« AnteriorContinuar »
ceived; since every link of that long-chained succession is so frail: can every part depend, and not the whole? Yet, grant it true, new difficulties rise: I'm still quite out at sea, nor see the shore. Whence earth, and these bright orbs?-eternal too?-Grant matter was eternal; still these orbs would want some other father. Much design is seen in all their motions, all their makes. Design implies intelligence and art, that can't be from themselves-or man :-that art man scarce can comprehend, could man bestow? And nothing greater, yet allowed, than man. Who, motion, foreign to the smallest grain, shot through vast masses of enormous weight? Who bade brute matter's restive lump assume such various forms, and gave it wings to fly? Has matter innate motion? then, each atom, asserting its indisputable right to dance, would form a universe of dust. Has matter none? then, whence these glorious forms and boundless flights, from shapeless and reposed? Has matter more than motion? Has it thought, judgment, and genius? Is it deeply learn'd in mathematics? Has it framed such laws, which, but to guess, a Newton made immortal? If so, how each sage atom laughs at me, who think a clod inferior to a man! If art, to form,—and counsel, to conduct, and that with greater far than human_skill,— resides not in each block; a Godhead reigns. And, if a God there is, that God how great!
XXIII.-A SNOW-STORM-THE MISERIES OF LIFE.- -Thomson.
As thus the snows arise, and foul and fierce all winter drives along the darkened air, in his own loose-revolving fields the Swain disastered stands; sees other hills ascend, of unknown joyless brow; and other scenes of horrid prospect shag the trackless plain; nor finds the river, nor the forest, hid beneath the formless wild: but wanders on from hill to dale, still more and more astray; impatient flouncing through the drifted heaps, stung with the thoughts of home:-the thoughts of home rush on his nerves, and call their vigour forth in many a vain attempt. How sinks his soul! What black despair, what horror, fill his heart! when,-for the dusky spot, which fancy feigned his tufted cottage, rising through the snow,-he meets the roughness of the middle waste, far from the track and blest abode of man: while, round him, night resistless closes fast; and every tempest, howling o'er his head, renders the savage wilderness more wild.
Then throng the busy shapes into his mind of covered pits
unfathomably deep-a dire descent, beyond the power of frost! of faithless bogs; of precipices huge, smoothed up with snow; and what is land unknown, what water; of the still unfrozen spring, in the loose marsh or solitary lake, where the fresh fountain from the bottom boils. These check his fearful steps; and down he sinks beneath the shelter of the shapeless drift, thinking o'er all the bitterness of death, mixed with the tender anguish nature shoots through the wrung bosom of the dying man-his wife, his children, and his friends unseen!
In vain for him the officious wife prepares the fire fairblazing, and the vestment warm; in vain his little children, peeping out into the mingled storm, demand their sire with tears of artless innocence. Alas! nor wife, nor children, more shall he behold, nor friends, nor sacred home! On every nerve the deadly winter seizes; shuts up sense; and, o'er his inmost vitals creeping cold, lays him along the snows, a stiffened corse, stretched out and bleaching in the northern blast.
Ah! little think the gay licentious proud, whom pleasure, power, and affluence surround; they who, their thoughtless hours, in giddy mirth, and wanton, often cruel riot, waste; ah! little think they, while they dance along, how many feel, this very moment, death, and all the sad variety of pain! How many sink in the devouring flood, or more devouring flame! How many bleed, by shameful variance 'twixt man and man! How many pine in want, and dungeon-glooms, shut from the common air, and common use of their own limbs! How many drink the cup of baleful grief, or eat the bitter bread of misery! Sore pierced by wintry winds, how many shrink into the sordid hut of cheerless poverty! How many shake with all the fiercer tortures of the mind-unbounded passion, madness, guilt, remorse! How many, racked with honest passions, droop in deep-retired distress! How many stand around the death-bed of their dearest friends, and point the parting anguish! Thought fond man of these, and all the thousand nameless ills, that one incessant struggle render life-one scene of toil, of suffering, and of fate; Vice, in his high career, would stand appalled, and heedless, rambling Impulse, learn to think: the conscious heart of Charity would warm, and her wide wish Benevolence dilate; the social tear would rise, the social sigh; and, into clear perfection, gradual bliss, refining still, the social passions work.
XXIV. THE DYING CHRISTIAN TO HIS SOUL.-Pope.
VITAL spark of heavenly flame, quit, oh, quit this mortal frame!-trembling, hoping, lingering, flying; oh, the pain, the bliss of dying! Cease, fond nature! cease thy strife, and let me languish into life!Hark, they whisper! Angels say, "Sister spirit, come away!" What is this absorbs me quite, steals my senses, shuts my sight, drowns my spirit, draws my breath? Tell me, my soul-can this be death? The world recedes-it disappears! heaven opens on my eyes!-my ears with sounds seraphic ring! Lend, lend your wings! I mount! I fly!O grave! where is thy victory? O death! where is thy sting?
