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"Leur raison, qu'ils prennent pour guide, ne présente à leur
esprit que des conjectures et des embarras; les absurdités où ils tombent en niant la Religion deviennent plus insoutenables que les verités dont la hauteur les étonne; et pour ne vouloir pas
croire des mysterès incompréhensibles, ils suivent l'une après
l'autre d'incompréhensibles erreurs."
London Printed by W. Bulmer
Cleveland Row, St. James's.
When the young Eagle, with exulting eye,
Has learn'd to dare the splendor of the sky,
And leave the Alps beneath him in his course,
To bathe his crest in morn's empyreal source,
Will his free wing, from that majestic height,
Descend to follow some wild meteor's light,
Which far below, with evanescent fire,
Shines to delude, and dazzles to expire ?
No ! still thro' clouds he wins his upward way
And proudly claims his heritage of day !
--And shall the spirit, on whose ardent gaze,
The day-spring from on high hath pour'd its blaze,
Turn from that pure effulgence, to the beam
Of earth-born light, that sheds a treacherous gleam,
Luring the wanderer, from the star of faith,
To the deep valley of the shades of death ?
What bright exchange, what treasure shall be given,
For the high birth-right of its hope in Heaven ?
If lost the gem which empires could not buy,
What yet remains ?-- a dark eternity !
Is earth still Eden ?--might a Seraph guest,
Still, midst its chosen bowers delighted rest ?
Is all so cloudless and so calm below,
We seek no fairer scenes than life can show ?
That the cold Sceptic, in his pride elate,
Rejects the promise of a brighter state,
And leaves the rock, no tempest shall displace,
To rear his dwelling on the quicksand's base ?
Votary of doubt ! then join the festal throng,
Bask in the sunbeam, listen to the song,
Spread the rich board, and fill the wine-cup high,
And bind the wreath ere yet the roses die !
'Tis well, thine eye is yet undimm'd by time,
And thy heart bounds, exulting in its prime;
Smile then unmov'd at Wisdom's warning voice,
And, in the glory of thy strength, rejoice !
But life hath sterner tasks; e'en youth's brief hours,
Survive the beauty of their loveliest flowers;
The founts of joy, where pilgrims rest from toil,
Are few and distant on the desert soil;
The soul's pure flame the breath of storms must fan,
And pain and sorrow claim their nursling-- Man !
Earth's noblest sons the bitter cup have shar'd--
Proud child of reason ! how art thou prepar'd ?
When years, with silent might, thy frame have bow'd,
And o'er thy spirit cast their wintry cloud,
Will Memory soothe thee on thy bed of pain,
With the bright images of pleasure's train ?
Yes ! as the sight of some far distant shore,
Whose well-known scenes his foot shall tread no more,
Would cheer the seaman, by the eddying wave
Drawn, vainly struggling, to th' unfathom'd grave !
Shall Hope, the faithful cherub, hear thy call,
She, who like heaven's own sunbeam, smiles for all ?
Will she speak comfort ?--Thou hast shorn her plume,
That might have rais'd thee far above the tomb,
And hush'd the only voice whose angel tone
Soothes when all melodies of joy are flown !
For she was born beyond the stars to soar,
And kindling at the source of life, adore;
Thou couldst not, mortal ! rivet to the earth
Her eye, whose beam is of celestial birth;
She dwells with those who leave her pinion free,
And sheds the dews of heaven on all but thee.
Yet few there are, so lonely, so bereft,
But some true heart, that beats to theirs, is left,
And, haply, one whose strong affection's power,
Unchang'd may triumph thro' misfortune's hour,
Still with fond care supports thy languid head,
And keeps unwearied vigils by thy bed.
But thou ! whose thoughts have no blest home above,
Captive of earth ! and canst thou dare to love ?
To nurse such feelings as delight to rest,
Within that hallow'd shrine--a parent's breast,
To fix each hope, concentrate every tie,
On one frail idol,--destined but to die,
Yet mock the faith that points to worlds of light,
Where sever'd souls, made perfect, re-unite ?
Then tremble ! cling to every passing joy,
Twin'd with the life a moment may destroy !
If there be sorrow in a parting tear,
Still let "for ever " vibrate on thine ear !
