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From Nature's constant or eccentric laws,
The thoughtful soul this general inference draws,
That an effect must presuppose a cause:
And, while she does her upward flight sustain,
Touching each link of the continued chain,
At length she is oblig'd and forc'd to see
A First, a Source, a Life, a Deity,
What has for ever been, and must for ever be.
This great Existence, thus by reason found,
Blest by all power, with all perfection crown'd;
How can we bind or limit his decree,
By what our ear has heard, or eye may see?
Say then, is all in heaps of water lost,
Beyond the islands, and the midland coast?
Or has that God, who gave our world its birth,
Sever'd those waters by some other earth,
Countries by future plowshares to be torn,
And cities rais'd by nations yet unborn!
Ere the progressive course of restless age
Performs three thousand times its annual stage,
May not our power and learning be supprest,
And arts and empire learn to travel west?
"Where, by the strength of this idea charm'd;
Lighten'd with glory, and with rapture warm'd,
Ascends my soul? what sees she white and great
Amidst subjected seas? An isle, the seat
Of power and plenty; her imperial throne,
For justice and for mercy sought and known;
Virtues sublime, great attributes of Heaven,
From thence to this distinguish'd nation given.
Yet farther west the western Isle extends
Her happy fame; her armed fleet she sends
To climates folded yet from human eye,
And lands, which we imagine wave and sky.
From pole to pole she hears her acts resound,
And rules an empire by no ocean bound;
Knows her ships anchor'd, and her sails unfurl'd,
In other Indies, and a second world.
"Long shall Britannia (that must be her name) Be first in conquest, and preside in fame : Long shall her favor'd monarchy engage The teeth of Envy, and the force of Age: Rever'd and happy she shall long remain, Of human things least changeable, least vain. Yet all must with the general doom comply, And this great glorious power, tho' last, must die. "Now let us leave this Earth, and lift our eye To the large convex of yon azure sky: Behold it like an ample curtain spread, Now streak'd and glowing with the morning red; Anon at noon in flaming yellow bright, And choosing sable for the peaceful night. Ask Reason now, whence light and shade were given, And whence this great variety of Heaven. Reason, our guide, what can she more reply, Than that the Sun illuminates the sky; Than that night rises from his absent ray, And his returning lustre kindles day?
But we expect the morning-red in vain: "Tis hid in vapors, or obscur'd by rain. The noontide yellow we in vain require: 'Tis black in storm, or red in lightning fire. Pitchy and dark the night sometimes appears, Friend to our woe, and parent of our fears: Our joy and wonder sometimes she excites, With stars unnumber'd, and eternal lights. Send forth, ye wise, send forth your laboring
thought; Let it return with empty notions fraught,
Of airy columns every moment broke,
Of circling whirlpools, and of spheres of smoke:
Yet this solution but once more affords
New change of terms, and scaffolding of words:
In other garb my question I receive,
And take the doubt the very same I gave.
"Lo! as a giant strong, the lusty Sun
Multiplied rounds in one great round does run;
Twofold his course, yet constant his career,
Changing the day, and finishing the year.
Again, when his descending orb retires,
And Earth perceives the absence of his fires;
The Moon affords us her alternate ray,
And with kind beams distributes fainter day,
Yet keeps the stages of her monthly race;
Various her beams, and changeable her face.
Each planet, shining in his proper sphere,
Does with just speed his radiant voyage steer;
Each sees his lamp with different lustre crown'd;
Each knows his course with different periods bound;
And, in his passage through the liquid space,
Nor hastens, nor retards, his neighbor's race.
Now, shine these planets with substantial rays?
Does innate lustre gild their measur'd days?
Or do they (as your schemes, I think, have shown)
Dart furtive beams and glory not their own,
All servants to that source of light, the Sun ?
Again I see ten thousand thousand stars,
Nor cast in lines, in circles, nor in squares,
(Poor rules, with which our bounded mind is fill'd,
When we would plant, or cultivate, or build,)
But shining with such vast, such various light,
As speaks the hand, that form'd them, infinite.
How mean the order and perfection sought,
In the best product of the human thought,
Compar'd to the great harmony that reigns
In what the Spirit of the world ordains!
