Page images
PDF
EPUB

ARGUMENT OF THE SECOND BOOK. Reflections suggested by the conclusion of the former book.... Peace

among the nations recommended, on the ground of their common fellowship in sorrow..... Prodigies enumerated..... Sicilian carthquakes.... Man rendered obnoxious to these calamities by sin....God the agent in them.... The philosophy that stops at secondary causes reproved....Our own late miscarriages accounted for....Satirical notice taken of our trips to Fontainbleau....But the pulpit, not satire, the proper engine of reformation.... The Rer. erend Advertiser of engraved sermons.... Petitmaitre Parson... The good preacher.... Pictures of a theatrical clerical coxcomb.... Story-tellers and jesters in the pulpit reproved....Apostrophe to popular applause....Retailers of ancient philosophy expostulated with....Sum of the whole matter....Effects of sacerdotal mismanagement on the laity.... Their folly and extravagance.... The mischiess of profusion.... Profusion itself, with all its consequent evils, ascribed, as to its priocipal cause, to the vart of discipline in the universities

THE TASK.

BOOK II.

THE TIME-PIECE.

Oh for a lodge in some vast wilderness,
Some boundless contiguity of shade,
Where rumor of oppression and deceit,
Of unsuccessful or successful war,
Might never reach me more. My ear is pain’d,
My soul is sick, with ev'ry day's report
Of wrong and outrage with which earth is fill'd.
There is no flesh in man's obdurate heart,
It does not feel for man; the nat'ral bond
Of brotherhood is sever'd as the flax
That falls asunder at the touch of fire.
He finds his fellow guilty of a skin
Not colour'd like his own! and, having pow'r
T'enforce the wrong, for such a worthy cause
Dooms and devotes him as his lawful prey.
Lands intersected by a narrow frith
Abhor each other. Mountains interpos'd
Make enemies of nations, who had else,
Like kindred drops, been mingled into one.
Thus man devotes his brother, and destroys;
And, worse than all, and most to be deplor'd.

D.2

As human nature's broadest, foulest blot,
Chains him, and tasks him, and exacts his sweat
With stripes, that mercy, with a bleeding heart,
Weeps when she sees inflicted on a beast.
Then what is man? And what man, seeing this, :
And having human feeling, does not blush,
And hang his head, to think himself a man?
I would not have a slave to till my ground,
To carry me, to fan me while I sleep,
And tremble when I wake, for all the wealth
That sinews bought and sold have ever earn'd.
No: dear as freedom is, and in my heart's .
Just estimation priz'd above all price,
I had much rather be myself the slave,..
And wear the bonds, than fasten them on him.
We have no slaves at home.... Then why abroad?
And they themselves, once ferried o'er the wave
That parts us, are emancipate and loos’d.
Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs
Receive our air, that moment they are free ; .
They touch our country, and their shackles fall.
That's noble, and bespeaks a nation proud
And jealous of the blessing. Spread it then,
And let it circulate through ev'ry vein
Of all your empire; that when Britain's pow'r
Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too..

Sure there is need of social intercourse, Benevolence, and peace, and mutual aid, Between the nations, in a world that seems To toll the death-bell of its own decease, And by the voice of all its elements

To preach the gen’ral doom. * When were the winds
Let slip with such a warrant to destroy?
When did the waves so haughtily o’erleap
Their ancient barriers, deluging the dry?
Fires from beneath, and meteorst from above,
Portentous, unexampled, unexplain'd, i
Have kindled beacons in the skies; and th' old
And crazy earth has had her shaking fits
More frequent, and forgone her usual rest.
Is it a time to wrangle, when the props
And pillars of our planet seem to fail,
And nature with a dim and sickly eye?
To wait the close of all? Bat grant her end
More distant, and that prophocy demands
A longer respite, unaccomplish'd yet;
Still they are frowning signals, and bespeak ';
Displeasure in his breast who smites the earth
Or heals it, makes it languish or rejoice.
And 'tis but seemly, that, where all deserve
And stand expos'd by common peccancy
To what no few have felt, there should be peace,
And brethren in calamity should love.

Alas for Sicily! rude fragments now Lie scatter'd where the shapely column stood. Her palaces are dust. : In all her streets The voice of singing and the sprightly chord Are silent. Revelry, and dance, and show Suffer a syncope and solemn pause ; * Alluding to the calamities at Jamaica. † August 18, 1789.

# Alluding to the fog that cover'd both Europe and Asia during the whole summer of 1783.

While God performs upon the trembling stage ;
Of his own works, his dreadful part alone. .
How does the earth receive him?.... With what signs
Of gratulation and delight, her King ?
Pours she not all her choicest fruits abroad, .
Her sweetest flow'rs, her aromatic gums, . .
Disclosing paradise where'er he treads ?... .
She quakes at his approach. Her hollow womb,
Conceiving thunders, through a thousand deeps
And fiery caverns, roars beneath his foot. . . .'
The hills move lightly, and the mountains smoke,"
For he has touch'd them. From th’extremest point
Of elevation down into th' abyss,
His wrath is busy, and his frown is felt. Find .
The rocks fall headlong, and the valleys rise,
The rivers die into offensive-pools, eni un
And, charg'd with putrid verdure, breathe. a gross
And mortal nuisance into all the air. i.. .
What solid was, by transformation strange, z
Grows fluid; and the fix'd and rooted earth,
Tormented into billows, heaves and swells,
Or with vortiginous and hidious whirl is
Sucks down his prey insatiable. Immense
The tumult and the overthrow, the pangs
And agonies of human and of brute
Multitudes, fugitive on ev'ry side, ,
And fugitive in vain. . The sylvan scene .
Migrates uplifted; and, with all its soil .
Alighting in far distant fields, finds out in
A new possessor, and survives the change.
Ocean has caught the phrenzy, and, upwrought.
To an enormous and o’erbearing height, is

« PreviousContinue »