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Upon the wild horizon; and the woods,
Now sinking into brambles, echo shrill,
As the gust sweeps them; and those upper
floods Shoot on the leafless boughs the sleet-drops chill, That, on the hurrying crowds, in freezing showers distil.
They reach the wilderness! The majesty
Of solitude is spread before their gaze-
Stern nakedness, dark earth, and wrathful sky!
If ruins were there, they had ceased to blaze;
If blood were shed, the ground no more betrays,
E'en by a skeleton, the crime of man:
Behind them rolls the deep and drenching haze,
Wrapping their rear in night; before their van,
The struggling daylight shows the unmeasured desert wan.
Still on they sweep, as if the hurrying march
Could bear them from the rushing of His wheel,
Whose chariot is the whirlwind. Heaven's clear arch
At once is covered with a livid veil;
In mixed and fighting heaps the deep clouds reel :
Upon the dense horizon hangs the sun
In sanguine light, an orb of burning steel;
The snows wheel down through twilight thick and dun: Now tremble, men of blood !--the Judgment has begun!
The trumpet of the northern winds has blown,
And it is answered by the dying roar
Of armies, on that boundless field o'erthrown:
Now, in the awful gusts, the desert hoar
Is tempested—a sea without a shore,
Lifting its feathery waves. The legions fly!
Volley on volley down the hailstones pour!
Blind, famished, frozen, mad, the wanderers die,
And, dying, hear the storm more wildly thunder by.
Such is the hand of Heaven !-A human blow
Had crushed them in the fight, or flung the chain
Round them, where Moscow's stately towers were low,
And all be stilled. Napoleon! thy war-plain
Was a whole empire: thy devoted train
Must war from day to day, with storm and gloom;
(Man following, like the wolves, to rend the slain ;)
Must lie, from night to night, as in a tomb;
Must fly, toil, bleed for home-yet never see that home!
XLIII. HUMAN LIFE.-Rogers. The lark has sung his carol in the sky, The bees have hummed their noontide lullaby : Still, in the vale, the village bells ring round, Still, in Llewellyn-hall, the jests resound : For, now, the caudle-cup is circling there; Now, glad at heart, the gossips breathe their prayer, And, crowding, stop the cradle, to admire The babe,—the sleeping image of his sire !
A few short years, and then these sounds shall hail
The day again, and gladness fill the vale;
So soon the child a youth, the youth a man,
Eager to run the race his fathers ran :
Then, the huge ox shall yield the broad sirloin;
The ale (now brewed) in floods of amber shine;
And, basking in the chimney's ample blaze,
'Mid many a tale told of his boyish days,
The Nurse shall cry, of all her ills beguiled,
" 'Twas on these knees he sat so oft and smiled !"
And soon, again, shall music swell the breeze :
Soon, issuing forth, shall glitter through the trees
Vestures of nuptial white; and hymns be sung,
And violets scattered round; and old and young,
In every cottage porch, with garlands green,
Stand still to gaze, and, gazing, bless the scene;
While, her dark eyes declining, by his side,
Moves, in her virgin veil, the gentle bride.
And once, alas! nor in a distant hour,
Another voice shall come from yonder tower;
When, in dim chambers, long black weeds are seen,
And weepings heard, where only joy hath been;
When, by his children borne, and from his door
Slowly departing to return no more,
He rests in holy earth, with them who went before.
And such is Human Life! So gliding on, It glimmers, like a meteor—and is gone!
Oh! for a lodge in some vast wilderness,
Some boundless contiguity of shade,
Where rumour of oppression and deceit,
Of unsuccessful or successful war,
Might never reach me more! My ear is pained,
My soul is sick, with every day's report
of wrong and outrage, with which earth is filled.
There is no flesh in man's obdurate heart:
It does not feel for man. That natural bond
Of brotherhood is severed, as the flax
That falls asunder at the touch of fire.
He finds his fellow guilty-of a skin
Not coloured like his own; and, having power
To enforce the wrong, for such a worthy cause
Dooms and devotes him as his lawful prey.
Lands intersected by a narrow frith,
Abhor each other. Mountains interposed
Make enemies of nations, who had else,
Like kindred drops, been mingled into one.
