Page images
PDF
EPUB

bezuty and deforniity, to inspire a love for simple excellence in literature and art, as well as a taste for the beauties and sublimities of nature, and, finally, to awaken a profound reverence for moral grandeur, and thus kindle aspirations after glory, honor, and immortality. Bishop POTTER

71. The Rich Man and the Beggar.

AnOther feature in the ways of God,
That wondrous seemed, and made some men complain,
Was the unequal gift of worldly things.
Great was the difference indeed of men
Externally, from beggar to the prince.
The highest take, and lowest — and conceive
The scale between. A noble of the earth,
One of its great, in splendid mansion dwelt;
Was robed in silk and gold, and every day
Fared sumptuously ; was titled, honored, served.
Thousands his nod awaited, and his will
For law received; whole provinces his marcł.
Attended, and his chariot drew, or on
Their shoulders bore aloft the precious man.
Millions, abased, fell prostrate at his feet;
And millions more thundered adoring praise.
As far as eye could reach, he called the land
His own, and added yearly to his fields.
Like tree that of the soil took healthy root,
He grew on every side, and towered on high,
And over half a nation shadowing wide,
He spread his ample boughs; air, earth, and sea,
Nature entire, the brute and rational,
To please him ministered, and vied among
Themselves who most should his desires prevent,

Watching the moving of his rising thoughts
Attentively, and hasting to fulfil.
His palace rose and kissed the gorgeous clouds ;
Streams bent their music to his will; trees sprung;
The naked waste put on luxuriant robes;
And plains of happy cottages cast out
Their tenants, and became a hunting-field.
Before him bowed the distant isles, with fruits
And spices rare; the south her treasures brought
The east and west sent; and the frigid north
Came with her offering of glossy furs.
Musicians soothed his ear with airs select;
Beauty held out her arms; and every man
Of cunning skill and curious device,
And endless multitudes of liveried wights,
His pleasure waited with obsequious look.
And when the wants of nature were supplied,
And common-place extravagances filled,
Beyond their asking, and caprice itself,
In all its zigzag appetites, gorged full,
The man new wants and-new expenses planned ,
Nor planned alone : wise, learned, sober men,
Of cogitation deep, took up his case,
And planned for him new modes of folly wild ,
Contrived new wishes, wants, and wondrous means
Of spending with despatch; yet, after all,
His fields extended still, his riches grew,
And what seemed splendor infinite, increased.
So lavishly upon a single man
Did Providence his bounties daily shower.

Turn now thy eye, and look on poverty;
Look on the lowest of her ragged sons :
We find nim by the way, sitting in dust ;
He has no bread to eat, no tongue to ask ;
No limbs to walk; no home, no house, no friend.
Observe his goblin cheek ; his wretched eye;

See how his hand, if any hand he has,
Involuntary opens, and trembles forth,
As comes the traveller's foot; and hear his groan,
His long and lamentable groan, announce
The want that gnaws within; severely now
The sun scorches and burns his old, bald head
The frost now glues him to the chilly earth;
On him hail, rain, and tempest rudely beat;
And all the winds of heaven, in jocular mood,
Sport with his withered rags, that, tossed about,
Display his nakedness to passers by,
And grievously burlesque the human form.
Observe him yet more narrowly : his limbs,
With palsy shaken, about him blasted lie;
And all his flesh is full of putrid sores
And noisome wounds; his bones, of racking pains,
Strange vesture this for an immortal soul !
Strange retinue to wait a lord of earth!
It seems as Nature, in soine surly mood,
After debate and musing long, had tried
How vile and miserable thing her hand
Could fabricate, — then made this meagre man.

This great disparity of outward things
Taught many lessons; but this taught in chief,
Though learned by few — that God no value set,
That man should none, on goods of worldly kind;
On transitory, frail, external things,
Of migratory, ever-changing sort;
And further taught, that in the soul alone,
The thinking, reasonable, willing soul,
God placed the total excellence of man,
And meant him evermore to seek it there.

POLLOS

19 *

.

72. The Simple Man and the Wise Man.

But stranger still the distribution seemed
Of intellect; though fewer here complained,
Each with his share, upon the whole, content.
One man there was — and many such you might
Have met — who never had a dozen thoughts
In all his life, and never changed their course;
But told them o'er, each in its 'customed place,
From morn till night, from youth till hoary age.
Little above the ox which grazed the field
His reason rose : so weak his memory,
The name his mother called him by he scarce
Remembered ; and his judgment so untaught,
That what at evening played along the swamp, .
Fantastic, clad in robe of fiery hue,
He thought the devil in disguise, and fled
With quivering heart and winged footsteps home.
The word “philosophy" he never heard,
Or “science”; never heard of liberty,
Necessity; or laws of gravitation;
And never had an unbelieving doubt.
Beyond his native vale he never looked ;
But thought the visual line, that girt him round,
The world's extreme; and thought the silver moon,
That nightly o'er him led her virgin host,
No broader than his father's shield. He lived –
Lived where his father lived — died where he died;
Lived happy, died happy, and was saved.
Be not surprised. He loved and served his God.

There was another, large of understanding,
Of memory infinite, of judgment deep;
Who knew all learning, and all science knew ;
And all phenomena, iu heaven and earth,
Traced to their causes; traced the labyrintas

Of thought, association, passion, will;
And all the subtile, nice affinities
Of matter traced; its virtues, motions, laws;
And most familiarly and deeply talked
Of mental, moral, natural, divine.
Leaving the earth at will, he soared to heaven,
And read the glorious visions of the skies ;
And to the music of the rolling spheres
Intelligently listened ; and gazed far back
Into the awful depths of Deity;
Did all that mind assisted most could do;
And yet in misery lived, in misery died,
Because he wanted holiness of heart.

A deeper lesson this to mortals taught,
And nearer cut the branches of their pride ;
That not in mental, but in moral worth
God excellence placed; and only to the good,
To virtue, granted happiness alone.

POLLOL.

73. On Shakspeare.

SHAKSPEARE is a name so interesting, that it would be indecent to pass him without the tribute of admiration. He differs essentially from all other writers. Him we may profess rather to feel than to understand; and it is safer to say, on many occasions, that we are possessed by him, than that we 'possess him. And no wonder. He scatters the seeds of things, the principles of character and action, with so cunning a hand, yet with so careless an air, and, master of our feelings, submits himself so little to our judgment, that every thing seems superior. We discern not his course; we see no connection of cause and effect : we are wrapped

« PreviousContinue »