The Complaint: or Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, & Immortality/Night VII

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The Complaint: or Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, & Immortality
by Edward Young
Night VII: Being the Second Part of the Infidel Reclaimed
186202The Complaint: or Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, & Immortality — Night VII: Being the Second Part of the Infidel ReclaimedEdward Young





As we are at war with the power, it were well if we were at war with the manners, of France. A land of levity is a land of guilt. A serious mind is the native soil of eve virtue ; and the single character that does true


mankind. The soul's immortality has been the favourite theme with the serious of all ages. Nor is it strange ; it is a subject by far the most interesting, and important, that can enter the mind of man. Of highest moment this sub- ject always was, and always will be. Yet this its highest moment seems to admit of increase, at this day ; a sort of occasional importance is superadded to the natural weight of it ; if that opinion which is advanced in the preface to the preceding night, be just. It is there supposed, that all our infidels, whatever scheme, for argument's sake, and to keep themselves in countenance, they patronize, are betrayed into their deplorable error, by some doubts of their immoi'- tality, at the bottom. And the more I consider this point, the more I am persuaded of the truth of that opinion. Though the distrust of a futurity is a strange error ; yet it is an error into which bad men may naturally be distressed. For it is impossible to bid defiance to final ruin, without some refuge in imagination, some presumption of escape. And what presumption is there 1 There are but two in na- ture ; but two, within the compass of human thought. And these are, That either God will not or can not punish. Considering the divine attributes, the first is too gross to be digested by our strongest wishes. And since omnipo- tence is as much a divine attribute as holiness, that God cannot punish, is as absurd a supposition as the former. God certainly can punish as long as wicked men exist. In non-existence, therefore, is their only refuge; and conse- quently, non-existence is their strongest wish. And strong wishes have a strange influence on our opinions ; they bias the judgment in a manner almost incredible. And since on this member of their alternative, there are some very small appearances in their favour, and none at all on the other, they catch at this reed, they lay hold on this chimera, to save themselves from the shock and horror of an imme- diate and absolute despair.

On reviewing my subject, by the light which this argu- ment, and others of like tendency, threw upon it, I was more inclined than ever to pursue it, as it appeared to me to strike directly at the main root of all our infidelity. In the following pages it is, accordingly, pursued at large :

and some arguments for immortality, new at least to me.

NIGHT vn. 137

are ventured on in them. There also the writer has made an attempt to set the gross absurdities and horrors of anni- hilation in a fuller and more affecting view, than is (I think) to be met with elsewhere.

The gentlemen, for whose sake this attempt was chiefly made, profess great admiration for the wisdom of heathen antiquity : what pity 'tis they are not sincere ! If they were sincere, how would it mortify them to consider, with what contempt, and abhorrence, their notions would have been received by those whom they so much admire? What degree of contempt and abhorrence would fall to their share, may be conjectured by the following matter of fact (in my opinion) extremely memorable. Of all their heathen worthies, Socrates, (it is well known) was the most guarded, dispas- sionate, and composed : yet this great master of temper was angry ; and angry at his last hour ; and angry with his friend ; and angry for what deserved acknowledgment ; angry for a right and tender instance of true friendship to- wards him. Is not this surprising ? What could be the cause ? The cause was for his honour; it was a truly noble, though, perhaps, a too punctilious regard, for immortality : for his friend asking him, with such an affectionate con- cern as became a friend, " Where he should deposit his re- mains ?" It was resented by Socrates,

as implying a dis- 

honourable supposition, that he could be so mean, as to have a regard for any thing, even in himself, that was not immortal.

This fact well considered, would make our infidels with- draw their admiration from Socrates ; or make them en- deavour, by their imitation of this illustrious example, to share his glory : and, consequently, it would incline them to peruse the following pages with candour and impar- tiality : which is all I desire ; and that, for their sakes : for I am persuaded, that an unprejudiced infidel must, necessarily, receive some advantageous impressions from them.

July 7, 1744.


HEAVEN gives the needful, but neglected, call. What day, what hour, but knocks at human hearts, To wake the soul to sense of future scenes ? Deaths stand, like Mercuries, in ev'ry way, And kindly point us to our journey's end. Pope, who couldst make immortals ! art thou dead ? I give thee joy : nor will I take my leave ; So soon to follow. Man but dives in death ; Dives from the sun, in fairer day to rise ; The grave, his subterranean road to bliss. Yes, infinite indulgence plann'd it so ; Thro' various parts our glorious story runs ; Time gives the preface, endless age unrolls The volume (ne'er unroll'd !) of human fate.

This earth and skies 1 already have proclaim, a. The world's a prophecy of worlds to come ; And who, what God foretels (who speaks in things, Still louder than in words) shall dare deny ? Tf nature's arguments appear too weak, Turn a new leaf, and stronger read in man. If man sleeps on, untaught by what he sees, Can he prove infidel to what he feels ? He, whose blind thought futurity denies, Unconscious bears, Bellerophon ! like thee, His own indictment; he condemns himself; Who reads his bosom, reads immortal life ; Or, nature, there, imposing on her sons, Has written fables ; man was made a lie.

Why discontent for ever harbour'd there ? Incurable consumption of our peace ! Resolve me, why, the cottager, and king,

1 Night VI.


He, whom sea-sever'd realms obey, and he Who steals his whole dominion from the waste, Repelling winter blasts with mud and straw, Disquieted alike, draw sigh for sigh, In fate so distant, in complaint so near ?

Is it, that things terrestrial can't content ? Deep in rich pasture will thy flocks complain ? Not so ; but to their master is denied To share their sweet serene. Man, ill at ease In this, not his own place, this foreign field, Where nature fodders him with other food, Than was ordain'd his cravings to suffice, Poor in abundance, famish'd at a feast, Sighs on for something- more, when most enjoy 'd.

Is heaven then kinder to thy flocks than thee ? Not so ; thy pasture richer, but remote ; In part remote ; for that remoter part Man bleats from instinct, tho' perhaps, dobauch'd By sense, his reason sleeps, nor dreams the cause. The cause how obvious, when his reason wakes ! His grief is but his grandeur in disguise ; And discontent is immortality.

Shall sons of ether, shall the blood of heaven, Set up their hopes on earth, and stable here, With brutal acquiescence in the mire ? Lorenzo ! no ! they shall be nobly pain'd ; The glorious foreigners, distrest, shall sigh On thrones ; and thou congratulate the sigh : Man's misery declares him born for bliss ; His anxious heart asserts the truth I sing, And gives the sceptic in his head the lie. [ers,

Our heads, our hearts, our passions, and our pow- Speak the same language ; call us to the skies : Unripen'd these in this inclement clime,


Scarce rise above conjecture, and mistake ;

And for this land of trifles those too strong

Tumultuous rise, and tempest human life :

What prize on earth can pay us for the storm ?

Meet objects for our passions heaven ordain'd,

Objects that challenge all their fire, and leave

No fault, but in defect : blest Heaven ! avert

A bounded ardour for unbounded bliss !

O for a bliss unbounded ! far beneath

A soul immortal, is a mortal joy.

Nor are our powers to perish immature ;

But, after feeble effort here, beneath

A brighter sun, and in a nobler soil,

Transplanted from this sublunary bed,

Shall flourish fair, and put forth all their bloom.

Reason progressive, instinct is complete ; Swift instinct leaps ; slow reason feebly climbs. Brutes soon their zenith reach ; their little all Flows in at once ; in ages they no more Could know, or do, or covet, or enjoy. Were man to live coeval with the sun, The patriarch-pupil would be learning still ; Yet, dying, leave his lesson half unlearnt. Men perish in advance, as if the sun Should set ere noon, in eastern oceans drown'd ; If fit, with dim, illustrious to compare, The sun's meridian with the soul of man. To man, why, stepdame nature ! so severe ? Why thrown aside thy master-piece half- wrought, While meaner efforts thy last hand enjoy ? Or, if abortively, poor man must die, Nor reach, what reach he might, why die in dread ? Why curst with foresight ? wise to misery ? Why of his proud prerogative the prey ?


Why less pre-eminent in rank, than pain? His immortality alone can tell ; Full ample fund to balance all amiss, And turn the scale in favour of the just !

