Sidebilder
PDF

Amazed that shadows should obscure the sight
Of one whose birth was in a land of light,
Shall answer, Hope, sweet hope, has set me free.
And made all pleasures else mere dross to me.

These, amidst scenes as waste as if denied
The common care that waits on all beside,
Wild as if nature there, void of all good,
Played only gambols in a frantic mood,
(Yet charge not heavenly skill with having planned
A plaything world, unworthy of his hand);
Can see his love, though secret evil lurks
In all we touch, stamped plainly on his works;
Deem life a blessing with its numerous woes,
Nor spurn away a gift a God bestows.

Hard task indeed o'er arctic seas to roam!
Is hope exotic? grows it not at home?
Yes; but an object bright as orient morn
May press the eye too closely to be borne;
A distant virtue we can all confess,
It hurts our pride and moves our envy less.

Leuconomus (beneath well-sounding Greek
I slur a name a poet must not speak,)
Stood pilloried on Infamy's high stage,
And bore the pelting scorn of half an age,
The very butt of slander, and the blot
For every dart that malice ever shot.
The man that mentioned him, at once dismissed
All mercy from his lips, and sneered and hissed;
His crimes were such as Sodom never knew,
And perjury stood up to swear all true;
His aim was mischief, and his zeal pretence,
His speech rebellion against common sense;
A knave, when tried on honesty's plain rule,
And when by that of reason, a mere fool,
The world's best comfort was, his doom was passed,
Die when he might, he must be damned at last.

Now, Truth, perform thine office; waft aside The curtain drawn by prejudice and pride, Reveal (the man is dead) to wondering eyes This more than monster in his proper guise.

He loved the world that hated him; the tear That dropped upon his Bible was sincere. Assailed by scandal and the tongue of strife, His only answer was a blameless life, And he that forged and he that threw the dart, Had each a brother's interest in his heart. Paul's love of Christ, and steadiness unbribed, Were copied close in him, and well transcribed; He followed Paul; his zeal a kindred flame, His apostolic charity the same, Like him, crossed cheerfully tempestuous seas, Forsaking country, kindred, friends, and ease; - ..,.,.,., i , I'ii i mwtyw

[ocr errors]

Like him he laboured, and like him content
To bear it, suffered shame where'er he went.
Blush, calumny; and write upon his tomb,
If honest eulogy can spare thee room,
Thy deep repentance of thy thousand lies,
Which, aimed at him, have pierced the offended skies;
And say, Blot out my sin, confessed, deplored,
Against thine image in thy saint, O Lord!

No blinder bigot, I maintain it still,
Than he who must have pleasure, come what will:
He laughs, whatever weapon truth may draw,
And deems her sharp artillery mere straw.
Scripture indeed is plain, but God and he
On Scripture ground are sure to disagree;
Some wiser rule must teach him how to live
Than that his Maker has seen fit to give,
Supple and flexible as Indian cane,
To take the bend his appetites ordain,
Contrived to suit frail nature's crazy case,
And reconcile his lusts with saving grace.
By this, with nice precision of design,
He draws upon life's mark a zigzag line,
That shows how far 'tis safe to follow sin,
And where his danger and God's wrath begin.
By this he forms, as pleased he sports along,
His well-poised estimate of right and wrong,
And finds the modish manners of the day,
Though loose, as harmless as an infant's play.

Build by whatever plan caprice decrees,
With what materl_ls, on what ground you please,
Your hope shall stand unblamed, perhaps admired,
If not that hope the Scripture has required:
The strange conceits, vain projects, and wild dreams,
With which hypocrisy for ever teems,
(Though other follies strike the public eye,
And raise a laugh), pass unmolested by;
But if, unblameable in word and thought,
A man arise, a man whom God has taught,
With all Elijah's dignity of tone,
And all the love of the beloved John,
To storm the citadels they build in air,
And smite the untempered wall, 'tis death to spare,
To sweep away all refuges of lies,
And place, instead of quirks themselves devise,
Lama Sabacthani before their eyes,—
To prove that without Christ all gain is loss,
All hope despair, that stands not on his cross,—
Except the few his God may have impressed,
A tenfold frenzy seizes all the rest.

Throughout mankind, the Christian kind at least,
There dwells * consciousness in every breast,
That folly ends where genuine hope begins,

And lie that finds his heaven must lose his sins.

Nature opposes with her utmost force

This riving stroke, this ultimate divorce,

And, while religion seems to be her view,

Hates with a deep sincerity the true:

For this, of all that ever influenced man,

Since Abel worshipped, or the world began,

This only spares no lust, admits no plea,

But makes him, if at all, completely free;

Sounds forth the signal, as she mounts her car,

Of an eternal, universal war;

Rejects all treaty, penetrates all wiles,

Scorns with the same indifference frowns and smiles,

Drives through the realms of sin, where riot reels,

And grinds his crown beneath her burning wheels!

Hence all that is in man, pride, passion, art,

Powers of the mind, and feelings of the heart,

Insensible of Truth's almighty charms,

Starts at her first approach, and sounds to arms!

While bigotry, with well-dissembled fears,

His eyes shut fast, his fingers in his ears,

Mighty to parry and push by God's word

With senseless noise, his argument the sword,

Pretends a zeal for godliness and grace,

And spits abhorrence in the Christian's face.

