!
But wherefore such redundancy ? such waste Deists! perform your quarantine; and then of argument? One sets my soul at rest!
Fall prostrate, ere you touch it, lest you die. One obvious, and at hand, and, oh !-at heart.
Nor less intensely bent infernal powers So just the skies, Philander's life so pain’d, |To mar, than those of light, this end to gain. His heart so pure ; thal, or succeeding scenes O what a scene is here Lorenzo! wake! Have palms 10 give, or ne'er had he been born. Rise to the thought; exert, expand thy soul, “ What an old tale is this !” Lorenzo cries.
To take the vast idea : it denies I grant this argument is old; but truth
All else the name of great. Two warring worlds! No years impair; and had not this been true, Not Europe against Afric; warring worlds ! Thou never hadst despis'd it for its age.
of more than mortal! mounted on the wing! Truth is immortal as thy soul ; and fable
On ardent wings of energy and zeal,
In their own cause conflicting ? No; in thine, Say, know'st thou what it is, or what thou art ? In man's. His single interest blows the flame; Know'st thou the imporlance of a soul immortal ? His the sole stake; his fate the trumpet sounds, Behold this midnight glory : worlds on worlds! Which kindles war immortal. How it burns ! Amazing pomp! redouble this amaze ;
Tumultuous swarms of deities in arms! 'Ten thousand add ; add twice ten thousand more; Force, force opposing, till the waves run high, Then weigh the whole; one soul outweighs them And tempest Nature's universal sphere. all;
Such opposites eternal, stedfast, stern, And calls th' astonishing magnificence
Such foes implacable, are good and ill ; [them Of unintelligent creation poor.
Yet man, vain man, would mediate peace between For this, believe not me; no man believe;
Think not this fiction, " There was war in Heaven." Trust not in words, but deeds; and deeds no less From Heaven's high crystal mountain, where it hung, Than those of the Supreme; nor his, a few : Th’Almighty's out-stretch'd arm took down his bow, Consult them all ; consulted, all proclaim
And shot his indignation at the deep :
And seems the stake of little moment still?
He sleeps.—And art thou shock'd at mysteries? In this small province of his vast domain, The greatest, thou. How dreadful to reflect, (All Nature bow, while I pronounce his name !) What ardor, care, and counsel, mortals cause What has God done, and not for this sole end, In breasts divine! how little in their own! To rescue souls from death? The soul's high price Where'er I turn, how new proofs pour upon me! Is writ in all the conduct of the skies.
How happily this wondrous view supports The soul's high price is the Creation's key, My former argument! How strongly strikes Unlocks its mysteries, and naked lays
Immortal life's full demonstration, here!
Why this exertion? Why this strange regard There's nothing to support him in the right
And strong temptation ripens it to birth.
Why not his country sold, his father slain? What would he be ? A trifle of no weight; "Tis virtue to pursue our good supreme; Or stand, or fall; no matter which; he's gone. And his supreme, his only good is here. Because immortal, therefore is indulg'd
Ambition, avarice, by the wise disdain'd, This strange regard of deities to dust.
Is perfect wisdom, while mankind are fools, Hence, Heaven looks down on Earth with all her eyes: And think a turf, or tomb-stone, covers all : Hence, the soul's mighty moment in her sight: These find employment, and provide for sense Hence, every soul has partisans above,
A richer pasture, and a larger range ; And every thought a critic in the skies :
And sense by right divine ascends the throne, Hence, clay, vile clay! has angels for its guard, When virtue's prize and prospect are no more ; And every guard a passion for his charge :
Virtue no more we think the will of Heaven. Hence, from all age, the cabinet divine
Would Heaven quite beggar virtue, if belov'd ? Has held high counsel o'er the fate of man.
