« PreviousContinue »
* Th’ importance of contemplating the tomb; For that who thrones can offer, offer thrones; Why men decline it ; suicide's foul birth;
Insolvent worlds the purchase cannot pay. The various kind of grief; the faults of age; “Oh let me die his death !" all Nature cries. Asid death's dread character—invite my song.". " Then live his life."-All Nature falters there.
And, first, th' importance of our end survey d. Our great physician daily to consult, Friends counsel quick dismission of our grief: To commune with the grave, our only cure. Mistaken kindness ! our hearts heal too soon.
What grave prescribes the best ?-A friend's ; Are they more kind than he, who struck the blow ? Who bid it do his errand in our hearts,
From a friend's grave how soon we disengage ! And banish peace, till nobler guests arrive, E'en to the dearest, as his marble, cold. And bring it back, a true and endless peace ? Why are friends ravisht from us? 'Tis to bind, Calamities are friends: as glaring day
By soft affection's ties, on human hearts, Of these unnumber'd lustres robs our sight; The thought of death, which reason, too supine, Prosperity puts out unnumber'd thoughts Or misemploy'd, so rarely fastens there, or import high, and light divine, to man.
Nor reason, nor affection, no, nor both The man how blest, who, sick of gaudy scenes, Combin'd, can break the witchcrafts of the world (Scenes apt to thrust between us and ourselves !) Bebold, th' inexorable hour at hand! Is led by choice to take his favorite walk,
Behold, th' inexorable hour forgot! Beneath death's gloomy, silent, cypress shades, And to forget it, the chief aim of life, Unpierc'd hy vanity's fantastic ray ;
Though well to ponder it, is life's chief end. To read his monuments, to weigh his dust,
Is Death, that ever-threatening, ne'er remote, Visit his vaults, and dwell among the tombs ! That all-important, and that only sure, Lorenzo! read with me Narcissa's stone;
(Come when he will) an unexpected guest ? (Narcissa was thy favorite !) let us read
Nay, though invited by the loudest calls Her moral stone! few doctors preach so well; Of blind imprudence, unexpected still ? Few orators so tenderly can touch
Though numerous messengers are sent before, The feeling heart. What pathos in the date ! To warn his great arrival. What the cause, Apt words can strike: and yet in them we see The wondrous cause, of this mysterious ill ? Faint images of what we, here, enjoy.
All Heaven looks down astonish'd at the sight. What cause have we to build on length of life? Is it, that life has sown her joys so thick, Temptations seize, when fear is laid asleep; We can't thrust in a single care between ? And ill foreboded is our strongest guard.
Is it, that life has such a swarm of cares, See from her tomb, as from an humbler shrine, The thought of death can't enter for the throng? Truth, radiant goddess ! sallies on my soul, Is it, that time steals on with downy feet, And puts Delusion's dusky train to flight;
Nor wakes indulgence from her golden dream? Dispels the mists our sultry passions raise,
To-day is so like yesterday, it cheats ; From objects low, terrestrial, and obscene :
We take the lying sister for the same. And shows the real estimate of things;
Life glides away, Lorenzo! like a brook ; Which no man, unafflicted, ever saw;
For ever changing, unperceiv'd the change. Pulls off the veil from Virtue's rising charms; In the same brook none ever bath'd him twice: Detects Temptation in a thousand lies.
To the same life none ever twice awoke. Truth bids me look on men, as autumn leaves, We call the brook the same; the same we think And all they bleed for, as the summer's dust, Our life, though still more rapid in its flow; Driven by the whirlwind : lighted by her beams, Nor mark the much, irrevocably laps'd, I widen my horizon, gain new powers,
And mingled with the sea. Or shall we say See things invisible, feel things remote,
(Retaining still the brook to bear us on) Am present with futurities; think nought
That life is like a vessel on the stream ?
In life embark’d, we smoothly down the tide
Amus'd, unconscious of the gliding wave;
Our brittle bark is burst on Charon's shore. Like Sibyl, unsubstantial, fleeting bliss !
Is this the cause death flies all human thought? At the first blast it vanishes in air.
