The Complaint: or Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, & Immortality/Night IX
NIGHT IX. AND LAST. THE CONSOLATION.
CONTAINING, AMONG OTIIEU THINGS, I. A MORAL SURVEY OF THE NOCTURNAL HEAVENS. II. A NIGHT
ADDRESS TO THE DEITY.
HUMBLY INSCRIBED TO HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE, ONE OF HIS MAJESTY'S PRINCIPAL SECRETARIES
Fatis contraria fata rependens. VIRG.
As when a traveller, a long day past In painful search of what he cannot find, At night's approach, content with the next cot, There ruminates, a while, his labour lost ; Then cheers his heart with what his fate affords, And chants his sonnet to deceive the time, Till the due season calls him to repose : Thus I, long-travell'd in the ways of men, And dancing, with the rest, the giddy maze, Where disappointment smiles at hope's career ; Warn'd by the languor of life's evening ray, At length have hous'd me in an humble shed Where, future wand'ring banish'd from my thought, And waiting, patient, the sweet hour of rest, I chase the moments with a serious song. Song soothes our pains ; and age has pains to soothe.
When age, care, crime, and friends embraced at heart, [shade,
Torn from my bleeding breast, and death's dark Which hovers o'er me, quench th' ethereal fire ; Canst thou, O night ! indulge one labour more ? One labour more indulge ! then sleep, my strain !
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226 THE CONSOLATION.
Till, haply, wak'd by Raphael's golden lyre, Where night, death, age, care, crime,' and sorrow, To bear a part in everlasting lays ; [cease ;
Though far, far higher set, in aim, I trust, Symphonious to this humble prelude here.
Has not the muse asserted pleasures pure, Like those above ; exploding other joys ? Weigh what was urg'd, Lorenzo ! fairly weigh; And tell me, hast thou cause to triumph still ? I think, thou wilt forbear a boast so bold. But if, beneath the favour of mistake, Thy smile's sincere ; not more sincere can be Lorenzo's smile, than my compassion for him. The sick in body call for aid ; the sick In mind are covetous of more disease ; [well.
And when at worst, they dream themselves quite To know ourselves diseas'd, is half our cure. When nature's blush by custom is wip'd off, And conscience, deaden'd by repeated strokes, Has into manners naturaliz'd our crimes ; The curse of curses is, our curse to love ; To triumph in the blackness of our guilt (As Indians glory in the deepest jet), And throw aside our senses with our peace.
But grant no guilt, no shame, no least alloy ; Grant joy and glory quite unsullied shone ; Yet, still, it ill deserves Lorenzo's heart. No joy, no glory, glitters in thy sight, But, through the thin partition of an hour, I see its sables wove by destiny ; And that in sorrow buried ; this, in shame ; While howling furies ring the doleful knell ; And conscience, now so soft thou scarce canst hear Her whisper, echoes her eternal peal.
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Where the prime actors of the last year's scene; Their port so proud, their buskin, and their plume ? How many sleep, who kept the world awake With lustre, and with noise ! has death proclaim'd A truce, and hung his sated lance on high ? Tis brandish'd still ; nor shall the present year Be more tenacious of her human leaf, Or spread of feeble life a thinner fall.
But needless monuments to wake the thought ; Life's gayest scenes speak man's mortality ; Though in a style more florid, full as plain, As mausoleums, pyramids, and tombs. What are our noblest ornaments, but deaths Turn'd flatterers of life, in paint, or marble, The well stain'd canvass, or the featur'd stone ? Our fathers grace, or rather haunt, the scene. Joy peoples her pavilion from the dead.
" Profest diversions ! cannot these escape ?" Far from it : these present us with a shroud ; And talk of death, like garlands o'er a grave. As some bold plunderers, for buried wealth, We ransack tombs for pastime ; from the dust Call up the sleeping hero ; bid him tread The scene for our amusement : how like gods We sit ; and, wrapt in immortality, Shed gen'rous tears on wretches born to die ; Their fate deploring, to forget our own !
What all the pomps and triumphs of our lives, But legacies in blossom ? Our lean soil, Luxuriant grown, and rank in vanities, From friends interr'd beneath ; a rich manure ! Like other worms, we banquet on the dead ; Like other worms, shall we crawl on, nor know Our present frailties, or approaching fate ?
228 THE CONSOLATION.
Lorenzo ! such the glories of the world ! What is the world itself? Thy world a grave. Where is the dust that has not been alive ? The spade, the plough, disturb our ancestors ; From
human mould we reap our daily bread.
The globe around earth's hollow surface shakes, And is the ceiling of her sleeping sons. O'er devastation we blind revels keep ; Whole buried towns support the dancer's heel. The moist of human frame the sun exhales ; Winds scatter through the mighty void the dry ; Earth repossesses part of what she gave, And the freed spirit mounts on wings of fire ; Each element partakes our scatter'd spoils ; As nature, wide, our ruins spread : man's death Inhabits all things, but the thought of man.
Nor man alone ; his breathing bust expires, His tomb is mortal ; empires die : where, now, The Roman ? Greek ? They stalk, an empty name ! Yet few regard them in this useful light ; Though half our learning is their epitaph. When down thy vale, unlockt by midnight thought, That loves to wander in thy sunless realms, O death ! I stretch my view : what visions rise ! What triumphs ! toils imperial ! arts divine ! In wither'd laurels glide before my sight ! What lengths of far-fam'd ages, billow'd high With human agitation, roll along In unsubstantial images of air ! The melancholy ghosts of dead renown, Whisp'ring faint echoes of the world's applause, With penitential aspect, as they pass, All point at earth, and hiss at human pride, The wisdom of the wise, and prancings of the great.
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But, O Lorenzo ! far the rest above, Of ghastly nature, and enormous size, One form assaults my sight, and chills my blood, And shakes my frame. Of one departed world I see the mighty shadow : oozy wreath And dismal sea-weed crown her ; o'er her urn Reclin'd, she weeps her desolated realms, And bloated sons ; and, weeping, prophesies Another's dissolution, soon, in flames. But, like Cassandra, prophesies in vain ; In vain, to many; not, I trust, to thee.
For, know'st thou not, or art thou loth to know The great decree, the counsel of the skies ? Deluge and conflagration, dreadful powers ! Prime ministers of vengeance ! chain'd in caves Distinct, apart the giant furies roar ; Apart ; or, such their horrid rage for ruin, Tn mutual conflict would they rise, and wage Eternal war, till one was quite devour'd. But not for this, ordain'd their boundless rage ; When heaven's inferior instruments of wrath, War, famine, pestilence, are found too weak To scourge a world for her enormous crimes, These are let loose, alternate: down they rush, Swift and tempestuous, from th' eternal throne, With irresistible commission arm'd, The world, in vain corrected, to destroy, And ease creation of the shocking scene.
Seest thou, Lorenzo ! what depends on man ? The fate of nature ; as for man, her birth. Earth's actors change earth's transitory scenes And make creation groan with human guilt. How must it groan, in a new deluge whelm'd, But not of waters ! At the destin'd hour,
230 THE CONSOLATION.
By the loud trumpet summon'd to the charge, See, all the formidable sons of fire, Eruptions, earthquakes, comets, lightnings, play Their various engines ; all at once disgorge Their blazing magazines ; and take, by storm, This poor terrestrial citadel of man.
Amazing period ! when each mountain-height Out-burns Vesuvius ; rocks eternal pour Their melted mass, as rivers once they pour'd ; Stars rush ; and final ruin fiercely drives Her ploughshare o'er creation ! while aloft, More than astonishment ! if more can be ! Far other firmament than e'er was seen, Than e'er was thought by man ! far other stars ! Stars animate, that govern these of fire ; Far other sun ! A sun, O how unlike The Babe at Bethlem ! how unlike the man, That groan'd on Calvary ! Yet he it is ; That man of sorrows ! O how chang'd ! what pomp ! In grandeur terrible, all heaven descends ! And gods, ambitious, triumph in his train. A swift archangel, with his golden wing, As blots and clouds, that darken and disgrace The scene divine, sweeps stars and suns aside. And now, all dross remov'd, heaven's own pure day, Full on the confines of our ether, flames. While (dreadful contrast !) far, how far beneath ! Hell, bursting, belches forth her blazing seas, And storms sulphureous ; her voracious jaws Expanding wide, and roaring for her prey.
Lorenzo ! welcome to this scene ; the last In nature's course ; the first in wisdom's thought. This strikes, if aught can strike thee; this awakes The most supine ; this snatches man from death.
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Rouse, rouse, Lorenzo, then, and follow me, Where truth, the most momentous man can hear, Loud calls my soul, and ardour wings her flight. I find my inspiration in my theme ; The grandeur of my subject is my muse.
At midnight, when mankind is wrapt in peace, And worldly fancy feeds on golden dreams ; To give more dread to man's most dreadful hour, At midnight, 'tis presum'd, this pomp will burst From tenfold darkness ; sudden as the spark From smitten steel ; from nitrous grain, the blaze. Man, starting from his couch, shall sleep no more ! The day is broke, which never more shall close ! Above, around, beneath, amazement all ! Terror and glory join'd in their extremes ! Our God in grandeur, and our world on fire ! All nature struggling in the pangs of death ! Dost thou not hear her ? Dost thou not deplore Her strong convulsions, and her final groan ? Where are we now? Ah me! the ground is gone, On which we stood ; Lorenzo ! while thou may'st, Provide more firm support, or sink for ever ! Where ? how ? from whence ? vain hope ! it is too late ! ^ J Where, where, for shelter, shall the guilty fly, When consternation turns the good man pale ?
Great day ! for which all other days were made ; For which earth rose from chaos, man from earth ; And an eternity, the date of gods, Descended on poor earth-created man ! Great day of dread, decision, and despair ! At thought of thee each sublunary wish Lets go its eager grasp, and drops the world ; And catches at each reed of hope in heaven. At thought of thee ! and art thou absent then ?
232 THE CONSOLATION* ,
Lorenzo ! no ; 'tis here ; it is begun ;
Already is begun the grand assize,
In thee, in all : deputed conscience scales
The dread tribunal, and forestalls our doom ;
Forestalls ; and, by forestalling, proves it sure.
Why on himself should man void judgment pass ?
Is idle nature laughing at her sons ?
Who conscience sent, her sentence will support,
And God above assert that God in man.
Thrice happy they ! that enter now the court Heaven opens in their bosoms : but, how rare, Ah me ! that magnanimity, how rare ! What hero, like the man who stands himself ; Who dares to meet his naked heart alone ; Who hears, intrepid, the full charge it brings, Resolv'd to silence future murmurs there ? The coward flies ; and, flying, is undone. (Art thou a coward? No:) The coward flies; Thinks, but thinks slightly ; asks, but fears to know ; Asks, " What is truth;" with Pilate ; and retires; Dissolves the court, and mingles with the throng ; Asylum sad ! from reason, hope, and heaven !
Shall all, but man, look out with ardent eye, For that great day, which was ordain'd for man ? O day of consummation ! mark supreme (If men are wise) of human thought ! nor least, Or in the sight of angels, or their king ! Angels, whose radiant circles, height o'er height, Order o'er order, rising, blaze o'er blaze, As in a theatre, surround this scene, Intent on man, and anxious for his fate. Angels look out for thee ; for thee, their Lord, To vindicate his glory ; and for thee, Creation universal calls aloud,
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To disinvolve the moral world, and give To nature's renovation brighter charms.
Shall man alone, whose fate, whose final fate, Hangs on that hour, exclude it from his thought ? I think of nothing else ; I see ! I feel it ! All nature, like an earthquake, trembling round ! All deities, like summer's swarms, on wing ! All basking in the full meridian blaze ! I see the judge inthron'd ! the flaming guard ! The volume open'd ! open'd ev'ry heart ! A sunbeam pointing out each secret thought ! No patron ! intercessor none ! now past The sweet, the clement, mediatorial hour ! For guilt no plea ! to pain, no pause ! no bound ! Inexorable, all ! and all, extreme !
Nor man alone ; the foe of God and man, From his dark den, blaspheming, drags his chain, And rears his brazen front, with thunder scarr'd : Receives his sentence, and begins his hell. All vengeance past, now, seems abundant grace : Like meteors in a stormy sky, how roll His baleful eyes ! he curses whom he dreads ; And deems it the first moment of his fall. Tis present to my thought ! and yet where is it ? Angels can't tell me ; angels cannot guess The period ; from created beings lock'd In darkness. But the process, and the place, Are less obscure ; for these may man enquire. Say, thou great close of human hopes and fears ! Great key of hearts ! great finisher of fates ! Great end ! and great beginning ! say, where art thou? Art thou in time, or in eternity ? Nor in eternity, nor time, I find thee. These, as two monarchs, on their borders meet,
234 THE CONSOLATIOX.
(Monarchs of all elaps'd, or unarriv'd !) As in debate, how best their pow'rs allied, May swell the grandeur, or discharge the wrath, Of him, whom both their monarchies obey.
