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And may itself procure, what it presumes.
Life is much flatter'd, Death is much traduc'd;
Compare the rivals, and the kinder crown.
“ Strange competition !"_True, Lorenzo! strange!
So little life can cast into the scale.
Life makes the soul dependent on the dust ;
Death gives her wings to mount above the splieres.
Through chinks, styl’d organs, dim life peeps at
light; Death bursts th' involving cloud, and all is day; All eye, all ear, the disembody'd power. Death has feign'd evils, Nature shall not feel ; Life, ill substantial, Wisdom cannot shun. Is not the mighty Mind, that son of Heaven? By tyrant Life dethron'd, imprison'd, pain's ? . By Death enlarg'd, ennobled, deify'd ? Death but entombs the body; life the soul.
“ Is Death then guiltless? How he marks his way With dreadful waste of what deserves to shine! Art, genius, fortune, elevated power! With various lustres these light up the world, Which Death puts out, and darkens human race." I grant, Lorenzo! this indictment just : The sage, peer, potentate, king, conqueror ! Death humbles these ; more barbarous life, the man. Life is the triumph of our mouldering clay ;. Death, of the spirit infinite ! divine ! Death has no dread, but what frail life imparts ; Nor life true joy, but what kind death improves. - No bliss has life to boast, till death can give , Far greater ; life's a debtor to the grave, Dark lattice ! letting in eternal day.
Lorenzo ! blush at fondness for a life,
Which sends celestial souls on errands vile,
To cater for the sense; and serve at boards,
Where every ranger of the wilds, perhaps
Each reptile, justly claims our upper hand.
Luxurious feast ! a soul, a soul immortal,
In all the dainties of a brute bemir'd!
Lorenzo ! blush at terrour for a death,
Which gives thee to repose in festive bowers,
Where nectars sparkle, angels minister,
And more than angels share, and raise, and crown,
And eternize, the birth, bloom, bursts of bliss.
What need I more? O Death, the palm is thine.
Then welcome, Death! thy dreaded harbingers,
Age, and disease ; disease, though long my guest;
That plucks my nerves, those tender strings of life;
Which, pluck'd a little more, will toll the bell,
That call my few friends to my funeral;
Where feeble Nature drops, perhaps, a tear,
While Reason and Religion, better taught,
Congratulate the dead, and crown his tomb
With wreath triumphant. Death is victory;
It binds in chains the raging ills of life :
Lust and ambition, wrath and avarice,
Dragg'd at his chariot-wheel, applaud his power.
That ills corrosive, cares importunate,
Are not immortal too, O Death! is thine.
Our day of dissolution !- name it right;
'Tis our great pay-day; 't is our harvest, rich
And ripe. What though the sickle, sometimes
keen, Just scars us as we reap the golden grain ? More than thy balm, 0 Gilead! heals the wound.
Birth’s feeble cry, and Death's deep dismal groan,
Are slender tributes low-tax'd Nature pays
For mighty gain : the gain of each, of life!
But O! the last the former so transcends,
Life dies, compar'd; life lives beyond the grave.
And feel I, Death! no joy from thought of thee ?,
Death, the great counsellor, who man inspires
With every nobler thought, and fairer deed !
Death, the deliverer, who rescues man!
Death, the rewarder, who the rescued crowns !
Death, that absolves my birth; a curse without it!
Rich death, that realizes all my cares,
Toils, virtues, hopes ; without it a chimera! .
Death, of all pain the period, not of joy;
Joy's source, and subject, still subsist unhurt:
One, in my soul; and one, in her great Sire;
Though the four winds were warring for my dust.
Yes, and from winds, and waves, and central night,
Though prison'd there, my dust too I reclaim,
(To dust when drop proud Nature's proudest
spheres,) And live entire. Death is the crown of life: Were death denied, poor man would live in vain; · Were death denied, to live would not be life; Were death denied, e'en fools would wish to die. Death wounds to cure : we fall; we rise, we reign! Spring from our fetters; fasten in the skies; Where blooming Eden withers in our sight: Death gives us more than was in Eden lost. This king of terrours is the prince of peace. When shall I die to vanity, pain, death? When shall I die? - When shall I live for ever?
NIGHT THE Fourth. THE CHRISTIAN TRIUMPH. Containing our only Cure for the Fear of Death ; and
proper Sentiments of that inestimable Blessing.
TO THE HONOURABLE MR. YORKE A MUCH-INDEBTED Muse, O Yorke! intrudes. Amid the smiles of fortune, and of youth, Thine ear is patient of a serious song. How deep implanted in the breast of man The dread of death! I sing its sovereign cure. Why start at Death? Where is he? Death ar
riv'd, Is past ; not come or gone, he's never here. Ere hope, sensation fails; black-boding man Receives, not suffers, Death's tremendous blow. The knell, the shroud, the mattock, and the grave; The deep damp vault, the darkness, and the worm; These are the bugbears of a winter's eve, The terrours of the living, not the dead. Imagination's fool, and errour's wretch, Man makes a death, which Nature never made; Then on the point of his own fancy falls; And feels a thousand deaths, in fearing one.
But were death frightful, what has age to fear ? If prudent, age should meet the friendly foe, And shelter in his hospitable gloom. I scarce can meet a monument, but holds My younger ; every date cries — “ Coine away.” And what recalls me? Look the world around,
And tell me what: the wisest cannot tell.
Should any born of woman give his thought
Full range on just dislike's unbounded field;
Of things, the vanity; of men, the flaws;
Flaws in the best ; the many, flaw all o'er ;
As leopards, spotted, or, as Ethiops, dark ;
Vivacious ill ; good dying immature;
(How immature, Narcissa's marble tells !)
And at his death bequeathing endless pain ;
His heart, though bold, would sicken at the sight,
And spend itself in sighs, for future scenes.
But grant to life (and just it is to grant
To lucky life) some perquisites of joy ;
A time there is, when, like a thrice-told tale,
Long-rifled life of sweet can yield no more,
But from our comment on the comedy,
Pleasing reflections on parts well sustain'd,
Or purpos'd emendations where we fail'd,
Or hopes of plaudits from our candid Judge,
When,, on their exit, souls are bid unrobe,
Toss Fortune back her tinsel, and her plume,
And drop this mask of flesh behind the scene.
With me, that time is come; my world is dead;
A new world rises, and new manners reign :
Foreign comedians, a spruce band! arrive,
To push me from the scene, or hiss me there.
What a pert race starts up! the strangers gaze,
And I at them; my neighbour is unknown;
Nor that the worst : Ah me! the dire effect
Of loitering here, of death defrauded long;
Of old so gracious (and let that suffice),
My very master knows me not. m.