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And souls immortal must for ever heare
Man, if not meant, by worth, to reach the skies,
Yet still their root is immortality :
These its wild growths so bitter, and so base, I'll introduce Lorenzo to himself ;
(Pain and reproach!) religion can reclaim, Pleasure and pride (bad masters !) share our hearts. Refine, exalt, throw down their poisonous lee, As love of pleasure is ordain’d to guard
And make them sparkle in the bowl of bliss. And feed our bodies, and extend our race;
See, the third witness laughs at bliss remote, The love of praise is planted to protect,
And falsely promises an Eden here : And propagate the glories of the mind.
Truth she shall speak for once, though prone to lie,
To pleasure never was Lorenzo deaf;
Since Nature made us not more fond than proud
Of happiness (whence hypocrites in joy! The basis, on which love of glory builds.
Makers of mirth! artificers of smiles !) Nor is thy life, O virtuel less in debt
Why should the joy most poignant sense affords
Burn us with blushes, and rebuke our pride ? -
Should reason take her infidel repose,
This honest instinct speaks our lineage high ;
Our glory covers us with noble shame,
The man that blushes is not quite a brute.
Thus far with thee, Lorenzo! will I close.
Pleasure is good, and man for pleasure made;
Pleasure, which neither blushes, nor espires.
The witnesses are heard ; the cause is o'er; To succour virtue, when our reason fails;
Let conscience file the sentence in her court, If virtue, kept alive by care and toil,
Dearer than deeds that half a realm convey : And, oft, the mark of injuries on Earth,
Thus seal'd by truth, th' authentic record runs
“ Know, all ; know, infidels, - unapt to know !
And opens all the mysteries of his make.
Without it, all his virtues are a dream.
What less than infinite makes un-absurd
Stretch'd out, like eagles' wings, beyond our nest,
And evidence our title to the skies."
Whose constitution dictates to your pen, Or to the deaf discharging it in vain,
Who, cold yourselves, think ardour comes from
(And justly) reason deem divine : I see, Provides for an eternity below.
I feel a grandeur, in the passions too,
Ere Adam fell, though wiser in their aim.
Like the proud Eastern, struck by Providence,
What though our passions are run mad, and stoop
On trash, on toys, dethron'd from high desire ?
Yet still through their disgrace, no feeble ray
Of greatness shines, and tells us whence they fell : “ Why life, a moment ; infinite, desire ?
Heaven's promise dormant lies in human hope ;
(For Nature never gravitates to nought); But grant their phrenzy lasts; their phrenzy fails That thirst unquench'd declares it is not here. To disappoint one providential end,
My Lucia, thy Clarissa, call to thought ;
If friend, and friendship, vanish in an hour ?
Is not this torment in the mask of joy ? Eternal day! 'T is that enlightens all;
Why by reflection marr'd the joys of sense ? And all, by that enlighten'd, proves it sure. Why past, and
future, preying on our hearts, Consider man as an immortal being,
And putting all our present joys to death ? Intelligible all; and all is great ;
Why labours reason instinct were as well; A crystalline transparency prevails,
Instinct far better ; what can choose, can err : And strikes full lustre through the human sphere : O how infallible the thoughtless brute ! Consider man as mortal, all is dark,
'T were well his Holiness were half as sure. And wretched; reason weeps at the survey.
Reason with inclination, why at war ? The learn'd Lorenzo cries, “ And let her weep, Why sense of guilt? why conscience up in arms?", Weak modern reason : ancient times were wise. Conscience of guilt, is prophecy of pain, Authority, that venerable guide,
And bosom-counsel to decline the blow, Stands on my part; the fam'd Athenian porch Reason with inclination ne'er had jarr'd, (And who for wisdom so renown'd as they ?) If nothing future paid forbearance here: Denied this immortality to man."
These, and a thousand pleas uncallid, I grant it ; but affirm, they prov'd it too.