Thus man devotes his brother, and destroys ;
And, worse than all, and most to be deplored,
As human nature's broadest, foulest blot,
Chains him, and tasks him, and exacts his sweat
With stripes, that Mercy, with a bleeding heart,
Weeps, when she sees inflicted on a beast.
Then, what is man? And what man seeing this,
And having human feelings, does not blush
And hang his head, to think himself a man?
I would not have a slave to till my ground,
To carry me, to fan me while I sleep,
And tremble when I wake, for all the wealth
That sinews bought and sold have ever earned.
No: dear as freedom is, and in my
Just estimation prized above all price,
I had much rather be myself the slave,
And wear the bonds, than fasten them on him.
We have no slaves at home—then why abroad ?
And they themselves, once ferried o’er the wave
That parts us, are emancipate and loosed.
Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs
Receive our air, that moment they are free;
They touch our country, and their shackles fall!
That's noble, and bespeaks a nation proud
And jealous of the blessing. Spread it then,
And let it circulate through every vein
Of all your empire; that, where Britain's
Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too.
XLV.-ON MAN.-Pope. LET us (since life can little more supply Than just to look about us, and to die) Expatiate free o'er all this scene of Man: A mighty maze! but not without a plan; A wild, where weeds and flowers promiscuous shoot; Or garden, tempting with forbidden fruit. Together let us beat this ample field, Try what the open, what the covert yield; The latent tracts, the giddy heights explore, Of all who blindly creep, or sightless soar; Eye Nature's walks, shoot folly as it flies, And catch the manners living as they rise; Laugh where we must, be candid where we can; But vindicate the ways of God to Man.
Say first, of God above, or Man below, What can we reason, but from what we know? Of Man, what see we, but his station here, From which to reason, or to which refer? Through worlds unnumbered though the God be known, 'Tis ours to trace Him only in our own. He, who through vast immensity can pierce, See worlds on worlds compose one universe, Observe how system into system runs, What other planets circle other suns, What varied being peoples every star, May tell why Heaven has made us as we are. But of this frame, the bearings and the ties, The strong connexions, nice dependencies, Gradations just,—has thy pervading soul Looked through? or, can a part contain the whole ? Is the great chain that draws all to agree, And drawn supports, upheld by God, or thee?
Presumptuous Man ! the reason wouldst thou find, Why formed so weak, so little, and so blind? First, if thou canst, the harder reason guess, Why formed no weaker, blinder, and no less. Ask of thy mother Earth, why oaks are made Taller and stronger than the weeds they shade; Or ask of yonder argent fields above, Why Jove's satellites are less than Jove ? Of
systems possible, if 'tis confessed That wisdom infinite must form the best;
Where all must fall, or not coherent be,
And all that rises, rise in due degree;
Then, in the scale of reasoning life, 'tis plain
There must be, somewhere, such a rank as man:
And all the question (wrangle e'er so long)
Is only this-If God has placed him wrong?
Respecting Man, whatever wrong we call,
May, must be right, as relative to all.
In human works, though laboured on with pain,
A thousand movements scarce one purpose gain:
In God's, one single can its end produce;
Yet serves to second too some other use.
So Man, who here seems principal alone,
Perhaps acts second to some sphere unknown,
Touches some wheel, or verges to some goal:
'Tis but a part we see, and not the whole.
When the proud steed shall know why Man restrains
His fiery course, or drives him o'er the plains;
When the dull ox, why now he breaks the clod,.
Is now a victim, and now Egypt's god;
Then shall Man's pride and dulness comprehend
His actions', passions', being's use and end;
Why doing, suffering; checked, impelled; and why
This hour a slave, the next a deity.
Then say not Man's imperfect, Heaven in fault;
Say rather, Man's as perfect as he ought;
His knowledge measured to his state and place;
His time a moment, and a point his space.
XLVI.-WAR. Robert Montgomery. SPIRIT of Light and Life! When Battle rears Her fiery brow and her terrific spears ; When red-mouthed cannon to the clouds uproar, And gasping thousands make their bed in gore; While, on the billowy bosom of the air, Roll the dread notes of anguish and despair; Unseen, Thou walk'st upon the smoking plain, And hear'st each groan that gurgles from the slain!
List !-war-peals thunder on the battle-field; And many a hand grasps firm the glittering shield, As on, with helm and plume, the warriors come, And the glad hills repeat the stormy drum!