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HUMBLY INSCRIBED TO
Whose lavish hand, whose love stupendous, pours
NIGHT THE NINTH AND LAST.
CONTAINING, AMONG OTHER THINGS,
I. A Moral Survey of the Nocturnal Heavens.
signs May shun the light) at your designs on Heaven:
HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE, ONE OF HIS Sole point! where over-bashful is your blame.
MAJESTY'S PRINCIPAL SECRETARIES OF STATE. Are you not wise ? You know you are: yet hear One truth, amid your numerous schemes, mislaid,
-Fatis contraria fata rependens.-Virg. Or overlook'd, or thrown aside, if seen; “ Our schemes to plan by this world, or the next,
As when a traveller, a long day past Is the sole difference between wise and fool." In painful search of what he cannot find, All worthy men will weigh you in this scale ; At night's approach, content with the next cot, What wonder then, if they pronounce you light?
There ruminates, awhile, his labor lost; Is their esteem alone not worth your care?
Then cheers his heart with what his fate affords, Accept my simple scheme, of common sense ;
And chants his sonnet to deceive the time, Thus, save your fame, and make two worlds your Till the due season calls him to repose :
Thus I, long-travel'd in the ways of men, The world replies not ;—but the world persists; And dancing, with the rest, the giddy maze, And puts the cause off to the longest day,
Where disappointment smiles at hope's career; Planning evasions for the day of doom.
Warn'd by the languor of life's evening ray, So far, at that re-hearing, from redress,
At length have hous'd me in an humble shed; They then turn witnesses against themselves : Where, future wandering banish'd from my thought
, Hear that, Lorenzo! nor be wise to-morrow. And waiting, patient, the sweet hour of rest, Haste, haste! A man, by nature, is in haste;
I chase the moments with a serious song. For who shall answer for another hour ?
Song soothes our pains; and age has pains to soothe. 'Tis highly prudent, to make one sure friend ; When age, care, crime, and friends embrac'd at And that thou canst 'not do, this side the skies.
heart, Ye sons of Earth! (nor willing to be more !) Torn from my bleeding breast, and death's dark shade. Since verse you think from priestcraft somewhat free, Which hovers o'er me, quench th' ethereal fire; Thus in an age so gay, the Muse plain truths Canst thou, O Night! indulge one labor more! (Truths, which, at church, you might have heard in One labor more indulge! then sleep, my strain ! prose)
Till, haply, wak'd by Raphael's golden lyre, Has ventur'd into light; well-pleas'd the verse Where night, death, age, care, crime, and sorrow, Should be forgot, if you the truths retain :
cease ; And crown her with your welfare, not your praise. To bear a part in everlasting lays; But praise she need not fear: I see my fate;
Though far, far higher set, in aim, I trust, And headlong leap, like Curtius, down the gulf, Symphonious to this humble prelude here. Since many an ample volume, mighty tome,
Has not the Muse asserted pleasures pure, Must die ; and die unwept; O thou minute,
Like those above ; exploding other joys ? Devoted page! go forth among thy foes;
Weigh what was urg'd, Lorenzo! fairly weigh; Go nobly proud of martyrdom for truth,
And tell me, hast thou cause to triumph still ? And die a double death : mankind, incens'd, I think, thou wilt forbear a boast so bold. Denies thee long to live: nor shalt thou rest
But if, beneath the favor of mistake, When thou art dead; in Stygian shades arraign'd Thy smile's sincere; not more sincere can be By Lucifer, as traitor to his throne,
Lorenzo's smile, than my compassion for him. And bold blasphemer of his friend—the world; The sick in body call for aid ; the sick The world, whose legions cost him slender pay, In mind are covetous of more disease; And volunteers around his banner swarm; And when at worst, they dream themselves quite Prudent, as Prussia, in her zeal for Gaul!
well. “ Are all, then, fools ?" Lorenzo cries—Yes, all, To know ourselves diseas'd, is half our cure. But such as hold this doctrine (new to thee;)
When nature's blush by custom is wip'd off, “ The mother of true wisdom is the will ;"
And conscience, deaden'd by repeated strokes, The noblest intellect, a fool without it.
