A contribution to the series of poems on the pleasures. In her brief preface Anna Jane Vardill alludes to the earlier poems by Rogers, Campbell, and Rowden: poets who pursued pleasure in memory, hope, and friendship respectively. But this poem, as its title suggests, attempts to consider the human pleasures as part of a holistic view of life. Vardill proves to be a stern moralist, leaving the impression that, apart from childhood, pleasures are fleeting and deceptive. The survey in the first canto presents human life as an extended scene of folly and vice; the second canto, however, makes the argument that pleasure is always within reach, through the medium of the Christian virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity.
The appended notes, though comparatively short, indicate a wide range of reading in history and philosophy. The manner of Vardill's poem is distinctly classical, as are most of the historical allusions; the only English authors named are Newton and Locke, though Sidney and Raleigh are brought in as historical figures. Her father (and tutor) was an American Tory who had emigrated to England before she was born. The volume is dedicated to Princess Charlotte.
Preface: "The Pleasures of Human Life are objects of continual pursuit and innumerable systems; but their abode seems still undetermined, though we perceive their abundance and variety. Their association with Hope, Friendship, and Memory, has been displayed by poets in the most brilliant colours. Philosophers annex them to every exercise of the faculties, to the presence of whatever is beautiful and graceful, and especially to social beneficence. Let us inquire by what system these pleasures are most successfully combined, and in what period of life they flourish. They are never distant when earnestly sought; and the humblest attempt to discover their source is an addition to their number" p. i.
European Magazine: "A work of this nature should not only be perused, but contemplated. Our fair authoress has aimed to establish a SYSTEM, and, by a concatenation of arguments, instances, and examples, to shew that pleasures in speculation frequently end in disappointment, while those founded upon reason, and fostered by religion, are certain to meet with their REWARD. This undertaking, as in its first principles involving the opinions of philosophers, and the examples of heroes, statesmen, &c. as extending to classic erudition, and comprising an observation of the works and effects of nature upon the pleasures of life; and, in the second, as combining philosophy and religion, and, by the aid of a vivid imagination, producing a variety of picturesque instances, was most certainly a work of great difficulty. The genius of Miss V. has, however, surmounted those obstacles which opposed its course; obstacles which, we will freely confess, induced us to allude to the failure of authors much further advanced in age, who had already written on the same subject; and has produced a poem which we consider as a very extraordinary effort of mental energy, in early life" 61 (April 1812) 279-80.
Critical Review: "This poem is dedicated to 'her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte of Wales, whose gracious patronage fostered the first fruits of a very early age.' We know not the present age of our poetess, nor how early her Royal Highness fostered the first fruits of her genius; but we beg to observe that there are lines in the poem before us which evince genius, which if it be not cankered and spoiled in the hot-bed of flattery, seems to promise better things to come than The Pleasures of Human Life. We have had, for a long time, superficial poets (both old and young), superficial essayists, superficial botanists, and superficial every things. But we trust this skim-milk knowledge will soon be put to shame; and that sober sense and reason will gradually peep from under the veil which has so long shrouded their substantial merits, and replace good education, in the room of the accomplishments, which are now so prevalent. Yes, we prophecy that this rage for superficial accomplishments, will in time make room for something better" S4 2 (September 1812) 328.
New Review: "It seems to be the general object of the fair authoress, to prove that Happiness is not to be found in the possession of wealth, rank, and other worldly advantages, or in the pursuits of ambition, but in a judicious regulation of the mind and the passions" 1 (March 1813) 331.
The first canto opens with a question: "Is Pleasure's fairest flower | Found in Youth's dawn, or Manhood's noontide hour? | Or blooms it brightest when the evening gale | Breathes soft and cool in Life's descending vale" p. 7. The pleasures of childhood are delineated: outdoors, at home, with friends. A young man is imagined sallying forth in pursuit of ambition and wealth; when they elude him he returns from abroad to find his parents dead and his lover married to another. Poverty and Avarice suffer alike, and friends often prove unkind in times of need. Alexander and Julius Caesar are examples of the inability of ambition to supply happiness: "Go to thy narrow home, Ambition's slave! | Go to thy home, the cold and silent grave!" p. 32. But neither should Youth attend to the enchantments of Pleasure: "Dull'd by the torpid touch of glitt'ring slime, | He waits, unmov'd, the ebbing tide of time; | Till stretch'd to Vice, or shrunk to coward Spleen, | The changeful Circe shifts her shadowy scene" p. 35. There follow lurid characters of a madman and a rake. Faithless Fortune is not to be trusted: "The pearl soft Childhood's peaceful streams afford, | Melts in the poison'd cup at Folly's board" p. 40.
The second canto opens with the observation that "Self can to self no taste of heav'n dispense; | A joy unsocial is a blot on sense" p. 47. Human beings are compassionate: "Youth's bright eyes linger ere they close in sleep, | O'er Una's woes or Juliet's grave to weep; | While midnight tapers light the hoary sage | Thro' the long tales of many a far-fled age" p. 49. But why? Religion affords answers beyond the comprehension of Aristotle, the Christian virtues of Hope, Charity, and Faith: "Thus Pleasure dwells with Man! — her smiles illume | The Exile's desert, and the Captive's gloom" p. 60. The power of the Christian virtues is illustrated from examples distant in time and remote in place: "Fame's barter'd slaves their scanty hire shall own, | While Mercy's ministers approach her throne!" p. 68. The virtues are discovered in the lives of philanthropists and philosophers, but also in the hovels of the poor and wretched. Through compassion, Christians can experience pleasure in death; even the vicious can find repentance. Pleasure is not, finally, to be sought in childhood, youth, or age: "These, these shall pass away! — while pure and bright | Religion triumphs in eternal light" p. 89.
Argument to Book I: "Appeal to Nature for proofs of Pleasure's existence in every stage of Human Life. — Its abundance in Childhood, and promises in Youth. — Picture of Manhood, and its pursuits. — The Lover's Return. — The Miser's Habitation. — Illusions of Grandeur. — Sketch of Friendship. — The Rewards of Ambition. — The Epicurean System of Pleasure, and its consequences" p. iii.
Argument to Book II: "The theory of Pleasure deduced from Natural and Moral Philosophy. — The support afforded by Religion. — The origin of Christian Pleasures. — Instances of their Duration. — The examples of eminent Philosophers and Statesmen. — The Pleasures of Conjugal Affection, of Science, and Philanthropy, influenced by Religion. — Examples in Poverty, Persecution, Sickness, and Death. — The Consolations found at the Grave of Virtue. — The immortality and final dominion of Pleasure" p. 43.
Soul of this globe! is all thine eye surveys
Hope's mould'ring wreck, or Care's deceitful maze?
Is Heaven's broad arch with lucid sapphire spread,
Are gems uncounted pour'd o'er Ocean's bed,
Is smiling Earth in Eden's beauty drest,
Yet Man a famish'd and forgotten guest?
Did Fate, O Sun! thy radiant car bestow,
To mock with lavish light a world of woe?
A world like Scythia's frozen palace, built
Of polish'd ice, by cheerless splendour gilt;
Where mimic pearls the wearied wanderer greet,
And brittle crystal tempts his failing feet;
While the bright porch, with wat'ry diamonds twin'd,
Shrinks from his gaze, and leaves no trace behind!
Let Nature speak; — her awful voice replies,
In every clime the flowers of Pleasure rise;
In every age the bright-eyed cherub springs,
Weaves her light chain, and spreads her downy wings:
The cradle-couch her budding garland strews,
She bathes the rose of Youth in balmy dews;
Fans the dim spark of Age with kindling breath,
And waits with angels round the bed of death.
