Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

THE DREAM OF AMBITION.

I LEFT the happy fields that smile around the village of Content,
And sought with wayward feet the torrid desert of Ambition.
Long time, parched and weary, I travelled that burning sand,
And the hooded basilisk and adder were strewed in my way for palms;
Black scorpions thronged me round, with sharp uplifted stings,
Seeming to mock me as I ran ; (then I guessed it was a dream,-
But life is oft so like a dream, we know not where we are.)
So I toiled on, doubting in myself, up a steep gravel cliff,
Whose yellow summit shot up far into the brazen sky;
And quickly, I was wafted to the top, as upon unseen wings
Carrying me upward like a leaf: (then I thought it was a dream,-
Yet life is oft so like a dream, we know not where we are.)
So I stood on the mountain, and behold! before me a giant pyramid,
And I clomb with eager haste its high and difficult steps;
For, I longed, like another Belus, to mount up, yea to heaven,
Nor sought I rest until my feet had spurned the crest of earth.

Then I sat on my granite throne under the burning sun, And the world lay smiling beneath me, but I was wrapt in flames; (And I hoped in glimmering consciousness, that all this torture was a

dream,— Yet life is oft so like a dream, we know not where we are.) And anon, as 1 sat scorching, the pyramid shuddered to its root, And I felt the quarried mass leap from its sand foundations : Awhile it tottered and tilted, as raised by invisible levers,– (And now my reason spake with me; I knew it was a dream ; Yet I hushed that whisper into silence, for I hoped to learn of wisdom, By tracking up my truant thoughts, whereunto they might lead.) And suddenly, as rolling upon wheels, adown the cliff it rushed, And I thought, in my hot brain, of the Muscovites' icy slope ; A thousand yards in a moment we ploughed the sandy seas, And crushed those happy fields, and that smiling village, And onward, as a living thing, still rushed my mighty throne, Thundering along, and pounding, as it went, the millions in my way: Before me all was life, and joy, and full-blown summer,

Behind me death and woe, the desert and simoom.
Then I wept and shrieked aloud, for pity and for fear;
But might not stop, for, comet-like, flew on the maddened mass
Over the crashing cities, and falling obelisks and towers,
And columns, razed as by a scythe, and high doomes, shivered as an egg-

shell,
And deep embattled ranks, and women, crowded in the streets,
And children, kneeling as for mercy, and all I had ever loved,
Yea, over all, mine awful throne rushed on with seeming instinct,
And over the crackling forests, and over the rugged beach,
And on with a terrible hiss through the foaming wild Atlantic
That roared around me as I sat, but could not quench my spirit,-
Still on, through startled solitudes we shattered the pavement of the sea,
Down, down, to that central vault, the bolted doors of hell ;
And these, with horrid shock, my huge throne battered in,
And on to the deepest deep, where the fierce flames were hottest,
Blazing tenfold as conquering furiously the seas that rushed in with me,
And there I stopped ; and a fearful voice shouted in mine ear,
“ Behold the home of Discontent; behold the rest of Ambition !"

OF SUBJECTION.

Law hath dominion over all things, over universal mind and matter ;
For there are reciprocities of right, which no creature can gainsay.
Unto each there was added by its Maker, in the perfect chain of being,
Dependencies and sustentations, accidents, and qualities, and powers ;
And each must fly forward in tbe curve, unto which it was forced from the

beginning;
Each must attract and repel, or the monarchy of Order is no more.
Laws are essential emanations from the self-poised character of God,
And they radiate from that sun, to the circling edges of creation.
Verily, the mighty Lawgiver hath subjected Himself unto laws,
And God is the primal grand example of free unstrained obedience:
His perfection is limited by right, and cannot trespass into wrong,
Because He hath established Himself as the fountain of only good,
And in thus much is bounded, that the evil hath he left unto another,

And that dark other hath usurped the evil which Omnipotence laid down.
Unto God there exist impossibilities; for the True One cannot lie,
Nor the Wise One wander from the track which he hath determined for

himself:
For his will was purposed from eternity, strong in the love of order;
And that will altereth not, as the law of the Medes and Persians.
God is the origin of order, and the first exemplar of his precept ;
For there is subordination of his Essence, self-guided unto holiness ;
And there is subordination of his Persons, in due procession of dignity;
For the Son, as a son, is subject; and to him doth the Spirit minister;
But these things be mysteries to man, he cannot reach nor fathom them,
And ever must he speak in paradox, when labouring to expound his God;
For, behold, God is Alone, mighty in unshackled freedom;
And with those wondrous Persons abideth eternal equality.