“ Has virtue charms ?"-I grant her heavenly Nor have the clouds those gracious counsels hid :
fair; Angels undrew the curtain of the throne,
But if unportion'd, all will interest wed;
The virtues grow on immortality;
A deity believ'd, will nought avail;
And hopes and fears give conscience all her power. Witness, ye billows! whose returning tide,
As in the dying parent dies the child, Breaking the chain that fasten'd it in air,
Virtue, with immortality, expires. Swept Egypt, and her menaces, to Hell:
Who tells me he denies his soul immortal, Witness, ye flames! th' Assyrian tyrant blew Whate'er his boast, has told me, he's a knave. To sevenfold rage, as impotent, as strong :
His duty 'tis, to love himself alone ; And thou, Earth! witness, whose expanding jaws Nor care though mankind perish, if he smiles. Clos'd o'er presumption's sacrilegious sons:* Who thinks ere long the man shall wholly die, Has not each element, in turn, subscrib'd
Is dead already; nought but brute survives. The soul's high price, and sworn it to the wise ? And are there such ?-Such candidates there are Has not flame, ocean, ellier, earthquake, strove For more than death; for utter loss of being, To strike this truth through adamantine man? Being, the basis of the Deity! If not all adamant, Lorenzo! hear;
Ask you the cause ?—The cause they will not teli All is delusion; Nature is wrapt up
Nor need they: 0 the sorceries of sense! In tenfold night, from reason's keenest eye;
They work this transformation on the soul, There's no consistence, meaning, plan, or end, Dismount her, like the serpent at the fall, In all beneath the Sun, in all above
Dismount her from her native wing, (which soar'd (As far as man can penetrate,) or Heaven
Erewhile ethereal heights.) and throw her down, Is an immense, inestimable prize ;
To lick the dust, and crawl in such a thought. Or all is nothing, or that prize is all.
Is it in words to paint you? O ye fall'n! And shall each toy be still a match for Heaven, Fall'n from the wings of reason, and of hope ! And full equivalent for groans below?
Erect in stature, prone in appetite! Who would not give a trifle to prevent
Patrons of pleasure, posting into pain! What he would give a thousand worlds to cure? Lovers of argument, averse to sense! Lorenzo! thou hast seen (if thine to see)
Boasters of liberty, fast bound in chains ! All Nature, and her God (by Nature's course,
Lords of the wide creation, and the shame! And Nature's course controll'd) declare for me : More senseless than th' irrationals you scorn! The skies above proclaim, “ immortal man!" More base than those you rule! Than those you pity And, " man immortal!" all below resounds.
Far more undone ! O ye most infamous The world s a system of theology,
Of beings, from superior dignity! Read by the greatest strangers to the schools ; Deepest in woe from means of boundless bliss ! If honest, learn'd; and sages o'er a plow.
Ye curst by blessings infinite! because Is not, Lorenzo! then, impos'd on thee
Most highly favor'd, most profoundly lost! This hard alternative; or, to renounce
Ye motley mass of contradiction strong! Thy reason, or thy sense ; or, to believe ?
And are you, too, convinc'd, your souls fly off What then is unbelief? 'Tis an exploit;
In exhalation sont, and die in air, A strenuous enterprise : to gain it, man
From the full food of evidence against you ? Must burst through every bar of common sense ;
In the coarse drudgeries and sinks of sense, Of coinmon shame, magnanimously wrong ; Your souls have quite worn out the make of Heaven And what rewards the sturdy combatant?
By vice new-cast, and creatures of your own : His prize, repentance; infamy, his crown.
But though you can deform, you can't destroy ; But wherefore, infamy ?-For want of faith,
To curse, not uncreate, is all your power. Down the steep precipice of wrong he slides ;
Lorenzo! this black brotherhood renounce;
Renounce St. Evremont, and read St. Paul. • Korah, &c.
Ero rapt by miracle, by reason wing'd.
