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Each breath is burdened with a bidding, and every minute hath its mis
.sion ; For spirits, good and bad, cluster on the thickly peopled air : Sin may blast thee, grace may bless thee, good or ill this hour : Chance, and change, and doubt, and fear, are parasites of all. A man's life is a tower, with a staircase of many steps, That, as he toileth upward, crumble successively behind him : No going back, the past is an abyss; no stopping, for the present perish
But ever hasting on, precarious on the foothold of To-day.
Our cares are all To-day; our joys are all To-day;
And in one little word, our life, what is it, but-To-day ?
There is a floating island, forward, on the stream of time,
Buoyant with fermenting air, and borne along the rapids;
And on that island is a siren, singing sweetly as she goeth,
Her eyes are bright with invitation, and allurement lurketh in her cheeks ;
Many lovers vainly pursuing, follow her beckoning finger,
Many lovers seek her still, even to the cataract of death.
To-morrow is that island, a vain and foolish heritage,
And, laughing with seductive lips, Delusion hideth there.
Often, the precious present is wasted in visions of the future,
And coy Tomorrow cometh not with prophecies fulfilled.
There is a fairy skiff, plying on the sea of life,
And charitably toiling still to save the shipwrecked crews;
Within, kindly patient, sitteth a gentle mariner,
Piloting, through surf and strait, the fragile barks of men:
How cheering is her voice, how skilfully she guideth,
How nobly leading onward yet, defying even death!
To-morrow is that skiff, a wise and welcome rescue,
And, full of gladdening words and looks, that mariner is Hope.
Often, the painful present is comforted by flattering the future,
And kind To-morrow beareth half the burdens of To-day.
To-morrow, whispereth weakness; and To-morrow findeth him the weaker:
To-morrow, promisetlı conscience; and behold, no to-day for a fulfilment.
O name of happy omen unto youth, O bitter word of terror to the dotard,
Goal of folly's lazy wish, and sorrow's ever-coming friend,
Fraud's loophole,-caution's hint,—and trap to catch the honest,-
Thou wealth to many poor, disgrace to many noble,
Thou hope and fear, thou weal and woe, thou remedy, thou ruin,
How thickly swarms of thought are clustering round To-morrow.
The hive of memory increaseth, to every day its cell ;
There is the labour stored, the honey or corruption :
Each morn the bees fly forth, to fill the growing comb,
And levy golden tribute of the uncomplaining flowers :
To-morrow is their care; they toil for rest Tomorrow;
But man deferreth duty's task, and loveth ease to-day.
To-morrow is that lamp upon the marsh, which a traveller never reacheth;
To-morrow, the rainbow's cup, coveted prize of ignorance;
To-morrow, the shifting anchorage, dangerous trust of mariners ;
To-morrow, the wrecker's beacon, wily snare of the destroyer.
Reconcile conviction with delay, and To-morrow is a fatal lie;
Frighten resolutions into action, Tomorrow is a wholesome truth :
I must, for I fear To-morrow; this is the Cassava's food;
Why should I ? let me trust To-morrow,—this is the Cassava's poison.
Lo, it is the even of To-day,-a day so lately a To-morrow;
Where are those high resolves, those hopes of yesternight ?
O faint heart, still shall thy whisper be, To-morrow,
And must the growing avalanche of sin roll down that easy slope ?
Alas, it is ponderous, and moving on in might, that a Sisyphus may not
stop it ;
But haste thee with the lever of a prayer, and stem its strength To-day :
For its race may speedily be run, and this poor nut, thyself,
Be whelmed in death and suffocating guilt, that dreary Alpine snow-wreath.
Pensioner of life, be wise, and heed a brother's counsel,
I also am a beadsman, with scrip and staff as thou:
Wouldest thou be bold against the past, and all its evil memories,
Wouldest thou be safe amid the present, its dangers and temptations,
Wouldest thou be hopeful of the future, vague though it be and endless ?
Haste thee, repent, believe, obey! thou standest in the courage of a legion ;
Commend the Past to God, with all its irrevocable harm,
Humbly, but in cheerful trust, and banish vain regrets ;
Come to him, continually come, casting all the Present at his feet,
Boldly, but in prayerful love, and fling off selfish cares;
Commit the Future to his will, the viewless fated Future ;
Zealously go forward with integrity, and God will bless thy faith.
For that, feeble as thou art, there is with thee a mighty Conqueror,
Thy friend, the same for ever, yesterday, to-day, and to-morrow;
That friend, changeless as eternity, himself shall make thee friends
Of those thy foes transformed, yesterday, to-day, and to-morrow.
Great is the dignity of Authorship: I magnify mine office;
Albeit in much feebleness I hold it thus unworthily.