"Now if the Sun to Earth transmits his ray,
Yet does not scorch us with too fierce a day!
How small a portion of his power is given
To orbs more distant, and remoter Heaven?
And of those stars, which our imperfect eye
Has doom'd and fix'd to one eternal sky,
Each, by a native stock of honor great,
May dart strong influence, and diffuse kind heat,
(Itself a sun) and with transmissive light
Enliven worlds denied to human sight.
Around the circles of their ambient skies
New moons may grow or wane, may set or rise,
And other stars may to those suns be earths,
Give their own elements their proper births,
Divide their climes, or elevate their pole,
See their lands flourish, and their oceans roll:
Yet these great orbs, thus radically bright,
Primitive founts, and origins of light,
May each to other (as their different sphere
Makes or their distance or their light appear)
Be seen a nobler or inferior star,
And, in that space which we call air and sky, Myriads of earths, and moons, and suns, may lie Unmeasur'd and unknown by human eye.
"In vain we measure this amazing sphere, And find and fix its centre here or there; Whilst its circumference, scorning to be brought Ev'n into fancied space, eludes our vanquish'd thought.
"Where then are all the radiant monsters driven, With which your guesses fill'd the frighten'd Heaven?
Where will their fictious images remain?
In paper-schemes, and the Chaldean's brain.
"This problem yet, this offspring of a guess,
Let us for once a child of truth confess,
That these fair stars, these objects of delight
And terror to our searching dazzled sight,
Are worlds immense, unnumber'd, infinite.
But do these worlds display their beams, or guide
Their orbs, to serve thy use, to please thy pride?
Thyself but dust, thy stature but a span,
A moment thy duration, foolish man!
As well may the minutest emmet say,
That Caucasus was rais'd to pave his way;
'The snail, that Lebanon's extended wood
Was destin'd only for his walk and food;
The vilest cockle, gaping on the coast
That rounds the ample seas, as well may boast,
The craggy rock projects above the sky,
That he in safety at its foot may lie;
And the whole ocean's confluent waters swell, [shell.
Only to quench his thirst, or move and blanch his
"A higher flight the venturous goddess tries,
Leaving material worlds and local skies;
Inquires what are the beings, where the space,
That form'd and held the angels' ancient race.
For rebel Lucifer with Michael fought,
(I offer only what tradition taught,)
Embattled cherub against cherub rose,
Did shield to shield, and power to power oppose;
Heaven rung with triumph, Hell was fill'd with
What were these forms of which your volumes tell,
How some fought great, and others recreant fell?
These bound to bear an everlasting load,
Durance of chain, and banishment of God;
By fatal turns their wretched strength to tire,
To swim in sulphurous lakes, or land on solid fire:
While those, exalted to primeval light,
Excess of blessing, and supreme delight,
Only perceive some little pause of joys
In those great moments when their God employs
Their ministry, to pour his threaten'd hate
On the proud king, or the rebellious state;
Or to reverse Jehovah's high command,
And speak the thunder falling from his hand,
When to his duty the proud king returns,
And the rebellious state in ashes mourns;
How can good angels be in Heaven confin'd,
Or view that presence, which no space can bind?
Is God above, beneath, or yon, or here?
He who made all, is he not everywhere?
Oh, how can wicked angels find a night
So dark, to hide them from that piercing light,
Which form'd the eye, and gave the power of sight?
"What mean I now of angel, when I hear
Firm body, spirit pure, or fluid air?
Spirits, to action spiritual confin'd,
Friends to our thought, and kindred to our mind,
Should only act and prompt us from within,
Nor by external eye be ever seen.
Was it not, therefore, to our fathers known,
That these had appetite, and limb, and bone?
Else how could Abraham wash their wearied feet?
Or Sarah please their taste with savory meat?
Whence should they fear? or why did Lot engage
To save their bodies from abusive rage?
And how could Jacob, in a real fight,
Feel or resist the wrestling angel's might?
How could a form in strength with matter try?
Or how a spirit touch a mortal's thigh?
How comes it, since with them we jointly share
The great effect of one Creator's care,
That, whilst our bodies sicken and decay,
Theirs are for ever healthy, young, and gay?
Why, whilst we struggle in this vale beneath
With want and sorrow, with disease and death,
Do they, more bless'd, perpetual life employ
On songs of pleasure, and in scenes of joy?
