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Defects of judgment, and the will subdue:
Walk thoughtful on the silent solemn shore
Of that vast ocean it must sail so soon,
And put good works on board, and wait the wind
That shortly blows us into worlds unknown:
If unconsidered, too, a dreadful scene !
All should be prophets to themselves—foresee
Their future fate—their future fate foretaste:
This art would waste the bitterness of death.
The thought of death alone the fear destroys:
A disaffection to that precious thought
Is more than midnight darkness on the soul,
Which sleeps beneath it on a precipice,
Puffed off by the first blast, and lost for ever.
Dost ask, Lorenzo, why so warmly prest,
By repetition hammered on thine ear,
The thought of Death? that thought is the ma-
The grand machine, that heaves us from the dust,
And rears us into men. The thought, ply'd home,
Will soon reduce the ghastly precipice
O'erhanging hell, will soften the descent,
And gently slope our passage to the grave.
How warmly to be wish'd; what heart of flesh
Would trifle with tremendous ! dare extremes?
Yawn over the fate of infinite? what hand,
Beyond the blackest brand of censure bold,
(To speak a language too well known to thee)
Would at a moment give its all to Chance,
And stamp the dye for an Eternity.
Aid me, Narcissa; aid me to keep pace
With Destiny, and, ere her scissars cut
My thread of life, to break this tougher thread
Of moral death that ties me to the world.
Sting thou my slumbering Reason, to send forth
A thought of observation on the foe;
To sally and survey the rapid march
Of his ten thousand messengers to man,
Who, Jehu-like, behind him turns them all.
All accident apart, by Nature sign'd,
My warrant is gone out, though dormant yet;
Perhaps behind one moment lurks my fate.
Must I then forward only look for Death?—
Backward I turn mine eye, and find him there.
Man is a self survivor every year.
Man, like a stream, is in perpetual flow.
Death's a destroyer of quotidian prey:
My youth, my noon-tide his—my yesterday:
The bold invader shares the present hour:
Each moment on the former shuts the grave.
While man is growing, life is in decrease,
And cradles rock us nearer to the tomb.
Our birth is nothing but our death begun,
As tapers waste that instant they take fire.
Shall we then fear lest that should come to pass,
Which comes to pass each moment of our lives?
If fear we must, let that Death turn us pale
Which murders strength and ardour; what re-
Should rather call on Death than dread his call.
Ye partners of my fault, and my decline,
Thoughtless of death but when your neighbours
(Rude visitant) knocks hard at your dull sense,
And with its thunder scarce obtains your ear.
Be death your theme, in every place and hour;
Nor longer want, ye monumental sires,
A brother-tomb to tell you—you shall die.
That death you dread, (so great is Nature's skill)
Know you shall court, before you shall enjoy.
But you are learned: in volumes deep you sit,
In wisdom shallow. Pompous ignorance!
Would you be still more learned than the learned! .
Learn well to know how much need not be known,
And what that knowledge which impairs your
Our needful knowledge, like our needful food,
Unhedg'd, lies open in Life's common field,
And bids all welcome to the vital feast.
You scorn what lies before you in the page
Of Nature and Experience, moral truth;
Of indispensable eternal fruit;
Fruit on which mortals feeding, turn to gods,
And dive in science for distinguish'd names,
Dishonest fomentation of your pride,
Sinking in virtue as you rise in fame.
Your learning, like the lunar beam, affords
Light, but not heat; it leaves you undevout,
Frozen at heart while speculation shines.
Awake, ye curious Indagators! fond
Of knowing all but what avails you, known.
If you would learn Death's character, attend.
All casts of conduct, all degrees of health.
All dyes of fortune, and all dates of age,
Together shook in his impartial urn,
Come forth at random: or, if choice is made,
The choice is quite sarcastic, and insults
All bold conjecture and fond hopes of man.
What countless multitudes not only leave,
But deeply disappoint us, by their deaths!
Though great our sorrow, greater our surprise.
Like other tyrants, Death delights to smite
What, smitten, most proclaims the pride of power
And arbitrary nod. His joy supreme,
To bid the wretch survive the fortunate;
The feeble wrap the athletic in his shroud;
And weeping fathers build their children's tomb:
Me thine, Narcissal—What, though short thy
Virtue, not rolling suns, the mind matures.
That life is long which answers life's great end.
The time that bears no fruit deserves no name.
The man of wisdom is the man of years.
In hoary youth Methusalems may die;
O how misdated on their flattering tombs;
Narcissa's youth has lectured me thus far:
And can her gaiety give counsel too?