Or is it judgment, by the will struck blind, Not so, celestial : wouldst thou know, Lorenzo ! That domineering mistress of the soul ! How differ worldly wisdom, and divine ?
Like him so strong, by Dalilah the fair ? Just as the waning, and the waxing Moon. Or is it fear turns startled reason back, More empty worldly wisdom every day;
From looking down a precipice so steep? And every day more fair her rival shines. "Tis dreadful ; and the dread is wisely placid, When later, there's less time to play the fool. By Nature, conscious of the make of man. Soon our whole term for wisdom is expir'd : A dreadful friend it is, a terror kind, (Thou know'st she calls no council in the grave :) A flaming sword to guard the tree of life. And everlasting fool is writ in fire,
By that unawd, in life's most smiling hour, Or real wisdom wafts us to the skies.
The good man would repine; would suffer joys, As worldly schemes resemble Sibyls' leaves, And burn impatient for his promis'd skies. The good man's days to Sibyls' books compare, The bad, on each punctilious pique of pride, (In ancient story read, thou know'st the tale,) Or gloom of humor, would give rage the rein ; In price still rising, as in number less,
Bound o'er the barrier, rush into the dark, Inestimable quite his final hour.
And mar the schemes of Providence below.
What groan was that, Lorenzo ?-Furies! rise, Then sink again, and quiver into death, And drown in your less execrable yell
That most pathetic herald of our own! Britannia's shame. There took her gloomy flight, How read we such sad scenes? As sent to man On wing impetuous, a black sullen soul,
In perfect vengeance? No; in pity sent; Blasted from Hell, with horrid lust of death. To melt him down, like wax, and then impress, Thy friend, the brave, the gallant Altamont, Indelible, Death's image on his heart; So call'd, so thought-And then he fled the field. Bleeding for others, trembling for himself. Less base the fear of death, than fear of life. We bleed, we tremble, we forget, we smile. O Britain, infamous for suicide!
The mind turns fool, before the cheek is dry. An island in thy manners, far disjoin'd
Our quick-returning folly cancels all; From the whole world of rationals beside! As the tide rushing rases what is writ In ambient waves plunge thy polluted head, In yielding sands, and smoothes the letter'd shore. Wash the dire stain, nor shock the continent. Lorenzo! hast thou ever weigh'd a sigh? But thou be shock'd, while I detect the cause Or studied the philosophy of tears? Of self-assault, expose the monster's birth,
(A science, yet unlectur'd in our schools !) And bid abhorrence hiss it round the world. Hast thou descended deep into the breast, Blame not thy clime, nor chide the distant Sun; And seen their source? If not, descend with me, The Sun is innocent, thy clime absolvid:
And trace these briny rivulets to their springs. Immortal climes kind Nature never made.
Our funeral tears from different causes rise, The cause I sing, in Eden might prevail,
As if from separate cisterns in the soul, And proves, it is thy folly, not thy fate.
