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Frequent for breath his panting bosom heaves;
Who breathes, must suffer; and who thinks, must mourn; And he alone is bless'd, who ne'er was born. “Yet in thy turn, thou frowning preacher, hear: Are not these general maxims too severe? Say: cannot power secure its owner's bliss 2 And is not wealth the potent sire of peace? Are victors bless'd with fame, or kings with ease?" I tell thee, life is but one common care, And man was born to suffer, and to fear. “But is no rank, no station, no degree, From this contagious taint of sorrow free?” None, mortal none. Yet in a bolder strain Let me this melancholy truth maintain. But hence, ye worldly and profane, retire; For I adapt my voice, and raise my lyre, To notions not by vulgar ear receiv'd: Yet still must covet life, and be deceiv'd ; Your very fear of death shall make you try To catch the shade of immortality; Wishing on Earth to linger, and to save Part of its prey from the devouring grave; To those who may survive you to bequeath Something entire, in spite of Time and Death; A fancy'd kind of being to retrieve, And in a book, or from a building, live. False hope vain labour ! let some ages fly, The dome shall moulder, and the volume die : Wretches, still taught, still will ye think it strange, That all the parts of this great fabric change, Quit their old station, and primeval frame, And lose their shape, their essence, and their name? Reduce the song: our hopes, our joys, are vain; Our lot is sorrow, and our portion pain. [bring What pause from woe, what hopes of comfort The name of wise or great, of judge or king? What is a king 2— a man condemn'd to bear The public burthen of the nation's care; Now crown'd some angry faction to appease; Now falls a victim to the people's ease; From the first blooming of his ill-taught youth, Nourish'd in flattery, and estrang'd from truth; At home surrounded by a servile crowd, Prompt to abuse, and in detraction loud; Abroad begirt with men, and swords, and spears, His very state acknowledging his fears; Marching amidst a thousand guards, he shows His secret terrour of a thousand foes : In war, however prudent, great, or brave, To blind events and fickle chance a slave; Seeking to settle what for ever flies, Sure of the toil, uncertain of the prize. But he returns with conquest on his brow, Brings up the triumph, and absolves the vow: The captive generals to his car were ty'd ; The joyful citizens tumultuous tide, Echoing his glory, gratify his pride. What is this triumph 2 madness, shouts, and noise, One great collection of the people's voice. The wretches he brings back in chains relate What may to-morrow be the victor's fate. The spoils and trophies, borne before him, show National loss, and epidemic woe, Various distress, which he and his may know. Does he not mourn the valiant thousands slain, The heroes, once the glory of the plain, Left in the conflict of the fatal day, Or the wolf's portion, or the vulture's prey? l)oes he not weep the laurel which he wears, Wet with the soldier's blood, and widow's tears P
See, where he comes, the darling of the war ! See millions crowding round the gilded car! In the vast joys of this ecstatic hour, And full fruition of successful power, One moment and one thought might let him scan The various turns of life, and fickle state of man. Are the dire images of sad distrust, And popular change, obscur'd amid the dust That rises from the victor's rapid wheel? Can the loud clarion or shrill fife repel The inward cries of care? can Nature's voice, Plaintive, be drown'd or lessen'd in the noise; Though shouts of thunder loud afflict the air, Stun the birds, now releas'd, and shake the ivory chair? “Yon crowd,” he might reflect, “yon joyful crowd, Pleas'd with my honours, in my praises loud, (Should fleeting Victory to the vanquish'd go, Should she depress my arms, and raise the foe,) Would for that foe with equal ardour wait At the high palace, or the crowded gate; With restless rage would pull my statues down, And cast the brass anew to his renown. “O impotent desire of worldly sway ! That I, who make the triumph of to-day, May of to-morrow's pomp one part appear, Ghastly with wounds, and lifeless on the bier! Then (vileness of mankind') then of all these, Whom my dilated eye with labour sees, Would one, alas! repeat me good, or great, Wash my pale body, or bewail my fate? Or, march'd I chain’d behind the hostile car, The victor's pastime, and the sport of war, Would one, would one his pitying sorrow lend, Or be so poor, to own he was my friend ?” Avails it then, O Reason, to be wise? To see this cruel scene with quicker eyes? To know with more distinction to complain, And have superior sense in feeling pain? Let us revolve that roll with strictest eye, Where, safe from Time, distinguish'd actions lie; And judge if greatness be exempt from pain, Or pleasure ever may with power remain. Adam, great type, for whom the world was made, The fairest blessing to his arms convey'd, A charming wife; and air, and sea, and land, And all that move therein, to his command Render'd obedient: say, my pensive Muse, What did these golden promises produce? Scarce tasting life, he was of joy bereav'd : One day, I think, in Paradise he liv'd; Destin'd the next his journey to pursue, Where wounding thorns and cursed thistles grew. Ere yet he earns his bread, adown his brow, Inclin'd to earth, his labouring sweat must flow; His limbs must ake, with daily toils oppress'd, Ere long-wish'd night brings necessary rest. Still viewing, with regret, his darling Eve, He for her follies and his own must grieve; Bewailing still afresh their hapless choice; His ear of frighted with the imag'd voice Of Heaven, when first it thunder'd ; oft his view Aghast, as when the infant lightning flew, And the stern cherub stopp'd the fatal road, Arm'd with the flames of an avenging God. His younger son on the polluted ground, First-fruit of Death, lies plaintive of a wound Given by a brother's hand: his eldest birth Flies, mark'd by Heaven, a fugitive o'er Earth.