That like the Jews' famed oracle of gems,
Sparkles instruction; such as throws new light,
And opens more the character of Death,
Ill known to thee, Lorenzo! this thy vaunt'—
‘Give death his due, the wretched and the old;
Ev’n let him sweep his rubbish to the grave;
Let him not violate kind nature's laws,
But own man born to live as well as die,”—
Wretched and old thou giv'st him; young and gay
He takes; and plunder is a tyrant's joy.
What if I prove, ‘the farthest from the fear
Are often nearest to the stroke of fate?’
All, more than common, menaces an end.
A blaze betokens brevity of life:
As if bright embers should emit a flame,
Glad spirits sparkled from Narcissa's eye,
And made Youth younger, and taught life to live.
As natures opposites wage endless war,
For this offence, as treason to the deep
Inviolable stupor of his reign,
Where lust and turbulent ambition sleep,
Death took swift vengeance. As he life detests,
More life is still more odious; and, reduced
By conquest, aggrandizes more his power.
But wherefore aggrandized?—By Heaven's decree
To plant the soul on her eternal guard,
In awful expectation of our end.
Thus runs Death's dread commission; ‘Strike,
As most alarms the living by the dead.'
Hence stratagem delights him, and surprise,
And cruel sport with man's securities.
Not simple conquest, triumph is his aim;
And where least feared, there conquest triumphs
This proves my bold assertion not too bold.
What are his arts to lay our fears asleep?
Tiberian arts his purposes wrap up
In deep Dissimulation's darkest night.
Like princes unconfess'd in foreign courts,
Who travel under cover, Death assumes
The name and look of Life, and dwells among us:
He takes all shapes that serve his black designs:
Though master of a wider empire far
Than that o'er which the Roman eagle flew.
Like Nero, he's a fiddler, charioteer:
Or drives his phaëton in female guise;
Quite unsuspected, till, the wheel beneath,
His disarray'd oblation he devours.
He most affects the forms least like himself,
His slender self: hence burly corpulence
ls his familiar wear, and sleek disguise.
Behind the rosy bloom he loves to lurk,
Or ambush in a smile; or, wanton, dive
In dimples deep; Love's eddies, which draw in
Unwary hearts, and sink them in despair.
Such on Narcissa's couch he loitered long
Unknown, and when detected, still was seen
To smile: such peace has Innocence in death!
Most hero, whom least his arts deceive!
One eye on death, and one full fixed on heaven,
Becomes a mortal and immortal man.
Long on his wiles a piqued and jealous spy,
I've seen, or dreamed I saw, the tyrant dress,
Lay by his horrors, and put on his smiles.
Say, Muse! for thou remember'st, call it back,
And show Lorenzo the surprising scene;
If 'twas a dream, his genius can explain.
'Twas in a circle of the gay I stood:
Death would have entered; Nature pushed him
Supported by a doctor of renown,
His point he gained; then artfully dismissed
The sage; for Death designed to be concealed:
He gave an old vivacious usurer
His meagre aspect, and his naked bones,
In gratitude for plumping up his prey,
A pampered spendthrift, whose fantastic air,
Well-fashioned figure, and cockaded brow,
He took in change, and underneath the pride
Of costly linen tucked his filthy shroud.
His crooked bow he straightened to a cane,
And hid his deadly shafts in Myra's eye.
The dreadful masquerader, thus equipped,
Out-sallies on adventures. Ask you where?
Where is he not? For his peculiar haunts
Let this suffice; sure as night follows day,
Death treads in Pleasure's footsteps round the
When Pleasure treads the paths which Reason
When against Reason, Riot shuts the door,
And gaiety supplies the place of sense,
Then foremost at the banquet and the ball,
Death leads the dance, or stamps the deadly dye,
Nor ever fails the midnight bowl to crown.
Gaily carousing to his gay compeers
Inly he laughs to see them laugh at him,
As absent far; and when the revel burns,
When Fear is banished, and triumphant Thought
Calling for all the joys beneath the moon,
Against him turns the key, and bids him sup
With their progenitors—he drops his mask,
Frowns out at full: they start, despair, expire.
Scarce with more sudden terror and surprise,
From his black mask of nitre, touched by fire,
He bursts, expands, roars, blazes, and devours.
And is not this triumphant treachery,
And more than simple conquest in the fiend?
And now, Lorenzo, dost thou wrap thy soul
In soft security, because unknown
Which moment is commissioned to destroy?
In death's uncertainty thy danger lies.