Has into manners naturaliz'd our crimes; World-wisdom much has done, and more may do,
The curse of curses is, our curse to love ; In arts and sciences, in wars and peace;
To triumph in the blackness of our guilt, But art and science, like thy wealth, will leave thee, (As Indians glory in the deepest jet.) And make thee twice a beggar at thy death.
And throw aside our senses with our peace. This is the most indulgence can afford ;
But grant no guilt, no shame, no least alloy ; Thy wisdom all can do, but—make thee wise." Grant joy and glory quite unsullied shone ; Nor think this censure is severe on thee :
Yet, still, it ill deserves Lorenzo's heart.
No joy, no glory, glitters in thy sight,
And that in sorrow buried; this, in shame ;
Where, the prime actors of the last year's scene;
But needless monuments to wake the thought;
Profest diversions!-cannot these escape?"
Shed generous tears on wretches born to die;
Lorenzo! such the glories of the world!
Nor man alone; his breathing bust expires. His tomb is mortal; empires die: where now The Roman? Greek? they stalk, an empty name! Yet few regard them in this useful light; Though half our learning is their epitaph. When down thy vale, unlock'd by midnight thought, That loves to wander in thy sunless realms, O Death! I stretch my view; what visions rise! What triumphs! toils imperial! arts divine! In wither'd laurels glide before my sight! What lengths of far-fam'd ages, billow'd high With human agitation, roll along In unsubstantial images of air!
The melancholy ghosts of dead renown, Whispering faint echoes of the world's applause, With penitential aspect, as they pass,
All point at Earth, and hiss at human pride,
One form assaults my sight, and chills my blood,
For, know'st thou not, or art thou loth to know,
See'st thou, Lorenzo! what depends on man? The fate of Nature; as for man, her birth. Earth's actors change Earth's transitory scenes, And make creation groan with human guilt. How must it groan, in a new deluge whelm'd, But not of waters! at the destin'd hour, By the loud trumpet summon'd to the charge, See, all the formidable sons of fire, Eruptions, earthquakes, comets, lightnings, play Their various engines; all at once disgorge Their blazing magazines; and take, by storm, This poor terrestrial citadel of man.
Amazing period! when each mountain-height Out-burns Vesuvius; rocks eternal pour Their melted mass, as rivers once they pour'd; Stars rush; and final ruin fiercely drives Her plowshare o'er creation!--while aloft, More than astonishment! if more can be! Far other firmament than e'er was seen, Than e'er was thought by man! far other stars! Stars animate, that govern these of fire; Far other Sun!-A Sun, O how unlike The babe at Bethlem! how unlike the man That groan'd on Calvary!-Yet he it is; That Man of Sorrows! O how chang'd! what pomp: In grandeur terrible, all Heaven descends! And gods, ambitious, triumph in his train. A swift archangel, with his golden wing, As blots and clouds, that darken and disgrace The scene divine, sweeps stars and suns aside. And now, all dross remov'd, Heaven's own pure day Full on the confines of our ether, flames. While (dreadful contrast!) far, how far beneath! Hell, bursting, belches forth her blazing seas, And storms sulphureous; her voracious jaws Expanding wide, and roaring for her prey. Lorenzo! welcome to this scene; the last
In Nature's course; the first in wisdom's thought. This strikes, if aught can strike thee! this awakes The most supine; this snatches man from death.
Rouse, rouse, Lorenzo, then, and follow me,
The grandeur of my subject is my Muse.
