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What sight, heaven's azure arch beneath,
Hast most of Heaven to boast?
The man resigned, at once serene,
And giving up the ghost.
At death's arrival they shall smile
Who, not in life o'er-gay,
Serious and frequent thought send out
To meet him in his way.
coevals! (such there are)
If happiness is dear,
Approaching Death's alarming day
Discreetly let us fear.
The fear of death is truly wise,
Till wisdom can rise higher;
And, armed with pious fortitude,
Death, dreaded once, desire.
Grand climacteric vanities
The vainest will despise;
Shocked when, beneath the snow of age,
Man immaturely dies.
But am not I myself the man?
No need abroad to roam
In quest of faults to be chastised;
What cause to blush at home!
In life's decline, when men relapse
Into the sports of youth,
The second child outfools the first,
And tempts the lash of Truth;
Shall a mere truant from the grave
With rival boys engage ?
His trembling voice attempt to sing,
And ape the poet's rage ?
Here, Madam! let me visit one,
My fault who partly shares,
And tell myself, by telling him,
What more becomes our years.
And if your breast with prudent zeal
For Resignation glows,
You will not disapprove a just
Resentment at its foes.
In youth, Voltaire ! our foibles plead
For some indulgence due;
When heads are white, their thoughts and aims
Should change their colour too.
How are you cheated by your wit!
Old age is bound to pay,
By Nature's law, a mind discreet,
For joys it takes away.
A mighty change is wrought by years,
Reversing human lot;
In age 'tis honour to ne hid,
'Tis preise to be forgot;
The wise, as flowers, which spread at noon,
And all their charms expose,
When evening damps and shades descend,
Their evolutions close.
What though your Muse has nobly soared,
Is that our true sublime ?
Ours, hoary friend! is to prefer
Eternity to time.
Why close a life so justly famed
With such bold trash as this ?*
This for renown? yes, such as makes
Obscurity a bliss.
Your trash, with mine at open war
Is obstinately bent, t
Like wits below, to sow your tares
Of gloom and discontent.
With so much sunshine at command,
Why light with darkness mix?
Why dash with pain our pleasure? why
Your Helicon with Styx ?
Your works in our divided minds
Repugnant passions raise,
Confound us with a double stroke;
We shudder, whilst we praise:
A curious web, as finely wrought
As genius can inspire,
From a black bag of poison spun,
With horror we admire.
Mean as it is, if this is read
With a disdainful air,
I can't forgive so great a foe
To my dear friend Voltaire.
Early I knew him, early praised,
And long to praise him late;
His genius greatly I admire,
Nor would deplore his fate:
A fate how much to be deplored,
At which our nature starts !
Forbear to fall on your own sword,
To perish by your parts.
“But great your name”—To feed on air
Were then immortals born?
Nothing is great, of which more great,
More glorious is the scorn.
Can fame your carcass from the worm,
Which gnaws us in the grave,
Or soul from that which never dies,
Applauding Europe save ?
But fame you lose; good sense alone
Your idol, praise can claim;
When wild wit murders happiness,
It puts to death our fame.
Nor boast our genius; talents bright
E'en dunces will despise,
If in your western beams is missed
A genius for the skies.
Your taste, too, fails: what most excels,
True taste must relish most;
And what, to rival palms above,
Can proudest laurels boast?
Sound heads salvation's helmet* seek;
Resplendent are its rays it
Let that suffice; it needs no plume
Of sublunary praise.
May this enable couched Voltaire
To see that-all is right,
His eye, by flash of wit struck blind,
Restoring to its sight.
If so, all's well: who much have erred,
That much have been forgiven;
I speak with joy, with joy he'll hear,
“ Voltaires are now in heaven.”
Than to correct one erring thought
In my small world within.
A world that shall survive the fall
Of all his wonders here;
Survive, when suns ten thousand drop,
And leave a darkened sphere.
Yon matter gross,
how bright it shines!
For time how great his care!
Sure spirit and eternity
Far richer glories share.
Let those our hearts impress, on those
Our contemplation dwell;
On those my thoughts how justly thrown,
By what I now shall tell!
When backward with attentive mind Life's labyrinth I trace,
I find him far myself beyond Propitious to my peace:
Through all the crooked paths I trod My folly he pursued;
My heart astray, to quick return
Due Resignation home to press
On my capricious will,
How many rescues did I meet
Beneath the mask of ill !
How many foes in ambush laid
Beneath my soul's desire !
The deepest penitents are made
By what we most admire.
Nay, such philanthropy divine,
So boundless in degree,
Its marvellous of love extends
(Stoop most profound!) to me.
Let others cruel stars arraign,
Or dwell on their distress;
But let my page, for mercies poured,
A grateful heart express.
Walking, the present God was seen,
Of old, in Eden fair;
The God as present, by plain steps
Of providential care,
I behold passing through my life;
His awful voice I hear;
And conscious of my nakedness,
Would hide myself for fear:
But where the trees, or where the clouds,
Can cover from his sight?
Naked the centre to that eye
To which the sun is night.