"Now when my mind has all this world survey'd, And found, that nothing by itself was made; When thought has rais'd itself, by just degrees, From valleys crown'd with flowers, and hills with trees;
From smoking mineral, and from rising streams;
From fattening Nilus, or victorious Thames;
From all the living, that four-footed move
Along the shore, the meadow, or the grove;
From all that can with fins or feathers fly
Through the aerial or the watery sky;
From the poor reptile with a reasoning soul,
That miserable master of the whole;
From this great object of the body's eye,
This fair half-round, this ample azure sky,
Terribly large, and wonderfully bright,
With stars unnumber'd, and unmeasur'd light;
From essences unseen, celestial names,
Enlightening spirits, ministerial flames,
Angels, dominions, potentates, and thrones,
All that in each degree the name of creature owns:
Lift we our reason to that sovereign Cause,
Who blest the whole with life, and bounded it with
Who forth from nothing call'd this comely frame,
His will and act, his word and work the same;
To whom a thousand years are but a day;
Who bade the Light her genial beams display,
And set the Moon, and taught the Sun its way;
Who, waking Time, his creature, from the source
Primeval, order'd his predestin'd course;
Himself, as in the hollow of his hand,
Holding, obedient to his high command,
The deep abyss, the long-continued store,
Where months, and days, and hours, and minutes
Their floating parts, and thenceforth are no more:
This Alpha and Omega, first and last,
Who like the potter in a mould has cast
The world's great frame, commanding it to be
Such as the eyes of Sense and Reason see;
Yet, if he wills, may change or spoil the whole;
May take yon beauteous, mystic, starry roll,
And burn it like an useless parchment scroll;
May from its basis in one moment pour
This melted earth-
Like liquid metal, and like burning ore;
Who, sole in power, at the beginning said,
Let Sea, and Air, and Earth, and Heaven be made;
And it was so;-and, when he shall ordain
In other sort, has but to speak again,
And they shall be no more of this great theme,
This glorious, hollow'd, everlasting name,
This GOD, I would discourse."-
The learned elders sat appall'd, amaz'd, And each with mutual look on other gaz'd;
Nor speech they meditate, nor answer frame,
(Too plain, alas! their silence spake their shame)
Till one, in whom an outward mien appear'd,
And turn superior to the vulgar herd,
Began: That human learning's furthest reach
Was but to note the doctrine I could teach;
That mine to speak, and theirs was to obey;
For I in knowledge more than power did sway:
And the astonish'd world in me beheld
Moses eclips'd, and Jesse's son excell'd.
Humble a second bow'd, and took the word;
Foresaw my name by future age ador'd:
"O live," said he, "thou wisest of the wise;
As none has equall'd, none shall ever rise
Parent of wicked, bane of honest deeds,
Pernicious Flattery! thy malignant seeds,
In an ill hour, and by a fatal hand,
Sadly diffus'd o'er Virtue's gleby land,
With rising pride amidst the corn appear,
And choke the hopes and harvest of the year.
And now the whole perplex'd ignoble crowd,
Mute to my questions, in my praises loud,
Echo'd the word: whence things arose, or how
They thus exist, the aptest nothing know:
What yet is not, but is ordain'd to be,
All veil of doubt apart, the dullest see!
My prophets and my sophists finish'd here
The civil efforts of the verbal war:
Not so my rabbins and logicians yield;
Retiring, still they combat; from the field
Of open arms unwilling they depart,
And skulk behind the subterfuge of art.
To speak one thing, mix'd dialects they join,
Divide the simple, and the plain define :
Fix fancied laws, and form imagin'd rules,
Terms of their art, and jargon of their schools,
Ill-grounded maxims, by false gloss enlarg'd,
And captious science against reason charg'd.
Soon their crude notions with each other fought;
The adverse sect denied what this had taught;
And he at length the amplest triumph gain'd,
Who contradicted what the last maintain'd.
O wretched impotence of human mind! We, erring still, excuse for error find, And darkling grope, not knowing we are blind. Vain man! since first thy blushing sire essay'd His folly with connected leaves to shade, How does the crime of thy resembling race With like attempt that pristine error trace! Too plain thy nakedness of soul espied, Why dost thou strive the conscious shame to hide By masks of eloquence and veils of pride?