At midnight, when mankind is wrapt in peace, And worldly fancy feeds on golden dreams; To give more dread to man's most dreadful hour, At midnight, 'tis presum'd this pomp will burst From tenfold darkness; sudden as the spark From smitten steel; from nitrous grain, the blaze. Man, starting from his couch, shall sleep no more! The day is broke, which never more shall close! Above, around, beneath, amazement all! Terror and glory join'd in their extremes! Our God in grandeur, and our world on fire! All Nature struggling in the pangs of death! Dost thou not hear her? Dost thou not deplore Her strong convulsions, and her final groan? Where are we now? Ah me! the ground is gone On which we stood: Lorenzo! while thou may'st, Provide more firm support, or sink for ever! Where? how? from whence? Vain hope! it is too late! Where, where, for shelter, shall the guilty fly, When consternation turns the good man pale?
To dis-involve the moral world, and give To Nature's renovation brighter charms.
Shall man alone, whose fate, whose final fate, Hangs on that hour, exclude it from his thoughtf I think of nothing else; I see! I feel it! All Nature, like an earthquake, trembling round All deities, like summer's swarms, on wing! All basking in the full meridian blaze!
Great day! for which all other days were made;
In thee, in all: deputed conscience scales
Shall all, but man, look out with ardent eye,
I see the Judge enthron'd! the flaming guard!
Nor man alone; the foe of God and man, From his dark den, blaspheming, drags his chain, And rears his brazen front, with thunder scarr'd Receives his sentence, and begins his hell. All vengeance past, now, seems abundant grace. Like meteors in a stormy sky, how roll His baleful eyes; he curses whom he dreads; And deems it the first moment of his fall.
"Tis present to my thought!—and yet where si Angels can't tell me; angels cannot guess The period; from created beings lock'd In darkness. But the process, and the place, Are less obscure; for these may man inquire. Say, thou great close of human hopes and fears! Great key of hearts! great finisher of fates! Great end! and great beginning! say, Where thou? Art thou in time, or in eternity? Nor in eternity, nor time, I find thee. These, as two monarchs, on their borders meet, (Monarchs of all elaps'd, or unarriv'd!) As in debate, how best their powers allied May swell the grandeur, or discharge the wrath, Of him, whom both their monarchies obey.
Time, this vast fabric, for him built (and doom? With him to fall) now bursting o'er his head; His lamp, the Sun, extinguish'd; from beneath The frown of hideous darkness, calls his sons From their long slumber! from Earth's heavi womb,
To second birth! contemporary throng!
For, lo! her twice ten thousand gates thrown wide
Of that great drama, whose preceding scenes
Returns, in groans, the melancholy roar.
O how unlike the chorus of the skies!
But chiefly then, when grief puts in her claim,
Amidst applauding worlds,
And turn it on myself; how greatly due!
The deep resounds; and Hell, through all her Nor think it misery to be a man;
"Tis joy, and conquest; joy, and virtue too.
'Tis a prime part of happiness, to know How much unhappiness must prove our lot; A part which few possess! I'll pay life's tax, Without one rebel murmur, from this hour,
Who thinks it is, shall never be a God.
Presumptuous! blasphemous! absurd! and false!
And find, in adoration, endless joy!
All, all is right, by God ordain'd or done;
Ills?—there are none :-All-gracious! none from
From man full many! numerous is the race
Heaven's daughter, Hell-debauch'd! her hand alone
First barr'd by thine: high-wall'd with adamant,
Heaven gives us friends to bless the present scene; Whose sanctions, unavoidable results
From Nature's course, indulgently reveal'd ;
Referring to the First Night.
What rocks are these, on which to build our trust! The grand tribunal rais'd; assign'd the bounds Thy ways admit no blemish ; none I find;
Of human grief : in few, to close the whole, Or this alone—“ That none is to be found." The moral Muse has shadow'd out a sketch, Not one, to soften censure's hardy crime;
Though not in form, nor with a Raphael-stroke, Not one, to palliate peevish grief's complaint, Of most our weakness needs believe, or do, Who like a demon, murmuring from the dust, In this our land of travel and of hope, Dares into judgment call her Judge.-Supreme! For peace on Earth, or prospect of the skies. For all I bless thee; most, for the severe ;
What then remains ? Much! much! a mighty debt Her* death—my own at hand—the fiery gulf, To be discharg'd: these thoughts, O Night! are That flaming bound of wrath omnipotent!