For it is to be one of a noble band, the welfare of the world,
Whose haunt is on the lips of men, whose dwelling in their hearts,
Who are precious in the retrospect of Memory, and walk among the visions
of Hope, Who commune with the good for everlasting, and call the wisest, brother, Whose voice hath burst the Silence, and whose light is flung upon the
Darkness, -Flashing jewels on a robe of black, and harmony bounding out of chaos, Who gladden empires with their wisdom, and bless to the farthest gene
ration, Doers of illimitable good, gainers of inestimable glory! We speak but of the Magnates, we heed none humbler than the highest, We take no count of sorry scribes, nor waste one thought upon the
groundlings; Our eyes are lifted from the multitude, groping in the dark with candles, To gaze upon that firmament of praise, the constellated lamps of learning. Everduring witnesses of Mind, undisputed evidence of Power, Goodly volumes, living stones, build up their author's temple ; Though of low estate, his rank is above princes,—though needy, he hath
worship of the rich,
When Genius unfurleth on the winds his banner as a mighty leader.
Just in purpose, and self-possessed in soul, lord of many talents,
The mental Cræsus goeth forth, rejoicing in his wealth ;
Keen and clear perception gloweth on his forehead like a sunbeam,
He readeth men at a glance, and mists roll away before him ;
The wise have set him as their captain, the foolish are rebuked at his
presence, The excellent bless him with their prayers, and the wicked praise him by
their curses ; His voice, mighty in operation, stirreth up the world as a trumpet, And kings account it honour to be numbered of his friends.
Rare is the worthiness of Authorship : I justify mine office;
Albeit fancies weak as mine credit not the calling.
For it addeth immortality to dying facts, that are ready to vanish away,
Embalming as in amber the poor insects of an hour;
Shedding upon stocks and stones the tender light of interest,
And illumining dark places of the earth, with radiance of classic lustre.
It hath power to make past things present, and availeth for the present in
the future, Delivering thoughts, and words, and deeds, from the outer darkness of
oblivion : Where are the sages and the heroes, giants of old time ?Where are the mighty kings that reigned before Agamemnon ? Alas, they lie unwept, unhonoured, hidden in the midnight : Alas, for they died unchronicled: their memorial perished with them. Where are the nobles of Nineveh, and mitred rulers of Babylon ? Where are the lords of Edom, and the royal pontiffs of Thebais ? The golden Satrap, and the Tetrarch,the Hun, and the Druid, and the
Celt? The merchant princes of Phænicia, and the minds that fashioned Ele
phanta? Alas, for the poet hath forgotten them; and lo! they are outcasts of
Memory; Alas, that they are withered leaves, sapless and fallen from the chaplet of
fame. Speak, Etruria, whose bones be these, entombed with costly care,Tell out, Herculaneum, the titles that have sounded in those thy palaces, Lycian Zanthus, thy citadels are mute, and the honour of their architects
Copan and Palenque, dreamy ruins in the West, the forest hath swallowed
up your sculptures ; (5) Syracuse,-how silent of the past !—Carthage, thou art blotted from re
membrance ! Egypt, wondrous shores, ye are buried in the sandhills of forgetfulness ! Alas,—for in your glorious youth, Time himself was young, And none durst wrestle with that Angel, iron-sinewed bridegroom of Space; So he flew by, strong upon the wing, nor dropped one falling feather, Wherewith some hoary scribe might register their honour and renown. Beyond the broad Atlantic, in the regions of the setting sun, Ask of the plume-crowned Incas, that ruled in old Peru,Ask of grand Caziques, and priests of the pyramids of Mexico, Ask of a thousand painted tribes, high nobility of Nature, Who, once, could roam their own Elysian plains, free, generous, and
happy, Who, now, degraded and in exile, having sold their fatherland for nought, Sink and are extinguished in the western seas, even as the sun they
follow, Where is the record of their deeds, their prowess worthy of Achilles, Nestor's wisdom, the chivalry of Manlius, the native eloquence of Cicero, The skill of Xenophon, the spirit of Alcibiades, the firmness of a Macca
bæan mother, Brotherly love that Antigone might envy,
the honour and the fortitude of Regulus? Alas! their glory and their praise have vanished like a summer-cloud; Alas! that they are dead indeed; they are not written down in the Book
of the living
High is the privilege of Authorship: I purify mine office;
Albeit earthly stains pollute it in my hands.
For it is to the world a teacher and a guide, Mentor of that gay Telema-
Warning, comforting, and helping,-a lover and a friend of Man.
Heaven's almoner, Earth's health, patient minister of goodness,
With kind and zealous pen, the wise religious blesseth :
Nature's worshipper, and neophyte of grace, rich in tender sympathies,
With kindled soul and flashing eye the poet poureth out his heartful:
Priest of truth, champion of innocence, warder of the gates of praise,
Carefully with sifting search laboureth the pale historian :