Is death uncertain otherefore thou be fixed,
|Fixed as a sentinel, all eye, all ear,
|All expectation of the coming foe.
Rouse, stand in arms, nor lean against thy spear,
| Lest slumber steal one moment o'er thy soul,
And Fate surprise thee nodding. Watch, be strong, Thus give each day the merit and renown Of dying well, though doomed but once to die; Nor let life's period, hidden, (as from most) Hide, too, from thee the precious use of life. Early, not sudden, was Narcissa's fate; Soon, not surprising, Death his visit paid : Her thought went forth to meet him on his way, Nor Gaiety forgot it was to die. Though Fortune, too, (our third and final theme,) As an accomplice, played her gaudy plumes, And every glittering gewgaw, on her sight, To dazzle and debauch it from its mark. Death's dreadful advent is the mark of man, And every thought that misses it is blind. Fortune with Youth and Gaiety conspired To weave a triple wreath of happiness, (lf happiness on earth) to crown her brow: And could Death charge through such a shining shield 2 That shining shield invites the tyrant's spear. As if to damp our elevated aims, And strongly preach humility to man. O how portentous is prosperity! How, comet-like, it threatens while it shines' Few years but yield us proof of Death's ambition, To cull his victims from the fairest fold, And sheathe his shafts in all the pride of life. When flooded with abundance, purpled o'er With recent honours, bloomed with every bliss, Set up in ostentation, made the gaze, The gaudy centre of the public eye; When Fortune, thus, has tossed her child in air Snatched from the covert of an humble state, How often have I seen him dropt at once, Our morning's envy' and our evening's sigh! As if her bounties were the signal given, The flowery wreath, to mark the sacrifice, And call Death's arrows on the destined prey. High Fortune seems in cruel league with Fate. Ask you for what? to give his war on man The deeper dread, and more illustrious spoil; Thus to keep daring mortals more in awe. And burns Lorenzo still for the sublime Of life to hang his airy nest on high, On the slight timber of the topmost bough, Rocked at each breeze, and menacing a fall ? Granting grim Death at equal distance there, Yet peace begins just where ambition ends. What makes man wretched? happiness denied ? Lorenzo! no; 'tis happiness disdained She comes too meanly dressed to win our smile, And calls herself Content, a homely name! Our flame is transport, and Content our scorn! Ambition turns, and shuts the door against her, And weds a toil, a tempest, in her stead; A tempest to warm transport near of kin. Thknowing what our mortal state admits,
Life's modest joys we ruin while we raise, And all our ecstasies are wounds to peace; Peace, the full portion of mankind below. And since thy peace is dear, ambitious youth! Of fortune fond as thoughtless of thy fate : As late I drew Death's picture, to stir up Thy wholesome fears; now, drawn in contrast, see Gay Fortune's, thy vain hopes to reprimand. See, high in air the sportive goddess hangs, Unlocks her casket, spreads her glittering ware, And calls the giddy winds to puff abroad Her random bounties o'er the gaping throng. All rush rapacious; friends o'er trodden friends, Sons o'er their fathers, subjects o'er their kings, Priests o'er their gods, and lovers o'er the fair (Still more adored) to snatch the golden shower. Gold glitters most where virtue shines no more; As stars from absent suns have leave to shine. O what a precious pack of votaries, Unkennelled from the prisons and the stews, Pour in, all opening in their idol's praise! All, ardent, eye each wasture of her hand, And, wide-expanding their voracious jaws, Morsel on morsel swallow down unchewed, Untasted, through mad appetite for more Gorged to the throat, yet lean and ravenous still: Sagacious all to trace the smallest game, And bold to seize the greatest. If (blest chance!) Court-zephyrs sweetly breathe; they launch, they fly, O'er just, o'er sacred, all-forbidden ground, Drunk with the burning scent of place or power, Staunch to the foot of Lucre—till they die. Or, if for men you take them, as I mark Their manners, thou their various fates survey. With aim mismeasured and impetuous speed, Some, darting, strike their ardent wish far off, Through fury to possess it: some succeed, But stumble, and let fall the taken prize. From some, by sudden blasts, 'tis whirled away, And lodged in bosoms that ne'er dreamed of gain. To some it sticks so close, that, when torn off, Torn is the man, and mortal is the wound. Some, o'er-enamoured of their bags, run mad; Groan under gold, yet weep for want of bread. Together some (unhappy rivals () seize, And rend abundance into poverty; Loud croaks the raven of the law, and smiles: Smiles, too, the goddess; but smiles most at those (Just victims of exorbitant desire!) Who perish at their own request, and, whelmed Beneath her load of lavish grants, expire. Fortune is famous for her numbers slain; The number small which happiness can bear. Though various for awhile their fates, at last One curse involves them all: at Death's approach All read their riches backward into loss, And mourn in just proportion to their store. And Death's approach (if orthodox my song)