All promise, some ensure, a second scene ;
Than all things else most certain ; were it false, Glittering through their romantic wisdom's page, What truth on Earth so precious as the lie? Make us, at once, despise them, and admire? This world it gives us, let what will ensue; Fable is fat to these high-season'd sires ;
This world it gives, in that high cordial, hope : They leave th' extravagance of song below. The future of the present is the soul : " Flesh shall not feel; or, feeling, shall enjoy
How this life groans, when sever'd from the next ! The dagger or the rack; to them, alike
Poor mutilated wretch, that disbelieves ! A bed of roses, or the burning bull."
By dark distrust his being cut in two,
In both parts perishes ; life void of joy,
Couldst thou persuade me, the next life could fail
Abhorr'd annihilation ! blasts the soul, Wonder at them, and wonder at himself,
And wide extends the bounds of human woe! To find the bold adventures of his thought,
Could I believe Lorenzo's system true, Not bold, and that he strove to lie in vain.
In this black channel would my ravings run, Whence, then, those thoughts ? those towering “ Grief from the future borrow'd peace, erewhile. thoughts, that flew
(pride. The future vanish'd! and the present pain'd! Such monstrous heights ? - From instinct, and from Strange import of unprecedented ill! The glorious instinct of a deathless soul,
Fall, how profound! Like Lucifer's, the fall! Confus'dly conscious of her dignity,
Unequal fate! His fall, without his guilt! Suggested truths they could not understand. From where fond hope built her pavilion high, In lust's dominion, and in passion's storm, The gods among, hurl'd headlong, hurl'd at once Truth's
's system broken, scatter'd fragments lay, To night! To nothing, darker still than night! As light in chaos, glimmering through the gloom : If 't was a dream, why wake me, my worst foe, Sunit with the pomp of lofty sentiments,
Lorenzo! boastful of the name of friend!
Could vengeance strike much stronger than to plant
Not over-rich before, now beggar'd quite ; And Death's dark shadows fly the gospel sun. More curst than at the fall ? — The Sun goes out! They spoke, what nothing but immortal souls The thorns shoot up! What thorns in every thought ! Could speak; and thus the truth they question'd, Why sense of better? It imbitters worse. prov'd.
Why sense? why life? If but to sigh, then sink Can then absurdities, as well as crimes,
To what I was ! twice nothing! and much woe! Speak man immortal ?' All things speak him so. Woe, from Heaven's bounties ! woe from what was Much has been urg'd: and dost thou call for more?
wont Call; and with endless questions be distress'd, To flatter most, high intellectual powers. (scheme, All unresolvable, if Earth is all.
Thought, virtue, knowledge! Blessings, by thy
All poison'd into pains. First, knowledge, once Theirs that serene, the sages sought in vain :
Shall human eyes alone dissolve in tears?
And bleed, in anguish, none but human hearts? “ K'now my Creator ? Climb his blest abode The wide-stretch'd realm of intellectual woe, By painful speculation, pierce the veil,
Surpassing sensual far, is all our own. Dive in his nature, read his attributes,
In life so fatally distinguish'd, why And gaze in admiration- - on a foe,
Cast in one lot, confounded, lump'd, in death? Obtruding life, withholding happiness !
“ Ere yet in being, was mankind in guilt? From the full rivers that surround his throne, Why thunder'd this peculiar clause against us, Not letting fall one drop of joy on man;
All-mortal and all-wretched ?-Have the skies
Nor humbly reason, when they sorely sigh?
“ Know his achievements ? Study his renown? “ And why see that? Why thought? To toil, and Contemplate this amazing universe,
Then make our bed in darkness, needs no thought. Dropt from his hand, with miracles replete! What superfluities are reasoning souls ! For what? 'Mid miracles of nobler name,
O give eternity! or thought destroy. To find one miracle of misery?
But without thought our curse were half unfelt; To find the being, which alone can know
Its blunted edge would spare the throbbing heart;
And giving being to the dread of death.
Too much for Heaven to make one emmet more?
Unfashion'd, untormented into man?
Wretched capacity of dying, life!
Once friends to peace, gone over to the foe.
“ Death, then, has chang'd his nature too: Unpaid : what pain, amidst a thousand more,
O Death! To think the most abandon'd, after days
Come to my bosom, thou best gift of Heaven! Of triumph o'er their betters, find in death
Best friend of man! since man is man no more. As soft a pillow, nor make fouler clay !
