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And makes his hope his sublunary joy.
Can man by reason's beam be led astray ? Man's heart eats all things, and is hungry still ; Or, at his peril, imitate his God? * More, more!" the glutton cries, for something Since virtue sometimes ruins us on Earth, new;
Or both are true; or man survives the grave. So rages appetite, if man can't mount,
Or man survives the grave; or own, Lorenzo, He will descend. He starves on the possest. Thy boast supreme, a wild absurdity. Hence, the world's master, from ambition's spire, Dauntless thy spirit; cowards are thy scom. In Caprea plung'd; and div'd beneath the brute. Grant man immortal, and thy scorn is just. In that rank sty, why wallow'd empire's son The man immortal, rationally brave, Supreme ? Because he could no higher fly; Dares rush on death, because he cannot die. His riot was ambition in despair.
But if man loses all, when life is lost,
From pride, example, lucre, rage, revenge,
Of all Earth's madmen, most deserves a chain. And, never stooping, but to mount again
When to the grave we follow the renown'd Next moment, she betrays her aim's mistake, For valor, virtue, science, all we love, And owns her quarry lodg'd beyond the grave. And all we praise ; for worth, whose noontide beam
There should it fail us, (it must fail us there, Enabling us to think in higher style, If being fails,) more mournful riddles rise,
Mends our ideas of ethereal powers; And virtue vies with hope in mystery.
Dream we, that lustre of the moral world Why virtue ? Where its praise, its being, fled? Goes out in stench, and rottenness the close ? Virtue is true self-interest pursued :
Why was he wise 10 know, and warm to praise, What true self-interest of quite-mortal man ? And strenuous to transcribe, in human life, To close with all that makes him happy here. The Mind Almighty? Could it be, that Fate, If vice (as sometimes) is our friend on Earth, Just when the lineaments began to shine, Then vice is virtue; 'tis our sovereign good. And dawn the Deity, should snatch the draught In self-applause is virtue's golden prize;
With night eternal blot it out, and give No self-applause attends it on thy scheme : The skies alarm, lest angels too might die ? Whence self-applause? From conscience of the right. If human souls, why not angelic too And what is right, but means of happiness? Extinguish'd ? and a solitary God, No means of happiness when virtue yields; O'er ghastly ruin, frowning from his throne ? That basis failing, falls the building too,
Shall we this moment gaze on God in man: And lays in ruin every virtuous joy.
The next, lose man for ever in the dust? The rigid guardian of a blameless heart, From dust we disengage, or man mistakes ; So long rever'd, so long reputed wise,
And there, where least his judgment fears a flaw. Is weak; with rank knight-errantries o'errun Wisdom and worth how boldly he commends ! Why beats thy bosom with illustrious dreams Wisdom and worth are sacred names ; rever'd, Of self-exposure, laudable, and great ?
Where not embrac'd ; applauded! deified! Of gallant enterprise, and glorious death? Why not compassion'd too? If spirits die, Die for thy country !--Thou romantic fool! Both are calamities, inflicted both, Seize, seize the plank thyself, and let her sink : To make us but more wretched. Wisdom's eye Thy country! what to thee?—The Godhead, what? Acute, for what? To spy more miseries ; (I speak with awe!) though he should bid thee And worth, so recompens'd, new-points their stings. bleed!
Or man surmounts the grave, or gain is loss, If, with thy blood, thy final hope is spilt?
And worth exalted humbles us the more. Nor can Omnipotence reward the blow,
Thou wilt not patronize a scheme that makes Be deaf ; preserve thy being; disobey.
Weakness and vice, the refuge of mankind. Nor is it disobedience: know, Lorenzo! “ Has virtue, then, no joys ?"_Yes, joys dear-bought Whate'er th' Almighty's subsequent command, Talk ne'er so long, in this imperfect state, His first command is this—" Man, love thyself." Virtue and vice are at eternal war. In this alone, free agents are not free.