Yet why these sorrows heap'd upon the sire, Becomes norman, nor angel, to inquire. Each age sinn'd on, and guilt advanc'd with time : The son still added to the father's crime; Till God arose, and, great in anger, said, “Lo! it repenteth me that man was made | Withdraw thy light, thou Sun be dark, ye skies! And from your deep abyss, ye waters, rise !” The frighted angels heard th' Almighty Lord, | And o'er the Earth from wrathful vials pour'd Tempests and storms, obedient to his word. Meantime, his providence to Noah gave | The guard of all that he design'd to save. Exempt from general doom the patriarch stood, ; Contemn'd the waves, and triumph'd o'er the flood. | The winds fall silent, and the waves decrease, | The dove brings quiet, and the olive peace Yet still his heart does inward sorrow feel, Which faith alone forbids him to reveal. | If on the backward world his views are cast, |'Tis death diffus'd, and universal waste : Present, (sad prospect') can he aught descry | But (what affects his melancholy eye) The beauties of the ancient fabric lost, In chains of craggy hill, or lengths of dreary coast? While, to high Heaven his pious breathings turn'd, Weeping he hop'd, and sacrificing mourn'd; ! When of God's image only eight he found ! Snatch'd from the watery grave, and sav'd from nations drown'd ; And of three sons, the future hopes of Earth, The seed whence empires must receive their birth, One he foresees excluded heavenly grace, And mark'd with curses, fatal to his race Abraham, potent prince, the friend of God, Of human ills must bear the destin'd load; By blood and battles must his power maintain, And slay the monarchs ere he rules the plain ; Must deal just portions of a servile life To a o handmaid and a peevish wife; Must with the mother leave the weeping son, In want to wander, and in wilds to groan; Must take his other child, his age's hope, To trembling Moriam's melancholy top, Order'd to drench his knife in filial blood, Destroy his heir, or disobey his God. Moses beheld that God; but how beheld? The Deity in radiant beams conceal’d, And clouded in a deep abyss of light; While present, too severe for human sight, Nor staying longer than one swift-wing'd night. The following days, and months, and years, decreed To fierce encounter, and to toilsome deed. His youth with wants and hardships must engage; Plots and rebellions must disturb his age; Some Corah still arose, some rebel slave, Prompter to sink the state, than he to save: And Israel did his rage so far provoke, That what the Godhead wrote, the prophet broke. His voice scarce heard, his dictates scarce believ'd, In camps, in arms, in pilgrimage, he liv'd ; And dy'd obedient to severest law, Forbid to tread the promis'd land he saw. My father's life was one long line of care, A scene of danger, and a state of war. Alarm’d, expos'd, his childhood must engage The bear's rough gripe, and foaming lion's rage. By various turns his threaten’d youth must fear Goliah's lifted sword, and Saul's emitted spear.
Forlorn he must and persecuted fly,
In the still shades of Death: for dread and pain,
A noon-tide shadow, and a midnight dream;
| Select from vulgar herds, with garlands gay,
A hundred bulls ascend the sacred way.