As yonder glittering lamps on high
Through night illumined roll;
May thoughts of him by whom they shine
Chase darkness from my soul!
My soul, which reads his hand as clear
In my minute affairs,
As in his ample manuscript
Of sun, and moon, and stars;
And knows him not more bent aright
To wield that vast machine,
Have I not sometimes, (real good
So little mortals know!)
Mounting the summit of my wish,
Profoundly plunged in wo?
I rarely planned, but cause I found
My plan's defeat to bless :
of I lamented an event,
It turned to my success.
By sharpened appetite to give
To good intense delight,
Through dark and deep perplexities
He led me to the right.
And is not this the gloomy path
Which you are treading now?
The path most gloomy leads to light,
When our proud passions bow.
When labouring under fancied ill,
My spirits to sustain,
He kindly cured with sovereign draughts
Of unimagined pain.
Pained Sense from Fancy's tyranny Alone can set us free: A thousand miseries we feel, Till sunk in misery. Cloyed with a glut of all we wish, Our wish we relish less : Success, a sort of suicide, Is ruined by success. Sometimes, he led me near to death, And, pointing to the grave, Bid Terror whisper kind advice, And taught the tomb to save. To raise my thoughts beyond where worlds As spangles o'er us shine, One day he gave, and bid the next My soul's delight resign. We to ourselves, but through the means Of mirrors are unknown; In this my fate can you descry No features of your own ? And if you can, let that excuse These self recording lines; A record modesty forbids, Or to small bound confines.
In grief why deep ingulfed ? you see
You suffer nothing rare;
Uncommon grief for common fate;
That Wisdom can not hear.
When streams flow backward to their source,
And humbled flames descend,
And mountains winged shall fly aloft,
Then human sorrows end:
Of self-perusal, science rare !
Few know the mighty gain;
Learned prelates, self-unread, may read
Their Bibles o'er in vain.
Self-knowledge, which from heaven itself
(So sages tell us) came,
What is it but a daughter fair
Of my maternal theme?
Unlettered and untraveled men
An oracle might find,
Would they consult their own contents,
The Delphos of the mind.
Enter your bosom; there you'll find
A revolution new,
A revolution personal,
Which none can read but you.
There will you clearly read revealed
In your enlightened thought,
By mercies manifold, through life,
To fresh remembrance brought,
A mighty Being! and in him
A complicated friend,
A father, brother, spouse; no dread
Of death, divorce, or end.
Who such a matchless friend embrace,
And lodge him in their heart,
Full well, from agonies exempt,
With other friends may part.
As when o'erloaded branches bear
Large clusters big with wine,
We scarce regret one falling leaf
From the luxuriant vine.
My short advice to you may sound
Obscure, or somewhat odd,
Though 'tis the best that man can give,
“E'en be content with God.”
Through love he gave you the deceased;
Through greater took him hence:
This reason fully could evince,
Though murmured at by Sense.
This friend far past the kindest kind,
Is past the greatest great ;
His greatness let me touch in points
Not foreign to your state.
His eye, this instant, reads your heart,
A truth less obvious hear,
This instant its most secret thoughts
Are sounding in his ear.
Dispute you this? O stand in awe,
And cease your sorrow; know,
That tear, now trickling down, he saw
Ten thousand years ago;
But hunan prudence, too, must cease When sorrows domineer, When fortitude has lost its fire, And freezes into fear. The pang most poignant of my life Now heightens my delight; I see a fair creation rise From Chaos and old Night. From what seemed horror and despair, The richest harvest rose, And gave me in the nod divine, An absolute repose. Of all the blunders of mankind, More gross, or frequent, none, Than in their grief and joy misplaced Eternally are shown. But whither points all this parade ? It says, that near you lies A book, perhaps, yet unperused, Which you should greatly prize.
And twice ten thousand hence, if you
Your temper reconcile
To Reason's bound, will he behold
Your prudence with a smile;
A smile which through eternity
Diffuses so bright rays,
The dimmest deifies e'en guilt,
If guilt at last obeys.
Your guilt (for guilt it is to mourn,
When such a Sovereign reigns)
Your guilt diminish, peace pursue;
How glorious peace in pains !
Here, then, your sorrows cease, if not,
Think how unhappy they
Who guilt increase by streaming tears,
Which guilt should wash away.
Of tears that gush profuse restrain;
Whence burst the dismal sighs ?
They from the throbbing breast of one
(Strange truth!) most happy rise.
Not angels (hear it, and exult!)
Enjoy a larger share
Than is indulged to you, and yours,
Of God's impartial care.
Anxious for each, as if on each
His care for all was thrown;
For all his care as absolute
As all had been but one.
For what's the sun's meridian blaze
To the most feeble ray
Which glimmers in the distant dawn
Of uncreated day?
'Tis not the poet's rapture feigned
Swells here, the vain to please :
The mind most sober kindles most
At truths sublime as these.
They warm e'en me. I dare not say
Divine ambition strove
Not to bless only, but confound,
Nay fright us, with its love;
And yet so frightful what, or kind,
As that the rending rock,
The darkened sun, and rising dead,
So formidably spoke ?
