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Lord Bishop of Gloucester,
FOR HIS INESTIMABLE VIRTUES, AND GREAT
EXERTIONS IN THE CAUSE OF TRUTH,
WITH FEELINGS OF PROFOUND RESPECT
ARE INSCRIBED BY THE AUTHORESS.
THE clock has struck its last; the parting sound
Still vibrates on my ear. Hark! how the chimes,
In high and solemn strains, strike thro' the soul,
And in the stillness of the night afar,
In soft and soothing murmurs, die away.
Again 'tis still; no sounds disturb the night,
Save but the owl from yon high tow'ring elm,
That hoots its sorrows to the midnight moon.
"Now is the very witching time of night,
When church-yards yawn," and should it then prove true,
And should the sepulchre that holds thy dust,
Departed friend, again cast forth its charge,
In form and likeness as thou once wast known,
Would then my soul appal'd shrink back in fear?
Ah! surely no. But, hark! methink e'en now
I hear the well-known accents of thy voice;
Methink I hear thee say, prepare for death,
E'en now he's at the door, and soon will knock.--
But no, 'tis Fancy--whither would'st thou lead
My wand'ring thoughts? Stay, restless rover, stay,--
Quit vain shade, let go these wild chimeras,
No supernatural aid is wanting now
To tell me I must die; through every vein
I feel the subtle treach'rous miner Death,
Working his way. Soon will the mandate come
To call me hence, and lay me in the dust.
O Death, what art thou? Many have essay'd
To draw thy portrait; but who e'er can trace
Thy true resemblance; none have ever burst
The tomb's strong jaws, to tell us ought they know;
And they alone can tell us what thou art.
But I shall know thee soon.--O had we not
The strong assurance of another life,
How should I shudder at the frightful gulf
That then would yawn to shut me in for ever.
Annihilation! 'tis a dreadful thought,--
To be for ever wrench'd from those we love,
Torn from the comforts of domestic life,
And all the pleasures of this busy world:
From all the hard-earn'd learning, which perchance,
For years the active mind has toil'd to gain,
And when success has crown'd the utmost wish,
Then to be snatched away and lost for ever.
Or after toiling through a weary life,
Beset with woes, opposed to calumny,
To meet at length th' unerring stroke of death,
Without a gleam of hope. But, no! my soul
Can pierce beyond the grave, and unappal'd
Can meet th' uplifted arm of death and smile;
Can smile at what? a bless'd eternity,
Where every suff'ring of the present hour
Shall in the vast expanse of bliss be lost.
Eternity! there's rapture in the thought--
How my soul kindles at the spark divine.--
The soul! that immaterial part of man,
Can earthly bounds confine its noble flight?
What tho' my mortal frame in sickness pines,
Worn out with pain; though sleep affrighted flies
M'uneasy pillow, though my fev'rish brain,
Throbs with a violence unfelt before,
Yet still my soul is free, no outward pain
Can quench her fire; for ever on the wing
E'en now she contemplates, though faint her view,
That scene of bliss she knows will soon be her's;
When disencumber'd from this clog of clay,
She'll soar at large, thro' yon wide fields of ether.
There trace the vast extent of nature's laws,
Watch the revolving planets stated round,
Explore the cause, and see the great effect
Of each phenomenon display'd throughout
The whole creation. Her unbounded view
Will take in all the vast and mighty works
Of earth and heav'n, and find an ample store
Of wonders to employ the utmost length
Of time, that may elapse till that dread hour
When the last trump shall sound, and this frail frame,
The cage that now confines her struggling powr's,
Be summon'd to the bar; then will she meet
Her well known partner, every faculty
Enlarged, enobled, fitted to partake
With her the high delights surpassing all
The thoughts of man can reach, which then unveil'd,
Shall burst at once on her astonished sight.
And why is Death so dreaded, when alone
'Tis his prerogative these joys to give?
Why is eternity denied, when all
On earth is transient, subject to decay?
Perplex'd with cares and thick beset with woes
Is human life, our very friends are false,
And should we chance, thro'out our weary course,
To meet with one who haply may prove true,
How soon does Death divide the sacred bands
Which friendship form'd; and if no other life
Succeeded this, how vain, how fruitless 'twere
To seek for friendship which so soon would be
Dissolved for ever; but this is not so;
In that bright realm of bliss, which shall succeed
This passing world, each friend again shall meet
There none are false; unkindness never dwells
Amid these bless'd abodes; but each in all,
And all in each, are sure to find a friend.
SEASON of gen'ral rest at this still hour,
What numbers on the hardest pillow laid,
Enjoy a sleep more sweet and undisturbed
Than many who on downy couch repose.
And numbers too now woo the god of sleep
Stretched on the bed of pain, but woo in vain.
E'en now my sleepless eyes have frequent turn'd
T'wards the dark window with an anxious wish
O'er yonder sky to see the morning dawn.--
I'll ope my casement. 'Tis a gloomy night;
No star appears to light the care-worn wretch
Who destitute of house and home pursues
His weary way amid the dismal gloom.
Whilst all the little warblers of the grove,
That erst were wont with melodations sweet
To sooth the sorrows of his aged breast,
Are sunk in soft repose, and every throat
Is still; yet on the wretched traveller goes,
And every moment hopes a candle's gleam
May pierce the gloom, from some lone cottage near,
Where he may ask a shelter for the night;
But not a shed appears; his weary limbs
Sink down, oppress'd with age fatigue and want.
Haply on our bless'd isle, no rav'nous wolves,
Nor furious tygers nightly for their prey,
Proul through the woods and with their lengthen'd roar
Re-echoed in the stillness of the night
Make the deep gloom more dismal. Thou poor wretch
Upon the dew-clad sod may'st rest in peace;
And underneath the canopy of heav'n
Thou may'st enjoy a tranquil sleep, more sweet
Than the gay votary of pleasure knows.
What solemn silence reigns; how peaceful all
At this still hour of night; here no rude mirth
Nor midnight revelry, with clam'rous shout
Of sensual pleasure, (such as from the board
Of Bacchanalian feast re-echoes through
The wide metropolis, and rends the air,)
Disturb the contemplative mind; e'en those
Who are so wont to close each weary day
With sad intemperance are all gone forth,
And yonder ale-house door is safely barr'd.
Now has the thief begun his nightly round;
Full well he knows each lane and mazy path
Through which to turn, where none at this late hour
Save but himself will ever venture forth.
And cautiously he shuns the house he knows
To be well guarded by the faithful dog.
Now he essays each well known art to turn
The lock's strong wards, but should a trusty bolt
Or bar oppose his entrance, 'tis in vain
He strives to force his way, but when the lock
Yields to his art how lightly does he tread,
Lest any listening ear should trace his steps.--
And does he sin secure? Though mortal eye
Be closed in sleep; though earthly justice ne'er
May stop his wild career, yet sill he bears
Within his breast a monitress severe.--
Though with repeated crimes his callous heart
Be grown more hard than adamant, yet still
A time will come when conscience will be heard,
Spite of his efforts to repress her voice.
And what if she delay her just reproach
Till death's strong arm arrest his sinful course
Then, then, will death be dreadful; then his crimes--
His unrepented crimes will harrow up
His very soul; annihilation then,
Would prove a refuge; but his shrieks, his groans,
Too plainly show he now no longer doubts
Another life.--He breathes his last.--But stay--
Say not he dies the victim of despair--
Mercy may reach e'en him: He, who, to save
The sinking world from woe, pour'd out his life,
And rescued man from the deep yawning gulph
Of everlasting ruin;--He may now
Extend his mercy t'wards this wretch, if not,
Who lives and sins not? And who then am I
That dare to judge another when I know
Myself will soon be judged by him who sees
And searches out the secrets of the heart?