His immortality alone can solve The darkest of enigmas, human hope ; Of all the darkest, if at death we die. Hope, eager hope, th' assassin of our joy, All present blessings treading under foot, Is scarce a milder tyrant than despair. With no past toils content, still planting new, Hope turns us o'er to death alone for ease. Possession, why more tasteless than pursuit ? W T hy is a wish far dearer than a crown ? That wish accomplish'd, why, the grave of bliss ? Because, in the great future buried deep, Beyond our plans of empire, and renown, Lies all that man with ardour should pursue ; And he who made him, bent him to the right.

Man's heart th' Almighty to the future sets, By secret and inviolable springs ; And makes his hope his sublunary joy. Man's heart eats all things, and is hungry still ; " More, more !" the glutton cries: for something So rages appetite, if man can't mount, [new

He will descend. He starves on the possest. Hence, the world's master, from ambition's spire, In Caprea plung'd ; and div'd beneath the brute In that rank sty why wallow'd empire's son Supreme ? because he could no higher fly ; His riot was ambition in despair.

Old Rome consulted birds ; Lorenzo ! thou With more success, the flight of hope survey ; Of restless hope, for ever on the wing.


Ilig-h-perch d o'er ev'ry thought that falcon sits, To fly at all that rises in her sight ; And never stooping-, but to mount again Next moment, she betrays her aim's mistake, And owns her quarry lodg'd beyond the grave.

There should it fail us (it must fail us there, If being fails) more mournful riddles rise, And virtue vies with hope in mystery. Why virtue ? where its praise, its being, fled ? Virtue is true self-interest pursu'd : What true self-interest of quite-mortal man ? To close with all that makes him happy here. If vice (as sometimes) is our friend on earth, Then vice is virtue ; 'tis our sov'reign good. In self-applause is virtue's golden prize ; No self-applause attends it on thy scheme : Whence self-applause ? from conscience of the


And what is right, but means of happiness ? No means of happiness when virtue yields ; That basis failing, falls the building too, And lays in ruin ev'ry virtuous joy.

The rigid guardian of a blameless heart, So long rever'd, so long reputed wise, Is weak; with rank knight-errantries o'errun. Why beats thy bosom with illustrious dreams Of self-exposure, laudable, and great? Of gallant enterprise, and glorious death ? Die for thy country ! Thou romantic fool ! Seize, seize the plank thyself, and let her sink : Thy country ! what to thee ? The Godhead, what ? (I speak with awe !) tho' he should bid thee bleed ? If, with thy blood, thy final hope is spilt, Nor can Omnipotence reward the blow,


Be deaf; preserve thy being; disobey.

Nor is it disobedience : know, Lorenzo ! Whate'er th' Almighty's subsequent command, His first command is this : " Man, love thyself." In this alone, free-agents are not free. Existence is the basis, bliss the prize ; If virtue costs existence, 'tis a crime ; Bold violation of our law supreme , Black suicide ; tho' nations, which consult Their gain, at thy expense, resound applause.

Since virtue's recompense is doubtful, here, If man dies wholly, well may we demand, Why is man suffer'd to be good in vain ? Why to be good in vain, is man enjoin'd ? Why to be good in vain, is man betray'd ? Betray 'd by traitors lodg'd in his own breast, By sweet complacencies from virtue felt ? Why whispers nature lies on virtue's part ? Or if blind instinct (which assumes the name Of sacred conscience) plays the fool in man, Why reason made accomplice in the cheat ? Why are the wisest loudest in her praise ? Can man by reason's beam be led astray ? Or, at his peril, imitate his God ? Since virtue sometimes ruins us on earth, Or both are true ; or, man survives the grave.

Or man survives the grave, or own, Lorenzo, Thy boast supreme, a wild absurdity. Dauntless thy spirit ; cowards are thy scorn. Grant man immortal, and thy scorn is just. The man immortal, rationally brave, Dares rush on death because he cannot die. But if man loses all, when life is lost, He lives a coward, or a fool expires.


A daring infidel (and such there are,

From pride, example, lucre, rage, revenge,

Or pure heroical defect of thought),

Of all earth's madmen, most deserves a chain.

When to

the grave we follow the renown'd 

For valour, virtue, science, all we love, And all we praise ; for worth, whose noon-tide beam, Enabling us to think in higher style, Mends our ideas of ethereal powers ; Dream we, that lustre of the moral world Goes out in stench, and rottenness the close ? Why was he wise to know, and warm to praise, And strenuous to transcribe, in human life, The mind Almighty? Could it be, that fate, Just when the lineaments began to shine, And dawn the Deity, should snatch the draught, With night eternal blot it out, and give The skies alarm, lest angels too might die ?

If human souls, why not angelic too Extinguish'd ? and a solitary God, O'er ghastly ruin, frowning from his throne ? Shall we this moment gaze on God in man ? The next, lose man for ever in the dust ? From dust we disengage, or man mistakes ; And there, where least his judgment fears a flaw. Wisdom and worth, how boldly he commends ! Wisdom and worth, are sacred names ; rever'd, Where not embrac'd ; applauded ! deified ! Why not compassion'd too ? If spirits die, Both are calamities, inflicted both, To make us but more wretched : Wisdom's eye Acute, for what? to spy more miseries; And worth, so recompens'd, new points their stings Or man surmounts the grave, or gain is loss;

NIGHT vii. 145

And worth exalted humbles us the more. Thou wilt not patronize a scheme that makes Weakness, and vice, the refuge of mankind.

" Has virtue, then, no joys ?" Yes, joys dear- bought.

Talk ne'er so long, in this imperfect state, Virtue and vice are at eternal war, Virtue's a combat ; and who fights for nought ? Or for precarious, or for small reward ? Who virtue's self-reward so loud resound, Would take degrees angelic here below, And virtue, while they compliment, betray, By feeble motives, and unfaithful guards. The crown, th' unfading crown, her soul inspires : Tis that, and that alone, can countervail The body's treacheries, and the world's assaults : On earth's poor pay our famisht virtue dies. Truth incontestable ! in spite of all A Bayle has preach'd, or a Voltaire believ'd.

In man the more we dive, the more we see Heaven's signet stamping an immortal make. Dive to the bottom of his soul, the base Sustaining all ; what find we ? knowledge, love. As light and heat, essential to the sjun, These to the soul. And why, if souls expire ? How little lovely here ? how little known ? Small knowledge we dig up with endless toil ; And love unfeign'd may purchase perfect hate. Why starv'd, on earth, our angel appetites ; While brutal are indulg'd their fulsome fill ? Were then capacities divine conferr'd, As a mock-diadem, in savage sport, Rank insult of our pompous poverty, Which reaps but pain, from seeming claims so fair?

VOL. i. L


In future age lies no redress? And shuts Eternity the door on our complaint ? If so, for what strange ends were mortals made ! The worst to wallow, and the best to weep ; The man who merits most, must most complain : Can we conceive a disregard in heaven, What the worst perpetrate, or best endure ?

This cannot be. To love, and know, in man Is boundless appetite, and boundless power ; And these demonstrate boundless objects too. Objects, powers, appetites, heaven suits in all ; Nor, nature thro', e'er violates this sweet, Eternal concord, on her tuneful string. Is man the sole exception from her laws ? Eternity struck off from human hope, (I speak with truth, but veneration too) Man is a monster, the reproach of heaven, A stain, a dark impenetrable cloud On nature's beauteous aspect ; and deforms, (Amazing blot !) deforms her with her lord. If such is man's allotment, what is heaven? Or own the soul immortal, or blaspheme.

Or own the soul immortal, or invert All order. Go, mock-majesty ! go, man ! And bow to thy superiors of the stall ; Thro' every scene of sense superior far : They graze the turf untill'd ; they drink the stream Unbrew'd, and ever full, and unembitter'd With doubts, fears, fruitless hopes, regrets, des- pairs ;

Mankind's peculiar ! reason's precious dower ! No foreign clime they ransack for their robes ; Nor brothers cite to the litigious bar; heir good is good entire, unmixt, unmarr'd ;


They find a paradise in every field, On boughs forbidden where no curses hang : Their ill no more than strikes the sense ; unstretcht By previous dread, or murmur in the rear : When the worst comes, it comes unfear'd ; one


egins, and ends, their woe : they die but once ; Blest, incommunicable privilege ! for which Proud man, who rules the globe, and reads the stars, Philosopher, or hero, sighs in vain.