If some bright hour on rapture's wing hath flown,
Find more than anguish in the thought--'tis gone !
Go ! to a voice such magic influence give,
Thou canst not lose its melody, and live;
And make an eye the lode-star of thy soul,
And let a glance the springs of thought controul;
Gaze on a mortal form with fond delight,
Till the fair vision mingles with thy sight;
There seek thy blessings, there repose thy trust,
Lean on the willow, idolize the dust !
Then, when thy treasure best repays thy care,
Think on that dread "for ever "--and despair !
And oh ! no strange, unwonted storm there needs,
To wreck at once thy fragile ark of reeds.
Watch well its course--explore with anxious eye,
Each little cloud that floats along the sky--
Is the blue canopy serenely fair ?
Yet may the thunderbolt unseen be there,
And the bark sink, when peace and sunshine sleep
On the smooth bosom of the waveless deep !
Yes ! ere a sound, a sign, announce thy fate,
May the blow fall which makes thee desolate !
Not always heaven's destroying angel shrouds
His awful form in tempests and in clouds,
He fills the summer-air with latent power,
He hides his venom in the scented flower,
He steals upon thee in the Zephyr's breath,
And festal garlands veil the shafts of death !
Where art thou then
, who thus didst rashly cast
Thine all upon the mercy of the blast,
And vainly hope the tree of life to find
Rooted in sands that flit before the wind ?
Is not that earth thy spirit lov'd so well,
It wish'd not in a brighter sphere to dwell,
Become a desert now , a vale of gloom,
O'ershadow'd with the midnight of the tomb ?
Where shalt thou turn ?--it is not thine to raise
To yon pure heaven, thy calm confiding gaze,
No gleam reflected from that realm of rest,
Steals on the darkness of thy troubled breast,
Not for thine eye shall Faith divinely shed
Her glory round the image of the dead;
And if, when slumber's lonely couch is prest,
The form departed be thy spirit's guest,
It bears no light from purer worlds to this;
Thy future lends not e'en a dream of bliss.
But who shall dare the Gate of Life to close,
Or say, thus far the stream of mercy flows ?
That fount unseal'd, whose boundless waves embrace
Each distant isle, and visit every race,
Pours from the Throne of God its current free,
Nor yet denies th' immortal draught to thee.
Oh ! while the doom impends, not yet decreed,
While yet th' Atoner hath not ceas'd to plead,
While still, suspended by a single hair,
The sharp bright sword hangs quivering in the air,
Bow down thy heart to Him, who will not break
The bruised reed; e'en yet, awake, awake !
Patient, because Eternal,1 He may hear
Thy prayer of agony with pitying ear,
And send his chastening spirit from above,
O'er the deep chaos of thy soul to move.
But seek thou mercy thro' His name alone,
To whose unequall'd sorrows none was shown.
Thro' Him, who here in mortal garb abode,
As man to suffer, and to heal, as God;
And, born the sons of utmost time to bless,
Endur'd all scorn, and aided all distress.
Call thou on Him--for He, in human form,
Hath walk'd the waves of Life, and still'd the storm.
He, when her hour of lingering grace was past,
O'er Salem wept, relenting to the last,
Wept with such tears as Judah's monarch pour'd
O'er his lost child, ungrateful, yet deplor'd;
And, offering guiltless blood that guilt might live,
Taught from his Cross the lesson--to forgive !
Call thou on Him--his prayer e'en then arose,
Breath'd in unpitied anguish, for his foes.
And haste !--ere bursts the lightning from on high,
Fly to the City of thy Refuge, fly !2
So shall th' Avenger turn his steps away,
And sheath his falchion, baffled of its prey.
Yet must long days roll on, ere peace shall brood,
As the soft Halcyon, o'er thy heart subdued;
Ere yet the dove of Heaven descend, to shed
Inspiring influence o'er thy fallen head.
--He, who hath pin'd in dungeons, midst the shade
Of such deep night as man for màn hath made,
Thro' lingering years; if call'd at length to be,
Once more, by nature's boundless charter, free,
Shrinks feebly back, the blaze of noon to shun,
Fainting at day, and blasted by the sun !