Virtue's a combat; and who fights for nought? Existence is the basis, bliss the prize ;
Or for precarious, or for small reward? If virtue costs existence, 'tis a crime;
Who virtue's self-reward so loud resound, Bold violation of our law supreme,
Would take degrees angelic here below, Black suicide ; though nations, which consult And virtue, wbile they compliment, betray, Their gain, at thy expense, resound applause. By feeble motives, and unfaithful guards.
Since virtue's recompense is doubtful, here, The crown, th' unfading crown. her soul inspires. If man dies wholly, well may we demand, 'Tis that, and that alone, can countervail Why is man suffer'd to be good in vain ?
The body's treacheries, and the world's assaults : Why to be good in vain, is man enjoin'd? On Earth's poor pay our famish'd virtue dies. Why to be good in vain, is man betray'd ? Truth incontestable! in spite of all Betray'd by traitors lodg'il in his own breast, A Bayle has preach'd, or a Voltaire believ'd. By sweet complacencies from virtue felt ?
In man the more we dive, the more we see Why whispers Nature lies on virtue's part? Heaven's signet stamping an immortal make. Or if blind instinct (which assumes the name Dive to the bottom of his soul, the base Of sacred conscience) plays the fool in man, Sustaining all; what find we? Knowledge, love Why reason made accomplice in the cheat? As light and heat, essential to the Sun, Why are the wisest loudest in her praise ?
These to the soul. And why, if souls expire ?
How liule lovely here? How little known? Reason is guiltless; will alone rebels.
The slave of Earth, should own her heir of Heaven? As a mock-diadem, in savage sport,
Canst thou suspect what makes us disbelieve Rank insult of our pompous poverty,
Our immortality, should prove it sure? Which reaps but pain, from seeming claims so fair ? First, then, ambition summon to the bar. In future age lies no redress? And shuts
Ambition's shame, extravagance, disgust,
And inextinguishable nature, speak.
Thy soul, how passionately fond of fame!
We blush, detected in designs on praise, What the worst perpetrale, or best endure ? Though for best deeds, and from the best of men;
This cannot be. To love, and know, in man And why? Because immortal. Art divine Is boundless appetite, and boundless power; Has made the body tutor to the soul; And these demonstrate boundless objects too. Heaven kindly gives our blood a moral flow; Objects, powers, appetites, Heaven suits in all; Bids it ascend the glowing cheek, and there Nor, Nature through, e'er violates this sweet, Upbraid that little heart's inglorious aim, Eternal concord, on her tuneful string,
Which stoops to court a character from man; Is man the sole exception from her laws ?
While o'er us, in tremendous judgment, sit Eternity struck off from human hope,
Far more than man, with endless praise, and blame (I speak with truth but veneration too.)
Ambition's boundless appetite out-speaks Man is a monster, the reproach of Heaven,
The verdict of its shame. When souls take fire A stain, a dark impenetrable cloud
At high presumptions of their own desert, On Nature's beauteous aspect; and deforms, One age is poor applause ; the mighty shout, (Amazing blot!) deforms her with her lord. The thunder by the living few begun, If such is man's allotment, what is Heaven? Late time must echo; worlds unborn, resound. Or own the soul immortal, or blaspheme.
We wish our names eternally to live: [thought, Or own the soul immortal, or invert
Wild dream! which ne'er had haunted human All order. Go, mock-majesty! go, man!
Had not our natures been eternal too, And bow to thy superiors of the stall;
Instinct points out an interest in hereafter; Through every scene of sense superior far : But our blind reason sees not where it lies ; They graze the turf untill’d; they drink the stream Or, seeing, gives the substance for the shade. Unbrew'd, and ever full, and unimbitter'd
Fame is the shade of immortality, With doubts, fears, fruitless hopes, regrets, despairs : And in itself a shadow. Soon as caught, Mankind's peculiar! reason's precious dower! Contemn'd; it shrinks to nothing in the grasp. No foreign clime they ransack for their robes; Consult th' ambitious, 'tis ambition's cure. Nor brothers cite to the litigious bar;
“ And is this all ?" cried Cæsar at his height, Their good is good entire, unmix'd, unmarr’d; Disgusted. This third proof ambition brings They find a Paradise in every field,
of immortality. The first in fame,
And can ambition a fourth proof supply?