thine : It thunders;—but it thunders to preserve;
From thee they came, like lovers' secret sighs, It strengthens what it strikes; its wholesome dread While others slept. So Cynthia (poets feign) Averts the dreaded pain ; its hideous groans In shadows veil’d, soft sliding from her sphere, Join Heaven's sweet hallelujahs in thy praise, Her shepherd cheer'd ; of her enamour'd less, Great source of good alone ! Ilow kind in all! Than I of thee-And art thou still unsung, In vengeance kind! pain, death, gehenna save. Beneath whose brow, and by whose aid, I sing ?
Thus, in thy world material, Mighty Mind! Immortal silence! where shall I begin? Not that alone which solaces, and shines,
Where end? Or how steal music from the spheres, The rough and gloomy, challenges our praise. To soothe their goddess ? The winter is as needful as the spring ;
O majestic Night? The thunder, as the Sun; a stagnant mass
Nature's great ancestor? day's elder-born! Of vapors breeds a pestilential air;
And fated to survive the transient Sun! Nor more propitious the Favonian breeze
By mortals, and immortals, seen with awe! To Nature's health, than purifying storms ;
A starry crown thy raven brow adorns, The dread valcano ministers to good.
An azure zone, thy waist; clouds, in Heaven's loom Its smother'd fames might undermine the world. Wrought through varieties of shape and shade, Loud Etnas fulminate in love to man;
In ample folds of drapery divine, Comets good omens are when duly scann'd; Thy flowing mantle form; and Heaven throughout, And, in their use, eclipses learn to shine.
Voluminously pour thy pompous train. Man is responsible for ills receivid;
Thy gloomy grandeurs (Nature's most august, Those we call wretched are a chosen band, Inspiring aspect !) claim a grateful verse ; Compellid io refuge in the right, for peace. And, like a sable curtain starr'd with gold, Am my list of blessings infinite,
Drawn o'er my labors past, shall close
The soul of man, his face design'd to see
And give her whole capacities that strength,
The more our spirits are enlarg d on Earth,
The deeper draught shall they receive of Heaven. And when o'erlabor'd, and inclin'd to breathe, Heaven's King! whose face unveil'd consun A panting traveller some rising ground,
mates bliss ; Some small ascent, has gain’d, he turns him round, Redundant bliss! which fills that mighty void, And measures with his eye the various vales, The whole creation leaves in human hearts ! The fields, woods, meads, and rivers, he has past; Thou, who didst touch the lip of Jesse's son, And, satiate of his journey, thinks of home, Rapt in sweet contemplation of these fires, Endear'd by distance, nor affects more toil; And set his harp in concert with the spheres; Thus I, though small, indeed, is that ascent While of thy works material the supreme The Muse has gain'd, review the paths she trod;
I dare attempt, assist my daring song; Various, extensive, beaten but by few;
Loose me from Earth's inclosure, from the Sun's And, conscious of her prudence in repose,
Contracted circle set my heart at large; Pause ; and with pleasure meditaie an end,
Eliminate my spirit, give it range Though still remote; so fruitful is my theme. Through provinces of thought yet unexplor'd ; Through many a field of moral, and divine, Teach me by this stupendous scaffolding, The muse has stray'd ; and much of sorrow seen Creation's golden steps, to climb to thee. In human ways; and much of false and vain ; Teach me with art great Nature to control, Which none, who travel this bad road, can miss. And spread a lustre o'er the shades of night. O'er friends deceas'd full heartily she wept;
Feel I thy kind assent? and shall the Sun Of love divine the wonders she display'd;
Be seen at midnight, rising in my song ? Prov'd man immortal ; show'd the source of joy ;
Lorenzo! come, and warm thee: thou, whose heart.
Whose little heart, is moor'd within a nook * Lucia.
of this obscure terrestrial, anchor weigh.