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In His full beam, and ripen for the just!
Where falls this censure it o'erwhelins myself; 155
Night-visions may befriend (as sung above:) Our waking dreams are fatal. How I dreamt Of things impossible! (could Sleep do more?) 165 Of joys perpetual in perpetual change! Of stable pleasures on the tossing wave! Eternal sunshine in the storms of Life! How richly were my noontide trances hung With gorgeous tapestries of pictur’d joys, 170 Joy behind joy, in endless perspective! Till at Death's toll, whose restless iron tongue Calls daily for his millions at a meal, Starting I woke, and found myself undone.
Where's now my frenzy's pompous furniture? 175
blest scenes of permanent delight!
your joy, 185
190 And rarely for the better; or the best, More mortal than the common births of Fate. Each moment has its sickle, emulous Of Time's enormous scythe, whose ample sweep Strikes empires from the root; each moment plays 195 His little weapon in the narrower sphere Of sweet domestic comfort, and cuts down The fairest bloom of sublunary bliss.
Bliss! sublunary bliss!—proud words, and vain! Implicit treason to divine decrees!
200 A bold invasion of the rights of heav'n! I clasp'd the phantoms, and I found them air; O had I weigh'd it ere my fond embrace! What darts of agony had miss'd my
heart! Death! great proprietor of all! 'tis thine
205 To tread out empire, and to quench the stars.
The sun himself by thy permission shines;
220 In ev'ry vary'd posture, place, and hour, How widow'd ev'ry thought of ev'ry joy! Thought, busy thought! too busy for my peace; Through the dark postern of time long elaps'd, Led softly by the stillness of the night,
225 Led, like a murderer, (and such it proves!) Strays (wretched rover!) o'er the pleasing past; In quest of wretchedness perversely strays; And finds all desert now; and meets the ghosts Of my departed joys, a numerous train! I rue the riches of my former fate; Sweet comfort's blasted clusters I lament; I tremble at the blessings once so dear; And ev'ry pleasure pains me to the heart.
Yet why complain? or why complain for one? 235 Hangs out the sun his lustre but for me, The single man? Are angels all beside? I mourn for millions: 'Tis the common lot;
In this shape, or in that, has Fate entail'd
War, Famine, Pest, Volcano, Storm, and Fire,
245 Here, plung'd in mines, forgets a sun was made; There, beings, deathless as their haughty lord, Are hammer'd to the galling oar for life; And plough the winter's wave, and reap despair. Some for hard masters, broken under arms, 250 In battle lopp'd away, with half their limbs, Beg bitter bread through realms their valour sav'd, If so the tyrant, or his minions, doom. Want, and incurable Disease, (fell pair!) On hopeless multitudes remorseless seize
255 At once; and make a refuge of the grave. How groaning hospitals eject their dead! What numbers
for sad admission there! What numbers, once in Fortune's lap high-fed, Solicit the cold hand of Charity!
260 To shock us more, solicit it in vain! Ye silken sons of pleasure, since in pains You rue more modish visits, visit here, And breathe from your debauch: Give, and reduce Surfeit's dominion o'er you: But so great
265 Your impudence, you blush at what is right.
Happy! did sorrow scize on such alone. Not prudence can defend, or virtue save; Disease invades the chastest temperance; And punishment the guiltless; and alarm, 270
Through thickest shades, pursues the fond of peace.
280 And what hostilities, without a foe! Nor are foes wanting to the best on earth. But endless is the list of human ills, And sighs might sooner fail than cause to sigh. A part how small of the terraqueous globe
285 Is tenanted by Man! the rest a waste; Rocks, deserts, frozen seas, and burning sands! Wild haunts of monsters, poisons, stings, and death. Such is Earth's melancholy map! But, far More sad! this earth is a true map of Man: 290 So bounded are his haughty lord's delights To Woe's wide empire; where deep troubles toss, Loud sorrows howl, invenom'd passions bite, Rav'nous calamities our vitals seize, And threat'ning Fate wide opens to devour. 295
What then am I, who sorrow for myself? In age, in infancy, from others aid Is all our hope; to teach us to be kind. That, Nature's first, last lesson to mankind; The selfish heart deserves the pain it feels. 300 More gen'rous sorrow, while it sinks, exalts; And conscious virtue mitigates the pang.