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Life, Death, and Immortality.
SPEAKER of the House of COMMONS.
TIR’D Nature's sweet Restorer, balmy Sleep!
He, like the World, his ready Visit pays
Where Fortune smiles; the Wretched he forsakes:
Swift on his downy Pinions flies from Woe,
And lights on Lids unsully'd with a Tear.
From short (as usual) and disturb'd Repose, I wake; How happy they, who wake no more! Yet that were vain, if Dreams infelt the Grave, I wake, emerging from a Sea of Dreams Tumultuous ; where my wreck's desponding Thought, From Wave to Wave of fansy'd Misery, At Random drove, her Helm of Reason loft : Tho' now restor's, 'tis only Change of Pain,
(A bitter Change!) severer for severe.
The Day too short for my Distress; and Night,
Ev'n in the Zenith of her dark Domain,
Is Sunshine, to the Colour of my Fate.
Night, fable Goddess ! from her Ebon Throne,
In rayless Majesty, now stretches forth
Her leaden Sceptre o'er a slumb'ring World.
Sience, how dead! and Darkness, how profound !
Nor Eye, nor lift'ning Ear, an Object finds;
Creation sleeps. 'Tis as the gen’ral Pulse
Of Life stood still, and Nature made a Pause;
An awful Pause! prophetic of her End.
And let her Prophecy be foon fulfill'd :
Fate! drop the Curtain ; I can lose no more.
Silence and Darkness! folemn Sisters! Twins.
From ancient Night, who nurse the tender Thought
To Reafon, and on Reason build Refolve,
(That Column of true Majesty in Man)
Allist me: I will thank you in the Grave ;
The Grave, your Kingdom : There this Frame shall fall
A Victim facred to your dreary Shrine.
But what are Ye?
THOU, who didst put to Flight
Primæval Silence, when the Morning Stars,
Exulting, shouted o'er the rising Ball;
O THOU, whose Word from solid Darkness ftruck
That Spark, the Sun, strike Wisdom from my Soul ;
My Soul, which flies to Thee, her Trust, her Treasure,
As Misers to their Gold, while others reft.
Thro' this Opaque of Nature, and of Soul,
This double Night, transmit one pitying Ray,
To lighten, and to chear. O lead my Mind,
(A Mind that fain would wander from its Woe)
Lead it thro' various Scenes of Life and Death;
And from each Scene, the noblest Truths inspire.
Nor less inspire my Conduct, than-my Song ;
my best Reason, Reason ; my best Will Teach Rectitude ; and fix
firm Resolve Wisdom to wed, and pay her long Arrear: Nor let the Phial of thy Vengeance, pour'd On this devoted Head, be pour'd in vain.
The Bell strikes One. We take no Note of Time, But from its Loss. To give it then a Tongue, Is wise in Man. As if an. Angel spoke, I feel the folemn Sound. If heard aright, It is the Knell of my departed Hours : Where are they?' With the Years beyond the Flood. It is the Signal that demands Dispatch : How much is to be done ? My Hopes and Fears Start
alarm'd, and o'er Life's narrow Verge
Look down-On what? A fathomless Abyss ;
A dread Eternity! how surely mine!
And can Eternity belong to me,
Poor Pensioner on the Bounties of an Hour
How poor, how rich, how abject, how august,
How complicate, how wonderful, is Man!
How palling Wonder HE, who made him fuch!
Whọ centred in our Make fuch strange Extremes !
From diff'rent Natures marvelously mixt,
Connexion exquisite of distant Worlds !
Distinguisht Link in Being's endless Chain !
Midway from Nothing to the Deity!
A Beam ethereal, fully'd, and absorpt!
Tho' sully'd, and dishonour'd, still Divine !
Dim Miniature of Greatness abfolute!
An Heir of Glory! A frail Child of Dust!
Helpless Immortal! Infect infinite !
A Worm ! a God! -I tremble at myself,
And in myself am loft! At home, a Stranger,
Thought wanders up and down, surprizd, aghaft,
And wond'ring at her own : How Reason reels !
O what a Miracle to Man is Man,
Triumphantly distress’d! what Joy, what Dread!
Alternately Transported, and Alarm'd!
What can preserve my Life? or what destroy ?
An Angel's Arm can't snatch me from the Grave?
Legions of Angels can't confine me there.
'Tis paft Conjecture ; all things rise in Proof :
While o'er my Limbs Sleep's soft Dominion spread,
What tho' my Soul phantastic Measures trod
O'er fairy Fields; or mourn'd along the Gloom
Of pathlefs Woods; or down the craggy Steep
Hurld headlong, swam with Pain the mantled Pool ;
Or scal'd the Cliff; or danc'd on hollow Winds,
With antic Shapes, wild Natives of the Brain ?
Her ceaseless Flight, tho’ devious, speaks her Nature
Of subtler Effence than the trodden Clod;
A&tive, aëreal, tow'ring, unconfin'd,
Unfetter'd with her grofs Companion's Fall.
Ev'n filent Night proclaims my Soul immortal :
Ev'n silent Night proclaims eternal Day.
For human Weal, Heav'n husbands all Events :
Dull Sleep instructs, nor sport vain Dreams in vain.
Why then their Loss deplore, that are not lost?
Why wanderś wretched Thought their Tombs around,
In infidel Distress ? Are Angels there?
Slumbers, rak'd up in Duit, Ethereal Fire ?
They live ! they greatly live a Life on Earth
Unkindled, unconceiv'd; and from an Eye
Of Tenderness, let heav'nly Pity fall
On me, more justly number'd with the Dead.
This is the Desart, this the Solitude :
How populous ! how vital, is the Grave !
This is Creation's melancholy Vault,
The Vale funereal, the fad Cypress Gloom ;