Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

BOOK II.

THE TIME-PIECE.

The Argument.

Reflections suggested by the conclusion of the former book.—Pence among the nations recommended, on the ground of their common fellowship in sorrow. —Prodigies enumerated.—Sicilian earthquakes.— Man rendered obnoxious to these calamities by sin.—God the agent in them.—The philosophy that stops at secondary causes reproved.-—Our own late miscarriages accounted for.—Satiricalfnotice taken of our trips to Fontainbleau.—rBut the pulpit, not satire, the proper engine of reformation.—The Reverend Advertiser of engraved sermons.—Petit-maitre Parson.—The good preacher. —Pictures of a theatrical clerical coxcomb.—Story-tellers and jesters in the pulpit reproved.— Apostrophe to popular applause.-r-Ketailers of ancient philosophy expostulated with.—Sum of the whole matter.—Effects of sacerdotal mismanagement on the laity.—Their folly and extravagance. —The mischiefs of profusion.—Profusion itself, with all its consequent evils, ascribed, as to its principal cause, to the want of discipline in the universities.

Oh for a lodge in some vast wilderness,
Some boundless contiguity of shade,
Where rumour of oppression and deceit,

Of unsuccessful or successful war,

Might never reach me more. My ear is pained,

My soul is sick, with every day's report

Of wrong and outrage, with which earth is filled.

There is no flesh in man's obdurate heart,

It does not feel for man; the natural bond

Of brotherhood is severed as the flax,

That falls asunder at the touch of fire.

He finds his fellow guilty of a skin

Not coloured like his own; and having power

To enforce the wrong, for such a worthy cause

Dooms and devotes him as a lawful prey.

Lands intersected by a narrow frith

Abhor each other. Mountains interposed

Make enemies of nations, who had else

Like kindred drops been mingled into one. .

Thus man devotes his brother, and destroys ;.

And, worse than all, and most to be deplored

As human nature's broadest, foulesl blot,

Chains him, and tasks him, and exacts his swe:»t

With.stripes, that mercy .with a bleeding heart

Weeps, when she sees inflicted on a beast.

Then what is man? And what man, seeing this.

And having human feelings, does not blush,

And hang his head, to think himself a man?

I would not have a slave to till my ground,

To carry me, to fan me white I bleep,

[ocr errors]

And tremble when I wake, for all the wealth,
That sinews bought and sold have ever earned.
No: dear as freedom is, and in my heart's
Just estimation prized above all price,
I had much rather be myself the slave,
And wear the bonds, than fasten them on him.
We have no slaves at home.—Then why abroad?
And they themselves once ferried over the wave,
That parts us, are emancipate and loosed.
Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs
Receive our air, that moment they are free;
They touch our country, and their shackles fall.
That is noble, and bespeaks a nation proud
And jealous of the blessing. Spread it then,
And let it circulate through every vein
Of all your empire; that where Britain's power
Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too.
Sure there is need of social intercourse,
Benevolence, and peace, and mutual aid,
Between the nations in a world, that seems
To toll the death-bell of its own decease,
And by the voice of all its elements
To preach the general doom*. When were the

winds
Let slip with such a warrant to destroy?

* Alluding to the calamities in Jamaica.

VOL. II, I)

When did the waves so haughtily overleap
Their ancient'barriers, deluging the dry?
Fires from beneath, and meteors * from above,
Portentous, unexampled, unexplained,
Have kindled beacons in the skies; and the old
And crazy earth has had her shaking fits
More frequent, and foregone her usual rest.
Is it a time to wrangle, when the props
And pillars of our planet seem to fail,
And Nature f with a dim and sickly eye
To wait the close of all? But grant her end
More distant, and that prophecy demands
A longer respite, unaccomplished yet;
Still they are frowning signals, and bespeak
Displeasure in his bre.ist, who smites the earth
Or heals it, makes it languish or rejoice.
And 'tis but seemly, that, where all deserve
And stand exposed by common peccancy
To what no few have felt, there should be peace,
And brethren in calamity should love.

Alas for Sicily! rude fragments now
Lie scattered, where t;he shapely column stood.
Her palaces are dust. In all her streets

* August 18, 1783.

t Alluding to the fog that covered both Europe and Asia during the whole summer of 1783.

The voice of singing and the sprightly chord

Are silent. Revelry, and dance, and show

Suffer a syncope and solemn pause;

While God performs upon the trembling stage

Of his own works his dreadful part alone.

How does the earth receive him ?—With what signs

Of gratulation and delight her king?

Pours she not all her choicest fruits abroad,

Her sweetest flowers, her aromatic gums,

Disclosing paradise wherever he treads?

She quakes at his approach. Her hollow womb,

Conceiving thunders, through a thousand deeps

And fiery caverns, roars beneath his foot.

The hills move lightly, and the mountains smoke,

For he has touched them. From the extremes! point

Of elevation down into the abyss

His wrath is busy, and his frown is felt.

The rocks fall headlong, and the vallies rise,

The rivers die into offensive pools,

And, charged with putrid verdure, breathe a gross

And mortal nuisance into all the air.

What solid was,' by .transformation strange,

Grojws fluid; and the fixed and rooted earth,

Tormented into billows, heaves and swells,

Or with vertiginous and hideous whirl

Sucks down its prey insatiable. Immense s

The tumult and the overthrow, the pangs

« ForrigeFortsett »