ls hastened by the lure of Fortune's smiles. And art thou still a glutton of bright gold And art thou still rapacious of thy ruin? Death loves a shining mark, a signal blow; A blow which, while it executes, alarms, And startles thousands with a signal fall. As when some stately growth of oak, or pine, Which nods aloft and proudly spreads her shade, The sun's defiance, and the flock's defence, By the strong strokes of labouring hinds subdued, Loud groans her last; and, rushing from her height, In cumbrous ruin thunders to the ground; The conscious forest trembles at the shock, And hill, and stream, and distant dale, resound. These high-aimed darts of Death, and these alone, Should I collect, my quiver would be full; A quiver which, suspended in mid air, Or near Heaven's archer, in the zodiac, hung, (So could it be) should draw the public eye, The gaze and contemplation of mankind A constellation awful, yet benign, To guide the way through life's tempestuous wave, Nor suffer them to strike the common rock; ‘From greater danger to grow more secure, And, wrapt in happiness, forget their fate.’ Lysander, happy past the common lot, Was warned of danger, but too gay to fear. He wooed the fair Aspasia; she was kind. Inyouth, form, fortune, fame, they both were blessed: All who knew, envied; yet in envy loved: Can Fancy form more finished happiness? Fixed was the nuptial hour. Her stately dome Rose on the sounding beach. The glittering spires Float in the wave, and break against the shore; So break those glittering shadows, human joys. The faithless morning smiled: he takes his leave To re-embrace, in ecstacies, at eve: The rising storm forbids: the news arrives; Untold she saw it in her servant's eye. She felt it seen, (her heart was apt to feel) And drowned, without the furious ocean's aid, In suffocating sorrows shares his tomb. Now round the sumptuous bridal monument The guilty billows innocently roar, And the rough sailor passing, drops a tear. A tear?—can tears suffice?—but not for me. How vain our efforts and our arts how vain! The distant train of thought I took, to shun, Has thrown me on my fate—These died together; Happy in ruin! undivorced by death! 9; he'er to meet, or ne'er to part, is peace— Narcissa' Pity bleeds at thought of thee; Yet thou wast only near me, not myself. Survive myself —that cures all other wo. Narcissa lives; Philander is forgot. 0 the soft commerce —O the tender ties, Close twisted with the fibres of the heart! Which, broken, break them, and drain off the soul
Of human Joy, and make it pain to live—
And is it then to live? When such friends part,
'Tis the survivor dies—My heart! no more.
THE INFIDEL RECLAIMED. In Tuco Parts, containing THE NATURE, PRoof, AND IMpoRTANCE, OF IMMORTALITY.
PART I. when E, AMoNg other things,
GLORY AND RICHES ARE PARTICULARLY CON SIDERED.
To the Right Hon. Henry Pelham, First Lord Commissioner of the Treasury, and Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Few ages have been deeper in dispute about religion than this. The dispute about religion, and the practice of it, seldom go together. The shorter, therefore, the dispute, the better. I think it may be reduced to this single question, ‘Is man immortal, or is he not ? If he is not; all our disputes are mere amusements, or trials of skill. In this case, truth, reason, religion, which give our discourses such pomp and solemnity, are (as will be shown,) mere empty sounds, without any meaning in them: but if man is immortal, it will behove him to be very serious about eternal consequences; or, in other words, to be truly religious. And this great fundamental truth, unestablished, or unawakened in the minds of men, is, I conceive, the real source and support of all our infidelity, how remote soever the particular objections advanced may seem to be from it.
Sensible appearances affect most men much more than abstract reasonings; and we daily see bodies drop around us, but the soul is invisible. The power which inclination has over the judgment, is greater than can be well conceived by those that have not had the experience of it; and of what numbers is it the sad interest that souls should not survive 3 The Heathen world confessed that they rather hoped, than firmly believed, immortality! and how many Heathens have we still amongst us? The Sacred page assures us, that ‘life and immortality is brought to light by the Gospel:' but by how many is the Gospel rejected or overlooked From these considerations, and from my being, accidentally, privy to the sentiments of some particular persons, I have been long persuaded that most, if not all our infidels (whatever name they take, and whatever scheme for argument's sake, and to keep themselves in countenance, they patronize,) are supported in their deplorable error by some doubt of their immortality
at the bottom: and I am satisfied, that men once
thoroughly convinced of their immortality, are not
far from being Christians: for it is hard to con-
ceive that a man, fully conscious eternal pain or
happiness will certainly be his lot, should not ear-
nestly and impartially inquire after the surest
means of escaping one, and securing the other:
and of such an earnest and impartial inquiry I
well know the consequence.