of various kinds, they flow. From tender hearts, The soul of man (let man in homage bow, By soft contagion call’d, some burst at once, Who names his soul,) a native of the skies ! And stream obsequious to the leading eye. High-born, and free, her freedom should maintain, Some ask more time, by curious art distilld. Unsold, unmortgag'd for Earth's little bribes. Some hearts, in secret hard, unapt to melt, Th' illustrious stranger, in this foreign land, Struck by the magic of the public eye, Like strangers, jealous of her dignity,
Like Moses' smitten rock, gush out amain. Studious of home, and ardent to return,
Some weep to share the fate of the deceas’d, Of Earth suspicious, Earth's enchanted cup So high in merit, and to them so dear. With cool reserve light touching, should indulge They dwell on praises, which they think they share , On immortality, her godlike taste,
(there. And thus, without a blush, commend themselves. There take large draughts; make her chief banquet Some mour, in proof, that something they could But some reject this sustenance divine ;
love : To beggarly vile appetites descend ;
They weep not to relieve their grief, but show. Ask alms of Earth, for guests that came from Heaven : Some weep in perfect justice to the dead, Sink into slaves; and sell, for present hire, As conscious all their love is in arrear. Their rich reversion, and (what shares its fate) Some mischievously weep, not unappriz'd. Their native freedom, to the prince who sways Tears, sometimes, aid the conquest of an eye. This nether world. And when his payments fail, With what address the soft Ephesians draw When his foul basket gorges them no more, Their sable net-work o'er entangled hearts ! Or their palled palates lothe the basket full; As seen through crystal, how their roses glow, Are instantly, with wild demoniac rage,
While liquid pearl runs trickling down their cheek! For breaking all the chains of Providence, Of hers not prouder Egypt's wanton queen, And bursting their confinement; though fast barr'd Carousing gems, herself dissolv'd in love. By laws divine and human; guarded strong Some weep at death, abstracted from the dead, With horrors doubled to defend the pass,
And celebrate, like Charles, their own decease. The blackest, nature, or dire guilt can raise ; By kind construction some are deem'd to weep, And moated round with fathomless destruction, Because a decent veil conceals their joy. Sure to receive, and whelm them in their fall. Some weep in earnest, and yet weep in vain;
Such, Britons! is the cause, to you unknown, As deep in indiscretion, as in woe.
Knows not it speaks to her, and her alone.
And full as short! The cruel grief soon lam’d, At once to shun, and meditate, his end.
They make a pastime of the stingless tale ; When by the bed of languishment we sit,
Far as the deep-resounding knell they spread (The seat of wisdom ! if our choice, not fate) The dreadful news, and hardly feel it more. Or, o'er our dying friends, in anguish hang, No grain of wisdom pays them for their woe. Wipe the cold dew, or stay the sinking head, Half-round the globe, the tears pump'd up by death Number their moments, and, in every clock, Are spent in watering vanities of life; Start at the voice of an eternity;
In making folly flourish still more fair, See the dim lamp of life just feebly lift
When the sick soul, her wonted stay withdrawn, An agonizing beam, at us to gaze,
Reclines on earth, and sorrows in the dust;
Instead of learning, there, her true support, Ask thought for joy; grow rich, and hoard within.
That wish is praise, and promise; it applauds
What weakness see not children in their sires ?
How shocking! it makes folly thrice a fool, So wept Lorenzo fair Clarissa's fate;
And our first childhood might our last despise. Who gave that angel boy, on whom he dotes ; Peace and esteem is all that age can hope. And died to give him, orphan'd in his birth! Nothing but wisdom gives the first; the last, Not such, Narcissa, my distress for thee.
Nothing, but the repute of being wise. I'll make an altar of thy sacred tomb,
Folly bars both ; our age is quite undone. To sacrifice to wisdom. What wast thou ?
What folly can be ranker? Like our shadows, “ Young, gay, and fortunate !" Each yields a theme. Our wishes lengthen, as our sun declines. I'll dwell on each, to shun thought more severe; No wish should loiter, then, this side the grave. (Heaven knows I labor with severer still!)
Our hearts should leave the world, before the knell I'll dwell on each, and quite exhaust thy death. Calls for our carcasses to mend the soil. A soul without reflection, like a pile
Enough to live in tempest, die in port : Without inhabitant, to ruin runs.
Age should fly concourse, cover in retreat And, first, thy youth. What says it to grey hairs ? Defects of judgment, and the will subdue ; Narcissa, I'm become thy pupil now
Walk thoughtful on the silent, solemn shore Early, bright, transient, chasie, as morning dew, of that vast ocean it must sail so soon; She sparkled, was exhald, and went to Heaven. And put good-works on board ; and wait the wind Time on this head has snow'd; yet still 'tis borne That shortly blows us into worlds unknown; Alofi; nor thinks but on another's grave.
If unconsider'd 100, a dreadful scene! Cover'd with shame I speak it, age severe
All should be prophets to themselves; foresee Old worn-out vice sets down for virtue fair; Their future fate ; their future fate foretaste ; With graceless gravity, chastising youth,
This art would waste the bitterness of death. That youth chastis'd surpassing in a fault.
