« AnteriorContinuar »
Quit its vain scenes without a tear,
Without a trouble or a fear,
And mingle with the dead.
While Conscience, like a faithful friend, Shall through the gloomy vale attend,
And cheer our dying breath ; Shall, when all other comforts cease, Like a kind angel whisper peace,
And smooth the bed of death.
BY DR. PORTEUS, BISHOP OF LONDON.
FRIEND to the wretch whom every friend forsakes,
I woo thee, death !-In fancy's fairy paths.
Let the gay songster rove, and gently trill
The strain of empty joy. Life and its joys
I leave to those that prize them. At this hour,
This solemn hour, when silence rules the world,
And wearied nature makes a general pause ;
Wrapt in night's sable robe, through cloisters drear
And charnels pale, tenanted by a throng
Of meagre phantoms shooting cross my path
With silent glance, I seek the shadowy vale
Of Death. Deep in a murky cave's recess,
Lav'd by Oblivion's listless stream, and fenc'd
By shelving rocks, and intermingled horrors
Of yew and cyprus shade, from all intrusion
Of busy noontide beam, the Monarch sits
In unsubstantial majesty enthron'd.
At his right hand, nearest himself in place
And fruitfulness of form his parent Sin,
With fatal industry and cruel care
Busies himself in pointing all his stings,
And tipping every shaft with venom drawn
From her infernal store : around him rang'd
In terrible array, and mixture strange
Of uncooth shapes, stands his dread ministers.
Foremost Old age, his natural ally
And firmest friend ; next him Diseases thick,
A motley train; Fever with cheek of fire ;
Consumption wan; Palsy, half-warm with life,
And half a clay-cold lump; joint-tort'ring Gout;
And ever-gnawing Rheum ! Convulsion wild ;
Swoln Dropsy ; panting Asthma ; Apoplex
Full-gorg’d. There too the Pestilence that walks
In darkness, and the Sickness that destroys
At broad noon-day. These, and a thousand more,
Horrid to tell, attentive wait; and, when
By Heaven's command Death waves his ebon wand,
Sudden rush forth to execute his purpose,
And scatter desolation o'er the earth.
Ill-fated Man ! for whom such various forms
Of misery wait, and mark their future prey !
Ah! why, all-righteous Father, didst thou make
This creature, Man? Why wake the unconscious dust
To life and wretchedness! O better far
Still had he slept in uncreated night,
If this the lot of being ! Was it for this
Thy breath divine kindled within his breast
The vital flame? For this was thy fair image
Stamp'd on his soul in godlike lineaments?
For this dominion given him absolute
O’er all thy works, only that he might reign
Supreme in wo? From the blest source of Good
Could Pain and Death proceed? Could such foul ills.
Fall from fair Mercy's hands? Far be the thought,
The impious thought! God never made a creature.
But what was good. He made a living Soul ; The wretched Mortal was the work of Man. Forth from his Maker's hands he sprung to life, Fresh with immortal bloom ; no pain he knew, No fear of change, no check to his desires, Save one command. That one command, which stood 'Twixt him and death, the test of his obedience, Urg'd on by wanton curiosity, He broke. There in one moment was undone The fairest of God's works. The same rash hand That pluck'd in evil hour the fatal fruit, Unbarr'd the gates of Hell, and let loose Sin And Death, and all the family of Pain, To prey upon Mankind. Young Nature saw The monstrous crew, and shook thro' all her frame. Then fled her new-born lustre, then began Heaven's cheerful face to lower, then vapors chok'd The troubled air, and form'd a veil of clouds To hide the willing Sun. The earth convuls'd With painful throes threw forth a bristly crop Of thorns and briers ; and insect, bird, and beast, That wont before with admiration fond To gaze at man, and fearless crowd around him, Now fled before his face, shunning in haste The infection of his misery. He alone Who justly might, the offended Lord of Man, Turn'd not away his face; he, full of pity, Forsook not in this uttermost distress His best lov'd work. That comfort still remain'd (That best, that greatest comfort in affliction,) The countenance of God, and through the gloom Shot forth some kindly gleams, to cheer and warm
The offender's sinking soul. Hope sent from Heaven
Uprais’d his drooping head, and show'd afar
A happier scene of things; the Promised Seed
Trampling upon the Serpent's humbled crest;
Death of his sting disarm'd ; and the dark grave,
Made pervious to the realms of endless day
No more the limit but the gate of life.
Cheer'd with the view, Man went to till the ground,
From whence he rose ; sentenc'd indeed to toil
Aş to a punishment, yet (ev’n in wrath
So merciful is Heav'n) this toil became
The solace of his woes, the sweet employ
Of many a live-long hour, and surest guard
Against Disease and Death. Death tho' denounc'd,
Was yet a distant ill, by feeble arm
Of Age, his sole support, led slowly on.
Not then, as since, the short-liv'd sons of men
Flock'd to his realms in countless multitudes;
Scarce in the course of twice five hundred years
One solitary ghost went shivering down
To his unpeopled shore. In sober state
Through the sequestered vale of rural life,
The venerable Patriarch guileless held
The tenour of his way; Labor prepar'd
His simple fare, and Temperance rul'd his board,
Tir'd with his daily toil, at early eve
He sunk to sudden rest ; gentle and pure
As breath of evening Zephyr, and as sweet
Were all his slumbers; with the Sun he rose,
Alert and vigorous às He, to run
His destin'd course. Thus nerv'd with giant strength,