So then, start ye from the fountain and follow the river of existence,
For its current is bounded throughout by the banks of just subordination ;
Thrones, and dominions, and powers, Archangels, Cherubim and Seraphim,
Angels, and flaming ministers, and breathing chariots and harps.
For there are degrees in heaven, and varied capabilities of bliss,
And steps in the ladder of intelligence, and ranks in approaches to Per-

fection:
Doubtless, reverence is given, as their due, to the masters in wisdom;
Doubtless, there are who serve; or a throne would have small glory.
Regard now the universe of matter, the substance of visible creation,
Which of old, with well-observing truth, the Greek hath surnamed

ORDER ;() Where is there an atom out of place ? or a particle that yieldeth not obe

dience ? Where is there a fragment that is free? or one thing the equal of another? The chain is unbroken down to man, and beyond him the links are perfect: But he standeth solitary sin, a marvel of permitted chaos.

And shall this seeming error in the scale of due subordination
Be a spot of desert unreclaimed, in the midst of the vineyard of the Lord ?
Shall his presumptuous pride snap the safe tether of connexion,
And his blind selfish folly refuse the burden of maintenance ?
O man, thou art a creature; boast not thyself above the law :
Think not of thyself as free : thou art bound in the trammels of dependence.
What is the sum of thy duty, but obedience to righteous rule,
To the great commanding oracle, uttered by delegated organs ?
Thou canst not render homage to abstract Omnipresent power,
Save through the concrete symbol of visible ordained authority.
Those who obey not man are oftenest found rebels againest God;
And seldom is the delegate so bold, as to order what he knoweth to be

wrong. Yet mark me, proud gainsayer! I say not, obey unto sin ; But, where the Principal is silent, take heed that thou despise not the

Deputy : And he that loveth order will bless thee for thy faith, If thou recognize his sanction in the powers that fashion human laws. Thou, the vicegerent of the Lord, his high anointed image, Toward whom a good man's loyalty floweth from the hearts of his religion, Thou, whose deep responsibilities are fathomed by a nation's prayers, Whom wise men fear for while they live, and envy thee nothing but thy

virtues, From thy dizzy pinnacle of greatness, remember thou also art a subject, And the throne of thine earthly glory is itself but the footstool of thy God. The homage thy kingdoms yield thee, regard thou as yielded unto Him; And while girt with all the majesty of state, consider thee the Lord's chief

servant ; So shalt thou prosper, and be strong, grafted on the strength of another; So shall thy virgin heart be happy, in being humble. And thou shalt flourish as an oak, the monarch of thine island forests, Whose deep-dug roots are twisted around the stout ribs of the globe, That mocketh at the fury of the storm, and rejoiceth in summer sunshine, Glad in the smiles of heaven, and great in the stability of earth.

A ruler hath not power for himself, neither is his pomp for his pride ;
But beneath the ermine of his office should he wear the rough hair-cloth

of humility. Nevertheless, every way obey him, so thou break not a higher command

ment; For Nero was an evil king, yet Paul prescribeth subjection. If the rulers of a nation be holy, the Lord hath blessed that nation; If they be lewd and impious, chastisement hath come upon that people : For the bitterest scourge of a land is ungodliness in them that govern it, And the guilt of the sons of Josiah drove Israel weeping into Babylon.

Yet be thou resolute against them, if they change the mandates of thy God, If they touch the ark of his covenant, wherein all his mercies are en

shrined : Be resolute, but not rebelliouslest thou be of the company of Korah : Set thy face against them as a flint: but be not numbered with Abiram. Daniel nobly disobeyed; but not from a spirit of sedition ; And Azarias shouted from the furnace, I will not bow down, O KING. If truth must be sacrificed to unity, then faithfulness were folly ; If man must be obeyed before God, the martyrs have bled in vain : Yet none of that blessed army reviled the rulers of the land; They were loud and bold against the sin, but bent before the ensign of

authority. Honesty, scorning compromise, walketh most suitably with Reverence; Otherwise righteous daring may show but as obstinate rebellion; Therefore, suffer not thy censure to lack the savour of courtesy, And remember the mortal sinneth, but the staff of his power is from God.

Man, thou hast a social spirit, and art deeply indebted to thy kind :
Therefore claim not all thy rights; but yield, for thine own advantage.
Society is a chain of obligations, and its links must support each other:
The branch cannot but wither, that is cut from the parent vine.
Wouldst thou be a dweller in the woods, and cast away the cords that bind

thee,

Seeking, in thy bitterness or pride, to be exiled from thy fellows ?
Behold, the beasts shall hunt thee, weak, naked, houseless outcast;
Disease and Death shall track thee out, as bloodhounds, in the wilder-

ness :

Better to be vilest of the vile, in the hated company of

men,
Than to live a solitary wretch, dreading and wanting all things ;
Better to be chained to thy labour, in the dusky thoroughfares of life,
Than to reign monarch of Sloth, in lonesome savage freedom.

Whence then cometh the doctrine that all should be equal and free ?-
It is the lie that crowded hell, when Seraphs flung away subjection.
No man is his neighbour's equal, for no two minds are similar,
And accidents, alike with qualities, have every shade but sameness :
The lightest atom of difference shall destroy the nice balance of equality,
And all things, from without and from within, make one man to differ from
another.

« ElőzőTovább »