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As the occasion of this poem was real, not fictitious;
poem. The reason of it is, that the facts men-
NIGHT THE FIRST.
LIFE, DEATH, AND IMMORTALITY.
TO THE RIGHT HON. ARTHUR ONSLOW, SPEAKER
This double night, transmit one pitying ray,
The bell strikes one. We take no note of time
To give it then a tongue,
Where are they? With the years beyond the flood.
Poor pensioner on the bounties of an hour?
How poor, how rich, how abject, how august,
TIR'D Nature's sweet restorer, balmy Sleep!
From short (as usual) and disturb'd repose,
Tumultuous; where my wreck'd desponding thought, Helpless immortal! insect infinite!
A worm! a god!-I tremble at myself,
What can preserve my life? or what destroy?
Night, sable goddess! from her ebon throne,
"Tis past conjecture; all things rise in proof:
Silence and Darkness! solemn sisters! twins
Assist me I will thank you in the grave;
The grave, your kingdom: there this frame shall fall E'en silent night proclaims my soul immortal:
A victim sacred to your dreary shrine.
E'en silent night proclaims eternal day.
Thou, who didst put to flight
Primeval Silence, when the morning stars,
For human weal, Heaven husbands all events;
O thou, whose word from solid darkness struck
They live! they greatly live a life on Earth
Through this opaque of Nature, and of soul,
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On me, more justly number'd with the dead. Could you, so rich in rapture, fear an end,
That ghastly thought would drink up all your joy, How populous, how vital, is the grave!
And quite unparadise the realms of light. This is creation's melancholy vault,
Safe are you lodg'd above these rolling spheres ; The vale funereal, the sad cypress gloom ; The baleful influence of whose giddy dance The land of apparitions, empty shades !
Sheds sad vicissitude on all beneath. All, all on Earth, is shadow, all beyond
Here teems with revolutions every hour;
And rarely for the better; or the best,
Each moment has its sickle, emulous
Of Time's enormous scythe, whose ample sweep Life's theatre as yet is shut, and Death,
Strikes empires from the root; each moment plays Strong Death, alone can heave the massy bar, His little weapon in the narrower sphere This gross impediment of clay remove,
of sweet domestic comfort, and cuts down And make us embryoes of existence free.
The fairest bloom of sublunary bliss. From real life, but little more remote
Bliss ! sublunary bliss -proud words, and vain ! Is he, not yet a candidate for light,
Implicit treason to divine decree! The future embryo, slumbering in his sire.
A bold invasion of the rights of Heaven! Embryoes we must be, till we burst the shell, I clasp'd the phantoms, and I found them air. Yon ambient azure shell, and spring to life, O had I weigh'd it ere my fond embrace ! The life of gods, O transport ! and of man. What darts of agony had miss'd my heart! Yet man, fool man! here buries all his thoughts ; Death! great proprietor of all! 'tis thine Inters celestial hopes without one sigh.
To tread out empire, and to quench the stars. Prisoner of Earth, and pent beneath the Moon, The Sun himself by thy permission shines ; Here pinions all his wishes; wing'd by Heaven And, one day, thou shalt pluck him from his sphere. To fly at infinite ; and reach it there,
Amid such mighty plunder, why exhaust
Thy partial quiver on a mark so mean?
Thy shaft flew thrice ; and thrice my peace was slain Where momentary ages are no more!
And thrice, ere thrice yon Moon had fill'd her horn Where Time, and Pain, and Chance, and Death expire! O Cynthia! why so pale? Dost thou lament And is it in the flight of threescore years,
Thy wretched neighbor ? Grieve to see thy wheel To push eternity from human thought,
Of ceaseless change outwhirl'd in human life? And smother souls immortal in the dust?