Time, this fast fabric for him built (and doom'cl With him to fall) now bursting o'er his head ; His lamp, the sun, extinguish'd ; from beneath The frown of hideous darkness, calls his sons From their long slumber ; from earth's heaving
To second birth ! contemporary throng ! Rous'd at one call, upstarted from one bed, Prest in one crowd, appall'd with one amaze, He turns them o'er, eternity ! to thee. Then (as a king depos'd
disdains to live)
He falls on his own scythe ; nor falls alone His greatest foe falls with him ; time, and he Who murder'd all time's offspring, death, expire.
Time was ! eternity now reigns alone Awful eternity ! offended queen ! And her resentment to mankind, how just ! With kind intent, soliciting access, How often has she knock'd at human hearts ! Rich to repay their hospitality, How often call'd ! and with the voice of God ! Yet bore repulse, excluded as a cheat ! A dream ! while foulest foes found welcome there ! A dream, a cheat, now, all things, but her smile.
For, lo ! her twice ten thousand gates thrown As thrice from Indus to the frozen pole, [wide, With banners streaming as the comet's blaze, And clarions, louder than the deep in storms, Sonorous as immortal breath can blow, Pour forth their mvriads, notentates, and powers,
NIGHT IX. 235
Of light, of darkness ; in a middle field, Wide, as creation ! populous, as wide ! A neutral region ! there to mark th' event Of that great drama, whose preceding scenes Detain'd them close spectators, through a length Of ages, ripening to this grand result ; Ages, as yet unnumber'd, but by God ; Who now, pronouncing sentence, vindicates The rights of virtue, and his own renown.
Eternity, the various sentence past, Assigns the sever'd throng distinct abodes, Sulphureous, or ambrosial : what ensues ? The deed predominant ! the deed of deeds ! Which makes a hell of hell, a heaven of heaven. The goddess, with determin'd aspect, turns Her adamantine key's enormous size Through destiny's inextricable wards, Deep driving every bolt, on both their fates. Then, from the crystal battlements of heaven, Down, down, she hurls it thro' the dark profound, Ten thousand thousand fathom ; there to rust, And ne'er unlock her resolution more. The deep resounds, and hell, through all her glooms, Returns, in groans, the melancholy roar.
O how unlike the chorus of the skies ! O how unlike those shouts of joy, that shake The whole ethereal ! how the concave rings ! Nor strange ! when deities their voice exalt; And louder far, than when creation rose, To see creation's godlike aim, and end, So well accomplish'd ! so divinely clos'd ! To see the mighty dramatist's last act (As meet) in glory rising o'er the rest. No fancied god, a God indeed descends,
236 THE CONSOLATION.
To solve all knots ; to strike the moral homo ; To throw full day on darkest scenes of time ; To clear, commend, exalt, and crown the whole. Hence, in one peal of loud, eternal praise, The charm'd spectators thunder their applause ; And the vast void beyond, applause resounds.
What then am I ?
Amidst applauding- worlds, And worlds celestial, is there found on earth, A peevish, dissonant, rebellious string, Which jars in the grand chorus, and complains? Censure on thee, Lorenzo ! I suspend, And turn it on myself ; how greatly due ! All, all is right ; by God ordain'd or done ; And who, but God, resum'd the friends He gave ? And have I been complaining, then, so long ? Complaining of his favours ; pain, and death ? Who, without pain's advice, would e'er be good ? Who, without death, but would be good in vain ? Pain is to save from pain ; all punishment, To make for peace ; and death to save from death ; And second death, to guard immortal life ; To rouse the careless, the presumptuous awe, And turn the tide of souls another way ; By the same tenderness divine ordain'd, That planted Eden, and high-bloom'd for man, A fairer Eden, endless, in the skies.
Heaven gives us friends to bless the present
Resumes them, to prepare us for the next. All evils natural are moral goods ; All discipline, indulgence, on the whole. None are unhappy : all have cause to smile, But such as to themselves that cause denv.
NIGHT IX. 237
Our faults are at the bottom of our pains ;
Error, in acts, or judgment, is the source
Of endless sighs : we sin, or we mistake ;
And nature tax, when false opinion stings.
Let impious grief be banish'd, joy indulg'd ;
But chiefly then, when grief puts in her claim
Joy from the joyous, frequently betrays,
Oft lives in vanity, and dies in woe.
Joy, amidst ills, corroborates, exalts ;
Tis joy and conquest ; joy, and virtue too.
A noble fortitude in ills, delights
Heaven, earth, ourselves ; 'tis duty, glory, peace.
Affliction is the good man's shining scene ;
Prosperity conceals his brightest ray ;
As night to stars, woe lustre gives to man.
Heroes in battle, pilots in the storm,
And virtue in calamities, admire.
The crown of manhood is a winter joy ;
An evergreen, that stands the northern blast,
And blossoms in the rigour of our fate.
'Tis a prime part of happiness, to know How much unhappiness must prove our lot ; A part which few possess ! I'll pay life's tax, Without one rebel murmur, from this hour, Nor think it misery to be a man ; Who .thinks it is, shall never be a God. Some ills we wish for, when we wish to live.
What spoke proud passion? " 1 Wish my being
Presumptuous ! blasphemous ! absurd ! and false ! The triumph of my soul is, that I am ; And therefore that I may be what ? Lorenzo !
1 Referring to the first night.
238 THE CONSOLATION.
Look inward, and look deep ; and deeper still ;
Unfathomably deep our treasure runs
In golden veins, through all eternity !
Ages, and ages, and succeeding still
New ages, where the phantom of an hour,
Which courts each night, dull slumber, for repair,
Shall wake, and wonder, and exult, and praise,
And fly through infinite, and all unlock ;
And (if deserv'd) by heaven's redundant love,
Made half-adorable itself, adore ;
And find, in adoration, endless joy !
Where thou, not master of a moment here,
Frail as the flower, and fleeting as the gale,
May'st boast a whole eternity, enrich'd
W T ith all a kind Omnipotence can pour.
Since Adam fell, no mortal, uninspir'd,
Has ever yet conceiv'd, or ever shall,
How kind is God, how great (if good) is man.
No man too largely from heaven's love can hope,
If what is hop'd he labours to secure.
Ills ? there are none : All-gracious ! none from
From man full many ! numerous is the race Of blackest ills, and those immortal too Begot by madness on fair liberty ; Heaven's daughter, hell debauch'd ! her hand alone Unlocks destruction to the sons of men, Fast barr'd by thine : high-wall'd with adamant, Guarded with terrors reaching to this world, And cover'd with the thunders of thy law ; Whose threats are mercies, whose injunctions
Assisting, not restraining, reason's choice ; W T hose sanctions, unavoidable results
NIGHT IX. 239
From nature's course, indulgently reveul'd ;
If unreveal'd, more dang'rous, nor less sure.
Thus, an indulgent father warns his sons,
" Do this; fly that" nor always tells the cause;
Pleas'd to reward, as duty to his will,
A conduct needful to their own repose.
Great God of wonders ! (if, thy love surveyed, Aught else the name of wonderful retains) What rocks are these, on which to build our trust! Thy ways admit no blemish ; none I find ; Or this alone " That none is to be found." Not one, to soften censure's hardy crime ; Not one, to palliate peevish grief's complaint, Who like a demon, murm'ring from the dust, Dares into judgment call her judge. Supreme! For all I bless thee ; most, for the severe ; 1 Her death my own at hand the fiery gulf, That flaming bound of wrath omnipotent ! It thunders ; but it thunders to preserve ; It strengthens what it strikes ; its wholesome dread Averts the dreaded pain ; its hideous groans Join heaven's sweet hallelujahs in thy praise, Great source of good alone ! how kind in all ! In vengeance kind ! pain, death, gehenna, save.
Thus, in thy world material, mighty mind ! Not that alone which solaces, and shines, The rough and gloomy, challenges our praise. The winter is as needful as the spring ; ^<,
The thunder, as the sun ; a stagnate mass Of vapours breeds a pestilential air : Nor more propitious the Favonian breeze To nature's health, than purifying storms ;
240 THE CONSOLATION.
The dread volcano ministers to good. Its smother'd flames might undermine the world. Loud .ZEtnas fulminate in love to man ; Comets good omens are, when duly scann'd ; And, in their use, eclipses learn to shine.
Man is responsible for ills receiv'd ; Those we call wretched are a chosen band, Compell'd to refuge in the right, for peace. Amid my list of blessings infinite, Stand this the foremost, u That my heart has bled." 'Tis heaven's last effort of good-will to man ; When pain can't bless, heaven quits us in despair. Who fails to grieve, when just occasion calls, Or grieves too much, deserves not to be blest ; Inhuman, or effeminate, his heart ; Reason absolves the grief, which reason ends. May heaven ne'er trust my friend with happiness, Till it has taught him how to bear it well, By previous pain ; and made it safe to smile ! Such smiles are mine, and such may they remain; Nor hazard their extinction, from excess. My change of heart a change of style demands ; The consolation cancels the complaint, And makes a convert of my guilty song.
As when o'er-labour'd, and inclin'd to breathe, A panting traveller, some rising ground, Some small ascent, has gain'd, he turns him round, And measures with his eye the various vales, The fields, woods, meads, and rivers, he has past; And, satiate of his journey, thinks of home, Endear'd by distance, nor affects more toil ; Thus I, though small, indeed, is that ascent The muse has gain'd, review the paths she trod ; Various, extensive, beaten but by few ;
And, conscious of her prudence in repose,
Pause ; and with pleasure meditate an end, Though stil] remote ; so fruitful is my theme. Through many a field of moral, and divine, The muse has stray 'd ; and much of sorrow seen In human ways ; and much of false and vain ; Which none, who travel this bad road, can miss. O'er friends deceas'd full heartily she wept ; Of love divine the wonders she display'd ; Prov'd man immortal; show'd the source of joy ; The grand tribunal rais'd ; assign'd the bounds Of human grief: in few, to close the whole, The moral muse has shadow'd out a sketch, Though not in form, nor with a Raphael-stroke, Of most our weakness needs believe, or do, In this our land of travel, and of hope, For peace on earth, or prospect of the skies. What then remains ? much ! much ! a mighty debt [thine ;
To be discharg'd : these thoughts, O night ! are From thee they came, like lovers' secret sighs, While others slept. So, Cynthia (poets feign) In shadows veil'd, soft sliding from her sphere, Her shepherd cheer'd ; of her enamour'd less, Than I of thee. And art thou still unsung, Beneath whose brow, and by whose aid, I sing ? Immoral silence ! where shall I begin? Where end ? or how steal music from the spheres, To soothe their goddess ?
O majestic Night !
Nature's great ancestor ! day's elder-born ! And fated to survive the transient sun ! By mortals, and immortals, seen with awe ! A starry crown thy raven brow adorns, VOL. i. u
242 THE CONSOLATION.
An azure zone thy waist ; clouds, in heaven's loom
Wrought through varieties of shape and shade,
In ample folds of drapery divine,
Thy flowing mantle form ; and, heaven throughout,
Voluminously pour thy pompous train.
Thy gloomy grandeurs (nature's most august,
Inspiring aspect !) claim a grateful verse ;
And, like a sable curtain starr'd with gold,
Drawn o'er my labours past, shall close the scene.
And what, O man ! so worthy to be sung ? What more prepares us for the songs of heaven ? Creation, of archangels is the theme ! What, to be sung, so needful ? What so well Celestial joys prepare us to sustain ? The soul of man, His face design'd to see, Who gave these wonders to be seen by man, Has here a previous scene of objects great, On which to dwell ; to stretch to that expanse Of thought, to rise to that exalted height Of admiration, to contract that awe, And give her whole capacities that strength, Which best may qualify for final joy. The more our spirits are enlarg'd on earth, The deeper draught shall they receive of heaven
Heaven's King ! whose face unveil'd consum- mates bliss ;
Redundant bliss ! which fills that mighty void, The whole creation leaves in human hearts ! Thou, who didst touch the lip of Jesse's son, Rapt in sweet contemplation of these fires, And set his harp in concert with the spheres ; While of thy works material the supreme I dare attempt, assist my daring song. Loose me from earth's inclosure, from the sun's
NIGHT IX. 243
Contracted circle set my heart at large ;
Eliminate my spirit, give it range
Through provinces of thought yet unexplored ;
Teach me, by this stupendous scaffolding,
Creation's golden steps, to climb to thee.
Teach me with art great nature to control,
And spread a lustre o'er the shades of night.