But where supreme? — Is Pleasure's fairest flower
Found in Youth's dawn, or Manhood's noontide hour?
Or blooms it brightest when the evening gale
Breathes soft and cool in Life's descending vale;
As sparks electric grace the eastern reed,
When the broad beams of gorgeous day recede?
First, wide Example's varied sphere survey,
Then point where Pleasure spreads her milky way.
On yon low mound, beneath a silver'd thorn,
Where the first cowslip drinks the dew of morn,
How rich, how pure, the notes of Pleasure rise,
When infant hunters snatch the golden prize!
A lurking bud, an absent wood-lark's nest,
Crowns Young Ambition in the little breast:
Panting and proud, the frolic victors seize
The thistle's grey down floating in the breeze;
Type of themselves, the airy truant strays,
Shuns its soft bond, and in the sun-beam plays.
Not less when Winter wraps the infant year,
Throng the light joys to laughing Childhood dear;
The jocund tale, the close-drawn circle round
The board with Autumn's mellow'd treasures crown'd;
The seat suspended on the smooth rock's side,
While flying snow-balls print the glassy tide;
Or, with fond bark, the boasted greyhound springs,
And back the far-thrown prize triumphant brings,
Till, the rich dairy's fragrant stores to share,
Home their glad spoils the rosy rivals bear.
Home, Pleasure's palace! when the smiling race
Strive for a mother's or a sire's embrace,
Till, in her soft eye and his toil-brown'd cheek,
The tear and flush of tender triumph speak!
Delicious hour, while round the social blaze
Assembled cherubs swell the note of praise;
Or, with full hands, the ready mite bestow,
When the aged minstrel tells his tale of woe,
And, while the prattling throng around him stands,
Thinks of his buried babes in distant lands.
Dear Home! these hours of golden joy are Thine,
If cherish'd Childhood bends at Duty's shrine!
Not these alone enrich the careless day,
Ascending Friendship lends its purest ray—
Then Nature's hand the tender soil employs,
There spreads the root and bud of social joys.
Yon flowery turf, beneath the church-yard yews,
Of infant Love the simple record shews;
Oft, with a warrior's arm and giant's pride,
The school-day hero climb'd the mountain's side,
Or braved the darkness of yon pathless dale,
Or ruin'd cloister, theme of many a tale!
Till the light print of fairy feet betray'd
His Emma's wanderings through the forest glade:
Now round the green sod, where in death he sleeps.
With Summer's earliest flowers, his Emma creeps;
His dog beside her sits with plaintive moan
While the pleas'd prattler decks the silent stone;
Then tunes her best-lov'd lay, and, bending near,
Calls her dead William from his grave to hear;
Blest babe! — unconscious how the cold worm preys
On him whose fond heart shar'd her blissful days!
View the lone rock, whose mossy arches hide
The limpid rill slow stealing by its side;
On its green brink an infant angler stands
To tempt the speckled trout with rosy hands;
But, smiling, first his gentle sister leads
Where maiden lilies lean on stately reeds;
There the smooth pebble adds to many a pile,
Lest creeping damps her tender feet defile:
And many a spray of ample foliage seeks
To screen from fiery noon her polish'd cheeks;
While, pleased spectatress of his guiltless toil,
She weaves her light cage for the shining spoil;
Strives with coy wiles the rival rose to reach,
Or tempts his parch'd lip with the treasur'd peach.
Smile, happy child! — no riper year shall prove,
With softer eloquence, thy brother's love!
Oft rich Remembrance shall this hour restore,
When that pure love is eloquent no more;
When the rude world has rent its silken ties,
Or low in dust its mouldering mansion lies
To distant climes th' adventrous boy shall roam,
Pall'd with the loves and joys of peaceful home;
O'er the loose brink of steeper rocks to climb,
And tempt for toys the devious tide of time.
Love's silver circle, in its whirlpool tost,
Spreads wide and wider till in distance lost:
As the light eddies of the limpid lake
Grow broad and boundless, then for ever break!
Unprized and brief the dream of Childhood flies,
Swift as the floating gold from morning skies:
But pause, sad censor! Youth shall well repay
The silent flight of Childhood's April day.
Ask him whose eye the light of life illumes,
If in his path no flower of Eden blooms?
Ask him if, while his jocund step he turns
Where pure and bright the social taper burns,
While Mirth and Friendship urge their sparkling bowl,
And Beauty's voice pours music on his soul,
Is Heaven unkind? — or when th' historic page
Glows with the glories of a long-past age,
If his warm bosom pants for high renown
Till Hope, exulting, grasps her radiant crown;
While the proud promise sooths a father's ear,
Or steals from beauteous eyes the blissful tear,
Has life no joys? — for meagre Care alone
Did envious Nature rear so rich a throne?
At yon white casement, bower'd with roses pale,
A rural charmer hears her soldier's tale—
"Be constant, loved one! — and on Ganges' shore
For thee this arm shall heap untarnish'd ore!
Then, where thy cottage lirts its ivied wall,
The beggar's heart shall bless our bounteous hall:
This beechen sapling, carved with many a vow,
This thorn, whose blossoms crown'd thy infant brow,
Chiefs of a grove, shall spread their welcome shade,
While the brown mower sweeps the golden glade.
Yon dimpling rill, whose slender channel bore
The first faint labours of my vent'rous oar,
Swell'd to a lake, our waving woodland's grace,
Shall tempt the gambols of an infant race;
While couch'd on roses in our Eden's bowers,
Our fathers trace their blissful youth in ours!"
Go, bold aspirer! snatch the fleeting prize,
Climb the steep height where Glory's temples rise!
Go, claim the joys of glowing Manhood's noon,
Power's nectar'd cup, and Fame's perennial boon!
In Power's full draught a venom'd aspic dwells,
Round Glory's base an envious torrent yells;
Soon cold Disgust shall towering Wealth invade,
As the broad fabric spreads a broader shade.
Fond man! — ere Conquest bids thy laurels grow,
Time, wintry Time, shall strew thy path with snow!
When ripe in age, and rich in long-sought praise,
Thy soul demands the home of early days,
It rests not here! — the stranger's axe has laid
Low in forgotten dust thy best-loved shade!
Where the glad reaper tuned his noontide song,
The bittern moans neglected swamps among;
The stream, whose mirror lured thy infant eyes,
Choak'd with dank weeds, a reptile's food supplies:
Yon grey stones scatter'd o'er the path-worn green,
Tell where the cottage of thy sires has been!
For thee no home unfolds its social gate,
No father's smiles, no mother's blessings wait!
The eye where rapture borrow'd light from thine,
The heart which hid thee in its inmost shrine,
Lies in yon grass-green mound! but she whose smile
Blest thy, night's dream, and sooth'd thy morning's toil,
Perhaps, still ling'ring in her native vale,
Chides thy slow ship, and doubts the fav'ring gale:
Perhaps for thee those gleaming embers burn
To cheer the long eve of thy late return.—
See! through you casement still a taper shines,
Where yet the oft-remember'd ivy twines!
Steal o'er the woodbined fence with cautious feet,
In whispers soft the panting listener greet—
Who meets thee there? — a widow'd mourner's breast
Lulls by that glimmering hearth her babe to rest!
Slow from thy grasp her wither'd hand removes,
And clasps the famish'd pledge of other loves!
Detested pledge! — a faithless rival's guile
Marks its smooth brow, and lends its cherub smile—
Yet of lost bliss her ling'ring glances speak,
Still hopes remember'd flush her meagre cheek.
