« הקודםהמשך »
« Nor can my guilty soul expe& relief
With an imperfect hand, and trembling heart,
• Yet tell me, frighted Reason, what is death? * Blood only stopp'd, and interrupted breath?
The utmoft limit of a narrow span, • And end of motion, which with life began? • As smoke that rifes from the kindling fires • Is seen this moment, and the next expires ; • As empty clouds by rising winds are tofs'd, • Their fleeting forms scarce sooner found than lot: • So vanishes our state, so pass our days, • So life but opens now, and now decays ; "The cradle and the tomb, alas ! so nigh, • To live is scarce distinguish'd from to die.'
• Cure of the miser's wish, and coward's fear, . Death only thews us what we knew was near. • With courage, therefore, view the pointed hour, • Dread not Death's anger, but expect his pow'r ; • Nor Nature's law with fruitless forrow mourn, • But die, O mortal man ! for thou wast born.'
Cautious thro' doubt, by want of courage wise, To such advice the reasʼner still replies.
• Yet measuring all the long continu'd space, • Ev'ry fucceffive day's repeated race, • Since Time firft ftarted from his priftine goal, « Till he had reach'd that hour wherein my soul,
Join'd to my body, swell'd the womb, I was ! (At leaft I think fo) nothing: must I pass « Again to nothing, when this vital breath, ! Ceasing, consigns me o'er to rest and death? • Muft the whole man, amazing thought! return • To the cold marble, or contracted urn? « And never shall those particles agree,
That were in life this individual he? ! But sever'd, muft they join the general mass,
Thro' other forms and shapes ordain'd ta pass, • Nor thought nor image kept of what he was ? • Does the Great Word, that gave him sense, ordain • That life shall never wake that sense again ?
And will no pow'r his finking spirits fave • From the dark caves of death, and chambers of the
* Each ev'ning I behold the setting sun • With downward speed into the ocean run; • Yet the fame light (pass but some fleeting hours) • Exerts his vigour, and renews his pow'rs ; • Starts the bright race again : his constant flame • Rises and sets, returning still the same. • I mark the various fury of the winds;
These neither seasons guide, nor order binds :
They now dilate, and now contract their force ; • Various their speed, but endless is their course. : From his first fountain and beginning ouze, & Down to the sea each brook and torrent flows; « Tho' sandry drops or leave or swell the stream, • The whole ftill runs, with equal pace the same; • Still other waves supply the rising urns, & And the eternal food no want of water mourns.
? Why then must man obey the sad decree,
· A flower, that does with op'ning morn arise,
! This dark opinion, sure, is too confin'd;
Reward or punishment, delight or pain ?
Sleep we to wake, and only die to live?
The soul, immortal substance, to remain • Conscious of joy, and capable of pain ? • And if her acts have been directed well,
While with her friendly clay the deign'd to dwell, Shall the with safety reach her pristine feat, Find her reft endless, and her bliss compleat ? ? And while the buried man weidly mourn, : Do angels joy to see his better half return? ! But if she has deform'd this earthly life With murd'rous rapine and seditious strife,
• Amaz'd, repuls'd, and by those angels driv'n • From the ethereal feat and blissful heav'n,
In everlasting darkness muft she lie, • Still more unhappy that she cannot die ?
• Amid two seas, on one fmall point of land, • Weary'd, uncertain, and amaz'd, we stand; « On either side our thoughts incessant turn; • Forward we dread; and looking back we mourn ;
Lofing the present in this dubious hafte, • And lost ourselves betwixt the future and the past.'
These cruel doubts contending in my breast, My reason staggering, and my hopes opprefs’d, • Once more,' I said, ! once more I will inquire • What is this little, agile, pervious fire ; : This flutt'ring motion which we call the Mind, : How does the act? and where is the confin'd? ! Have we the pow'r to guide her as we please? ! Whence then those evils that obstruct our ease? ! We happiness pursue ; we fly from pain ;
Yet the pursuit, and yet the flight is vain ; • And while poor Nature labours to be bless'd, . By day with pleasure, and by night with rest, • Some stronger pow'r eludes our fickly will, · Dashing our rising hope with certain ill;
And makes us with reflective trouble fee, • That all is destin'd, which we fancy free.
That Pow'r superior, then, which rules our mind, • Is his decree by human pray’r inclin'd? « Will he for facrifice our sorrows ease ? . And can our tears reverse his firm decrees? : Then let religion aid where reason fails,
Throw loads of incense in to turn the scales ; ! And let the filent fanctuary show • What from the babbling schools we may not know, • How man may sun, or bear, his destin'd part of woe.
• What shall amend, or what abfolve our fate? "Anxious we hover in a mediate state,
Betwixt infinity and nothing; bounds, • Or boundless terms, 'whose doubtful sense confounds : • Unequal thought! whilft all we apprehend
Is, that our hopes must rise, our forrows end, . As our Creator deigns to be our friend.'
I said : and instant bade the priests prepare
-The anxious king came laft.
Father of heav'n !' I said, and Judge of earth! • Whofe word call'd out this universe to birth;
By whose kind pow'r, and influencing care, · The various creatures move, and live, and are ; • But ceafirig once that care, withdrawn that pow'r, They move (alas !) and live, and are no more :
Omniscient Master, omni-prefent King, " To thee, to thee, my last distress I bring.
• Thou that canst still the raging of the seas, Chain up the winds, and bid the tempests ceale, . Redeem my shipwreck'd foul from raging guits
Of cruel passion and deceitful lufts;
Let thy strong hand this little vessel guide