Feel I thy kind assent ? and shall the sun
Be seen at midnight, rising in my song ? [heart,
Lorenzo ! come, and warm thee : thou, whose Whose little heart, is moor'd within a nook Of this obscure terrestrial, anchor weigh. Another ocean calls, a nobler port ; I am thy pilot, I thy prosp'rous gale. Gainful thy voyage through yon azure main ; Main, without tempest, pirate, rock, or shore ; And whence thou mayst import eternal wealth ; And leave to beggar'd minds the pearl and gold. Thy travels dost thou boast o'er foreign realms ? Thou stranger to the world ! thy tour begin ; Thy tour through nature's universal orb. Nature delineates her whole chart at large ; On soaring souls, that sail among the spheres ; And man how purblind, if unknown the whole ! Who circles spacious earth, then travels here, Shall own, he never was from home before ! Come, my l Prometheus, from thy pointed rock Of false ambition if unchain'd, we'll mount ; We'll, innocently, steal celestial fire, And kindle our devotion at the stars ; A theft, that shall not cha'in, but set thee free.
Above our atmosphere's intestine wars,
1 Night viii.
244 THE CONSOLATION.
Rain's fountain-head, the magazine of hail ; Above the northern nests of feather'd snows, The brew of thunders, and the flaming 1 forge That forms the crooked lightning ; 'bove the caves Where infant tempests wait their growing wings, And tune their tender voices to that roar, Which soon, perhaps, shall shake a guilty world ; Above misconstru'd omens of the sky, Far-travell'd comets' calculated blaze ; Elance thy thought, and think of more than man. Thy soul, till now, contracted, wither'd, shrunk, Blighted by blasts of earth's unwholesome air, Will blossom here ; spread all her faculties To these bright ardours ; every power unfold, And rise into sublimities of thought. Stars teach, as well as shine. At nature's birth, Thus their commission ran " Be kind to man." Where art thou, poor benighted traveller ! [fail. The stars will light thee ; though the moon should Where art thou, more benighted ! more astray ! In ways immoral ? The stars call thee back ; And, if obey'd their counsel, set thee right.
This prospect vast, what is it ? Weigh'd aright, 'Tis nature's system of divinity, And every student of the night inspires. 'Tis elder scripture, writ by God's own hand : Scripture authentic ! uncorrupt by man. Lorenzo ! with my radius (the rich gift Of thought nocturnal !) I'll point out to thee Its various lessons ; some that may surprise An unadept in mysteries of night ; Little, perhaps, expected in her school, Nor thought to grow on planet, or on star. Bulls, lions, scorpions, monsters here we feign ;
NIGHT IX. 245
Ourselves more monstrous, not to see what here Exists indeed ; a lecture to mankind.
What read we here ? Th' existence of a God ? Yes ; and of other beings, man above ; Natives of ether ! Sons of higher climes ! And, what may move Lorenzo's wonder more, Eternity is written in the skies. And whose eternity? Lorenzo ! thine ; Mankind's eternity. Nor faith alone, Virtue grows here ; here springs the sov'reign cure Of almost every vice ; but chiefly thine ; Wrath, pride, ambition, and impure desire.
Lorenzo ! thou canst wake at midnight too, Though not on morals bent : ambition, pleasure ! Those tyrants I for thee so 1 lately fought, Afford their harass'd slaves but slender rest. Thou, to whom midnight is immoral noon, And the sun's noontide blaze, prime dawn of day ; Not by thy climate, but capricious crime, Commencing one of our Antipodes ! In thy nocturnal rove, one moment halt, 'Twixt stage and stage, of riot, and cabal ; And lift thine eye, (if bold an eye to lift, If bold to meet the face of injur'd heaven) To yonder stars : for other ends they shine, Than to light revellers from shame to shame, And, thus, be made accomplices in guilt.
Why from yon arch, that infinite of space, With infinite of lucid orbs replete, Which set the living firmament on fire, At the first glance, in such an overwhelm Of wonderful, on man's astonish'd sight,
1 .Night viii.
246 THE CONSOLATION.
Rushes Omnipotence ? To curb our pride ; Our reason rouse, and lead it to that power, AVhose love lets down these silver chains of light ; To draw up man's ambition to himself, And bind our chaste affections to his throne. Thus the three virtues, least alive on earth, Andwelcom'don heaven's coast with most applause, An humble, pure, and Heavenly-minded heart, Are here inspir'd : and canst thou gaze too long- ?
Nor stands thy wrath depriv'd of its reproof, Or unupbraided by this radiant choir. The planets of each system represent Kind neighbours ; mutual amity prevails ; Sweet interchange of rays, receiv'd, return'd ; Enlight'ning, and enlighten'd ! All, at once, Attracting, and attracted ! Patriot like, None sins against the welfare of the whole ; But their reciprocal, unselfish aid, Affords an emblem of millennial love. Nothing in nature, much less conscious being, Was e'er created solely for itself: Thus man his sov'reign duty learns in this Material picture of benevolence.
And know, of all our supercilious race, Thou most inflammable ! thou wasp of men ! Man's angry heart, inspected, would be found As rightly set, as are the starry spheres ; 'Tis Nature's structure, broke by stubborn will, Breeds all that uncelestial discord there. Wilt thou not feel the bias nature gave ? Canst thou descend from converse with the skies, And seize thy brother's throat? For what a clod, An inch of earth ? the planets cry, " Forbear," They chase our double darkness ; Nature's gloom,
NIGHT IX. 247
And (kinder still !) our intellectual night.
And see, day's amiable sister sends Her invitation, in the softest rays Of mitigated lustre ; courts thy sight, Which suffers from her tyrant brother's blaze. Night grants thee the full freedom of the skies, Nor rudely reprimands thy lifted eye ; With gain, and joy, she bribes thee to be wise. Night opes the noblest scenes, and sheds an awe, Which gives those venerable scenes full weight, And deep reception, in th' intender'd heart ; While light peeps through the darkness, like a spy; And darkness shows its grandeur by the light. Nor is the profit greater than the joy, If human hearts at glorious objects glow, And admiration can inspire delight.
What speak I more, than I, this moment, feel ? With pleasing stupor first the soul is struck : (Stupor ordain'd
to make her truly wise !)
Then into transport starting from her trance, With love, and admiration, how she glows ! This gorgeous apparatus ! this display ! This ostentation of creative power ! This theatre ! what eye can take it in ? By what divine enchantment was it rais'd, For minds of the first magnitude to launch In endless speculation, and adore ? One sun by day, by night ten thousand shine ; And light us deep into the Deity ; How boundless in magnificence and might ! O what a confluence of ethereal fires, Form urns unnumber'd, down the steep of heaven, Streams to a point, and centres in my sight ! Nor tarries there ; I feel it at my heart.
248 THE CONSOLATION
My heart, at once, it humbles, and exalts ;
Lays it in dust, and calls it to the skies.
Who sees it unexalted ? or unaw'd ?
Who sees it, and can stop at what is seen ?
Material offspring of Omnipotence !
Inanimate, all animating- birth !
Work worthy Him who made it ! worthy praise !
All praise ! praise more than human ! nor denied
Thypraise divine ! But tho'man,dro\vn'd in sleep,
Withholds his homage, not alone I wake ;
Bright legions swarm urnseen, and sing, unheard
By mortal ear, the glorious Architect,
In this his universal temple hung
With lustres, with innumerable lights,
That shed religion on the soul ; at once,
The temple, and the preacher ! O how loud
It calls devotion ! genuine growth of night !
Devotion ! daughter of astronomy ! An undevout astronomer is mad. True ; all things speak a God ; but in the small, Men trace out him ; in great, he seizes man ; Seizes, and elevates, and wraps, and fills With new inquiries, mid associates new. Tell me, ye stars ! ye planets ! tell me, all Ye starr'd and planeted inhabitants ! what is it ? What are these sons of wonder? say, proud arch, (Within those azure palaces they dwell) Built with divine ambition ! in disdain Of limit built ! built in the taste of heaven ! Vast concave ! ample dome ! wast thou design'd A meet apartment for the Deity ? Not so ; that thought alone thy state impairs, Thy lofty sinks, and shallows thy profound, And straitens thy diffusive ; dwarfs the whole,
NIGHT IX. 249
And makes a universe an orrery.
But when I drop mine eye, and look on man. Thy right regain'd, thy grandeur is restor'd, O nature ! wide flies off th' expanding* round. As when whole magazines, at once, are fir'd, The smitten air is hollow'd by the blow ; The vast displosion dissipates the clouds ; Shock'd ether's billows dash the distant skies ; Thus (but far more) th' expanding round flies off, And leaves a mighty void, a spacious womb, Might teem with new creation ; reinflam'd Thy luminaries triumph, and assume Divinity themselves. Nor was it strange, Matter high-wrought to such surprising pomp, Such godlike glory, stole the style of gods, From ages dark, obtuse, and steep'd in sense; For, sure, to sense, they truly are divine, And half absolv'd idolatry from g'uilt ; Nay, turn'd it into virtue. Such it was In those, who put forth all they had of man Unlost, to lift their thought, nor mounted higher ; But, weak of wing, on planets perch'd ; and thought What was their highest, must be their ador'd.
But they how weak, who could no higher mount ? And are there, then, Lorenzo ! those, to whom, Unseen, and unexistent, are the same ? And if incomprehensible is join'd, Who dare pronounce it madness, to believe ? Why has the mighty Builder thrown aside All measure in his work ; stretch'd out his line So far, and spread amazement o'er the whole I Then (as he took delight in wide extremes), Deep in the bosom of his universe, Dropt down that reasoning mite, that insect, man,
253 THE CONSOLATION.
To crawl, and gaze, and wonder at the scene ?
That man might ne'er presume to plead amazement
For disbelief of wonders in himself.
Shall God be less miraculous, than what
His hand has form'd ? Shall mysteries descend
From unmysterious ? Things more elevate,
Be more familiar ? uncreated lie
More obvious than created, to the grasp
Of human thought ? The more of wonderful
Is heard in him, the more we should assent.
Could we conceive him, God he could not be ;
Or he not God, or we could not be men.
A God alone can comprehend a God ;
Man's distance how immense ! On such a theme,
Know this, Lorenzo ! (seem it ne'er so strange)
'otKing can satisfy, but what confounds ; Nothing, but what astonishes, is true.
scene thou seesfr, attests the truth I sing, And every star sheds light upon thy creed. These stars, this furniture, this cost of heaven, f but reported, thou hadst ne'er believ'd ; But thine eye tells thee, the romance is true. The grand of nature is th' Almighty's oath, In reason's court, to silence unbelief.
How my mind, opening at this scene, imbibes The moral emanations of the skies, While nought, perhaps, Lorenzo less admires ! Has the Great Sov'reign sent ten thousand worlds To tell us, he resides above them all, In glory's unapproachable recess ? And dare earth's bold inhabitants deny The sumptuous, the magnific embassy A moment's audience ? Turn we, nor will hear From whom they come, or what they would impart
NIGHT IX. 251
For man's emolument ; sole cause that stoops Their grandeur to man's eye ? Lorenzo ! rouse ; Let thought, awaken'd, take the lightning's wing, And glance from east to west, from pole to pole. Who sees, but is confounded, or convinc'd ? Renounces reason, or a God adores ? Mankind was sent into the world to see : Sight gives the 'science needful to their peace ; That obvious science asks small learning's aid. Wouldst thou on metaphysic pinions soar ? Or wound thy patience amid logic thorns ? Or travel history's enormous round ? Nature no such hard task enjoins : she gave A make to man directive of his thought ; A make set upright, pointing to the stars, As who shall say, " Read thy chief lesson there." Too late to read this manuscript of heaven, When, like a parchment-scroll, shrunk up by flames, It folds Lorenzo's lesson from his sight.
Lesson how various ! Not the God alone, I see his ministers ; I see, diffus'd In radiant orders, essences sublime, Of various offices, of various plume, In heavenly liveries, distinctly clad, Azure, green, purple, pearl, or downy gold, Or all commix'd ; they stand, with wings outspread, List'ning to catch the master's least command, And fly through nature, ere the moment ends ; Numbers innumerable ! Well conceiv'd By pagan, and by Christian ! O'er each sphere Presides an angel, to direct its course, And feed, or fan, its flames ; or to discharge Other high trusts unknown. For who can see Such pomp of matter and imagine, mind,
252 THE CONSOLATION.
For which alone inanimate was made, More sparingly dispens'd ? That nobler son, Far liker the great sire ! 'tis thus the skies Inform us of superiors numberless, As much, in excellence, above mankind, As above earth, hi magnitude, the spheres. These, as a cloud of witnesses, hang* o'er us ; In a throng'd theatre are all our deeds; Perhaps, a thousand demigods descend On ev'ry beam we see, to walk with men. Awful reflection ! Strong restraint from ill !
