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Breathing high hope! chain'd down to pangs and
Knowing is suffering: and shall Virtue share
The sigh of Knowledge?–Virtue shares the sigh.
By straining up the steep of excellent,
By battles fought, and from temptation won,
What gains she but the pang of seeing worth,
Angelic worth, soon shuffled in the dark
With every vice, and swept to brutal dust ?
Merit is madness, virtue is a crime,
A crime to reason, if it costs us pain
Unpaid: what pain, amidst a thousand more,
To think the most abandon'd, after days
Of triumph o'er their betters, find in death
As soft a pillow, nor make fouler clay!
“Puty! religion !-these, our duty done,
Imply reward, Religion is mistake.
Duty!—there's none, but to repel the cheat.
Ye Cheats! away: ye daughters of my pride,
Who feign yourselves the favourites of the skies,
Ye towering hopes! abortive energies!
That toss and struggle in my lying breast,
To scale the skies and build presumptions there,
As I were heir of an eternity:
Vain, vain ambitions! trouble me no more.
Why travel far in quest of sure defeat?
As bounded as my being be my wish.
All is inverted, wisdom is a fool.
Sense! take the rein; blind Passion! drive us on;
And, Ignorance! befriend us on his way;
but truest patrons of our peace!
Yes, give the pulse full empire; live the brute,
Since as the brute we die; the sum of man,
Of godlike man! to revel and to rot.
‘But not on equal terms with other brutes; Their revels a more poignant relish yield, And safer too; they never poisons choose, Instinct than Reason makes more wholesome meals, And sends all-marring Murmur far away. For sensual life they best philosophize, Theirs that serene the sages sought in vain : 'Tis man alone expostulates with Heav'n: His all the pow'r, and all the cause to mourn. Shall human eyes alone dissolve in tears? And bleed in anguish none but human hearts ? The wide-stretch'd realm of intellectual wo, Surpassing sensual far, is all our own, In life so fatally distinguish'd, why, Cast in one lot, confounded, lump'd in death?
*Ere yet in being was mankind in guilt ? Why thunder'd this peculiar clause against us, All-mortal, and all-wretched !-Have
the skies Reasons of state their subjects may not scan, Nor humbly reason when they sorely sigh? All-mortal and all-wretched !='Tis too much, Unparallel'd in Nature: 'tis too much, On being unrequested at thy hands, Ommipotent! for I see nought but power. [eat,
"And why see that? why thought! To toil and Then make our bed in darkness, needs no thought. What superfluities are reasoning souls ! Oh give eternity, or thought destroy. But without thought our curse were half unfelt ; Its blunted edge would spare the throbbing heart, And therefore 'tis bestow'd. I thank thee, Reason? For aiding life's too small calamities, And giving being to the dread of death. Such are thy bounties !—Was it then too much
For me to trespass on the brutal rights ?
Too much for Heav'n to make one emmet more?
Too much for Chaos to permit my mass
A longer stay with essences unwrought,
Unfashion’d, untormented into man?
Wretched preferment to this round of pains !
Wretched capacity of frenzy, thought!
Wretched capacity of dying life!
Life, thought, worth, wisdom, all (O foul revolt!)
Once friends to peace, gone over to the foe.
‘Death then has chang'd its nature too. 0
Come to my bosom, thou best gift of Heav'n!
Best friend of man! since man is man no more.
Why in this thorny wilderness so long,
Since there's no promis'd land's ambrosial bower
To pay me with its honey for my stings?
If needful to the selfish schemes of Heav'n
To sting us sore, why mock'd our misery?
Why this so sumptuous insult o'er our heads ?
Why this illustrious canopy display'd ?
Why so magnificently lodg’d Despair ?
At stated periods, sure-returning, roll
These glorious orbs, that mortals may compute
Their length of labours and of pains, nor lose
Their misery's full measure?--Smiles with flowers
And fruits promiscuous, ever-teeming earth,
That man may languish in luxurious scenes,
And in an Eden mourn his wither'd joys ?
Claim earth and skies man's admiration, due
For such delights ! bless'd animals! too wise
To wonder, and too happy to complain!
• Our doom decreed demands a mournful scene: Why not a dungeon dark for the condemn'd?
Why not the dragon's subterranean den
For man to howl in ? why not his abode
Of the same dismal colour with his fate?
A Thebes, a Babylon, at vast expense
Of time, toil, treasure, art, for owls and adders
As congruous, as for man this lofty dome,
Which prompts proud thought, and kindles high
If from her humble chamber in the dust [desire ;
While proud thought swells and high desire in-
The poor worm calls us for her inmates there,
And round us Death's inexorable hand
Draws the dark curtain close, undrawn no more.
'Undrawn no more !--Behind the cloud of death, Once, I beheld a sun, a sun which gilt That sable cloud, and turn'd it all to gold. How the grave's alter'd! fathomless as hell ! A real hell to those who dreamt of Heav'n. Annihilation ! how it yawns before me; Next moment I may drop from thought,from sense, The privilege of angels, and of worms, An outcast from existence; and this spirit, This all-pervading, this all-conscious soul, This particle of energy divine, Which travels Nature, flies from star to star, And visits gods, and emulates their powers, For ever is extinguish'd. Horror! death! Death of that death I fearless, once, survey'd When horror universal shall descend, And heaven's dark concave urn all human race, On that enormous, unrefunding tomb, How just this verse; this monumental sigh! “ Beneath the lumber of demolish'd worlds, Deep in the rubbish of the general wreck, Swept ignominious to the common mass
Of matter, never dignified with life,
Here lie proud rationals; the sons of Heav'n!
The lords of Earth! the property of worms!
Beings of yesterday, and no to-morrow!
Who liv'd in terror, and in pangs expir’d!
All gone to rot in chaos, or to make
Their happy transit into blocks or brutes,
Nor longer sully their Creator's name.'
Lorenzo! hear, pause, ponder, and pronounce.
Just is this history? If such is man,
Mankind's historian, though divine, might weep.
REFLECTIONS ON A FUTURE STATE FROM A
REVIEW OF WINTER.
"Tis done! dread Winter spreads his latest glooms,
And reigns tremendous o'er the conquer'd Year.
How dead the vegetable kingdom lies!
How dumb the tuneful! horror wide extends
His desolate domain. Behold, fond man!
See here thy pictur'd life: pass some few years,
Thy flowering Spring,thy Summer's ardent strength,
Thy sober Autumn fading into age,
And pale concluding Winter comes at last,
And shuts the scene. Ah! whither now are fled
Those dreams of greatness ? those unsolid hopes
Of happiness ? those longings after fame?
Those restless cares? those busy bustling days?
Those gay-spent, festive nights ? those veering
Lost between good and ill, that shar'd thy life?
All now are vanish'd! Virtue sole survives,
Immortal never-failing friend of man,