Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

Puny impiety! whole kingdoms fell
To sate the lust of power : more horrid still,
The foulest stain and scandal of our nature,
Became its boast. One murder made a villain;
Millions a hero. Princes were privileg'd
To kill, and numbers sanctified the crime.
Ah! why will Kings forget that they are Men?
And Men that they are brethren? Why delight
In human sacrifice ? Why burst the ties
Of Nature, that should knit their souls together
In one soft bond of amity and love?
Yet still they breathe destruction, still go on
Inhumanly ingenious to find out
New pains for life, new terrors for the grave,
Artificers of Death ! Still Monarchs dream
Of universal empire growing up
From universal ruin. Blast the design,
Great God of Hosts, nor let thy creatures fall
Unpitied victims at Ambition's shrine !

Yet say, should Tyrants learn at last to feel,
And the loud din of battle cease to bray ;
Should dove-eyed Peace o'er all the earth extend
Her olive-branch, and give the world repose,
Would Death be foild? Would health, and strength

and youth Defy his power? Has he no arts in store, No other shafts save those of War? Alas! Ev'n in the smile of Peace, that smile which sheds A heavenly sunshine o'er the soul, there basks That serpent Luxury. War its thousand slays ; Peace its ten thousands. In the embattled plain, 'Though Death exults, and claps his raven wings,

Yet reigns he not ev’n there so absolute,
So merciless, as in yon frantic scenes
Of midnight revel and tumultuous mirth,
Where in the intoxicating draught conceald,
Or couch'd beneath the glance of lawless love,
He snares the simple youth, who, nought suspecting,
Means to be blest--but finds himself undone.

Down the smooth stream of life the stripling darts,
Gay as the morn; bright glows the vernal sky.
Hope swells his sails, and Passion steers his course.
Safe glides his little bark along the shore
Where Virtue takes her stand ; but if too far
He launches forth beyond Discretion's mark,
Sudden the tempest scowls, the surges roar,
Blot his fair day, and plunge him in the deep.
O sad but sure mischance! O happier far
To lie like gallant Howe ’midst Indian wilds
A breathless corse, cut off by savage hands
In earliest prime, a generous sacrifice
To freedom's holy cause, than so to fall,
Torn mature from life's meridian joys,
A prey to Vice, Intemperance, and Disease.

Yet die ev’n thus, thus rather perish still, Ye sons of Pleasure by the Almighty stricken, Than ever dare (though oft, alas! ye dare) To lift against yourselves the murderous steel, To wrest from God's own hand the sword of Justice, And be your own avengers ! Hold, rash Man, Though with anticipating speed thou'st rang’d Through every region of delight, nor left One joy to gild the evening of thy days : Though life seem one uncomfortable void,

Guilt at thy heels, before thy face Despair ;
Yet gay this scene, and light this load of wo,
Compard with thy hereafter. Think, O think,
And ere thou plunge into the vast abyss,
Pause on the verge awhile : look down and see
Thy future mansion. Why that start of horror ?
From thy slack hand why drops the uplifted-steel?
Didst thou not think such vengeance must await
The wretch, that with his crimes all fresh about him
Rushes irreverent, unprepar'd, uncallid,
Into his Maker's presence, throwing back
With insolent disdain his choicest gift?

Live then, while heav'n in pity lends thee life,
And think it all too short to wash away,
By penitential tears and deep contrition,
The scarlet of thy crimes. So shalt thou find
Rest to thy soul; so unappallid shalt meet
Death when he comes, not wantonly invite
His lingering stroke. Be it thy sole.concern
With innocence to live : with patience wait
The appointed hour; too soon that hour will come,
Though Nature run her course. But Nature's God,
If need require, by thousand various ways,
Without thy aid.can shorten that short span,
And quench the lamp of life. O when he comes,
Rous’d by the cry of wickedness extreme,
To Heaven ascending from some guilty land,
Now ripe for vengeance; when he comes array
In all the terrors of Almighty wrath,
Forth from his bosom plucks his lingering arm,
And on the miscreants pours destruction down;
Who can abide his coming ? Who can bear

His whole displeasure? In no common form
Death then appears, but starting into size
Enormous, measures with gigantic stride
The astonish'd Earth, and from his looks throws round
Unutterable horror and dismay;
All Nature lends her aid. Each element
Arms in his cause. Ope fly the doors of Heav'n;
The fountains of the deep their barriers break;
Above, below, the rival torrents pour,
And drown Creation ; or, in floods of fire
Descends a livid cataract, and consumes
An impious race. Sometimes, when all seems peace,
Wakes the grim whirlwind, and with rude embrace
Sweeps nations to their grave, or in the deep
Whelms the proud wooden world ; full many a youth
Floats on his watery bier, or lies unwept
On some sad desert shore! At dead of night,
In sullen silence stalks forth Pestilence;
Contagion close behind taints all her steps
With poisonous dew; no smiting hand is seen,
No sound is heard; but soon her secret path
Is mark'd with desolation; heaps on heaps
Promiscuous drop. No friend, no refuge near ;
All, all is false and treacherous around;
All that they touch, or taste, or breathe, is Death.

But ah ! what means that ruinous roar? why fail
These tottering feet? Earth to its centre feels
The Godhead's power, and trembling at his touch.
Through all its pillars, and in every pore,
Hurls to the ground, with one convulsive heave,
Precipitating domes, and towns, and towers,
The work of ages. Crush'd beneath the weight

Of general deyastation, millions find
One common grave; not even a widow left
To wail her sons: the house, that should protect,
Entombs its master; and the faithless plain,
If there he flies for help, with sudden yawn
Starts from beneath him. Shield me, gracious Heaven,
O snatch me from destructions? If this Glabe,
This solid Globe, which thine own hand hath made
So firm and sure, if this my steps betray ;
If my own mother Earth, from whence I sprung,
Rise up with rage unnatural to devour
Her wretched offspring, whither shall I fly?
Where look for succour? Where but up to thee,
Almighty Father? Save, o save thy suppliant
From horrors such as these? At thy good time
Let death approach ; I reck not let him but come
In genuine form, not with thy vengeance arm’d,
Too much for man to bear. O rather lend
Thy kindly aid to mitigate his stroke ;
And at that hour when all aghast I stand
(A trembling candidate for thy compassion)
On this world's brink, and look into the next;
When my soul, starting from the dark unknown,
Casts back a wishful look, and fondly clings
To her frail prop, unwilling to be wrenchd
From this fair scene, from all her custom'd joys,
And all the lovely relatives of life,
Then shed thy comforts o'er me, then put on
The gentlest of thy looks. Let no dark crimes,
In all their hideous forms then starting up,
Plant themselves round my couch in grim array,
Amd stab my bleeding heart with two-edged torture,

« ElőzőTovább »