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This is the tree's judgment, self-history that cannot be gainsaid. Seven years agone there was a drought,—and the seventh ring is narrow'd,
The fifth from hence was half a deluge,—the fifth is cellular and broad;
Thus, Man, thou art a result of the growth of many yesterdays,
Here is a knot, it was a crime: there is a canker, selfishness; Lo, here the heart-wood rotten; lo, there, perchance, the sapwood sound;
Nature teacheth not in vain; thy works are in thee, of thee; Some present evil bent hath grown of older errors.
And what if thou be walking now uprightly? Salve not thy wounds with poison,
As if a petty goodness of to-day hath blotted out the sin of yesterday.
It is well, thou hast life and light; and the Hewer showeth
Dressing the root, pruning the branch, and looking for thy tardy fruits;
But even here, as thou standest, cheerful belike and careless, The stains of ancient evil are upon thee, the record of thy wrong is in thee:
For, a curse of many yesterdays is thine, many yesterdays of sin,
That, haply little heeded now, shall blast thy many morrows.
Shall then a man reck nothing, but hurl mad defiance at his Judge,
Knowing that less than an omnipotent cannot make the has been, not been?
He ought, so Satan spake; he must, so Atheism urgeth;
may, it was the libertine's thought; he doth,-the bad world
But thou of humbler heart, thou student wiser for simplicity, While Nature warmeth thee betimes, heed the loving counsel of Religion.
True, this change is good, and penitence most precious;
What health can bloom in a beautiful skin, when rottenness hath fed upon the bones?
And guilt is parcel of us all; not thou, sweet nursling of affection, Art spotless, though so passing fair, nor thou, wild patriarch of
Behold then the better tree of Life, free unto us all for grafting, Cut thee from the hollow root of self, to be budded on a richer vine, Be desperate, O man, as of evil so of good; tear that tunic from
The past can never be retriev'd, be the present what it may.
But, it is God's to yearn in love on the humblest, the poorest, and the worst;
For he has giv'n freely, as a King, asking only thanks for mercy. Look upon this noble-hearted Substitute; seeing thy woes, he pitied thee;
Bow'd beneath the mountain of thy sin and perish'd,—but for God-head.
There stood the Atlas in his power, and Prometheus in his love is there,
Emptying, on wretched man, the blessings earn'd from heav'n. Put them not away-hide them in thy breast, poor and penitent receiver;
Be gratitude thy counsellor to good, and wholesome fear unto obedience:
Remember the pruning knife is keen, cutting cankers even from the vine;
Remember, twelve were chosen, and one among them liveth in perdition.
Yea, for standing unatoned, the soul is a bison on the prairie, Hunted by those trooping wolves, the many sinful yesterdays: And it speedeth a terrified Deucalion, flinging back the pebble in his flight,
The pebble that must add one more to those pursuing ghosts.
Close at hand, with its wicket on the latch; haste for thy life, poor hunted one!
The gladiator, Guilt, fighteth as of old, armed with net and dagger;
Snaring in the mesh of yesterdays, stabbing with the poniard of to-day;
Fly, thy sword is broken at the hilt; fly, thy shield is shiver'd; Leap the barriers and baffle him; the arena of the past is his. The bounds of guilt are the cycles of time; thou must be safe within Eternity;
The arms of God alone shall rescue thee from yesterday.
A POET'S PARTING THOUGHT.*-MOTHERWELL.
WHEN I beneath the cold red earth am sleeping,
Will there for me be any bright eye weeping
Will there be any heart still memory keeping
When the great winds through leafless forests rushing,
When the swollen streams, o'er crag and gully gushing,
Will there then one, whose heart despair is crushing,
When the bright sun upon that spot is shining,
And the small flowers, their buds and blossoms twining,
Will there be one still on that spot repining
When no star twinkles with its eye of glory,
And wintry storms have, with their ruins hoary,
Will there be then one, vers'd in misery's story,
It may be so, but this is selfish sorrow
To ask such meed,
* These lines of Motherwell,- -so touching in their simple pathos, and so unselfish in the calm resignation of their close, -were given to a friend by the author, a day or two before his decease.
A weakness and a wickedness to borrow,
The wailings of to-day for what to-morrow
Lay me then gently in my narrow dwelling,
And though thy bosom should with grief be swelling,
It were in vain,-for time hath long been knelling;Sad one, depart!