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Angels are angels, from indulgence there; "Tis unrepenting pleasure makes a god.
Dost think thyself a god from other joys? A victim rather! shortly sure to bleed. The wrong must mourn: can Heaven's appointments fail?
Can man outwit Omnipotence? Strike out
A self-wrought happiness unmeant by him
Who made us, and the world we would enjoy?
Who forms an instrument, ordains from whence
Its dissonance, or harmony, shall rise.
Heaven bade the soul this mortal frame inspire:
Bade virtue's ray divine inspire the soul
With unprecarious flows of vital joy;
And, without breathing, man as well might hope
For life, as without piety, for peace.
"Is virtue, then, and piety the same?"
No; piety is more; 'tis virtue's source;
Mother of every worth, as that of joy.
Men of the world this doctrine ill digest:
They smile at piety; yet boast aloud
Good-will to men; nor know they strive to part
What nature joins; and thus confute themselves.
With piety begins all good on Earth;
"Tis the first-born of rationality.
Conscience, her first law broken, wounded lies;
Enfeebled, lifeless, impotent to good;
A feign'd affection bounds her utmost power.
Some we can't love, but for the Almighty's sake;
A foe to God was ne'er true friend to man;
Some sinister intent taints all he does;
And, in his kindest actions, he's unkind.
On piety, humanity is built;
And on humanity, much happiness;
And yet still more on piety itself.
A soul in commerce with her God is Heaven ;
Feels not the tumults and the shocks of life;
The whirls of passions, and the strokes of heart.
A Deity believ'd, is joy begun;
A Deity ador'd, is joy advanc'd;
A Deity belov'd, is joy matur'd.
Each branch of piety delight inspires;
Faith builds a bridge from this world to the next,
O'er death's dark gulf, and all its horror hides;
Praise, the sweet exhalation of our joy,
That joy exalts, and makes it sweeter still;
Prayer ardent opens Heaven, lets down a stream
Of glory on the consecrated hour
Of man, in audience with the Deity.
Who worships the Great God, that instant joins
The first in Heaven, and sets his foot on Hell.
Lorenzo! when wast thou at church before?
Thou think'st the service long: but is it just?
Though just, unwelcome; thou hadst rather tread
Unhallow'd ground; the Muse, to win thine ear,
Must take an air less solemn. She complies.
Good conscience! at the sound the world retires;
Verse disaffects it, and Lorenzo smiles;
Yet has she her seraglio full of charms;
And such as age shall heighten, not impair.
Art thou dejected? Is thy mind o'ercast?
Amid her fair-ones, thou the fairest choose,
To chase thy gloom.-"Go, fix some weighty truth;
Chain down some passion; do some generous good;
Teach ignorance to see, or grief to smile;
Correct thy friend; befriend thy greatest foe;
Or with warm heart, and confidence divine, [thee."
Spring up, and lay strong hold on him who made
Thy gloom is scatter'd, sprightly spirits flow;
Though wither'd is thy vine, and harp unstrung,
Dost call the bowl, the viol, and the dance, Loud mirth, mad laughter? Wretched comforters! Physicians! more than half of thy disease. Laughter, though never censur'd yet as sin, (Pardon a thought that only seems severe,) Is half-immoral; is it much indulg'd? By venting spleen, or dissipating thought, It shows a scorner, or it makes a fool; And sins, as hurting others, or ourselves. "Tis pride, or emptiness, applies the straw, That tickles little minds to mirth effuse! Of grief approaching, the portentous sign! The house of laughter makes a house of woe. A man triumphant is a monstrous sight; A man dejected is a sight as mean.
What cause for triumph, where such ills abound?
What for dejection, where presides a power,
Who call'd us into being to be blest?
So grieve, as conscious grief may rise to joy;
So joy, as conscious joy to grief may fall.
Most true, a wise man never will be sad;
But neither will sonorous, bubbling mirth,
A shallow stream of happiness betray:
Too happy to be sportive, he's serene.
