« PreviousContinue »
And still they dream that they shall still succeed, And still are disappointed. Rings the world With the vain stir. I sum up half mankind And add two thirds of the remaining half, And find the total of their hopes and fears Dreams, empty dreams. The million flit as gay As if created only like the fly, That spreads his motley wings in the eye of noon, To sport their season, and be seen no more. The rest are sober dreamers, grave and wise, And pregnant with discov’ries new and rare. Some write a narrative of wars, and feats Of heroes little known; and call the rant A history: describe the man, of whom His own coevels took but little note, And paint his person, character, and views, As they had known him from his mother's womb. They disentangle from the puzzled skein, In which obscurity has wrapp'd them up, The threads of politic and shrewd design, That ran through all his purposes, and charge His mind with meanings that he never had, Or, having, kept concealed. Some drill and bore The solid earth, and from the strata there Extract a register, by which we learn, That he who made it, and reveal'd its date To Moses, was mistaken in its age. Some, more acute, and more industrious still, Contrive creation; travel nature up To the sharp peak of her sublimest height, And tell us whence the stars ; why some are fix'd, And planetary some; what gave them first Rotation, from what fountain flow'd their light. Great contest follows, and much learned dust Involves the combatants; each claiming truth, And truth disclaiming both. And thus they spend The little wick of life's poor shallow lamp In playing tricks with nature, giving laws
To distant worlds, and trifling in their own.
Is 't not a pity now that tickling rheums
Should ever teaze the lungs, and blear the sight,
Of oracles like these? Great pity, too,
That having wielded th' elements, and built
A thousand systems, each in his own way,
They should go out in fume, and be forgot?
Ah! what is life thus spent ? and what are they
But frantic, who thus spend it? all for smoke
Eternity for bubbles proves at last
A senseless bargain. When I see such games
Play'd by the creatures of a Pow'r, who swears
That he will judge the earth, and call the fool
To a sharp reck’ning, that has liv'd in vain;
And when I weigh this seeming wisdom well,
And prove it in th' infallible result
So hollow and so false_I feel my heart
Dissolve in pity, and account the learn'd,
If this be learning, most of all deceived.
Great crimes alarm the conscience, but it sleeps, .
While thoughtful man is plausibly amused.
Defend me therefore, common sense, say I,
From reveries so airy, from the toil
Of dropping buckets into empty wells,
And growing old in drawing nothing up!
6 "Twere well,” says one sage erudite profound,
Terribly archd, and aquiline his nose,
And overbuilt with most impending brows,
6 "Twere well could you permit the world to live
As the world pleases: what's the world to you ?”
Much. I was born of woman, and drew milk
As sweet as charity from human breasts.
I think, articulate, I laugh and weep,
And exercise all functions of a man.
How then should I and any man that lives
Be strangers to each other? Pierce my vein,
ke of the crimson stream meand'ring there,
catechise it well; apply thy glass,
Search it, and prove now if it be not blood
Congenial with thine own: and, if it be,
What edge of subtlety canst thou suppose
Keen enough, wise and skilful as thou art,
To cut the link of brotherhood, by which
One common Maker bound me to the kind ?
True; I am no proficient, I confess,
In arts like yours. I cannot call the swift
And perilous lightnings from the angry clouds,
And bid them hide themselves in earth beneath;
I cannot analyze the air, nor catch
The parallax of yonder lum'nous point,
That seems half quench'd in the immense abyss :
Such powers I boast not-neither can I rest
A silent witness of the headlong rage,
Or heedless folly, by which thousands die,
Bone of my bone, and kindred souls to mine.
God never meant that man should scale the heav'ns
By strides of human wisdom, in his works,
Though wond'rous : he commands us in his word
To seek him rather where his mercy shines.
The mind, indeed, enlighten’d from above,
Views him in all; ascribes to the grand cause
The grand effect; acknowledges with joy
His manner, and with rapture tastes his style
But never yet did philosophic tube,
That brings the planets home into the eye
Of Observation, and discovers, else
Not visible, his family of worlds,
Discover him that rules them; such a veil
Hangs over mortal eyes, blind from the birth,
And dark in things divine. Full often too
Our wayward intellect, the more we learn
Of nature, overlooks her author more;
From instrumental causes proud to draw
Conclusions retrograde, and mad mistake.
But if his Word once teach us, shoot a ray
Through all the heart's dark chambers, and reveal