"Is Death at distance--no, he has been on me,
"And given sure earnest of his final blow;"
Has bid my soul let go her hold on earth;
Quit her vain schemes of sublunary bliss,
Forego all hopes, and fears, and fix her eye,
Her stedfast eye, on that eternal scene,
Which now will soon be her's. How poor, how mean
Does all the gew-gaws of this world appear
At this still hour, when contemplation wings
Her way t'wards heav'n, and perched amongst the stars,
Pleased with her eminence, looks down on earth
As vain and transient; all will soon be o'er;
A few short fleeting years will surely end
This painful course; but a much shorter date
For me perchance is destin'd, some few months,
At most; perhaps some weeks, or even days,
May end my race; though premature the call,
Yet life is full of woe, and death perchance
May snatch me from a galling load of pain,
Of care and grief. What though some trifling joys
The world may boast, soon will they satiate, soon
Their charms be lost; but in that world of bliss
Beyond the confines of the narrow grave,
Pleasures will never cloy, nor pain be felt.
And thither I am hasting, soon these eyes--
These waking, watching eyes that now in vain
Would seek to close their lids, shall wake no more
Till the archangel's brazen trump shall sound.
CYNTHIA, when last with thee, in converse sweet,
I passed the solemn hour, when mortal eye
Fast closed in sleep, when each forgot his woe,
And was in peace; when solemn silence sat,
And reign'd o'er nature; then my soul replete
With every joy, and big with hopes of life,--
Eternal life, while musing on that scene,
She thought indeed almost within her ken.
Yes then I thought the world and all it's toys,
To me were disappearing; then my soul
Looked backwards on the past, and thought how vain
Had been the cares, and turmoils of this life--
How trifling the pursuits that had so long,
Too much engrossed my thoughts, and wasted time.
Yes to a soul just on the verge of heav'n,
The trifles of the world appear beneath
It's slightest thought; the gay and gorgeous train
Of human grandeur, (royalty itself
Sinks in esteem, and) seems but fopperies,
That cheat vain silly mortals of their time;
Cheat them of time! nay fix their thoughts on earth,
And cheat them too of heav'n. The world's gay sons,
Who follow pleasure's satiating round,
And tire invention to find out new schemes,
To vary folly, and devise fresh plans,
For each succeeding day, to change the garb
Of ill-clad vice, and make her seem more fair;
If not more fair, yet by variety,
And change of dress, to make her please anew.
And those who best are skilled in killing time,
The world applauds and fashionables court,
But I would ask, ye who thus spend your days
In one continued round of vain pursuits,
How will ye meet the certain stroke of death?
(For tho' delay'd for years 'tis certain still,
And may perchance surprise you unawares)
How will ye quit the world, where all your thoughts,
Hopes, wishes, and affections all are placed?
How will ye quit your noisy Bacchanals,
To banquet worms, and moulder in the grave!
Say can you look beyond? Does not the shroud,
The coffin and the damp dark sepulchre,
Bound all your prospects? Did your souls e'er mount
On contemplation's wings, above the spheres?
No, surely no, for souls incumber'd thus
Can never soar beyond the narrow bounds
This earth affords, nor can their prospects reach
Beyond the confines of the present world.
And is it pleasure then to banish thought,
To drive reflection from the sickly soul,--
Sickly for want of more substantial food
Than aught your vicious passions will allow.
Though routed conscience may not sound alarms,
(Yet she in ambush lies and will e'er long
If not before, when death shall point his dart,
Return with three-fold terrors to the field.)
Tho' she is absent, yet the soul recoils,
And turns disgusted from those scenes of vice,
Each day anew presented to her sight.
Ye sensualists who at your midnight feasts,
Now give a loose to loud opprobrious mirth,
And whilst intemperance reigns around the board,
Whilst fell disease in every goblet lurks,
And each relinquish'd bowl is big with death,
What do ye loose? What real joys forego?
Joys that ne'er satiate, joys that never tire,
The contemplation of a world of bliss,
Which the good man enjoys above the reach
Of vain pursuits, the haven of his hopes,
Where all his wishes tend, towards that bless'd shore
He points his steadfast gaze, and whilst his bark
Rides o'er the uneven sea of human life,
Sits calmly at the helm and guides her course
With steady arm, and persevering still,
(Though on the waves the dancing sunbeams sport
And tempt his longer stay) he presses on,
And for the mark of his high calling's prize
Urges his vessel; if the clouds look black
And scowl along the sky, if from afar
He hears the rattling tempest hast'ning on
T'wards his frail bark, he arms him for the worst,
Prepares to face the storm, yet hopes to reach
Or e'er the cloud may burst, his destin'd shore.
But though the storm o'ertakes him tho' the waves
Roll mountains high, yet still his little bark.
Bears on amid the jaring elements,
Buffets the billows whilst his steadfast soul
Views unappall'd the raging sea around.
Secure within himself, no outward storms
Can shake his courage, and at length arrived
At the long wish'd for port he rests secure,
Far from the tempest; there no adverse winds
Can ever blow, eternal sunshine reigns,
And joys unknown, unmix'd and without end.
But mark the man who gives his passions scope;
He to the mercy of the ruthless winds
Trusts his gay skiff, and trifles on the waves;
Sports in the sun nor heeds the rising storm.
And when it comes it finds him unprepar'd,
He cannot guide the rudder, his weak bark,
For pleasure only framed, at random drives,
Still whirl'd about by th' impelling stream,
Till on the horrid rocks of black despair
The vessel strikes; and founder'd thus at once
Sinks to the depth of misery and woe:
And where's the charms of vice? ye madmen say
What tempt ye thus to run this wild career?
To stake-eternal happiness, and sell
Your souls, for what? for pleasure of an hour?
Doubt ye there is a God to judge the earth?
Read yonder characters on heavens high arch,
(Yon countless orbs inhabited perhaps
By beings like ourselves, or happy souls
Who from their state of innocence ne'er fell,
Ne'er forfeited their maker's love, ne'er knew
The woes by sin entail'd on Adam's race.
Who placed those orbs on high? What of the pow'r
Of gravity which to their centres pass
An equilibrium keeps; supports and guides
In their respective orbits round the sun,
Each planet of our system, (and those orbs
To us unknown, far, far beyond the reach
Of philosophic eye, round other suns.)
But could the laws of gravity direct
Their course from west to east, or cause at first
Such bright resplendent bodies to appear
To spring from chaos, and to bid them shine.
You'll argue too, "their light is not their own,
But borrow'd from the regent of the day."--
And does not he shew forth his maker's praise,
Could chance blind chance have form'd the glorious ball?
Could chance have thrown his atmosphere around,
And caused his lucid clouds to give us light?--
Go to the man immured amid the gloom
Of Sweden's mines, within whose dreary caves,
As in a subterraneous town, remote
From human commerce, he has passed his days;
Transport him to the surface of the earth,
Tell him no more than what a vulgar mind
Can easily conceive, shew him the sun;
The great bright source of life, of health, of joy.
Reason would tell this man, some pow'r divine
(If he had never heard Jehovah named)
Must at the first have form'd the shining ball,
And fixed it in its place. But raise his mind
(If it were possible) above the mists,
In which dark ignorance so long has kept
His soul envelop'd, teach him to look up
And with great Herschell's philosophic eye
Explore the wonders of creative pow'r;
Then tell him there are those who would be thought
Deep learn'd and yet deny a Deity;--
Deny that aught beside necessity,
And chance call'd forth these great and mighty works,
Would he not think them mad and shun their haunts,
Lest mischief should befall him from their hands?
An atheist would appear to him a wretch
Not worthy life, nor yet prepared to die.
But need we to the heav'ns alone confine
Our search for wonders, and midst other worlds,
And other atmospheres explore the works
Of heavn's great King, when our terraqueous globe
Is every where surrounded by the pow'r
Of an Almighty hand?--What man is he
Who sees the light invest, as with a robe,
The world which we inhabit, and yet doubts;
(He may as well his own existence doubt,)
Doubts the existence of a Deity?