Yet wouldst thou laugh (but at thy own expense),
This counsel strange should I presume to give—
Retire, and read thy Bible, to be gay." There truths abound of sovereign aid to peace; Ah! do not prize them less, because inspir'd, As thou, and thine, are apt and proud to do. If not inspir'd, that pregnant page had stood, Time's treasure; and the wonder of the wise! Thou think'st, perhaps, thy soul alone at stake; Alas! Should men mistake thee for a fool ;What man of taste for genius, wisdom, truth, Though tender of thy fame, could interpose? Believe me, sense, here, acts a double part, And the true critic is a Christian too.
But these, thou think'st, are gloomy paths to joy. True joy in sun-shine ne'er was found at first; They, first, themselves offend, who greatly please; And travel only gives us sound repose. Heaven sells all pleasure; effort is the price; The joys of conquest are the joys of man; And glory the victorious laurel spreads O'er pleasure's pure, perpetual, placid stream. There is a time, when toil must be preferr'd, Or joy, by mistim'd fondness, is undone. A man of pleasure is a man of pains. Thou wilt not take the trouble to be blest. False joys, indeed, are born from want of thought. From thoughts full bent, and energy, the true; And that demands a mind in equal poise, Remote from gloomy grief and glaring joy. Much joy not only speaks small happiness, But happiness that shortly must expire. Can joy, unbottom'd in reflection, stand? And, in a tempest, can reflection live? Can joy, like thine, secure itself an hour? Can joy, like thine, meet accident unshock'd? Or ope the door to honest poverty?
Or talk with threatening death, and not turn pale?
In such a world, and such a nature, these
Are needful fundamentals of delight;
These fundamentals give delight indeed;
Delight, pure, delicate, and durable;
Delight, unshaken, masculine, divine;
A constant, and a sound, but serious joy.
Is joy the daughter of severity?
It is;-yet far my doctrine from severe.
Rejoice for ever!" it becomes a man:
Exalts, and sets him nearer to the gods.
"Rejoice for ever!" Nature cries, "Rejoice!"
And drinks to man, in her nectareous cup,
Mixt up of delicates for every sense;
To the great Founder of the bounteous feast,
Drinks glory, gratitude, eternal praise;
And he that will not pledge her, is a churl.
Ill firmly to support, good fully taste,
Is the whole science of felicity:
Yet sparing pledge: her bowl is not the best
Mankind can boast.-"A rational repast;
Exertion, vigilance, a mind in arms,
A military discipline of thought,
To foil temptation in the doubtful field;
And ever-waking ardor for the right."
"Tis these first give, then guard, a cheerful heart.
Nought that is right, think little; well aware,
What reason bids, God bids; by his command
How aggrandiz'd, the smallest thing we do!
Thus, nothing is insipid to the wise :
To thee, insipid all, but what is mad;
Joys season'd high, and tasting strong of guilt.
"Mad!" (thou reply'st, with indignation fir'd)
"Of ancient sages proud to tread the steps,
I follow nature."-Follow nature still,
But look it be thine own: is conscience, then,
No part of nature? Is she not supreme?
Thou regicide! O raise her from the dead!
Then follow nature, and resemble God.
When, spite of conscience, pleasure is pursued, Man's nature is unnaturally pleas'd; And what's unnatural is painful too At intervals, and must disgust e'en thee! The fact thou know'st; but not, perhaps, the cause. Virtue's foundations with the world's were laid; Heaven mixt her with our make, and twisted close Her sacred interests with the strings of life. Who breaks her awful mandate, shocks himself, His better self; and is it greater pain, Our soul should murmur, or our dust repine? And one, in their eternal war, must bleed.
And why? Tis love of pleasure bids thee bleed; Comply, or own self-love extinct, or blind.
For what is vice? Self-love in a mistake: A poor blind merchant buying joys too dear. And virtue, what? 'Tis self-love in her wits, Quite skilful in the market of delight. Self-love's good sense is love of that dread power From whom herself, and all she can enjoy. Other self-love is but disguis'd self-hate; More mortal than the malice of our foes; A self-hate, now, scarce felt; then felt full-sore, When being curst; extinction, loud implor'd; And every thing preferr'd to what we are.
