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They begin to be wary of themselves, and learn the first lesson of
I knew that in the morning of life, before its wearisome journey,
The youthful soul doth expand, in the simple luxury of being;
It hath not contracted its wishes, nor set a limit to its hopes;
The wing of fancy is unclipt, and sin hath not seared its feelings:
Each feature is stamped with immortality, for all its desires are infinite,
And it seeketh an ocean of happiness, to fill the deep hollow within.
But the old and the grave look on, pitying that generous youth,
For they also have tasted long ago the bitterness of hope destroyed:
They pity him, and are sad, remembering the days that are past,
But they know he must taste for himself, or he will not give ear to their
For Experience hath another lesson, which a man will do well if he learn, By checking the flight of expectation, to cheat disappointment of its pain.
Experience teacheth many things, and all men are his scholars :
Yet is he a strange tutor, unteaching that which he hath taught.
Youth is confident, manhood wary, and old age confident again :
Youth is kind, manhood cold, and age returneth unto kindness.
For youth suspecteth nought, till manhood, bitterly learned,
Mistrusteth all, overleaping the mark; and age correcteth his excess.
Suspicion is the scaffold unto faith, a temporary needful eyesore,
By which the strong man's dwelling is slowly builded up behind;
But soon as the top-stone hath been set to the well-proved goodly pyramid,
The scaffold is torn down, and well-timed trust taketh its long leave of
A thousand volumes in a thousand tongues, enshrine the lessons of Experience,
Yet a man shall read them all, and go forth none the wiser:
For self-love lendeth him a glass, to colour all he conneth,
Lest in the features of another he find his own complexion.
And we secretly judge of ourselves, as differing greatly from all men,
And love to challenge causes, to show how we can master their effects:
Pride is pampered in expecting that we need not fear a common fate,
Or wrong-headed prejudice exulteth, in combating old experience;
Or perchance caprice and discontent are the spurs that goad us into danger,
Careless, and half in hope to find there an enemy to joust with.
Private experience is an unsafe teacher, for we rarely learn both sides,
And from the gilt surface reckon not on steel beneath :
The torrid sons of Guinea think scorn of icy seas,
And the frostbitten Greenlander disbelieveth suns too hot.
But thou, student of Wisdom, feed on the marrow of the matter;
If thou wilt suspect, let it be thyself; if thou wilt expect, let it not be
OF ESTIMATING CHARACTER.
RASHLY, nor ofttimes truly, doth man pass judgment on his brother;
For he seeth not the springs of the heart, nor heareth the reasons of the
And the world is not wiser than of old, when justice was meted by the sword,
When the spear avenged the wrong, and the lot decided the right;
When the footsteps of blindfold innocence were tracked by burning ploughshares,
And the still condemning water delivered up the wizard to the stake:
For we wait, like the sage of Salamis, to see what the end will be, (4)
Fixing the right or the wrong, by the issues of failure or success.
Judge not of things by their events; neither of character by providence ;
And count not a man more evil because he is more unfortunate;
For the blessings of a better covenant lie not in the sunshine of prosperity;
But pain and chastisement the rather show the wise Father's love.
Behold that daughter of the world; she is full of gaiety and gladness;
The diadem of rank is on her brow, uncounted wealth is in her coffers:
She tricketh out her beauty like Jezebel, and is welcome in the courts of
She is queen of the fools of fashion, and ruleth the revels of luxury:
And though she sitteth not as Tamar, nor standeth in the ways as Rahab,
Yet in the secret of her chamber, she shrinketh not from dalliance and
She careth not if there be a God, or a soul, or a time of retribution;
Pleasure is the idol of her heart: she thirsteth for no purer heaven.
And she laugheth with light good humour, and all men praise her gentle-
They are glad in her lovely smile, and the river of her bounty filleth them.
So she prospered in the world: the worship and desire of thousands;
And she died even as she had lived, careless and courteous and liberal.
The grave swallowed up her pomp, the marble proclaimed her virtues,
For men esteemed her excellent, and charities sounded forth her praise ;
But elsewhere far other judgment setteth her—with infidels and harlots!
She abused the trust of her splendour: and the wages of her sin shall be
Look again on this fair girl, the orphan of a village pastor
Who is dead, and hath left her his all,-his blessing, and a name unstained;
And friends, with busy zeal, that their purses be not taxed,
Place the sad mourner in a home, poor substitute for that she hath lost.
A stranger among strange faces, she drinketh the wormwood of dependence;
She is marked as a child of want; and the world hateth poverty.
Prayer is not heard in that house; the day she hath loved to hallow
Is noted but by deeper dissipation, the riot of luxury and gaming:
And wantonness is in her master's eye, and she hath nowhere to flee to;
She is cared for by none upon earth, and her God seemeth to forsake her.
Then cometh, in fair show, the promise, and the feint of affection,
And her heart, long unused to kindness, remembereth her father, and loveth.