That Deity who bade the sun send forth,
His emanations, and illume the world.
And though the subtile particles thrown off
By his emiting rays, for ages past
Have been the same, yet undiminish'd still
The matter yet remains, and could blind chance
Have kept him thus so constantly supplied--
Would not his fruitful source, long, long e'er this,
Have been exhausted, and that chance which first
Form'd him from chaos, would again have left
The world in utter darkness? We had known
No sweet returns of spring, no autumn's fruits;
Nay life itself e'er this had been extinct.
But tis beyond the pow'r of human pen
To number up the wonders wrought by him,
Who is all wonderful, the utmost height
Of finite wisdom; the united skill
Of scientific learning, which has shone
Through ages past, has never yet attain'd
More than a glympse of the minutest part
Of the creation; nor could man know more
Strain'd to the highest pitch his finite pow'rs
Could bear; the deepest learn'd can only know
An atom, when compared with the great whole.
But though no mortal eye can ever see,
All the great works the universe contains,
Yet still enough is known to raise the soul,
(That e'er contemplated the glorious scenes
To man display'd) from off the little arts
Of human greatness, and to fill the mind,
With most exalted sentiments of him,
The great Divine Original. That man
Who studies nature's universal laws,
Looks through its medium up to nature's God.
He feels an ardour run through every vein,
(Unfelt, unknown by him whose sole delight
Is sensual pleasure,) he alone enjoys
The true delights of life, whilst he beholds
Indelibly inscribed on yonder arch,
In shining characters, his Maker's name;
Nor does he less Jehovah's footsteps trace
Through every field; and in each blade of grass,
Marks where the finger of his God has been.
And through the many changes of his life,
He sees and feels the present Deity.
With cautious vigilance he guards each word,
Each thought and deed, convinced that Deity
Marks every action with impartial eye,
And whilst his confidence is solely placed
In the supreme Disposer of events,
He meets resigned each adverse stroke of fate,
Convinced that his superior will is best.
And when amid the solitude he loves,
His soul above this planetary globe
Then soars aloft, beyond the starry frame:
(For earthly bounds can't check her noble flight,
The soul was ne'er designed to brood on earth;
Her sight was form'd for more exalted views,
Herself immortal, nought can satisfy
Her craving appetite, that falls far short
Of immortality, no prospect bound
Her piercing ken, this side eternity.)
And there in search of the eternal God
(On whom all nature for supper depends,)
Roves unconfined, amid th' immense display,
Of his infinitude, of wisdom, power,
And love to man; till by degrees his thoughts,
His reason, understanding, all is drawn
From finite objects, and terrestrial things,
Up to the scenes of everlasting bliss;
"Till every bound, at length shall appear
"And infinite perfection close the scene."
SINCE then all nature cries a God! a God!
And atheists tremble, whilst they half believe,
What else can prompt mankind to hurry on,
(Spite of the warning voice whose whispers speak
In every bosom; and tho' stifled oft
Will yet be heard,) in the sure road to death,
Eternal death! can any be so lost,
So dead to every feeling of the soul,
As not to shudder at eternal death?
Can any vainly think this earth their home,
Their final home, (nor raise a singe thought
Above its confines, still content to dwell
For ever here, nor aim at higher life?)
Daily experience tells us the reverse,
Witness yon churchyard, read what numbers there,
Are mould'ring in the dust; numbers who once
Shone like the spangles on yon azure vault,
Amid the gay, and numbers too who wore
The wreath of fame, of honour, and renown.
Yet naught could ward the stroke of death, or buy
One moment's life, the great, the rich, the gay
The poor, and mean, must all alike submit
To th' all conquering victor's pow'rful arm--
For all men are appointed once to die.
And what is death? a rest from care and toil
From pain and grief, which all on earth must bear,
The world is full of woe with which weak man,
(Whilst all the frailties of his sinful heart,
Still fight against him) wages constant war;
Fatigues himself in vain, tries every art
To vanquish woe, and shun the spectre care;
Pursues each path to which the varied choice,
May chance to point in search of happiness,
And all in vain. How many ways the croud
Pursue the flying goddess, yet how few
O'ertake her flight. How few attain the ends
For which they strive, and if they are attain'd
How distant still the happiness they thought
Was centred in th' attainment of these ends.
Well did our great nocturnal bard remark,
"Our very wishes give us not our wish."
We seek for sublunary bliss in vain,
No state of life, howe'er by fortune crown'd,
Is free from care, none knows the joys of peace,
Quiescent only in the silent grave;
And thither all are hastening; though awhile
Life's turmoils harrass, and distress us, still
It's checquer'd paths are all concentred there.
And I had thought e'er this, to have been laid
Within the tomb's retreat, had thought e'er now,
The clay cold sod had press'd my weary head;
Then I no more had felt the barbed dart
Of disappointment, which so oft has torn
This aching breast. But life again revives;
My soul that late was on the verge of heav'n--
That late just caught a glimpse of that bright realm
She thought almost her own, (and with the sight
Enraptured, long'd to burst the bands that held
Her struggling pow'rs confined,) is now again
Return'd, equipp'd afresh to bear the storm
Of human life; which may, perhaps, beat hard
On my devoted head, but heav'n alone
Knows what is best, and heav'n alone can tell
To what I am reserved; if fortune frowns,
If dire distress assail, tis mine to meet
With firm undaunted mind the gen'ral foe,
'Tis midnight--and to me the solemn hour,
And this nocturnal gloom, that now invests
The whole creation, is more pleasing far
Than the bright blaze of the meridian sun.
A total stillness reigns throughout the air;
No intermeddling noise disturbs the thoughts;
Imagination now has room to soar,
Though through the day confined amid the din
Of busy life, unable or to mount,
Or stretch her view beyond the spot of earth,
That kept her nobler faculties enchain'd
Within its narrow bounds; but now the soul,--
Now when the night befriends her, upwards mounts,
All passions lull'd to rest, save that alone
Which prompts the active mind of man to search
For knowledge half divine,--knowledge deep hid
From the blind reveler who now invade
This sacred hour: they ne'er can know the joys
That flow from contemplations such as these
Which he indulges who holds converse sweet,
With yon bright spheres; to him alone reveal'd
Is nature's wonders; her phenomena
He views impress'd with awe, whilst he adores
The pow'r divine that call'd these wonders forth
From ancient chaos. Those who waste the night
In riot, revelry, and mad debauch,
Un-nerve their every faculty, unfit
Their pow'rs for action, and their minds for thought.
But 'tis the man who steadily adheres,
To the long tried, approved, and easy rules,
Of sober temp'rance; he who at this hour,
Wakes to behold the beauties of yon dome,
Erected by an architect divine,
Wakes not to riot, but awake to dive
Deep into nature's works, not pleased alone
To skim alone the surface, and to such
Does she unveil her face,--to such alone
Disclose her wonders: What amazing scenes
Does she exhibit! Who can contemplate
Her great designs unmoved? What man is he
Who studiously pursues her mazy path,
And does not feel a sacred fire pervade
O'er all his frame? Divine philosophy!
By heav'n in kindness sent to human race,
A meliority to smooth the path,
The rough, the rugged path, which all must tread.
What! is philosophy an useless toil?
A study that embarrasses the mind,
And robs it of the more important part
Of human duty? Or elates the man,
In his own self conceit, above the rest:
His fellow insects crawling in the mire?
Can it not leave a space for heav'nly things?
Nor kindle in the soul devotion's flame?
Yes surely, yes, to him who does aright
Appreciate its worth, 'tis the great source
Of pure religion, it uplifts his soul,
In adoration to Jehovah's throne:
He sees throughout the universe display'd
His love to man; he feels in every place
A present God: and whilst he contemplates
His universal goodness, seeks to prove,
His own returns of gratitude and love.