Yet this self-love Lorenzo makes his choice: And, in this choice triumphant, boasts of joy. How is his want of happiness betray'd, By disaffection to the present hour! Imagination wanders far afield:
If one must suffer, which should least be spar'd? The pains of mind surpass the pains of sense: Ask, then, the gout, what torment is in guilt. The joys of sense to mental joys are mean: Sense on the present only feeds; the soul On past, and future, forages for joy. "Tis hers, by retrospect, through time to range; And forward time's great sequel to survey. Could human courts take vengeance on the mind, Axes might rust, and racks and gibbets fall: Guard then thy mind, and leave the rest to fate. Lorenzo! wilt thou never be a man? The man is dead, who for the body lives, Lur'd, by the beating of his pulse, to list With every lust that wars against his peace: And sets him quite at variance with himself. Thyself, first, know; then love: a self there is Of virtue fond, that kindles at her charms. A self there is, as fond of every vice, While every virtue wounds it to the heart: Humility degrades it, justice robs, Blest bounty beggars it, fair truth betrays, And godlike magnanimity destroys. This self, when rival to the former, scorn; When not in competition, kindly treat; Defend it, feed it :-but when virtue bids, Toss it or to the fowls, or to the flames.
The future pleases: why? The present pains-
"But that's a secret." Yes, which all men know;
And know from thee, discover'd unawares.
Thy ceaseless agitation, restless roll
From cheat to cheat, impatient of a pause;
What is it?"Tis the cradle of the soul,
From instinct sent, to rock her in disease,
Which her physician, reason, will not cure.
A poor expedient! yet thy best; and while
It mitigates thy pain, it owns it too.
Such are Lorenzo's wretched remedies!
The weak have remedies; the wise have joys.
Superior wisdom is superior bliss.
And what sure mark distinguishes the wise?
Consistent wisdom ever wills the same;
Thy fickle wish is ever on the wing.
Sick of herself, is folly's character;
As wisdom's is, a modest self-applause.
A change of evils is thy good supreme;
Nor, but in motion, canst thou find thy rest.
Man's greatest strength is shown in standing still
The first sure symptom of a mind in health
Is rest of heart, and pleasure felt at home.
False pleasure from abroad her joys imports;
Rich from within, and self-sustain'd, the true;
The true is fixt, and solid as a rock;
Slippery the false, and tossing, as the wave.
This, a wild wanderer on Earth, like Cain;
That, like the fabled, self-enamour'd boy,
Home-contemplation her supreme delight;
She dreads an interruption from without,
Smit with her own condition; and the more
Intense she gazes, still it charms the more.
No man is happy, till he thinks, on Earth There breathes not a more happy than himself: Then envy dies, and love o'erflows on all; And love o'erflowing makes an angel here. Such angels, all, entitled to repose On him who governs fate: though tempest frowns. Though nature shakes, how soft to lean on Heav To lean on him, on whom archangels lean! With inward eyes, and silent as the grave, They stand collecting every beam of thought, Till their hearts kindle with divine delight; For all their thoughts, like angels, seen of old In Israel's dream, come from, and go to, Heaven: Hence, are they studious of sequester'd scenes; While noise, and dissipation, comfort thee.
Were all men happy, revellings would cease, That opiate for inquietude within. Lorenzo! never man was truly blest,
But it compos'd, and gave him such a cast,
As folly might mistake for want of joy.
A cast, unlike the triumph of the proud;
A modest aspect, and a smile at heart.
O for a joy from thy Philander's spring!
A spring perennial, rising in the breast,
And permanent, as pure! no turbid stream
Of rapturous exultation, swelling high;
Which, like land-floods, impetuous pour awhile,
Then sink at once, and leave us in the mire.
What does the man, who transient joy prefers?
What, but prefer the bubbles to the stream?
Vain are all sudden sallies of delight;
Convulsions of a weak, distemper'd joy.
Joy's a fixt state; a tenure, not a start.
Bliss there is none, but unprecarious bliss:
That is the gem: sell all, and purchase that.