Yet, here, our virtue finds still stronger aid From these ethereal glories sense surveys. Something, like magic, strikes from this blue vault; With just attention is it view'd ? We feel A sudden succour, unimplor'd, unthought ; Nature herself does half the work of man. Seas, rivers, mountains, forests, desarts, rocks, The promontory's height, the depth profound Of subterranean, excavated grots, Black brow'd, and vaulted high, and yawning* wide From nature's structure, or the scoop of time ; If ample of dimension, vast of size, Ev'n these an aggrandizing impulse give ; Of solemn thought enthusiastic heights Ev'n these infuse. But what of vast in these ? Nothing ; or we must own the skies forgot. Much less in art. Vain art ! thou pigmy power ! How dost thou swell and strut, with human pride, To show thy littleness ! What childish toys, Thy watery columns squirted to the clouds ! Thy basin'd rivers, and iinprison'd seas ! Thy mountains moulded into forms of men . Thy hundred-gated capitals ! or those
NIGHT ix. 253
Where three days' travel left us much to ride ;
Gazing* on miracles by mortals wrought,
Arches triumphal, theatres immense,
Or nodding gardens pendent in mid-air !
Or temples proud to meet their gods half-way !
Yet these affect us in no common kind.
What then the force of such superior scenes ?
Enter a temple, it will strike an awe :
What awe from this the Deity has built ?
A good man seen, though silent, counsel gives :
The touch'd spectator wishes to be wise :
In a bright mirror his own hands have made,
Here we see something like the face of God.
Seems it not then enough, to say, Lorenzo !
To man abandon'd, " Hast thou seen the skies ?"
And yet, so thwarted nature's kind design By daring man, he makes her sacred awe (That guard from ill) his shelter, his temptation To more than common guilt, and quite inverts Celestial art's intent. The trembling stars See crimes gigantic, stalking through the gloom With front erect, that hide their head by day, And making* night still darker by their deeds. Slumb'ring in covert, till the shades descend, Rapine and murder, link'd, now prowl for prey. The miser earths his treasure ; and the thief, Watching the mole, half-beggars him ere morn. Now plots, and foul conspiracies, awake ; And, muffling up their horrors from the moon, Havock and devastation they prepare, And kingdoms tott'ring in the field of blood. Now sons of riot in mid-revel rage. What shall I do ? Suppress it ? or proclaim ? Why sleeps the thunder ? Now Lorenzo ! now,
'254 THE CONSOLATION.
His best friend's couch the rank adulterer Ascends secure ; and laughs at gods and men. Prepost'rous madmen, void of fear or shame, Lay their crimes bare to these chaste eyes of heaven ; Yet shrink, and shudder, at a mortal's sight. Were moon, and stars, for villains only made ? To guide, yet screen them, with tenebrious light ? No ; they were made to fashion 'the sublime Of human hearts, and wiser make the wise.
Those ends were answer'd once ; when mortals Of stronger wing, of acquiline ascent [liv'd
In theory sublime. O how unlike Those vermin of the night, this moment sung, Who crawl on earth, and on her venom feed ! Those ancient sages, human stars ! they met Their brothers of the skies, at midnight hour ; Their counsel ask'd ; and, what they ask'd, obey'd. The Stagirite, and Plato, he w r ho drank The poison'd bowl, and he of Tusculum, With him of Corduba (immortal names !) In these unbounded, and Elysian, walks, An area fit for gods, and godlike men, They took their nightly round, through radiant paths By seraphs trod ; instructed, chiefly, thus, To tread in their bright footsteps here below ; To walk in worth still brighter than the skies. There they contracted their contempt of earth ; Of hopes eternal kindled, there, the fire ; There, as in near approach, they glow'd, and grew (Great visitants !) more intimate with God, More worth to men, more joyous to themselves. Through various virtues, they, with ardour, ran The zodiac of their learn'd, illustrious lives.
In Christian hearts, O for a pagan zeal !
NIGHT IX. 255
A needful, but opprobrious prayer ! As much Our ardour less, as greater is our light. How monstrous this in morals ! Scarce more strange Would this phenomenon in nature strike, A sun, that froze her, or a star, that warni'd. What taught these heroes of the moral world ? To these thou giv'st thy praise, give credit too. These doctors ne'er were pension'd to deceive thee And pagan tutors are thy taste. They taught, That, narrow views betray to misery : That, wise it is to comprehend the whole : That, virtue, rose from nature, ponder'd well, The single base of virtue built to heaven : That God, and nature, our attention claim : That, nature is the glass reflecting God, As, by the sea, reflected is the sun, Too glorious to be gaz'd on in his sphere : That, mind immortal loves immortal aims : . That, boundless mind affects a boundless space : That rnst surveys7^na*The suBTfine of things, The soul assimilate, and make her great : That, therefore, heaven her glories, as a fund t
Of inspiration, thus spreads out to man.
Such are their doctrines ; such the night inspir'd And What more true ? What truth of greater weight ?
The soul of man was made to walk the skies ;
Delightful outlet of her prison here !
There, disencumber'd from her chains, the ties
Of toys terrestrial, she can rove at large,
There, freely can respire, dilate, extend,
In full proportion let loose all her powers ;
And, undeluded, grasp at something great.
Nor, as a stranger, does she wander there ;
256 THE CONSOLATION.
But, wonderful herself, through wonder strays ;
Contemplating* their grandeur, finds her own ;
Dives deep in their economy divine,
Sits high in judgment on their various laws,
And, like a master, judges not amiss.
Hence greatly pleas'd, and justly proud, the soul
Grows conscious of her birth celestial ; breathes
More life, more vigour, in her native air ;
And feels herself at home amongst the stars ;
And, feeling', emulates her country's praise.
What call we, then, the firmament, Lorenzo ? As earth the body, since, the skies sustain The soul with food, that gives immortal life, Call it, the noble pasture of the mind ; Which there expatiates, strengthens, and exults, And riots through the luxuries of thought. Call it, the garden of the Deity, Blossom'd with stars, redundant in the growth Of fruit ambrosial ; moral fruit to man. Call it, the breastplate of the true High priest, Ardent with gems oracular, that give, In points of highest moment, right response ; And ill neglected, if we prize our peace.
Thus, have we found a true astrology ; Thus, have we found a new, and noble sense, In which alone stars govern human fates. O that the stars (as some have feign'd) let fall Bloodshed, and havock, on embattled realms, And rescued monarchs from so black a guilt i Bourbon ! this wish how gen'rous in a foe ! Wouldst thou be great, wouldst thou become a God, And stick thy deathless name among the stars, For mighty conquests on a needle's point ? Instead of forging' chains for foreigners,
NIGHT ix. 257
Bastile thy tutor : grandeur all thy aim ? As yet thou know'st not what it is : how great, How glorious, then, appears the mind of man, When in it all the stars, and planets, roll ! And what it seems, it is : great objects make Great minds, enlarging as their views enlarge ; Those still more godlike, as these more divine.
And more divine than these, thou canst not see. Dazzled, o'erpower'd, with the delicious draught Of miscellaneous splendours, how I reel From thought to thought, inebriate, without end ! An Eden, this ! a paradise unlost ! I meet the Deity in ev'ry view, And tremble at my nakedness before him ! O that I could but reach the tree of life ! For here it grows, unguarded from our taste ; No flaming sword denies our entrance here ; Would man but gather, he might live for ever.
Lorenzo ! much of moral hast thou seen. Of curious arts art thou more fond ? Then mark The mathematic glories of the skies, In number, weight, and measure, all ordain'd. Lorenzo's boasted builders, chance, and fate, Are left to finish his aerial towers ; Wisdom and choice, their well-known characters Here deep impress ; and claim it for their own. Though splendid all, no splendour void of use ; Use rivals beauty ; art contends with power ; No wanton waste, amid effuse expense ; The great Economist adjusting all To prudent pomp, magnificently wise. How rich the prospect ! and for ever new ! And newest to the man that views it most ; For newer still in infinite succeeds.
VOL. i. s
258 THE CONSOLATION.
Then, these aerial racers, O how swift ! How the shaft loiters from the strongest string ! Spirit alone can distance the career. Orb above orb ascending without end ! Circle in circle, without end, inclos'd ! Wheel within wheel ; Ezekiel ! like to thine ! Like thine, it seems a vision or a dream ; Though seen, we labour to believe it true ! What involution ! what extent ! what swarms Of worlds, that laugh at earth ! immensely great ! Immensely distant from each other's spheres ! What, then, the wondrous space thro' which they At once it quite ingulfs all human thought ; [roll ? 'Tis comprehension's absolute defeat.
Nor think thou seest a wild disorder here ; Through this illustrious chaos to the sight, Arrangement neat, and chastest order, reign. The path prescrib'd, inviolably kept, Upbraids the lawless sallies of mankind. Worlds, ever thwarting, never interfere ; What knots are tied ! how soon are they dissolv'd, And set the seeming married planets free ! They rove for ever, without error rove ; Confusion unconfus'd ! nor less admire This tumult imtumultuous ; all on wing ! In motion, all ! yet what profound repose ! What fervid action, yet no noise ! as aw'd To silence, by the presence of their Lord ; Or hush'd by His command, in love to man, And bid let fall soft beams on human rest, Restless themselves. On yon caerulean plain p In exultation to their God, and thine, They dance, they sing eternal jubilee, Eternal celebration of His praise.
NIGHT IX. 259
But, since their song arrives not at our ear, Their dance perplex'd exhibits to the sight Fair hieroglyphic of his peerless power. Mark, how the Labyrinthian turns they take, The circles intricate, and mystic maze, Weave the grand cypher of omnipotence ; To gods, how great ! how legible to man !
Leaves so much wonder greater wonder still ? Where are the pillars that support the skies ? What more than Atlantean shoulder props Th' incumbent load ? What magic, what strange art, In fluid ajr these pond'rous orbs sustains ? Who would not think them hung in golden chains ? - And so they are ; in the high will of heaven, Which fixes all ; makes adamant of air, Or air of adamant ; makes all of nought, Or nought of all ; if such the dread decree.
Imagine from their deep foundations torn The most gigantic sons of earth, the broad And towering Alps, all tost into the sea ; And, light as down, or volatile as air, Their bulks enormous, dancing on the waves, In time, and measure, exquisite ; while all The winds, in emulation of the spheres, Tune their sonorous instruments aloft ; The co'ncert swell, and animate the ball. Would this appear amazing? What, then, worlds, ^Jp In a far thinner element sustain'd, And acting the same part, with greater skill, More rapid movement, and for noblest ends''.
More obvious ends to pass, are not these stars The seats majestic, proud imperial thrones, On which angelic delegates of heaven, A.t certain periods, as the Sov'reign nods,
260 THE CONSOLATION.
Discharge high trusts of vengeance, or of love ;
To clothe, in outward gTandeur, grand design,
And acts most solemn still more solemnize ?
Ye citizens of air ! what ardent thanks,
What full effusion of the grateful heart,
Is due from man indulg'd in such a sight !
A sight so noble ! and a sight so kind !
It drops new truths at every new survey !
Feels not Lorenzo something stir within,
That sweeps away all period ? As these spheres
Measure duration, they no less inspire
The godlike hope of ages without end.
space, thro' which these rovers take
Their restless roam, suggests the sister thought
Of boundless time. Thus, by kind nature's skill,
To man unlabour'd, that important guest,
Eternity, finds entrance at the sight :
And an eternity, for man ordain'd,
Or these his destin'd midnight counsellors
The stars, had never whisper'd it to man.
Nature informs, but ne'er insults, her sons
Could she then kindle the most ardent wish
To disappoint it ? that is blasphemy.
Thus, of thy creed a second article,
Momentous, as the existence of a God,
Is found (as I conceive) where rarely sought ;
And thou mayst read thy soul immortal, here.
Here, then, Lorenzo ! on these glories dwell , Nor want the gilt, illuminated, roof, That calls the wretched gay to dark delights. Assemblies ? this is one divinely bright ; Here, unendanger'd in health, wealth, or fame, Range through the fairest, and the sultan scorn, He, wise as thou, no crescent holds so fair,
NIGHT IX. '261
As that, which on his turbant awes a world ; And thinks the moon is proud to copy him. Look on her, and gain more than worlds can give, A mind superior to the charms of power. Thou muffled in delusions of this life ! Can yonder moon turn ocean in his bed, From side to side, in constant ebb, and flow, And purify from stench his watery realms ? And fails her moral influence ? wants she power To turn Lorenzo's stubborn tide of thought From stagnating on earth's infected shore, And purge from nuisance his corrupted heart ? Fails her attraction when it draws to heaven ? Nay, and to what thou valu'st more, earth's joy ? Minds elevate, and panting for unseen, And defecate from sense, alone obtain Full relish of existence undeflower'd, The life of life, the zest of worldly bliss : All else on earth amounts to what ? to this : " Bad to be suffer'd ; blessings to be left :" Earth's richest inventory boasts no more.
