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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,
And worth exalted humbles us the more.
Thou wilt not patronise a scheme that makes
Weakness and vice the refuge of mankind.
• Has virtue, then, no joys ?-Yes, joys dear.
Talk ne'er so long, in this imperfect state
Virtue and vice are at eternal war.
Virtue's a combat; and who fights for aought,
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 famish'd 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 Sun,
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?
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 Heav'n
What the worst perpetrate, or best endure?
This cannot be. To love and know, in man
Is boundless appetite and boundless pow'r,
And these demonstrate boundless objects too.
Objects, pow'rs, appetites, Heav'n suits in all,
Nor, Nature through, 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 Heav'n,
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 Heav'n? 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, Through 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, de
spairs, Mankind's peculiar! Reason's precious dower! No foreign clime they ransack for their robes, Nor brothers cite to the litigious bar; Their good is good entire, unmix'd, unmarr'd; They find a paradise in every field, On boughs forbidden where no curses hang: Their ill no more than strikes the sense, unstretch'd By previous dread, or murmur in the rear: When the worstcomes, it comes unfear'd; one stroke Begins and ends their wo; they die but once; Bless'd, 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 unites The difficult; and softens the severe; The cloud on Nature's beauteous face dispels; Restores bright order; casts the brute beneath, And reinthrones 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 though much bitter in our cup is thrown,
Predominates, and gives the taste of Heav'n.
O wherefore is the Deity so kind ?
Astonishing beyond astonishment?
Heav'n our reward--for heav'n enjoy'd below.
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,
Abhor'd Annihilation ! blasts the soul,
And wide extends the bounds of human wo!
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 vanish'd! 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, huri'd headlong, hurld 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 curs'd than at the fall ! -The Sun goes out! The thorns shoot up! what thorns in every 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 wo!
Wo from Heaven's bounties ! wo from what was
To flatter most, high intellectual powers. [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 bless'd 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! (me.
Now leagued with furies, and with thee, * against
• 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 ! Through Nature's ample range, in thought to
stroll, And start at man, the single mourner there,