"Ah! why (she whispers) why thy long delay,
When Love rebuked and Honour mourn'd thy stay?
Why the low roof of meek Content disdain,
And barter peace for treasures heap'd in vain?"
Now ask if Wealth the pearl of peace bestows;
In walls of gold thy narrow world enclose!
"Say, where is peace?" the earth-bound churl replies,
Fear in his heart and famine in his eyes;
"Where, where is peace?" he murmurs as he crawls
Round his dark cell, and scans its mould'ring walls:
To those lone walls an hovering curse belongs,
Due for a sister's tears, an orphan's wrongs!
Thrice with slow hand he counts his doubtful store,
Thrice on its stiff hinge turns the grating door;
Then starts aghast, and checks his frozen breath,
While the starved spider strikes the watch of death.
Gold, mighty gold, may Alpine roses spread,
Or call rich fruits from Scythia's frozen bed,
But never yet with vernal garlands drest
The colder caverns of a miser's breast.
Wealth bids the rose for shrouded Winter bloom,
But strews no roses on her victim's tomb:
Scarce meagre Av'rice spares his little all,
The ruffled shroud, the banner and the pall!
Then light the taper, spread the banquet wide,
Bid Av'rice fly, and purple Pomp preside:
On Parian columns rear the attic dome,
Spread o'er thy walls the painted pride of Rome:
From Delhi's loom thy shining mantle steal,
And both the Indies rifle for a meal!—
Not Tiber's grape, in bowls of sculptured ore,
Shall Health's rich ruby to thy lip restore;
No gilded slaves can Love's ambrosia bring,
Or one down-feather steal from Slumber's wing!
Not Lima's mines the light of peace supply,
Or lend one gleam to Death's extinguish'd eye!
Yet shower thy wealth: — the golden lava pour;
Like Etna, spread thy heart-consuming store—
For thee, in vain! — though Eden smiles around,
And Nature's treasures at thy feet abound;
Though vines and olives cluster by thy side,
And Earth grows rich beneath thy bounty's tide,
Still thine own breast a wither'd waste remains,
Still flames eternal riot in thy veins!
Mourn, hapless exile! mourn thy wasted day!
Mourn the brief light of Hope's departing ray!
Dire is thy darkness, if in Friendship's breast
Thy wand'ring spirit .seeks its bed of rest;
If false Ambition asks no richer prize
Than the frail gem a kindred heart supplies!
A kindred heart! — can mortal wisdom scan
The filmy threads which weave the heart of man?
Poor tangled web in mimic gold enclosed,
To nurse and hide a sleeping worm composed!
Soon the base embryo bursts its downy fold,
Preys on its couch, and rends its mask of gold.
Does Friendship smile? — suspect her glow-worm light;
Her myrtles shade thee while thy noon is bright:
When Pleasure shines, the graceful guest ascends,
As radiant Iris on the sun attends;
Light o'er the distant cloud her colours play,
Change as he moves, and melt in mists away!
Such visions deck the world! — the sun of Pow'r
Thus with gay vapours gilds its changeful hour!
But through the silent vale, serenely slow,
In moonlight peace, the streams of Friendship flow:
Come to the balmy source! — her gentle tide
Shall pour its freshness o'er the sands of Pride;
Pure, calm, and clear, as Ammon's holy fount
By day sleeps coldly near the templed mount,
But glows with bounteous heat when midnight gloom
Wraps the forsaken wreck of Grandeur's tomb!
Blest Friendship! still thy silver streams abound,
By Wisdom's wand in rocks of Virtue found!
How smooth they glide in Youth's elysian prime,
How rich, when sparkling through the shades of time!
But oft with ruins and with weeds o'erspread,
They sleep, like Ammon's, lost among the dead.
Is there a heart by social joys refined,
Where friendship burns in honour's crystal shrined?
Where yet the graces and the loves preside,
Soft as the swan's down on the silver tide?
Grim Death awaits to snatch the tender prize,
Rend its frail tie, and give it to the skies—
As the rude blast when tyrant Winter raves,
Sweeps the light cygnet's plume from faithless waves!
Ask Vernon's urn! — its narrow bound contains
All that of Nature's noblest work remains!
Pride of that age, when loyal Valour shone
In Love's mild light, and bow'd at Beauty's throne;
When Freedom's sons the Graces' shrine adored,
And their soft myrtle wreath'd the patriot's sword.
Marble! if Art can lend thee Nature's glow,
Give life to truth, and eloquence to woe,
Tell the vain world how low beneath thee lies
All Honour asks, and social Love supplies!
Speak, conscious marble! claim thy envied part
Of Friendship's throne, the brave and bounteous heart!
The warm, the pure, the tender, and the just,
Lie in thy dark recess, dissolved in dust!—
On dust, on ashes, then, shall Wisdom place
Her anchor's hold, her glorious column's base?
Shall the bold pilot, through the tempest's gloom,
Pursue the taper which awaits a tomb?
Inglorious Man! — a nobler Pharos chuse,
The glow-worm torch, the meteor-light refuse!
Be social love thy tribute, not thy aim
The venal shadow shall pursue the flame!
But whence shall mortals seize the flame divine?
Snatch the Promethean spark from Glory's shrine!"
(Thus her stern sage to glowing Sparta spoke,
While soft Ionia trembled in her yoke)
"Reject thyself: — be fearless, and be great;
Thy country's arm, and author of her fate!"
Behold the realms from shrinking ocean won!
Hills piled on hills, and columns near the sun!
Earth from her bosom yields her ravish'd store,
Her forests float, her rivers flame with ore!
These are Ambition's works! — the mighty soul
Binds zone to zone, and shakes the farthest pole.
Start from the throng — the victor's laurel claim,
He half atchieves, who dares aspire to fame!
Thus Philip's son usurp'd a father-god;
Fate own'd its lord, and trembled at his nod:
On Pompey's thought uprooted empires hung,
And Jove's own thunders roll'd on Caesar's tongue.
Far as the floods of sable Danube roar,
From hoary Alps to Atlas' burning shore,
O'er the lone remnant of an earlier world
Imperial Rome her dart of conquest hurl'd:
Where, then, shall Greatness pause? — shall eagle hope
Rest in the brief horizon's narrow scope?
No! — like the arch, whose ample curve expands
From realm to realm, and weds opposing lands,
Thy giant soul shall compass Fortune's tide,
And mock the waves which shatter'd earth divide!
Rise, bold Prometheus! — steal a purer ray
From Glory's heav'n to animate thy clay;
But stern Ambition shall her rock prepare,
And Envy's vulture-fiend devour thee there!
Where dwell ye now, Colossuses of pow'r?
Crush'd into dust, the wonders of an hour!
As vast, as vain, the Rhodian giant strode,
As low in ruin found his last abode.—
Where once the tow'rs of Hector's Ilium rose,
The timid partridge shares the bat's repose:
Athens! to thee the musing pilgrim strays,
And asks thy dust for tales of elder days!
He asks in vain!-the silent ivy creeps
Where Solon spoke, and godlike Theseus sleeps:
'Midst tombs and temples sunk in clust'ring weeds,
The turban'd slave his thirsty camel leads;
Couch'd on thy ruins, tunes his light guitar
Where Pyrrhus launch'd the thunderbolts of war;
Or, starting, sees the burnish'd serpent twine
Round the rent base of Ammon's mould'ring shrine!
And who is he whose naked spectre stands
Where old Euphrates laves his silver sands?
