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IN TWO PARTS.
Containing the Nature, Proof, and Importance of Immortality.
Where, among other things, Glory and Riches are particularly considered.
To the Right Honourable Henry Pelham.
SHE* (for I know not yet her name in Heav'n)
Not early, like NARCISSA, left the scene;
Nor sudden, like PHILANDER. What avail?
This seeming mitigation but inflames;
This faney'd med'cine heightens the disease.
The longer known, the closer still she grew;
And gradual parting is a gradual death.
'Tis the grim tyrant's engine, which extorts
By tardy pressure's still-increasing weight,
Referring to Night Fifth.
From hardest hearts, confession of distress.
O the long, dark approach, through years of pain,
Death's gallery! (might I dare to call it so,)
With dismal doubt, and sable terror, hung;
Sick hope's pale lamp, its only glimmʼring ray :
There, fate my melancholy walk ordain'd,
Forbid self-love itself to flatter, there.
How oft I gaz'd, prophetically sad!
How oft I saw her dead, while yet in smiles!
In smiles she sunk her grief, to lessen mine.
She spoke me comfort, and increas'd my pain.
Like pow'rful armies trenching at a town,
By slow, and silent, but resistless sap,
In his pale progress gently gaining ground,
Death urg'd his deadly siege in spite of art,
Of all the balmy blessings Nature lends
To succour frail humanity. Ye stars!
(Not now first made familiar to my sight,)
And thou, O Moon! bear witness; many a night
He tore the pillow from beneath my head,
Ty'd down my sore attention to the shock,
By ceaseless depredations on a life
Dearer than that he left me. Dreadful post
Of observation! darker ev'ry hour!
Less dread the day that drove me to the brink,
And pointed at eternity below;
When my soul shudder'd at futurity;
When, on a moment's point, th' important dye
Of life and death spun doubtful, ere it fell,
And turn'd up life; my title to more woe.
But why more woe? More comfort let it be.
Nothing is dead, but that which wish'd to die;
Nothing is dead, but wretchedness and pain;
Nothing is dead, but what incumber'd, gall'd,
Block'd up the pass, and barr'd from real life.
Where dwells that wish most ardent of the wise!
Too dark the sun to see it; highest stars,
Too low to reach it; death, great death alone,
O'er stars and sun, triumphant, lands us there.
Nor dreadful our transition; though the mind,
An artist at creating self-alarms,
Rich in expedients for inquietude,
Is prone to paint it dreadful. Who can take
Death's portrait true? The tyrant never sat.
Our sketch all random strokes, conjecture all;
Close shuts the grave, nor tells one single tale.
Death, and his image rising in the brain,
Bear faint resemblance; never are alike;
Fear shakes the pencil; fancy loves excess;
Dark ignorance, is lavish of her shades:
And these the formidable picture draw.
But grant the worst; 'tis past; new prospects
And drop a veil eternal o'er her tomb.
Far other views our contemplation claim;
Views that o'erpay the rigours of our life
Views that suspend our agonies in death.
Wrap'd in the thought of immortality,
Wrap'd in the single, the triumphant thought!
Long life might lapse, age unperceiv'd come on;
And find the soul unsated with her theme.
Its nature, proof, importance, fire my song.
O that my song could emulate my soul!
Like immortal. No!-the soul disdains
A mark so mean; far nobler hope inflames;
If endless ages can outweigh an hour,
Let not the laurel, but the palm, inspire.
Thy Nature, immortality! who knows?
And yet who knows it not! It is but life
In stronger thread of brighter colour spun,
And spun for ever; dip'd by cruel fate
In Stygian dye, how black, how brittle here!
How short our correspondence with the sun!
And while it lasts, inglorious! Our best deeds,
How wanting in their weight! Our highest joys,
Small cordials to support us in our pain,
And give us strength to suffer. But how great
To mingle int❜rests, converse, amities,
With all the sons of reason, scatter'd wide
Through habitable space, wherever born,
Howe'er endow'd! To live free citizens
Of universal Nature; to lay hold
By more than feeble faith, on the Supreme!
To call Heav'n's rich unfathomable mines
(Mines, which support archangels in their state,)
Our own! to rise in science, as in bliss,
Initiate in the secrets of the skies!
To read creation; read its mighty plan
In the bare bosom of the Deity!
The plan, and execution, to coHate!
To see, before each glance of piercing thought,
All cloud, all shadow, blown remote; and leave
No mystery-but that of love divine,
Which lifts us on the seraph's flaming wing,
From earth's aceldama, this field of blood,
Of inward anguish, and of outward ill,
From darkness, and from dust, to such a scene!
Love's element! true joy's illustrious home!
From earth's sad contrast (now deplor'd,) more fair!
What exquisite vicissitude of fate!
Bless'd absolution of our blackest hour!
LORENZO, these are thoughts that make man, man, The wise illumine, aggrandize the great. How great (while yet we tread the kindred clod, And ev'ry moment fear to sink beneath The clod we tread; soon trodden by our sons,) How great, in the wild whirl of time's pursuits, To stop, and pause, involv'd in high presage, Through the long vista of a thousand years, To stand contemplating our distant selves, As in a magnifying mirror seen, Enlarg'd, ennobled, elevate, divine! To prophesy our own futurities!
To gaze in thought on what all thought transcends! To talk, with fellow-candidates, of joys
As far beyond conception, as desert,
Ourselves th' astonish'd talkers, and the tale!
LORENZO, swells thy bosom at the thought? The swell becomes thee: 'tis an honest pride. Revere thyself; and yet thyself despise. His nature no man can o'er-rate; and none Can under-rate his merit. Take good heed, Nor there be modest, where thou shouldst be proud; That almost universal error shun.
How just our pride, when we behold those heights,
Not those ambition paints in air, but those
Reason points out, and ardent virtue gains;
And angels emulate; our pride how just!
When mount we? When these shackles cast? When
This cell of the creation? This small nest,
Stuck in a corner of the universe,