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Sprang from the »ast, or'mid the vault of night
globe And Wisdom's mien celestial. From the first Of days , on them his love divine he fix'd , His admiration : till in time complete , What he admir'd and lov'd, his vital smile Unfolded into being. Hence the breath Of life informing each organic frame , Hence the green earth, and wild resoundingwaves; Hence light and shade alternate; warmth and cold; And clear autumnal skies and vernal show'rs , And all the fair variety of things.
But not alike to every mortal eye Is this great scene unveil'd. For since the claims Of social life , to diiPrent labours urge The active powr's of man ; with wise intent The hand of Nature on peculiar minds Imprints a difl'rent biais, and to each Decrees its province in the common toil. To some she 'aught the fabric of the sphere , The changeful moon r the circuit of the stars, The golden zones of heav'n :to some she gave To weigh the moment of eternal things , Of Time , and Space, and Fate's unbroken chain , And Will's (;uick impulse : others by the hand She led o'er vales and mountains , to explore What healing virtue swells the tender veins Ol herbs and flow'rs; or what the beams of morn Draw forth , distilling from the clifted rind In balmy tears. But some to higher hopes Were destin'd ; some within a finer mould She wrought r and tenxper'd with a puier Hume.
To these the Sire Omnipotent unfolds
The world's harmonious volume , there to read
The transcript of himself. On every part
They trace the bright impressions of his hand:
In earth , or air , the meadow's purple stores.
The Moon's mild Vadiance , or th« V irgin's form
dooming with rosy smiles , they see pourtray'd
That uncreated beauty , which delights
The mind supreme. They also feel her charms ,
Enumour'd they partake th' eternal joy.
»jAir , why was man so eminently rais'd
Amid the vast creation ! why ordain'd
Thro' life and death to dart bis piercing eye j
With thoughts beyond the limits of his frame!
But that th* Omnipotent might send him forth
In sight of mortal and immortal pow'rs,
As on a boundless theatre , to run
The great career of justice; to exalt
His gen'rous aim to all diviner deeds;
To chase each partial purpose from his breast;
And thro' the mists of passion and of sense ,
And thro' the tossing tide oi chance and pain ,
To hold his course unfault'ring , while the voice
Of Truth and Virtne , up the steep ascent
Of Nature , calls him to his high reward ,
Th' applauding smile of Heav'n : Else wherefopr
burns In mortal bosoms this unquenched hope , That breathes from day to day sublimer things , And mocks possession? wherefore darts the mind, With such resistless ardour to embrace Majestic forms ; impatient to be free , Spurning the gross controul of wilful Might; Proud of the strong contention of her tails; Proud to be daring ? Who but rather turns
To Heav'ns broad fire his unconstrained view,
Not in the fading echoes of renown ,
PoVr's purple robes , nor Pleasure's flow'ry lap ,
The soul shall find enjoyment : but from these
Turning disdainful to an equal good ,
Thro' all th' ascent of things enlarge her view ,
Till every bound at length shall disappear ,
And infinite Perfection close the scene.
V-iAll now to mind what higk capacious pow'rs
Hangs o'er the sickly taper; and untir'd
The virgin follows , with enchanted step ,
The mazes of some wise and wond'rous tale,
From morn to eve; unmindful ol her form ,
Unmindful of the happy dress that stole
The wishes of the youth , when ev'ry maid
"With envy pin'd. Hence finally by night
The village matron , round the blazing hearth ,
Suspends the infant-audience with her tales,
Breathing astonishment! of witching rhymes ,
And evil spirits ; of the death-bed call
Of him who robb'd the widow, and devour'd
The orphan's portion ; of unquiet souls
R i.s'n from the grave to ease the heavy guilt
Of deeds in life conceal'd ; of shapes that walk
At dead of night, and clank their chains, and wave
The torch ol hell around the murd'rer's bed.
At ev'ry solemn pause the crowd recoil
Gazing each other speechless, and congeal'd
"With shiv'ring sighs: till eager for th' event ,
Around the belldame all erect they hang ,
Each trembling heart with gratuful terrors quell'J.