Proud Macedonian! sees thy tearful eye
How low in dust thy hundred portals lie?
Behold the realms thy conqu'ring arm embraced,
Shrunk to a rood, the robber's dreary waste!
Thy glories vanish'd, trackless as the fume
By lavish incense wafted from thy tomb!
But Caesar's arm sublimer glories won,
Bright in his course, and stedfast as the sun
No lurid spot his shining orb deform'd,
His splendour dazzled, but his bounties warm'd—
Mild as the morn when Pity ask'd her boon,
In pow'r refulgent as Ausonia's noon:
Yet Caesar fell! — in Manhood's vernal pride,
Fell by the hand his fost'ring love supplied!
His bounteous bosom bled at Envy's shrine,
And the first stab, Ingratitude! was thine.
Let haughty Freedom consecrate the blow,
Or hide in blood the laurels of her foe;
Go! ask the dead if purer tributes wait
On him who bleeds to glorify her state!
Hear Scipio's voice! his rev'rend image lives
To tell the meed a grateful country gives!
From Capua's vale to Afric's sable shore
He hurl'd the victor red with Roman gore;
Then on Campania's silent rocks repos'd
Saw the gaunt jaws of Calumny unclos'd;
Shew'd his torn laurels to forgetful Rome,
And gave his ashes a securer home
Devoted Carthage! crush'd by coward Hate,
Thy second Atlas sunk beneath thy weight:
On Friendship's lap his hoary head relied,
Then found in death the refuge it denied!
But shall not Fame the patriot's laurels save
Has praise a sting, and gratitude a grave?
Ask Pompey's corse, or murdered Scipio's urn;
From Tully's wounds, or Phocion's fetters learn!
Trace the dire tale in plunder'd Timon's sighs,
In tears of blood from Belisarius' eyes!
Are those too few? — Volumnia's exil'd son
Points to his scars, and mourns his laurels won:
Cornelia's heroes sink in darker gloom,
A Sylla seals, a Marius shares their doom!
Go to thy narrow home, Ambition's slave!
Go to thy home, the cold and silent grave!
The reins of life let Epicurus claim,
Live, live for Pleasure! — Joy is Wisdom's name!
Wrapp'd in dull night, let dreaming sages rove
In Athens' porch, or Academus' grove:
Strew Paphian roses, strike the Teian string,
From Baia's vines the smiling minstrel bring;
The cynic's scoff, the stoic's boast is vain,
Heav'n mocks its work if Man is form'd for Pain!
Haste, tardy Youth! a bland Enchantress calls,
And points thro' em'rald groves to pearl-pav'd halls:
Their iv'ry gate ambrosial roses wreathe,
From urns of gold elysian perfumes breathe.
Amidst, a fount with mellow murmur pours
Wide o'er a sapphire bed its tepid stores;
Gems of all dyes in mimic chains enclose
The sparkling bath which lures to soft repose:
Thence dulcet dreams and rich delirium rise,
While Lethe's opiate seals the captive's eyes;
In Beauty's hand the cup of bliss he sees,
And plucks immortal fruit from Eden's trees;
Bids the broad gate of Pleasure's dome unfold,
And floats thro' nectar'd floods to shores of gold.
He wakes, forgotten on a desert strand,
His wealth a wreck! — his couch the sinking sand!
A narrow couch! — Oblivion's waters flow
Dark, cold, and silent in the gulph below.
His bark lies shatter'd on the faithless shore,
His pilot slumbers to awake no more:
Far, far away, his frolic messmates glide,
Spread their light sails, and skim the fickle tide.
Aghast he sees! — but sees with idiot eyes,
Still on soft weeds and painted shells he lies:
Dull'd by the torpid touch of glitt'ring slime,
He waits, unmov'd, the ebbing tide of time;
Till stretch'd to Vice, or shrunk to coward Spleen,
The changeful Circe shifts her shadowy scene.
Yon moated walls, where sullen osiers wave,
Mark the dank dwelling of her spleen-struck slave.
When summer sunbeams gild the teeming earth,
Or village bells proclaim the feast of mirth,
Forth steals the maniac from his shrouded den,
To herd with serpents in their tangled fen;
Or where cold nightshade wraps the ruin'd hail,
Or hoary grot where murm'ring waters fall:
There lone he sits; and, on forgotten sand,
Shapes sad and antic scrawls with palsied hand,
Then sourly smiles, and, groaning as he goes,
Seeks on the green pool's brink forlorn repose:
But seeks in vain — before his vacant gaze
Stands the dim spectre of departed days.
O'er blasted heath and mountain-rock he strides,
Still in his path the frowning spectre glides;
Couch'd on his lonely hearth he sees it glare,
He feels its vengeance load the ambient air:
Still his own breast the demon's den conceals,
Himself the foe whose scorpion-scourge he feels!
But, Vice! on thee no fancied scourge descends,
When the brief dream of syren Pleasure ends!
Unbar the dungeon — brave its murky gloom—
View the gaunt felon in his living tomb!
Scarce thro' the ten-fold grate a day-beam creeps
To shew where Shame its sullen vigil keeps.
Fit cell for murder! — on those moss-grown stones,
Stretch'd by its sire, a famish'd infant moans;
Lifts to his meagre breast its hollow eyes,
Shrinks from his scowl, and, hid in darkness, dies.
Die, little wretch! ere yet thy sorrows live!
Take the last boon thy helpless sire can give!
He smiles, — dread smile! and sees with transport dire
Thy last, last spark of ling'ring life retire—
No midnight stab thy envied breast shall feel
From Scorn's cold hand, and Hatred's venom'd steel:
No venal syren shall those lips defile,
Rob thy fond heart, or dig thy grave and smile!
Sleep sweet as thine thy sire shall never know,
Such peace, long peace! no opiate drugs bestow!
He lov'd thee once; and smiling Virtue shone
Bright in his breast, imperial Honour's throne;
A Wilmot's wit, a Stanhope's graces twin'd
With flow'rs the pillars of his attic mind,
Till Pleasure reign'd — and, sinking in her snare,
Repentance heap'd its scorpions on Despair!
Now on life's brink th' awaken'd victim stands,
Strikes his void breast, and clasps his bloody hands—
Hark! — 'tis the scaffold's clang — the knell has rung;
He dies, a curse yet glowing on his tongue.
Is this thy triumph, Pleasure? — this thy boon
To trusting Man in Youth's refulgent noon?
Too bland Enchantress! — palsied by thy chain,
The sage, the warrior, seeks his strength in vain!
Fair as the tree Armida's poet feign'd,
Thy myrtle blooms, by health and hope sustain'd;
But falls as soon: — thy lavish flow'rs expire,
Thy fairy palace sinks in folds of fire!
As false Armida rose in giant form,
To urge the demons of the deathful storm,
Unmuffled Vice her flow'ry mantle tears,
Points her red dagger and her scourge prepares;
Grim rocks ascend, and howling torrents spread
Where gems and roses deck'd her downy bed;
Then sink in darkness — drear illusion all,
Save the cold span of earth and silent pall.
Vain man! the gifts of faithless Fortune view,
When sought, how distant! — and, when found, how few!
Behold the joys in Error's empire born,
Their parent, Passion; their pursuer, Scorn!
The pearl soft Childhood's peaceful streams afford,
Melts in the poison'd cup at Folly's board;
Love's waxen wings the youthful wand'rer bear,
Till low they leave him, plung'd in floods of care:
Round bold Ambition fiercer serpents twine
Than clasp'd the panting priest of Pallas' shrine.—
Last on the verge of Life's tempestuous shore,
Cold Age, forsaken, guards his mould'ring store;
Till dark oblivion, stealing on its prey,
For ever sweeps the abject wreck away!