Account for this prerogative in brutes. No day, no glimpse of day to solve the knot, But what beams on it from eternity. O sole, and sweet solution ! that unties The difficult, and softens the severe ; The cloud on nature's beauteous face dispels ; Restores bright order ; casts the brute beneath ; And re-inthrones us in supremacy Of joy, ev'n here : admit immortal life, And virtue is knight-errantry no more ; Each virtue brings in hand a golden dower, Far richer in reversion : hope exults ; And tho' much bitter in our cup is thrown, Predominates, and gives the taste of heaven. O wherefore is the Deity so kind ? Astonishing beyond astonishment ! Heaven our reward for heaven enjoy'd below.

Still unsubdu'd thy stubborn heart ? For there The traitor lurks who doubts the truth I sing. Reason is guiltless ; will alone rebels. What, in that stubborn heart, if I should find New, unexpected witnesses against thee ? Ambition, pleasure, and the love of gain ! Canst thou suspect, that these, which make the soul


The slave of earth, should own her heir of heaven ? Canst thou suspect what makes us disbelieve Our immortality, should prove it sure ?

First, then, ambition, summon to the bar. Ambition's shame, extravagance, disgust, And inextinguishable nature, speak. Each much deposes ; hear them in their turn.

Thy soul, how passionately fond of fame ! How anxious, that fond passion to conceal ! We blush, detected in designs on praise, Tho* for best deeds, and from the best of men : And why? Because immortal. Art divine Has made the body tutor to the soul ; Heaven kindly gives our blood a moral flow ; Bids it ascend the glowing cheek, and there Upbraid that little heart's inglorious aim, Which stoops to court a character from man ; While o'er us, in tremendous judgment sit Far more than man, with endless praise, and blame.

Ambition's boundless appetite outspeaks The verdict of its shame. When souls take fire At high presumptions of their own desert, One age is poor applause ; the mighty shout, The thunder by the living few begun, Late time must echo ; worlds unborn, resound. We wish our names eternally to live : [thought. Wild dream, which ne'er had haunted human Had not our natures been eternal too. Instinct points out an int'rest in hereafter ; But our blind reason sees not where it lies ; Or, seeing, gives the substance for the shade.

Fame is the shade of immortality, And in itself a shadow. Soon as caught, Contemn '4 it shrinks to nothing in the grasp.


Consult th' ambitious, 'tis ambition's cure. " And is this all ?" cried Caesar at his height, Disgusted. This third proof ambition brings Of immortality. The first in fame, Observe him near, your envy will abate: Sham'd at the disproportion vast, between The passion and the purchase, he will sigh At such success, and blush at his renown. And why ? Because far richer prize invites His heart ; far more illustrious glory calls ; It calls in whispers, yet the deafest hear.

And can ambition a fourth proof supply ? It can, and stronger than the former three ; Yet quite o'erlook'd by some reputed wise. Tho' disappointments in ambition pain, And tho' success disgusts ; yet still, Lorenzo ! In vain we strive to pluck it from our hearts ; By nature planted for the noblest ends. Absurd the fam'd advice to Pyrrhus given, More prais'd, thanponder'd ; specious, but unsound ; Sooner that hero's sword the world had quell'd, Than reason, his ambition. Man must soar. An obstinate activity within, An insuppressive spring, will toss him up In spite of fortune's load. Not kings alone, Each' villager has his ambition too ; No sultan prouder than his fetter'd slave : Slaves build their little Babylons of straw, Echo the proud Assyrian, in their hearts, And cry, " Behold the wonders of my might !" And why ? because immortal as their lord ; And souls immortal must for ever heave At something great ; the glitter, or the gold ; The praise of mortals, or the praise of heaven.


Nor absolutely vain is human praise, When human is supported by divine. I'll introduce Lorenzo to himself; Pleasure and pride (bad masters!) share our hearts, As love of pleasure is ordain'd to guard And feed our bodies, and extend our race ; The love of praise is planted to protect, And propagate the glories of the mind. What is it, but the love of praise, inspires, Matures, refines, embellishes, exalts, Earth's happiness ? From that, the delicate, The grand, the marvellous, of civil life, Want and convenience, under- workers, lay The basis, on which love of g'lory builds. Nor is thy life, O virtue ! less in debt To praise, thy secret stimulating friend. Were men not proud, what merit should we miss! Pride made the virtues of the pagan world. Praise is the salt that seasons right to man, And whets his appetite for moral good. Thirst of applause is virtue's second guard ; Reason, her first ; but reason wants an aid ; Our private reason is a flatterer ; Thirst of applause calls public

judgment in, 

To poise our own, to keep an even scale, And give endanger'd virtue fairer play.

Here a fifth proof arises, stronger still : Why this so nice construction of our hearts ? These delicate moralities of sense ; This constitutional reserve of aid To succour virtue, when our reason fails ; If virtue, kept alive by care and toil, And oft, the mark of injuries on earth, When labour'd to maturity (its bill

NIGHT Vll. 151

Of disciplines, and pains, unpaid) must die ? Why freighted-rich, to dash against a rock ? Were man to perish when most fit to live, O how misspent were all these stratagems, By skill divine inwoven in our frame ! Where are heaven's holiness and mercy fled ? Laug'hs heaven, at once, at virtue, and at man ? If not, why that discourag'd, this destroy'd ?

Thus far ambition. What says avarice ? This her chief maxim, which has long- been thine : " The wise and wealthy are the same," I grant it. To store up treasure, with incessant toil, This is man's province, this his highest praise. To this great end keen instinct stings him on. To guide that instinct, reason ! is thy charge ; Tis thine to tell us where true treasure lies : But, reason failing to discharge her trust, Or to the deaf discharging it in vain, A blunder follows ; and blind industry, Gall'd by the spur, but stranger to the course, (The course where stakes of more than gold are won) O'er-loading, with the cares of distant age, The jaded spirits of the present hour, Provides for an eternity below.

" Thou shalt not covet," is a wise command ; But bounded to the wealth the sun surveys : Look farther, the command stands quite revers'd, And av'rice is a virtue most divine. Is faith a refuge for our happiness ? Most sure : and is it not for reason too ? Nothing this world unriddles, but the next. Whence inextinguishable thirst of gain ? From inextinguishable life in man : Man, if not meant, by worth, to reach the skies,


Had wanted wing to fly so far in guilt. Sour grapes, I grant, ambition, avarice, Yet still their root is immortality . These its wild growths so bitter, and so base, (Pain and reproach !) religion can reclaim, Refine, exalt, throw down their pois'nous lee, And make them sparkle in the bowl of bliss.

See, the third witness laughs at bliss remote, And falsely promises an Eden here : Truth she shall speak for once, tho' prone to lie, A common cheat, and pleasure is her name. To pleasure never was Lorenzo deaf; Then hear her now, now first thy real friend.

Since nature made us not more fond than proud Of happiness (whence hypocrites in joy ! Makers of mirth ! artificers of smiles !) Why should the joy most poig'nant sense affords, Burn us with blushes, and rebuke our pride? Those heaven-born blushes tell us man descends, Ev'n in the zenith of his earthly bliss : Should reason take her infidel repose, This honest instinct speaks our lineage high ; This instinct calls on darkness to conceal Our rapturous relation to the stalls. Our glory covers us with noble shame, And he that's unconfounded, is unmann'd. The man that blushes, is not quite a brute. Thus far with thee, Lorenzo ! will I close, Pleasure is good, and man for pleasure made ; But pleasure full of glory, as of joy ; pleasure which neither blushes, nor expires.

The witnesses are heard ; the cause is o'er ; Let conscience file the sentence in her court, Dearer than deeds that half a realm convey ;


Thus seal'd by truth, th' authentic record runs.

