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Where are the mighty thunderbolts of war? The Roman Cæsars, and the Grecian chiefs, The boast of story? Where the hot-brain'd youth Who the tiara at his pleasure tore From kings of all the then discover'd globe; And cry'd, forsooth, because his arm was hamper'd, And had not room enough to do its work? Alas! how slim, dishonourably slim,
And cram'd into a space we blush to name!
That throbs beneath the sacrificer's knife.
But see! the well-plum'd herse comes nodding on,
Of conquerors, and coronation-pomps,
And houses' tops, ranks behind ranks close wedg'd
Proud lineage, now how little thou appear'st! Below the envy of the private man! Honor, that meddlesome officious ill, Pursues thee ev'n to death; nor there stops short. Strange persecution! when the grave itself Is no protection from rude sufferance.
Absurd! to think to over-reach the grave,
And grip'd them like some lordly beast of prey,
(As if a slave was not a shred of nature,
Trusts only in the well-invented knife ? Of the same common nature with his lord ;)
With study pale, and midnight vigils spent, Now tame and humble, like a child that's whipp'd, The star-surveying sage, close to his eye Shakes hands with dust, and calls the worm his Applies the sight-invigorating tube ; [space, kinsman;
And travelling through the boundless length of Nor pleads his rank and birthright. Under ground Marks well the courses of the far-seen orbs Precedency's a jest; vassal and lord,
That roll with regular confusion there, Grossly familiar, side by side consume.
In ecstacy of thought. But ah! proud man ! When self-esteem, or others' adulation,
Great heights are hazardous to the weak head; Would cunningly persuade us we were something Soon, very soon, thy firmest footing fails; Above the common level of our kind, (tery, And down thou dropp'st into that darksome place, The grave gainsays the smooth-complexion'd flat- Where nor device nor knowledge ever eame. And with blunt truth acquaints us what we are. Here the tongue-warrior lies! disabled now,
Beauty! thou pretty plaything! dear deceit! Disarm’d, dishonour'd, like a wretch that's gagg'd That steals so softly o'er the stripling's heart, And cannot tell his ails to passers by. And gives it a new pulse, unknown before!
Great man of language! whence this mighty change? The grave discredits thee: thy charms expung'd, This dumb despair, and drooping of the head? Thy roses faded, and thy lilies soil'd,
Though strong persuasion hung upon thy lip, What hast thou more to boast of? Will thy lovers And sly insinuation's softer arts Flock round thee now, to gaze and do thee homage! In ambush lay about thy flowing tongue ; Methinks I see thee with thy head low laid,
Alas! how chop-fall'n now! Thick mists and silence Whilst surfeited upon thy damask cheek
Rest, like a weary cloud, upon thy breast The high-fed worm, in lazy volumes rollid,
Unceasing. Ah! where is the listed arm, Riots unscar.d.- For this, was all thy caution ? The strength of action, and the force of words, For this, thy painful labours at thy glass ?
The well-turn'd period, and the well-tun'd voice, T'improve those charms, and keep them in repair, With all the lesser ornaments of phrase ! For which the spoiler thanks thee not ? Foul feeder! Ah! fled for ever, as they ne'er had been ! Coarse fare and carrion please thee full as well, Raz'd from the book of fame : or, more provoking, And leave as keen a relish on the sense.
Perchance some hackney hunger-bitten scribbler Look how the fair one weeps !-the conscious tears Insults thy memory, and blots thy tomb Stand thick as dew-drops on the bells of flow'rs: With long flat narrative, or duller rhymes, Honest effusion! the swoll'n heart in vain
With heavy halting pace that drawl along; Works hard to put a gloss on its distress,
Enough to rouse a dead man into rage, Strength too! thou surly, and less gentle boast And warm with red resentment the wan cheek. Of those that laugh loud at the village ring!
Here the great masters of the healing art, A fit of common sickness pulls thee down
These mighty mock defrauders of the tomb, With greater ease, than e'er thou didst the stripling Spite of their juleps and catholicons, That raslıly dar'd thee to th’unequal fight.
Resign to fate. Proud Æsculapius' son! What groan was that I heard ?-deep groan indeed! Where are thy boasted implements of art, With anguish heavy laden! let me trace it: And all thy well-cramm'd magazines of health: From yonder bed it comes, where the strong man, Nor hill nor vale, as far as ship could go, By stronger arm belabour'd, gasps for breath Nor margin of the gravel-bottom'd brook, Like a hard-hunted beast. How his great heart Escap'd thy rifling hand ;-- from stubborn shrubs Beats thick! his roomy chest by far too scant Thou wrung’st their shy-retiring virtues out, To give the lungs full play.-What now avail And vex'd them in the fire: nor fly, nor insect, The strong-built sinewy limbs, and well-spread Nor writhy snake, escap'd thy deep research. shoulders?
