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At aught this scene can threaten or indulge,
Resembles ocean into tempest wrought,
To waft a feather, or to drown a fly.
Where falls this censure? it o'erwhelms myself.
How was my heart instructed by the world!
O how self-fetter'd was my groveling soul !
How, like a worm, was I wrapt round and round
In silken thought, which reptile Fancy spun,
Till darken'd Reason lay quite clouded o'er,
With soft conceit of endless comfort here,
Nor yet put forth her wings to reach the skies!
Night visions may befriend (as sung above :)
Our waking dreams are fatal. How I dream,
Of things impossible ! (could sleep do more?)
Of joys perpetual in perpetual change!
Of stable pleasures on the tossing wave;
Eternal sunshine in the storms of life!
How richly were my noon-tide trances hung
With gorgeous tapestries of pictur'd joys !
Joy behind joy, in endless perspective!
Till at Death's toll, whose restless iron tongue
Calls daily for his millions at a meal,
Starting I woke, and found myself undone.
Where now my frenzy's pompous furniture
The cobweb'd cottage, with its ragged wall
Of mouldering mud, is royalty to me!
The spider's most-attenuated thread
Is cord, is cable, to man's tender tie
On earthly bliss: it breaks at every breeze.
Oye blest scenes of permanent delight !
Full above measure! lasting beyond bound !
A perpetuity of bliss is bliss.
Could you, so rich in rapture, fear an end,
That ghastly thought would drink up all your joy,
And quite unparadise the realms of light.
Safe are you lodg'd above these rolling spheres,
The baleful influence of whose giddy dance
Sheds sad vicissitude on all beneath.
Here teems with revolutions every hour,
And rarely for the better; or the best
More mortal than the common births of Fate.
Each Moment has its sickle, emulous
Of Time's enormous scythe, whose ample sweep
Strikes empires from the root: each Moment plays
His little weapon in the narrower sphere
Of sweet domestic comfort, and cuts down
The fairest bloom of sublunary bliss.
Bliss ! sublunary bliss !--proud words, and vain !
Implicit treason to divine decree!
A bold invasion of the rights of Heav'n!
I clasp'd the phantoms, and I found them air.
O had I weigh'd it ere my fond embrace,
What darts of agony had miss'd my heart !
Death! great proprietor of all ! 'tis thine
To tread out empire, and to quench the stars.
The sun himself by thy permission shines,
And, one day, thou shalt pluck him from his sphere:
Amid such mighty plunder, why exhaust
Thy partial quiver on a mark so mean?
Why thy peculiar rancour wreak'd on me?
Insatiate archer ! could not one suffice?
Thy shaft flew thrice, and thrice my peace was slain;
And thrice, ere thrice yon moon had fill'd her horn.
O Cynthia! why so pale! dost thou lament
Thy wretched neighbour ? grieve to see thy wheel
Of ceaseless change outwhirl'd in human life?
How wanes my borrow'd bliss! from Fortune's smile,
Precarious courtesy ! not virtue's sure,
Self-given, solar ray of sound delight.
In every varied posture, place, and hour,
How widow'd every thought of every joy !
Thought, busy thought! too busy for my peace!
Through the dark postern of time long elaps'd,
Led softly, by the stillness of the night,
Led, like a murderer, (and such it proves!)
Strays (wretched rover !) o'er the pleasing past;
In quest of wretchedness perversely strays,
And finds all desert now; and meets the ghosts
Of my departed joys, a numerous train!
I rue the riches of my former fate;
Sweet comfort's blasted clusters I lament;
I tremble at the blessings once so dear,
And every pleasure pains me to the heart.
Yet why complain? or why complain for one?
Hangs out the sun his lustre but for me,
The single man? are angels all beside ?
I mourn for millions ; 'tis the common lot :
In this shape or in that has Fate entail'd
The mother's throes on all of woman born,
Not more the children than sure heirs of pain.