" Know all ; know, infidels, unapt to know ! Tis immortality your nature solves ; 'Tis immortality deciphers man, And opens all the myst'ries of his make. Without it, half his instincts are a riddle ; Without it, all his virtues are a dream. His very crimes attest his dignity ; His sateless thirst of pleasure, gold, and fame, Declares him born for blessings infinite : What less than infinite makes unabsurd Passions, which all on earth but more inflames ? Fierce passions, so mismeasur'd to this scene, Stretch'd out, like eagles' wings, beyond our nest, Far, far beyond the worth of all below, For earth too large, presage a nobler flight, And evidence our title to the skies."

Ye g'entle theologues, of calmer kind ! Whose constitution dictates to your pen, Who, cold yourselves, think ardour comes from hell ! Think not our passions from corruption sprung, Tho' to corruption now they lend their wings ; That is their mistress, not their mother. All (And justly) reason deem divine : I see, I feel a grandeur in the passions too, Which speaks their high descent, and glorious end ; Which speaks them rays of an eternal fire. In Paradise itself they burnt as strong. Ere Adam fell ; tho' wiser in their aim. Like the proud eastern, struck by providence, What tho' our passions are run mad, and stoop With low, terrestrial appetite, to graze On trash, on toys, dethron'd from high desire ? Yet still, thro' their disgrace, no feeble ray


Of greatness shines, and tells us whence they fell : But these (like that fall'n monarch when reclaim'd), When reason moderates the rein aright, Shall reascend, remount their former sphere, "Where once they soar'd illustrious ; ere seduc'd By wanton Eve's debauch, to stroll on earth, And set the sublunary world on fire.

But grant their frenzy lasts ; their frenzy fails To disappoint one providential end, For which heaven blew up ardour in our hearts : Were reason silent, boundless passion speaks A future scene of boundless objects too, And brings glad tidings of eternal day. Eternal day ! 'tis that enlightens all ; And all, by that enlighten'd, proves it sure. Consider man as an immortal being, Intelligible all ; and all is great ; A crystalline transparency prevails, And strikes full lustre thro' the human sphere : Consider man as mortal, all is dark, And wretched ; reason weeps at the survey.

The learn'd Lorenzo cries, " And let her weep, Weak, modern reason : ancient times were wise. Authority, that venerable guide, Stands on my part ; the fam'd Athenian porch (And who for wisdom so renown'd as they?) Denied this immortality to man." I grant it ; but affirm, they prov'd it too. A riddle this ! Have patience ; I'll explain.

What noble vanities, what moral flights, Glitt'ring thro' their romantic wisdom's page, Make us, at once, despise them, and admire ? Fable is flat to these high season'd sires ; They leave th' extravagance of song below.


" Flesh shall not feel ; or, feeling, shall enjoy The dagger, or the rack ; to them, alike A bed of roses, or the burning bull." In men exploding all beyond the grave, Strange doctrine, this ! As doctrine, it was strange; But not as prophecy ; for such it prov'd, And, to their own amazement, was fulfill'd : They feign'd a firmness Christians need not feign. The ehristian truly triumph'd in the flame : The stoic saw, in double wonder lost, Wonder at them, and wonder at himself, To find the bold adventures of his thought Not bold, and that he strove to lie in vain.

Whence, then, those thoughts ? those tow'ring

thoughts, that flew

Such monstrous heights ? From instinct and from The glorious instinct of a deathless soul, [pride. Confus'dly conscious of her dignity, Suggested truths they could not understand. In lust's dominion, and in passion's storm, Truth's system broken, scatter'd fragments lay, As light in chaos, glimrn'ring* thro' the gloom : Smit with the pomp of lofty sentiments, Pleas'd pride proclaim'd, what reason disbeliev'd. Pride, like the Delphic priestess, with a swell, Rav'd' nonsense, destin'd to be future sense, When life immortal, in full day, shall shine ; And death's dark shadows fly the g'ospel sun. They spoke, what nothing but immortal souls Could speak ; and thus the truth they question'd


Can then absurdities, as well as crimes, Speak man immortal? All things speak him so. Much has been urg'd ; and dost thou call for more ?


Call ; and with endless questions be distrest, All unresolvable, if earth is all.

" Why life, a moment; infinite, desire? Our wish, eternity ? Our home, the grave ? Heaven's promise dormant lies in human hope ; Who wishes life immortal, proves it too. Why happiness pursued, tho' never found ? Man's thirst of happiness declares it is, (For nature never gravitates to nought) ; That thirst unquencht declares it is not here. My Lucia, thy Clarissa, call to thought ; Why cordial friendship riveted so deep, As hearts to pierce at first, at parting, rend, If friend, and friendship, vanish in an hour ? Is not this torment in the mask of joy ? Why by reflection marr'd the joys of sense ? Why past, and future, preying on our hearts. And putting all our present joys to death ? Why labours reason ? instinct were as well ; Instinct far better ; what can choose, can err : O how infallible the thoughtless brute ! 'Twere well his holiness were half as sure. Reason with inclination, why at war ? Why sense of g'uilt ? why conscience up in arms ?

Conscience of guilt, is prophecy of pain, And bosom-council to decline the blow. Reason with inclination ne'er had jarr'd, If nothing future paid forbearance here : Thus on these, and a thousand pleas uncall'd, All promise, some ensure, a second scene ; Which, were it doubtful, would be dearer far Than all things else most certain : were it false, W 7 hat truth on earth so precious as the lie ? This world it gives us let what will ensue ;


This world it gives in that high cordial, hope :

The future of the present is the soul :

How this life groans, when sever'd from the next !

Poor mutilated wretch, that disbelieves !

By dark distrust

his being cut in two, 

In both parts perishes ; life void of joy,

Sad prelude of eternity in pain !

Couldst thou persuade me, the next life could fail Our ardent wishes ; how should I pour out My bleeding heart in anguish, new, as deep ! Oh ! with what thoughts, thy hope, and my despair, Abhorr'd annihilation ! blasts the soul, And wide extends the bounds of human woe ! Could I believe Lorenzo's system true, In this black channel would my ravings run. " Grief from the future borrow'd peace, ere while. The future vanisht ! and the present pain'd ! Strange import of unprecedented ill ! Fall, how profound ! like Lucifer's, the fall ! Unequal fate ! his fall, without his guilt ! From where fond hope built her pavilion high, The gods among, hurl'd headlong, hurl'd at once To night ! to nothing ! darker still than night. If 'twas a dream, why wake me, my worst foe, Lorenzo ! boastful of the name of friend ! O for -delusion ! O for error still ! Could vengeance strike much stronger than to plant A thinking being in a world like this, Not over rich before, now beggar'd quite ; More curst than at the fall ? The sun goes out ! The thorns shoot up ! What thorns in ev'ry thought ! Why sense of better? It imbitters worse. Why sense ? why life ? If but to sigh, then sink To what I was ! twice nothing ! and much woe !


Woe, from heaven's bounties ! woe from what was To flatter most, high intellectual pow'rs. [wont Thought, virtue, knowledge ! blessings, by thy


All poison'd into pains. First, knowledge, once My soul's ambition, now her greatest dread. To know myself, true wisdom? No, to shun That shocking science, parent of despair ! Avert thy mirror : if I see, I die.

" Know my Creator ! climb his blest abode By painful speculation, pierce the veil, Dive in his nature, read his attributes, And gaze in admiration on a foe, Obtruding life, withholding happiness ! From the full rivers that surround his throne, Not letting fall one drop of joy on man ; Man gasping for one drop, that he might cease To curse his birth, nor envy reptiles more ! Ye sable clouds ! ye darkest shades of night ! Hide him, for ever hide him, from my thought, Once all my comfort; source, and soul of joy ! Now leagu'd with furies, and with thee, 1 against me.

" Know his achievements ? study his renown ? Contemplate this amazing universe, Dropt from his hand, with miracles replete ! For what ? Mid miracles of nobler name, To find one miracle of misery ? To find the being, which alone can know And praise his works, a blemish on his praise ? Thro' nature's ample range, in thought, to stroll, And start at man, the single mourner there, Breathing high hope ! chain'd down to pangs, and death ?