XXV. THE FLIGHT OF IMAGINATION.-Akenside.
THE high-born soul disdains to rest her heaven-aspiring wing beneath its native quarry. Tired of earth and this diurnal scene, she springs aloft through fields of air; pursues the flying storm; rides on the volleyed lightning through the heavens; or, yoked with whirlwinds and the northern blast, sweeps the long tract of day. Then high she soars the blue profound, and, hovering round the sun, beholds him pouring the redundant stream of light; beholds his unrelenting sway bend the reluctant planets, to absolve the fated rounds of Time. Thence far effused, she darts her swiftness up the long career of devious comets; through its burning signs, exulting measures the perennial wheel of nature, and looks back on all the stars,whose blended light, as with a milky zone, invests the orient. Now, amazed, she views the empyreal waste, where happy spirits hold, beyond this concave heaven, their calm abode; and fields of radiance, whose unfading light has travelled the profound six thousand years, nor yet arrived in sight of mortal things. Even on the barriers of the world, untired, she meditates the eternal depth below; till, half recoiling, down the headlong steep she plunges: soon o'erwhelmed, and swallowed up, in that immense of being. There her hopes rest, at the fated goal. For, from the birth of mortal man, the Sovereign Maker said,—that not in humble or in brief delight, not in the fading echoes of renown, Power's purple robes, or Pleasure's flowery lap, the soul should find enjoyment; but from these turning disdainful to an equal good, through all the ascent of things enlarge her view-till every bound at length should disappear, and infinite perfection close the scene.
XXVI.-INSTABILITY OF HUMAN GLORY.-Henry Kirke White.
O HOW weak is mortal man! how trifling-how confined his scope of vision! Puffed with confidence, his phrase grows big with immortality; and he, poor insect of a summer's day! dreams of eternal honours to his name, of endless glory and perennial bays. He idly reasons of eternity, as of the train of ages, when, alas! ten thousand thousand of his centuries are, in comparison, a little point too trivial for account. is strange, 'tis passing strange, to mark his fallacies; behold him proudly view some pompous pile, whose high dome swells to emulate the skies, and smile, and say, "My name shall live with this, till Time shall be no more;" while, at his feet, yea, at his very feet, the crumbling dust of the fallen fabric of the other day preaches the solemn lesson.-He should know that Time must conquer; that the loudest blast that ever filled Renown's obstreperous trump fades in the lapse of ages, and expires. Who lies inhumed in the terrific gloom of the gigantic pyramid? or who reared its huge walls? Oblivion laughs and says, "The prey is mine."-They sleep, and never more their names shall strike upon the ear of man—their memory burst its fetters.
XXVII. -THE JACKDAW.-Cowper.
THERE is a bird, that, by his coat, and by the hoarseness of his note, might be supposed a crow; a great frequenter of the church, where, bishop-like, he finds a perch and dormitory too. Above the steeple shines a plate that turns and turns, to indicate from what point blows the weather: look upyour brains begin to swim; 'tis in the clouds-that pleases him; he chooses it the rather. Fond of the speculative height, thither he wings his airy flight; and thence securely sees the bustle and the raree-show that occupy mankind below-secure and at his ease. You think, no doubt, he sits and muses on future broken bones and bruises, if he should chance to fall: no, not a single thought like that employs his philosophic pate, or troubles it at all. He sees that this great round-about, the world, with all its motley rout, church, army, physic, law, its customs and its businesses, are no concern at all of his, and says-what says he ?-Caw. Thrice happy bird! I, too, have seen much of the vanities of men; and, sick of having seen them, would cheerfully these limbs resign, for such a pair of wings as thine, and—such a head between them.
XXVIII.-UNIVERSAL ADORATION.-Thomas Moore.
THE turf shall be my fragrant shrine; my temple, Lord, that arch of Thine; my censer's breath the mountain airs, and silent thoughts my only prayers. My choir shall be the moonlit waves, when murmuring homeward to their caves; or when the stillness of the sea, even more than music, breathes of Thee. I'll seek, by day, some glade unknown, all light and silence, like Thy throne; and the pale stars shall be, at night, the only eyes that watch my rite. Thy heaven, on which 'tis bliss to look, shall be my pure and shining book; where I shall read, in words of flame, the glories of Thy wondrous name. I'll read Thy anger, in the rack that clouds awhile the day-beam's track; Thy mercy, in the azure hue of sunny brightness breaking through!— There's nothing bright, above, below, from flowers that bloom to stars that glow, but in its light my soul can see some feature of Thy Deity! There's nothing dark, below, above, but in its gloom I trace Thy love; and meekly wait that moment, when Thy touch shall turn all bright again!
XXIX.—JEPHTHA'S DAUGHTER TO HER FATHER.-Byron. SINCE Our country, our God, O my sire, demand that thy daughter expire; since thy triumph was bought by thy vow, strike the bosom that's bared for thee now!-and the voice of my mourning is o'er, and the mountains behold me no more. If the hand that I love lay me low, there cannot be pain in the blow and of this, O my father, be sure, that the blood of thy child is as pure as the blessing I beg ere it flow, and the last thought that soothes me below. Though the virgins of Salem lament, be the judge and the hero unbent: I have won the great battle for thee, and my father and country are free! When this blood of thy giving hath gushed, when the voice that thou lovest is hushed; let my memory still be thy pride, and forget not I smiled—as I died.
XXX. THE TREASURES OF THE DEEP.-Mrs. Hemans.
WHAT hid'st thou in thy treasure-caves and cells, thou hollowsounding and mysterious Main ?-pale glistening pearls, and rainbow-coloured shells, bright things which gleam unrecked of, and in vain. Keep, keep thy riches, melancholy sea! we ask not such from thee.-Yet more, the Depths have more! What wealth untold, far down and shining through their