War, famine, pest, volcano, storm, and fire, Intestine broils, Oppression, with her heart Wrapt up in triple brass, besiege mankind. God's image, disinherited of day, Here plung'd in mines, forgets a sun was made : There beings, deathless as their haughty lord, Are hammer'd to the galling oar for life, And plough the winter's wave, and reap despair. Some for hard masters, broken under arms, In battle lopt away, with half their limbs, Beg bitter bread through realms their valour sav'd, If so the tyrant or his minion doom. Want, and incurable disease, (fell pair!) On hopeless multitudes remorseless seize At once, and make a refuge of the grave. How groaning hospitals eject their dead ! What numbers groan for sad admission there! What numbers, once in Fortune's lap high-fed, Solicit the cold hand of Charity! To shock us more, solicit it in vain ! Ye silken sons of Pleasure ! since in pains You rue more modish visits, visit here, And breathe from your debauch : give, and reduce Surfeit's dominion o'er you. But so great Your impudence, you blush at what is right.
Happy! did sorrow seize on such alone. Not prudence can defend, or virtue save, Disease invades the chastest temperance, And punishment the guiltless; and alarm, Through thickest shades, pursues the fond of peace.
Man's caution often into danger turns,
And, his guard falling, crushes him to death.
Not Happiness itself makes good her name;
Our very wishes give us not our wish.
How distant oft the thing we dote on most
From that for which we dote, felicity ?
The smoothest course of Nature has its pains,
And truest friends, through error, wound our rest.
Without misfortune what calamities!
And what hostilities without a foe!
Nor are foes wanting to the best on earth.
But endless is the list of human ills,
And sighs might sooner fail than cause to sigh.
A part how small of the terraqueous globe
Is' tenanted by man? the rest a waste,
Rocks, deserts, frozen seas, and burning sands!
Wild haunts of monsters, poisons, stings, and death.
Such is earth's melancholy map! but, far
More sad! this earth is a true map of man:
So bounded are its haughty lord's delights
To woe's wide empire, where deep troubles toss,
Loud sorrows howl, envenom'd passions bite,
Ravenous calamities our vitals seize,
And threatening Fate wide opens to devour.
What then am I, who sorrow for myself? In age, in infancy, from others' aid Is all our hope; to teach us to be kind : That Nature's first, last lesson to mankind. The selfish heart deserves the pain it feels. More generous sorrow, while it sinks exalts, And conscious virtue mitigates the pang. Nor virtue more than prudence bids me give Swoln thought a second channel : who divide, They weaken, too, the torrent of their grief. Take, then, o World! thy much-indebted tear. How sad a sight is human happiness To those whose thought can pierce beyond an hour! O thou ! whate'er thou art, whose heart exults, Wouldst thou I should congratulate thy fate! I know thou wouldst; thy pride demands it from me:
Let thy pride pardon what thy nature needs,
The salutary censure of a friend.
Thou happy wretch! by blindness thou art blest;
By dotage dandled to perpetual smiles.
Know, smiler! at thy peril art thou pleas'd;
Thy pleasure is the promise of thy pain.
Misfortune, like a creditor severe,
But rises in demand for her delay;
She makes a scourge of past prosperity,
To sting thee more, and double thy distress.
Lorenzo ! Fortune makes her court to thee;
Thy fond heart dances while the syren sings.
Dear is thy welfare; think me not unkind;
I would not damp, but to secure thy joys.
Think not that fear is sacred to the storm ;
Stand on thy guard against the smiles of Fate.
Is Heav'n tremendous in its frowns ? most sure;
And in its favours formidable too:
Its favours here are trials, not rewards;
A call to duty, not discharge from care,
And should alarm us full as much as woes,
Awake us to their cause and consequence,
And make us tremble, weigh'd with our desert;
Awe Nature's tumult, and chastise her joys,
Lest while we clasp we kill them; nay, invert,
To worse than simple misery their charms.
Revolted joys, like foes in civil war,
Like bosom friendships to resentment sour'd,
With rage envenom'd rise against our peace.
Beware what earth calls happiness; beware
All joys but joys that never can expire.
Who builds on less than an immortal base,
Fond as he seems, condemns his joys to death.
Mine died with thee, Philander; thy last sigh Dissolv'd the charm; the disinchanted earth Lost all her lustre. Where her glittering towers ? Her golden mountains where? all darken'd down To naked waste; a dreary vale of tears. The great magician's dead! Thou poor, pale piece Vol. II.