Of higher scenes be, then, the call obey'd. O let me gaze ! of gazing there's no end. O let me think ! thought too is wilder'd here ; In mid- way flight imagination tires ; Yet soon re-primes her wing to soar anew, Her point unable to forbear, or gain ; So great the pleasure, so profound the plan ! A banquet, this, where men, and angels, meet, Eat the same manna, mingle earth and heaven. How distant some of these nocturnal suns ! So distant (says the sage) 'twere not absurd To doubt, if beams, set out at nature's birth, Are yet arriv'd at this so foreign world ;
262 THE CONSOLATION.
Though nothing* half so rapid as their flight.
An eye of awe and wonder let me roll,
And roll for ever : who can satiate sight
In such a scene ? in such an ocean wide
Of deep astonishment ? where depth , height, breadth,
Are lost in their extremes; and where to count
The thick-sown glories in this field of fire,
Perhaps a seraph's computation fails.
Now, go, ambition! boast thy boundless might
In conquest, o'er the tenth part of a grain.
And yet Lorenzo calls for miracles, To give his tott'ring faith a solid base. Why call for less than is already thine ? Thou art no novice in theology ; What is a miracle ? 'Tis a reproach, 'Tis an implicit satire, on mankind ; And while it satisfies, it censures too. To common sense, great nature's course proclaims A Deity : when mankind falls asleep, A miracle is sent, as an alarm ; To wake the world, and prove him o'er again, By recent argument, but not more strong. Say, which imports more plenitude of power, Or nature's laws to fix, or to repeal ? To make a sun, or stop his mid career ? To countermand his orders, and send back The flaming courier to the frighted east, Warm'd, and astonish'd, at his ev'ning ray ? Or bid the moon, as with her journey tir'd, In Ajalon's soft, flowery vale repose ? Great things are these ; still greater, to create. From Adam's bower look down thro' the whole train Of miracles ; resistless is their pow'r ? They do not, can not, more amaze the mind,
NIGHT IX. 263
Than this, call'd un-miraculous survey,
If duly weigh'd, if rationally seen,
If seen with human eyes. The brute, indeed,
Sees nought but spangles here ; the fool, no more.
Say'st thou, " The course of nature governs all?"
The course of nature is the art of God.
The miracles thou call'st for, this attest ;
For say, could nature nature's course control ?
But miracles apart, who sees him not, Nature's controller, author, guide, and end ? Who turns his eye on nature's midnight face, But must inquire " What hand behind the scene, What arm Almighty, put these wheeling globes In motion, and wound up the vast machine? Who rounded in his palm these spacious orbs? Who bowl'd them flaming thro' the dark profound Num'rous as glitt'ring gems of morning dew, Or sparks from populous cities in a blaze, And set the bosom of old night on fire ? Peopled her desart, and made horror smile ?" Or, if the military style delights thee, (For stars have fought their battles, leagu'd with man) [names ?
" Who marshals this bright host ? Enrolls their Appoints their posts, their marches, and returns, Punctual, at stated periods ? who disbands These vet'ran troops, their final duty done, If e'er disbanded?" He, whose potent word, Like the loud trumpet, levied first their powers In night's inglorious empire, where they slept In beds of darkness: arm'd them with fierce flames Arrang'd, and disciplin'd, and cloth'd in gold ; And call'd them out of chaos to the field, Where now they war with vice and unbelief.
'264 TF1F. COXSOLATIOV.
O let us join this army ! joining- these, Will give us hearts intrepid, at that hour, When brighter flames shall cut a darker night ; When these strong- demonstrations of a God Shall hide their heads, or tumble from their spheres, And one eternal curtain cover all !
Struck at that thought, as new awak'd, I lift A more nlighten'd eye, and read the stars To man still more propitious ; and their aid (Though guiltless of idolatry) implore ; Nor longer rob them of their noblest name. O ye dividers of my time ! Ye bright Accomptants of my days, and months, and years, In your fair kalendar distinctly mark'd ! Since that authentic, radiant register, [him ;
Though man inspects it not, stands good against Since you, and years, roll on, tho' man stands still ; Teach me my days to number, and apply My trembling heart to wisdom ; now beyond All shadow of excuse for fooling on. Age smooths our path to prudence ; sweeps aside The snares keen appetite, and passion, spread To catch stray souls ; and woe to that gray head, Whose folly would undo what age has done ; Aid then, aid, all ye stars ! Much rather, thon, Great artist! thou, whose finger set aright This exquisite machine, with all its wheels, Though intervolv'd, exact ; and pointing out Life's rapid, and irrevocable flight, With such an index fair, as none can miss, Who lifts an eye, nor sleeps till it is clos'd. Open mine eye, dread Deity ! to read The tacit doctrine of thy works ; to see Things as they are, unalter'd through the glass
NIGHT IX. 26. r )
Of worldly wishes. Time, eternity ! (Tis these, mismeasur'd, ruin all mankind) Set them before me ; let me lay them both In equal scale, and learn their various weight, Let time appear a moment, as it is ; And let eternity's full orb, at once, Turn on my soul, and strike it into heaven. When shall I see far more than charms me now ? Gaze on creation's model in thy breast Unveil'd, nor wonder at the transcript more ? When this vile, foreign, dust, which smothers all That travel earth's deep vale, shall I shake off? When shall my soul her incarnation quit, And, re-adopted to thy blest embrace, Obtain her apotheosis in thee ?
Dost think, Lorenzo, this is wand'ring wide ? No, 'tis directly striking at the mark ; To wake thy dead devotion 1 was my point ; And how I bless night's consecrating shades, | Which to a temple turn a universe ; Fill us with great ideas, full of heaven, And antidote the pestilential earth ! In ev'ry storm, that either frowns, or falls, What an asylum has the soul in prayer ! And what a fane is this, in which to pray ! And what n. God must dwell in such a fane ! O what a genius must inform the skies ! And is Lorenzo's salamander-heart Cold, and untouch'd, amid these sacred fires? O ye nocturnal sparks ! ye glowing embers, On heaven's broad hearth! who burn, or burn no more, Who blaze, or die, as great Jehovah's breath
i Page 244.
266 THE CONSOLATION.
Or blows you, or forbears ; assist my song ; Pour your whole influence ; exorcise his heart, So long" possest ; and bring* him back to man.
And is Lorenzo a demurrer still ? Pride in thy parts provokes thee to contest Truths, which, contested, put thy parts to shame. Nor shame they more Lorenzo's head than heart, A faithless heart, how despicably small ! Too strait, aught great, or gen'rous, to receive ! Fill'd with an atom ! fill'd, and foul'd, with self ! And self mistaken ! Self, that lasts an hour ! Instincts and passions, of the nobler kind, Lie suffocated there ; or they alone, Reason apart, would wake high hope ; and open, To ravish'd thought, that intellectual sphere, Where, order, wisdom, goodness, providence, Their endless miracles of love display, And promise all the truly great desire. The mind that would be happy, must be great ; Great, in its wishes ; great, in its surveys. Extended views a narrow mind extend ; Push out its corrugate, expansive make, Which, ere long, more than planets shall embrace, A man of compass makes a man of worth ; Divine contemplate, and become divine.
As man was made for glory, and for bliss, All littleness is in approach to woe ; Open thy bosom, set thy wishes wide, And let in manhood ; let in
Admit the boundless theatre of thought From nothing, up to God ; which makes a man. Take God from nature, nothing great is left ; Man's mind is in a pit, and nothing sees ; Man's heart is in a jakes, and loves the mire.
NIGHT ix. 267
Emerge from thy profound ; erect thine eye ; See thy distress ! how close art thou besieg'd ! Besieged by nature, the proud sceptic's foe ! Inclos'd by these innumerable worlds, Sparkling conviction on the darkest mind, As in a golden net of Providence. How art thou caught, sure captive of belief ! From this thy blest captivity, what art, What blasphemy to reason, sets thee free ! This scene is heaven's indulgent violence : Canst thou bear up against this tide of glory ? What is earth bosom'd in these ambient orbs, But, faith in God impos'd, and press'd on man ? Dar'st thou still litigate thy desp'rate cause, Spite of these num'rous, awful, witnesses, And doubt the deposition of the skies ? O how laborious is thy way to ruin !
Laborious ! 'tis impracticable quite ; To sink beyond a doubt, in this debate, With all his weight of wisdom and of will, And crime flagitious, I defy a fool. Some wish they did ; but no man disbelieves. God is a spirit ; spirit cannot strike These gross, material organs ; God by man As much is seen, as man a God can see, In these astonishing exploits of power. What order, beauty, motion, distance, size ! Concertion of design, how exquisite ! How complicate, in their divine police ! Apt means! great ends! consent to gen'ral good ! Each attribute of these material gods, So long (and that with specious pleas) ador'd, A sep'rate conquest gains o'er rebel thought; And leads in triumph the whole mind of man.
203 THE CONSOLATION.
Lorenzo ! this may seem harangue to thee ; Such all is apt to seem, that thwarts our will. And dost thou, then, demand a simple proof Of this great master moral of the skies, Unskill'd, or disinclin'd, to read it there ? Since 'tis the basis, and all drops without it, Take it, in one compact, unbroken chain. Such proof insists on an attentive ear ; 'Twill not make one amid a mob of thoughts, And, for thy notice, struggle with the world. Retire ; the world shut out ; thy thoughts call
Imagination's airy wing' repress ; [home ;
Lock up thy senses ; let no passion stir ; Wake all to reason ; let her reign alone ; Then, in thy soul's deep silence, and the depth Of Nature's silence, midnight, thus inquire, As I have done; and shall inquire no more. In nature's channel, thus the questions run.
" What am I ? and from whence ? I nothing
But that I am; and, since I am, conclude Something eternal : had there e'er been nought, Nought still had been : eternal there must be. But what eternal ? Why not human race ? And Adam's ancestors without an end ? That's hard to be conceiv'd ; since every link Of that long-chain'd 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
Grant matter was eternal ; still these orbs Would want some other father ; much design
NIGHT IX. 269
Is seen in all their motions, all their makes ; J 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 allow'd than man. Who, motion, foreign to the smallest grain, Shot throug'h vast masses of enormous weight ? Who bid 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 nights, from shapeless, and repos'd ? Has matter more than motion ? has it thought, Judgment, and genius ? is it deeply learn'd In mathematics ? has it fram'd 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. Grant, then, invisible, eternal, mind ; That granted, all is solv'd. But, granting that, Draw I not o'er me a still darker cloud ? Grant I not that which I can ne'er conceive ? A being without origin, or end ! Hail, human liberty ! there is no God Yet, why ? on either scheme that knot subsists ; Subsist it must, in God, or human race ; If in the last, how many knots beside, Indissoluble all ? Why choose it there, Where, chosen, still subsist ten thousand more ?
270 THE CONSOLATION.
Reject it, where, that chosen, all the rest Dispers'd, leave reason's whole horizon clear ? This is not reason's dictate ; reason says, Close with the side where one grain turns the scale ; What vast preponderance is here ! can reason With louder voice exclaim Believe a God ? And reason heard, is the sole mark of man. What thing-s impossible must man think true, On any other system ! and how strange To disbelieve, through mere credulity !"
If, in this chain, Lorenzo finds no flaw, Let it for ever bind him to belief. And where the link, in which a flaw he finds ? And, if a God there is, that God how great ! How great that Power, whose providential care Thro' these bright orbs' dark centres darts a ray ! Of nature universal threads the whole ! And hangs creation, like a precious gem, Though little, on the footstool of his throne !
That little gem, how large ! a weight let fall From a fixt star, in ages can it reach This distant earth ! say, then, Lorenzo ! where, Where, ends this mighty building? where, begin The suburbs of creation ? where, the wall Whose battlements look o'er into the vale Of non-existence ! Nothing's strange abode ! Say, at what point of space Jehovah dropp'd His slacken'd line, and laid his balance by ; Weigh'd worlds, and measur'd infinite, no more ? Where, rears his terminating pillar high Its extra-mundane head ? and says, to gods, In characters illustrious as the sun,
" I stand, the plan's proud period; I pronounce
The work accomplish'd ; the creation clos'd :
Shout, all ye gods ! nor shout ye gods alone ; Of all that lives, or, if devoid of life, That rests, or rolls, ye heights, and depths re- sound ! [sound !" Resound ! resound ! ye depths, and heights, re- Hard are those questions ! Answer harder still. Is this the sole exploit, the single birth, The solitary son of power divine ? Or has th' Almighty Father, with a breath, Impregnated the womb of distant space ? Has he not bid, in various provinces, Brother-creations the dark bowels burst Of night primeval ; barren, now, no more ? And he the central sun, transpiercing all Those giant-generations, which disport And dance, as motes, in his meridian ray ; That ray withdrawn, benighted, or absorb'd, In that abyss of horror, whence they sprung ; While chaos triumphs, repossest of all Rival creation ravish'd from his throne ? Chaos ! of nature both the womb, and grave !
