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Or own the soul immortal, or invert
All order. Go, mock-majesty! go, man!
And bow to thy superiors of the stall;
Through every scene of sense superior far :
They graze the turf untill’d; they drink the stream
Unbrew'd, and ever full, and un-embitter'd
With doubts, fears, fruitless hopes, regrets, despairs;
Mankind's peculiar ! reason's precious dower!
No foreign clime they ransack for their robes;
Nor brothers cite to the litigious bar;
Their good is good entire, unmix'd, unmarr'd;
They find a Paradise in every field,
On boughs forbidden where no curses hang:
Their ill no more than strikes the sense ; unstretch'd
By previous dread, or murmur in the rear :
When the worst comes, it comes unfear'd; one stroke
Begins, and ends, their woe: they die but once ;
Blest, incommunicable privilege ! for which
Proud man, who rules the globe, and reads the stars,
Philosopher, or hero, sighs in vain.
Account for this prerogative in brutes.
No day, no glimpse of day, to solve the knot,
But what beams on it from eternity.
O sole, and sweet solution ! that unties
The difficult, and softens the severe ;
The cloud on Nature's beauteous face dispels;
Restores bright order ; casts the brute beneath;
And re-enthrones us in supremacy
Of joy, e'en here : admit immortal life,
And virtue is knight-errantry no more ;
Each virtue brings in hand a golden dower,
Far richer in reversion : Hope exults ;
And though much bitter in our cup is thrown,
Predominates, and gives the taste of Heaven.
O wherefore is the Deity so kind !
Astonishing beyond astonishment !
Heaven our reward — for Heaven enjoy'd below.
Still unsubdued thy stubborn heart? - For there
The traitor lurks who doubts the truth I sing.
Reason is guiltless; will alone rebels.
What, in that stubborn heart, if I should find
New, unexpected witnesses against thee?
Ambition, pleasure, and the love of gain!
Canst thou suspect, that these, which make the soul
The slave of Earth, should own her heir of Heaven?
Canst thou suspect what makes us disbelieve
Our immortality, should prove it sure ?
First, then, ambition summon to the bar.
Ambition's shame, extravagance, disgust,
And inextinguishable nature, speak.
Each much deposes; hear them in their turn,
Thy soul, how passionately fond of fame!
How anxious, that fond passion to conceal;
We blush, detected in designs on praise,
Though for best deeds, and from the best of men ;
And why? Because immortal. Art divine
Has made the body tutor to the soul;
Heaven kindly gives our blood a moral flow;
Bids it ascend the glowing cheek, and there
Upbraid that little heart's inglorious aim,
Which stoops to court a character from man;
While o'er us, in tremendous judgment, sit
Far more than inan, with endless praise, and blame.
Ambition's-boundless appetite out-speaks
The verdict of its shame. When souls take fire
At high presumptions of their own desert,
One age is poor applause; the mighty shout,
The thunder by the living few begun,
Late time must echo; worlds unborn, resound.
We wish our names eternally to live : [thought,
Wild dream! which ne'er had haunted human
Had not our natures been eternal too.
Instinct points out an interest in hereafter ;
But our blind reason sees not where it lies;
Or, seeing, gives the substance for the shade.
Fame is the shade of immortality,
And in itself a shadow. Soon as caught,
Contemn'd; it shrinks to nothing in the grasp.
Consult th' ambitious, 't is ambition's cure.
“ And is this all ?” cried Cæsar at his height,
Disgusted. This third proof ambition brings
Of immortality. The first in fame,
Observe him near, your envy will abate :
Sham'd at the disproportion vast, between
The passion and the purchase, he will sigh
At such success, and blush at his renown.
And why? Because far richer prize invites
His heart; far more illustrious glory calls;
It calls in whispers, yet the deafest hear.
And can ambition a fourth proof supply?
It can, and stronger than the former three ;
Yet quite o'erlook'd by some reputed wise.
Though disappointments in ambition pain,
And though success disgusts; yet still, Lorenzo!
In vain we strive to pluck it from our hearts;
By Nature planted for the noblest ends.
Absurd the fam'd advice to Pyrrhus given,
More prais'd, than ponder'd; specious, but unsound;
Sooner that hero's sword the world had quell’d,
Than reason, his ambition. Man must soar.
An obstinate activity within,
An insuppressive spring, will toss him up,
In spite of fortune's load. Not kings alone,
Each villager has his ambition too;
No Sultan prouder than his fetter'd slave :
Slaves build their little Babylons of straw,
Echo the proud Assyrian in their hearts,
And cry,-“ Behold the wonders of my might !"
And why? Because inmortal as their lord ;
And souls immortal must for ever heave
At something great; the glitter, or the gold;
The praise of mortals, or the praise of Heaven.
Nor absolutely vain is human praise,
When human is supported by divine.
I'll introduce Lorenzo to himself ;
Pleasure and pride (bad masters !) share our hearts.
As love of pleasure is ordain'd to guard
And feed our bodies, and extend our race;
The love of praise is planted to protect,
And propagate the glories'of the mind.
What is it, but the love of praise, inspires,
Matures, refines, embellishes, exalts,
Earth's happiness ? From that, the delicate,
The grand, the marvellous, of civil life,
Want and convenience, under-workers, lay
The basis, on which love of glory builds.
Nor is thy life, O virtue! less in debt
To praise, thy secret stimulating friends
Were men not proud, what merit should we miss !
Prile made the virtues of the pagan world.
Praise is the salt that seasons right to man,
And whets his appetite for moral good.
Thirst of applause is virtue's second guard ;
Reason, her first; but reason wants an aid;
Our private reason is a flatterer ;
Thirst of applause calls public judgment in,
To poise our own, to keep an even scale,
And give endanger'd virtue fairer play.
Here a fifth proof arises, stronger still:
Why this so nice construction of our hearts ?
These delicate moralities of sense ;
This constitutional reserve of aid
To succour virtue, when our reason fails;
If virtue, kept alive by care and toil,
And, oft, the mark of injuries on Earth,
When labour'd to maturity (its bill
Of disciplines, and pains, unpaid) must die?
Why freighted-rich, to dash against a rock ?
Were man to perish when most fit to live,
O how mis-spent were all these stratagems,
By skill divine inwoven in our frame!
Where are Heaven's holiness and mercy fled ?
Laughs Heaven, at once, at virtue, and at man
If not, why that discourag'd, this destroy'd ?
Thus far ambition. What says avarice?
This her chief maxim, which has long been thine :
“ The wise and wealthy are the same." - I grant it.
To store up treasure, with incessant toil,
This is man's province, this his highest praise.
To this great end keen instinct stings him on.