Page images

And never won. Dream after dream ensues;
And still they dream that shey shall still succeed,
And still are disappointed. Rings the world
With the vain stir. I sum up half mankind,
And add two thirds of the remaining half,
And find the total of their hopes and fears
Dreams, empty dreams. The million fit as gay
As if created only like the fly,
That spreads his motley wings in the eye of noon,
To sport their season, and be seen no more.
The rest are sober dreamers, grave and wise,
And pregnant with discoveries new and rare.
Some write a narrative of wars, and feats
Of heroes little known; and call the rant
An history: describe the man, of whom
His own coevals took but little note,
And paint his person, character, and views,
As they had known him from his mother's womb.
They disentangle from the puzzled skein,
In which obscurity has wrapped them up,
The threads of politic and shrewd design,
That ran through all his purposes, and charge
His mind with meanings that he never had,
Or, having, kept concealed. Some drill and bore
The solid earth, and from the strata there
Extract a register, by which we learn,
That he who made it, and revealed its date
To Moses, was mistaken in its age.
Some, niore acute, and more industrious still,
Contrive creation; travel pature up

To the sharp peak of her sublimest height,
And tell us whence the stars; why some are fixed,
And planetary some; what gave them first
Rotation, from what fountain flowed their light.
Great contest follows, and much learned dust
Involves the combatants; each claiming truth,
And truth disclaiming both. And thus they spend
The little wick of life's poor shallow lamp
In playing tricks with nature, giving laws
To distant worlds, and trifling in their own.
Is't not a pity now, that tickling rheums
Should ever tease the lungs, and blear the sight
Of oracles like these? Great pity too,
That having wielded the elements, and built
A thousand systems, each in his own way,
They should go out in fume, and be forgot?
Ah what is life thus spent? and what are they
But frantic, who thus spend it? all for smoke
Eternity for bubbles proves at last
A senseless bargain. When I see such games
Played by the creatures of a power, who swears
That he will judge the earth, and call the fool
To a sharp reckoning, that has lived in vain;
And when I weigh this seeming wisdom wel,
And prove it in the infallible result
So hollow and so false I feel


heart Dissolve in píty, and account the learned, If this be learning, most of all deceived. Great crimes alarm the conscience, but it sleeps, While thoughtful man is plausibly amused.


[ocr errors]

Defend me therefore, conimon sense, say I,
From reveries so airy, from the toil
Of dropping buckets into empty wells,
And growing old in drawing nothing up!

"Twere well, says one sage erudite, profound,
Terribly arched and aquiline his nose,
And overbuilt with most impending brows,
'Twere well, could you permit the world to live
As the world pleases. What's the world to you?
Much; I was born of woman, and drew milk
As sweet as charity from human breasts.
I think, articulate, I laugh and weep,
And exercise all functions of a man.
How then should I and any man that lives
Be strangers to each other? Pierce iny yein,
Take of the erimson stream meandering there,
And chatechise it well; apply thy glass,
Search it, and prove now if it be not blood
Congenial with thine own: and, if it be,
What edge of subtilty 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,
In arts like your's. I cannot call the swift
And perilous lightnings from the angry clouds,
And bid them hide themselves in earth beneath;
I cannot analyse the air, nor catch
Tlie parallax of yonder luminous point,
That seems half quenched in the immense abyss :

Such powers I boast not-neither can I rest
A silent witness of the leadlong rage,
Or heedless folly, by which thousands die,
Bone of my bone, and kindred sculs to mive.

God never meant that man should scale the heavens By strides of human wisdom. In his works, Though wondrous, he commands us in his word To seek him rather, where his mercy

shines. The mind indeed, enlightened from above, Views him in all; ascribes to the grand cause, The grand effect; acknowledges with joy His manner, and with rapture tastes liis style. But never yet did philosophic tube, That brings the planets bome into the eye Of obseryation, and discovers, else Not visible, his family of worlds, Discover him, that rules thein; such a veil Hangs over mortal eyes, blind from the birth, And dark in things divide. : Full often too Our wayward intellect, the more we learn Of nature, overlooks her author more; From instrumental causes proud to draw Conclusious retrograde, and mad mistake. But if his word once teach us, shoot a ray Througb all the heart's dark chambers, and reveal Truths undiscerned 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 sces As meant to indicate a God to man,

Gives him bis praise, and forseits 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
Has flowed froin lips wet with Castalian dews.
Such was thy wisdom, Newton, childlike sage!
Sagacious reader of the works of God,
Aud in his word sagacious. Such too thine,
Milton, whose genius had angelic wings,
Aud fed on maunal 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.

All flesh is grass, and all its glory fades
I.ike the fair flower dishevelled in the wind;
Riches have wings, and grandeur is a dream:
The man we celebrate must find a tomb,
And we that worship him ignoble graves.
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? 'twas Pilate's question put
To Truth itself, that deigned 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, inquirer not a spark,

« PreviousContinue »