Nor does it rob the mind of aught that's great,
That's good or noble! No, that man whose ken
Can reach the farthest, has the greatest Soul,--
The most expanded views of heav'nly things;
And whilst impress'd with his great Maker's love,
His heart with true philanthropy o'erflows.
'TIS long since I have hail'd the midnight hour
Alone and unobserved; long since I've held
Converse with thee majestic queen of night;
Or watch'd uninterrupted yonder orbs
Revolve amid th' immeasurable space
Mark'd out by their great Maker's boundless pow'r.
And yet e'er while, when sleep forsook my eyes,
By pain affrighted; night, succeeding night,
I used to sit, and muse upon the state
Of this terraqueous globe; or raise my mind,
When harrassed and disturb'd, above the scene
Of human life;--above the starry vault,
To that bless'd region of eternal rest,
Where care will be forgot; till by degrees
My soul was tranquilized, and join'd again
Calm and composed, the busy bustling crowd.
But I have known since this, full many a change
And sad vicissitude; corroding grief
Has worn my spirits; I have felt the sting
Of faithless friendship; but my soul has look'd
Up to that friend above, who ne'er forsakes,
No, not one moment, those who trust in him.
And can I call myself a friendless thing,--
One unregarded, unobserved, unknown;
Though all the world should shun me, whilst my God
Regards, observes, and knows me, whilst his hand
Is stretch'd to succour, whilst his ready ear
Is ever open to my slightest moan?
No, I possess in him a friend beyond,
Far, far beyond the worth of earthly friends.
And shall I then neglect his well-known will,
And with deliberation rush on sin?
Shall I though oft enticed forsake the path
Of moral rectitude, and join the crowd
To follow pleasure, in her mazy round
Of vanity and vice; and there forget
Him who has led me through the thorny way
Of busy life, and 'mid those adverse scenes
I have encountered in the toilsome march,
Has sooth'd my drooping spirits, and has pour'd
The balm of consolation on my heart?
No, though I may incur "the world's dread laugh,"
Still will I persevere, when once convinc'd
Of what is right; no pow'r on earth shall shake
My firm resolves; no, nor the fiends of hell,
Form'd in array against me, shall prevail
To thwart my purpose, or draw back my soul.--
And why, have I sufficient strength for this?
Can I of mine ownself escape the snares,
And deep laid artful wiles, of him who reigns
The prince of darkness? No, but there is one
Who is not only able but delights
To succour the distress'd; He who hath said
"My grace shall be sufficient," and in him
Is all my hope, for sure I am that he
Will never leave me. What though he permits
Th' apostate angels to exert their pow'r,
And tempt my soul with some enticing sin:
Yet He who in like manner knew on earth
The same temptations, and who now on high
Pities our weakness, will point out a way
Of safe escape, and guide my steps aright
Into the paths of peace; that peace which none
On earth can give; that peace which only flows
From a well grounded faith. Oh! that my soul
Possessed more fully this transcendent good!
This chief of blessings! then should I enjoy
A bliss the foretaste of the world above.--
But well I know that He who hath begun
A good work in me, will continue still
To carry on progressively the means,
That shall accomplish the great end at last,--
A free salvation! O! that I could yield
The pen like Virgil! then nor idle dreams,
Nor fictious Deities, nor tales well told
Of actions ill achiev'd, and deeds perform'd
That but create disgust, and serves to raise
The actor's monument of lasting shame.
No, not all this should then employ that pen;
Far nobler themes I'd trace, themes which no tongue
Can ever amplify; the deep laid scheme
Of man's redemption; and the joyful sound
Of gospel-peace. And O! that I could win
Attention from the gay unthinking crowd!
How would I then expose the hideous forms
Of their lov'd vices; and draw back the veil,
Which now conceals the fatal scorpion's brood,
Nurtur'd by sin, each day acquiring strength
To sting more deadly; then in contrast draw
A sketch, though faint, of what the christian feels,
What he enjoys, (a heaven begun on earth)
And his bright prospects in the world to come.
And call ye this a fiction, sceptic? say,
Would ye persuade mankind no heaven, no hell
Existed, but in their creative brains?
And why persuade them so? should ye succeed,
And if one half the world be brought to place
Implicit faith on your hypothesis,
What then! what scenes will follow? Will they thus
Live more united in the sacred bonds
Of brotherly affection? Will the world
Be then more free from every public ill
That now infests society at large?
Will sin be more controlled, will murder cease!
Will rapine and extortion, with the train
Of various vices, which perplex our life,
Become less frequent? No most surely no.--
How many are there who amid the crowd
And bustle of the world, would sin secure;
Those whom no human laws could ever reach--
But now they tremble at the awful thought,
Of an all-seeing Judge, whose strict account
Will one day be display'd, when every sin
A sun-beam will point out. No subterfuge,
No plausible excuse will then avail.
Each sin uncancel'd has drawn down a curse,
And heav'nly justice will award to each,
Distinct and separate, it's true deserts.
These, and such thoughts as these now prove a bar
To many sins, with those who would not live
A life of moral rectitude, if once
The doctrine of rewards and punishments
Should be annull'd. The hideous form of Vice
Would cease to raise disgust, and Virtue's self
Would prove too weak to draw them to her paths,
Or even keep them there; for few now deem
Her charms sufficient to engage their hearts
For her own sake alone, abstracted from
All farther views than those this life affords.
And if no other life succeeded this
If it indeed was all, where then would be
Domestic quiet, peace and happiness,
Such as the world now gives? If man might act
Free from constraint, uninterrupted war,
Discord, and riot would for ever reign.
Our sabbaths would be useless, nay would be
No longer sabbaths; and what tends so much
To keep mankind united, and to awe
The more abandoned? What so much creates,
Supports, and nourishes true charity,
As each returning day of rest, when all
Freed from their weekly toil awhile lay by
Their worldly cares, and with united voice,
(Regardless of distinction's sounding names,)
Approach the throne of grace? If this should cease
Farewell, to every virtue.--Some again
Of Hell's prime agents, would by slow degrees
But not less sure the fatal consequence,
Sap the foundation where on all our
Of future happiness alone must rest.--
Would own a Deity, a heaven, a hell;
And yet deny to Christ that homage due
To him, as equal e'er the world began
In glory with Jehovah. Could a man--
Meer man, as they would have him, stand instead
Of a whole lost, undone, and guilty world?
Could he have born our sins upon the cross
No, 'twas a load too heavy. Farther still,
Could he have lived a life of innocence,
Of spotless innocence, of what avail
Would that have been to us? Had he perform'd
Each tittle of the law, 'twas yet no more
Than as a man would have procured himself
A title to eternal life; how then
Could he have had to spare, that we might claim
A share in him, and have his righteousness
Imputed to us? Or if he was sent
As an example only, sure his life
Was of no use to us; we cannot live
Up to the standard thus prescribed; what then
Is the result? If we come short we die.
And thus it always stood, and still must stand,
If no attonement has been made. If Christ,
Was nothing more than man, eternal death
Is yet the doom of all!--We cannot gain
A crown of glory by our own good works;
And where then must we look? An angry God
Alone is visible. Socinians say
Could ye now meet that God, and unappall'd
Trust to yourselves? You cannot surely place
Your confidence in one you have despised!
And yet again you cannot, dare not say,
That you have follow'd the example set
By him we call our Lord; that you have lived
A life of perfect innocence, like him.
Will ye not then plead guilty? And if so,
What does guilt merit? Death! eternal death!
Which a just judge will surely give unless
A perfect compensation can be found.--
And can ye find it? Whither will ye look?