And are we darker than the sun ?
Than rocks more hard and blind ?
We are ;-if not to such a God
In agonies resigned.
Yea, e'en in agonies forbear
To doubt almighty love;
Whate’er endears eternity,
Is mercy from above.
What most imbitters time, that most
And thus by plunging in distress,
Exalts us to the spheres :
Joy's fountain-head! where bliss o'er bliss,
O'er wonders wonders rise,
And an Omnipotence prepares
Its banquet for the wise; Ambrosial banquet! rich in wines Nectareous to the soul! What transports sparkle from the stream, As angels fill the bowl!
Fountain profuse of every bliss! Good-will immense prevails : Man's line can't fathom its profound; An angel's plummet fails. Thy love and might, by what they know Who judge, nor dream of more; They ask a drop, how deep the sea ? One sand, how wide the shore? Of thy exuberant good-will, Offended Deity! The thousandth part who comprehends, A deity is He. How yonder ample azure field With radiant worlds is sown! How tubes astonish us with those More deep in ether thrown!
And is he then so near ? so kind ?-
How little then, and great,
That riddle, man! O let me gaze
At wonders in his fate!
His fate, who yesterday did crawl
A worm from darkness deep,
And shall, with brother worms, beneath
A turf, to-morrow sleep.
How mean! and yet if well obeyed
His mighty master's call,
The whole creation for mean man
Is deemed a boon too small:
Too small the whole creation deemed
For emmets in the dust!
Account amazing! yet most true;
My song is bold, yet just.
Man born for infinite, in whom
No period can destroy
The power, in exquisite extremes
To suffer, or enjoy.
Give him earth's empire (if no more)
He's beggared and undone!
Imprisoned in unbounded space!
Benighted by the sun!
And those beyond of brighter worlds
Why not a million more?
In lieu of answer, let us all
Fall prostrate and adore.
Since thou art infinite in power,
Nor thy indulgence less;
Since man, quite impotent and blind,
Oft drops into distress;
Say, what is Resignation ? 'Tis
Man's weakness understood;
And Wisdom grasping, with a hand
Far stronger, every good.
Let rash repiners stand appalled,
In thee who dare not trust;
Whose abject souls, like demons dark,
Are murm’ring in the dust,
For man to murmur or repine
At what by thee is done,
No less absurd than to complain,
Of darkness in the sun.
Who would not, with a heart at ease,
Bright eye, unclouded brow,
Wisdom and Goodness at the helm,
The roughest ocean plough?
What though I'm swallowed in the deep!
Though mountains o’er me roar!
Jehovah reigns! As Jonah safe
I'm landed, and adore.
Thy will is welcome, let it wear
Its most tremendous form:
Roar, Waves! rage, Winds! I know that thou
Canst save me by a storm.
From thee immortal spirits born,
To thee their fountain flow,
If wise, as curled around to theirs
Meand'ring streams below.
Not less compelled by Reason's call,
To thee our souls aspire,
Than to thy skies, by Nature's law
High mounts material fire :
To thee aspiring they exult:
I feel my spirits rise,
I feel myself thy son, and pant
For patrimonial skies.
Since ardent thirst of future good,
And generous sense of past,
To thee man's prudence strongly ties,
And binds affection fast.
Since great thy love, and great our want,
And men the wisest blind,
And bliss our aim, pronounce us all
Distracted or resigned.
Resigned through duty, interest, shame;
Deep shame! dare I complain,
When (wondrous truth!) in heaven itself
Joy owed its birth to pain?
And pain for me! for me was drained
Gall's overflowing bowl;
And shall one drop, to murmur bold
Provoke my guilty soul ?
If pardoned this, what cause, what crime,
Can indignation raise ?
The sun was lighted up to shine,
And man was born to praise:
And when to praise thee man shall cease,
Or sun to strike the view;
cloud dishonours both, but man's
The blacker of the two.
For, oh! ingratitude how black!
With most profound amaze
At love, which man, beloved, o'erlooks,
Astonished angels gaze.
Praise cheers and warms, like generous wine;
Praise, more divine than prayer:
Prayer points our ready path to heaven; Praise is already there. Let plausive Resignation rise, And banish all complaint; All virtues thronging into one, It finishes the saint; Makes the man blest as man can be; Life's labours renders light; Darts beanıs through Fate's incumbent gloom, And lights our sun by night. 'Tis Nature's brightest ornament, The richest gift of Grace, Rival of angels, and supreme Proprietor of peace: Nay, peace beyond no small degree Of rapture 'twill impart; Know, Madam!“when your heart's in heaven, “ All heaven is in your heart." But who to heaven their hearts can raise? Denied divine support, All virtue dies; support divine
The wise with ardour court: When prayer partakes the seraph's fire, 'Tis mounted on his wing, Bursts through heaven's crystal gates, and gains Sure audience of its King. The labouring soul from sore distress That blessed expedient frees; I see you far advanced in peace; I see you on your knees.