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ARGUMENT OF THE SECOND BOOK.
Reflections suggested by the conclusion of the former book
Peace among the nations recommended on the ground of their common fellowship in sorrow-Prodigies enumerated-Sicilian earthquakes-Man rendered obnoxious to these calamities by sin-God the agent in them-The philosophy that stops at secondary causes reproved-Our own late miscarriages accounted for-Satirical notice taken of our trips to Fontainbleau-But the pulpit, not satire, the proper engine of reformation-The Reverend Advertiser of engraved sermons-Petit.maitre parson-The good preacher--Picture of a theatrical clerical coxcomb--Story-tellers and jesters in the pulpit reproved- Apostrophe to popular applause-Retailers of an. cient philosophy expostulated with--Sum of the whole matter--Effects of sacerdotal mismanagement on the laity--Their folly and extravagance-The mischiefs of profusion--Profusion itself, with all its consequent evils, ascribed, as to its principal cause, to the want of discipline in the
O FOR a lodge in some vast wilderness,
That falls asunder at the touch of fire.
Sure there is need of social intercourse,
Benevolence, and peace, and mutual aid,
60 More frequent, and foregone her usual rest. Is it a time to wrangle, when the props And pillars of our planet seem to fail, And Nature with a dim and sickly eyei To wait the close of all? But grant her end 65 More distant, and that prophecy demands A longer respite, unaccomplish'd yet; Still they are frowning signals, and bespeak Displeasure in his breast who smites the Earth Or heals it, makes it languish or rejoice.
70 And 'tis but seemly, that, where all deserve And stand expos’d by common peccancy To what no few have felt, there should be peace; And brethren in calamity should love. Alas for Sicily! rude fragments now
75 Lie scatter'd, where the shapely columns stood. Her palaces are dust. In all her streets The voice of singing and the sprightly chord Are silent. Revelry; and dance, and show, Suffer a syncope and solemn pause;
80 While God performs upon the trembling stage Of his own works his dreadful part alone. How does the earth receive him? with what signs
* Alluding to the calamities in Jamaica. † August 18, 1783.
Alluding to the fog that covered both Europe and Asia dar. ing the whole summer of 1783.
Op gratulation and delight her king?
90 The hills move lightly, and the mountains smoke, For he has touch'd them. From th’ extremest point Of elevation down into the abyss His wrath is busy, and his frown is felt. The rocks fall headlong, and the valleys rise,
95 The rivers die into offensive pools, And, charg'd with putrid verdure, breathe a gross And mortal nuisance into all the air. What solid was, by transformation strange, Grows fluid; and the fix'd rooted earth,
100 Tormented into billows, heaves and swells, Or with vortiginous and hideous whirl Sucks down its prey insatiable. Immense The tumult and the overthrow, the pangs And agonies of human and of brute
105 Multitudes, fugitive on ev'ry side, And fugitive in vain. The sylvan scene Migrates uplifted: and, with all its soil Alighting in far distant fields, finds out A new possessor, and survives the change.
110 Ocean has caught the frenzy, and upwrought To an enormous and o'erbearing height, Not by a mighty wind, but by that voice Which winds and waves obey, invades the shore Resistless. Never such sudden flood,
115 Upridg'd so high, and sent on such a charge, Possess'd an inland scene Where. now the throng That press’d the beach, and, hasty to depart, Look'd to the sea for safety? They are gone, Gone with the refluent wave into the deep- 120 A prince with half his people! Ancient tow’rs,
And roofs embattled high, the gloomy scenes
135 On God's behalf, lays waste his fairest works. The very elements, though each he meant The minister of man, to serve his wants, Conspire against him. With his breath be draws A plague into his blood; and cannot use
140 Life's necessary means, but he must die. Storms rise t o'erwhelm him; or if stormy winds Rise not, the waters of the deep shall rise, And, needing none assistance of the storm, Shall roll themselves ashore, and reach him there. 145 The earth shall shake him out of all his holds, Or make his house kis grave: nor so content, Shall counterfeit the motions of the flood, And drown him in her dry and dusty gulfs. What then!-were they the wicked above all, 150 And we the righteous, whose fast-anchor'd isle Mov'd not, while theirs was rock'a, like a light skiff, The sport of every wave? No; none are clear, And none than we more guilty. But, where all Stand chargeable with guilt, and to the shafts
155 Of wrath obnoxious, God may choose his mark: May punish, if he please, the less, to warn The more malignant. If he spar'd not them,