Why go a-begging to contingencies,
Not gain'd with ease, nor safely lov'd, if gain'd?
At good fortuitous, draw back, and pause;
Suspect it; what thou canst insure, enjoy;
And nought but what thou giv'st thyself, is sure.
Reason perpetuates joy that reason gives,
And makes it as immortal as herself:
To mortals, nought immortal, but their worth.
Worth, conscious worth! should absolutely reign;
And other joys ask leave for their approach;
Nor, unexamin'd, ever leave obtain.
Thou art all anarchy; a mob of joys
Wage war, and perish in intestine broils;
Not the least promise of internal peace!
No bosom-comfort! or unborrow'd bliss!
Thy thoughts are vagabonds; all outward-bound,
'Mid sands, and rocks, and storms, to cruise for
If gain'd, dear-bought; and better miss'd than gain'd.
Much pain must expiate what much pain procur'd.
Fancy, and sense, from an infected shore,
Thy cargo bring; and pestilence the prize.
Then, such thy thirst, (insatiable thirst!
By fond indulgence but inflam'd the more!)
Fancy still cruises, when poor sense is tir'd.
Imagination is the Paphian shop,
True happiness ne'er enter'd at an eye;
True happiness resides in things unseen.
No smiles of fortune ever blest the bad,
Nor can her frowns rob innocence of joys;
That jewel wanting, triple crowns are poor:
So tell his holiness, and be reveng'd.
That persecuting priest, the Turk of Rome,
Whose foot (ye gods!) though cloven, must be kiss'd,
Detain'd thy dinner on the Latian shore;
(Such is the fate of honest Protestants!)
And poor magnificence is starv'd to death.
Hence just resentment, indignation, ire!
Be pacified; if outward things are great,
"Tis magnanimity great things to scorn;
Pompous expenses, and parades august,
And courts, that insalubrious soil to peace.
Pleasure, we both agree, is man's chief good;
Or only contest, what deserves the name.
Give pleasure's name to nought, but what has pass'd
Th' authentic seal of reason, (which, like Yorke,
Demurs on what it passes,) and defies
The tooth of Time; when past, a pleasure still;
Dearer on trial, lovelier for its age,
And doubly to be priz'd, as it promotes
Our future, while it forms our present, joy.
Some joys the future overcast; and some
Throw all their beams that way, and gild the tomb
Some joys endear eternity; some give
Abhorr'd annihilation dreadful charms.
Are rival joys contending for thy choice?
Consult thy whole existence, and be safe;
That oracle will put all doubt to flight.
Short is the lesson, though my lecture long,
Be good-and let Heaven answer for the rest.
Yet, with a sigh o'er all mankind, I grant
In this our day of proof, our land of hope,
The good man has his clouds that intervene ;
Clouds, that obscure his sublunary day,
But never conquer: e'en the best must own,
Patience, and resignation, are the pillars
Of human peace on Earth. The pillars, these :
But those of Seth not more remote from thee,
Till this heroic lesson thou hast learnt;
To frown at pleasure, and to smile in pain.
Fir'd at the prospect of unclouded bliss,
Heaven in reversion, like the Sun, as yet
Beneath th' horizon, cheers us in this world;
It sheds, on souls susceptible of light,
The glorious dawn of our eternal day.
"This," says Lorenzo, " is a fair harangue : But can harangues blow back strong Nature's
Where feeble happiness, like Vulcan, lame,
Bids foul ideas, in their dark recess,
And hot as Hell (which kindled the black fires,)
With wanton art, those fatal arrows form,
Which murder all thy time, nealth, wealth, and fame.
Wouldst thou receive them, other thoughts there are,
On angel-wing, descending from above,
Which these, with art divine, would counter-work,
And form celestial armor for thy peace.
In this is seen imagination's guilt;
But who can count her follies? She betrays thee,
To think in grandeur there is something great.
For works of curious art, and ancient fame,
Thy genius hungers, clegantly pain'd;
And foreign climes must cater for thy taste.
Hence, what disaster!-Though the price was paid, Observe his awful portrait, and admire;
Nor stop at wonder; imitate, and live.
