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Who swam to sov'reign rule through seas of blood ;
Th’ oppressive, sturdy, man-destroying villains,
Who ravag'd kingdoms, and laid empires waste,
And in a cruel wantonness of power
Thinn'd states of half their people, and gave up
To want the rest ; now, like a storm that's spent,
Lie hush'd, and meanly sneak behind the covert.
Vain thought! to hide them from the gen’ral scorn,
That haunts and dogs them like an injur'd ghost
Implacable.-- Here too the petty tyrant,
Whose scant domains geographer ne'er notic’d,
And, well for neighbouring grounds, of arm as
Who fix'd his iron talons on the poor,
And grip'd them like some lordly beast of prey ;
Deaf to the forceful cries of gnawing hunger,
And piteous plaintive voice of misery,
(As if a slave was not a shred of nature,
Of the same common nature with his lord)
Now tame and humble, like a child that's whipp'd,
Shakes hands with dust, and calls the worm his
kinsman ; Nor pleads his rank and birthright. Under ground Precedency's a jest ; vassal and lord, Grossly familiar, side by side consume.
When self-esteem, or others' adulation, Would cunningly persuade us we were something Above the common level of our kind, "The grave gainsays the smooth complexion'd flattry, And with blunt truth acquaints us what we are.
Beauty—thou pretty play-thing, dear deceit, That steals so softly o'er the stripling's heart, And gives it a new pulse, unknown before, The grave discredits thee : thy charms expung'd, Thy roses faded, and thy lilies soil’d, What bast thou more to boast of? Will thy lovers Flock round thee now, to gaze and do thee homage ? Methinks I see thee with thy head low laid,
Whilst surfeited upon thy damask cheek
The high-fed worm, in lazy volumes rollid,
Riots unscar'd---For this, was all thy caution !
For this, thy painful labours at thy glass !
T'improve those charms, and keep them in repair,
For which the spoiler thanks thee not ? Foul feeder,
Coarse fare and carrion please thee full as well,
And leave as keen a relish on the sense.
Look how the fair one weeps !---the conscious tears
Stand thick as dew-drops on the bells of flow'rs :
Honest effusion ! the swoln heart in vain
Works hard to put a gloss on its distress.
Strength too---thou surly, and less gentle boast
Of those that laugh loud at the village ring ;
A fit of common sickness pulls thee down
With greater ease, than e'er thou didst the stripling
That rashly dar'd thee to th' unequal fight.
What groan was that I heard ? deep groan indeed!
With anguish heavy laden ; let me trace it :
From yonder bed it comes, where the strong man,
By stronger arm belabour'd, gasps for breath
Like a hard-hunted beast. How his great heart
Beats thick ! his roomy chest by far too scant
To give the lungs full play.-.-What now avail
The strong-built sinewy limbs, and well-spread
See how he tugs for life, and lays about him,
Mad with his pain !--- Eager he catches hold
Of what comes next to hand and
it hard, Just like a creature drowning ; hideous sight! Oh! how his eyes stand out, and stare full ghastly! While the distemper's rank and deadly venom Shoots like a burning arrow 'cross his bowels, And drinks his marrow up.--- Heard you
? It was his last.--- See how the great Goliah, Just like a child that brawld itself to rest, Lies still..--What mean’st thou then, o mighty
To vaunt of nerves of thine ? what means the bull,
Unconscious of his strength, to play the coward,
And flee before a feeble thing like man ;
That, knowing well the slackness of his arm,
Trusts only in the well-invented knife ?
With study pale, and midnight vigils spent,
The star-surveying sage close to his eye
Applies the sight-invigorating tube ;
And travelling through the boundless length of
space, Marks well the courses of the far-seen orbs That roll with regular confusion there, In ecstacy of thought. But ah ! proud man, Great heights are bazardous to the weak head ; Soon, very soon thy firmest footing fails ; And down thou dropp’st into that darksome place, Where nor device nor knowledge ever came.