It can, and stronger than the former three; No day, no glimpse of day, to solve the knot, Yet quite o'erlook'd by some reputed wise. But what beams on it from eternity.
Though disappointments in ambition pain, O sole, and sweet solution that unties
And though success disgusts; yet still, Lorenzo! The difficult, and softens the severe;
In vain we strive to pluck it from our hearts ; The cloud on Nature's beauteous face dispels ; By Nature planted for the noblest ends. Restores bright order ; casts the brute beneath Absurd the fam'd advice to Pyrrhus given, And re-enthrones us in supremacy
More prais'd, than ponder'd ; specious, but unsound Of joy, e'en here: admit immortal life,
Sooner that hero's sword the world had quell'd, And virtue is knight-errantry no more ;
Than reason, his ambition. Man must soar.
An insuppressive spring, will toss him up,
No Sultan prouder than his fetter'd slave:
Slaves build their little Babylons of straw, Heaven our reward—for Heaven enjoy'd below. Echo the proud Assyrian in their hearts, . Still unsubdued thy stubborn heart ?—For there And cry,—“ Behold the wonders of my might!" The traitor lurks who doubts the truth I sing. And why? Because immortal as their lord ;
And souls immortal must for ever heave
Man, if not meant, by worth, to reach the skies At something great; the glitter, or the gold ; Had wanted wing to fly so far in guilt. The praise of mortals, or the praise of Heaven. Sour grapes, I grant, ambition, avarice, Nor absolutely vain is human praise,
Yet still their root is immortality : When human is supported by divine.
These its wild growihs so bitter, and so base I'll introduce Lorenzo to himself;
(Pain and reproach!) religion can reclaim, Pleasure and pride (bad masters!) share our hearts. Refine, exalt, throw down their poisonous lee, As love of pleasure is ordain’d to guard
And make them sparkle in the bowl of Hiss. And feed our bodies, and extend our race;
See, the third witness laughs at bliss rernote, The love of praise is planted to protect,
And falsely promises an Eden here : And propagate the glories of the mind.
Truth she shall speak for once, though prone to lie, What is it, but the love of praise, inspires, A common cheat, and Pleasure is her name. Matures, refines, embellishes, exalts,
To pleasure never was Lorenzo deaf; Earth's happiness? From that, the delicate, Then hear her now, now first thy real friend. The grand, the marvellous, of civil life,
Since Nature made us not more fond than proud Want and convenience, under-workers, lay of happiness (whence hypocrites in joy! The basis, on which love of glory builds.
Makers of mirth! artificers of smiles!) Nor is thy life, O virtue! less in debt
Why should the joy most poignant sense affords To praise, thy secret stimulating friend.
Burn us with blushes, and rebuke our pride ?Were men not proud, what merit should we miss! Those heaven-born blushes tell us man descends, Pride made the virtues of the Pagan world. E'en in the zenith of his earthly bliss : Praise is the salt that seasons right to man,
Should reason take her infidel repose, And whets his appetite for moral good.
This honest instinct speaks our lineage high; Thirst of applause is virtue's second guard ; This instinct calls on darkness to conceal Reason, her first; but reason wants an aid ; Our rapturous relation to the stalls. Our private reason is a flatterer;
Our glory covers us with noble shame, Thirst of applause calls public judgment in, And he that's unconfounded, is unmann'd. To poise our own, to keep an even scale,
The man that blushes is not quite a brute. And give endanger'd virtue fairer play.