Think'st thou my scheme, Lorenzo, spreads too Is this extravagant ? No ; this is just ; [wide ? Just, in conjecture, though 'twere fake in fact
If 'tis an error, 'tis an error sprung (___^-
From noble root, high thought of the Most High.
But wherefore error ? who can prove it such ?
He that can set Omnipotence a bound.
Can man conceive beyond what God can do ?
Nothing, but quite impossible is hard.
He summons into being, with like ease,
A whole creation, arid a single grain.
Speaks he the word ? a thousand worlds are^born !
A thousand worlds ? there's space for millions more :
"2 7 '2 THE CONSOLATIOK.
And in what space can his great fiat fail ?
Condemn me not, cold critic ! hut indulge
The warm imagination : why condemn ?
Why not indulge such thoughts, as swell our hearts
With fuller admiration of that power, [swell ?
Who gives our hearts with such high thoughts to
Why not indulge in his augmented praise ?
Darts not his glory a still brighter ray,
The less is left to chaos, and the realms
Of hideous night, where fancy strays aghast ;
And, though most talkative, makes no report ?
Still seems my thought enormous ? think again ; Experience 'self shall aid thy lame belief. Glasses (that revelation to the sight !) Have they not led us in the deep disclose Of fine-spun nature, exquisitely small, And, though demonstrated, still ill-conceived? If, then, on the reverse, the mind would mount In magnitude, what mind can mount too far, To keep the balance, and creation poise ? Defect alone can err on such a theme ; What is too great, if we the cause survey ? Stupendous Architect ! thou, thou art all ! My soul flies up and down in thoughts of thee, And finds herself but at the centre still ! I Am, thy name ! existence, all thine own ! Creation's nothing; flatter'd much, if styl'd " The thin, the fleeting atmosphere of God."
O for the voice of what ? of whom ? what Can answer to my wants, in such ascent, [voice As dares to deem one universe too small ? Tell me, Lorenzo ! (for now fancy glows, Fir'd in the vortex of Amighty power) Is not this home creation, in the map
Of universal nature, as a speck, Like fair Britannia in our little ball ; Exceeding 1 fair, and glorious, for its size, But, elsewhere, far out-measur'd, far outshone ? In fancy (for the fact beyond us lies) Canst thou not figure it, an isle, almost Too small for notice, in the vast of being 1 ; Sever'd by mighty seas of unbuilt space From other realms ; from ample continents Of higher life, where nobler natives dwell ; Less northern,
less remote from Deity,
Glowing beneath the line of the supreme ; Where souls in excellence make haste, put forth Luxuriant growths ; nor the late autumn wait Of human worth, but ripen soon to gods ?
Yet why drown fancy in such depths as these ? Return, presumptuous rover ! and confess The bounds of man ; nor blame them, as too small Enjoy we not full scope in what is seen ? Full ample the dominions of the sun ! Full glorious to behold ! How far, how wide, The matchless monarch, from his flaming throne Lavish of lustre, throws his beams about him, Farther, and faster, than a thought can fly, And feeds his planets with eternal fires ! This Heliopolis, by greater far, Than the proud tyrant of the Nile, was built ; And he alone, who built it, can destroy. Beyond this city, why strays human thought ? One wonderful, enough for man to know ! One infinite ! enough for man to range ! One firmament, enough for man to read ! O what voluminous instruction here ! What page of wisdom is denied him ? none ;
VOL. I. T
274 THE CONSOLATION.
If learning his chief lesson makes him wise. Nor is instruction, here, our only gain ; There dwells a noble pathos in the skies, Which warms our passions, proselytes our hearts. How eloquently shines the glowing pole ! With what authority it gives its charge, Remonstrating great truths in style sublime, Though silent, loud ! heard earth around ; above The planets heard ; and not unheard in hell ; Hell has her wonder, though too proud to praise. Is earth, then, more infernal ? has she those, Who neither praise (Lorenzo !) nor admire ?
Lorenzo's admiration, preengag'd, Ne'er ask'd the moon one question ; never held Least correspondence with a single star ; Ne'er rear'd an altar to the Queen of Heaven W T alking in brightness ; or her train ador'd. Their sublunary rivals have long since Engross'd his whole devotion ; stars malign, Which made the fond astronomer run mad ; Darken his intellect, corrupt his heart ; Cause him to sacrifice his fame and peace To momentary madness, call'd delight. Idolater, more gross than ever kiss'd The lifted hand to Luna, or pour'd out The blood to Jove ! O thou, to whom belongs All sacrifice ! O thou Great Jove unfeign'd ! Divine instructor ! thy first volume, this, For man's perusal ; all in capitals ! In moon, and stars (heaven's golden alphabet !) Emblaz'd to seize the sight ; who runs, may read ; Who reads, can understand. Tis unconfin'd To Christian land, or Jewry ; fairly writ, In language universal, to mankind :
NIGHT IX. 275
A language, lofty to the learn'd : yet plain To those that feed the flock, or guide the plough, Or, from his husk, strike out the bounding grain. A language, worthy the Great Mind, that speaks ! Preface, and comment, to the sacred page ! Which oft refers its reader to the skies, As pre-supposing his first lesson there, And scripture self a fragment, that unread. Stupendous book of wisdom, to the wise ! Stupendous book ! and open'd, night ! by thee.
By thee much open'd, I confess, O night ! Yet more I wish ; but how shall I prevail ? Say, gentle night ? whose modest, maiden beams Give us a new creation, and present The world's great picture soften'd to the sight ; Nay, kinder far, far more indulgent still, Say, thou, whose mild dominion's silver key Unlocks our hemisphere, and sets to view Worlds beyond number ; worlds conceal'd by day Behind the proud, and envious star of noon ! Canst thou not draw a deeper scene ? and show The mighty potentate, to whom belong These rich regalia pompously display 'd To kindle that high hope ? Like him of Uz, I gaze around ; I search on every side O for a glimpse of him my soul adores ! As the chas'd hart, amid the desart waste, Pants for the living streams ; for him who made her, So pants the thirsty soul, amid the blank Of sublunary joys. Say, goddess ! where ? [throne? Where, blazes his bright court? where burns his Thouknow'st; for thou art near him; by thee, round His grand pavilion, sacred fame reports The sable curtain drawn. If not, can none
276 THE CONSOLATION.
Of thy fair daughter-train, so SAvift of wing*,
Who travel far, discover where he dwells ?
A star his dwelling pointed out below.
Ye pleiades ! Arcturus ! Mazaroth !
Arid thou, Orion ! of still keener eye !
Say ye, who guide the wilder'd in the waves,
And bring them out of tempest into port !
On which hand must I bend my course to find him ?
These courtiers keep the secret of their king ;
I wake whole nights, in vain, to steal it from them.
I wake ; and, waking 1 , climb night's radiant scale, From sphere to sphere ; the steps by nature set For man's ascent ; at once to tempt and aid ; To tempt his eye, and aid his towering thought ; Till it arrives at the great goal of all.
In ardent contemplation's rapid car, From earth, as from my barrier, I set out. How swift I mount ! diminished earth recedes ; I pass the moon ; and, from her farther side, Pierce heaven's blue curtain ; strike into remote ; Where, with his lifted tube, the subtle sage His artificial, airy journey takes, And to celestial lengthens human sight. I pause at ev'ry planet on my road, And ask for him who gives their orbs to roll, Their foreheads fair to shine. From Saturn's ring, In which, of earths an army might be lost, With the bold comet, take my bolder flight, Amid those sovereign glories of the skies, Of independent, native lustre, proud ; The souls of systems ! and the lords of life, Thro' their wide empires ! What behold I now ? A wilderness of wonder burning round ; Where larger suns inhabit higher sutares ;
NIGHT IX. 277
Perhaps the villas of descending gods ;
Nor halt I here ; my toil is but begun ;
Tis but the threshold of the Deity ;
Or, far beneath it, I am grovelling still.
Nor is it strange ; I built on a mistake ;
The grandeur of his works, whence folly sought
For aid, to reason sets his glory higher ; [Him)
Who built thus high for worms (mere worm to
O where, Lorenzo ! must the builder dwell ?
Pause, then ; and, for a moment, here respire If human thought can keep its station here, [thou, Where am I ? where is earth ? nay, where art O sun ? is the sun turn'd recluse ? and are His boasted expeditions short to mine ? To mine, how short ! On nature's Alps I stand, And see a thousand firmaments beneath ! A thousand systems ! as a thousand grains ! So much a stranger, and so late arriv'd, How can man's curious spirit not enquire, What are the natives of this world sublime, Of this so foreign, un-terrestrial sphere, Where mortal, untranslated, never stray 'd ?
"O ye, as distant from my little home, As swiftest sunbeams in an age can fly ! Far from my native element I roam, In quest of new, and wonderful, to man. What province this, of his immense domain, Whom all obeys ? Or mortals here, or gods ? Ye bord'rers on the coasts of bliss ! what are you ? A colony from heaven ? or, only rais'd, By frequent visit from heaven's neighbouring realms, To secondary gods, and half divine ? Whate'er your nature, this is past dispute, Far other life you live, far other tongue
278 THE CONSOLATION.
You talk, far other thought, perhaps, you think,
Than man. How various are the works of God !
But say, what thought? is reason here inthron'd,
And absolute ? or sense in arms against her?
Have you two lights ? or need you no reveal'd ?
Enjoy your happy realms their golden age ?
And had your Eden an abstemious Eve ?
Our Eve's fair daughters prove their pedigree,
Arid ask their Adams * Who would not be wise ?'
Or, if your mother fell, are you redeem'd ?
And if redeem'd is you Redeemer scorn'd ?
Is this your final residence ? if not,
Change you your scene, translated ? or by death ?
And if by death ; what death ? Know you disease ?
Or horrid war ? with war, this fatal hour,
Europa groans (so call we a small field,
Wherekings run mad). In our world, death deputes
Intemperance to do the work of age ;
And hanging up the quiver nature gave him,
As slow of execution, for dispatch
Sends forth imperial butchers ; bids them slay
Their sheep (the silly sheep they fleec'd before),
And toss him twice ten thousand at a meal.
Sit all your executioners on thrones ?
With you, can rage for plunder make a god ?
And bloodshed wash out ev'ry other stain ?
But you, perhaps, can't bleed : from matter gross
Your spirits clean, are delicately clad
In fine-spun ether, privileg'd to soar,
Unloaded, uninfected; how unlike
The lot of man ! how few of human race
By their own mud unmurder'd ! How we wage
Self-war eternal ! Is your painful day
Of hardy conflict o'er ? or, are you still
KIGIIT IX. 279
Raw candidates at school? and have you those
Who disaffect reversions, as with us ?
But what are we ? you never heard of man ;
Or earth, the bedlam of the universe !
Where reason (undiseas'd with you) runs mad,
And nurses folly's children as her own ;
Fond of the foulest. In the sacred mount
Of holiness, where reason is pronounc'd
Infallible ; and thunders, like a god ;
Ev'n there, by saints, the demons are outdone ;
What these think wrong, our saints refine to right ;
And kindly teach dull hell her own black arts ;
Satan, instructed, o'er their morals smiles.
But this, how strange to you, who know not man!
Has the least rumour of our race arriv'd ?
Call'd here Elijah in his flaming car ?
Past by you the good Enoch, on his road
To those fair fields, whence Lucifer was hurl'd ;
Who brush'd, perhaps, your sphere in his descent,
Stain'd your pure crystal ether, or let fall
A short eclipse from his portentous shade ?
O ! that the fiend had lodg'd on some broad orb
Athwart his way ; nor reach'd his
Then blacken'd earth with footsteps foul'd in hell,
Nor wash'd in ocean, as from Rome he past
To Britain's isle ; too, too, conspicuous there ?"