1 Lorenzc.

MIGHT vii. 159

Knowing is suff 'ring- : and shall virtue share The sigh of knowledge ? Virtue shares the sigh. By straining up the steep of excellent, By battles fought, and, from temptation, won, What gains she, but the pang of seeing worth, Angelic worth, soon shuffled in the dark With ev'ry vice, and swept to brutal dust ? Merit is madness ; virtue is a crime ; A crime to reason, if it costs us pain Unpaid : what pain, amidst a thousand more, To think the most abandon'd, after days Of triumph o'er their betters, find in death As soft a pillow, nor make fouler clay !

" Duty ! religion ! These, our duty done,

Imply reward. Religion is mistake.

Duty ! There's none, but to repel the cheat.

Ye cheats ! away ! ye daughters of my pride !

Who feign yourselves the fav'rites of the skies :

Ye tow'ring hopes ! abortive energies !

That toss, and struggle, in my lying breast,

To scale the skies, and build presumptions there,

As I were heir of an eternity.

Vain, vain ambitions ! trouble me no more.

Why travel far in quest of sure defeat ?

As bounded as my being, be my wish.

All is inverted, wisdom is a fool.

Sense ! take the rein ; blind passion ! drive us on ;

And, ignorance ! befriend us on our way ;

Ye new, but truest patrons of our peace !

Yes ; give the pulse full empire ; live the brute,

Since, as the brute, we die. The sum of man,

Of Godlike man ! to revel, and to rot.

" But not on equal terms with other brutes : Their revels a more poignant relish yield,



And safer too ; they never poisons choose.

Instinct, than reason, makes more wholesome meals,

And sends all-marring murmur far away.

For sensual life they best philosophize ;

Theirs, that serene, the sages sought in vain :

'Tis man alone expostulates with heaven ;

His, all the power, and all the cause, to mourn.

Shall human eyes alone dissolve in tears ?

And bleed, in anguish, none but human hearts ?

The wide-stretch'd realm of intellectual woe,

Surpassing sensual far, is all our own.

In life so fatally distinguish'd, why

Cast in one lot, confounded, lump'd, in death ?

" Ere yet in being, was mankind in guilt? Why thunder'd this peculiar clause against us, All-mortal, and all-wretched ! Have the skies Reasons of state, their subjects may not scan, Nor humbly reason, when they sorely sigh ? All-mortal, and all-wretched ! Tis too much : Unparallel'd in nature : 'Tis too much On being unrequested at Thy hands, Omnipotent ! for I see nought but power.

" And why see that ? why thought ? To toil, and


Then make our bed in darkness, needs no thought. What superfluities are reas'ning souls ! Oh give eternity ! or thought destroy. But without thought our curse were half unfelt ; Its blunted edge would spare the throbbing heart; And, therefore, 'tis bestow'd, I thank thee, reason ! For aiding life's too small calamities, And giving being to the dread of death. Such are thy bounties ! Was it then too much For me, to trespass on the brutal rights ?


Too much for heaven to make one emmet more ? Too much for chaos to permit my mass A longer stay with essences unwrought, Unfashion'd, untormented into man ? Wretched preferment to this round of pains ! Wretched capacity of phrensy, thought ! Wretched capacity of dying-, life ! Life, thought, worth, wisdom, all (O foul revolt !) Once friends to peace, gone over to the foe.

" Death, then, has chang'd his nature too: O death, Come to my bosom, thou best gift of heaven ! Best friend of man ! since man is man no more. Why in this thorny wilderness so long*, Since there's no promis'd land's ambrosial bower, To pay me with its honey for my stings ? If needful to the selfish schemes of heaven To sting us sore, why mock'd our misery ? Why this so sumptuous insult o'er our heads ? Why this illustrious canopy display'd ? Why so magnificently lodg'd despair ? At stated periods, sure-returning-, roll These glorious orbs, that mortals may compute Their length of labours, and of pains ; nor lose Their misery's full measure ? Smiles with flowers, And fruits, promiscuous, ever-teeming earth, That man may languish in luxurious scenes, And in an Eden mourn his wither 'd joys ? Claim earth and skies man's admiration, due For such delights ! Blest animals ! too wise To wonder ; and too happy to complain !

" Our doom decreed demands a mournful scene : Why not a dungeon dark, for the condemn'd ? Why not the dragon's subterranean den, For man to howl in ? Why not his abode



Of the same dismal colour with his fate ? A Thebes, a Babylon, at vast expense Of time, toil, treasure, art, for owls ami adders, As congruous, as, for man, this lofty dome, Which prompts proud thought, and kindles high dc- If, from her humble chamber in the dust, [sire ; While proud thought swells, and high desire in- flames,

The poor worm calls us for her inmates there ; And, round us, death's inexorable hand Draws the dark curtain close ; undrawn no more. " Undrawn no more ! Behind the cloud of death, Once, I beheld a sun ; a sun which gilt That sable cloud, and turn'd it all to gold : How the grave's altered ! fathomless as hell ! A real hell to those who dreamt of heaven. Annihilation ! How it yawns before me ! Next moment I may drop from thought, from sense The privilege of ang-els, and of worms, An outcast from existence ! And this spirit, This all-pervading, this all-conscious soul, This particle of energy divine, Which travels nature, flies from star to star, And visits gods, and emulates their powers, For ever is extinguish^ horror ! death ! Death of that death I fearless once survey 'd !-- When horror universal shall descend, And heaven's dark concave urn all human race On that enormous, unrefimding tomb, How just this verse ! this monumental sigh !"

Beneath the lumber of demolisht worlds, Deep in the rubbish of the gen'ral wreck, Swept ignominious to the common mass


Of matter, never dignified with life, Here lie proud rationals ; the sons of heaven ! The lords of earth ! the property of worms ! Being's of yesterday, and no to-morrow ! Who liv'd in terror, and in pangs expir'd ! All gone to rot in chaos ; or to make Their happy transit into blocks or brutes, Nor longer sully their Creator's name.

Lorenzo ! hear, pause, ponder, and pronounce. Just is this history ? If such is man, Mankind's historian, tho' divine, might weep. And dares Lorenzo smile ! I know thee proud ; For once let pride befriend thee ; pride looks pale At such a scene, and sighs for something more. Amid thy boasts, presumptions, and displays, And art thou then a shadow ? less than shade ? A nothing ? less than nothing ? to have been, And not to be, is lower than unborn. Art thou ambitious ? Why then make the worm Thine equal ? Runs thy taste of pleasure high ? Why patronize sure death of every joy ? Charm riches I Why choose beggary in the grave, Of every

hope a bankrupt ! and for ever ? 

Ambition, pleasure, avarice, persuade thee To make that world of glory, rapture, wealth, They 1 lately prov'd, the soul's supreme desire.

What art thou made of? rather, how unmade ? Great nature's master-appetite destroy 'd ! Is endless life, and happiness, despis'd ? Or both wish't, here, where neither can be found ? Such man's perverse, eternal war with heaven ! Dar'st thou persist ? And is there nought on earth, But a long train of transitory forms, 1 in the Sixth Night.


Rising 1 , and breaking 1 , millions in an hour ? Bubbles of a fantastic deity, blown up In sport, and then in cruelty destroy 'd ? Oh ! for what crime, unmerciful Lorenzo ! Destroys thy scheme the whole of human race ? Kind is fell Lucifer, compar'd to thee : Oh ! spare this waste of being* half-divine ; And vindicate th' economy of heaven.

Heaven is all love ; all joy in giving- joy : It never had created but to bless : And shall it, then, strike off the list of life, A being- blest, or worthy so to be ? Heaven starts at an annihilating- God.

Is that, all nature starts at, thy desire ? Art such a clod to wish thyself all clay ? What is that dreadful Avish ? The dying groan Of nature, murder'd by the blackest guilt. What deadly poison has thy nature drank ? To nature undebaucht no shock so great ; Nature's first wish is endless happiness ; Annihilation is an after-thought, A monstrous wish, unborn till virtue dies. And, oh ! what depth of horror lies inclos'd ! For non-existence no man ever wisht, But, first, he wisht the Deity destroyed.

If so ; what words are dark enough to draw Thy picture true ? The darkest are too fair. Beneath what baleful planet, in what hour Of desperation, by what fury's aid, In what infernal posture of the soul, All hell invited, and all hell in joy At such a birth, a birth so near of kin, Did thy foul fancy whelp so black a scheme Of hopes abortive, faculties half-blown,


And deities begun, reduc'd to dust ?