No arm, but His, who died on Calvary,
Can bring you help. This, this alone, must prove
His power almighty. Yet, if after all,
The Christian's hopes should prove but fantacies
Let him enjoy them; they support his soul
Amid the cares and miseries of life:--
Whilst he who shuns these fantacies is void
Of every consolation in the hour
Of dark distress. Though for a awhile amused
With earthly pleasures, during the gay scene
Of active life; though eager in pursuit
Of some one darling object; shelter'd too,
Perhaps, from thought, by a continued round
Of worldly business; yet the time will come
When the most prosperous may feel the stroke
Of adverse fortune. If an atheist--
Where can he look for help? Within himself
All is distraction, all without is lost;
He has no God; prosperity is flown;
The world forsakes him, and he dies the prey
Of desperation. If an infidel--
He who affects to disbelieve the plan
Of man's redemption, is he more secure
From the attacks of conscience in that hour?
No, he looks back with horror on the past,
Where he sees nought but crimes that harrow up
His very soul; and in his present woes
He sees a God incensed, now come to take
Full vengeance on his head. O! I have seen
This horrid picture--seen the sinner's frame
Distorted by his agony of mind,
And felt most deeply for his wretched state.--
Whilst his wan features and his hollow eye,
Too well convinced me, Death, with hasty strides,
Was making t'wards him. Unprepar'd to go--
What were his future prospects? May we judge
From nights of sleepless misery, and days
Spent only in vicissitude of woe?
Yes, sure we may; no inward peace can dwell
In such a tenement. How wretched then
A state like this; and when the last sad scene
Is drawing to a close, "when earth recedes
Before his swimming eye," how dark must rise
The prospect next appearing; well convinced
His soul must still exist, and yet afraid
Of that existence; catching at each hope,
Each feeble hope, presented to his view
By superstition; whilst unnumber'd crimes
Rise up, and haunt his mind; his burning brain
Becomes delirious; and at length appears
The gulf of black despair. Headlong, at once
He plunges downward, and the scene is closed.
But what a contrast is the Christian's life!
Amid the storms of rude adversity
He sees a God, not coming to avenge
His past impiety, but to prepare
His ling'ring soul for the bless'd world above,
By weaning it from this. He views the past,
Not with abhorrence, but with heartfelt joy;
And calls to mind eash
season of delight
He oft has known, when in close fellowship
With his almighty friend: And now he looks
To the same friend for succour; knowing well
He is a present help in time of need.--
But when at length he feels the near approach
Of the last enemy, he does not shrink
With terror from his stroke; he sees on high
(By faith's strong piercing sight) his advocate,
At the right of God; and feels convinc'd
That all his crimes are cancel'd by the' pow'r
Of Christ's attoning blood, which he has made
His only plea; and now he goes to take
Possession of the bless'd inheritance
That blood has purchas'd for him; far away
From all distress, where he with Christ shall reign
Triumphantly, in glory without end.
WHEN great Elijah in the fiery car
Soar'd upwards, when the opening skies received
Him from his servant's sight, his spirit fell
And fill'd Elisha's breast. And when bereaved
Of Howard, his best friend, in the damp cell
The prisoner heard his rumoured death from far;
He thought his every earthly hope was fled.
But no, his spirit warmed a female breast
Where every solid virtue reigns confest.
And she in Howard's path has dared to tread,
Has dared like him to rend each social tie;
Religion's healing balsam to impart
To the poor distant prisoner's wounded heart,
And teach the suffering culprit how to die.
TOO true an emblem of the world's vain strife,
The constant wrangling and perpetual broils
That with incessant jar imbitter life!
For what is all this passing world can boast?
What it's reward for all the ceaseless toils
Of erring man? Why all it's joys at most
Are but a feather in the scale of things.
Fame and renown, what are they but the breath
Of passing multitudes as light as air?
And riches fly away on swiftest wings.
Soon friendship's sacred bands are broke by death,
And hope full oft gives place to black despair:
E'en all our pleasure's but as feathers weigh,
All take their flight, as light and swift as they
SONNET ON THE DEATH OF MISS H. H*****G.
I KNEW her once; she was a lovely girl,
(Or e'er death's sallow hue her cheek o'erspread,)
When first her prime bade every charm unfurl;
Then the bright lustre of her sparkling eye
Shone like the spangles on yon azure sky;
But now she's number'd with the silent dead.--
Through a sad life of sorrow she bemoan'd
One fatal step! Ye fair who never fell
From honour's path, let not your bosoms swell
With proud contempt; for now on high enthroned,
Her soul is pure as your's; her ordeal past;--
And ye who would not stretch your hand to save
A feeble victim from the threat'ning grave,
Now o'er her faults let Lethe's waves be cast!
I MARK'D the hectic flush usurp her cheek,
The native vermeil of the roses fade;
I saw the dew-drop glisten in her eye
And heard the bursting, but half stifled sigh,
Too oft the anguish of her heart bespeak.
But when consumption's meagre form confess'd
Stood bending o'er her and towards death's cold shade
Pointed her view, no more her labouring breast
With anguish heav'd; calm resignation play'd
O'er her wan features; an approaching rest
Dimpled her cheek with smiles; and now she's laid
In the dark sepulchre, her breast no more
Shall feel remorse; the painful struggles o'er;
For one false step her forfeit life has paid.
AND do the wounds of conscious guilt ne'er rend
Your haughty bosom? Does not the fair form
Of her whose innocence you late betray'd,
Stalk round your bed, your perjur'd faith upbraid
And call ye murderer? Does she not attend
Your midnight revelry? Can Bacchus warm
Your soul to mirth? Can you a pleasure know
Unpoison'd by the thought of her whose woe
Has cost her life? But now the blush of shame,--
Of conscious shame, shall tinge her cheek no more;
Nor can you longer trifle with her fame;
Her soul is flown, your short-lived triumph's o'er!
And now to unavailing grief a prey,
With just reproach you'll wear your life away.
SEE, the green tyrant death each hour extends
His conquests o'er mankind. We all are made
Of the same mould, and all alike must fade,
And crumble into dust. This day the friends
Of him, whose cheek betoken'd rosy health
Some few short hours ago, pursue his bier
In mournful silence; when a few more sands
Have run, they too must go; the friendly tear
And all the pomp and pageantry of wealth
Will be of no avail; the ready hands
Of the cold-hearted sexton have prepared
Their final home, and the drear mansion must
Receive it's tenants. None are ever spared--
Great, rich, and gay, all fall alike to dust.
I SEE the gathering cloud, it hastens on,
Yet still my breast is calm; I do not fear
It's swift approaches now; e'er while a dread
Had seized my trembling soul, but soon 'twas gone.
A heaven-born maid appeared; the spectre fled,
And Hope ('twas she) soft whisper'd, peace is near.
Perchance or e'er the threat'ning cloud may burst
You will have reached the haven of your rest,
Safe from the storm; if not that hand which erst
Hath held you up, will be again your guard;
Will shield you through the tempest, and will ward
The fiery bolt from your defenceless breast:--
Then harmless shall the rattling thunders roll
Nor shake the steady temper of your soul.
---- 'TIS thine to bend the stubborn soul--
The fiery passions in the breast to quell;
The starting tear of anguish to controul,
Whilst on thy lips persuasion's accents dwell.
See mute attention fixes every eye,
Each sound is hush'd, e'en every breath is still;
And thro' each nerve the quick vibrations thrill,
Whilst our rapt souls with heav'nly transports swell,
And mount on strong devotion's wing on high.
Enthusiastic spurn the world's vain toys,
And soar with thine beyond the distant sky.
Still persevere, and for the public weal,
Exert thy powers. In heav'n eternal joys
Await to crown thy firm unshaken zeal.
THE great reward of many a glorious deed;
Of England rescued from the galling chain,
Perchance of slav'ry. Yet this wide domain,
To my mind's eye, presents the scene of death.
Where Churchill fought I see each hero bleed;
Hear his last groan; hear his departing breath,
Whilst stretched supine along the blood-stained field,
Sigh forth a pray'r that heav'n his wife would shield,
Then breathe it's last. I see the orphan weep;
Left to the mercies of a ruthless world.