His mounting mind made long abode in Heaven. Not man alone, all rationals, Heaven arms
With an illustrious, but tremendous, power
To counteract its own most gracious ends; Through all the provinces of human thought ; And this, of striet necessity, not choice; To dart her flight through the whole sphere of man; That power denied, men, angels, were no more Of this vast universe to make the tour;
But passive engines, void of praise or blame. In each recess of space, and time, at home;
A nature rational implies the power Familiar with their wonders; diving deep; Of being blest, or wretched, as we please ; And, like a prince of boundless interests there, Else idle reason would have nought to do; Still most ambitious of the most remote;
And he that would be barr'd capacity To look on truth unbroken, and entire ;
Of pain, courts incapacity of bliss. Truth in the system, the full orb; where truths Heaven wills our happiness, allows our doom ; By truths enlighten'd, and sustain'd, afford Invites us ardently, but not compels; An arch-like, strong foundation, to support Heaven but persuades, almighty man decrees ; Th'incumbent weight of absolute, complete Man is the maker of immorial fates. Conviction; here, the more we press, we stand Man falls by man, if finally he falls; More firm : who most examine, most believe. And fall he must, who learns from death alone Parls, like half-sentences, confound; the whole The dreadful secret_That he lives for ever. Conveys the sense, and God is understood ;
Why this to thee ?— Thee yet, perhaps, in doubt Who not in fragments writes to human race : or second life? But wherefore doubtful still? Read his whole volume, sceptic! then reply. Eternal life is nature's ardent wish:
This, this, is thinking free, a thought that grasps What ardently we wish, we soon believe : Beyond a grain, and looks beyond an hour. Thy tardy faith declares that wish destroy d : Turn up thine eyes, survey this midnight scene; What has destroy'd it ?-Shall I tell thee what? What are Earth's kingdoms, to yon boundless orbs, When fear'd the future, 'tis no longer wish'd; Of human souls, one day, the destin'd range ? And, when unwish'd, we strive to disbelieve. And what yon boundless orbs, to godlike man? “ Thus infidelity our guilt belrays." Those numerous worlds that throng the firmament, Nor that the sole detection! Blush, Lorenzo! And ask more space in Heaven, can roll at large Blush for hypocrisy, if not for guilt. In man's capacious thought, and still leave room The future fear'd ?-An infidel, and fear? For ampler orbs, for new creations, there.
Fear what? A dream? A fable ?—How thy dread Can such a soul contract itself, to gripe
Unwilling evidence, and therefore strong, A point of no dimension, of no weight?
Affords my cause an undesign’d support! It can; it does : the world is such a point: How disbelief affirms what it denies! And, of that point, how small a part enslaves ! It, unawares, asserts immortal life.”
How small a part-of nothing, shall I say? Surprising! infidelity turns out Why not?— Friends, our chief treasure! how they A creed, and a confession of our sins : drop!
Apostates, thus, are orthodox divines. Lucia, Narcissa fair, Philander, gone!
Lorenzo! with Lorenzo clash no more ; The grave, like fabled Cerberus, has op'd
Nor longer a transparent vizor wear. A triple mouth; and, in an awful voice,
Think'st thou, religion only has her mask?
1 Loud calls my soul, and utters all I sing.
Our infidels are Satan's hypocrites,
When visited by thought (thought will intrude,)
What detestation, what contempt, their due ! There; there, Lorenzo! thy Clarissa sails.
And, if unpaid, be thank'd for their escape
Two kinds of life has double-natur'd man, Instead of racking fancy, to refute,
But shall I dare confess the dire result? Thrives on bis bounties, triumphs in his beams. Can thy proud reason brook so black a brand ? Life rational subsists on higher food,
From purer manners, to sublimer failh, Triumphant in his bearns, who made the day. Is Nature's unavoidable ascent; When we leave that Sun, and are left by this, An honest Deist, where the Gospel shines, (The fate of all who die in stubborn guilt,) Matur'd to nobler, in the Christian ends. "Tis uller darkness; strictly double death.
When that blest change arrives, e'en cast aside We sink by no judicial stroke of Heaven, This song superfluous; life immortal strikes But Nature's course ; as sure as plummets fall. Conviction, in a flood of light divine. Since God, or man, must alter, ere they meet, A Christian dwells, like Uriel,* in the Sun; (Since light and darkness blend not in one sphere,) Meridian evidence puts doubt to fight; 'Tis manisest, Lorenzo! who must change.
