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A TALE OF PARAGUAY.
1. JENNER! for ever shall thy honour'd name Among the children of mankind be blest, Who by thy skill hast taught us how to tame One dire disease, . . the lamentable pest Which Africa sent forth to scourge the West, As if in vengeance for her sable brood So many an age remorselessly opprest.
For that most fearful malady subdued Receive a poet's praise, a father's gratitude.
2. Fair promise be this triumph of an age When Man, with vain desires no longer blind, And wise though late, his only war shall wage Against the miseries which afflict mankind, Striving with virtuous heart and strenuous mind Till evil from the earth shall pass away. Lo, this his glorious destiny assign'd!
For that blest consummation let us pray, And trust in fervent faith, and labour as we may.
Parent from child, and child from parent ran, For tyrannous fear dissolved all natural bonds of man.
4. A feeble nation of Guarani race, Thinn’d by perpetual wars, but unsubdued, Had taken up at length a resting place Among those tracts of lake and swamp and wood, Where Mondai issuing from its solitude Flows with slow stream to Empalado's bed. It was a region desolate and rude ;
But thither had the horde for safety fled, And being there conceal'din peace their lives they led.
5. There had the tribe a safe asylum found Amid those marshes wide and woodlands dense, With pathless wilds and waters spread around, And labyrinthine swamps, a sure defence From human foes,... but not from pestilence. The spotted plague appear'd, that direst ill, ... How brought among them none could tell, or
whence; The mortal seed had lain among them still, And quicken'd now to work the Lord's mysterious will.
6. Alas, it was no medicable grief Which herbs might reach! Nor could the jug
gler's power With all his antic mummeries bring relief. Faith might not aid him in that ruling hour, Himself a victim now. The dreadful stour None could escape, nor aught its force assuage. The marriageable maiden had her dower
From death; the strong man sunk beneath' its rage, And death cut short the thread of childhood and of age.
7. No time for customary mourning pow; With hand close-clench'd to pluck the rooted hair, To beat the bosom, on the swelling brow Inflict redoubled blows, and blindly tear The cheeks, indenting bloody furrows there, The deep-traced signs indelible of woe; Then to some crag, or bank abrupt, repair,
And giving grief its scope, infuriate throw The impatient body thence upon the earth below.
8. Devices these by poor weak nature taught, Which thus a change of suffering would obtain; And flying from intolerable thought And piercing recollections, would full fain Distract itself by sense of fleshly pain From anguish that the soul must else endure. Easier all outward torments to sustain,
Than those heart-wounds which only time can cure, And He in whom alone the hopes of man are sure.
9. None sorrow'd here; the sense of woe was sear’d, When every one endured his own sore ill. The prostrate sufferers neither hoped nor fear'd; The body labour'd, but the heart was still:... So let the conquering malady fulfil Its fatal course, rest cometh at the end ! Passive they lay with neither wish nor will
For aught but this ; nor did they long attend Thatwelcome boon from death, thenever-failing friend.
10. Who is there to make ready now the pit, The house that will content from this day forth Its easy tenant ? Who in vestments fit Shall swathe the sleeper for his bed of earth, Now tractable as when a babe at birth ? Who now the ample funeral urn shall knead, And burying it beneath his proper hearth
Deposit there with careful hands the dead, And lightly then relay the floor above his head ?
The air, but fear to enter for their prey,
12. But nature for her universal law Hath other surer instruments in store, Whom from the haunts of men no wonted awe Withholds as with a spell. In swarms they pour From wood and swamp: and when their work is o'er, On the white bones the mouldering roof will fall ; Seeds will take root, and spring in sun and shower;
And Mother Earth ere long with her green pall, Resuming to herself the wreck, will cover all.
13. Oh! better thus with earth to have their part, Than in Egyptian catacombs to lie, Age after age preserved by horrid art, In ghastly image of humanity ! Strange pride that with corruption thus would vie! And strange delusion that would thus maintain The fleshly form, till cycles shall pass by,
And in the series of the eternal chain, The spirit come to seek its old abode again.
Nor our first parents more forlorn than they,