I see the widow her sad vigils keep,
Whilst unavailing sorrow swells her breast.
But on ambition vengeance has been hurl'd,
And heav'n has bid the world's vain tumults rest.
THOUGH diff'ring int'rests clash, though factions rend
Our former friendship, yet within this breast
The stamp of gratitude is deep impress'd,--
Too deep for civil discord to erase.
Great is my debt. Though fortune ne'er will lend
To me her blessings, no high sounding name,
Or pompous equipage, will ever grace
My humble dwelling, yet this heart shall glow
With the just sense of obligations past
Long as the vital spark of life shall last;
And when the feeling spirits cease to flow,
And every pulse is still, a purer flame
Of heart-felt gratitude shall then arise,
And shine with brighter lustre in the skies.
CYNTHIA, as near my casement I recline,
And watch thy waning face, bright and serene,
I think of life, and to myself I sigh;
I think how swift it's sweetest pleasures fly,--
How many clouds of sorrow intervene!
Oh! none can boast a course so calm as thine,
Tho' full as short, e'en life is but a day,
A fickle April day, a chequered scene,
Of good and ill, of troubles cares and joys:
But ah! how soon do all its charms decay,
How soon it's best loved pleasures fade away,
And death our schemes of earthly bliss destroys.
Yes, life and all it's dreams will soon be o'er,
And sink unlike to thee, to raise no more.
Yes, yes I know thee well; 'too long hast thou
Been my attendant: yet I like thee not,
Though habit has accustomed me to feel
With suff'ring less acute thy presence now
Than I did once; nor is the time forgot
When I have met thy terrors with a tear.
But now I've learned to bear thy frowns severe
With calmness, and almost without a sigh.
I've learn'd at Resignation's shrine to kneel,
And now no more a tear shall dim my eye:
But I will patiently await the hour
That will e'er long bid every sorrow cease;
Soon the cold hand of death will bring me peace,
And free me from thy fierce, tyrannic power.
ELIZA we on earth shall meet no more,
The grave will part us--soon my aching head,
And this poor care-worn frame will rest in peace:
Death calls away, and all will soon be o'er:
Then will these throbbings in my bosom cease!
But when I sleep upon my clay cold bed;
When from its cage my longing soul is fled,
Eliza grieve not, friendship never dies.
The grave will snatch me from a load of pain,
Of care and grief, but when again I rise
To second life beyond the distant skies,
Where never-fading bliss and friendships reign!
Think then my friend, with every joy replete,
Eternal and secure again we meet.
A SOLEMN pause for contemplation's flight;--
Rise, rise my soul on true devotion's wings;
Above all vain and sublunary things;
Rise to the source of health, of life and light.
Approach with awe the footstool of his throne,
And there forget life's trivial transient toys;
Contemplate there the pure and lasting joys,
Awaiting those whose lives their Saviour own.
Hark! hear I not e'en now a strain more sweet
Than that which from the pealing organ flows!
List! list again; 'tis heav'n's angelic choir
Hymning their maker's praise, whilst o'er the lyre
Their fingers sweep, and at each solemn close
Th' eternal hallelujah they repeat.
CLIFTON how highly thy lov'd scenes I prize;
But I must go, life's business calls away
To other scenes far distant; yet I'd stay,
Would gladly stay where thy brown cliff's arise.
Yes I would wish to spend my future days
Near to thy rocks, then I should often seek
Thy winding path, or thy high summit bleak;
And thou should'st sometimes hear my simple lays.
For on a craggy eminence reclined,
I'd woo the muse of poesy. And there
List to the murmurs floating on the air.
Or watch the vessels' streamers in the wind,
And as they reach their destin'd port would say,
I too shall shortly rest as well as they.
O HEALTH! thou choicest blessing from on high,
Why dost thou leave me? whither dost thou go?
Ah! wherefore from thy suppliant dost thou fly?
Oh! 'tis unkind, for full well thou dost know,
Whilst with me thou wast never yet abused,
Nor were the blessings thou didst give, misused.
Beside, I'm young, and I was always told,
That thou dost follow youth, and quit the old.
But thou dost fly from me, whilst I pursue
In vain; my steps will ne'er arrest thy flight,
But I shall quit the chace, shall sue no more;
Hope's cheering prospect opens to my sight,
Points to the peaceful grave my anxious view,
Where I shall shortly rest, and all these pains be o'er.
YES, thou art still the inmate of my breast,
The sweet companion of each languid hour;
The solace of my life, the cheering ray,
That shows the prospect of eternal rest.
'Tis by the influence of thy matchless pow'r
I learn to scorn the pageants of a day:--
I learn to rise superior to the woes
Of human life; superior to the pains
Of this weak frame; to fix my stedfast eye
On the approaching season of repose:
The horrors of death's gloomy night to brave:
Yes, and to look beyond the silent grave,--
Beyond the confines of yon azure sky,
To where eternal bliss and pleasure reigns.
ELIZA, your's is but the common lot;
When fortune smiles mankind their homage pay;
But when she frowns, their idol is forgot,
And all their boasted friendship fades away.
I can Eliza, from experience, tell
What 'tis you feel; yet trust Time's healing balm,
Though now your bosom may with anguish swell,
The tumultuous throbbings soon will calm.
I had a friend, who once her trust betray'd,
And then, like you, I thought all peace was flown;
But Time's all-powerful hand my grief has stay'd,
And in your friendship joy again I've known.
And though none else your shatter'd bark attend,
Still will I prove through life your constant friend.
AH! woe's the day! Yes he has said adieu:--
Bring me the willow, let me dress my lyre
With the dark cypress; to no sounds of mirth,
Shall its neglected, unstrung chords give birth;
But on some tree, robb'd of its verdant hue,
Shall hang, and it's harmonious notes expire;
Whilst o'er its strings the passing breezes sweep,
Shall notes of woe
And piety shall hang her head and weep.--
I see, I see a hideous train appears,--
Lo! Discord comes with fury on her crest;
See where aloft the brandish'd torch she rears,
Swift, Swift it's dire contagion fills each breast.;
And now she darts her fiery eyes around,
With feuds and strife
Her steps are rife;
And deep mouth'd clamour's lengthen'd roars resound.
She waves her torch, and see what numbers fly
To join her banners! Ah! t'wards us she bends,
And spreads her baneful influence. See, mild Peace
Flies swift at her approach, and mounts the sky,
Her native home; and on her flight attends
Her handmaid, Concord. Now will order cease,
And wild contention reign supreme and sole.
Now union flies,
Unable longer riot to control.
Ah! this my Muse,--this is the sad effect
Of his adieu, Ah! wherefore did he go,
Just as his real worth we learn'd to know,
And his exalted virtues to respect?--
Just as he gain'd the love of every heart,
To leave us thus! But cease, 'tis heav'n's behest!
The Great Supreme decreed that we should part;
And we, resign'd,
Must bear in mind,
That His decrees are greatest, wisest, best.
WHY sigh my friend? Your sorrow
Will surely soon be o'er;
Perchance upon the morrow
This grief will be no more.
If not, yet life is hast'ning
Towards its final close;
And as its sands are wasting
O! think how short our woes.
When looking on the ocean,
Whose surges rise and swell,
(Tost by the tempest's motion;)
Where unknown dangers dwell;
I think how life's distresses
Are like the troubled deep;
How hard it's mis'ry presses,
"And leaves the wretch to weep."
Alas! what sorrows vex us,
And rob our minds of peace;
What constant cares perplex us,
And bid our pleasures cease,
But whilst I thus am sighing,
The gloomy clouds dispel;
The scowling tempest's flying,
No more the surges swell.
Thus though with inward anguish,
Our souls be tempest tost;
Though now with grief we languish,
Soon will our cares be lost.--
Be lost in joy, unbounded,
When Christ our King appears
By all his saints surrounded,
And hails us Glory's heirs.