And ardent hope anticipates the skies. If, then, that double death shonld prove thy lot, Of that bright Sun, Lorenzo! scale the sphere ; Blame not the bowels of the Deity ; Man shall be blest, as far as man permits.
'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
If weak thy faith, why choose the harder side? Where triumphs immortality; a page
We nothing know, but what is marvellous ; Which not the whole creation could produce; Yet what is marvellous, we can'i believe. Which not the conflagration shall destroy : So weak our reason, and so great our God, 'Tis printed in the mind of gods for ever,
What most surprises, in the sacred page, In Nature's ruins not one letter lost.
Or full as strange, or stranger, must be true. In proud disdain of what e'en gods adore, Faith is not reason's labor, but repose. Dost smile ?- Poor wretch! thy guardian angel To faith, and virtue, why so backward, man? weeps.
From hence :— The present strongly strikes us all, Angels, and men, assent to what I sing ;
The future, fainily ; can we, then, be men?
The future, reason's empire unconfin'd:
She plans, provides, expatiates, triumphs, there; Lorenzo! if thy doctrine wins the day,
There builds her blessings! there expects her prais: ,
And what is reason ? Be she, thus, defin'd;
For what? (thou say’st) To damp ihe joys of life ?”
She bids ambition quit its taken prize, Annihilation! I confess, in these.
Spurn the luxuriant branch on which it sits, What can reclaim you? Dare I hope profound Though bearing crowns, to spring al distant game; Philosophers the converts of a song ?
And plunge in toils and dangers-for repose. Yet know, its tillet flatters you, not me;
If hope precarious, and if things, when gain’d, Yours be the praise to make my tiile good ;
or little moment, and as little stay, Mine, to bless Heaven, and triumph in your praise. Can sweeten toils and dangers into joys; But since so pestilential your disease,
What then, that hope, which nothing can deseat, Though sovereign is the medicine I prescribe, Our leave unask'd ? Rich hope of boundless bliss ! As yet, I'll neither triumph, nor despair :
Bliss, past man's power '10 paint it; lime's to close ! But hope, ere long, my midnight dream will wake This hope is Earth's most estimable prize : Your hearts, and teach your wisdom—10 be wise : This is man's portion, while no more than man: For why should souls immortal, made for bliss, Hope, of all passions, most befriends us here; E'er wish, (and wish in vain !) that souls could die ? Passions of prouder name befriend us less. What ne'er can die, oh! grant to live ; and crown Joy has her tears; and transport has her death ; The wish, and aim, and labor of the skies ; Hope, like a cordial, innocent, though strong, Increase, and enter on the joys of Heaven: Man's heart, at once, inspirils, and serenes ; Thus shall my title pass a sacred seal,
Nor makes him pay his wisdom for his joys; Receive an imprimatur from above,
"Tis all our present state can safely bear, While angels shout-An infidel reclaim'd! Health to the frame! and vigor to the mind!
To close, Lorenzo! spite of all my pains, A joy attemper'd! a chastis'd delight!
A blest hereafier, then, or hop'd, or gain'd,
And know, ye fues to song! (well-mcaning men,
much; That cause uncaus'd! all other wonders cease ; If there is weight in an eternity, Nothing is marvellous for him to do:
Let the grave listen ;-and be graver still. Deny him--all is mysiery besides :
* The Infidel Reclaimed.
* The poetical parts of it.
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
Descended to communicate, and press,
By counsel, miracle, lise, death, on man.
Such is the world Lorenzo's wisdom wooes, The Love of this life; the Ambition and Pleasure,
And on its thorny pillow seeks repose ; with the Wit and Wisdom of the World.
A pillow, which, like opiates ill-prepard,
Intoxicates, but not composes ; fills And has all Nature, then, espous'd my part ? The visionary mind with gay
chimeras, Have I brib'd Heaven and Earth to plead against all the wild trash of sleep, without the rest ; thee?
What unfeign'd travel, and what dreams of joy! And is thy soul immortal ?- What remains ?
How frail, men, things! how momentary, both! All, all, Lorenzo !-Make immortal, blest.