Where, then, is Truth? — the venerable maid
Spoke in the Porch and Academic shade.
Has Bliss a home? — Athenian sages tell—
"Where order reigns, and social virtues dwell."
Fitness and order rule th' eternal plan,
Sublime in heav'n, but most express'd in Man:
Order, true name for Beauty's finest part,
Claims, with mysterious pow'r, his subject heart.
Thus rapture triumphs in the kindling eye,
When the proud temple rears its columns high,
Each part proportion'd to its equal trust,
The means harmonious and the purpose just—
Thus with cold joy the heedless hand explores
Pearls strew'd in heaps on Persia's fragrant shores;
But when soft art their polish'd order lends,
To Beauty's breast the graceful prize ascends.
What mystic charm the waken'd heart assails
When the fair face its silent pow'r unveils;
Is it the glossy curl? — the lip's perfume?
The eye's mild light? — the cheek's unbidden bloom?
All these are vulgar gifts — yon peach's side
Mocks the smooth cheek, and shames its vermil pride;
The ripe lip vies not with the breath of morn,
As balmy dews the scarlet weed adorn:
But in the mirror of the beauteous whole,
Shines the bright reflex of a spotless soul;
Health, the bland order of the earthly frame,
And Peace, celestial Order's best-lov'd name.
As the rich root and balmy stem extends
From social order, social joy ascends.
Self can to self no taste of heav'n dispense;
A joy unsocial is a blot on sense.
Stagnant and dull, the torpid pool recedes
Low in its hated bed, obscure with weeds;
But, if broad channels lead the gentle tide,
Serene it flows, and spreads its bounty wide;
To grateful Earth a glorious tribute pays,
And heav'n's best image in its breast displays.
Sensation's laws the sacred truth explain,
Stamp'd on the heart, and woven with the brain:
Call from yon weary team the whistling hind,
Hard as his soil, and rude as Winter's wind—
Why glows his cheek when buskin'd mimics plead
For orphans wrong'd, and shew a tyrant's deed?
Ask why his warm heart chides the doubtful strife
When the stern Hebrew whets his murd'rous knife?
Why, if that heart no soft compulsion knows
To hate the wretch who feasts on human woes?
Whence flows the tear on Caesar's mould'ring grave?
Why blends that holy tear with Tiber's wave?
Not for our weal imperial Caesar rose,
Not o'er our ruins weeping Tiber flows;
Man sees his glory writ in Caesar's pow'r,
And mourns, in fallen Rome, its little hour!
The dimpled nursling lisps its joy to hear
How pious robins deck'd the wand'rers' bier;
Youth's bright eyes linger ere they close in sleep,
O'er Una's woes or Juliet's grave to weep;
While midnight tapers light the hoary sage
Thro' the long tales of many a far-fled age.—
Whence spring their charms? — those potent charms proclaim,
Love, truth, and pity, woven with our frame—
The soul its tender charities requites,
Courts their soft touch, and in their throng delights:
As the fond mother boasts her infant train,
Smiles on their birth, and glories in her pain.
Then Virtue triumphs: — form'd for deeds sublime.
Man hails their relics midst the wrecks of time:
Else why more proudly dwells his sparkling eye
On Phocion's cell than Caesar's canopy?
Why swells his heart when Afric's hostage spurns
Love's precious bribe, and back to death returns,
With truer rapture than when Asia yields
To one bold hand the riches of her fields?
Benignant Sympathy! — in Virtue's cause
From heart to heart her silver link she draws;
Crowns Nature's work; and on the moving clod
Asserts the stamp and semblance of a God.
Ah! why assert that glorious stamp in vain
Why this frail link in Nature's golden chain?
Stern stepdame Nature! did thy hate bestow
This rich capacity of bliss and woe?
This mighty grasp, this boundless thirst of pow'r,
To crowd with anguish Death's unpitying hour?
Needs the poor pilgrim of one wintry day
Such wond'rous structure, such sublime array?
Thoughts swift as light, and infinite as space,
His narrow passage to the grave to trace?
Vain dreams of glory! — social raptures, fly
Man's humble business is to wake and die.
Why, Nature! why in mimic pomp provide
This giant Reason for an insect's guide?
Illustrious phantom! — dust in splendor drest!
Creation's monarch, less than reptiles blest!
The worm, content, its silken toil pursues,
Sleeps in the rose, and feasts on honied dews:
But Man, poor Man! on Reason's baseless throne
Seeks distant joys and sorrows not his own;
Thro' Nature's stores directs his dazzled eyes,
While scarce her worlds his craving heart supplies,
Then sinks forgotten in eternal gloom,
His guest, the worm; his home, the silent tomb!
Wake, hapless Man! Religion's seraph hand
Lifts the dark pall, and bursts the leaden band!
She comes — Creation's noontide darkness flies,
Her temple's veil is rent — the dead arise
As rocks gave balm, and yelling tempests slept
When Israel's God his hallow'd vigil kept,
Faith bids the desert smile, the tempest cease,
And pours from blasted rocks the balm of peace.
Wake, slumb'ring Man! — thy radiant guide behold!
View thy rich realm — the boundless map unfold!
Religion aids thee — hers the golden key
Of Life's resplendent stage, Eternity!
Stupendous gift! — unaided Reason sighs,
Scarce lifts the veil, and feebly grasps the prize.
Stagira's sage the pomp of heav'n survey'd,
Then paus'd aghast, and sought a God for aid:
Felt in his breast a deathless spirit barr'd,
And hoped Eternity, but not reward.
Guide of illumin'd Greece! — thy glance sublime
Pierc'd not the dark abyss of space and time!
Thy wisdom rais'd her meteor-torch to shew
Man's science "Nothing," and his pride untrue
Yet thy free soul its mighty author own'd,
Renounc'd blind Chance, and Deity enthron'd;
Half guess'd its glorious aim, and gave to Man
His noblest precept — "Aid thy Maker's plan!
Seek truth, love peace; thy whole of bliss attends
When noble means combine with virtuous ends."
But few the dizzy height of Science trod
Whence startled Reason half beholds her God
Remote and dim the priests of Nature saw
Love's lambent light, and Charity's meek law.
Of joys self-rais'd the stubborn cynic rav'd,
Spurn'd Nature's grace, and half her work enslav'd;
Dull Epicurus kiss'd his flow'ry chain,
And Plato dreamt of social bliss in vain.
Religion spoke! — her ample treas'ry gave
What attic sages hop'd, but dar'd not crave:
All Reason's banquet, all the joys of sense,
Truth, social love, content, beneficence!
All Pagan wisdom's broad and boasted store,
Alas! how vain if Heav'n had lent no more!
The cynic saw his sullen strength defied,
And found in faith a firmer shield than pride:
The patient stoic claim'd a nobler prize,
Cloth'd in eternal light beyond the skies:
Eternal! — Reason hails the glorious word,
Souls claim eternity, or heav'n has err'd!
But angel tongues the glorious pledge reveal'd,
Their Chief, their God, Creation's promise seal'd!
Hide, reptile Sorrow! hide thy baffled sting,
Weak as the thistle to the whirlwind's wing!
Eternity's broad scale no record bears,—
There light as summer's dust are mortal cares.
Who heeds the narrow porch or thorny way
When countless gems his slender toil repay?
Who fears the scatter'd darts of flying foes,
If praise immortal waits the battle's close?—
But few the foes which Virtue's path invade
When Meekness walks with Truth in Wisdom's shade!