How wanes my borrow'd bliss! from fortune's smile A soul immortal, spending all her fires,
Precarious courtesy! not virtue's sure, Wasting her strength in strenuous idleness, Self-given, solar ray of sound delight. Thrown into tumult, raptur'd or alarm’d,
In every varied posture, place, and hour, At aught this scene can threaten or indulge, How widow'd every thought of every joy! Resembles ocean into tempest wrought,
Thought, busy thought! too busy for my peace! To waft a feather, or to drown a fly,
Through the dark postern of time long elaps'd,
I rue the riches of my former fate;
Night-visions may befriend (as sung above :) I tremble at the blessings once so dear;
Hangs out the Sun his lustre but for me, Of stable pleasures on the tossing wave!
The single man? Are angels all beside ? Eternal sun-shine in the storms of life!
I mourn for millions : 'tis the common lor; How richly were my noon-tide trances hung In this shape, or in that, has Fate entaila With gorgeous tapestries of pictur'd joys !
The mother's throes on all of woman born, Joy behind joy, in endless perspective!
Not more the children, than sure heirs, of pain. Till at Death's toll, whose restless iron tongue War, Famine, Pest, Volcano, Storm, and Fire, Calls daily for his millions at a meal,
Intestine broils, Oppression, with her heart
Here, plung’d in mines, forgets a Sun was made. Of mouldering mud, is royalty to me!
There, beings deathless as their haughty lord, The spider's most attenuated thread
Are hammer d to the galling oar for life ; Is cord, is cable, to man's tender tie
And plow the winter's wave, and reap despair. On earthly bliss! it breaks at every breeze. Some, for hard masters, broken under arms,
Oye blest scenes of permanent delight! In battle lopt away, with half their limbs, Full, above measure! lasting, beyond bound ! Beg bitter bread through realms their valor sar'd. A perpetuity of bliss is bliss.
If so the tyrant, or his minion, doom.
Want, and incurable Disease, (fell pair!)
Dear is thy welfare ; think me not unkind; On hopeless multitudes remorseless seize
I would not damp, but to secure thy joys. At once; and make a refuge of the grave. Think not that fear is sacred to the storm : How groaning hospitals eject their dead!
Stand on thy guard against the smiles of Fate. What numbers groan for sad admission there! Is Heaven tremendous in its frowns ? Most sure ; What numbers, once in Fortune's lap high-fed, And in its favors formidable too : Solicit the cold hand of Charity!
Its favors here are trials, not rewards ;
A call to duty, not discharge from care ;
Awake us to their cause and consequence ;
Awe Nature's tumult, and chastise her joys, Your impudence, you blush at what is right. Lest, while we clasp, we kill them ; nay, invert
Happy! did sorrow seize on such alone. To worse than simple misery, their charms
Revolted joys, like foes in civil war,
With rage envenom'd rise against our peace
All joys, but joys that never can expire And his guard, falling, crushes him to death. Who builds on less than an immortal base, Not happiness itself makes good her name; Fond as he seems, condemns his joys to death. Our very wishes give us not our wish.
Mine died with thee, Philander! thy last sigh How distant oft the thing we dote on most, Dissolv'd the charm; the disenchanted Earth From that for which we dote, felicity!
Lost all her lustre. Where her glittering towers ? The smoothest course of Nature has its pains ! Her golden mountains, where all darken'd down And truest friends, through error, wound our rest. To naked waste ; a dreary vale of tears; Without misfortune, what calamities!
The great magician's dead! Thou poor, pale piece And what hostilities, without a foe!
Of outcast earth, in darkness! what a change Nor are foes wanting to the best on Earth. From yesterday! Thy darling hope so near, But endless is the list of human ills,
(Long-labor'd prize!) O how ambition flush'd And sighs might sooner fail, than cause to sigh. Thy glowing cheek! Ambition truly great,
A part how small of the terraqueous globe Of virtuous praise. Death's subtle seed within Is tenanted by man! the rest wasle,
(Sly, treacherous miner!) working in the dark, Rocks, deserts, frozen seas, and burning sands; Smil'd at thy well-concerted scheme, and beckon'd Wild haunts of monsters, poisons, stings, and death. The worm io riot on that rose so red, Such is Earth's melancholy map! but, far Unfaded ere it fell ; one moment's prey! More sad! this Earth is a true map of man.