Why in this thorny wilderness so long,
To pay me with its honey for my stings?
Why this illustrious canopy display'd ?
These glorious orbs, that mortals may compute Vain, vain ambitions ! trouble me no more. Their length of labours, and of pains ; nor lose Why travel far in quest of sure defeat ?
Their misery's full measure? - Smiles with flowers, As bounded as my being, be my wish.
And fruits, promiscuous, ever-teeming Earth, All is inverted, wisdom is a fool.
That man may languish in lururious scenes, Sense ! take the rein; blind passion! drive us on; And in an Eden mourn his wither'd joys ? And ignorance ! befriend us on our way;
Claim Earth and skies man's admiration, due Ye new, but truest patrons of our peace !
For such delights ! Blest animals ! too wise Yes; give the pulse full empire; live the brule, To wonder ; and too happy to complain! Since, as the brute, we die. The sum of man, “ Our doom decreed demands a mournful scene : Of godlike man! to revel, and to rot.
Why not a dungeon dark, for the condemnd? “ But not on equal terms with other brutes : Why not the dragon's subterranean den, Their revels a more poignant relish yield,
For man to howl in? Why not his above And safer too; they never poisons choose.
Of the same dismal colour with his fate? Instinct, than reason, makes more wholesome meals, A Thebes, a Babylon, at vast expense And sends all-marring murmur far away.
Of time, toil, treasure, art, for owls and adders For sensual life they best philosophize ;
As congruous, as, for man, this lofty dome,
Which prompts proud thought, and kindles high • Lorenzo.
If, from her humble chamber in the dust, (flames, Heaven is all love ; all joy in giving joy:
A being blest, or worthy so to be?
“ Undrnun no more! - Behind the cloud of Death, Is that, all Nature starts at, thy desire ? Once, I beheld the Sun; a Sun which gilt Art such a clod to wish thyself all clay? That sable cloud, and turn'd it all to gold:
What is that dreadful wish ?- The dying groan
To nature undebauch'd no shock so great ;
Annihilation is an after-thought,
And, oh! what depth of horrour lies enclos'd! This particle of energy divine,
For non-existence no man ever wish’d, Which travels Nature, flies from star to star, But, first, he wish'd the Deity destroy'd. And visits gods, and emulates their powers,
If so; what words are dark enough to draw For ever is extinguisht. Horrour! death! Thy picture true? The darkest are too fair. Death of that death I fearless once survey'd !- Beneath what baleful planet, in what hour When horrour universal shall descend,
Of desperation, by what fury's aid, And Heaven's dark concave urn all human race, In what infernal posture of the soul, On that enormous, unrefunding tomb,
All Hell invited, and all Hell in joy How just this verse ! this monumental sigh! At such a birth, a birth so near of kin, “ Beneath the lumber of demolish'd worlds,
Did thy foul fancy whelp so black a scheme Deep in the rubbish of the general wreck,
Of hopes abortive, faculties half-blown, Swept ignominious to the common mass
And deities begun, reduc'd to dust? Of matter, never dignified with life,
There 's nought (thou say'st) but one eternal Aux Here lie proud rationals; the sons of Heaven ! Of feeble essences, tumultuous driven The lords of Earth! the property of worms !
Through time's rough billows into night's abyss. Beings of yesterday! and not to-morrow !
Say, in this rapid tide of human ruin, Who liv'd in terrour, and in pangs erprir'd!
Is there no rock, on which man's tossing thought Au gone to rot in chaos; or to make
Can rest from terrour, dare his fate survey, Their happy transit into blocks or brutes,
And boldly think it something to be born? Nor longer sully their Creator's name.'
Amid such hourly wrecks of being fair, Lorenzo! hear, pause, ponder, and pronounce.
Is there no central, all-sustaining base, Just is this history? If such is man,
All-realising, all-connecting power, Mankind's historian, though divine, might weep.