There's nought (thou say'st) but one eternal flux Of feeble essences, tumultuous driven Thro' time's rough billows into night's abyss. Say, in this rapid tide of human ruin, Is there no rock, on which man's tossing thought Can rest from terror, dare his fate survey, And boldly think it something 1 to be born ? Amid such hourly wrecks of being fair, Is there no central, all-sustaining base, All-realizing, all-connecting power, Which, as it call'd forth all things, can recall, And force destruction to refund her spoil ? Command the grave restore her taken prey ? Bid death's dark vale its human harvest yield, And earth, and ocean, pay their debt of man, True to the grand deposit trusted there ? Is there no potentate, whose outstretcht arm, When rip'ning time calls forth th' appointed hour, Pluckt from foul devastation's famisht maw, Binds present, past, and future, to his throne ? His throne, how glorious, thus divinely grac'd, By germinating beings clust'ring round ! A garland worthy the divinity ! A throne, by heaven's omnipotence in smiles, Built' (like a pharos tow'ring in the waves) Amidst immense effusions of his love ! An ocean of communicated bliss !

An all-prolific, all-preserving God ! This were a God indeed. And such is man, As here presum'd : he rises from his fall. Think'st thou Omnipotence a naked root, Each blossom fai-r of Deity destroy'd ? Nothing is dead; nay, nothing sleeps; each soul,


That ever animated human clay,

Xow wakes ; is on the wing : and where, where

Will the swarm settle ? When the trumpet's call,

As sounding- brass, collects us, round heaven's

Cong'lob'd, we bask in everlasting' day, [throne

(Paternal splendour !) and adhere for ever.

Had not the soul this outlet to the skies,

In this vast vessel of the universe,

How should Ave gasp, as in an empty void !

How in the pangs of famisht hope expire ! [thine!

How bright my prospect shines ! how gloomy, A trembling world ! and a devouring god ! Earth, but the shambles of Omnipotence ! Heaven's face all stain'd with causeless massacres Of countless millions, born to feel the pang Of being lost. Lorenzo ! can it be ? This bids us shudder at the thoughts of life. Whp would be born to such a phantom world, Where nought substantial but our misery ? Where joy (if joy) but heightens our distress, So soon to perish, and revive no more ? The greater such a joy. the more it pains. A world, so far from great (and yet how great It shines to tliee !) there's nothing real in it; Being, a shadow ; consciousness, a dream ? A dream, how dreadful ! Universal blank Before it, and behind ! Poor man, a spark From non-existence struck by wrath divine, Glitt'ring a moment, nor that mome-nt sure, 'Midst upper, nether, and surrounding night, PI is sad, sure, sudden, and eternal tomb !

Lorenzo ! dost thou feel these arguments ? Or is there nought but vengeance can be felt. '\ How hast thou dar'd the Deity dethrone ?


How dar'd indict him of a world like this ? If such the world, creation was a crime ; For what is crime, but cause of misery ? Retract, blasphemer ! and unriddle this, Of endless arguments above, below,

Without us, and within, the short result

" If man's immortal, there's a God in heaven."

But wherefore such redundancy ? such waste Of argument ? One sets my soul at rest ! One obvious, and at hand, and, oh ! at heart. So just the skies, Philanders life so pain'd, His heart so pure ; that, or succeeding scenes Have palms to give, or ne'er had he been born.

" What an old tale is this !" Lorenzo cries. I grant this argument is old ; but truth No years impair ; and had not this been true Thou never hadst despis'd it for its age. Truth is immortal as thy soul ; and fable As fleeting as thy joys : be wise, nor make Heaven's highest blessing, vengeance ; O be wise ! Nor make a curse of immortality.

Say, know'st thou what it is, or what thou art ? Ivriow'st thou th' importance of a soul immortal ? Behold this midnight glory : worlds on worlds ! Amazing pomp ! redouble this amaze ; Ten 'thousand add ; add twice ten thousand more ; Then weigh the whole ; one soul outweighs them all ; And calls th' astonishing magnificence Of unintelligent creation poor.

For this, believe not me ; no man believe ; Trust not in words, but deeds ; and deeds no less Than those of the Supreme ; nor his, a few ; Consult them all ; consulted, all -proclaim Thy soul's importance: tremble at thyself;


For whom Omnipotence has wak'd so long- : Has wak'd, and work'd, for ages ; from the birth Of nature to this unbelieving 1 hour.

In this small province of his vast domain (All nature bow, while I pronounce his name !) What has God done, and not for this sole end, To rescue souls from death? The soul's high price Is writ in all the conduct of the skies. The soul's high price is the creation's key, Unlocks its mysteries, and naked lays The genuine cause of every deed divine : That, is the chain of ages, which maintains Their obvious correspondence, and unites Most distant periods in one blest design : That, is the mighty hinge, on which have turn'd All revolutions, whether we regard The natural, civil, or religious, world ; The former two but servants to the third : To that their duty done, they both expire, Their mass new-cast, forgot their deeds renown'd ; And angels ask, " Where once they shone so fair?"

To lift us from this abject, to sublime ; This flux, to permanent; this dark, to day; This foul, to pure ; this turbid, to serene ; This mean, to mighty ! for this glorious end IV Almighty, rising, his long sabbath broke ! The world was made ; was ruin'd ; was restor'd ; Laws from the skies were publish'd ; were repeal'd ; On earth kings, kingdoms, rose; kings, kingdoms, Fam'd sages lighted up the pagan world ; [fell ; Prophets from Sion darted a keen glance Thro' distant age ; saints travell'd ; martyrs bled ; By wonders sacred nature stood control'd ; The living were translated ; dead were rais'd ;

NIGHT vir. 169

Angels, and more than angels, came from heaven ; And. oh ! for this, descended lower still ; Guilt was hell's gloom ; astonish'd at his guest, For one short moment Lucifer ador'd : Lorenzo ! and wilt thou do less ? For this, That hallow'd page, fools scoff at, was inspir'd, Of all these truths thrice venerable code ! Deists ! perform your quarantine ; and then Fall prostrate, ere you touch it, lest you die.

Nor less intensely bent infernal powers To mar, than those of light, this end to gain. O what a scene is here ! Lorenzo ! wake ! Rise to the thought ; exert, expand thy soul To take the vast idea : it denies All else the name of great. Two warring* worlds ! Not Europe against Afric ; warring worlds ! Of more than mortal ! mounted on the wing ! On ardent wings of energy, and zeal, High-hov'ring o'er this little brand of strife ! This sublunary ball but strife, for what ? In their own cause conflicting? No ; in thine, In man's. His single int'rest blows the flame ; His the sole stake ; his fate the trumpet sounds, Which kindles war immortal. How it burns ! Tumultuous swarms of deities in arms ! Force-, force opposing, till the waves run high, And tempest nature's universal sphere. Such opposites eternal, steadfast, stern, Such foes implacable, are good, and ill ; [them. Yet man, vain man, would mediate peace between

Think not this fiction, " There was war in hea- ven." [hung, From heaven's high crystal mountain, where it Th' Almighty's outstretcht arm took down his bow:


And shot his indignation at the deep : Re-thunder'd hell, and darted all her fires. And seems the stake of little

moment still ? 

And slumbers man, who singly caus'd the storm ? He sleeps. And art thou sliockt at mysteries ? The greatest, thou. How dreadful to reflect, What ardour, care, and counsel, mortals cause In breasts divine ! How little in their own !

Where'er I turn, how new proofs pour upon me ! How happily this wondrous view supports My former argument ! How strongly strikes Immortal life's full demonstration, here ! Why this exertion ? Why this strange regard From heaven's Omnipotent indulg'd to man ? Because, in man, the glorious dreadful power, Extremely to be pain'd, or blest, for ever. Duration gives importance ; swells the price. An angel, if a creature of a day, What would he be ? A trifle of no weight ; Or stand, or fall ; no matter which ; he's gone. Because immortal, therefore is indulg'd This strange regard of deities to dust. [eyes : Hence, heaven looks down on earth with all her Hence, the soul's mighty moment in her sight : Hence, every soul has partisans above, And every thought a critic in the skies : Hence, clay, vile clay! has angels for its guard. And every guard a passion for his charge : Hence, from all age, the cabinet divine Has held high counsel o'er the fate of man.