Man's foresight is conditionally wise ; So bounded are its haughty lord's delights Lorenzo! wisdom into folly turns 'To woe's wide empire; where deep troubles toss, Oft, the first instant, its idea fair Loud sorrows howl, envenom'd passions bite, To laboring thought is born. How dim our eye! Ravenous calamities our vitals seize,
The present moment terminates our sight; And threatening fate wide opens to devour. Clouds, thick as those on doomsday, drown the next;
What then am I, who sorrow for myself! We penetrate, we prophesy in vain. In age, in infancy, from others' aid
Time is dealt out by particles; and each, Is all our hope ; to teach us to be kind.
Ere mingled with the streaming sands of life, That, Nature's first, last lesson to mankind : By Fate's inviolable oath is sworn The selfish heart deserves the pain it feels. Deep silence, “Where eternity begins." More generous sorrow, while it sinks, exalts ; By Nature's law, what may be, may be now ; And conscious virtue mitigates the pang.
There's no prerogative in human hours. Nor virtue, more than prudence, bids me give In human hearts what bolder thought can rise Swoln thought a second channel ; who divide, Than man's presumption on to
morrow's dawn? They weaken too, the torrent of their grief. Where is to-morrow? in another world. Take, then, 0 World! thy much-indebted tear : For numbers this is certain ; the reverse How sad a sight is human happiness,
Is sure to none; and yet on this perhaps, To those whose thought can pierce beyond an hour! This peradventure, infamous for lies, O thou! whate'er thou art, whose heart exults ! As on a rock of adamant, we build Wouldst thou I should congratulate my fate? Our mountain-hopes, spin out eternal schemes, I know thou wouldst; thy pride demands it from me. As we the fatal sisters could out-spin, Let thy pride pardon, what thy nature needs, And, big with life's futurities, expire. The salutary censure of a friend.
Not e'en Philander had bespoke his shroud : - Thou happy wretch! by blindness thou art blest ; Nor had he cause ; a warning was denied : By dotage dandled to perpetual smiles.
How many fall as sudden, not as safe ! Know, smiler! at thy peril art thou pleas'd! As sudden, though for years admonish'd home. Thy pleasure is the promise of thy pain.
Of human ills the last extreme beware, Misfortune, like a creditor severe,
Beware, Lorenzo! a slow sudden death. But rises in demand for her delay;
How dreadful that deliberate surprise! She makes a scourge of past prosperity,
Be wise to-day; 'tis madness to defer; To sting thee more, and double thy distress. Next day the fatal precedent will plead ;
Lorenzo, Fortune makes her court to thee, Thus on, till wisdom is push'd out of life. Thy fond heart dances, while the Syren sings. Procrastination is the thief of time;
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
NIGHT THE SECOND.
TIME, DEATH, AND FRIENDSHIP.
This midnight sentinel, with clarion shrill, At least, their own; their future selves applaud; Emblem of that which shall awake the dead, How excellent that life they ne'er will lead ! Rouse souls from slumber, into thoughts of Heaten. Time lodg‘d in their own hands is folly's vails ; Shall I, too, weep? Where then is fortitude ? That lodg’d in fate's, to wisdom they consign; And, fortitude abandon'd, where is man? The thing they can't but purpose, they postpone ; I know the terms on which he sees the light; "Tis not in folly, not to scorn a fool;
He that is born, is 'listed ; life is war; And scarce in huma: wisdom, to do more.
Eternal war with woe. Who bears it best, All promise is poor dilatory man,
Deserves it least.- On other themes I'll dwell. And that through every stage: when young, indeed, Lorenzo! let me turn my thoughts on thee, In full content we, sometimes, nobly rest,
And thine, on themes may profit; profit there Unanxious for ourselves ; and only wish,
Where most they need. Themes, too, the genuine As duteous sons, our fathers were more wise.