With outward smiles their flattery I receiv'd, Own'd my sick mind by their discourse reliev'd; But bent, and inward to myself, again Perplex'd, these matters I revolv'd in vain. My search still tir'd, my labor still renew'd, At length I ignorance and knowledge view'd, Impartial; both in equal balance laid, [weigh'd. Light flew the knowing scale, the doubtful heavy Forc'd by reflective reason, I confess, That human science is uncertain guess. Alas! we grasp at clouds, and beat the air, Vexing that spirit we intend to clear. Can thought beyond the bounds of matter climb? Or who shall tell me what is space or time? In vain we lift up our presumptuous eyes To what our Maker to their ken denies : The searcher follows fast; the object faster flies.
and desires of love. In two episodes are shown | Haunted my nights, and terrified my days; the follies and troubles of that passion. Solomon, Stalk'd through my gardens, and pursu'd my ways, still disappointed, falls under the temptations of Nor shut from artful bower, nor lost in winding libertinism and idolatry; recovers his thought;| reasons aright; and concludes, that, as to the pursuit of pleasure and sensual delight, All is vanity and vexation of spirit.
Yet take thy bent, my soul; another sense
Indulge; add music to magnificence:
Essay if harmony may grief control,
Or power of sound prevail upon the soul.
Often our seers and poets have confest,
That music's force can tame the furious beast:
Can make the wolf, or foaming boar, restrain
His rage; the lion drop his crested mane,
Attentive to the song; the lynx forget
His wrath to man, and lick the minstrel's feet.
Are we, alas! less savage yet than these?
Else music, sure, may human cares appease.
I spake my purpose; and the cheerful choir
Parted their shares of harmony: the lyre
Soften'd the timbrel's noise; the trumpet's sound
Provok'd the Dorian flute (both sweeter found
When mix'd); the fife the viol's notes refin'd,
And every strength with every grace was join'd.
Each morn they wak'd me with a sprightly lay;
Of opening Heaven they sung and gladsome day.
Each evening their repeated skill express'd
Scenes of repose, and images of rest:
Yet still in vain; for music gather'd thought:
But how unequal the effects it brought!
The soft ideas of the cheerful note,
Lightly receiv'd, were easily forgot;
The solemn violence of the graver sound
Knew to strike deep, and leave a lasting wound.
And now reflecting, I with grief descry
The sickly lust of the fantastic eye;
The marble brought, erects the spacious dome,
Or forms the pillars' long-extended rows,
How the weak organ is with seeing cloy'd,
Flying ere night what it at noon enjoy'd.
And now (unhappy search of thought!) I found
On which the planted grove, the pensile garden, The fickle ear soon glutted with the sound,
TRY then, O man, the moments to deceive,
That from the womb attend thee to the grave:
For wearied Nature find some apter scheme:
Health be thy hope, and Pleasure be thy theme.
From the perplexing and unequal ways,
Where study brings thee; from the endless maze,
Which doubt persuades to run, forewarn'd, recede
To the gay field and flowery path, that lead
To jocund mirth, soft joy, and careless ease:
Forsake what may instruct, for what may please;
Essay amusing art, and proud expense,
And make thy reason subject to thy sense.
I commun'd thus: the power of wealth I tried,
And all the various luxe of costly pride;
Artists and plans reliev'd my solemn hours;
I founded palaces, and planted bowers;
Birds, fishes, beasts, of each exotic kind,
I to the limits of my court confin'd;
To trees transferr'd I gave a second birth,
And bade a foreign shade grace Judah's earth;
Fish-ponds were made, where former forests grew,
And hills were levell'd to extend the view;
Rivers diverted from their native course,
And bound with chains of artificial force,
From large cascades in pleasing tumult roll'd,
Or rose through figur'd stone, or breathing gold;
From furthest Africa's tormented womb
The workmen here obey the master's call,
To gild the turret, and to paint the wall,
To mark the pavement there with various stone,
And on the jasper steps to rear the throne:
The spreading cedar, that an age had stood,
Supreme of trees, and mistress of the wood,
Cut down and carv'd, my shining roof adorns,
And Lebanon his ruin'd honor mourns.