And the villain hath wronged her trust, and mocked, and flung her from
And men point at her and laugh: and women hate her as an outcast: But elsewhere, far other judgment seateth her-among the martyrs ! And the Lord, who seemed to forsake, giveth double glory to the fallen.
Once more, in the matter of wealth: if thou throw thine all on a chance, Men will come around thee, and wait, and watch the turning of the wheel; And if, in the lottery of life, thou hast drawn a splendid prize,
What foresight hadst thou, and skill! yea, what enterprise and wisdom! But if it fall out against thee, and thou fail in thy perilous endeavour, Behold, the simple did sow, and hath reaped the right harvest of his folly : And the world will be glaldly accused, nor will reach out a finger to help; For why should this speculative dullard be a whirlpool to all around him? Go to, let him sink by himself: we knew what the end of it would be:For the man hath missed his mark, and his fellows look no further.
Also, touching guilt and innocence: a man shall walk in his uprightness,
Year after year without reproach, in charity and honesty with all :
But in one evil hour the enemy shall come in like a flood;
Shall track him and tempt him, and hem him,-till he knoweth not whither
Perchance his famishing little ones shall scream in his ears for bread,
And, maddened by that fierce cry, he rusheth as a thief upon the world:
The world that hath left him to starve, itself wallowing in plenty,-
The world, that denieth him his rights,-he daringly robbeth it of them.
I say not, such an one is innocent: but, small is the measure of his guilt
To that of his wealthly neighbour, who would not help him at his need;
To that of the selfish epicure, who turned away with coldness from his
To that of unsuffering thousands, who look with complacence on his fall.
Or perchance the continual dropping of the venomed words of spite,
Insult and injury and scorn, have galled and pierced his heart;
Yet, with all long-suffering and meekness, he forgiveth unto seventy times
Till, in some weaker moment, tempted beyond endurance,
He striketh, more in anger than in hate; and, alas! for his heavy chance, He hath smitten unto instant death his spiteful, life-long enemy!
And none was by to see it; and all men knew of their contentions : Fierce voices shout for his blood, and rude hands hurry him to judgment. Then man's verdict cometh,-Murderer, with forethought malice;
And his name is a note of execration; his guilt is too black for devils. But to the righteous Judge, seemeth he the suffering victim:
For his anger was not unlawful, but became him as a Christian and a
And though his guilt was grievous when he struck that heavy bitter blow, Yet light is the sin of the smiter, and verily kicketh the beam,
To the weight of that man's wickedness, whose slow relentless hatred
Met him at every turn, with patient continuance in evil.
Doubtless, eternal wrath shall be heaped upon that spiteful enemy.
It is in vain, it is in vain, saith the preacher; there be none but the righteous and the wicked,
Base rebels, and stanch allies, the true knight, and the traitor;
And he beareth strong witness among men, There is no neutral ground,
The broad highway and narrow path map out the whole domain;
Sit here among the saints, these holy chosen few,
Or grovel there a wretch condemned, to die among the million.
And verily for ultimate results, there be but good and bad;
Heaven hath no dusky twilight; hell is not gladdened with a dawn.
Yet looking round among his fellows, who can pass righteous judgment,
Such an one is holy and accepted, and such an one reprobate and doomed?
There is so much of good among the worst, so much of evil in the best,
Such seeming partialities in providence, so many things to lessen and expand,
Yea, and with all man's boast, so little real freedom of his will,—
That, to look a little lower than the surface, garb or dialect or fashion, Thou shalt feebly pronounce for a saint, and faintly condemn for a sinne Over many a heart good and true, fluttereth the Great King's pennant: By many an iron hand, the pirate's black banner is unfurled:
But there be many more besides, in the yacht and the trader and the fishing boat,
In the feather'd war-canoe, and the quick mysterious gondola :
And the army of that Great King hath no stated uniform;
Of mingled characters and kinds goeth forth the countless host;
There is the turbaned Damascene, with his tattooed Zealand brother,
There the slim bather in the Ganges, with the sturdy Russian boor,
The sluggish inmate of a polar cave, with the fire-souled daughter of Brazil,
The embruted slave from Cuba, and the Briton of gentle birth.
For all are His inheritance, of all He taketh tithe :
And the Church, his mercy's ark, hath some of every sort.
Who art thou, O man, that art fixing the limits of the fold?
Wherefore settest thou stakes to spread the tent of heaven?
Lay not the plummet to the line: religion hath no landmarks:
No human keenness can discern the subtle shades of faith:
In some it is as earliest dawn, the scarce diluted darkness;
In some as dubious twilight, cold and gray and gloomy;
In some the ebon east is streaked with flaming gold:
In some the dayspring from on high breaketh in all its praise.
And who hath determined the when, separating light from darkness?
Who shall pluck from earliest dawn the promise of the day?
Leave that care to the Husbandman, lest thou garner tares;
Help thou the Shepherd in his seeking, but to separate be his :
For I have often seen the noble erring spirit
Wrecked on the shoals of passion, and numbered of the lost;