growth At thirty man suspects himself a fool;
Of dear Philander's dust. He thus, though dead, Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan;
May still befriend—What themes ? Time's wondrous At fifty chides his infamous delay,
price, Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve ;
Death, friendship, and Philander's final scene. In all the magnanimity of thought
So could I touch these themes, as might obtain Resolves; and re-resolves; then dies the same. Thine ear, nor leave thy heart quite disengag'd,
And why? Because he thinks himself immortal. The good deed would delight me; half impress All men think all men mortal, but themselves; On my dark cloud an Iris; and from grief Themselves, when some alarming shock of fate Call glory.- Dost thou mourn Philander's fate ? Strikes through their wounded hearts the sudden I know thou say'st it: Says thy life the same! dread;
He mourns the dead, who lives as they desire. But their hearts wounded, like the wounded air, Where is that thirst, that avarice of time, Soon close ; where, past the shaft, no trace is (O glorious avarice!) thought of death inspires, found.
As rumor'd robberies endear our gold ? As from the wing no scar the sky retains; O time ! than gold more sacred ; more a load The parted wave no furrow from the keel ; Than lead, to fools; and fools reputed wise. So dies in human hearts the thoughts of death. What moment granted man without account? E'en with the tender tear which Nature sheds What years are squander'd, wisdom's debt unpaid ! O'er those we love, we drop it in their grave. Our wealth in days, all due to that discharge. Can I forget Philander? That were strange! Haste, haste, he lies in wait, he's at the door, O my full heart-But should I give it vent, Insidious Death! should his strong hand arrest, The longest night, though longer far, would fail, No composition sets the prisoner free. And the lark listen to my midnight song.
Eternity's inexorable chain The sprightly lark's shrill matin wakes the morn; Fast binds; and vengeance claims the full arrear. Grief's sharpest thorn hard pressing on my breast, How late I shudder'd on the brink! how late I strive, with wakeful melody, to cheer
Life call’d for her last refuge in despair! The sullen gloom, sweet Philomel ! like thee, That time is mine, O Mead! to thee I owe; And call the stars to listen: every star
Fain would I pay thee with eternity. Is deaf to mine, enamour'd of thy lay.
But ill my genius answers my desire ; Yet be not vain; there are, who thine excel, My sickly song is mortal, past thy cure. And charm through distant ages: wrapt in shade, Accept the will ;-that dies not with my strain. Prisoner of darkness! to the silent hours,
For what calls thy disease, Lorenzo ? not
For Esculapian, but for moral aid.
And what its worth, ask death-beds; they can tell Man too he sung: immortal man I sing ;
Part with it as with life, reluctant; big Oft bursts my song beyond the bounds of life; With holy hope of nobler time to come; What, now, but immortality can please?
Time higher aim'd, still nearer the great mark O had he press'd his theme, pursued the track, Of men and angels; virtue more divine. Which opens out of darkness into day!
Is this our duty, wisdom, glory, gain? O had he, mounted on his wing of fire,
(These Heaven benign in vital union binds) Soar'd where I sink, and sung immortal man! And sport we like the natives of the bough, llow had it blest mankind, and rescued me! When vernal suns inspire ? Amusement reigns
Man's great demand : to trifle, is to live :
How heavily we drag the load of life! And is it then a trifle, too, to die?
Bleşt leisure is our curse ; like that of Cain, Thou say'st I preach, Lorenzo ! 'tis confest. It makes us wander; wander Earth around What if, for once, I preach thee quite awake ? To fly that tyrant, Thought. As Atlas groan'd Who wants amusement in the flame of battle? The world beneath, we groan beneath an hour. Is it not treason to the soul immortal,
We cry for mercy to the next amusement; Her foes in arms, eternity the prize ?