Thus far with thee, Lorenzo! will I close. Here a fifth proof arises, stronger still :
Pleasure is good, and man for pleasure made ; Why this so nice construction of our hearts? But pleasure full of glory as of joy; These delicate moralities of sense ;
Pleasure, which neither blushes, nor erpires. This constitutional reserve, of aid
The witnesses are heard ; the cause is o'er ; To succor virtue, when our reason fails ;
Let conscience file the sentence in her court, If virtue, kept alive by care and toil,
Dearer than deeds that half a realm convey: And, oft, the mark of injuries on Earth,
Thus seal'd by truth, th' authentic record runs. When labor'd to maturity (its bill
" Know, all; know, infidels,—unapt to know! Of disciplines, and pains, unpaid) must die ? 'Tis immortality your nature solves ; Why freighted rich, to dash against a rock? "Tis immortality deciphers man, Were man to perish when most fit to live,
And opens all the mysteries of his make. O how misspent were all these stratagems,
Without it, half his instincis are a riddle: By skill divine inwoven in our frame!
Without it, all his virtues are a dream. Where are Heaven's holiness and mercy fled ? His very crimes attest his dignity; Laughs Heaven, at once, at virtue, and at man? His sateless thirst of pleasure, gold, and fame, If not, why that discourag'd, this destroy'd ? Declares him born for blessings infinite : Thus far ambition. What says avarice?
What less than infinite makes un-absurd *This her chief maxim, which has long been thine : Passions, which all on Earth but more inflames ? * The wise and wealthy are the same."-I grant it. Fierce passions, so mis-measurid to this scene, To store up treasure, with incessant toil,
Stretch'd out, like eagles' wings, beyond our nest, This is man's province, this his highest praise. Far, far beyond the worth of all below, To this great end keen instinct stings him on. For Earth too large, presage a nobler flight, To guide that instinct, reason! is thy charge ; And evidence our title to the skies." "Tis thine to tell us where true treasure lies;
Ye gentle theologues, of calmer kind! But, reason failing to discharge her trust,
Whose constitution dictates to your pen, Or to the deaf discharging it in vain,
Who, cold yourselves, think ardor comes from A blunder follows; and blind industry,
Hell ! Gall'd by the spur, but stranger to the course, Think not our passions from corruption sprung, (The course where stakes of more than gold are won) Though to corruption now they lend their wings ; O’er-loading, with the cares of distant age,
That is their mistress, not their mother. All The jaded spirits of the present hour,
(And justly) reason deem divine : I see, Provides for an eternity below.
I feel a grandeur, in the passions too, “Thou shall not covet,” is a wise command; Which speaks their high descent, and glorious end! But bounded to the wealth the Sun surveys : Which speaks them rays of an eternal fire. Look farther, the command stands quite revers'd, In Paradise itself they burnt as strong, And avarice is a virtue most divine.
Ere Adam fell, though wiser in their aim. Is faith a refuge for our happiness ?
Like the proud Eastern, struck by Providence, Most true: and is it not for reason too?
What though our passions are run mad, and stoop Nothing this world unriddles, but the next. With low, terrestrial appetite, to graze Whence inextinguishable thirst of gain?
On trash, on toys, dethron'd from high desire ? From inextinguishable life in man:
Yet still through their disgrace, no feeble ray
Of greatness shines, and tells us whence they fell : Why life, a moment; infinite, desire ?
Heaven's promise dormant lies in human hope ;
(For Nature never gravitates to nought);
My Lucia, thy Clarissa, call to thought;
If friend, and friendship, vanish in an hour?
Is not this torment in the mask of joy? Eternal day! "Tis that enlightens all;
Why by reflection marr’d the joys of sense ? And all, by that enlighten'd, proves it sure. Why past, and future, preying on our hearts, Consider man as an immortal being,
And putting all our present joys to death ? Intelligible all; and all is great;
Why labors reason ? instinct were as well ; A crystalline transparency prevails,
Instinct far better; what can choose, can err : And strikes full lustre through the human sphere : O how infallible the thoughtless brute! Consider man as morlal, all is dark,
"Twere well his Holiness were half as sure. And wretched ; reason weeps at the survey. Reason with inclination, why at war?