Nor have the clouds those gracious counsels hid, Angels undrew the curtain of the throne, And Providence came forth to meet mankind : In various modes of emphasis and awe,


He spoke his will, and trembling nature heard ;

He spoke it loud, in thunder and in storm.

Witness, thou Sinai ! whose cloud-cover'd height,

And shaken basis, own'd the present God :

Witness, ye billows ! whose returning- tide,

Breaking the chain that fasten'd it in air,

Swept Egypt, and her menaces, to hell :

Witness, ye flames ! th' Assyrian tyrant blew

To sevenfold rage, as impotent, as strong :

And thou, earth ! witness, whose expanding" jaws

Clos'd o'er 1 presumption's sacrilegious sons :

Has not each element, in turn, subscrib'd

The soul's high price, and sworn it to the wise ?

Has not flame, ocean, ether, earthquake, strove

To strike this truth, thro' adamantine man ?

If not all adamant, Lorenzo ! hear ;

All is delusion ; nature is wrapt up,

In tenfold night, from reason's keenest eye ;

There's no consistence, meaning, plan, or end,

In all beneath the sun, in all above,

(As far as man can penetrate) or heaven

Is an immense, inestimable prize ;

Or all is nothing', or that prize is all.

And shall each toy be still a match for heaven,

And full equivalent for groans below ?

Who would not give a trifle to prevent

What he would give a thousand worlds to cure ?

Lorenzo ! thou hast seen (if thine to see) All nature, and her God (by nature's course, And nature's course control'd) declare for me : The skies above proclaim, " immortal man !" And, " man immortal !" all below resounds. The world's a system of theology,

Kornli, &c.


Read by the greatest strangers to the schools ; If honest, learn'd ; and sages o'er a plough. Is not, Lorenzo ! then, impos'd on thee This hard alternative ; or, to renounce Thy reason, or thy sense ; or, to believe ? What then is unbelief? 'Tis an exploit; A strenuous enterprise : to g % ain it, man Must burst thro' every bar of common sense, Of common shame, magnanimously wrong j And what rewards the sturdy combatant? His prize, repentance ; infamy, his crown

But wherefore, infamy ? For want of faith, Down the steep precipice of wrong he slides ; There's nothing to support him in the right. Faith in the future wanting*, is, at least In embryo, every weakness, every guilt ; And strong temptation ripens it to birth. If this life's gain invites him to the deed, Why not his country sold, his father slain ? 'Tis virtue to pursue our good supreme ; And his supreme, his only good is here. Ambition, av'rice, by the wise disdain'd, Is perfect wisdom, while mankind are fools, And think a turf, or tombstone, covers all : These find employment, and provide for sense A richer pasture, and a larger range ; And sense by right divine ascends the throne, When virtue's prize and prospect are no more ; Virtue no more we think the will of heaven. Would heaven quite beg'gar virtue, if belov'd ?

" Has virtue charms ?" I grant her heavenly But if unportion'd, all will int'rest wed ; [fair ; Tho' that our admiration, this our choice. The virtues grow on immortality ;


That root destroy'd, they wither and expire. A Deity believ'd will nought avail ; Rewards and punishments make God ador'd ; And hopes and fears give conscience all her power.

As in the dying parent dies the child, Virtue, with immortality, expires. Who tells me he denies his soul immortal, Whate'er his boast, has told me, he's a knave. His duty 'tis, to love himself alone ; Nor care tho' mankind perish, if he smiles. Who thinks ere long the man shall wholly die, Is dead already ; nought but brute survives.

And are there such ? Such candidates there are For more than death ; for utter loss of being, Being', the basis of the Deity ! Ask you the cause ? The cause they will not tell : Nor need they : Oh the sorceries of sense ! They work this transformation on the soul, Dismount her, like the serpent at the fall, Dismount her from her native wing (which soar'd Erewhile ethereal heights), and throw her down, To lick the dust, and crawl in such a thought.

Is it in words to paint you ? O ye fall'n ! Fall'n from the wings of reason, and of hope ! Erect in stature, prone in appetite ! Patrons of pleasure, posting into pain ! Lovers of argument, averse to sense ! Boasters of liberty, fast bound in chains ! Lords of the wide creation, and the shame ! More senseless than th' irrationals you scorn ! More base than those you rule ! than those you pity, Far more undone ! O ye most infamous Of beings, from superior dignity ! Deepest in woe from means of boundless bliss !


Ye curst by blessings infinite ! Because Most highly favour'd, most profoundly lost ! Ye motley mass of contradiction strong ! And are you, too, convinc'd your souls fly off In exhalation soft, and die in air, From the full flood of evidence against you ? In the coarse drudgeries, and sinks of sense, Your souls have quite worn out the make of heaven, By vice new-cast, and creatures of your own : But tho' you can deform, you can't destroy ; To curse, not uncreate, is all your power.

Lorenzo ! this black brotherhood renounce ; Renounce St. Evremont, and read St. Paul. Ere rapt by miracle, by reason wing-'d, His mounting mind made long abode in heaven. This is freethinking, unconfin'd to parts, To send the soul, on curious travel bent, Thro' all the provinces of human thought ; To dart her flight, thro' the whole sphere of man ; Of this vast universe to make the tour; In each recess of space, and time, at home ; Familiar with their wonders ; diving deep ; And, like a prince of boundless int 'rests there, Still most ambitious of the most remote ; To look on truth unbroken, and entire ; Truth in the system, the full orb; where truths By truths enlighten'd, and sustain'd, afford An arch-like, strong foundation, to support Th' incumbent weight of absolute, complete Conviction ; here, the more we press, we stand More firm ; who most examine, most believe. Parts, like half sentences, confound; the whole Conveys the sense, and God is understood ; Who not in fragments writes to human race :

NIGHT vii. 175

Read his whole volume, sceptic ! then reply.

This, this, is thinking- free, a thought that grasps Beyond a grain, and looks beyond an hour. Turn up thine eye, survey this midnight scene ; What are earth's kingdoms, to yon boundless orbs, Of human souls, one day, the destin'd range ? Arid what yon boundless orbs, to godlike man ? Those num'rous worlds that throng the firmament, And ask more space in heaven, can roll at large In man's capacious thought, and still leave room For ampler orbs, for new creations, there. Can such a soul contract itself, to gripe A point of no dimension, of no weight ? It can ; it does : the world is such a point : And, of that point, how small a part enslaves !

How small a part of nothing 1 , shall I say ? Why not? Friends, our chief treasure ! how they Lucia, Narcissa fair, Philander, gone ! [drop ! The grave, like fabled Cerberus, has op'd A triple mouth ; and, in an awful voice, Loud calls my soul, and utters all I sing. How the world falls to pieces round about us, And leaves us in a ruin of our joy ! What says this transportation of my friends ? It bids me love the place where now they dwell, And scorn this wretched spot, they leave so poor. Eternity's vast ocean lies before thee ; There ; there, Lorenzo ! thy Clarissa sails. Give thy mind sea-room ; keep it wide of earth, That rock of souls immortal ; cut thy cord ; Weigh anchor ; spread thy sails ; call every wind ; Eye thy great Pole-star ; make the land of life.

Two kinds of life has double natur'd man, And two of death ; the last far more severe.


Life animal is nurtur'd by the sun ; Thrives on his bounties, triumphs in his beams. Life rational subsists on higher food, Triumphant in his beams, who made the day. When we leave that sun, and are left by this, (The fate of all who die in stubborn guilt) 'Tis utter darkness ; strictly double death. We sink by no judicial stroke of heaven, But nature's course ; as sure as plummets fall. Since God, or man, must alter, ere they meet, (Since light and darkness blend not in one sphere) 'Tis manifest, Lorenzo ! who must change.