Thus, when the captive soul hath long remain'd
In its own dread abyss of darkness chain'd,
If the Deliverer, in his might, at last,
Its fetters, born of earth, to earth should cast
The beam of truth o'erpowers its dazzled sight,
Trembling it sinks, and finds no joy in light.
But this will pass away--that spark of mind,
Within thy frame unquenchably enshrin'd,
Shall live to triumph in its bright'ning ray,
Born to be foster'd with etherial day.
Then wilt thou bless the hour, when o'er thee pass'd,
On wing of flame, the purifying blast,
And sorrow's voice, thro' paths before untrod,
Like Sinai's trumpet, call'd thee to thy God !
But hop'st thou, in thy panoply of pride,
Heaven's messenger, affliction, to deride ?
In thine own strength unaided to defy,
With Stoic smile, the arrows of the sky ?
Torn by the vulture, fetter'd to the rock,
Still, Demigod ! the tempest wilt thou mock ?
Alas ! the tower that crests the mountain's brow,
A thousand years may awe the vale below,
Yet not the less be shatter'd on its height,
By one dread moment of the earthquake's might !
A thousand pangs thy bosom may have borne,
In silent fortitude, or haughty scorn,
Till comes the one, the master-anguish, sent
To break the mighty heart that ne'er was bent.
Oh ! what is nature's strength ? the vacant eye,
By mind deserted, hath a dread reply !
The wild delirious laughter of despair,
The mirth of frenzy--seek an answer there !
Turn not away, tho' pity's cheek grow pale,
Close not thine ear against their awful tale.
They tell thee, reason, wandering from the ray
Of Faith, the blazing pillar of her way,
In the mid-darkness of the stormy wave,
Forsook the struggling soul she could not save !
Weep not, sad moralist ! o'er desert plains,
Strew'd with the wrecks of grandeur--mouldering fanes
Arches of triumph, long with weeds o'ergrown,
And regal cities, now the serpent's own:
Earth has more awful ruins--one lost mind,
Whose star is quench'd, hath lessons for mankind,
Of deeper import than each prostrate dome,
Mingling its marble with the dust of Rome.
But who with eye unshrinking shall explore
That waste, illum'd by reason's beam no more ?
Who pierce the deep, mysterious clouds that roll
Around the shatter'd temple of the soul,
Curtain'd with midnight ?--low its columns lie,
And dark the chambers of its imag'ry,3
Sunk are its idols now--and God alone
May rear the fabrick, by their fall o'erthrown !
Yet, from its inmost shrine, by storms laid bare,
Is heard an oracle that cries--"Beware !
Child of the dust ! but ransom'd of the skies !
One breath of Heaven--and thus thy glory dies !
Haste, ere the hour of doom, draw nigh to Him
Who dwells above between the cherubim !"
Spirit dethroned ! and check'd in mid career,
Son of the morning ! exil'd from thy sphere,
Tell us thy tale !--Perchance thy race was run
With Science, in the chariot of the sun;
Free as the winds the paths of space to sweep,
Traverse the untrodden kingdoms of the deep,
And search the laws that Nature's springs controul,
There tracing all--save Him who guides the whole !
Haply thine eye its ardent glance had cast
Thro' the dim shades, the portals of the past;
By the bright lamp of thought thy care had fed
From the far beacon-lights of ages fled,
The depths of time exploring, to retrace
The glorious march of many a vanish'd race.
Or did thy power pervade the living lyre,
Till its deep chords became instinct with fire,
Silenced all meaner notes, and swell'd on high,
Full and alone, their mighty harmony,
While woke each passion from its cell profound,
And nations started at th' electric sound ?
Lord of th' Ascendant ! what avails it now,
Tho' bright the laurels wav'd upon thy brow ?
What, tho' thy name, thro' distant empires heard,
Bade the heart bound, as doth a battle-word ?
Was it for this thy still unwearied eye,
Kept vigil with the watch-fires of the sky,
To make the secrets of all ages thine,
And commune with majestic thoughts that shine
O'er Time's long shadowy pathway ?--hath thy mind
Sever'd its lone dominions from mankind,
For this to woo their homage ?--Thou hast sought
All, save the wisdom with salvation fraught,
Won every wreath--but that which will not die,
Nor aught neglected--save eternity !
And did all fail thee, in the hour of wrath,
When burst th' o'erwhelming vials on thy path ?