But why this apparatus ? why this cost? See how he tugs for life, and lays about him, Tell us, thou doughty keeper from the grave ! Mad with his pain !-Eager he catches hold Where are thy recipes and cordials now, Of what comes next to hand, and grasps it hard, With the long list of vouchers for thy cures ? Just like a creature drowning ; hideous sight! Alas! thou speakest not. The bold impostor Oh! how his eyes stand out, and stare full ghastly! Looks not more silly, when the cheat's found out. Whilst the distemper's rank and deadly venom Here the lank-sided miser, worst of felons ! Shoots like a burning arrow cross his bowels, Who meanly stole (discreditable shift!) And drinks his marrow up.-Heard you that groan: From back and belly too, their proper cheer, It was his last.-See how the great Goliah,
Eas'd of a tax it irk'd the wretch to pay Just like a child that brawl'd itself to rest, [boaster, To his own carcass, now lies cheaply lodg'd, Lies still. What mean'st thou then, O mighty By clam'rous appetites no longer teasid, To vaunt of nerves of thine? what means the bull, Nor tedious bills of charges and repairs. Unconscious of his strength, to play the coward, But ah! where are his rents, his comings-in? And flee before a feeble thing like man;
Aye! now you've made the rich man poor indeed: That, knowing well the slackness of his arm, Robb'd of his gods, what has he left behind
Oh cursed just of gold! when for thy sake,
O might she stay, to wash away her stains,
Sure 'tis a serious thing to die, my soul !
If death were nothing, and nought after death; 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 heavens:-then might the drunkard
Reel over his full bowl, and, when 'tis drain'd,
The shameless hand be foully crimson'd o'er
From this world's ills, that at the very worst
Tell us, ye dead! will none of you, in pity
And make us learn'd as you are, and as close.. Death's shafts fly thick:-Here falls the villageswain,
And there his pamper'd lord.-The cup goes round:
'Tis long since Death had the majority;
Into fantastic schemes, which the long livers
And jovial youth, of lightsome vacant heart,
Deep read in stratagems, and wiles of courts.
With all his guards and tools of power about him,
Poor man!-how happy once in thy first state! When yet but warm from thy great Maker's hand, He stamp'd thee with his image, and, well pleas'd, Smil'd on his last fair work. Then all was well. Sound was the body, and the soul serene; Like two sweet instruments, ne'er out of tune, That play their several parts.-Nor head, nor heart, Offer'd to ache: nor was there cause they should; For all was pure within: no fell remorse, Nor anxious castings-up of what might be, Alarm'd his peaceful bosom :-summer seas Show not more smooth, when kiss'd by southern Just ready to expire.-Scarce importun'd, [winds The generous soil, with a luxuriant hand, Offer'd the various produce of the year, And every thing most perfect in its kind. Blessed! thrice blessed days!-But ah! how short! Bless'd as the pleasing dreams of holy men; But fugitive, like those, and quickly gone. Oh! slippery state of things.-What sudden turns! What strange vicissitudes in the first leaf Of man's sad history!-To day most happy, And ere to-morrow's sun has set, most abject! How scant the space between these vast extremes! Thus far'd it with our sire:-not long he enjoy'd His paradise!-Scarce had the happy tenant Of the fair spot due time to prove its sweets, Or sum them up, when straight he must be gone, Ne'er to return again.—And must he go? Can nought compound for the first dire offence Of erring man?-Like one that is condemn'd, Fain would he trifle time with idle talk, And parley with his fate.-But 'tis in vain. Not all the lavish odours of the place, Offer'd in incense, can procure his pardon, Or mitigate his doom.-A mighty angel, With flaming sword, forbids his longer stay, And drives the loiterer forth; nor must he take One last and farewell round.-At once he lost His glory and his God.-If mortal now, And sorely maim'd, no wonder.-Man has sinn'd. Sick of his bliss, and bent on new adventures, Evil he would needs try: nor try'd in vain. (Dreadful experiment! destructive measure! Where the worst thing could happen, is success.) Alas! too well he sped:-the good he scorn'd Stalk'd off reluctant, like an ill-us'd ghost, Not to return; or if it did, its visits, Like those of angels, short and far between: Whilst the black dæmon, with his hell-'scap'd train, Admitted once into its better room,
Grew loud and mutinous, nor would be gone;
But know that thou must render up the dead, Lording it o'er the man, who now too late
And with high int’rest too !—They are not thine, Saw the rash error, which he could not mend: But only in thy keeping for a season, An error fatal not to him alone,
Till the great promis'd day of restitution ; But to his future sons, his fortune's heirs,
When loud diffusive sound from brazen trump Inglorious bondage!--Human nature groans Of strong-lung'd cherub, shall alarm thy captives, Beneath a vassalage so vile and cruel,
And rouse the long, long sleepers into life, And its vast body bleeds through ev'ry vein. Day-light, and liberty.