Pointless and frail the envious dart recoils,
Or adds a trophy to their well-won spoils.
As scorpions shun the silver-cinctur'd isle,
No serpent-cares the placid breast defile;
And Charity, mild guest! with healing wings,
To Virtue's storm-tost ark the olive brings;
There, like the dove to mercy's herald given,
Proclaims on earth the best-belov'd of Heav'n.
From Pow'r's stupendous seat her herald came,
To blend her light with Truth's refulgent flame:
Not his the glories of a conqu'ror's form,
His torch a meteor, or his voice a storm;
Meek as the dying babe his whisper woke,
With Mercy's tongue the Prince of Wisdom spoke:
On infant brows his parent-signet prest,
Rais'd the sunk eye, and warm'd the wither'd breast,
Gave Love his sceptre, and on Friendship's bier
Pour'd heav'n's own incense with a mortal's tear.
The sire, of Childhood's precious bud bereav'd,
Ask'd but His smile, and second life receiv'd:
Warm through his nerveless hands and blasted side,
The palsied trembler felt the vital tide;
And ere his wan lips form'd their feeble pray'r,
Found Health's rich crimson glow and triumph there!
Mute in meek faith, the wither'd mourner won
Life from His eye, ere humble hope begun:
Beneath its beam the idiot-caitiff crept,
The contrite sinner heard his God and wept:
While the poor pilgrim, with new-open'd eyes,
Saw Hope's eternal sun unclouded rise!
Behold him yet! — his mild but mighty voice
Still bids the pilgrim's humble heart rejoice;
Still to the couch of peace the mourner calls,
While from his eye the film of error falls:
Lifts the frail flow'r by blighting tempests bow'd,
And life triumphant raises from the shroud!
Waked by his voice, immortal Pleasure sprung,
Truth's seraph sister, ever fair and young:
With her she waits — a far-retiring maid,
Fond of the secret cell and vestal shade.
Not as the priests of frantic Bacchus feign'd,
With Teian grapes, or Thracian orgies stain'd:
Nor bound with flow'r to Cupid's painted car,
Nor wheel'd by tigers thro' the pomp of war
But by mild Truth, her white-rob'd sister, led
With upfix'd eyes and light-encircled head,
Where Hope, remote from Passion's turbid tides,
Her pure perennial stream in silence guides:
While Charity, bright Faith's celestial child,
Breathes her bland zephyr o'er the wintry wild;
Like Spring, with fingers dipp'd in healing dews,
The roseate robe of frozen Earth renews;
Spreads her soft veil o'er fickle Nature's frown,
And lends young Pleasure her eternal crown.
Thus Pleasure dwells with Man! — her smiles illume
The Exile's desert, and the Captive's gloom:
Sublime she sits, if awful Virtue calls,
When rent earth trembles, and the mountain falls!
She walks with Valour on the loose rock's verge,
Pares the wide gulf, and tempts the boiling surge.
When Rome's meek victims smil'd on beds of fire,
Immortal Pleasure quench'd their fun'ral pyre:
With royal Jane the crimson axe she brav'd,
On Cranmer's stake her shining ensign wav'd;
Her hand the nuptial torch of Russel bore,
When the dark scaffold blush'd with lavish gore;
By dauntless Raleigh's prison-couch she stood,
And smil'd with Hampden at Ambition's flood.
In death the martyr sees her angel form,
The patriot hears her in the battle-storm;
But most when Peace her olive garland weaves,
And Pity's breast her wounded dove receives.
Nor there alone: in Life's sequester'd dell
Where Meditation seeks his hermit cell,
Or sacred Poverty reclines unseen,
Oft o'er the straw-wove couch she loves to lean.
She lingers, smiling, o'er the victor's bier,
When all he ask'd of life, in death is near;
But purer still her secret incense glows,
If the brave bosom shares a brother's woes:
There vestal Pleasure gives her lengthen'd light,
As rays reflected seem more softly bright.
Her nectar fill'd expiring Sidney's soul,
While the parch'd soldier shar'd his scanty bowl:
Less precious drops her partial hand supplied,
When Brunswick conquer'd, than when Leopold died.
Has Care no solace? on the silent stream
Of dark Affliction steals no summer-beam?
Yes! there are joys to sacred Sorrow known,
Unfelt on Grandeur's couch or Glory's throne!
Those joys lie treasur'd in the faithful breast,
Where oft-forgiven Shame returns to rest;
They light the eyes which patient vigils keep
Affection's embers to behold and weep.
Unfading comforts crown the tender thought,
With duteous Care and social Pity fraught:
A thousand joys that tender thought supplies,
As the soft opal boasts a thousand dyes!
Can the rich grape, Carpathia's purple pride,
Can those deep mines her frozen mountains hide,
Yield gem or balsam precious as the tear
Dropp'd on the bed of Pain when Love is near?
Is the soft touch of Beauty's magic hand,
While Mirth and Music lead their shining band,
So dear, so suasive as the kiss bestow'd
When life, reluctant, leaves its lov'd abode?—
When, held by trembling Hope, the midnight lamp
Gleams on the brow with deadly anguish damp;
When the cold hand the last long pressure feels,
And its faint grasp a speechless wish reveals;
While the fond spirit, ling'ring ere it flies,
Looks yet a moment thro' the closing eyes!
O! that last look, that dumb and brief caress,
Shall the lone eve of late Remembrance bless!
That precious relic midst the sea of time
Lives, like the torch on Afric's tow'r sublime,
Unquench'd, while Sorrow sheds her frequent show'r,
A blissful beacon in the darkest hour!
But if to wrap the wearied warrior's head
Meek Love and Faith their downy curtain spread;
If their soft hands his ev'ning couch prepare,
Or win the barb'd sting from the brow of Care,
Pleasure, with wreaths of deathless am'ranth crown'd,
From her rich censer wafts ambrosia round;
Ambrosia, such as Beauty's insect train
Seek in the summer buds of Love in vain!
When o'er her hero's wound Sybilla bent,
Health to her lips its softest balsam lent;
When Dian's breath expiring virtue fann'd,
Peace gave its sceptre to her gentle hand.
In Mary's smile sublimer beauty dwelt,
While William's clouded soul its sunbeam felt,
Than when, ador'd on Gallia's silken throne,
In bridal pomp a fairer Mary shone.
Thus woman triumphs: — but when Science show'rs
Her nectar'd gifts on Youth's awak'ning flow'rs;
When Thought ethereal to its God ascends,
As Heav'n exhales the precious dew it lends;
While Wisdom, beaming thro' the clouds of age,
Illumes the treasures of her sacred page,
And, like the mild moon, gilding earthly night,
Pours from the Sun of Truth reflected light;
Then Man to Pleasure's fount exulting springs,
While angels smile, and wave their silver wings!
Thro' Lapland wilds that genial fountain flows,
'Midst Andes bleak, or Zembla's mountain snows;
Or where, thro' sable sands and forests dire,
The fierce equator pours malignant fire,
When the blest Pilgrim, bold in bounteous toil,
Thro' the dark desert guides another Nile:
From Truth's pure source reviving nectar pours,
Melts the stern soul, and wins its buried stores;
Bids savage Nature hail the soft'ning stream,
And a new Eden bless Religion's beam.
Pilgrim! tho' howling round thy lonely way,
The gaunt hyena seeks her gasping prey;
Tho' Lybia's tyrants urge thy patient flight
Thro' scorch'd savannahs, black with deathful night,
Faith on the desert-path her manna strews,
Guards thy lone pillow, and thy torch renews!