Could not the voice of Fame inspire thee then,
O spirit ! scepter'd by the sons of men,
With an Immortal's courage, to sustain
The transient agonies of earthly pain ?
--One, one there was, all-powerful to have sav'd,
When the loud fury of the billow rav'd;
But Him thou knew'st not--and the light he lent
Hath vanished from its ruin'd tenement,
But left thee breathing, moving, lingering yet,
A thing we shrink from--vainly to forget !
--Lift the dread veil no further--hide, oh ! hide
The bleeding form, the couch of suicide !
The dagger, grasp'd in death--the brow, the eye,
Lifeless, yet stamp'd with rage and agony;
The soul's dark traces left in many a line
Graved on his mien, who died,--"and made no sign !"
Approach not, gaze not--lest thy fever'd brain,
Too deep that image of despair retain;
Angels of slumber ! o'er the midnight hour,
Let not such visions claim unhallow'd power,
Lest the mind sink with terror, and above
See but th' Avenger's arm, forgot th' Atoner's love !
O Thou! th' unseen, th' all-seeing !--Thou whose ways
Mantled with darkness, mock all finite gaze,
Before whose eyes the creatures of Thy hand,
Seraph and man, alike in weakness stand,
And countless ages, trampling into clay
Earth's empires on their march, are but a day;
Father of worlds unknown, unnumber'd !--Thou,
With whom all time is one eternal now ,
Who know'st no past, nor future--Thou whose breath
Goes forth, and bears to myriads, life or death,
Look on us, guide us !--wanderers of a sea
Wild and obscure, what are we, reft of Thee ?
A thousand rocks, deep-hid, elude our sight,
A star may set--and we are lost in night;
A breeze may waft us to the whirlpool's brink,
A treach'rous song allure us--and we sink !
Oh ! by His
love, who, veiling Godhead's light,
To moments circumscrib'd the Infinite,
And Heaven and Earth disdain'd not to ally
By that dread union--Man with Deity;
Immortal tears o'er mortal woes who shed,
And, ere he rais'd them, wept above the dead;
Save, or we perish !--let Thy word controul
The earthquakes of that universe--the soul;
Pervade the depths of passion--speak once more
The mighty mandate, guard of every shore,
"Here shall thy waves be staid" --in grief, in pain,
The fearful poise of reason's sphere maintain,
Thou, by whom suns are balanced !--thus secure
In Thee shall Faith and Fortitude endure;
Conscious of Thee, unfaltering shall the just
Look upward still, in high and holy trust,
And, by affliction guided to Thy shrine,
The first, last thought of suffering hearts be Thine.
And oh ! be near, when, cloth'd with conquering power
The King of Terrors claims his own dread hour:
When, on the edge of that unknown abyss,
Which darkly parts us from the realm of bliss,
Awe struck alike the timid and the brave,
Alike subdued the monarch and the slave,
Must drink the cup of trembling4 --when we see
Nought in the universe but death and Thee,
Forsake us not;--if still, when life was young,
Faith to Thy bosom, as her home, hath sprung,
If Hope's retreat hath been, through all the past,
The shadow by the Rock of Ages cast,
Father, forsake us not !--when tortures urge
The shrinking soul to that mysterious verge,
When from Thy justice to Thy love we fly,
On Nature's conflict look with pitying eye,
Bid the strong wind, the fire, the earthquake cease,
Come in the still small voice, and whisper--peace !5
For oh ! 'tis awful--He that hath beheld
The parting spirit, by its fears repell'd,
Cling in weak terror, to its earthly chain,
And from the dizzy brink recoil, in vain;
He that hath seen the last convulsive throe
Dissolve the union form'd and clos'd in woe,
Well knows, that hour is awful.--In the pride
Of youth and health, by sufferings yet untried,
We talk of Death, as something, which 'twere sweet
In Glory's arms exultingly to meet,
A closing triumph, a majestic scene,
Where gazing nations watch the hero's mien,
As, undismay'd amidst the tears of all,
He folds his mantle, regally to fall !
Hush, fond enthusiast !--still, obscure, and lone,
Yet not less terrible because unknown,
Is the last hour of thousands--they retire
From life's throng'd path, unnoticed to expire,
As the light leaf, whose fall to ruin bears
Some trembling insect's little world of cares,
Descends in silence--while around waves on
The mighty forest, reckless what is gone !
