Page images

And catechise it well. Apply your 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,

210 In arts like yours. I cannot call the swift And perilous lightnings from the angry clouds, And bid them hide themselves in the earth beneath; I cannot analyse the air, nor catch The parallax of yonder luminous point

215 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. 220

God never meant that man should scale the heavens By strides of human wisdom. In his works Though wonderous, He commands us in his word To seek him rather, where his mercy shines. The mind indeed enlighten'd from above

225 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 230 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

235 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

240 Through all the heart's dark chambers, and reveal Truths undiscern'd but by that holy light, Then all is plain. Philosophy baptized In the pure fountain of eternal love Has eyes indeed; and viewing all she sees 245 As meant to indicate a God to man, Gives Him his praise, and forfeits not her own. Learning has borne such fruit in other days On all her branches. Piety has found Friends in the friends of science, and true prayer 250 Has flow'd from lips wet with Castalian dews. Such was thy wisdom, Newton, child-like sage! Sagacious reader of the works of God, And in his word sagacious. Such too thine, Milton, whose genius had angelic wings,

255 And fed on manna.

And such thine in whom
Our British Themis gloried with just cause,
Immortal Hale! for deep discernment praised
And sound integrity not more, than famed
For sanctity of manners undefiled.

260 All flesh is grass ", and all its glory fades Like the fair flower dishevel'd in the wind; Riches have wings 13, and grandeur is a dream ; The man we celebrate must find a tomb, And we that worship him, ignoble graves. 265 12 Isaiah, xl. 6.

13 Prov. xxiii. 5.

Nothing is proof against the general curse
Of vanity, that seizes all below.
The only amaranthine flower on earth
Is virtue, the only lasting treasure, truth.
But what is truth 14 ? 'twas Pilate's question put 270
To Truth itself, that deign'd him no reply.
And wherefore? will not God impart his light
To them that ask it ?-Freely ;-'tis his joy,
His glory, and his nature to impart :
But to the proud, uncandid, insincere

Or negligent enquirer, not a spark.
What's that which brings contempt upon a book
And him that writes it, though the style be neat,
The method clear, and argument exact ?
That makes a minister in holy things

280 The joy of many and the dread of more, His name a theme for praise and for reproach ? That while it gives us worth in God's account, Depreciates and undoes us in our own ? What pearl is it that rich men cannot buy, 285 That learning is too proud to gather up, But which the poor and the despised of all Seek and obtain, and often find unsought ? Tell me, and I will tell thee, what is truth.

Oh friendly to the best pursuits of man, 290 Friendly to thought, to virtue, and to peace, Domestic life in rural leisure pass'

s'do! Few know thy value, and few taste thy sweets,

14 Bacon otherwise—“What is truth ? said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer.”—Essay i. 15 O knew he but his happiness, of men

The happiest he! who far from public rage



Though many boast thy favours, and affect
To understand and chuse thee for their own.
But foolish man foregoes his


Even as his first progenitor, and quits,
Though placed in paradise, (for earth has still
Some traces of her youthful beauty left)
Substantial happiness for transient joy.
Scenes form’d for contemplation, and to nurse
The growing seeds of wisdom; that suggest
By every pleasing image they present
Reflections such as meliorate the heart,
Compose the passions and exalt the mind,
Scenes such as these, 'tis his supreme delight
To fill with riot and defile with blood.
Should some contagion kind to the poor brutes
We persecute, annihilate the tribes
That draw the sportsman over hill and dale
Fearless, and rapt away from all his cares ;
Should never game-fowl hatch her eggs again,



Deep in the vale with a choice few retired,
Drinks the pure pleasures of the rural life.

Thomson. Autumn, 1389.
O sacred solitude ! divine retreat!
Choice of the prudent, envy of the great,
By thy pure stream, or in thy waving shade
We court fair wisdom, that celestial maid ;
The genuine offspring of her loved embrace,
Strangers on earth! are innocence and peace.
There from the ways of men laid safe ashore,
We smile to hear the distant tempest roar;
There bless'd with health, with business unperplex's,
This life we relish, and ensure the next.

Young. Satire v.

Nor baited hook 16 deceive the fish's

eye; Could pageantry and dance and feast and song Be quell’d in all our summer-month retreats ; 315 How

many self-deluded nymphs and swains Who dream they have a taste for fields and groves, Would find them hideous nurseries of the spleen, And crowd the roads, impatient for the town! They love the country, and none else, who seek 320 For their own sake its silence and its shade; Delights which who would leave, that has a heart Susceptible of pity, or a mind Cultured and capable of sober thought, For all the savage din of the swift pack

325 And clamours of the field ? detested sport, That owes its pleasures to another's pain, That feeds upon the sobs and dying shrieks Of harmless nature, dumb, but yet endued With eloquence that agonies inspire Of silent tears and heart-distending sighs ! Vain tears alas ! and sighs that never find A corresponding tone in jovial souls. Well,—one at least is safe. One shelter'd hare Has never heard the sanguinary yell

335 Of cruel man, exulting in her woes. Innocent partner of my peaceful home, Whom ten long years experience of my care Has made at last familiar, she has lost Much of her vigilant instinctive dread, Not needful here, beneath a roof like mine. Yes,—thou may’st eat thy bread, and lick the hand

16 They triumph over the unsuspecting fish, whom they hare decoyed by an insidious pretence of feeding.

Soame Jenyns. Second Disquisition.



« PreviousContinue »