Or stem the tide Heaven pushes through our veins,
Which sweeps away man's impotent resolves,
And lays his labor level with the world?"
Themselves men make their comment on man-
And think nought is, but what they find at home:
Thus weakness to chimera turns the truth.
Nothing romantic has the Muse prescrib'd.
Above,* Lorenzo saw the man of Earth,
The mortal man; and wretched was the sight.
To balance that, to comfort, and exalt,
Now see the man immortal: him, I mean,
Who lives as such; whose heart, full bent on Heaven
Leans all that way, his bias to the stars.
The world's dark shades, in contrast set, shall raise
His lustre more; though bright, without a soil :
Some angel guide my pencil, while I draw,
What nothing less than angel can exceed!
A man on Earth devoted to the skies;
Like ships in seas, while in, above the world.
With aspect mild, and elevated eye,
Behold him seated on a mount serene,
Above the fogs of sense, and passion's storm;
In a former Night.
Backward to credit what he never felt,
Lorenzo cries," Where shines this miracle?
From what root rises this immortal man?"
A root that grows not in Lorenzo's ground;
The root dissect, nor wonder at the flower.
He follows nature (not like thee* and shows us
An uninverted system of a man.
His appetite wears reason's golden chain,
And finds, in due restraint, its luxury.
His passion, like an eagle well reclaim'd,
Is taught to fly at nought, but infinite.
Patient his hope, unanxious is his care,
His caution fearless, and his grief (if grief
The gods ordain) a stranger to despair.
And why? Because, affection, more than meet.
His wisdom leaves not disengag'd from Heaven.
Those secondary goods that smile on Earth,
He, loving in proportion, loves in peace.
They most the world enjoy, who least admire.
His understanding 'scapes the common cloud
Of fumes, arising from a boiling breast.
His head is clear, because his heart is cool,
By worldly competitions uninflam'd.
The moderate movements of his soul admit
Distinct ideas, and matur'd debate,
An eye impartial, and an even scale;
Whence judgment sound, and unrepenting choice
Thus, in a double sense, the good are wise;
On its own dunghill, wiser than the world.
What, then, the world? It must be doubly weak;
Strange truth! as soon would they believe their
All the black cares, and tumults, of this life,
Like harmless thunders, breaking at his feet,
Excite his pity, not impair his peace.
Earth's genuine sons, the sceptred, and the slave,
A mingled mob! a wandering herd! he sees,
Bewilder'd in the vale; in all unlike!
His full reverse in all! what higher praise?
What stronger demonstration of the right?
The present all their care; the future, his.
When public welfare calls, or private want,
They give to fame; his bounty he conceals.
Their virtues varnish nature; his exalt.
Mankind's esteem they court; and he, his own.
Theirs, the wild chase of false felicities;
His, the compos'd possession of the true.
Alike throughout is his consistent peace,
All of one color, and an even thread;
While party-color'd shreds of happiness,
With hideous gaps between, patch up for them
A madman's robe; each puff of fortune blows
The tatters by, and shows their nakedness.
He sees with other eyes than theirs: where they
Behold a sun, he spies a Deity:
What makes them only smile, makes him adore.
Where they see mountains, he but atoms sees;
An empire, in his balance, weighs a grain.
They things terrestrial worship, as divine:
His hopes immortal blow them by, as dust,
That dims his sight and shortens his survey,
Which longs, in infinite, to lose all bound.
Titles and honors (if they prove his fate)
He lays aside to find his dignity;
No dignity they find in aught besides.
They triumph in externals (which conceal
Man's real glory,) proud of an eclipse.
Himself too much he prizes to be proud,
And nothing thinks so great in man, as man.
Too dear he holds his interest, to neglect
Another's welfare, or his right invade;
Their interest, like a lion, lives on prey.
They kindle at the shadow of a wrong;
Wrong he sustains with temper, looks on Heaven,
Nor stoops to think his injurer his foe;
Nought, but what wounds his virtue, wounds his "Tis hard for them (yet who so loudly boast
Good-will to men ?) to love their dearest friend;
For may not he invade their good supreme,
Where the least jealousy turns love to gall?