Which, as it call’d forth all things, can recall,
And force destruction to refund her spoil ? And dares Lorenzo smile? --I know thee proud;
Command the grave restore her taken prey ? For once let pride befriend thee; pride looks pale
Bid death's dark vale its human harvest yield, At such a scene, and sighs for something more.
And earth and ocean pay their debt of man,
True to the grand deposit trusted there?
Is there no potentate whose out-stretch'd arm, And not to be, is lower than unborn.
When ripening time calls forth th' appointed hour,
Pluck'd from foul devastation's famish'd maw, Art thou ambitious ? Why then make the worm Thine equal ? Runs thy taste of pleasure high?
Binds present, past, and future, to his throne ?
His throne, how glorious, thus divinely grac'd, Why patronise sure death of every joy? Charm riches ? Why choose beggary in the grave,
By germinating beings clustering round!
A garland worthy the divinity! Of every hope a bankrupt! and for ever?
A throne, by Heaven's omnipotence in smiles, Ambition, pleasure, avarice, persuade thee
Built (like a pharos towering in the waves) To make that world of glory, rapture, wealth,
Amidst immense effusions of his love! They lately prov'd", the soul's supreme desire.
An ocean of communicated bliss ! What art thou made of? Rather, how unmade?
An all-prolific, all-preserving god! Great Nature's master-appetite destroy'd,
This were a god indeed. - And such is man, Is endless life, and happiness, despis’d?
As here presum'd: he rises from his fall. Or both wish'd, here, where neither can be found ?
Think'st thou Omnipotence a naked root, Such man's perverse, eternal war with Heaven !
Each blossom fair of Deity destroy'd ? Dar'st thou persist? And is there nought on Earth, Nothing is dead; nay, nothing sleeps ; each soul, But a long train of transitory forms,
That ever animated human clay, Rising, and breaking, millions in an hour ?
Now wakes; is on the wing: and where, O where, Bubbles of a fantastic deity, blown up
Will the swarm settle ?- When the trumpet's call, In sport, and then in cruelty destroy'd ?
As sounding brass, collects us, round Heaven's throne Oh! for what crime, unmerciful Lorenzo !
Conglob’d, we bask in everlasting day, Destroys thy scheme the whole of human race ?
(Paternal splendour !) and adhere for ever. Kind is fell Lucifer, compar'd to thee :
Had not the soul this outlet to the skies, 0! spare this waste of being half-divine;
In this vast vessel of the universe, And vindicate th' economy of Heaven,
How should we gasp, as in an empty void ! * 1. Night VI.
How in the pangs of famish'd hope expire !
How bright my prospect shines; how gloomy | The genuine cause of every deed divine ? thine!
That is the chain of ages, which maintains A trembling world ! and a devouring God ! Their obvious correspondence, and unites Earth, but the shambles of Omnipotence !
Most distant periods in one blest design: Heaven's face all stain'd with causeless massacres That is the mighty hinge, on which have turn'd Of countless millions, born to feel the pang All revolutions, whether we regard Of being lost. Lorenzo ! can it be?
The natural, civil, or religious, world; This bids us shudder at the thoughts of life. The former two but servants to the third : Who would be born to such a phantom world, To that their duty done, they both expire, Where nought substantial but our misery? Their mass new-cast, forgot their deeds renoun'd Where joy (if joy) but heightens our distress, And angels ask, “ Where once they shone so fair?" So soon to perish, and revive no more?
To lift us from this abject, to sublime; The greater such a joy, the more it pains.
This fux, to permanent; this dark, to day ; A world, so far from great, (and yet how great This foul, to pure; this turbid, to serene ; It shines to thee!) there 's nothing real in it; This mean, to mighty! — for this glorious end Being, a shadow; consciousness, a dream;
Th’ Almighty, rising, his long sabbath broke! A dream, how dreadful! Universal blank
The world was made ; was ruin'd; was restor'd; Before it, and behind! Poor man, a spark Laws from the skies were publish'd ; were repeal'd; From non-existence struck by wrath divine, On Earth kings, kingdoms, rose ; kings, kingdoms, Glittering a moment, nor that moment sure, 'Midst upper, nether, and surrounding night, Fam'd sages light'd up the pagan world; His sad, sure, sudden, and eternal tomb !