UNCERTAIN! surely not; in this bless'd land,
Where Christ's ambassadors each day unfold,
The joys reserved in heaven, at his right hand,
For those who on his cross by faith lay hold.
If on ourselves alone, our hopes were fix'd;
If our own merits only could obtain
Our future peace; well might our thoughts be mix'd
With fearful doubtings of eternal pain.
But, thanks to God, our help is surely laid
On One who is Most Mighty; who to save
A ruin'd world from woe, the tribute paid,
"And for our sins, himself a ransom gave."
O! then to Christ, without reluctance, fly,
And claim his righteousness, and plead his death;
On him our surety steadfastly rely,
He will not quit you at your latest breath.
DISTANT from the friend I treasure,
When I've bade the last adieu,
Then will every late gone pleasure,
Brighten as it flies from view.
Busy mem'ry backwards glancing,
Still will paint the joys I've known,
(Every present grief enhancing)
Whisp'ring they are ever flown.
Though ill-fortune may betide us,
Yet nor change of times nor place,
Though the roaring waves divide us,
Can my friendship e'er erase.
Think not fickle fortune changing,
E'er shall change my love for yon;
For no second friend o'er ranging,
To the first for ever true.
What though empires us shall sever,
Though we part no more to meet,
Shall I then forget you? never,
Whilst my memory holds her seat.
And when death shall waft us over
To the distant wish'd for shore;
And new scenes of bliss discover,
We shall meet to part no more.
COLD damps hang on my lately feverish brow,
My brain turns dizzy, and my trembling knees,
Unable to sustain their wonted load,
(Though my poor crazy frame is worn away
To half its usual weight) sink down oppress'd,
And nerveless with accumulated pain,
Oh death! are these thy harbingers, art thou
So near my door, and wilt thou call so soon?
And must I go and quit this busy world
To moulder in the silent gloomy grave?
Go, and so young! go e'er I've tasted aught
The joys this life afford! Oh, dismal thought!
How oft I've wooed the Muse, and fondly hop'd
She'd one day listen to my earnest suit;
But vain has been the wish; no future wreath
Of fame shall round my temples be entwined;
Death will cut off my prospects and my hopes,
And blend me with the dust: a few short weeks
Perchance my friends (and few are these) may mourn;
May drop a silent tear, and then my name
Will sink in dark oblivion; after ages
Will never know that such a being lived.
O! I had hop'd far otherwise; had hop'd
I should or ere the silver chord was loosed
Have gained some interest in the breath of fame.
Yes, I had hop'd, or ere death called me hence,
High up Parnassus' steep and slippery side,
With toil unceasing, to have gained, and then
I should have left some vestige that had shewn
I once had been, and would have snatch'd my name
From the oblivious gloom of Lethe's waves.
But, no! this must not be! my time is short,
My glass ebbs fast, the sands are almost run;
And quickly I must go and bid adieu
To all my hopes--long cherished hopes of fame.
And yet who knows, perchance if death's strong arm
Had not arrested the ærial flight
Fond fancy had indulged, the Muse might still
Have unpropitious proved; I might have spent
The bloom of life in restless, anxious care;
Have toiled in vain a tedious length of years;
And by repeated disappointments soured,
Have met at length the chill embrace of age,
And then have sunk into the grave unknown,
As I shall now. But be it as it may--
'Tis Heaven's supreme decree, and I submit.
IS life still worth the keeping, fully fraught
With every ill that malice can devise,
Or envy forge, leagued with the powers of hell,
And man's own sinful nature? Passions strong
Are ever struggling in his troubled breast
To gain the mastery; whilst the arch fiend
Triumphantly exults, and fans the fire
That lights up every sin, which stings the mind
With horrid after-thought, and far outweighs
The dear-bought pleasures which those sins can yield.
But wherefore call them pleasure? Sin at best
Is but a stupefaction of the soul,
Whilst reason sinks lethargic. And why then
Is man so prone to crime? Is it because
Satan holds captive his deluded heart?
And can he not the tyrant's bonds unloose
Can he not free himself? Ah, no! I feel
He is unequal to the task, or else
I would not thus have strove so long in vain
These galling fetters to shake off. But stay
The threads of life are weak, and may be snapt
With little pains, and then I shall be free.
E'en at my feet the mean presents itself;
Here I may find a cure for every woe.--
One plunge and all were o'er; in this deep stream
I should at once forget each misery,
And end a life but little worth; a life
Replete with sin and wretchedness--Yet there
Would all be ended? No, within my breast
A something tells me, th' immortal soul
Can never die. And would if I cast off
This frail incumbrance, this poor clod of earth,
That now confines her pow'rs? Would she then soar
At large, and unconfin'd seek where she lists,
Amid the stars, or in some place remote,
Unknown to mortal ken; her resting place?
Or would she yet again embodied join
The human race, or herd amongst the beasts,
Or animate a senseless stock or tree,
As some have thought?--Or in Elysian fields?--
No! rather say in hell, with fiends and fire,
And fellow souls in torment, raving fierce,
With curses dread, and blasphemy more dire
Than mortal can conceive, she would be whelm'd.
What then! the time will come, perhaps e'er long,
When she must feel these torments; none can live
For ever here, and my poor soul is doom'd,
Nor undeserving doom'd, to endless pains.
Why then thus should I hesitate, when here
I feel within me every pang begun,
That can by the accursed souls be known
In hell's deep fathomless abyss.--Away!
Ye doubts and scruples!--I will tempt my fate,
And end uncertainty at once. Thus then
I bid adieu to every earthly scene.--
Thou great Supreme if thou beholdest aught
That passes in this world, thou know'st my soul,
Thou see'st it thick beset with horrors black,
And more tormenting than my mortal frame
Can longer bear; here then I cast myself
Upon thy mercy.--Mercy did I say!
What word is this! can mercy ever reach
A soul like mine, so foul with every sin?
O that I could believe it! Surely then,
If it were so, I need not rush on death
To find it's soothing influence: even here
I may obtain it; and e'en now methink
I feel a struggling hope unknown before,
That quite unmans my purpose.--Ah, what thoughts
Are these that rush upon my wildered soul.--
A something seems to stir within my breast;
My heart beats quicker; what can this portend?
'Tis sure of heavenly origin! The gloom
That erst absorb'd my mind, dispels apace,
Despair recedes, and hope's bright rays break in.
Methink I seem again to wish for life;
It grows more sweet, and if there is a hope,
It must be here, there can be none hereafter.
And yet one moment more, and I had been
Beyond its reach.--I shudder at myself.--
What could have thus induced my vagrant steps?
In spite of reason, hitherward to bend.
In spite of reason? No, appall'd, she fled
And yielded up her reign; her vacant seat,
Wild frenzy seized; 'twas she impell'd me on;--
I list'ned to her voice, and would have forc'd
My wretched soul, with all her hideous sins
Unpardoned, unrepented, to have met
Her great High Judge uncall'd, and reeking still
With her own blood. O horrible! e'en now,
But for that mercy which I erst despised,
I might have been o'erwhelm'd in the blue lake
"Of ever burning sulphur," but again
Reason resumes her empire. I am spar'd--
And spared to own the Lord of heaven and earth
Is sure a God of mercy; one who ne'er
Forsakes his wretched people; nor destroys,
E'en though provok'd each day anew, he still
Holds out his hand to save--that hand which now
Has snatch'd me from perdition. I will live
And speak his praise; will cast my every care
On him who careth for me; who hath said,
I am the Lord thy God, I ne'er will leave,--
Ne'er will forsake thee.--Satan hence away;
Through Christ I now have conquer'd, and remain
A monument through life of his free grace.
I TOO can tell that life
Is but a chequer'd scene of woes,
Of long distress and short repose,
With every folly rife.
What though some transient joy,
May cause the care-worn wretch to smile;
And sorrow of its sting beguile,
'Tis not without alloy.