“Cease, man of woman born, to hope relief From daily trouble and continued grief; Thy hope of joy deliver to the wind, Suppress thy passions, and prepare thy mind; Free and familiar with misfortune grow Be us’d to sorrow, and inur'd to woe; By weakening toil and hoary age o'ercome, See thy decrease, and hasten to thy tomb; Leave to thy children tumult, strife, and war, Portions of toil, and legacies of care; Send the successive ills through ages down, And let each weeping father tell his son, That deeper struck, and more distinctly griev'd, He must augment the sorrows he receiv'd. “The child to whose success thy hope is bound, Ere thou art scarce interr'd, or he is crown'd, To lust of arbitrary sway inclin'd, (That cursed poison to the prince's mind') Shall from thy dictates and his duty rove, And lose his great defence, his people's love; Ill-counsell'd, vanquish'd, fugitive, disgrac'd, Shall mourn the fame of Jacob's strength effac'd; Shall sigh the king diminish'd, and the crown With lessen'd rays descending to his son; Shall see the wreaths, his grandsire knew to reap By active toil and military sweat, Pining, incline their sickly leaves, and shed Their falling honours from his giddy head; By arms or prayer unable to assuage Domestic horrour and intestine rage, Shall from the victor and the vanquish'd fear, From Israel's arrow, and from Judah's spear; Shall cast his weary'd limbs on Jordan's flood, By brother's arms disturb'd, and stain'd with kindred-blood. [race, “Hence labouring years shall weep their destin'd Charg’d with ill omens, sully'd with disgrace. Time, by necessity compell’d, shall go Through scenes of war, and epochas of woe. The empire, lessen'd in a parted stream, Shall lose its course — Indulge thy tears: the Heathen shall blaspheme; Judah shall fall, oppress'd by grief and shame, And men shall from her ruins know her fame. “New Egypts yet and second bonds remain, A harsher Pharaoh, and a heavier chain. Again, obedient to a dire command, Thy captive sons shall leave the promis'd land. Their name more low, their servitude more vile, Shall on Euphrates' bank renew the grief of Nile. “These pointed spires, that wound the ambient
sky, (Inglorious change () shall in destruction lie Low, levell'd with the dust; their heights unknown, Or measur’d by their ruin. Yonder throne, For lasting glory built, design'd the seat Of kings for ever blest, for ever great, Remov’d by the invader's barbarous hand, Shall grace his triumph in a foreign land. The tyrant shall demand yon sacred load Of gold, and vessels set apart to God, Then, by vile hands to common use debas'd, Shall send them flowing round his drunken feast, With sacrilegious taunt, and impious jest. “Twice fourteen ages shall their way complete; Empires by various turns shall rise and set; While thy abandon'd tribes shall only know A different master, and a change of woe, With down-cast eye-lids, and with looks aghast, Shall dread the future, or bewail the past.
“Afflicted Israel shall sit weeping down, Fast by the stream where Babel's waters run; Their harps upon the neighbouring willows hung, Nor joyous hymn encouraging their tongue, Nor cheerful dance their feet; with toil oppress'd, Their weary'd limbs aspiring but to rest. In the reflective stream the sighing bride, Viewing her charms impair'd, abash'd, shall hide Her pensive head; and in her languid face The bridegroom shall foresee his sickly race, While ponderous fetters vex their close embrace. With irksome anguish then your priests shall mourn Their long-neglected feasts' despair'd return, And sad oblivion of their solemn days. Thenceforth their voices they shall only raise, Louder to weep. By day, your frighted seers Shall call for fountains to express their tears, And wish their eyes were floods; by night, from dreams Of opening gulphs, black storms, and raging flames, Starting amaz'd, shall to the people show Emblems of heavenly wrath, and mystic types of woe. “The captives, as their tyrant shall require That they should breathe the song, and touch the lyre, Shall say: “Can Jacob's servile race rejoice, Untun'd the music, and disus’d the voice? What can we play' (they shall discourse,) “how sing In foreign lands, and to a barbarous king? We and our fathers, from our childhood bred To watch the cruel victor's eye, to dread The arbitrary lash, to bend, to grieve, (Out-cast of mortal race') can we conceive Image of aught delightful, soft, or gay? Alas! when we have toil'd the longsome day, The fullest bliss our hearts aspire to know Is but some interval from active woe, In broken rest and startling sleep to mourn, Till morn, the tyrant, and the scourge, return. Bred up in grief, can pleasure be our theme 2 Our endless anguish does not Nature claim! Reason and sorrow are to us the same. Alas! with wild amazement we require, If idle Folly was not Pleasure's fire? Madness, we fancy, gave an ill-tim'd birth To grinning Laughter, and to frantic Mirth." “This is the series of perpetual woe, Which thou, alas! and thine, are born to know. Illustrious wretch! repine not, nor reply: View not what Heaven ordains with Reason's eye, Too bright the object is; the distance is too high. The man, who would resolve the work of Fate, May limit number, and make crooked straight: Stop thy inquiry then, and curb thy sense, Nor let dust argue with Omnipotence. 'Tis God who must dispose, and man sustain, Born to endure, forbidden to complain. Thy sum of life must his decrees fulfil; What derogates from his command, is ill; And that alone is good which centres in his will. “Yet, that thy labouring senses may not droop, Lost to delight, and destitute of hope, Remark what I, God's messenger, aver From him, who neither can deceive nor err. The land, at length redeem’d, shall cease to mourn Shall from her sad captivity return. Sion shall raise her long-dejected head, And in her courts the law again be read. Again the glorious temple shall arise, And with new lustre pierce the neighbouring skies.