Prophets from Sion darted a keen glance Lorenzo! dost thou feel these arguments? Through distant age ; saints travellid; martyrs bled; Or is there nought but vengeance can be felt? By wonders sacred Nature stood controllid; How hast thou dar'd the Deity dethrone ?
The living were translated; dead were rais'd; How dar'd indict him of a world like this? Angels, and more than angels, came from Heaven; If such the world, creation was a crime ;
And, oh ! for this, descended lower still: For what is crime but cause of misery?
Guilt was Hell's gloom ; astonish'd at his guest, Retract, blasphemer! and unriddle this,
For one short moment Lucifer ador'd: Of endless arguments above, below,
Lorenzo ! and wilt thou do less ? - For this, Without us, and within, the short result!
That hallow'd page, fools scoff at, was inspir’d, “ If man's immortal, there's a God in Heaven." Of all these truths - thrice-venerable code!
But wherefore such redundancy? such waste Deists ! perform your quarantine ; and then Of argument? One sets my soul at rest! Fall prostrate, ere you touch it, iest you die. One obvious, and at hand, and, oh! - at heart. Nor less intensely bent infernal powers So just the skies, Philander's life so pain'd, To mar, than those of light, this end to gain. His heart so pure; that, or succeeding scenes O what a scene is here! - Lorenzo! wake! Have palms to give, or ne'er had he been born. Rise to the thought; exert, expand thy soul, “ What an old tale is this !" Lorenzo cries.
To take the vast idea: it denies I grant this argument is old; but truth
All else the name of great. No years impair ; and had not this been true, Not Europe against Afric; warring worlds! Thou never hadst despis'd it for its age.
Of more than mortal! mounted on the wing! Truth is immortal as thy soul; and fable
On ardent wings of energy and zeal, As fleeting as thy joys: be wise, nor make High-hovering o'er this little brand of strife! Heaven's highest blessing, vengeance ; ( be wise ! This sublunary ball — But strife, for what? Nor make a curse of immortality.
In their own cause conflicting ? No; in thine, Say, know'st thou what it is, or what thou art ? In man's. His single interest blows the flame; Know'st thou the importance of a soul immortal ? His the sole stake ; his fate the trumpet sounds, Behold this midnight glory: worlds on worlds ! Which kindles war immortal. How it burns! Amazing pomp! redouble this amaze;
Tumultuous swarms of deities in arms! Ten thousand add ; add twice ten thousand more; Force, force opposing, till the waves run high, Then weigh the whole; one soul outweighs them And tempest Nature's universal sphere.
Such opposites eternal, steadfast, stern, And calls th' astonishing magnificence
Such foes implacable, are good, and ill ; Of unintelligent creation poor.
Yet man, vain man, would mediate peace between For this, believe not me; no man believe;
Think not this fiction, “ There was adr in Heure." Trust not in words, but deeds; and deeds no less From Heaven's high crystal mountain, where it hung, Than those of the Supreme ; nor his, a few; Th' Almighty's out-stretch'd arm took down his bow, Consult them all ; consulted, all proclaim
And shot his indignation at the deep : Thy soul's importance : tremble at thyself;
Re-thunder'd Hell, and darted all her fires. For whom Omnipotence has wak'd so long :
And seems the stake of little moment still? Has wak'd, and work'd, for ages; from the birth And slumbers man, who singly caus'd the storm? Of Nature to this unbelieving hour.
And art thou shock'd at mysteries? In this small province of his vast domain, The greatest, thou. How dreadful to reflect, (All Nature bow, while I pronounce his name!) What ardour, care, and counsel mortals cause What has God done, and not for this sole end, In breasts divine ! how little in their own! To rescue souls from death? The soul's high price Where'er I turn, how new proofs pour upon me Is writ in all the conduct of the skies.
How happily this wondrous view supports The soul's high price is the Creation's key,
My former argument! How strongly strikt: Unlocks its mysteries, and naked lays
Immortai life's full demonstration, here!
Two warring works!