But this is ail digression : where is he, That o'er heaven's battlements the felon hurl'd tJ- groans, and chains, and darkness ? Where is he, Who sees creation's summit in a vale ? He, whom, while man is man, he can't but seek ; And if he finds, commences more than man ? for a telescope his throne to reach ! Tell me, ye learn'd on earth ! or blest above
230 THE CONSOLATION.
Ye searching-, ye Newtonian angels ! tell, Where, your great Master's orb ? his planets, where ? Those conscious satellites, those morning stars, First-born of Deity ! from central love, By veneration most profound, thrown off; By sweet attraction, no less strongly drawn ; Aw'd, and yet raptur'd ; raptur'd, yet serene ; Past thought illustrious, but with borrow'd beams; In still approaching circles, still remote, Revolving round the sun's eternal sire ? Or sent, in lines direct, on embassies To nations in what latitude ? Beyond Terrestrial thought's horizon ! And on what High errands sent ? Here human effort ends ; And leaves me still a stranger to his throne. Full well it might ! I quite mistook my road.
- Born in an age more curious than devout ;
More fond to fix the place of heaven, or hell, Than studious this to shun, or that secure.
! 'Tis not the curious, but the pious path, That leads me to my point : Lorenzo ! know, Without or star, or angel, for their guide,
- Who worship God, shall find him. Humble love,
And not proud reason, keeps the door of heaven ; Love finds admission, where proud science fails. Man's science is the culture of his heart ; And not to lose his plummet in the depths Of nature, or the more profound of God. Either to know, is an attempt that sets The wisest on a level with the fool. To fathom nature (ill-attempted here !) Past doubt is deep philosophy above ; Higher degrees in bliss archangels take, As deeper learn'd ; the deepest, learning still.
KIGIIT IX. 281
For, what a thunder of omnipotence
(So might I dare to speak) is seen in all !
In man ! in earth ! in more amazing skies !
Teaching this lesson, pride is loth to learn
" Not deeply to discern, not much to know, Mankind was born to wonder, and adore."
And is there cause for higher wonder still, Than that which struck us from our past surveys ? Yes ; and for deeper adoration too. From my late airy travel unconfin'd, Have I learn'd nothing ? Yes, Lorenzo ! this ; Each of these stars is a religious house ; I saw their altars smoke, their incense rise ; And heard hosannas ring thro' ev'ry sphere, A seminary fraught with future gods. Nature all o'er is consecrated ground, Teeming with growths immortal, and divine. The great proprietor's all bounteous hand Leaves nothing" waste ; but sows these fiery fields With seeds of reason, which to virtues rise Beneath his genial ray ; and, if escap'd The pestilential blasts of stubborn will, When grown mature, are gather'd for the skies. And is devotion thought too much on earth, When beings, so superior, homage boast, And triumph in prostrations to the throne ?
But wherefore more of planets, or of stars ? Ethereal journeys, and, discover'd there, Ten thousand worlds, ten thousand ways devout, All nature sending incense to the throne, Except the bold Lorenzos of our sphere ? Op'ning the solemn sources of my soul, Since I have pour'd, like feign'd Eridanus, My flowing numbers o'er the naming skies,
28'2 THE CONSOLATION.
Nor see, of fancy, or of fact, what more
Invites the muse. Here turn we, and review
Our past nocturnal landscape wide : then say, Say, then, Lorenzo ! with what burst of heart, The whole, at once, revolving in his thought, Must man exclaim, adoring, and aghast ? " O what a root ! what a branch, is here !
what a father ! What a family !
Worlds! systems! and creations! And creations, In one agglomerated cluster, hung,
1 Great vine ! On thee, on thee the cluster hangs ; The filial cluster ! infinitely spread
In glowing globes, with various being fraught ; And drinks (nectareous draught !) immortal life. Or, shall I say (for who can say enough ?) A constellation of ten thousand gems, (And, O ! of what dimension ! of what weight !) Set in one signet, flames on the right hand Of majesty divine ! The blazing seal, That deeply stamps, on all created mind, Indelible, his sovereign attributes, Omnipotence, and love ! that, passing bound : And this, surpassing that. Nor stop we here, For want of pow'r in God, but thought in man. Ev'n this acknowledg'd, leaves us still in debt: If greater aught, that greater all is thine, Dread sire ! Accept this miniature of thee ; And pardon an attempt from mortal thought, In which archangels might have fail'd, unblam'd."
How such ideas of th' Almighty's pow'r, And such ideas of th' Almighty's plan, (Ideas not absurd) distend the thought
1 John, xv. 1.
NIGHT ix. 283
Of feeble mortals ! nor of them alone !
The fulness of the deity breaks forth
In inconceivables to men, and gods.
Think, then, O think ; nor ever drop the thought;
How low must man descend, when gods adore !
Have I not, then, accomplish'd my proud boast ?
Did I not tell thee, " * We would mount, Lorenzo !
And kindle our devotion at the stars ?" And have I fail'd ? and did I flatter thee ?
And art all adamant ? and dost confute
All urg'd, with one irrefragable smile ?
Lorenzo ! mirth how miserable here !
Swear by the stars, by him who made them, swear,
Thy heart, henceforth, shall be as pure as they :
Then thou, like them, shalt shine; like them, shalt
From low to lofty ; from obscure to bright ; [rise
By due gradation, nature's sacred law.
The stars, from whence ? Ask chaos he can tell.
These bright temptations to idolatry,
From darkness, and confusion, took their birth ;
Sons of deformity ! from fluid dregs
Tartarean, first they rose to masses rude ;
And then, to spheres opaque ; then dimly shone ; i ~Thea..brighten'd ; then blaz'd out in perfect day. I Nature delights in progress ; in advance \ *^ j From worse to better : but, when minds ascend, L Progress, in part, depends upon themselves. H&S Heaven aids exertion ; greater makes the great
The voluntary little lessens more. (Pl^ O be a man ! and thou shalt be a god ! And half self-made ! Ambition how divine ! * *^ O thou, ambitious of disgrace alone ! \
1 Page 243*
284 THE CONSOLATION.
Still undevout? unkindled? Though high-taught, School'd by the skies, and pupil of the stars ; Rank coward to the fashionable world ! Art thou asham'd to bend thy knee to heaven ? Curst fume of pride, exhal'd from deepest hell ! Pride in religion is man's highest praise. Bent on destruction ! and in love with death ! Not all these luminaries, quench'd at once, Were half so sad, as one benighted mind, ,. _ Which gropes for happiness, and meets despair. \ I v How, like "a widow in her weeds, the night, Amid her glimm'ring tapers, silent sits ! How sorrowful, how desolate, she weeps Perpetual dews, and saddens nature's scene ! A scene more sad sin makes the darken' d soul, All comfort kills, nor leaves one spark alive. I Tho' blind of heart, still open is thine eye : Why such magnificence in all thou seest ? Of matter's grandeur, know, one end is this, To tell the 'rational, who gazes on it " Tho' that immensely great, still greater he, Whose brea.st, capacious, can embrace, and lodge, Unburden'd, nature's universal scheme ; Can grasp creation with a single thought ; Creation grasp ; and not exclude its sire" To tell him farther " It behoves him much To guard th' important, yet depending*, fate Of being, brighter than a thousand suns : One single ray of thought outshines them all." And if man hears obedient, soon he 1 soar Superior heights, and on his purple wing, His purple wing bedropp'd with eyes of gold, Rising, where thought is now denied to rise, Look down triumphant on these dazzling spheres.
NIGHT IX 285
Why then persist ? No mortal ever liv'd But, dying, he pronounc'd (when words are true) The whole that charms thee, absolutely vain ; Vain, and far worse ? Think thou, with dying men ; O condescend to think as angels think ! O tolerate a chance for happiness ! Our nature such, ill choice ensures ill fate ; And hell had been, tho' there had been no God. Dost thou not know, my new astronomer ! Earth, turning from the sun, brings night to man ? Man, turning from his God, brings endless night ; Where thou canst read no morals, find no friend, Amend no manners, and expect no peace. How deep the darkness ! and the groan, how loud ! And far, how far, from lambent are the flames ! Such is Lorenzo's purchase .' such his praise ! The proud, the politic, Lorenzo's praise ! Tho' in his ear, and levell'd at his heart, I've half read o'er the volume of the skies
For think not thou hast heard all this from me ; My song but echoes what great nature speaks. What has she spoken ? Thus the goddess spoke, Thus speaks for ever: " Place, at nature's head, A sov'reign, which o'er all things rolls his eye, Extends his wing", promulgates his commands, But, above all, diffuses endless good ; To whom, for sure redress, the wrong'd may fly ; The vile, for mercy ; and the pain'd, for peace ; By whom, the various tenants of these spheres, Diversified in fortunes, place, and powers, Rais'd in enjoyment, as in worth they rise, Arrive at length (if worthy such approach) At that blest fountain-head, from which they stream ; Where conflict past redoubles present joy;
286 THE CONSOLATION.
And present joy looks forward on increase ; And that, on more ; no period ! every
A double boon ! a promise, and a bliss." How easy sits this scheme on human hearts ! It suits their make ; it soothes their vast desires ; Passion is pleas'd; and reason asks no more ; Tis rational ! 'tis great ! But what is thine ? It darkens ! shocks ! excruciates ! and confounds ! Leaves us quite naked, both of help, and hope, Sinking from bad to worse ; few years, the sport Of fortune ; then the morsel of despair.
Say, then, Lorenzo ! (for thou know'st it well) What's vice ? Mere want of compass in our thought Religion, what ? The proof of common sense. How art thou hooted, where the least prevails ! Is it my fault, if these truths call thee fool ? And thou shalt never be miscall'd by me. Can neither shame, nor terror, stand thy friend ; And art thou still an insect in the mire ? How, like thy guardian angel, have I flown ! Snatch'd thee from earth ; escorted thee thro' all TV ethereal armies ; walkt thee, like a God, Thro' splendours of first magnitude, arranged On either hand; clouds thrown beneath thy feet ; Close-cruis'd on the bright paradise of God ; And almost introduc'd thee to the throne ! And art thou still carousing, for delight, Rank poison ; first, fermenting to mere froth. And then subsiding into final gall ? To beings of sublime, immortal make, How shocking is all joy, whose end is sure ! Such joy, more shocking still, the more it charms ! And dost thou choose what ends ere well-begun ; And infamous, as short ? And dost thou choose
NIGHT IX. 287
(Thou, to whose palate glory is so sweet) To wade into perdition, thro' contempt, Not of poor bigots only, but thy own ? For I have peep'd into thy cover'd heart, And seen it blush beneath a boastful brow ; For, by strong guilt's most violent assault, Conscience is but disabled, not destroy'd.
O thou most awful Being ; and most vain ! Thy will, how frail ! how glorious is thy power ! Though dread eternity has sown her seeds Of bliss, and woe, in thy despotic breast; Though heaven, and hell, depend upon thy choice ; A butterfly comes cross, and both are fled. Is this the picture of a rational ? This horrid image, shall it be most just? Lorenzo ! no : it cannot, shall not, be, If there is force in reason ; or, in sounds Chaunted beneath the glimpses of the moon, A magic, at this planetary hour, When slumber locks the gen'ral lip, and dreams Through senseless mazes hunt souls uninspir'd.
Attend the sacred mysteries begin
My solemn night-born adjuration hear ; Hear, and I'll raise thy spirit from the dust ; While the stars gaze on this inchantment new ; Inchantment, not infernal, but divine !
" By silence, death's peculiar attribute ; By darkness, guilt's inevitable doom ; By darkness, and by silence, sisters dread ! That draw the curtain round night's ebon throne, And raise ideas, solemn as the scene ! By night, and all of awful, night presents To thought, or sense (of awful much, to both, The goddess brings) ! By these her trembling fires.
288 THE CONSOLATIOX.
Like Vesta's, ever-burning; and, like hers, Sacred to thoughts immaculate, and pure ! By these bright orators, that prove, and praise, And press thee to revere, the Deity ; Perhaps, too, aid thee, when rever'd awhile, To reach his throne ; as stages of the soul, Through which, at different periods, she shall pass. Refining gradual, for her final height, And purging off some dross at every sphere ! By this dark pall thrown o'er the silent world ! By the world's kings, and kingdoms, most renown'd , From short ambition's zenith set for ever ; Sad presage to vain boasters, now in bloom ! By the long list of swift mortality, From Adam downward to this evening knell, Which midnight waves in fancy's startled eye ; And shocks her with a hundred centuries, Round death's black banner throng'd, in human
By thousands, now, resigning their last breath, And calling thee wert thou so wise to hear ! By tombs o'er tombs arising ; human earth Ejected, to make room for human earth; The monarch's terror ! and the sexton's trade ! By pompous obsequies that shun the day, The torch funereal, and the nodding plume, Which makes poor man's humiliation proud ; Boast of our ruin ! triumph of our dust ! By the damp vault that w r eeps o'er royal bones ; And the pale lamp that shows the ghastly dead, More ghastly, through the thick incumbent gloom ! By visits (if tnere are) from darker scenes, The gliding spectre ! and the groaning grave ! By groans, and graves, and miseries that groan
For the grave's shelter ! By desponding men,
Senseless to pains of death, from pangs of guilt !
