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Where to our eye more rarely they appear,
The pompous name of prodigy they bear:
Let active thought these close mæanders trace;
Let human wit their dubious boundaries place.
Are all things miracle; or nothing such?
prove we not too little, or too much?
For that a branch cut off, a wither'd rod
Should at a word pronounc'd revive and buds,
Is this more strange, than that the mountain's brow,
Stripp'd by December's frost, and white with snow,
Should push in spring, ten thousand thousand buds,
And boast returning leaves, and blooming woods ?
That each successive night from opening heaven
The food of angels should to man be given ;
Is this more strange, than that with common bread
Our fainting bodies every day are fed?
Than that each grain and feed consum'd in earth,
Raises its store, and multiplies its birth;
And from the handful which the tiller sows,
The labour'd fields rejoice, and future harvest flows?
Then, from whate'er we can to sense produce
Common and plain, 'or wonderous and abstruse,
From nature's constant or eccentric laws,
The thoughtful soul this general influence draws,
That an effect must presuppose a cause.
And while she does her upward flight fuftain,
Touching each link of the continued chain,
At length she is oblig'd and forc'di to see
A first, a source, a life, a deity;
What has for ever been, and must for ever be.
This great existence thus by reason found,
Blest by all power, with all perfection crown'd;
How can we bind or limit his decree,
By what our ear has heard, or eyes may see?
Say then: is all in heaps of water loft,
Beyond the islands, and the mid-land coaft?
Or has that God who gave the world its birth,
Sever'd those waters by some other earth,
Countries by future plow-shares to be torn,
And cities rais’d by nations yet
Ere the progressive course of restless age
Performs three thousand times its annual stage,
May not our power and learning be supprest,
And arts and empire learn to travel west?
Where, by the strength of this Idea charm'd,
Lighten’d with glory, and with rapture warm’d,
Ascends my soul? what sees she white and great
Amidst subjected seas? An isle, the seat
Of power and plenty ; her imperial throne,
For justice and for mercy sought and known;
Virtues sublime, great attributes of Heaven,
From thence to this distinguish'd nation given:
Yet farther west the western isle extends
Her happier fame; her armed fleet she sends
To climates folded yet from human eye ;
And lands, which we imagine wave and sky.
From pole to pole she hears her acts resound,
And rules an empire by no ocean bound;
Knows her ships anchor'd, and her fails unfurl'd,
In other Indies, and a second world.
Friend to our woe, and parent of our fears :
Long shall Britannia (that must be her name) Be first in conquest, and preside in fame : Long shall her favour'd monarchy engage The teeth of envy, and the force of age: Rever'd and happy she shall long remain, Of human things least changeable, least vain. Yet all must with the general doom comply; And this great glorious power, tho' last, must die.
Now let us leave this earth, and lift our eye To the large convex of yon azure sky: Behold it like an ample curtain spread, Now ftreak’d and glowing with the morning red: Anon at noon in flaming yellow bright, And chusing fable for the peaceful night. Ask reason now, whence light and shade were given, And whence this great variety of Heaven: Reason, our guide, what can The more reply, Than that the sun illuminates the sky; Than that night rises from his absent ray, And his returning luftre kindles day?
But we expect the morning red in vain : 'Tis hid in vapours, or obseur'd by rain. The noon-tide yellow we in vain require : 'Tis black in storm, or red in light’ning fire. Pitchy and dark the night sometimes appears,
Our joy and wonder sometimes the excites,
With stars unnumber'd, and eternal lights,
Send forth, yo wise, fend forth your labouring thought:
Let it return with empty notions fraught,
Of airy columns every moment broke,
Of circling whirlpools, and of spheres of smoke:
Yet this solution but once more affords
New change of terms; and scaffolding of words:
In other garb my question I receive.
And take the doubt the
Lo! as a giant strong the lusty sun
Multiply'd rounds in one great round does run ;
Twofold his course, yet constant his career,
Changing the day, and finishing the year.
Again when his descending orb retires,
And earth perceives the absence of his fires ;
The moon affords us her alternate ray,
And with kind beams distributes fainter day,
Yet keeps the ftages of her monthly race,
Various her beams, and changeable her face.
Each planet shining in its proper sphere,
Does with just speed his radiant voyage fteer:
Each sees his lamp with different lustre crown'd:
Each knows his course with different periods bound;
And in his passage through the liquid space,
Nor haftens, nor retards his neighbour's race.
Now shines these planets with substantial rays?
Does innate luftre gild their measur'd days?
Or do they (as your schemes, I think, have shewn)
Dart furtive beams, and glory not their own,
All servants, to that source of light the sun :
Again I see ten thousand thousand stars,
Nor cast in lines,, in circles,' nor in squares :
(Poor rules, with which our bounded mind is fill'd,
When we would plant, or cultivate, or build);
But shining with such vaft, such various light,
As speaks the hand that form’d them, infinite;
How mean the order and perfection fought
In the best product of the human thought,
Compar'd to the great harmony that reigns
In what the spirit of the world ordains !
Now if the sun to earth transmits his ray,
Yet does not scorch us with too fierce a day;
How small a portion of his power is giv'n
To orbs more diftant, and remoter Heaven?
And of those stars, which our imperfect eye
Has doom'd, and fix'd to one eternal sky,
Each by a native stock of honour great,
May dart strong influence, and diffuse kind heat,
(It self a fun ;) and with transmiffive light
Enliven worlds deny'd to human fight;
Around the circles of their ambient kies
New moons may grow or wane, may set or rise ;
And other stars may to those funs be earths;
Give their own elements their proper births;
Divide their climes, or elevate their pole;
See their land flourish, and their oceans roll;
Yet these great orbs thus radically bright,
Primitive founts, and origins of light,
May each to other (as their different sphere
Makes or their distance, or their height appear)
Be seen a nobler, or inferior ítar;