Fantastic chase of shadows hunting shades! Unblest immortals - What can shock us more? The gay, the busy, equal, though unlike; And yet Lorenzo still affects the world ;
Equal in wisdom, differently wise! There, siow's his treasure ; thence, his title draws, Through flowery meadows, and through dreary wastes Man of the world (for such wouldst thou be call’d.) One bustling, and one dancing, into death. And art thou proud of that inglorious style ? There's not a day, but, to the man of thought, Proud of reproach ? for a reproach it was,
Betrays some secret, that throws new reproach In ancient days; and CHRISTIAN-in an age On life, and makes him sick of seeing more. When men were men, and not asham'd of Heaven- The scenes of business tell us—“What are men;" Fird their ambition, as it crown'd their joy. The scenes of pleasure—"What is all beside ;" Sprinkled with dews from the Castalian font, There, others we despise; and here, ourselves. Fain would I re-baptize thee, and confer
Amid disgust eternal, dwells delight? A purer spirit, and a nobler name.
"Tis approbation strikes the string of joy. Thy fond attachments fatal, and inflam'd,
What wondrous prize has kindled this career, Point out my path, and dictate to my song: Stuns with the din, and chokes ils with the dust, To thee, the world how fair! How strongly strikes On life's gay stage, one inch above the grave ? Ambition ! and gay pleasure stronger still! The proud run up and down in quest of eyes; Thy triple bane! the triple bolt that lays
The sensual, in pursuit of something worse ; Thy virtue dead! Be these my triple theme; The grave, of gold; the politic, of power; Nor shall thy wit, or wisdom, be forgot.
And all, of other butterflies, as vain!
How is man's heart hy vanity drawn in;
Whirl'd, straw-like, round and round, and then Starts from his trance, and sighs for other scenes ;
ingulf'd; Scenes, where these sparks of night, these stars, Where gay delusion darkens to despair ? shall shine
“ This is a beaten track.Is this a track Unnumber'd suns, (for all things, as they are, Should not be beaten? never beat enough, The blest behold); and, in one glory, pour Till enough learn'd the truths it would inspire. Their blended blaze on man's astonish'd sight; Shall truth be silent, because folly frowns ? A blaze-the least illustrious object there.
Turn the world's history; what find we there, Lorenzo! since eternal is at hand,
But fortune's sports, or nature's cruel claims, To swallow time's ambitions; as the vast
Or woman's artifice, or man's revenge, Leviathan, the bubbles vain, that ride
And endless inhumanities on man? High on the foaming billow; what avail
Fame's trumpet seldom sounds, but, like the knell, High titles, high descent, attainments high, It brings bad tidings : how it hourly blows If unattain'd our highest? O Lorenzo!
Man's misadventures round the listening world ! What lofty thoughts, these elements above,
Man is the tale of narrative old time; What lowering hopes, what sallies from the Sun, Sad tale; which high as Paradise begins; What grand surveys of destiny divine,
As if, the toil of travel to delude, And pompous presage of unfathom'd fate,
From stage to stage, in his eternal round Should roll in bosoms, where a spirit burns, The days, his daughters, as they spin our hours Bound for eternity! In bosoms read
On fortune's wheel, where accident unthought, By him, who foibles in archangels sees!
Oft, in a moment, snaps life's strongest thread, On human hearts he bends a jealous eye,
Each, in her turn, some tragic story tells, And marks, and in Heaven's register enrols With, now and then, a wretched farce between, The rise and progress of each option there;
And fills his chronicle with human woes. Sacred to doomsday! That the page unfolds,
Time's daughters, true as those of men, dece ve us, And spreads us to the gaze of gods and men. Not one, but puts some cheat on all mankind :
And what an option, O Lorenzo! thine! While in their father's bosom, not yet ours, This world! and this, unrival'd by the skies ! They Natter our fond hopes; and promise much A world, where lust of pleasure, grandeur, gold, or amiable; but hold him not o'er-wise, Throe demons that divide its realms betweon them. Who dares to trust thom ; and laugh round the year