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NOTHING FORMED IN VAIN.
Let no presuming impious railer tax
Creative wisdom, as if ought was form'd
In vain, or not for admirable ends.
Shall little haughty Ignorance pronounce
His works unwise, of which the smallest part
Exceeds the narrow vision of her mind!
As if, upon a full proportion'd dome,
On swelling columns heav'd, the pride of art!
A critic-fly, whose feeble ray scarce spreads
An inch around, with blind presumption bold
Snould dare to tax the structure of the whole!
And lives the man, whose universal eye
Has swept at once the unbounded scheme of things:
Mark'd their dependance so, and firm accord,
As with unfaultering accent to conclude,
That this availeth nought! Has any seen
The mighty chain of beings, lessening down
From infinite perfection, to the brink
Of dreary nothing, desolate abyss !
From which astonish'd thought, recoiling, turns!
Till then alone let zealous praise ascend,
And hymns of holy wonder, to that POWER,
Whose wisdom shines as lovely in our minds,
As on our smiling eyes his servant sun.
INDIGNANT SENTIMENTS ON NATIONAL PREJUDICES AND HATRED; AND ON SLAVERY.
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 pain'd,
My soul is sick with every day's report
Of wrong and outrage with which earth is fill'd.
There is no flesh in man's obdurate heart,
It does not feel for man. The natural bond
Of brotherhood is sever'd as the flax
'That falls asunder at the touch of fire.
He finds his fellow guilty of a skin
Not colour'd like his own; and having power
To enforce the wrong, for such a worthy cause
Dooms and devotes him as his lawful prey.
Lands intersected by a narrow frith
Abhor each other. Mountains interpos'd,
Makes 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 deplor'd,
As human Nature's broadest, foulest blot,
Chains him, and tasks him, and exacts his sweat
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 while I sleep,
And tremble when I wake, for all the wealth
The sinews bought and sold have ever earn'd.
No dear as freedom is, and in my heart's
Just estimation priz'd above all price ;
I had much rather be myself the slave,
And wear the bonds, that fasten them on him.
We have no slaves at home-then why abroad?
And they themselves once ferried o'er the waves
That part us, are emancipate and loos'd.
Slaves cannot breath in England; if their lungs
Receive our air, that moment they are free;
They touch our country, and their shackles fall.
That's noble, and bespeaks a nation proud
And jealous of the blessing. Spread it then,
And let it circulate through ev'ry vein
Of all your empire, that where Britain's power
Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too.
REFLECTIONS ON A FUTURE STATE,
FROM A REVIEW OF WINTER.
Tis done! dread Winter spreads his latest glooms,
And reigns tremendous o'er the conquer'd year.
How dead the vegetable kingdom lies!
How dumb the tuneful! Horror wide extends
His desolate domain. Behold, fond man!
See here thy pictur'd life: pass some few years,
Thy flowering spring, thy summer's ardent strength,
Thy sober autumn fading into age,
And pale concluding winter comes at last,
And shuts the scene. Ah! whither now are fled,
Those dreams of greatness? those unsolid hopes
Of happiness? those longings after fame?
Those restless cares? those busy bustling days?
Those gay-spent, festive nights? those veering tho'ts
Lost between good and ill, that shar'd thy life?
All now are vanish'd! Virtue sole survives,
Immortal never-failing friend of man,
His guide to happiness on high. And see!
'Tis come, the glorious morn! the second birth
Of heaven, and earth! awakening Nature hears
The new-created world; and starts to life,
In every heightened form, from pain and death
For ever free. The great eternal scheme,
Involving all, and in a perfect whole
Uniting as the prospect wider spreads,
To Reason's eye refin'd clears up apace.
Ye vainly wise! Ye blind presumptious! now,
Confounded in the dust, adore that Power,
And Wisdom oft arraign'd: see now the cause
Why unassuming Worth in secret liv'd,
And died neglected: why the good man's share
In life was gall and bitterness of soul:
Why the lone widow and her orphans pin'd
In starving solitude; while Luxury,
In palaces, lay straining her low thought,
To form unreal wants: why heaven born Truth,
And Moderation fair, wore the red marks
Of Superstition's scourge: why licens'd Pain,
That cruel spoiler, that embosom'd foe,
Imbitter'd all our bliss. Ye good distress'd!
Ye noble few! who here unbending stand
Beneath life's pressure, yet bear up a while,
And what your bounded view, which only saw
A little part, deem'd evil, is no more:
The storms of wintry time will quickly pass,
And one unbounded spring encircle all.
Many by Number judge a Poet's song;
And smooth or rough, with them, is right or wrong;
In the bright Muse though thousand charms conspire,
Her voice is all these tuneful fools admire ;
Who haunt Parnassus but to please their ear,
Not mend their minds, as some to Church repair
Not for the doctrine, but the music there.
These equal syllables alone require,
Though oft the ear the open vowels tire;
While expletives their feeble aid to join ;
And ten low words oft creep in one dull line :
While they ring round the same unvary'd chimes,
With sure returns of still expected rhymes;
Where'er you find "the cooling western breeze,"
In the next line, it "whispers through the trees :"
In chrystal streams "with pleasing murmurs creep,"
The reader's threaten'd not in vain) with "sleep ;"
Then, at the last and only couplet fraught
With some unmeaning thing they call a thought,
A needless Alexandrine ends the song,
That like a wounded snake drags its slow length along.
Leave such to tune their own dull rhymes, and know
What's roundly smooth, or languishingly slow ;
And praise the easy vigour of a line,
Where Denham's strength, and Waller's sweetness join.
'True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.
"Tis not enough no harshness gives offence,
The sound must seem an echo to the sense:
Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows,
And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;
But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,
The hoarse rough verse should like the torrent roar :
When Ajax strives some rocks vast weight to throw,
The line too labours, and the words move slow;
Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o'er the unbending corn, and skims along the
Hear how Timotheus' vary'd lays surprise,
And bid alternate passions fall and rise!
While at each change, the son of Lybian Jove
Now burns with glory, and then melts with love;
Now his fierce eyes with sparkling fury glow,
Now sighs steal out, and tears begin to flow:
Persians and Greeks like turns of nature found,
And the World's victor stood subdued by Sound!