Parent of hope, immortal truth, make known Thy deathless wreaths, and triumphs all thine own! The silent progress of thy power is such, Thy means so feeble, and despised so much, That few believe the wonders thou hast wrought, And none can teach them but whom thou hast taught. Oh, see me sworn to serve thee, and command A painter's skill into a poet's hand, That while I trembling trace a work divine, Fancy may stand aloof from the design, And light and shade and every stroke be thine.

If ever thou hast felt another's pain,
If ever when he sighed, hast sighed again,
If ever on thine eyelid stood the tear
That pity had engendered,1 drop one here.
This man was happy,—had the world's good word,
And with it every joy it can afford;
Friendship and love seemed tenderly at strife,
Which most should sweeten his untroubled life;
Politely learned, and of a gentle race,
Good breeding and good sense gave all a grace,
And whether at the toilet of the fair
He laughed and trifled, made him welcome there;

1 True is it that we have seen better days,
And have with holy bell been knolled to church.
And sat at good men's feasts, and wiped our eyes
Of drops that sacred pity hath engendered.—As Yoit Like It.
Or if in masculine debate he shared,
Ensured him mute attention and regard.
Alas, how changed! expressive of his mind,
His eyes are sunk, arms folded, head reclined;
Those awful syllables, hell, death, and sin,
Though whispered, plainly tell what works within.
That conscience there performs her proper part,
And writes a doomsday sentence on his heart.
Forsaking, and forsaken of all friends,
He now perceives where earthly pleasure ends;
I lard task! for one who lately knew no care,
And harder still as learned beneath despair:
His hours no longer pass unmarked away,
A dark importance saddens every day;
I Ie hears the notice of the clock, perplexed,
And cries, Perhaps eternity strikes next;
S weet music is no longer music here,
And laughter sounds like madness in his ear:
His grief the world of all her power disarms,
Wine has no taste, and beauty has no charms:
God's holy word, once trivial in his view,
Now by the voice of his experience true,
Seems, as it is, the fountain whence alone
Must spring that hope he pants to make his own.
Now let the bright reverse be known abroad:
Say, man's a worm, and power belongs to God.
As when a felon, whom his country's laws
Have justly doomed for some atrocious cause,
Expects in darkness and heart-chilling fears,
The shameful close of all his misspent years,
If chance, on heavy pinions slowly borne,
A tempest usher in the dreaded morn,
Upon his dungeon walls the lightnings play,
The thunder seems to summon him away,
The warder at the door his key applies,
Shoots back the bolt, and all his courage dies:
If then, just then, all thoughts of mercy lost,
When hope, long lingering, at last yields the ghost.
The sound of pardon pierce his startled ear,
He diops at once his fetters and his fear,
A transport glows in all he looks and speaks,
And the first thankful tears bedew his cheeks:
Joy, far superior joy, that much outweighs
The comfort of a few poor added days,
Invades, possesses, and o'erwhelms the soul
Of him whom hope has with a touch made whole.
'Tis heaven, all heaven descending on the wings
Of the glad legions of the King of kings;
'Tis more,—'tis God diffused through every part,
'Tis God himself triumphant in his heart.
Oh, welcome now the sun's once hated light,
His noonday beams were never half so bright.

Not kindred minds alone are called to employ
Their hours, their days, in listening to his joy,
Unconscious nature, all that he surveys,
Rocks, groves, and streams must join him in his praise.

These are thy glorious works,1 eternal truth,
The scoff of withered age and beardless youth;
These move the censure and illiberal grin
Of fools that hate thee and delight in sin:
But these shall last when night has quenched the pole,
And heaven is all departed as a scroll:
And when, as justice has long since decreed,
This earth shall blaze, and a new world succeed,
Then these thy glorious works, and they that share
That hope which can alone exclude despair,
Shall live exempt from weakness and decay,
The brightest wonders of an endless day.

Happy the bard, (if that fair name belong
To him that blends no fable with his song,)
Whose lines uniting, by an honest art,
The faithful monitor's and poet's part,
Seek to delight, that they may mend mankind,
And, while they captivate, inform the mind;
Still happier, if he till a thankful soil,
And fruit reward his honourable toil:
But happier far who comfort those that wait
To hear plain truth at Judah's hallowed gate;
Their language simple, as their manners meek,
No shining ornaments have they to seek,
Nor labour they, nor time nor talents waste,
In sorting flowers to suit a fickle taste;
But while they speak the wisdom of the skits,
Which art can only darken and disguise,
The abundant harvest, recompense divine,
Repays their work,—the gleaning only, mine.

CHARITY.

Qua nihil majus meliusve terris

Fata donavere bonique divi,

Nee dabunt, quamvis redeant in aurum

Tempora priscum.—Hor. Lib. iv. Ode ii.

Fairest and foremost of the train that wait
On man's most dignified and happiest state,
Whether we name thee charity or love,
Chief grace below, and all in all above,
Prosper (I press thee with a powerful plea)
A task I venture on, impelled by thee:
Oh, never seen but in thy blessed effects,
Nor felt but in the soul that heaven selects,
Who seeks to praise thee, and to make thee known
To other hearts, must have thee in his own.
J Paradise Lost, v. 153.

« ForrigeFortsett »