Here, the tongue-warrior lies disabled now, Disarm’d, dishonour'd, like a wretch that's gagg’d, And cannot tell his ail to passers by. Great man of language-whence this mighty change, This dumb despair, and drooping of the head ? Though strong persuasion hung upon thy lip, And sly insinuation's softer arts lo ambush lay about thy flowing tongue : Alas ! how chop-fall'n now! thick mists and silence Rest, like a weary cloud, upon thy breast Unceasing. -Ah! where is the lifted arm, The strength of action, and the force of words, The well-turn’d period, and the well-tun’d voice, With all the lesser ornaments of phrase ? Ah ! fled for ever, as they ne'er had been, Raz'd from the book of fame : or, more provoking, Perchance some backney hunger-bitten scribbler Insults thy memory, and blots thy tomb With long flat narrative, or duller rhymes, With heavy halting pace that drawl alonc ;
Enough to rouse a dead man into rage,
And warm with red resentment the wan cheek.
Here the great masters of the healing art,
These mighty mock defrauders of the tomb,
Spite of their juleps and catholicons,
Resign to fate.-Proud Æsculapius' son !
Where are thy boasted implements of art,
And all the well-crammid magazines of lealth ?
Nor hill nor vale, as far as ship could go,
Nor margin of the gravel-bottom'd brook, ! Escap'd thy rifling hand :—from stubborn shrubs
Thou wrung’st their shy retiring virtues out,
And vex'd them in the fire : nor fly nor insect,
Nor writhy snake, escap'd thy deep research.
But why this apparatus ? why this cost ?
Tell us, thou doughty keeper from the grave,
Where are thy recipes and cordials now,
With the long list of vouchers of thy cures ?
Alas !-thou speakest not. The bold impostor
Looks not more silly, when the cheat's found out.
Here the lank-sided miser, worst of felons,
Who meanly stole (discreditable shift)
From back, and belly too, their proper cheer ;
Eas'd of a tax it irk’d the wretch to pay
To his own carcass ; now lies cheaply lodgid,
By clam'rous appetites no longer teaz’d,
Nor tedious bills of charges and repairs.
But ah ! where are his rents, his comings in ?
Ay! now you've made the rich man poor indeed ;
Robb’d of his gods, what has he left behind ?
Oh cursed lust of gold ; when for thy sake,
The fool throws up his interest in both worlds :
First starv'd in this, then damn'd in that to come.
How shocking must thy summons be, O death! To him that is at ease in his possessions ; Who, counting on long years of pleasure here, Is quite unfurnish'd for that world to come! In that dread moment, how the frantic soul
Raves round the walls of her clay tenement,
Runs to each avenue, and shrieks for help ;
But shrieks in vain !-How wishfully she looks
On all she's leaving, now no longer her’s !
A little longer, yet a little longer,
O might she stay, to wash away her stains,
And fit her for her passage.-Mournful sight!
Her very eyes weep blood ;---and every groan
She heaves is big with horror.---But the foe,
Like a staunch murd'rer, steady to his purpose,
Pursues her close through every lane of life,
Nor misses once the track, but presses on ;
Till forc'd at last to the tremendous verge,
At once she sinks to everlasting ruin.
Sure 'tis a serious thing to die ! my soul,
What a strange moment must it be, when near
Thy journey's end, thou hast the gulph in view!
That awful gulph no mortal e'er repass’d
To tell what's doing on the other side.
Nature runs back, and shudders at the sight,
And every life-string bleeds at thoughts of parting ;
For part they must: body and soul must part;
Fond couple ! link'd more close than wedded pair.
This wings its way to its Almighty source,
The witness of its actions, now its judge ;
That drops into the dark and noisome grave,
Like a disabled pitcher of no use.
If death were nothing, and nought after death's If when men dy'd, at once they ceas'd to be, Returning to the barren womb of nothing, Whence first they sprung, then might the debauchee Untrembling mouth the heav'ns :--then might the
drunkard Reel over his full bowl, and, when 'tis drain’d, Fill up another to the brim, and laugh At the poor bugbear death :---then might the wretch That's
weary of the world, and tir'd of life, At once give each inquietnde the slip,