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Power's purple robes, nor pleasure's flowery lap,
The soul should find enjoyment: but from these
Turning disdainful to an equal good,
Through all the ascent of things enlarge her view,
Till every bound at length should disappear,
And infinite perfection close the scene.
The lark has sung his carol in the sky;
The bees have hummed their noontide lullaby ;
Still in the vale the village-bells ring round,
Still in Llewellyn-hall the jests resound;
For now the caudle-cup is circling there,
Now, glad at heart, the gossips breathe their prayer,
And, crowding, stop the cradle to admire
The babe, the sleeping image of his sire.
A few short years—and then these sounds shall hail
The day again, and gladness fill the vale ;
So soon the child a youth, the youth a man,
Eager to run the race his fathers ran,
Then the huge ox shall yield the broad sirloin ;
The ale, now brewed, in floods of amber shine:
And, basking in the chimney's ample blaze,
'Mid many a tale told of his boyish days,
The nurse shall cry, of all her ills beguiled,
“ 'Twas on these knees he sate so oft and smiled.”
And soon again shall music swell the breeze!
Soon, issuing forth, shall glitter through the trees
Vestures of nuptial white; and hymns be sung,
And violets scattered round; and old and young,
In every cottage-porch with garlands green,
Stand still to gaze, and, gazing, bless the scene;
While her dark eyes declining, by his side
Moves in her virgin-veil the gentle bride.
And once, alas! nor in a distant hour,
Another voice shall come from yonder tower ;
When in dim chambers long black weeds are seen,
And weeping's heard where only joy has been ;
When by his children borne, and from his door
Slowly departing to return no more,
He rests in holy earth with them that went before.
And such is Human Life;—so gliding on,
It glimmers like a meteor, and is gone!
Yet is the tale, brief though it be, as strange,
As full methinks of wild and wondrous change,
As any that the wandering tribes require,
Stretched in the desert round their evening fire;
As any sung of old in hall or bower
To minstrel-harps at midnight's watching hour!
XXIX.THE PRESENT CONDITION OF MAN VINDICATED.
HEAV'N from all creatures hides the book of Fate,
All but the page prescrib'd, their present state ;
From brutes what men, from men what spirits know,
Or who could suffer being here below?
The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day,
Had he thy reason, would he skip and play?
Pleas’d to the last, he crops the flow'ry food,
And licks the hand just rais’d to shed his blood.
( blindness to the future ! kindly given,
That each may fill the circle mark'd by Heav'n;
Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,
A hero perish, or a sparrow fall;
Atoms or systems into ruin hurl’d,
And now a bubble burst, and now a world.
Hope humbly then, with trembling pinions soar;
Wait the great teacher, Death ; and God adore.
What future bliss, he gives not thee to know,
But gives that Hope to be thy blessing now.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
Lo, the poor Indian ! whose untutor'd mind
Sees God in clouds, and hears him in the wind ;
His soul proud Science never taught to stray
Far as the solar walk, or milky way;
Yet simple Nature to his hope has giv'n,
Behind the cloud-topp'd hill, an humbler heav'n:
Some safer world in depth of woods embrac'd,
Some happier island in the wat'ry waste,
Where slaves once more their native land behold,
No fiends torment, nor Christians thirst for gold.
To be, contents his natural desire,
de asks no angel's wing, no seraph's fire:
But thinks, admitted to that equal sky,
His faithful dog shall bear him company.
Go, wiser thou! and in thy scale of sense,
Weigh thy opinion against Providence;
Call imperfection what thou fanciest such,
Say, here he gives too little—there too much :
Destroy all creatures for thy sport or gust,
Yet cry, if man's unhappy, God's unjust ;
If man alone engross not Heav'n's high care,
Alone made perfect here, immortal there:
Snatch from his hand the balance and the rod,
Rejudge his justice, be the god of God.
In pride, in reas’ning pride, our error lies ;
All quit their sphere, and rush into the skies.
Pride still is aiming at the blest abodes,
Men would be angels, angels would be gods.
Aspiring to be gods, if angels fell,
Aspiring to be angels, men rebel :
And who but wishes to invert the laws
Of ORDER, sins against th’ Eternal Cause.
O HAPPINESS! our being's end and aim !
Good, Pleasure, Ease, Content! whate'er thy name;
That something still which prompts th’ eternal sigh,
For which we bear to live, and dare to die;
Which still so near us, yet beyond us lies,
O’erlook’d, seen double, by the fool, and wise.
Plant of celestial seed ! if dropp'd below,
Say, in what mortal soil thou deign'st to grow?
Fair op'ning to some court's propitious shine,
Or deep with diamonds in the flaming mine?
Twin'd with the wreaths Parnassian laurels yield,
Or reap'd in iron harvests of the field;
Where grows ?--where grows it not? If vain our toil,
We ought to blame the culture, not the soil:
Fix'd to no spot is happiness sincere,
'Tis nowhere to be found, or ev'rywhere;
'Tis never to be bought, but always free,
And, fled from monarchs, St. John ! dwells with thee.
Ask of the learn'd the way ? the learn'd are blind;
This bids to serve, and that to shun mankind :
Some place the bliss in action, some in ease,
Those call it Pleasure, and Contentment these:
Some sunk to beasts, find pleasure end in pain.
Some, swell’d to gods, confess ev'n Virtue vain :
Or indolent, to each extreme they fall,
To trust in ev'ry thing, or doubt of all.
Take Nature's path, and mad Opinion's leave, All states can reach it, and all heads conceive; Obvious her goods, in no extreme they dwell; There needs but thinking right, and meaning well ; And mourn our various portions as we please, Equal is common sense, and common ease.
Remember, man, “ the Universal Cause Acts not by partial but by gen’ral laws;"
And makes what happiness we justly call
Subsist, not in the good of one, but all.
Each has his share: and who would more obtain
Shall find the pleasure pays not half the pain.
Order is Heav'n's first law; and this confess'd, Some are, and must be, greater than the rest; More rich, more wise: but who infers from hence That such are happier, shocks all common sense.
Condition, circumstance, is not the thing ;
Bliss is the same in subject or in king.
Fortune her gifts may variously dispose,
And these be happy called, unhappy those;
But Heav'n's just balance, equal will appear,
While those are plac'd in hope, and these in fear:
Not present good or ill the joy or curse,
But future views of better or of worse.
Oh, sons of earth! attempt ye still to rise,
By mountains pild on mountains, to the skies?
Heav'n still with laughter the vain toil surveys,
And buries madmen in the heaps they raise.
Know, all the good that individuals find,
Or God and Nature meant to mere mankind,
Reason's whole pleasure, all the joys of sense,
Lie in three words, Health, Peace, and Competence
But health consists with temperance alone;
And Peace, O Virtue! Peace is all thy own.
XXXI.–POLONIUS'S ADVICE TO HIS SON. These few precepts in thy memory Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue, Nor any unproportioned thought his act. Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar. The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, Grapple them to thy soul with hooks of steel; But do not dull thy palm with entertainment