A thousand artists show their cunning power,
To raise the wonders of the ivory tower.
A thousand maidens ply the purple loom,
To weave the bed, and deck the regal room;
Till Tyre confesses her exhausted store,
That on her coast the murex* is no more;
Till from the Parian isle, and Libya's coast,
The mountains grieve their hopes of marble lost;
And India's woods return their just complaint,
Their brood decay'd, and want of elephant.
My full design with vast expense achiev'd,
came, beheld, admir'd, reflected, griev'd;
I chid the folly of my thoughtless haste,
For, the work perfected, the joy was past.
To my new courts sad Thought did still repair,
And round my gilded roofs hung hovering Care.
In vain on silken beds I sought repose,
And restless oft from purple couches rose;
Vexatious Thought still found my flying mind
Nor bound by limits, nor to place confin'd;
*The murex is a shell-fish, of the liquor whereof a purple color is made.
Condemn'd eternal changes to pursue,
Tir'd with the last, and eager of the new.
I bade the virgins and the youth advance,
To temper music with the sprightly dance.
In vain too low the mimic motions seem;
What takes our heart must merit our esteem.
Nature, I thought, perform'd too mean a part,
Forming her movements to the rules of art;
And, vex'd, I found that the musician's hand
Had o'er the dancer's mind too great command.
I drank; I lik'd it not; 'twas rage, twas noise,
An airy scene of transitory joys
In vain I trusted that the flowing bowl
Would banish sorrow, and enlarge the soul.
To the late revel, and protracted feast,
Wild dreams succeeded, and disorder'd rest;
And as, at dawn of morn, fair Reason's light
Broke through the fumes and phantoms of the night,
What had been said, I ask'd my soul, what done?
How flow'd our mirth, and whence the source begun?
Perhaps the jest that charm'd the sprightly crowd,
And made the jovial table laugh so loud,
To some false notion ow'd its poor pretence,
To an ambiguous word's perverted sense,
To a wild sonnet, or a wanton air,
Offence and torture to the sober ear:
Perhaps, alas! the pleasing stream was brought
From this man's error, from another's fault;
From topics, which good-nature would forget,
And prudence mention with the last regret.
Add yet unnumber'd ills, that lie unseen
In the pernicious draught; the word obscene,
Or harsh, which, once elanc'd, must ever fly
Irrevocable; the too prompt reply,
Seed of severe distrust and fierce debate;
What we should shun, and what we ought to hate.
Add too the blood impoverish'd, and the course
Of health suppress'd, by wine's continual force.
Unhappy man! whom sorrow thus and rage
To different ills alternately engage;
Who drinks, alas! but to forget; nor sees
That melancholy sloth, severe disease,
Memory confus'd, and interrupted thought,
Death's harbingers, lie latent in the draught;
And, in the flowers that wreath the sparkling bowl,
Fell adders hiss, and poisonous serpents roll.
Remains there aught untried that may remove
Sickness of mind, and heal the bosom ?-Love.
Love yet remains: indulge his genial fire,
Cherish fair hope, solicit young desire,
And boldly bid thy anxious soul explore
This last great remedy's mysterious power.
Why therefore hesitates my doubtful breast?
Why ceases it one moment to be blest?
"Fly swift, my friends; my servants, fly; employ
Your instant pains to bring your master joy.
Let all my wives and concubines be dress'd;
Let them to-night attend the royal feast;
All Israel's beauty, all the foreign fair;
The gifts of princes, or the spoils of war:
Before their monarch they shall singly pass,
And the most worthy shall obtain the grace."
I said: the feast was serv'd, the bowl was crown'd;
To the king's pleasure went the mirthful round.
The women came: as custom wills, they past:
On one (O that distinguish'd one!) I cast
The favorite glance! O! yet my mind retains
That fond beginning of my infant pains.
Mature the virgin was, of Egypt's race;
Grace shap'd her limbs, and beauty deck'd her Love! why 'tis joy or sorrow, peace or strife;
"Tis all the color of remaining life:
When she, with modest scorn, the wreath return'd
Reclin'd her beauteous neck, and inward mourn'd!
