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For what avails to Man this pow'r to roam
Through ages past, and ages yet to come,
T'explore new worlds o'er all th’ ætherial way,
Chain'd to a spot, and living but a day?
Since all must perish in one common grave,
Nor can these long laborious searches fave.
Were it not wiser far, supinely laid,
To sport with Phyllis in the noontide shade ?
Or at thy jovial festivals appear,
Great Bacchus, who alone the soul can clear
From all that it has felt, and all that it can fear
Come on then, let us feast: let Chloe fing,
And soft Neæra touch the trembling string;
Enjoy the present hour, nor seek to know
What good or ill to-morrow may bestow.
But these delights foon pall upon the taste;
Let's try then if more serious cannot last :
Wealth let us heap on wealth, or fame pursue,
Let pow'r and glory be our points in view;
In courts, in camps, in senates let us live,
Our levees crowded like the buzzing hive: -
Each weak attempt the same fad lesson brings,
Alas, what vanity in human things !
What means then shall we try? where hope to find A friendly harbour for the restless mind? Who still, you fee, impatient to obtain Knowledge immense, (so Nature's laws ordain) Ev'n now, though fetter'd in corporeal clay, Climbs step by step the prospect to survey, And seeks, unweary'd, Truth's eternal ray. No fleeting joys she asks, which must depend On the frail senses, and with them must end; But such as suit her own immortal fame, Free from all change, eternally the same.
Take courage then, these joys we shall attain ; Almighty Wisdom never acts in vain ; Nor shall the foul, on which it has bestow'd Such pow’rs, e'er perish, like an earthly clod; But purg'd at length from foul corruption's stain, 7. Freed from her prison, and unbound her chain, She shall her native strength, and native skies regain :) To heav'n an old inhabitant return, And draw nectareous streams from truth's perpetual urn.
Whilft life remains, (if life it can be call'd T'exist in fleshly bondage thus enthralld) Tir’d with the dull pursuit of worldly things, The soul scarce wakes, or opes her gladsome wings,
Yet still the godlike exile in disgrace
Retains some marks of her celestial race ;
Else whence from Mem'ry's store can she produce
Such various thoughts, or range them fo for use?
Can matter these contain, dispose, apply?
Can in her cells such mighty treasures lye?
Or can her native force produce them to the eye?' )
Whence is this pow'r, this foundress of all arts,
Serving, adorning life, through all its parts,
Which names impos’d, by letters mark'd those names,
Adjusted properly by legal claims,
From woods, and wilds collected rude mankind,
And cities, laws, and governments design’d?
What can this be, but some bright ray from heaven,
Some emanation from Omniscience given ? ·
When now the rapid stream of Eloquence
Bears all before it, passion, reason, sense,
Can its dread thunder, or its lightning's force
Derive their essence from a mortal source ?
What think you of the bard's enchanting art,
Which, whether he attempts to warm the heart
With fabled scenes, or charm the ear with rhyme,
Breathes all pathetic, lovely, and sublime ?
Whilst things on earth roll round from age to age,
The same dull farce repeated; on the stage
The poet gives us a creation new,
More pleasing, and more perfect than the true;
The mind, who always to perfection hastes,
Perfection, such as here she never tastes,
With gratitude accepts the kind deceit,
And thence foresees a system more complear.
Of those what think you, who the circling race 2
Of suns, and their revolving planets trace,
And comets journeying through unbounded space ? )
Say, can you doubt, but that th' all-searching foul,
That now can traverse heaven from pole to pole,
From thence descending visits but this earth,
And shall once more regain the regions of her birth?
Could she thus act, unless some Power unknown,
From matter quite distinct, and all her own,
Supported, and impelld her? She approves
Self-conscious, and condemns ; she hates, and loves,
Mourns, and rejoices, hopes, and is afraid,
Without the body's unrequested aid :
Her own internal strength her reason guides,
By this she now compares things, now divides ;
Truth's scatter'd fragments piece by piece collects,
Rejoins, and thence her edifice erects;
Piles arts on arts, effects to causes ties,
And rears th' aspiring fabric to the skies :
From whence, as on a diftant plain below,
She sees from causes consequences flow,
And the whole chain distinctly comprehends,
Which from th’Almighty's throne to earth descends :
And lastly, turning inwardly her eyes,
Perceives how all her own ideas rise,
Contemplates what she is, and whence she came,
And almost comprehends her own amazing frame.
Can mere machines be with such pow'rs endued,
Or conscious of those pow'rs, suppose they could ?
For body is but a machine alone
Mov'd by external force, and impulse not its own.
· Rate nat the extension of the human mind
By the plebeian standard of mankind,
But by the size of those gigantic few,
Whom Greece and Rome still offer to our view;
Or Britain well-deserving equal praise,
Parent of heroes too in better days.
Why should I try her num'rous fons to name
By verse, law, eloquence consign'd to fame?