All shines to them, that for a season shines.
Each act, each thought, he questions, “What its
A cover'd heart their character defends;
A cover'd heart denies him half his praise.
With nakedness his innocence agrees;
While their broad foliage testifies their fall.
Their no-joys end, where his full feast begins:
His joys create, theirs murder, future bliss.
To triumph in existence, his alone;
And his alone, triumphantly to think
His true existence is not yet begun.
His glorious course was, yesterday, complete;
Death, then, was welcome; yet life still is sweet.
But nothing charms Lorenzo, like the firm
Undaunted breast-And whose is that high praise?
They yield to pleasure, though they danger brave,
And show no fortitude, but in the field;
If there they show it, 'tis for glory shown;
Nor will that cordial always man their hearts.
A cordial his sustains that cannot fail;
By pleasure unsubdued, unbroke by pain,
He shares in that Omnipotence he trusts.
All-bearing, all-attempting, till he falls;
And when he falls, writes VICI on his shield.
From magnanimity, all fear above;
From nobler recompense, above applause;
Which owes to man's short out-look all its charms.
Yet thus it is; nor otherwise can be ;
So far from aught romantic, what I sing.
Bliss has no being, virtue has no strength,
But from the prospect of immortal life.
Who think Earth all, or (what weighs just the
Who care no further, must prize what it yields;
Fond of its fancies, proud of its parades.
Who thinks Earth nothing, can't its charms admire;
He can't a foe, though most malignant, hate,
Because that hate would prove his greater foe.
Its color what, a thousand ages hence?"
And what it there appears, he deems it now.
Hence, pure are the recesses of his soul.
The godlike man has nothing to conceal.
His virtue, constitutionally deep,
His habit's firmness, and affection's flame;
Angels, allied, descend to feed the fire;
And death, which others slays, makes him a god.
And now, Lorenzo! bigot of this world!
Wont to disdain poor bigots caught by Heaven!
Stand by thy scorn, and be reduc'd to nought:
For what art thou ?-Thou boaster! while thy
Thy gaudy grandeur, and mere worldly worth,
Like a broad mist, at distance, strikes us most;
And like a mist, is nothing when at hand;
His merit, like a mountain, on approach,
Swells more, and rises nearer to the skies,
* See p. 588.
By promise now, and by possession soon,
(Too soon, too much, it cannot be) his own.
From this thy just annihilation rise,
Lorenzo rise to something, by reply.
The world, thy client, listens, and expects;
And longs to crown thee with immortal praise.
Canst thou be silent? No; for wit is thine;
And wit talks most, when least she has to say,
And reason interrupts not her career.
She'll say-That mists above the mountains rise;
And, with a thousand pleasantries, amuse;
She'll sparkle, puzzle, flutter, raise a dust,
And fly conviction, in the dust she rais'd.
How ruinous the rock I warn thee, shun,
Where Syrens sit, to sing thee to thy fate!
A joy, in which our reason bears no part,
Is but a sorrow tickling, ere it stings.
Let not the cooings of the world allure thee;
Which of her lovers ever found her true?
Happy! of this bad world who little know:-
And yet, we much must know her, to be safe.
To know the world, not love her, is thy point;
She gives but little, nor that little, long.
There is, I grant, a triumph of the pulse;
A dance of spirits, a mere froth of joy;
Our thoughtless agitation's idle child,
That mantles high, that sparkles and expires,
Leaving the soul more vapid than before.
An animal ovation! such as holds
Wit, how delicious to man's dainty taste!
"Tis precious, as the vehicle of sense;
But, as its substitute, a dire disease.
Pernicious talent! flatter'd by the world,
By the blind world, which thinks the talent rare.
Wisdom is rare, Lorenzo! wit abounds;
Passion can give it; sometimes wine inspires
The lucky flash; and madness rarely fails.
Whatever cause the spirit strongly stirs,
Confers the bays, and rivals thy renown.