The learn'd Lorenzo cries, “ And let her weep, Why sense of guilt? why conscience up in arms ?" Weak modern reason ; ancient times were wise. Conscience of guilt, is prophecy of pain, Authority, that venerable guide,
And bosom-counsel to decline the blow. Stands on my part; the fam'd Athenian porch Reason with inclination ne'er had jarr'd, (And who for wisdom so renown'd as they ?) If nothing future paid forlearance here : Denied this immortality to man.”
Thus on—These, and a thousand pleas uncall’d, I grant it; but affirm, they prov'd it too.
All promise, some insure, a second scene;
What noble vanities, what moral flights, Than all things else most certain ; were it false, Glittering through their romantic wisdom's page, What truth on Earth so precious as the lie? Make us, at once, despise them, and admire? This world it gives us, let what will ensue ; Fable is flat to these high-season'd sires;
This world it gives, in that high cordial, hope : They leave the extravagance of song below. The future of the present is the soul :
Flesh shall not feel; or, feeling, shall enjoy How this life groans, when sever'd from the next ! The dagger or the rack; to them, alike
Poor mutilated wretch, that disbelieves ! A bed of roses, or the burning bull."
By dark distrust his being cut in two,
In both parts perishes; life void of joy,
Couldst thou persuade me, the next life could fail
Abhorr'd annihilation! blasts the soul, Wonder at them, and wonder at himself,
And wide extends the bounds of human woe! To find the bold adventures of his thought,
Could I believe Lorenzo's system true, Not bold, and that he strove to lie in vain. In this black channel would my ravings run. Whence, then, those thoughts? those towering - Grief from the future borrow'd peace, erewhile, thoughts, that flew
(pride. The future vanishd! and the present pain'd! Such monstrous heights ?–From instinct, and from Strange import of unprecedented ill! The glorious instinct of a deathless soul,
Fall, how profound! Like Lucifer's, the fall! Confus’dly conscious of her dignity,
Unequal fate! His fall, without his guilt! Suggested truths they could not understand. From where fond hope built her pavilion high, In lust's dominion, and in passion's storm, The gods among, hurl'd headlong, hurld at once Truth's system broken, scatter'd fragments lay, To night! To nothing, darker still than night! As light in chaos, glimmering through the gloom : If 'twas a dream, why wake me, my worst foe, Smit with the pomp of lofty sentiments,
Lorenzo! boastful of the name of friend! Pleas'd pride proclaim'd, what reason disbeliev'd. O for delusion! ( for error still! Pride, like the Delphic priestess, with a swell, Could vengeance strike much stronger than plant Rav'd nonsense, destin'd to be future sense, A thinking being in a world like this, When life immortal, in full day, should shine ; Not over-rich before, now beggar'd quite; And Death's dark shadows fly the gospel sun. More curst than at the fall ?—The Sun goes out! They spoke, what nothing but immortal souls The thorns shoot up! What thorns in every thought' Could speak; and thus the truth they question'd, Why sense of better? It imbitters worse. provid.
Why sense ? why life? If but to sigh, then sink Can then absurdities, as well as crimes,
To what I was! twice nothing! and much woe! Speak man immorlul? All things speak him so. Woe, from Heaven's bounties! woe from what was Much has been urg'd: and dost thou call for more ? Call; and with endless questions be distress'd, To flatter most, high intellectual All unresolvable, if Earth is all.
Thought, virtue, knowledge! Blessings, by thy scheme
All poison'd into pains. First, knowledge, once
"Know my Creator? Climb his blest abode
Dropt from his hand, with miracles replete!
To find the being, which alone can know
And start at man, the single mourner there,
"Knowing is suffering: and shall virtue share
Duty! religion! These, our duty done,
Theirs that serene, the sages sought in vain:
And why see that? Why thought? To toil, and
Then make our bed in darkness, needs no thought.
"Death, then, has chang'd his nature too: O Death Come to my bosom, thou best gift of Heaven!
Best friend of man! since man is man no more.
And sends all-marring murmur far away.
Vain, vain ambitions! trouble me no more.
"But not on equal terms with other brutes:
Of time, toil, treasure, art, for owls and adders,
Which prompts proud thought, and kindles high
"Our doom decreed demands a mournful scene