Such is man's doom--and, ere an hour be flown,
--Start not, thou trifler !-- such may be thine own.
But as life's current in its ebb draws near
The shadowy gulph, there wakes a thought of fear,
A thrilling thought, which, haply mock'd before,
We fain would stifle--but it sleeps no more !
There are, who fly its murmurs midst the throng,
That join the masque of revelry and song,
Yet still Death's image, by its power restor'd,
Frowns midst the roses of the festal board,
And, when deep shades o'er earth and ocean brood,
And the heart owns the might of solitude,
Is its low whisper heard :--a note profound,
But wild and startling as the trumpet-sound,
That bursts, with sudden blast, the dead repose
Of some proud city, storm'd by midnight foes !
Oh ! vainly reason's scornful voice would prove
That life hath nought to claim such lingering love,
And ask, if e'er the captive, half unchain'd,
Clung to the links which yet his step restrain'd ?
In vain philosophy, with tranquil pride,
Would mock the feelings she perchance can hide,
Call up the countless armies of the dead,
Point to the pathway beaten by their tread,
And say--"What wouldst thou ? Shall the fix'd decree,
Made for creation, be revers'd for thee ? "
--Poor, feeble aid !--proud Stoic ! ask not why,
It is enough, that nature shrinks to die !
Enough, that horror, which thy words upbraid,
Is her dread penalty, and must be paid !
--Search thy deep wisdom, solve the scarce defin'd
And mystic questions of the parting mind,
Half check'd, half utter'd--tell her, what shall burst
In whelming grandeur, on her vision first,
When freed from mortal films ?--what viewless world
Shall first receive her wing, but half unfurl'd ?
What awful and unbodied beings guide
Her timid flight thro' regions yet untried ?
Say, if at once, her final doom to hear,
Before her God the trembler must appear,
Or wait that day of terror, when the sea
Shall yield its hidden dead, and heaven and earth shall flee ?
Hast thou no answer ?--then deride no more
The thoughts that shrink, yet cease not to explore
Th' unknown, th' unseen, the future--tho' the heart,
As at unearthly sounds, before them start,
Tho' the frame shudder, and the spirit sigh,
They have their source in immortality !
Whence, then, shall strength, which reason's aid denies,
An equal to the mortal conflict rise ?
When, on the swift pale horse, whose lightning pace,
Where'er we fly, still wins the dreadful race,
The mighty rider comes--oh ! whence shall aid
Be drawn, to meet his rushing, undismay'd ?
--Whence, but from thee, Messiah !--thou hast drain'd
The bitter cup, till not the dregs remain'd,
To thee the struggle and the pang were known,
The mystic horror--all became thine own !
But did no hand celestial succour bring,
Till scorn and anguish haply lost their sting ?
Came not th' Archangel, in the final hour,
To arm thee with invulnerable power ?
No, Son of God ! upon thy sacred head,
The shafts of wrath their tenfold fury shed,
From man averted--and thy path on high,
Pass'd thro' the strait of fiercest agony;
For thus th' Eternal, with propitious eyes,
Receiv'd the last, th' almighty sacrifice !
But wake ! be glad, ye nations ! from the tomb,
Is won the vict'ry, and is fled the gloom !
The vale of death in conquest hath been trod,
Break forth in joy, ye ransom'd ! saith your God !
Swell ye the raptures of the song afar,
And hail with harps your bright and morning star.
He rose ! the everlasting gates of day,
Receiv'd the King of Glory on his way !
The hope, the comforter of those who wept,
And the first-fruits of them, in Him that slept.
He rose, he triumph'd ! he will yet sustain
Frail nature sinking in the strife of pain.
Aided by Him, around the martyr's frame
When fiercely blaz'd a living shroud of flame,
Hath the firm soul exulted, and the voice
Rais'd the victorious hymn, and cried, Rejoice !
Aided by Him, tho' none the bed attend,
Where the lone sufferer dies without a friend,
He, whom the busy world shall miss no more,
Than morn one dew-drop from her countless store,
Earth's most neglected child, with trusting heart,
Call'd to the hope of glory, shall depart !