If, then, that double death should prove thy lot, Blame not the bowels of the Deity ; Man shall be blest, as far as man permits. Not man

alone, all rationals, heaven arms 

With an illustrious, but tremendous, power To counteract its own most gracious ends ; And this, of strict necessity, not choice ; That power denied, men, angels, were no more But passive engines, void of praise, or blame. A nature rational implies the power Of being blest, or wretched, as we please ; Else idle reason would have nought to do ; And he that would be barr'd capacity Of pain, courts incapacity of bliss. Heaven wills our happiness, allows our doom ; Invites iis ardently, but not compels ; Heaven but persuades, almighty man decrees ; Man is the maker of immortal fates. Man falls by man, if finally he falls ; And fall he must, who learns from death alone, The dreadful secret, that he lives for ever.

Why this to thce ? Thee yet, perhaps, in doubt


Of second life ? But wherefore doubtful still ?

Eternal life is nature's ardent wish :

What ardently we wish, we soon believe :

Thy tardy faith declares that wish destroy'd :

What has destroy'd it ? Shall I tell thee what ?

When fear'd the future, 'tis no longer wisht ;

And, when unwisht, we strive to disbelieve.

" Thus infidelity our guilt betrays."

Nor that the sole detection ! Blush, Lorenzo !

Blush for hypocrisy, if not for guilt.

The future fear'd? An infidel, and fear?

Fear what ? a dream ? a fable ? How thy dread,

Unwilling evidence, and therefore strong,

Affords my cause an undesign'd support !

How disbelief affirms, what it denies !

" It, unawares, asserts immortal life."

Surprising ! infidelity turns out

A creed, and a confession of our sins :

Apostates, thus, are orthodox divines.

Lorenzo ! with Lorenzo clash no more ; Nor longer a transparent vizor wear. Think'st thou, Religion only has her mask ? Our infidels are Satan's hypocrites, Pretend the worst, and, at the bottom, fail. When visited by thought (thought will intrude), Like .him they serve, they tremble, and believe. Is there hypocrisy so foul as this ? So fatal to the welfare of the world ? What detestation, what contempt, their due ! And, if unpaid, be thank'd for their escape That Christian candour they strive hard to scorn. If not for that asylum, they might find A hell on earth ; nor 'scape a worse below.

With insolence, and impotence of thought, VOL. T. v


Instead of racking- fancy, to refute,

Reform thy manners, and the truth enjoy.

But shall I dare confess the dire result ?

Can thy proud reason brook so black a brand ?

From purer manners, to sublimer faith,

Is nature's unavoidable ascent ;

An honest deist, where the gospel shines,

Matur'd to nobler, in the Christian ends.

When that blest change arrives, e'en cast aside

This song cuperfiuous ; life immortal strikes

Conviction, in a flood of light divine.

A Christian dwells, like 1 Uriel, in the sun;

Meridian evidence puts doubt to flight ;

And ardent hope anticipates the skies.

Of that bright sun, Lorenzo ! scale the sphere ;

Tis easy ! it invites thee ; it descends [came ;

From heaven to woo, and waft thee whence it

Read and revere the sacred page ; a page

Where triumphs immortality ; a page

Which not the whole creation could produce ;

Which not the conflagration shall destroy ;

'Tis printed in the mind of gods for ever,

In nature's ruins not one letter lost.

In proud disdain of what e'en gods adore, Dost smile ? Poor wretch ! thy guardian angel Angels, and men, assent to what I sing; [weeps. Wits smile, and thank me for my midnight dream. How vicious hearts fume phrensy to the brain ! Parts push us on to pride, and pride to shame ; Pert infidelity is wit's cockade, To grace the brazen brow that braves the skies, By loss of being, dreadfully secure. Lorenzo ! if thy doctrine wins the day,

1 Milton.


And drives my dreams, defeated, from the field ;

If this is all, if earth a final scene,

Take heed ; stand fast ; be sure to be a knave ;

A knave in grain ! ne'er deviate to the right :

Shouldst thou be good how infinite thy loss !

Guilt only makes annihilation gain.

Blest scheme ! which life deprives of comfort, death

Of hope; and which vice only recommends.

If so, where, infidels ! your bait thrown out

To catch weak converts ? Where your lofty boast

Of zeal for virtue, and of love to man ?

Annihilation ! I confess, in these.

What can reclaim you ? Dare 1 hope profound Philosophers the converts of a song ? Yet know, its l title flatters you, not me ; Yours be the praise to make my title good ; Mine, to bless heaven, and triumph in your praise. But since so pestilential your disease, Tho* sovereign is the med'cine I prescribe, As yet, I'll neither triumph, nor despair : But hope, ere long, my midnight dream will wake Your hearts, and teach your wisdom to be wise : For why should souls immortal, made for bliss, E'er wish (and wish in vain !) that souls could die ? What ne'er can die, Oh ! grant to live ; and crown The w.ish, and aim, and labour of the skies ; Increase, and enter on the joys of heaven : Thus shall my title pass a sacred seal, Receive an imprimatur from above, While angels shout an infidel reclaimed !

To close, Lorenzo ! spite of all my pains, Still seems it strange, that thou shouldst live for ever ?

1 The Infidel Reclaimed.


Is it less strange, that thou shouldst live at all ? This is a miracle ; and that no more. Who gave beginning-, can exclude an end. Deny thou art : then, doubt if thou shalt be. A miracle with miracles inclos'd, Is man ; and starts his faith at what is strange ? What less than wonders, from the wonderful ; What less than miracles, from God, can flow ? Admit a God that mystery supreme ! That cause uncaus'd ! all other wonders cease ; Nothing is marvellous for him to do : Deny him all is mystery besides ; Millions of mysteries ? Each darker far, Than that thy wisdom would, unwisely, shun. If weak thy faith, why choose the harder side ? We nothing know, but what is marvellous ; Yet what is marvellous, we can't believe. So weak our reason, and so great our God, What most surprises in the sacred page, Or full as strange, or stranger, must be true. Faith is not reason's labour, but repose.

To faith, and virtue, why so backward, man ? From hence : the present strongly strikes us all ; The future, faintly : can we, then, be men ? If men, Lorenzo ! the reverse is right. Reason is man's peculiar : sense, the brute's. The present is the scanty realm of sense ; The future, reason's empire unconfin'd : On that expending all her godlike power, She plans, provides, expatiates, triumphs, there ; There, builds her blessings ! there, expects her And nothing asks of fortune, or of men. [praise ; And what is reason ? Be she, thus, defin'd ; Reason is upright stature in the soul.

NIGHT VII. ' ^ J81

Oh ! be a man ; and strive to be a gocL [life ?" " For what ? (thou say'st) to damp The joys of

No ; to give heart and substance to thy joys.

That tyrant, hope ; mark how she domineers ;

She bids us quit realities, for dreams ;

Safety, and peace, for hazard and alarm ;

That tyrant o'er the tyrants of the soul,

She bids ambition quit its taken prize,

Spurn the luxuriant branch on which it sits,

Tho' bearing crowns, to spring at distant game ;

And plunge in toils and dangers for repose.

If hope precarious, and of things, when gain'd,

Of little moment, and as little stay,

Can sweeten toils, and dangers into joys ;

What then, that hope, which nothing can defeat,

Our leave unask'd ? Rich hope of boundless bliss !

Bliss, past man's power to paint it; time's to close ! This hope is earth's most estimable prize :

This is man's portion, while no more than man :

Hope, of all passions, most befriends us here ;

Passions of prouder name befriend us less .

Joy has her tears ; and transport has her death ;

Hope, like a cordial, innocent, tho' strong,

Man's heart, at once, inspirits, and serenes ;

Nor makes him pay his wisdom for his joys ;

Tis all, our present state can safely bear,

Health to the frame ! and vigour to the mind !

A joy attemper'd ! a chastis'd delight !

Like the fair summer evening, mild, and sweet '

'Tis man's full cup ; his paradise below ! A blest hereafter, then, or hop'd, or gain'd

Is all ; our whole of happiness : full proof,

I chose no trivial or inglorious theme.

And know, ye foes to song ! (well meaning men,


Tho' quite forgotten 1 half your Bible's praise !) Important truths, in spite of verse, may please : Grave minds you praise ; nor can you praise too If there is weight in an eternity, [much :

Let the grave listen ; and be graver still.