Tho' not for thee the ripe anana glows,
Nor the rich lime its fragrant balm bestows,
Thy scrip and staff attending angels bear,
Fill thy pure cup, and richer fruits prepare;
As guardian seraphs smooth'd the barren way
Of Him whose empire shall thy toils repay!
O! let not Glory's fire-ey'd soldier pause,
Nor spurn the laurel reap'd in Virtue's cause
Fame's barter'd slaves their scanty hire shall own,
While Mercy's ministers approach her throne!
Round Howard's grave auguster trophies rise
Than haughty Trajan's, mingling with the skies:
On Hanway's dome auspicious stars shall shine,
When ravens brood, imperial Charles! on thine.
Unfading wreaths the priest of Science crown,
When Grandeur's columns fall forgotten down!
Newton! thy glory thron'd in light shall live,
While suns reveal'd by thee their radiance give!
As long, blest Locke! thy name shall dwell enshrin'd
In thine own temple, Man's immortal mind!
And ye, meek heralds of the purer light,
By bland Religion pour'd on mortal sight!
Ye, who the slumb'ring lyre of Israel strung,
And gave to infant lips Devotion's tongue,
Shall kindred choirs of warbling cherubs hear
Thro' the long spring of Heav'n's eternal year!
While the red robber, mad Ambition's boast,
Falls like the insect-lamp on Brahma's coast,
The Sage who bade his orient world rejoice,
And lent to Veeshnu's form a Saviour's voice;
He who first toil'd in Indus' glowing mine,
To heap her gems on holy Wisdom's shrine,
Supreme on Fame's eternal rock shall stand,
Till the last trophy falls from Conquest's hand!
But these were sov'reign souls! — can Faith impart
Mild Pleasure's banquet to the beggar's heart?
A heart by no resplendent ray inform'd,
Nor smooth'd by Science, nor by Genius warm'd!
Can fruitful Charity's soft germ unfold
In blighted bosoms, desolate and cold?
When Want, stern Want! arrests her shining course,
Chills her pure stream, and locks its genial source,
Can Faith the iron grasp of Pain endure,
Or strew with flow'rs the hovel of the poor?
Come to this dell where never sun-beam shone,
Where, choak'd with weeds, imprison 'd waters moan:
Scarce the starv'd goat a lonely flow'r to meet,
Down the grim chasm trusts his faithful feet;
There rocks on rocks by groaning earthquakes rent,
Join their hoar heads in naked ruin bent:
Ere Nature's Author bless'd his work and smil'd,
Thus bare she look'd, thus desolately wild—
Whence creeps you curling smoke? — where shaggy thatch
O'erhangs the rude door, heedless of a latch—
Is this a dwelling? — 'tis a demon's den,
A demon prowling for the wrecks of men!
The wand'rer shuns the path, tho' midnight scowls,
His wary wolf-dog looks askance and howls—
But start not, stranger! — at the shatter'd gate
A Brother smiles, and jocund welcomes wait:
Beneath those tatters, rent by many a storm,
Beats a pure heart with social bounty warm.
Revere that sun-burnt brow! — erect and bare,
It fronts the skies and claims a guardian there!
Faith in yon herdsman's breast her altar rears,
As the bright hearth his clay-built hovel cheers;
He calls thee, stranger! to his friendly door,
And blesses thee as heav'n shall bless his store!
See, the grey matron seeks her oaten hoard,
Smooths her warm hearth, and heaps the milk-white board;
Her rose-lipp'd babes the smoking faggot trim,
While the brown nectar sparkles to the brim:
To thirsty lips ambrosial as the bowl
Fill'd where Livadia's honied fountains roll;
Sweet as the kid on Hybla's fragrance fed,
Seems the parch'd crust by smiling Welcome spread.
Sleep, weary wand'rer! tho' on wood-moss laid,
No midnight felon shall thy rest invade!
Nor hurl thy cold limbs to their unknown grave
Beneath the giant rock or howling wave!
Sleep! — tho' by Penury's chill fetters prest,
Peace lights the cot, and guards the slumb'ring guest.
With morning's dew her vital balm she brings,
And spreads her down on Midnight's sable wings:—
Blest on his straw the hoary peasant lies,
Nor envies Pomp her gilded canopies:
Taught from the stores of bounteous heav'n to crave
The boon his pity to a brother gave;
Taught to behold above yon azure dome,
Pav'd with ten thousand suns, his promis'd home:
Secure, when Sorrow drops her scorpion-rod,
To stand with monarchs by the throne of God!
O'er distant fields his best-lov'd son is gone,
Where Albion's glory leads her warriors on:
For wealth and fame to bless his hoary age,
The blooming soldier brav'd the battle's rage.
Now his fast life-blood warms a thankless shore,
'Midst storms of fire, and floods of foaming gore!
On him no mother's melting eye shall gaze,
No father's proud heart banquet on his praise—
In Sorrow's lap his orphan babe shall bloom,
While the cold Douro laves his nameless tomb!
Forlorn he lies! the lurid moon alone
Views the drear field, and hears his dying groan.
Hark! o'er the mound of death a footstep steals,
His frozen hand the grasp of anguish feels
A wife's torn bosom props his sinking head—
Such love might warm, such woe awake the dead!
One, one last glance her palsied lips demand,
Press his damp brow, and print his clay-cold hand—
One glance to treasure in her ruin'd heart,
Till the last pangs of ling'ring life depart!
Alas! those eyes no precious beam supply,
On his pale lip unutter'd blessings die—
O, not unseen! — amidst yon lightning's glare
A Father sits, and registers his pray'r!
He, whose mild hands the unfledg'd raven feed,
And clothe the field, and prop the fallen reed,
Shall widow'd Love's unshelter'd relic save,
When wild weeds strew forgotten Valour's grave!
Faith! thy bright hand the soldier's hope enshrines,
Thine, only thine, his broken heartstring twines!
He hears thy promise in the whisp'ring breeze,
Thro' the rent cloud thy herald-torch he sees!
One ling'ring tear his feeble eye bestows,
Then turns to heav'n, and shuts in blest repose!
But from the dust, where stretch'd and dumb he lies,
What hand shall lift Despair, when Beauty dies?
Belov'd Malvina! when the with'ring blast
Of Death o'ertook thee ere thy morn was past,
Did no soft triumph mingle with thy sigh?
No sacred rapture light thy closing eye?
When thy chill lips a hopeless mother prest,
When their last roses faded on her breast,
Did not an angel's smile, an angel's tongue,
Sooth her whose anguish round thy relics clung?
"Ere long ye meet again! — the bitter tear,
The feeble record spare; for ever dear
To Him who bids the pride of empires cease,
Is the low grave where, wrapp'd by maiden Peace,
Meek Virtue rests! — and oft at Fancy's hour,
In the calm shade of Friendship's evening bow'r,
Her form shall hover, or in dreams display
The promis'd noon of Joy's eternal day:
That angel form shall guide thy steps, and wave
Her silver wings to waft thee from the grave!"
But thou, sad Exile! whose unshelter'd charms
Apostate Passion lur'd to Ruin's arms,
Thou, whose drear days and houseless midnights show
The dire varieties of guilty woe,
In Fancy's bow'r shalt find no roses spring,
No angel-phantom spread its guardian wing!
Yon grey moon-silver'd roof, whence ling'ring smoke
Creeps thro' the broad shade of the time-worn oak,
Was once thy blissful home! now cold and drear,
The night-wind whistles thro' thy scatter'd hair:
On the bare heath, while angry meteors gleam,
Thy babes forsaken join the death-bird's scream:
Or seek their scant crumb from a father's door,
While Scorn and Vengeance guard his canker'd store!