What havoc hast thou made, foul monster, Sin! Then must thy gates fly open, and reveal Greatest and first of ills! the fruitful parent
The mines that lay long forming under ground, Of woes of all dimensions!— But for thee
In their dark cells immur'd; but now full ripe,
That twice has stood the torture of the fire
The Son of God, thee foil'd.-Him in thy power Involv'd in pitchy clouds of smoke and stench,
Thou could'st not hold: self-vigorous he rose, Mars the adjacent fields for some leagues round, And, shaking off thy fetters, soon retook And there it stops.—The big-swoln inundation, Those spoils his voluntary yielding lent: Of mischief more diffusive, raving loud,
(Sure pledge of our releasement from thy thrall !) Buries whole tracks of country, threat'ning more; Twice twenty days he sojourn'd here on earth, But that too has jis shore it cannot pass.
And show'd himself alive to chosen witnesses, More dreadful far than these, sin has laid waste, By proofs so strong, that the most slow-assenting Not here and there a country, but a world:
Had not a scruple left. This having done, Dispatching at a wide-extended blow
He mounted up to Heav’n. Methinks I see him Entire mankind; and for their sakes defacing Climb the aerial heights, and glide along A whole creation's beanty with rude hands; Athwart the severing clouds: but the faint eye, Blasting the foodful grain, the loaded branches, Flung backward in the chase, soon drops its hold; And marking all along its way with ruin.
Disabled quite, and jaded with pursuing. Accursed thing!-Oh! where shall fancy find Heaven's portals wide expand to let him in ; A proper naine to call thee by, expressive
Nor are his friends shut out: as some great prince Of all thy horrors ? — Pregnant womb of ills! Not for himself alone procures admission, Of temper so transcendently malign,
But for his train; it was his royal will, That toads and serpents of most deadly kind, That where he is, there should his followers be. Compar'd to thee, are harmless.-Sicknesses Death only lies between !-A gloomy path! Of every size and symptom, racking pains,
Made yet more gloomy by our coward fear: And bluest plagues, are thine !—See how the fiend But nor untrod, nor tedious: the fatigue Profusely scatters the contagion round ! (heels, Will soon go off.—Besides, there's no bye-road Whilst deep-mouth'd slaughter, bellowing at her To bliss.—Then why, like ill-conditiou'd children, Wades deep in blood new-spilt! yet for to-morrow
Start we at transient hardships in the way Slapes out new work of great uncommon daring, That leads to purer air, and softer skies, And inly pines till the dread blow is struck. And a ne'er-setting sun ?- Fools that we are !
But hold! I've gone too far; too much discover'd We wish to be where sweets unwith'ring bloom; My father's nakedness, and nature's shame.
But straight our wish revoke, and will not go. Here let me pause, and drop an honest tear, So have I seen, upon a summer's even, One burst of filial duty and condolence,
Fast by the riv'let's brink, a youngster play: O'er all those ample deserts Death hath spread, How wishfully he looks to stem the tide! This chaos of mankind.-O great man-eater! This moment resolute, next unresolv'd: Whose ev'ry day is carnival, not sated yet!
At last he dips his foot; but as he dips Unheard-of epicure! without a fellow!
His fears redouble, and he runs away The veriest gluttons do not always cram;
From th' inoffensive stream, unmindful now Some intervals of abstinence are sought
Of all the flow'rs that paint the further bank, To edge the appetite: thou seekest none.
And smil'd so sweet of late.—Thrice welcome Death! Methinks the countless swarms thou hast devour'd, That after many a painful bleeding step And thousands that each hour thou gobblest up, Conducts us to our home, and lands us safe This, less than this, might gorge thee to the full. On the long-wish’d-for shore.- Prodigious change! But ah! rapacious still, thou gap'st for more: Our bane turn'd to a blessing !-Death, disarm’d, Like one, whole days defrauded of his meals, Loses his fellness quite: all thanks to him On whom lank hunger lays his skinny hand, Who scourg'd the venom out!-Sure the last end And whets to keenest eagerness his cravings. Of the good man is peace !-How calm his exit! (As if diseases, massacre and poison,
Night-dews fall not more gently to the ground, Famine, and war, were not thy caterers !)
Nor weary worn-out winds expire so soft.