By guilt's last audit ! By yon moon in blood,
The rocking firmament, the falling stars,
And thunder's last discharge, great nature's knell !
By second chaos ; and eternal night"
Be wise Nor let Philander blame my charm ;
But own not ill-discharg'd my double debt,
Love to the living ; duty to the dead.
For know I'm but executor ; he left This moral legacy ; I make it o'er By his command ; Philander hear in me ; And heaven in both. If deaf to these, Oh ! heai Florello's tender voice ; his weal depends On thy resolve ; it trembles at thy choice ; For his sake love thyself : example strikes All human hearts ; a bad example more ; More still a father's ; that ensures his ruin. As parent of his being, wouldst thou prove Th' unnatural parent of his miseries, And make him curse the being which thou gav'st ? Is this the blessing of so fond a father ? If careless of Lorenzo ! spare, oh ! spare Florello's father, and Philander's friend ! Florello's father ruin'd, ruins him ; And fr,om Philander's friend the world expects A conduct, no dishonour to the dead. / Let passion do, what nobler motive should ; / Let love, and emulation, rise in aid To reason ; and persuade thee to be blest.
This seems not a request to be denied ; Yet (such th' infatuation of mankind !) Tis the most hopeless, man can make to man. Shall I then rise, in argument, and warmth ?
VOL. i. u
290 THE CONSOLATION'.
And urge Phi lander's posthumous advice,
From topics yet unbroach'd ?
But oh ! I faint ! my spirits fail ! Nor strange! ^ So long on wing-, and in no middle clime ! To which my great Creator's glory call'd : And calls but, now, in vain. Sleep's dewy wand Has strok'd my drooping lids, and promises My long arrear of rest ; the downy god (Wont to return with our returning peace) Will pay, ere long, and bless me with repose. Haste, haste, sweet stranger ! from the peasant's
The ship-boy's hammock, or the soldier's straw, Whence sorrow never chas'd thee ; with thee bring, Not hideous visions, as of late ; but draughts Delicious of well tasted, cordial, rest ; Man's rich restorative ; his balmy bath, That supples, lubricates, and keeps in play The various movements of this nice machine, Which asks such frequent periods of repair. When tir'd with vain rotations of the day, Sleep winds us up for the succeeding dawn ; Fresh we spin on, till sickness clogs our wheels, Or death quite breaks the spring, and motion ends. When will it end with me ?
" Thou only know'st,
Thou, whose broad eye the future, and the past, Joins to the present ; making one of three To moral thought ! Thou know'st, and thou alone, All-knowing! all unknown! and yet well- known !
Near, tho' remote ! and, tho' unfathom'd, felt ! And, tho' invisible, for ever seen ! And seen in all ! the great and the minute :
Each globe above, with its gigantic race, Each flower, each leaf, with its small people swarni'd, (Those puny vouchers of Omnipotence !) [clare To the first thought, that asks, ' From whence ?' de- Their common source. Thou fountain, running o'er In rivers of communicated joy ! Who gav'st us speech for far, far humbler themes ! Say, by what name shall I presume to call Him I see burning in these countless suns, As Moses, in the bush ? Illustrious mind ! The whole creation, less, far less, to thee, Than that to the creation's ample round. How shall I name Thee ? How my labouring soul Heaves underneath the thought, too big for birth ! ( " Great system of perfections ! Mighty cause Of causes mighty ! Cause uncaus'd ! Sole root Of nature, that luxuriant growth of God ! First Father of effects ! that progeny Of endless series ; where the golden chain's Last link admits a period, who can tell ? Father of all that is or heard, or hears ! Father of all that is or seen, or sees ! Father of all that is, or shall arise ! Father of this immeasurable mass Of matter multiform ; or dense, or rare ; Opaque, or lucid ; rapid, or at rest ; Minute, or passing bound ! in each extreme Of like amaze, and mystery, to man. Father of these bright millions of the night ! Of which the least full godhead had proclaim'd, And thrown the gazer on his knee or, say, Is appellation higher still, thy choice ? Father of matter's temporary lords ! Father of spirits ! nobler offspring ! sparks
292 THE CONSOLATION.
Of high paternal glory ; rich endow'd
With various measures, and with various modes
Of instinct, reason, intuition ; beams
More pale, or bright from day divine, to break
The dark of matter organiz'd (the ware
Of all created spirit) ; beams, that rise
Each over other in superior light,
Till the last ripens into lustre strong,
Of next approach to godhead. Father fond
(Far fonder than e'er bore that name on earth)
Of intellectual beings ! beings blest
With powers to please thee ; not of passive ply
To laws they know not ; being's lodg'd in seats
Of well-adapted joys, in different domes
Of this imperial palace for thy sons ;
Of this proud, populous, well-policied,
Though boundless habitation, plann'd by
Whose several clans their several climates suit ;
And transposition, doubtless, would destroy.
Or, oh ! indulge, immortal King, indulge
A title, less august indeed, but more
Endearing ; ah ! how sweet in human ears !
Sweet in our ears, and triumph in our hearts !
Father of immortality to man !
A theme that 1 lately set my soul on fire
And thou the next ! yet equal ! thou, by whom
That blessing was convey'd ; far more ! was bought ;
Ineffable the price ! by whom all worlds
Were made ; and one redeem'd ! illustrious light
From light illustrious ! Thou, whose regal power
Finite in time, but infinite in space,
On more than adamantine basis fix'd,
O'er more, far more, than diadems, and thrones,
Inviolably reigns ; the dread of gods !
And oh ! the friend of man ! beneath whose foot,
And by the mandate of whose awful nod,
All regions, revolutions, fortunes, fates,
Of high, of low of mind, and matter, roll
Through the short channels of expiring time,
Or shoreless ocean of eternity,
Calm, or tempestuous (as thy spirit breathes),
In absolute subjection! And, O thou
The glorious Third ! Distinct, not separate !
Beaming from both ! with both incorporate ;
And (strange to tell !) incorporate with dust !
By condescension, as thy glory, great,
Enshrin'd in man ! Of human hearts, if pure,
Divine inhabitant ! The tie divine
Of heaven with distant earth ! by whom, I trust,
(If not inspired) uncensur'd this address
To thee, to them to whom ? Mysterious power !
Reveal'd yet unreveal'd ! Darkness in light ;
Number in unity ! our joy ! our dread !
The triple bolt that lays all wrong in ruin !
That animates all right, the triple sun !
Sun of the soul ! her never- setting sun !
Triune, unutterable, unconceiv'd,
Absconding, yet demonstrable, great God ! ^
Greater than greatest ! better than the best !
Kinder than kindest ! with soft pity's eye,
Or (stronger still to speak it) with thine own,
From thy bright home, from that high firmament,
Where thou, from all eternity, hast dwelt ;
Beyond archangels' unassisted ken ;
294 THE CONSOLATION.
From far above what mortals highest call From elevation's pinnacle ; look down, Through what? Confounding' interval ! Thro' ail And more than lab'ring fancy can conceive ; Through radiant ranks of essences unknown ; Through hierarchies from hierarchies detach'd Round various banners of Omnipotence, With endless change of rapturous duties fir'd ; Through wondrous beings interposing* swarms, All clustering at the call, to dwell in thee ; Through this wide waste of worlds ! this vista vast, All sanded o'er with suns ; suns turn'd to night Before thy feeblest beam look down down On a poor breathing particle in dust, [down,
Or, lower, an immortal in his crimes. His crimes forgive ! forgive his virtues, too ! Those smaller faults, half-converts to the right. Nor let me close these eyes, which never more May see the sun (though night's descending scale Now weighs up morn), unpitied, and unblest ! In thy displeasure dwells eternal pain ; Pain, our aversion ; pain, which strikes me now ; And, since all pain is terrible to man, Though transient, terrible ; at thy good hour, Gently, ah gently, lay me in my bed, My clay-cold bed ! by nature, now, so near ; By nature, near ; still nearer by disease ! Till then, be this, an emblem of my grave : Let it out-preach the preacher ; every night Let it out-cry the boy at Philip's ear ; That tongue of death ! that herald of the tomb ! And when (the shelter of thy wing implor'd) My senses, sooth'd, shall sink in soft repose,
NIGHT IX. 295
sink this truth still deeper in my soul, Suggested by my pillow, sign'd by fate, First, in fate's volume, at the page of man Man's sickly soul, though turn'dand toss'd for ever, From side to side, can rest on nought but thee : Here, in full trust, hereafter, in full joy;
On thee, the promis'd, sure, eternal down Of spirits, toil'd in travel through this vale. Nor of that pillow shall my soul despond ; For love almighty ! love almighty ! (sing, Exult, creation !) Love almighty, reigns ! That death of death ! that cordial of despair ! And loud eternity's triumphant song!
" Of whom, no more : For, thou patron God ! Thou God and mortal ! thence more God to man ! J^-**
Man's theme eternal ! man's eternal theme ! j f
Thou canst not 'scape uninjur'd from our praise. tffof 1 Uninjur'd from our praise can he escape, Who, disembosom'd from the father, bows The heaven of heavens, to kiss the distant earth ! Breathes out in agonies a sinless soul ! Against the cross, death's iron sceptre breaks ! From famish 'd ruin plucks her human prey ! Throws wide the gates celestial to his foes ! Their gratitude, for such a boundless debt, Deputes their suff'ring brothers to receive ! And, if deep human guilt in payment fails ; As deeper guilt prohibits our despair ! Enjoins it, as our duty, to rejoice ! And (to close all) omnipotently kind,
1 Takes his delights among the sons of men."
1 Prov. chnn. viii.
296 THE CONSOLATION.
What words are these And did they come from
And were they spoke to man ? to guilty man ? What are all mysteries to love like this ? The songs of angels, all the melodies Of choral gods, are wafted in the sound ; Heal and exhilarate the broken heart ; Though plung'd, before, in horrors dark as night: Rich prelibation of consummate joy ! Nor wait we dissolution to be blest.
This final effort of the moral muse, How justly 1 titled ? Nor for me alone : For all that read ; what spirit of support, What heights of consolation, crown my song !
Then farewell night ! Of darkness, now, no more : Joy breaks ; shines ; triumphs ; 'tis eternal day. Shall that which rises out of nought complain Of a few evils, paid with endless joys ? My soul ! henceforth, in sweetest union join The two supports of human happiness, Which some, erroneous, think can never meet ; I True taste of life, and constant thought of death ! The thought of death, sole victor of its dread ! Hope, be thy joy ; and probity thy skill ; Thy patron he, whose diadem has dropp'd Yon gems of heaven ; eternity, thy prize : And leave the racers of the world their own, Their feather, and their froth, for endless toils : They part with all for that which is not bread ; They mortify, they starve, on wealth, fame, power; And laugh to scorn the fools that aim at more.
1 The Consolation.
K1GIIT IX. 297
How must a spirit, late escap'd from earth, Suppose Philander's, Lucia's, or Narcissa's, The truth of things new-blazing in its eye, Look back, astonish'd, on the ways of men, Whose lives' whole drift is to forget their graves ! And when our present privilege is past, To scourge us with due sense of its abuse, The same astonishment will seize us all. What then must pain us, would preserve us now. Lorenzo ! 'tis not yet too late ; Lorenzo ! Seize wisdom, ere 'tis torment to be wise ; That is, seize wisdom, ere she seizes thee. For what, my small philosopher ! is hell ? 'Tis nothing but full knowledge of the truth, When truth, resisted long, is sworn our foe ; And calls eternity to do her right.
Thus, darkness aiding intellectual light, And sacred silence whisp'ring truths divine, And truths divine converting pain to peace, My song the midnight raven has outwing'd, And shot, ambitious of unbounded scenes, Beyond the flaming limits of the .world, Her gloomy flight. But what avails the flight Of fancy, when our hearts remain below ? Virtue abounds in flatterers,, and foes ; 'Tis pride, to praise her ; penance, to perform. To more than words, to more than worth of tongue, Lorenzo ! rise, at this auspicious hour ; An hour, when heaven's most intimate with man ; When, like a fallen star, the ray divine Glides swift into the bosom of the just ; And just are all, determin'd to reclaim ; Which sets that title high within thy reach.
208 THE CONSOLATION.
Awake, then : thy Philander calls : awake ! Thou, who shalt wake, when the creation sleeps When, like a taper, all these suns expire ; When time, like him of Gaza in his wrath, Plucking the pillars that support the world, In nature's ample ruins lies entomb'd ; And midnight, universal midnight ! reigns.