The thought of death alone, the fear destroys. Father of all, forgetfulness of death :
A disaffection to that precious thought
Is inore than midnight darkness on the soul,
Puff'd off by the first blast, and lost for ever.
By repetition hammer'd on thine ear, Deathless ? far from it! such are dead already: The thought of death? That thought is the machine, Their hearts are buried, and the world their grave. The grand machine! that heaves us from the dust,
Tell me, some god ! my guardian angel ! tell, And rears us into men. That thought, plied home,
Beyond the blackest brand of censure bold,
Aid me, Narcissa, aid me to keep pace
Of moral death, that ties me to the world.
Absurd longevity! More, more, it cries : All accident apart, by Nature sign'd,
Must I then forward only look for Death ?
Backward I turn mine eye, and find him there Baubles, I mean, that strike us from without, Man is a self-survivor every year. While Nature is relaxing every string?
Man, like a stream, is in perpetual flow
Death 's a destroyer of quotidian prey.
And opens more the character of death;
Give Death his due, the wretched, and the old ; Each moment on the former shuts the grave. E'en let him sweep his rubbish to the grave ; While man is growing, life is in decrease ;
Let him not violate kind Nature's laws, And cradles rock us nearer to the tomb.
But own man born to live as well as die." Our birth is nothing but our death begun;
Wretched and old thou giv’st him; young and gay As tapers waste that instant they take fire. He takes; and plunder is a tyrant's joy.
Shall we then fear, lest that should come to pass, What if I prove, “ That furthest from the fear, Which comes to pass each moment of our lives? Are often nearest to the stroke of fate ?" If fear we must, let that death turn us pale,
All more than common, menaces an end.
As Nature's opposites wage endless war,
Death took swift vengeance.
As he life detests, A brother tomb to tell you ye shall die.
More life is still more odious; and, reduc'd 'That death you dread (so great is Nature's skill !) By conquest, aggrandizes more his power. Know, you shall court before you shall enjoy. But wherefore aggrandiz'd ? By Heaven's decree,
But you are learn'd; in volumes, deep you sit; To plant the soul on her eternal guard, In wisdom, shallow : pompous ignorance ! In awful expectation of our end. Would you be still more learned than the learn'd ? Thus runs Death's dread commission: “Strike, but so Learn well to know how much need not be known, As most alarms the living by the dead." And what that knowledge, which impairs your sense. Hence stratagem delights him, and surprise, Our needful knowledge, like our needful food, And cruel sport with man's securities. Unhedg'd, lies open in life's common field; Not simple conquest, triumph is his aim : And bids all welcome to the vital feast.
And, where least fear'd, there conquest triumphs most. You scorn what lies before you in the page This proves my bold assertion not 100 bold. Of Nature, and Experience, moral truth :
What are his arts to lay our fears asleep? Of indispensable, eternal fruit;
Tiberian arts his purposes wrap up Fruit, on which mortals feeding, turn to gods : In deep dissimulation's darkest night. And dive in science for distinguish'd names, Like princes unconfest in foreign courts, Dishonest fomentation of your pride!
Who travel under cover, Death assumes Sinking in virtue, as you rise in fame.
The name and look of life, and dwells among us.
Like Nero, he's a fiddler, charioteer,
He most affects the forms least like himself, Together shook in his impartial urn,
His slender self. Hence burly corpulence Come forth at random : or, if choice is made, Is his familiar wear, and sleek disguise. The choice is quite sarcastic, and insults
Behind the rosy bloom he loves to lurk, All bold conjecture, and fond hopes of man. Or ambush in a smile; or wanton dive What countless multitudes not only leave,
In dimples deep; love's eddies, which draw in But deeply disappoint us, by their deaths !
Unwary hearts, and sink them in despair. Though great our sorrow, greater our surprise. Such, on Narcissa's couch he loiter'd long
Like other tyrants, Death delights to smite, Unknown; and, when detected, still was seen What, smitten, most proclaims the pride of power, To smile ; such peace has innocence in death! And arbitrary nod. His joy supreme,
Most happy they! whom least his arts deceive. To bid the wretch survive the fortunate ;
One eye on Death, and one full fix'd on Heaven, The feeble wrap th'athletic in his shroud;
Becomes a mortal, and immortal man.
