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A bold invasion of the rights of Heaven!
I clasp'd the phantoms, and I found them air.
O had I weigh'd it ere my fond embrace !
What darts of agony had miss'd my heart!
Death! great proprietor of all ! 't is thine
To tread out empire, and to quench the stars.
The Sun himself by thy permission shines;
And, one day, thou shalt pluck him from his sphere.
Amid such mighty plunder, why exhaust
Thy partial quiver on a mark so mean?
Why thy peculiar rancour wreak’d on me?
Insatiate archer ! could not one suffice ?
Thy shaft flew thrice ; and thrice my peace was slain ;
And thrice, ere thrice yon Moon had fill'd her horn.
O Cynthia! why so pale? Dost thou lament
Thy wretched neighbour ? Grieve to see thy wheel
Of ceaseless change outwhirl'd in human life?
How wanes my borrow'd bliss ! from fortune's smile,
Precarious courtesy ! not virtue's sure,
Self-given, solar ray of sound delight.
In every vary'd posture, place, and hour,
How widow'd every thought of every joy !
Thought, busy thought! too busy for my peace !
Through the dark postern of time long elaps'd,
Led softly, by the stillness of the night,
Led, like a murderer, (and such it proves !)
Strays (wretched rover !) o'er the pleasing past ;
In quest of wretchedness perversely strays;
And finds all desert now; and meets the ghosts
Of my departed joys; a numerous train !
I rue the riches of my former fate;
Sweet comfort's blasted clusters I lament;
I tremble at the blessings once so dear;
And every pleasure pains me to the heart.
Yet why complain? or why complain for one ?
Hangs out the Sun his lustre but for me
The single man? Are angels all beside ?
I mourn for millions : 't is the common lot;
In this shape, or in that, has Fate entail'd
The mother's throes on all of woman born,
Not more the children, than sure heirs, of pain.
War, Famine, Pest, Volcano, Storm, and Fire, Intestine broils, Oppression, with her heart Wrapt up in triple brass, besiege mankind. God's image disinherited of day, Here, plung'd in mines, forgets a Sun was made. There, beings deathless as their haughty lord, Are hammer'd to the galling oar for life; And plow the winter's wave, and reap despair. Some, for hard masters, broken under arms, In battle lopt away, with half their limbs, Beg bitter bread through realms their valour sav’d, If so the tyrant, or his minion, doom. Want, and incurable Disease, (fell pair !) On hopeless multitudes remorseless seize At once; and make a refuge of the grave. How groaning hospitals eject their dead ! What numbers groan for sad admission there ! What numbers, once in Fortune's lap high-fed, Solicit the cold hand of Charity! To shock us more, solicit it in vain ! Ye silken sons of pleasure ! since in pains You rue more modish visits, visit here, And breathe from your debauch: give, and reduce
Surfeit's dominion o'er you: but so great
Your impudence, you blush at what is right.
Happy ! did sorrow seize on such alone.
Not prudence can defend, or virtue save;
Disease invades the chastest temperance;
And punishment the guiltless; and alarm,
Through thickest shades, pursues the fond of peace.
Man's caution often into danger turns;
And his guard, falling, crushes him to death.
Not happiness itself makes good her name;
Our very wishes give us not our wish.
How distant oft the thing we doat on most,
From that for which we doat, felicity!
The smoothest course of Nature has its pains !
And truest friends, through error, wound our rest
Without misfortune, what calamities !
And what hostilities, without a foe!
Nor are foes wanting to the best on Earth.
But endless is the list of human ills,
And sighs might sooner fail, than cause to sigh.
A part how small of the terraqueous globe Is tenanted by man! the rest a waste, Rocks, deserts, frozen seas, and burning sands : Wild haunts of monsters, poisons, stings, and death. Such is Earth's melancholy map ! but, far More sad ! this Earth is a true map of man. So bounded are its haughty lord's delights To woe's wide empire; where deep troubles toss, Loud sorrows howl, envenom’d passions bite, Ravenous calamities our vitals seize, And threatening fate wide opens to devour.
What then am I, who sorrow for myself!
In age, in infancy, from other's aid
Is all our hope; to teach us to be kind.
That, Nature's first, last lesson to mankind :
The selfish heart deserves the pain it feels.
More generous sorrow, while it sinks, exalts;
And conscious virtue mitigates the pang.
Nor virtue, more than prudence, bids me give
Swoln thought a second channel ; who divide,
They weaken too, the torrent of their grief.
Take then, O World ! thy much indebted tear :
How sad a sight is human happiness,
To those whose thought can pierce beyond an hour!
O thou ! whate'er thou art, whose heart exults!
Wouldst thou I should congratulate thy fate? [me.
I know thou wouldst; thy pride demands it from
Let thy pride pardon, what thy nature needs,
The salutary censure of a friend. "
Thou happy wretch ! by blindness thou art blest;
By dotage dandled to perpetual smiles.
Know, smiler ! at thy peril art thou pleas'd!
Thy pleasure is the promise of thy pain.
Misfortune, like a creditor severe,
But rises in demand for her delay;
She makes a scourge of past prosperity,
To sting thee more, and double thy distress.
Lorenzo, Fortune makes her court to thee,
Thy fond heart dances, while the Syren sings.
Dear is thy welfare ; think me not unkind;
I would not damp, but to secure thy joys.
Think not that fear is sacred to the storm :
Stand on thy guard against the smiles of Fate.
Is Heaven tremendous in its frowns? Most sure;
And in its favours formidable too :
Its favours here are trials, not rewards ;
A call to duty, not discharge from care ;
And should alarm us, full as much as woes;
Awake us to their cause and consequence ;
And make us tremble, weigh'd with our desert;
Awe Nature's tumult, and chastise her joys,
Lest, while we clasp, we kill them; nay, invert
To worse than simple misery, their charms.
Revolted joys, like foes in civil war,
Like bosom friendships to resentment sour'd,
With rage envenom'd rise against our peace,
Beware what Earth calls happiness; beware
All joys, but joys that never can expire.
Who builds on less than an immortal base,
Fond as he seems, condemns his joys to death.
Mine died with thee, Philander! thy last sigh
Dissoly'd the charm; the disenchanted Earth
Lost all her lustre. Where her glittering towers ?
Her golden mountains, where? all darken'd down
To naked waste ; a dreary vale of tears;
The great magician's dead! Thou poor, pale piece
Of out-cast earth, in darkness ! what a change
From yesterday! Thy darling hope so near,
(Long-labour'd prize!) O how ambition flush'd
Thy glowing cheek! Ambition truly great,
Of virtuous praise. Death's subtle seed within
(Sly, treacherous miner !) working in the dark,
Smil'd at thy well-concerted scheme, and beckon'd
The worm to riot on that rose so red,
Unfaded ere it fell; one moment's prey!
Man's foresight is conditionally wise ;