Some talent ill may spring,
From whence we dreaded no alarm;
And whilst we least suspect its harm,
We feel its deadly sting.
'Tis but a short-liv'd day,
And all our pleasure's will be past;
Tho' hope has yet the pow'r to cast
A ling'ring cheering ray.
Yet all will soon be o'er,
E'en that which now may serve awhile,
Man of his moments to beguile;
Will charm alas! no more.
The flow'rs that now may bloom,
Will quickly fade, and pass away;
So will man's boasted joys decay,
And wither in the tomb.
Time was I seem'd most bless'd;
My heart was warm'd by friendship's beam;
But now I find 'twas all a dream
A vision I possess'd.
Ah! 'twas too much to last,
The sweetest pleasure's quickly cloy;
And every earthly high prized joy,
Is always soonest past.
I feel the poisonous dart
Which Envy level'd at my rest,
Corroding deep within my breast,
And rankling at my heart.
Yet all our grief shall cease,
Though wretched whilst we linger here;
When stretched upon the friendly bier,
We then shall rest in peace.
This season of repose,
Will soon arrive when those who weep,
Within the arms of death shall sleep,
Secure from all their woes.
DEEP was the groan I heard; it pierced my soul
'Twas that of black despair. Stop your career,
Ye votaries of pleasure!--pause awhile,
And mark a child of vice expiring here.--
With what a horrid glare her eye-balls roll,
Whilst the foul fiends with exultation smile.
O! ruin'd and undone! for ever lost!
Unhappy girl, what fraud entic'd thee on?
Why didst thou listen to the siren voice
Of thy seducers? Now thou know'st the cost,
Alas! too late, of thy mistaken choice;
For e'en the faintest hope of life is gone.
Can ye not save her?--Ye who late betray'd
Her thoughtless youth? No, 'tis beyond your pow'r,
Death stands prepar'd to strike the sure-aim'd blow,
And fell Destruction, ready to devour.
Can ye stand by unmov'd? Her groans upbraid
Your own mad course; ere long the fatal hour
Will summons you; unutterable woe
Awaits your souls amid the shades below.
TIRED with the busy toils of day,
To a still grove I bent my way,
In melancholy mood;
There, seated by a riv'let's side,
Where long the forest's greatest pride,
The stately oak, had stood.
Free from the noise of pomp and state,
I envy'd not the rich or great,
Whom Folly's wiles perplex'd;
But happy in my sphere of life,
Contented, cheerful, free from strife,
No cares my spirit vex'd.
The zephyr's sported in the trees,
And blew a most refreshing breeze,
That wanton'd round my head:
Upon the bank reclin'd along,
I listen'd to the feather'd throng--
Sweet was my mossy bed.
Sleep stole upon me unawares--
Sleep that drowns sorrow, pain, and cares,
In darkness and in night:
I wander'd in a lovely vale,
Where Philomela told her tale,
Far from all mortal sight.
No human footsteps marr'd the ground,
No noisy riot echoed round;
Calm peace presided here.
I loiter'd on this fairy land,
And watch'd the beaut'ous scene expand,
Nor felt one chilling fear.
A female form, arrayed in white,
With features mild, serene, and bright,
Approach'd, and seiz'd my arm.--
"My name's Content, fair maid," she cried,
"From childhood I have been your guide,
"And kept your steps from harm.
"Few, all my friends, mankind can tell,
"There are but few that love me well--
''Content is scarcely known.
"Have you a secret wish at heart?
"Have you a wish that we should part,
"Or will you be my own?
"With me true happiness you'll find;
"With me alone is peace of mind--
"Peace such as wealth can't give.
"Pursue the road you always trod;
"'Tis the sure path to heav'n and God--
"To blessings whilst you live.
"Still cherish in your heart content,
"To your last hour you'll ne'er repent,
"Guard well your youthful breast;
"For should ambition enter there,
"'Twill pay your cares with black despair,
"And banish all your rest."
"Ah! deign, sweet form," was my reply,
"To guard me with a watchful eye,
"And all my steps attend:
"Still make my cottage thy retreat,
"It is but humble, though 'tis neat,
"And be my guide and friend.
"Far from the bustle of a court--
"Haunts, where the rich and great resort,
"I'll pass my time with you:
"My days shall flow in peace, unknown
"To the gay crowd, and prais'd alone
"By the discerning few."
I spoke, the airy vision fled,--
When starting from my mossy bed,
T'ward home my steps I bent--
Resolved that happiness to find,
Which flows alone from peace of mind,
And cherish fair content.
YES I am safe, Death I defy thee now;
Thou canst not fright me, tho' thou com'st array'd
With all thy pow'rs, tho' thy black'ned brow
Wear three fold terrors, I can meet thy look,
Stern and terrific, and no more afraid
Of thine uplifted arm, can smile and say,
I dread not now the records of that book,
Seal'd up against the last great judgment day.
Time was I thought the horrors of this hour
Would harrow up my soul, but now I find
An arm stretch'd forth, of more than mortal pow'r,
To give me aid. When on myself alone
My hopes were placed, 'twas then my harrass'd mind,
For e'en one crime despairing to atone,
Revolted at the thoughts of death; the tomb
Appear'd encircled with a tenfold gloom.
But now the mist dispels, hope's cheering ray
Illumes the dark retreat; no more the grave
Appears terrific, He who died to save
My soul from hell, and wash my sins away
Pass'd thro' it's portal, laid it's terrors low,
And robb'd them of their sting; and now on high
He pleads my cause. No more I fear to die--
No more I dread to meet mankind's last foe.
My crimes are cancell'd; his atoning death
Has ransom'd me from hell; his merits won
Eternal glory, and his dying breath
Declared it all complete; in him I trust;
Convinc'd that God can pardon (yet be just)
All those who plead the merits of the Son.
And now I go, "O Death, where is thy sting!
"O Grave where is thy boasted victory?"
Lost! lost!--To die is gain.--I mount the sky,
And haste to meet my everlasting king,
And join the souls of the redeem'd on high.
Quit my native land for ever!
Quit the shores I love so well!
Shores where freedom reigns? no never,
Whilst with life this breast shall swell.
Though some others, prone to changing,
O'er the world's wide surface roam,
Here, without one thought of ranging,
Still I'll dwell, best pleased with home.
What! though partial nature, dressing
Some few soils above our own:--
We enjoy a greater blessing
Than all other lands have known.
Here religion's emanations
Shine from superstition free;
E'en the meanest lowest stations,
May the glorious radiance see.
Look to distant nations, dwelling
In the bond of peace and love;
Hear them, whilst with rapture, telling
Of the scenes of bliss above.
Nations too who once benighted,
In the grossest, darkest ways,
Now by Jesu's love excited,
They have learn'd the song of praise.
And by heav'nly pow'rs protected,
Britain's sons alone display'd
Jesu's cross on high erected,
Where the prowling tiger stray'd.
Even toil and death defying,
From the savage monsters fell;
To themselves each joy denying,
But to save one soul from hell.
Is there one who hears this story,
Blazon'd by the trump of fame;
Is there one who would not glory
In a Briton's envy'd name?
Is there too another nation,
Boast what regal pomp they may,
Where so wise a legislation,
Rules the land with gentle sway?
Here the weak may find protection
From th' oppressor's cruel rage;
Here the skill-less seek direction,
From the counsels of the sage.
Talk not of Peruvian treasures,
Mines of gold and pearly seas;
England boasts far greater pleasures
Than such glitt'ring toys as these.
Tell me not of eastern nations,
Clad in all the pomp of dress!
Call not their's the happier stations,
Purple has no power to bless.
Though imperial robes inviting,
Mid the gorgeous painted dome
With the charms of love uniting,
Woo me to forsake my home.
Though Golconda too should proffer,
Her immense exhaustless stores,
Still I'd scorn the splendid offer,
Still prefer my native shores.