Lone wand'rer! from the ark of Mercy chas'd
Thro' Guilt's dark deluge, o'er a pathless waste!
For thee no olive's sacred branch shall bloom,
No pity spreads its rainbow thro' the gloom!
On earth no haven yields thy footsteps rest,
While the rude tempest rends thy tender breast!
Yet lift those tearful eyes! — one bounteous hand
Still guides thy frail feet to a shelt'ring strand;
Not where proud Custom smiles at Honour's wound,
Or Vice, triumphant, rears her trophies round;
Nor where, o'er meagre Shame arid Hatred pale,
Degraded Hymen spreads his slender veil:
Far, far from these! — to Virtue's cloister'd seat,
Where meek Repentance sits at Mercy's feet,
Religion calls thee home — her hand benign
Round the shorn lamb her silver cord shall twine;
Her gentle touch is ransom'd Woe's release,
Her precept, pardon; her dominion, peace!
As Heav'n's soft gales th' Eolian lute inspire,
Her breath shall tune Affliction's shatter'd lyre:
Thy morning's cloud shall melt in grateful show'rs,
And one pale gleam adorn thy closing hours!
Rest, humble suppliant! Glory's laurell'd head
Seeks the soft pillow which enrich'd thy bed!—
While lost Lusatia drops her broken shield,
Her Chief lies friendless on the guilty field:
He whose bold arm her falling throne embrac'd,
Whose glory's beam the night of ruin grac'd,
Groans in base chains! — triumphant demons smile,
While Pow'r and Treason mock his baffled toil.—
Avails it now how oft that captive hand
Gave Conquest wings to reach a thankless land?
How oft that tongue awak'ning senates fir'd
While palsied Envy in her cell expir'd?
Betray'd by them whose wav'ring flame he fed,
Whose scatter'd hosts his radiant column led,
He hears the wolves of fierce Ambition yell,
Their den his grave; their victims' groans his knell!
Defeat's grim spectres chide his ling'ring breath,
And steep in gall the tardy shaft of Death.
Where rests his hope? — On THEE, whose arm unfolds
The veil of Justice, and her sceptre holds!
On Thee, whose glance the dungeon's gloom explores,
Tho' tyrants bar their adamantine doors!
Tho' cold Defeat arrests the Patriot's hand,
While Discord, raving, lifts her lurid brand,
Thine shall his name in Glory's volume write,
And pour on crouching Guilt, tremendous light!
Eternal King! not giant souls alone
Claim thy broad shield, or seek thy awful throne!
When choral crowds the pealing anthem swell,
Thine ear turns, pitying, to the silent cell
Where Patience sits, Affliction's smiling guest,
And bares to ruthless Pain her placid breast.
When scowling Danger rides the midnight storm,
Thy arm sustains yon faint and faded form,
Where, like a brief, yet balmy flow'r, decays
The ling'ring beauty of departed days;
While youth to spotless age its light resigns,
As the pale lamp thro' polish'd crystal shines.
In Joy's warm bosom once that beauty glow'd,
Borne by young Love to Hymen's blest abode:
An envied sire the tender blossom fed,
Exulting brothers fenc'd its fragrant bed;
But Pain, dire fiend! the rose of Beauty ey'd,
Seiz'd its soft stem, and crush'd its early pride!
The victim smil'd! — thro' rents by anguish made
Her soul came forth in purer light array'd;
Serenely saw its ruin'd mansion bend,
And Youth's mild star in midnight gloom descend.
Pain on her couch the veil of Patience wore,
And silent Grief Religion's incense bore!
Now in the vale, where truth and peace reside,
The matron-saint awaits her angel-guide:
Mild Hymen's torch extinct and buried lies,
Fraternal love its healing dew denies!
She sees the cold worm prey on Manhood's bloom,
And her soul's pride enrich the thankless tomb.
Yet, with encircling love, her fond embrace
Guards the last tendril of a blighted race;
Still, like the wounded pine, her bosom yields
Balm to the orphan branch its bounty shields.
A fruitless branch! whose blossom ill repays
The root which feeds it while itself decays!
As when the plant in Winter's bosom rear'd
Erects its silver head, in age rever'd,
One feeble flow'r, beneath the fost'ring leaves,
From the rich stem its vital juice receives;
And ere it drops to mix with kindred earth,
Pays its brief tribute where it owes its birth:
But angel hands the parent stem shall bear
To Eden's bow'rs, and bid it flourish there!
Yes, thou shalt smile, Belov'd! when Fate has bow'd
To kindred earth, the abject, and the proud!
When the chill blast of Fortune's wintry day
Sweeps Folly's insect revellers away;
And they whose cold hearts mock'd deluded trust,
Lie with forgotten heaps in nameless dust,
Thou, as the cedar shades its storm-struck foe,
Shalt screen the hand which laid thy branches low!
Pleasure to thee her silver cup shall bring,
Fill'd with the balm from Wisdom's ample spring:
Her flow'rs thy banquet and thy couch shall dress,
Her vestal lamp shall warm thy soul's recess,
Unseen, unboasted in her secret shrine,
As the rich topaz lights the silent mine!
Rest, tow'ring Hope! thy eagle pinions bide—
Not here thy triumph, not on earth thy pride!
Could Truth, could Wisdom, eternize their flame,
Could Genius life's immortal spark reclaim,
Yon mould'ring record had not vainly told
Where Wisdom sleeps, and eloquence lies cold!
Pain had the seat of attic Science spar'd,
And Health and Joy the lucid mansion shar'd;
The Poet's ray, the Patriot's beacon fire
Had shone undimm'd, and bade the world admire:
The Priest of Mercy still had grac'd her shrine,
Still from his bosom pour'd her balm divine;
Still attic nectar on his lips had hung,
While bland Religion triumph'd on his tongue.
Pause, mourner! from the grave his precepts reach,
The grave of Goodness claims eternal speech!
Pause! tho' in fun'ral gloom suspended here,
The radiant lamp of Mercy's shrine revere!
O mourn no more! to silent dust assign'd
Lies but the clay which holy fire confin'd!
In distant worlds the deathless flame shall burn,
Tho' kindred earth receives the sculptur'd urn—
O mourn no more! — tho' low beneath thee laid,
The flow'rs of fame, and wit, and science fade,
All Honour lends, and grateful Love bestows,
Shall deck mild Virtue, wrapp'd in brief repose:
She slumbers here! but when the solar fire
Is lost in night, and crumbling worlds retire,
From the rent earth her glorious spark shall rise,
Spread its pure flame, and mingle with the skies!
Pleasure! in Fancy's eye serenely clear,
Life's bright horizon, ever new and near,
Whene'er we gaze, thy canopy ascends;
Where-e'er we tread, thy ample round extends!
But fairest, widest, when the sov'reign ray
Of sun-bright Reason wins its equal way;
When soft and clear, unvex'd by ruffian gales,
The pure cerulean tint of love prevails
Then if a cloud the bright expanse invades,
It teems with blessings for the earth it shades!
Not when gay Childhood's morning vapour plays,
Or fierce Ambition spreads its noontide blaze;
Or, big with storms and death, the sullen cloud
Of Vice, advancing, rolls its sable shroud
These, these shall pass away! — while pure and bright
Religion triumphs in eternal light,
Till the thin shades of brief existence fall,
And Pleasure's cloudless heav'n encircles all!