Me thine, Narcissa S-What though short thy date? I've seen, or dreamt 1 saw, the tyrant dress ; | Virtue, not rolling suns, the mind matures. Lay by his horrors, and put on his smiles.
That life is long, which answers life's great end. Say, Muse, for thou remember'st, call it back,
If 'twas a dream, his genius can explain.
'Twas in a circle of the gay I stood. O how misdated on their flattering tombs!
Death would have enter'd; Nature push'd him back, Narcissa's youth has lectur’d me thus far. Supported by a doctor of renown, And can her gaiety give counsel 100?
His point he gain'd. Then artfully dismist That, like the Jews' fam'd oracle of gems, The sage; for Death design'd to be conceal'd. Sparkles instruction ; such as throws new light, He gave an old vivacious usurer
2 X 2
His meagre aspect, and his naked bones ; With recent honors, bloom'd with every bliss,
Set up in ostentation, made the gaze,
Our morning's envy! and our evening's sigh!
As if her bounties were the signal given, The dreadful masquerader, thus equipt, The flowery wreath to mark the sacrifice, Out-sallies on adventures. Ask you where? And call Death's arrows on the destin'd prey. Where is he not? For his peculiar haunts,
High fortune seems in cruel league with fate.
Of life? To hang his airy nest on high,
Yet peace begins just where ambition ends.
Scarce with more sudden terror and surprise, A tempest to warm transport near of kin. From his black mask of nitre, touch'd by fire, Unknowing what our mortal state admits, He bursts, expands, roars, blazes, and devours. Life's modest joys we ruin, while we raise ; And is not this triumphant treachery,
And all our ecstasies are wounds to peace; And more than simple conquest, in the fiend? Peace, the full portion of mankind below.
And now, Lorenzo, dost thou wrap thy soul And since thy peace is dear, ambitious youth ! In soft security, because unknown
Of fortune fond ! as thoughtless of thy fate!
Thy wholesome fears; now, drawn in contrast, see
See, high in air, the sportive goddess hangs, All expectation of the coming foe.
Unlocks her casket, spreads her glittering ware, Rouse, stand in arms, nor lean against thy spear; And calls the giddy winds to puff abroad Lest slumber steal one moment o'er thy soul, Her random bounties o'er the gaping throng. And fate surprise thee nodding. Watch, be strong ; All rush rapacious ; friends o'er trodden friends ; Thus give each day the merit, and renown, Sons o'er their fathers; subjects o'er their kings; Of dying well; though doom'd but once to die. Priests o'er their gods; and lovers o'er the fair, Nor let life's period hidden, (as from most,) (Still more adorn'd) to snatch the golden shower. Hide too from thee the precious use of life.
Gold glitters most, where virtue shines no more ;
O what a precious pack of votaries
Pour in, all opening in their idol's praise ;
Untasted, through mad appetite for more ; Death's dreadful advent is the mark of man ; Gorg'd to the throat, yet lean and ravenous still. And every thought that misses it, is blind. Sagacious all, to trace the smallest game, Fortune, with youth and gaiety, conspir'd
And bold to seize the greatest. If (blest chance!) To weave a triple wreath of happiness
Court-zephyrs sweetly breathe, they lanch, they fly, (If happiness on Earth) to crown her brow. O’er just, o'er sacred, all-forbidden ground, And could Death charge through such a shining Drunk with the burning scent of place or power, shield ?
Staunch to the foot of lucre, till they die. That shining shield invites the tyrant's spear, Or, if for men you take them, as I mark As if to damp our elevated aims,
Their manners, thou their various fates survey. And strongly preach humility to man.
With aim mis-measur'd, and impetuous speed, O how portentous is prosperity!
Some darting, strike their ardent wish far off,
From some, by sudden blasts, 'tis whirl'd away, And sheath his shafts in all the pride of life. And lodg'd in bosoms that ne'er dreamt of gain. When flooded with abundance, purpled o'er To some it sticks so close, that, when torn off,