« PreviousContinue »
IT is not from his form, in which we trace
Strength join'd with beauty, dignity with grace,
That man, the master of this globe, derives
His right of empire over all that lives.
That form indeed, th' associate of a mind
Vast in its pow'rs, ethereal in its kind,
That form, the labour of almighty skill,
Fram'd for the service of a freeborn will,
Asserts precedence, and bespeaks controul,
But borrows all its grandeur from the soul.
Hers is the state, the splendour, and the throne,
An intellectual kingdom, all her own.
For her the Mem’ry fills her ample page
With truths pour'd down from ev'ry distant age;
For her amasses an unbounded store,
The wisdom of great nations, now no more;
Though laden, not encumber'd with her spoil;
Laborious, yet unconscious of her toil ;
When copiously supplied, then most enlarg'd ;
Still to be fed, and not to be surcharg’d.
For her the Fancy, roving unconfin'd,
The present muse of ev'ry pensive mind,
Works magick wonders, adds a brighter hue
To Nature's scenes than Nature ever knew,
At her command winds rise, and waters roar,
Again she lays them slambʼring on the shore;
With flow'r and fruit the wilderness supplies,
Or bids the rocks in ruder pomp arise.
For her the Judgment, umpire in the strife,
That Grace and Nature have to wage through life,
Quick-sighted arbiter of good and ill,
Appointed sage preceptor to the Will,
Condemns, approves, and with a faithful voice
Guides the decision of a doubtful choice.
Why did the fiat of a God give birth
To yon fair Sun, and his attendant Earth?
And, when descending he resigns the skies,
Why takes the gentler Moon her turn to rise,
Whom Ocean feels through all his countless waves,
And owns her pow'r on ev'ry shore he laves ?
Why do the seasons still evrich the year,
Fruitful and young as in their first career?
Spring hangs her infant blossoms on the trees,
Rock'd in the cradle of the western breeze;
Summer in haste the thriving charge receives
Beneath the shade of her expanded leaves,
Till Autumn's fiercer heats and plenteous dews
Dye them at last in all their glowing hues.
Twere wild profusion all, and bootless waste,
Pow'r misemployd, munificence misplac'd,
Had not its author dignified the plan,
And crown'd it with the majesty of man.
Thus form’d, thus plac'd, intelligent, and taught,
Look where he will, the wonders God has wrought
The wildest scorner of his Maker's laws
Finds in a sober moment time to pause,
To press th' important question on his heart,
Why form’d at all, and wherefore as thou art?'
If man be what he seems, this hour a slave,
The next mere dust and ashes in the grave;
Endu'd with reason only to descry
His crimes and follies with an aching eye;
With passions, just that he may prove, with pain,
The force he spends against their fury vain ;
And if, soon after having burnt, by turns,
With ev'ry lust, with which frail Nature burns,
His being end, where death dissolves the bond,
The tomb take all, and all be blank beyond;
Then he, of all that Nature has brought forth,
Stands self-impeach'd the creature of least worth,
And useless while he lives and when he dies,
Brings into doubt the wisdom of the skies.
Truths, that the learn'd pursue with eager
Are not important always as dear-bought,
Proving at last, though told in pompous strains,
A childish waste of philosophick pains ;
But truths, on which depends our main concern,
That 'tis our shame and mis’ry not to learn,
Shine by the side of ev'ry path we tread
With such a lustre, he that runs may read.
"l'is true that, if to trifle life away
Down to the sunset of their latest day,
Then perish on futurity's wide shore
Like fleeting exhalations, found no more,
Were all that Heav'n requir'd of humankind,
And all the plan their destiny design'd,