Here, therefore, in proof of this most funda-
mental truth, some plain arguments are offered;
arguments derived from principles which infidels
admit in common with believers; arguments which
appear to me altogether irresistible; and such as,
I am satisfied, will have great weight with all who
give themselves the small trouble of looking se-
riously into their own bosoms, and of observing,
with any tolerable degree of attention, what daily
passes round about them in the world. If some
arguments shall here occur which others have de-
clined, they are submitted, with all deference, to
better judgments, in this, of all points, the most
important! for, as to the being of a God, that is
no longer disputed; but it is undisputed for this
reason only, viz. because where the least pretence
to reason is admitted, it must for ever be indisput-
able; and, of consequence, no man can be betray-
ed into a dispute of that nature by vanity, which
has a principal share in animating our modern
combatants against other articles of our belief.
She" (for I know not yet her name in Heaven)
Not early, like Narcissa, left the scene,
Nor sudden, like Philander. What avail?
This seeming mitigation but inflames;
This fancied medicine heightens the disease.
The longer known, the closer still she grew,
And gradual parting is a gradual death.
'Tis the grim tyrant's engine which extorts,
By tardy pressure's still increasing weight,
From hardest hearts confession of distress.
O the long dark approach, through years of
Death's gallery! (might I dare to call it so)
With distnal doubt and sable terror hung,
Sick Hope's pale lamp its only glimmering ray:
There Fate my melancholy walk ordained,
Forbid self-love itself to flatter there.
How oft I gazed, prophetically sad:
How oft I saw her dead, while yet in smiles:
In smiles she sunk her grief to lessen mine:
She spoke me comfort, and increased my pain.
Like powerful armies trenching at a town,
By slow and silent, but resistless sap,
In his pale progress gently gaining ground,
Death urged his deadly siege; in spite of art,
of all the balmy blessings Nature lends
To succour frail humanity. Ye stars!
(Not now first made familiar to my sight)
And thou, O moon! bear witness; many anight
He tore the pillow from beneath my head,
Tied down my sore attention to the shock,
By ceaseless depredations on a life
Dearer than that he left me. Dreadful post
Of observation: darker every hour;
Less dread the day that drove me to the brink,
And pointed at eternity below;
When my soul shuddered at futurity;
When, on a moment's point, the important die
Of life and death spun doubtful, ere it fell,
And turn'd up life; my title to more wo.
But why more wo? more comfort let it be.
Nothing is dead, but that which wished to die
Nothing is dead, but wretchedness and pain;
Nothing is dead, but what incumbered, galled,
Blocked up the pass, and barred from real life.
Where dwells that wish most ardent of the wiset
Too dark the sun to see it; highest stars
Too low to reach it; Death, great Death alone,
O'er stars and sun triumphant, lands us there.
Nor dreadful our transition, though the mind,
An artist at creating, self-alarms,
Rich in expedients for inquietude,
Is prone to paint it dreadful. Who can take
Death's portrait true? the tyrant never sat.
Our sketch all random strokes, conjecture all;
Close shuts the grave, nor tells one single tale.
Death and his image rising in the brain
Bear faint resemblance; never are alike:
Fear shakes the pencil: Fancy loves excess;
Dark Ignorance is lavish of her shades;
And these the formidable picture draw.
But grant the worst, 'tis the past; new pros-
And drop a veil eternal o'er her tomb.
Far other views our contemplation claim,
Views that o'erpay the rigours of our life;
Views that suspend our agonies in death.
Wrapt in the thought of immortality,
Wrapt in the single, the triumphant thought:
Long life might lapse, age unperceived, come on,
And find the soul unsated with her theme.
Its nature, proof, importance, fire my song.
O that my song could emulate my soul!
Like her immortal. No:—the soul disdains
A mark so mean; far nobler hope inflames;
If endless ages can outweigh an hour,
Let not the laurel, but the palm inspire.
Thy nature Immortality! who knows?
And yet who knows it not? it is but life
In stronger thread of brighter colour spun,
And spun for ever; dipt by cruel Fate
In Stygian dye, how black, how brittle, here;
: How short our correspondence with the sun! And while it lasts, inglorious: our best deeds How wanting in their weight: our highest joys,