For thy renown, 'twere well, was this the worst ;
Chance often hits it; and, to pique the more,
See dullness, blundering on vivacities,
Shakes her sage head at the calamity,
Which has expos'd, and let her down to thee.
But wisdom, awful wisdom! which inspects,
Discerns, compares, weighs, separates, infers,
Seizes the right, and holds it to the last;
How rare! in senates, synods, sought in vain ;
Or, if there found, 'us sacred to the few;
While a lewd prostitute to multitudes,
Frequent, as fatal, wit: in civil life,
Wit makes an enterpriser; sense, a man.
Wit hates authority; commotion loves,
And thinks herself the lightning of the storm.
In states, 'tis dangerous; in religion, death:
Shall wit turn Christian, when the dull believe?
Sense is our helmet, wit is but the plume;
The plume exposes, 'tis our helmet saves.
Sense is the diamond, weighty, solid, sound;
When cut by wit, it casts a brighter beam;
Yet, wit apart, it is a diamond still.
Wit, widow'd of good sense, is worse than nought;
It hoists more sail to run against a rock.
Thus, a half-Chesterfield is quite a fool;
Whom dull fools scorn, and bless their want of wit. The lothesome rottenness, and foul decays
Shut, shut the shocking scene.-But Heaven denies
A cover to such guilt; and so should man.
Look round, Lorenzo! see the reeking blade,
'Th' envenom'd phial, and the fatal ball;
The strangling cord, and suffocating stream;
From raging riot (slower suicides!)
And pride in these, more execrable still!
How horrid all to thought!-But horrors, these,
That vouch the truth; and aid my feeble song.
From vice, sense, fancy, no man can be blest:
Bliss is too great, to lodge within an hour:
When an immortal being aims at bliss,
Duration is essential to the name.
And when it jars-thy Syrens sing no more,
Thy dance is done; the demi-god is thrown
(Short apotheosis!) beneath the man,
In coward gloom immers'd, or fell despair.
Art thou yet dull enough despair to dread,
And startle at destruction? If thou art,
Accept a buckler, take it to the field;
(A field of battle is this mortal life
When danger threatens, lay it on thy heart;
A single sentence proof against the world;
Soul, body, fortune! every good pertain
To one of these; but prize not all alike;
The goods of fortune to the body's health,
Body to soul, and soul submit to God."
Wouldst thou build lasting happiness? Do this;
The inverted pyramid can never stand.
A nice machine! scarce ever tun'd aright;
Is this truth doubtful? It outshines the Sun;
Nay the Sun shines not, but to show us this,
The single lesson of mankind on Earth.
And yet yet what?-No news! mankind is mad,
Such mighty numbers list against the right,
(And what can't numbers, when bewitch'd, achieve?)
They talk themselves to something like belief,
That all Earth's joys are theirs: as Athens' fool
Grinn'd from the port, on every sail his own.
They grin; but wherefore? and how long the
Half ignorance, their mirth; and half, a lie ;
To cheat the world, and cheat themselves, they
Hard either task! The most abandon'd own,
That others, if abandon'd, are undone :
Then for themselves, the moment reason wakes,
(And Providence denies it long repose,)
O how laborious is their gaiety!
They scarce can swallow their ebullient spleen,
Scarce muster patience to support the farce,
And pump sad laughter till the curtain falls.
Scarce, did I say? Some cannot sit it out;
Oft their own daring hands the curtain draw,
And show us what their joy, by their despair.
The clotted hair! gor'd breast! blaspheming eye!
Its impious fury still alive in death!
O for a joy from reason! joy from that,
Which makes man man; and, exercis'd aright,
Will make him more: a bounteous joy! that gives,
And promises; that weaves, with art divine,
The richest prospect into present peace
A joy ambitious! Joy in common held
With thrones ethereal, and their greater far;
A joy high-privileg'd from chance, time, death!
A joy which death shall double, judgment crown!
No commerce with our reason, but subsists
On juices, through the well-ton'd tubes, well Crown'd higher, and still higher, at each stage,
Through blest eternity's long day: yet still,
Not more remote from sorrow, than from him,