Page images
PDF
EPUB

The shag of savage nature, and were each
An Orpheus, and omnipotent in song;
But transformation of apostate man
From fool to wise, from earthly to divine,
Is work for Him that made him. He alone,
And he by means in philosophick eyes
Trivial and worthy of disdain, achieves
The wonder; humanizing what is brute
In the lost kind, extracting from the lips
of asps their venom, overpow'ring strength
By weakness, and hostility by love.

Patriots have toil'd, and, in their country's cause
Bled nobly; and their deeds, as they deserve,
Receive proud recompense. We give in charge
Their names to the sweet lyre. Th' hisiorick muse,
Proud of the treasure, marches with it down
To latest times; and Sculpture, in her turn,
Gives bond in stone and ever-during brass
To guard them, and t immortalize her trust:
But fairer wreathes are due, though never paid,
To those who, posted at the shrine of Truth,
Have fall’n in her defence. A patriot's blood,
Well spent in such a strife, may earn indeed,
And, for a time, ensure to his lov'd land
The sweets of liberty and equal laws;
But martyrs struggle for a brighter prize,
And win it with more pain. Their blood is shed
In confirmation of the noblest claim-
Our claim to feed upon immortal truth,
To walk with God, to be divinely free,
To soar, and to anticipate the skies.
Yet few remember them. They liv'd unknown,
Till persecution dragg'd them into fame,
And chas'd them up to Heaven. Their ashes flew
-No marble tells us whither. With their names
No bard embalms and sanctifies his song ;

And history, so warm on meaner themes,
Is cold on this. She execrates indeed
The tyranny that doom'd them to the fire,
But gives the glorious suff'rers little praise. *

He is the freeman whom the truth makes free,
And all are slaves beside. There's not a chain
That hellish foes, confed’rate for his harm,
Can wind around him, but he casts it off
With as much ease as Samson his green withes.
He looks abroad into the varied field
Of nature, and though poor, perhaps, compar'd
With those whose mansions glitter in his sight,
Calls the delightful scenery all his own.
His are the mountains, and the valleys his,
And the resplendent rivers. His t' enjoy
With a propriety that none can feel,
But who, with filial confidence inspir’d,
Can lift to heav'n an unpresumptuous eye,
And smiling say—“My Father made them all!"
Are they not his by a peculiar right,
And by an emphasis of int’rest his,
Whose eye they fill with tears of holy joy,
Whose heart with praise, and whose exalted mind
With worthy thoughts of that unwearied love,
That plann'd, and built, and still upholds a world
So cloth'd with beauty for rebellious man?
Yes-ye may fill your garners, ye that reap
The loaded soil, and ye may waste much good
In senseless riot; but ye will not find
In feast or in the chase, in song or dance,
A liberty like his, who, unimpeach'd
Of usurpation, and to no man's wrong,
Appropriates nature as his Father's work,
And has a richer use of yours than you.

* See Hume.

[ocr errors]

He is indeed a freeman. Free by birth
Of no mean city; plann'd or ere the hills
Were built, the fountains open'd, or the sea,
With all his roaring multitude of waves.
His freedom is the same in ev'ry state ;
And no condition of this changeful life,
So manifold in cares, whose ev'ry day
Brings its own evil with it, makes it less :
For he has wings, thit neither sickness, pain,
Nor penury, can cripple or confine.
No nook so narrow, but he spreads them there
With ease, and is at large. Th’ oppressor holds
His body bound; but knows not what a range
His spirit takes, unconscious of a chain;
And that to bind him is a vain attempt,
Whom God delights in, and in whom Ile dwells.

Acquaint thyself with God, if thou would'st taste
His works. Admitted once to his embrace,
Thou shalt perceive that thou wast blind before :
Thine eye shall be instructed ; and thine heart,
Made pure, shall relish with divine delight,
Till then unselt, what hands divine have wrought.
Brutes graze the mountain top, with faces prone,
And eyes intent upon the scanty herb
It yields them ; or, recumbent on its brow,
Ruminate heedless of the scene ontspread
Beneath, beyond, and stretching far away
From inland regions to the distant main.
Man views it, and admires; but rests content
With what he views. The landscape has his praise,
But not its author. Unconcern'd who forni'd
The Paradise he sees, he finds it such,
And such well pleas'd to find it, asks no more.
Not so the mind that has been touch'd from Heav'n,
And in the school of sacred wisdom taught
To read His wonders, in whose thought the word,

Fair as it is, existed ere it was.
Nor for its own sake merely, but for his
Much more who fashion'd it, he gives, it praise ;
Praise that from earth resulting, as it ought,
To earth's acknowledg’d sov'reign, finds at once
Its only just proprietor in Him.
The soul that sees him, or receives sublim'd
New faculties, or learns at least l'employ
More worthily the powers she own'd before,
Discerns in all things what, with stupid gaze
Of ignorance, till then she overlook'd,
A ray of heavenly light, gilding all forms
Terrestrial in the vast and the minute ;
The unambiguous footsteps of the God,
Who gives its lustre to an insect's wing,
And wheels his throne upon the rolling worlds.
Much conversant with Heaven, she often holds
With those fair ministers of light to man,
That fill the skies nightly with silent pomp,
Sweet conference. Inquires what strains were they
With which Heaven rang, when every star, in hasté
To gratulate the new-created earth,
Sent forth a voice, and all the sons of God
Shouted for joy.-" Tell me, ye shining hosts,
That navigate a sea that knows no storms,
Beneath a vault unsullied with a cloud,
If from your elevation, whence ye view
Distinctly scenes invisible to inan,
And systems, of whose birth no tidings yet
Have reach'd this nether world, ye spy a race
Favour'd as ours ; transgressors from the womb
And hasting to a grave, yet doom'd to rise,
And to possess a brighter Heaven than yours?
As one, who, long detain'd on foreign shores,
Pants to rolurn, and when he sees afar
His country's weather-bleach'd and batter'd rocks,

THE WINTER MORNING WALK

139

From the green wave emerging, darts an eye
Radiant with joy toward the happy land;
So I with animated hopes bebold,
And many an aching wish, your beamy fires,
That show like beacons in the blue abyss,
Ordain’d to guide th' embodied spirit home
From toilsome life to never-ending rest.
Love kindles as I gaze. I feel desires
That give assurance of their own success,
And that, infus'd from Heaven, must thither tend."

So reads he Nature, whom the lamp of truth
Illuminates. Thy lamp, mysterious Word !
Which whoso sees, no longer wanders lost,
With intellects beinaz'd in endless doubt,
But runs the road of wisdom. Thou hast built
With means that were not, till by thee employ'd
Worlds that had never been, hadst thou in strength
Been less, or less benevolent than strong.
They are thy witnesses, who speak thy pow'r
And goodness infinite, but speak in ears
That hear not, or receive not their report.
In vain thy creatures testify of thee,
Till thou proclaim thyself. Theirs is indeed
A teaching voice ; but 'tis the praise of thine,
That whom it teaches it makes prompt to leara,
And with the boon gives talents for its use.
Till thou art heard, imaginations vain
Possess the heart, and fables false as hell :
Yet deem'd oracular, lure down to death
The uniform'd and heedless souls of men.
We give to chance, blind chance, ourselves as blind,
The glory of thy work; which yet appears
Perfect and unimpeachable of blame.
Challenging human scrutiny, and provid,
Then skilfal most when most severely judg'd.
But shance is not; or is not where thou reign'st:

« PreviousContinue »