Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

270

PRINCIPLE OF LIFE.

in its course, through much conflict, towards perfection ;, for its rocks and stones, tell not only of change, but of the struggles of its creatures to become linked to something higher :-Yes, ye Worlds, wondrous and innumerable, that shine aloft, and shower around us your many mystic influences,—ye, too are the abodes of sentience suited to your conditions ; ay, and of Intelligence, different, far different from ours, and in states of approach to the Divinity of all possible gradations; but of which every constituent-every creature of whatever kind—is pressing out. ward like the bud in Spring, and stretching with longings that are unutterable, towards the Infinite and the Eternal.

Is the Moon younger-so to speak—than the planet she attends? Is that strange and anomalous crateriform surface, a picture of what our own world once was; and shall our midnight Luminary, after the travail of innumerable ages, pass from her primitive ruggedness to the condition of a globe carpeted all over by the most wondrous products of organization? Who indeed shall limit the prolificness of the Universe, or disbelieve its onward tendencies? Capacious indeed that awfulduration which its history is ordained to fill! I have spoken of chronological epochs which mark steps in the evolving of those energies which now predominate in the earth;—the rise, viz: of successive mountain chains, marking successive periods whose magnitude is akin to the intervals which divide us from the fixed stars; but in presence of what I now advert to, even spaces like these become the incidents of a special era in the course of far loftier changes. The Moon in contrast with the Earth, and these few intimations from our world's decpest visible antiquity, speak of a stupendous process of evolution, to which Agencies of Upheaval are themselves subjected; we see these energies in phase, passing duly from one mode of manifestation to another; and it is only within the instant belonging to one of these phases, that we have succeeded in placing a few milestones to mark the flow of time. And even if we join the Moon to the Earth, consolidating for the PRINCIPLE OF LIFE.

271

moment their two structures, so that we read them as consecutive chapters—how trifling the extent, after all, to which we may have penetrated among the destinies of either globe! To fix the absolute beginnings of their history, to cut off all anterior infinitudes, by hypothesis of molten planets and recent refrigeration, might indeed be pleasing to an insect's vanity, and consolatary to its weakness; but no such barrier has ever been successful, voices of profound tone crossing always from its further side, and proclaiming how unfathomable is the Universe! Nevertheless, let man labour in peace! The Omnipotent Hand is accompanied by the Omniscient Eye; nor is there height so stern, or darkness so profound, that the meanest breathing creature shall be withdrawn therein from the guardianship of Eternal Beneficence.

Strange indeed the thoughts with which, in presence of such speculations, we must gaze on these brilliant skies! even that jewellery of midnight—a birth, a thing of yesterday, a step in the awful march of the visible and sensible picturings of the purposes of the Eternal Spirit! Realize for a moment the position of a tenant of a hut on the banks of the mighty Amazon at one of its great bendings; tell him that the waters, whose opposite bank his vision can scarce reach, are not an immense lake with appointed boundaries, but that born of rills among mountains that are unseen, and ever increasing in depth and potency, they roll downwards until a whole continent is passed, and then mingle and lose themselves with an ocean engirdling the wide Earth with its everlasting waves. So, in the view of these high cosmogonies, seem to roll on the gorgeous stellar developments; whose limits no eye can now see; rising among the past depths of time in some hidden purpose of God; rolling onward as the ages flow, and augmenting as the mighty river, until the boundary of Time is reached, and their course ends among the quictude of Eternity!

NICHOL.'

Slbsalom.

The waters slept. Night's silvery vail hung low
On Jordan's bosom, and the eddies curled
Their glassy rings beneath it, like the still
Unbroken beating of the sleeper's pulse.
The reeds bent down the stream : the willow leaves
With a soft cheek upon the lulling tide,
Forgot the lifting winds : and the long stems
Whose flowers the water, like a gentle nurse
Bears on its bosom,quietly gave way,
And leaned, in graceful attitudes, to rest.
How strikingly the course of nature tells
By its light heed of human suffering,
That it was fashioned for a happier world.

King David's limbs were weary. He had fled
From far Jerusalem: and now he stood
With his faint people, for a little space,
Upon the shore of Jordan. The light wind
Of morn was stirring, and he bared his brow,
To its refreshing breath : for he had worn
The mourner's covering, and had not felt
That he could see his people until now.
They gathered round him on the fresh green bank
And spoke their kindly words: and as the sun
Rose up in heaven, he knelt among them there,
And bowed his head upon his hands to pray.
Oh when the heart is full,—when bitter thoughts
Come crowding thickly up for utterance,
And the poor common words of courtesy,
Are such a very mockery-how much
The bursting heart may pour itself in prayer.
He prayed for Israel : and his voice went up

[blocks in formation]

Strongly and fervently. He prayed for those,
Whose love had been his shield : and his deep tones
Grew tremulous. But Oh! for Absalom-
For his estranged misguided Absalom!
The proud bright being who had burst away
In all his princely beauty, to defy,
The heart that cherished him—for him he poured
Strong supplication, and forgave him there,
Before his God, for his deep sinfulness.

The pall was settled. He who slept beneath,
Was straightened for the grave : and as the folds
Sunk to the still proportions, they betrayed
The matchless symmetry of Absalom.
His hair was yet unshorn, and silken curls
Were floating round the tassels as they swayed
To the admitted air.
His helm was at his feet: his banner soiled
With trailing through Jerusalem, was laid
Reversed beside him: and the jewelled hilt
Whose diamonds lit the passage of his blade,
Rested like mockery on his covered brow.
The soldiers of the king trod to and fro,
Clad in the garb of battle, and their chief
The mighty Joab stood beside the bier,
And gazed upon the dark pall silently,
As if he feared the slumberer might stir.
A slow step startled him. He grasped his blade
As if a trumpet rang : but the bent form
Of David entered, and he gave command
In a low tone to his few followers,
And left him with his dead. The King stood still
Till the last echo died ; then throwing off
The sackcloth from his brow, and laying back

[blocks in formation]

The pall from the still features of his child,
He bowed his head upon him,and broke forth
In the resistless eloquence of woe :

“ Alas my noble boy! that thou should'st die,

Thou who wert made so beautifully fair!
That death should settle on thy glorious eye,

And leave his stillness in this clustering hair-
How could he mark thee for the silent tomb

My proud boy Absalom

6 Cold is thy brow my son! and I am chill

As to my bosom I have tried to press thee-
How was I wont to feel my pulses thrill,

Like a rich harp string, yearning to caress thee-
And hear thy sweet, my father,' from these dumb

And cold lips, Absalom!

“ The grave hath won thee. I shall hear the voice

Of music, and the voices of the young :
And life will pass me in the mantling blush,

And the dark tresses to the soft winds fling,
But thou no more with thy sweet voice shall come

To meet me Absalom!
“ And Oh! when I am stricken, and my heart

Like a bruised reed, is waiting to be broken,
How will its love for thee, as I depart,

Yearn for thine ear to drink its last deep token!
It were so sweet amid death's gathering gloom

To see thee, Absalom!

“ And now farewell! 'tis hard to give thee up,

With death so like a gentle slumber o'er thee ; And thy dark sin-oh! I could drink the cup

« ПредишнаНапред »