Forc'd by my pride, I my concern suppress'd,
Pretended drowsiness, and wish of rest:
And sullen I forsook th' imperfect feast,
Ordering the eunuchs, to whose proper care
Our eastern grandeur gives th' imprison'd fair,
To lead her forth to a distinguish'd bower.
And bid her dress the bed, and wait the hour.
Restless I follow'd this obdurate maid
(Swift are the steps that Love and Anger tread);
Approach'd her person, courted her embrace,
Renew'd my flame, repeated my disgrace;
By turns put on the suppliant and the lord;
Threaten'd this moment, and the next implor'd,
Offer'd again the unaccepted wreath,
And choice of happy love, or instant death.
Averse to all her amorous king desir'd,
Far as she might she decently retir'd;
And, darting scorn and sorrow from her eyes,
"What means," said she, "king Solomon the wise?
"This wretched body trembles at your power:
Thus far could Fortune, but she can no more.
Free to herself my potent mind remains,
Nor fears the victor's rage, nor feels his chains.
""Tis said, that thou canst plausibly dispute,
Supreme of seers! of angel, man, and brute;
Canst plead, with subtle wit and fair discourse,
Of passion's folly, and of reason's force;
That, to the tribes attentive, thou canst show
Whence their misfortunes or their blessings flow;
That thou in science as in power art great,
And truth and honor on thy edicts wait.
Where is that knowledge now, that regal thought,
With just advice and timely counsel fraught?
Where now, O judge of Israel! does it rove?—
What in one moment dost thou offer? Love-
Easy her motion seem'd, serene her air;
Full, though unzon'd, her bosom rose; her hair,
Untied, and ignorant of artful aid,
Adown her shoulders loosely lay display'd,
And in the jetty curls ten thousand Cupids play'd.
Fix'd on her charms, and pleas'd that I could love,
Aid me, my friends, contribute to improve
Your monarch's bliss," I said; "fresh roses bring
To strew my bed, till the impoverish'd Spring
Confess her want; around my amorous head
Be dropping myrrh and liquid amber shed,
Till Arab has no more. From the soft lyre,
Sweet flute, and ten-string'd instrument, require
Sounds of delight: and thou, fair nymph! draw
Thou, in whose graceful form and potent eye,
Thy master's joy, long sought, at length is found;
And, as thy brow, let my desires be crown'd;
O favorite virgin! that hast warm'd the breast,
Whose sovereign dictates subjugate the East!"
I said and sudden from the golden throne,
With a submissive step, I hasted down.
The glowing garland from my hair I took,
Love in my heart, obedience in my look;
Prepar'd to place it on her comely head:
"O favorite virgin!" yet again I said,
Receive the honors destin'd to thy brow; And O, above thy fellows, happy thou! Their duty must thy sovereign word obey: Rise up, my love, my fair-one, come away."
What pangs, alas! what ecstacy of smart, Tore up my senses, and transfix'd my heart,
And human misery must begin or end,
As he becomes a tyrant or a friend.
Would David's son, religious, just, and grave,
To the first bride-bed of the world receive
A foreigner, a heathen, and a slave?
Or, grant thy passion has these names destroy'd,
That Love, like Death, makes all distinction void;
Yet in his empire o'er thy abject breast
His flames and torments only are exprest;
His rage can in my smiles alone relent,
And all his joys solicit my consent.
Soft love, spontaneous tree, its parted root
Must from two hearts with equal vigor shoot;
Whilst each, delighted and delighting, gives
The pleasing ecstacy which each receives:
Cherish'd with hope, and fed with joy, it grows;
Its cheerful buds their opening bloom disclose,
And round the happy soil diffusive odor flows.
If angry Fate that mutual care denies,
The fading plant bewails its due supplies;
Wild with despair, or sick with grief, it dies.
By force beasts act, and are by force restrain'd:
The human mind by gentle means is gain'd.
Thy useless strength, mistaken king, employ:
Sated with rage, and ignorant of joy,
Thou shalt not gain what I deny to yield,
Nor reap the harvest, though thou spoild'st the field.
Know, Solomon, thy poor extent of sway;
Contract thy brow, and Israel shall obey:
But wilful Love thou must with smiles appease,
Approach his awful throne by just degrees,
And, if thou wouldst be happy, learn to please.