And say, cold Sophist ! if by thee bereft
Of that high hope, to misery what were left ?
But for the vision of the days to be,
But for the Comforter, despis'd by thee,
Should we not wither at the Chastener's look,
Should we not sink beneath our God's rebuke,
When o'er our heads the desolating blast,
Fraught with inscrutable decrees, hath pass'd,
And the stern power who seeks the noblest prey,
Hath call'd our fairest and our best away ?
Should we not madden, when our eyes behold
All that we lov'd in marble stillness cold,
No more responsive to our smile or sigh,
Fix'd--frozen--silent--all mortality ?
But for the promise, all shall yet be well,
Would not the spirit in its pangs rebel,
Beneath such clouds as darken'd when the hand
Of wrath lay heavy on our prostrate land,
And Thou, just lent thy gladden'd isles to bless,
Then snatch'd from earth with all thy loveliness,
With all a nation's blessings on thy head,
O England's flower ! wert gather'd to the dead ?
But Thou didst teach us. Thou to every heart,
Faith's lofty lesson didst thyself impart !
When fled the hope thro' all thy pangs which smil'd,
When thy young bosom, o'er thy lifeless child,
Yearn'd with vain longing--still thy patient eye,
To its last light, beam'd holy constancy !
Torn from a lot in cloudless sunshine cast,
Amidst those agonies--thy first and last,
Thy pale lip, quivering with convulsive throes,
Breath'd not a plaint--and settled in repose;
While bow'd thy royal head to Him, whose power
Spoke in the fiat of that midnight hour,
Who from the brightest vision of a throne,
Love, glory, empire, claim'd thee for his own,
And spread such terror o'er the sea-girt coast,
As blasted Israel, when her Ark was lost !
"It is the will of God !"--yet, yet we hear
The words which clos'd thy beautiful career,
Yet should we mourn thee in thy blest abode,
But for that thought--"It is the will of God !"
Who shall arraign th' Eternal's dark decree,
If not one murmur then escap'd from thee ?
Oh ! still, tho' vanishing without a trace,
Thou hast not left one scion of thy race,
Still may thy memory bloom our vales among,
Hallow'd by freedom, and enshrin'd in song !
Still may thy pure, majestic spirit dwell,
Bright on the isles which lov'd thy name so well,
E'en as an angel, with presiding care,
To wake and guard thine own high virtues there.
For lo ! the hour when storm-presaging skies,
Call on the watchers of the land to rise,
To set the sign of fire on every height,6
And o'er the mountains rear, with patriot might,
Prepar'd, if summon'd, in its cause to die,
The banner of our faith the Cross of victory !
By this hath England conquer'd--field and flood
Have own'd her sovereignty--alone she stood,
When chains o'er all the sceptered earth were thrown,
In high and holy singleness, alone,
But mighty, in her God--and shall she now
Forget before th'Omnipotent to bow ?
From the bright fountain of her glory turn,
Or bid strange fire upon his altars burn ?
No ! sever'd land midst rocks and billows rude,
Thron'd in thy majesty of solitude
Still in the deep asylum of thy breast,
Shall the pure elements of greatness rest,
Virtue and faith, the tutelary powers,
Thy hearths that hallow, and defend thy towers !
Still, where thy hamlet-vales, O chosen isle !
In the soft beauty of their verdure smile,
Where yew and elm o'ershade the lowly fanes,
That guard the peasant's records and remains,
May the blest echos of the Sabbath-bell,
Sweet on the quiet of the woodlands swell,
And from each cottage-dwelling of thy glades,
When starlight glimmers through the deepening shades,
Devotion's voice in choral hymns arise,
And bear the Land's warm incense to the skies.
There may the mother, as with anxious joy,
To Heaven her lessons consecrate her boy,
Teach his young accents still th' immortal lays,
Of Zion's bards, in inspiration's days,
When Angels, whispering thro' the cedar's shade,
Prophetic tones to Judah's harp convey'd;
And as, her soul all glistening in her eyes,
She bids the prayer of infancy arise,
Tell of His name, who left his Throne on high,
Earth's lowliest lot to bear and sanctify,
His love divine, by keenest anguish tried,
And fondly say--"My child, for thee He died !"
the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. Kings, book 1. chap. 19.