The next amusement mortgages our fields ; Will toys amuse, when medicines cannot cure? Slight inconvenience! Prisons hardly frown, When spirits ebb, when life's enchanting scenes From hateful Time if prisons set us free. Their lustre lose, and lessen in our sight,
Yet when Death kindly tenders us relief, As lands, and cities with their glittering spires, We call him cruel ; years to moments shrink, To the poor shatter'd bark, by sudden storm Ages to years. The telescope is turn'd. Thrown off to sea, and soon to perish there? To man's false optics (from his folly false) Will toys amuse? No: thrones will then be toys, Time, in advance, behind him hides his wings, And earth and skies seem dust upon the scale. And seems to creep, decrepit with his age;
Redeem we time ?- Its loss we dearly buy. Behold him, when past by ; what then is seen, What pleads Lorenzo for his high-priz'd sports ? But his broad pinions swifier than the winds? He pleads time's numerous blanks ; he loudly And all mankind, in contradiction strong, pleads
Rueful, aghast! cry out on his career. The straw-like trifles on life's common stream. Leave to thy foes these errors, and these ills; From whom those blanks and trifles, but from thee? To Nature just, their cause and cure explore. No blank, no trifle, Nature made, or meant. Not short Heaven's bounty, boundless our expense ; Virtue, or purpos'd virtue, still be thine;
No niggard, Nature; men are prodigals. This cancels thy complaint at once. This leaves We waste, not use our time; we breathe, not live. In act no trifle, and no blank in time.
Time wasted is existence, us'd is life, This greatens, fills, immortalizes all;
And bare eristence, man, to live ordain'd, This, the blest art of turning all to gold;
Wrings, and oppresses with enormous weight. This the good heart's prerogative to raise
And why? since Time was given for use, not waste, A royal tribute from the poorest hours;
Enjoin'd to fly ; with tempest, tide, and stars, Immense revenue! every moment pays,
To keep his speed, nor ever wait for man; If nothing more than purpose in thy power;
Time's use was doom'd a pleasure; waste, a pain ; Thy purpose firm, is equal to the deed :
That man might feel his error, if unseen: Who does the best his circumstance allows,
And, feeling, fly to labor for his cure; Does well, acts nobly; angels could no more. Not, blundering, split on idleness for ease. Our outward act indeed admits restraint;
Life's cares are comforts ; such by Heaven design'd; "Tis not in things o'er thought to domineer; He that has none, must make them, or be wretched. Guard well thy thought ; our thoughts are heard in Cares are employments, and without employ Heaven.
The soul is on a rack; the rack of rest, On all-important time, through every age,
To souls most adverse; action all their joy. Though much, and warm, the wise have urg'd; the Here then, the riddle, mark'd above, unfolds
When time turns torment, when man turns a fool. Is yet unborn, who duly weighs an hour.
We rave, we wrestle, with great Nature's plan; • I've lost a day"—the prince who nobly cried We thwart the Deity; and 'tis decreed, Had been an emperor without his crown;
Who thwart his will, shall contradict their own. Cf Rome? Say, rather, lord of human race : Hence our unnatural quarrels with ourselves; He spoke, as if deputed by mankind.
Our thoughts at enmity ; our bosom-broil ; So should all speak: so Reason speaks in all : We push Time from us, and we wish him back: From the soft whispers of that God in man, Lavish of lustrums, and yet fond of life; Why fly to folly, why to frenzy fly,
Life we think long, and short ; Death seek, and For rescue from the blessing we possess ?
shun: Time, the supreme !—Time is Eternity;
Body and soul, like peevish man and wife,
United jar, and yet are loth to part.
Gone! they ne'er go; when past, they haunt us Ah! how unjust to Nature and himself,
Nor death, nor life delight us. If time past, That span too short, we tax as tedious too; And time possest, both pain us, what can please? Torture invention, all expedients tire,
That which the Deity to please ordain'd, To lash the lingering moments into speed,
Time us'd. The man who consecrates his hours And whirl us (bappy riddance!) from ourselves. By vigorous effort, and an honest aim, Art, brainless Art! our furious charioteer
At once he draws the sting of life and death; (For Nature's voice unstifled would recall) He walks with Nature; and her paths are peace. Drives headlong towards the precipice of death ; Our error's cause and cure are seen : see next Death, most our dread; death thus more dreadful Time's nature, origin, importance, speed ; made :
And thy great gain from urging his career.O what a riddle of absurdity!
All-sensual man, because untouch'd, unseen, Leisure is pain ; takes off our chariot-wheels; He looks on Time as nothing. Nothing else