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While by fix'd laws, and with a just return,
They feel twelve hours that shade, for twelve that
And praise the neighbouring sun, whose constant
Enlightens them with seasons still the same? [flame
And may not those whose distant lot is cast
North beyond Tartary's extended waste,
Where through the plains of one continual day
Six shining months pursue their even way,
And six succeeding urge their dusky flight,
Obscur'd with vapours, and o’erwhelm'd in night;
May not, I ask, the natives of these climes
(As annals may inform succeeding times)
To our quotidian change of Heaven prefer
Their own vicissitude and equal share
Of day and night departed through the year?
May they not scorn our sun's repeated race,
To narrow bounds prescribʼd and little space,
Hastening from morn, and headlong driv’n from
Half of our daily toil yet scarcely done? [noon,
May they not justly to our climes upbraid
Shortness of night and penury of shade,
That ere our wearied limbs are justly bless'd.
With wholesome sleep and necessary rest,
Another sun demands return of care,
The remnant toil of yesterday to bear?
Whilst, when the solar beams salute their sight,
Bold and secure in half a year of light,
Uninterrupted voyages they take
To the remotest wood and furthest lake,
Manage the fishing, and pursue the course [force
With more extended nerves and more continued
And when declining day forsakes their sky,
When gathering clouds speak gloomy winter nigh,
With plenty for the coming season bless'd,
Six solid months (an age) they live, releas'd
From all the labour, process, clamour, woe,
Which our sad scenes of daily action know;
They light the shining lamp, prepare the feast,
And with full mirth receive the welcome guest,
Or tell their tender loves (the only care
Which now they suffer) to the listening fair,
And, rais'd in pleasure, or repos'd in ease,
(Grateful alternates of substantial peace)
They bless the long noctural influence shed
On the crown'd goblet and the genial bed.
*In foreign isles which our discoverers find,
Far from this length of continent disjoin'd,
The rugged bear's or spotted lynx's brood
Frighten the vallies, and infest the wood;
The hungry crocodile and hissing snake
Lurk in the troubled stream and fenny brake;
And man, untaught and ravenous as the beast,
Does valley, wood, and brake, and stream, infest ;
Deriv'd these men and animals their birth
From trunk of oak, or pregnant womb of earth?
Whence then the old belief, that all began
In Eden's shade and one created man?
Or, grant this progeny was wafted o'er
By coasting boats from next adjacent shore, (spring,
Would those, from whom we will suppose they
Slaughter to harmless lands and poison bring?
Would they on board or bears or lynxes take,
Feed the she-adder and the brooding snake ?
Or could they think the new-discover'd isle
Pleas’d to receive a pregnant crocodile ?
. And since the savage lineage we must trace From Noah say'd, and his distinguish'd race,
How should their fathers happen to forget
The arts which Noah taught, the rules he set,
To sow the glebe, to plant the generous vine,
And load with grateful flames the holy shrine ?
While the great sire's unhappy sons are found,
Unpress'd their vintage, and untill’d their ground,
Straggling o'er dale and hill in quest of food,
And rude of arts, of virtue, and of God.
*How shall we next o'er earth and seas pursue
The varied forms of every thing we view;
That all is chang'd, though all is still the same,
Fluid the parts, yet durable the frame?
Of those materials which have been confess'd
The pristine springs and parents of the rest,
Each becomes other. Water stopp'd, gives birth
To grass and plants, and thickens into earth;
Diffus'd, it rises in a higher sphere,
Dilates its drops, and softens into air :
Those finer parts of air again aspire,
Move into warmth, and brighten into fire;
That fire once more, by thicker air o'ercome,
And downward forc'd, in earth's capacious womb
Alters its particles, is fire no more,
But lies resplendent dust and shining ore :
Or, running through the mighty Mother's veins,
Changes its shape, puts off its old remains;
With watery parts its lessen’d force divides,
Flows into waves, and rises into tides.
Disparted streams shall from their channels fly, And, deep surcharg’d, by sandy mountains lie Obscurely sepulcher'd. By eating rain And furious wind, down to the distant plain The hill, that hides his head above the skies, Shall fall: the plain, by slow degrees, shall rise
Higher than erst had stood the summit hill;
For Time must Nature's great behest fulfil.
• Thus by a length of years and change of fate,
All things are light or heavy, small or great;
Thus Jordan's waves shall future clouds appear,
And Egypt's pyramids refine to air;
Thus later age shall ask for Pison's flood,
And travellers inquire where Babel stood.
“Now where we see these changes often fall,
Sedate we pass them by as natural;
Where to our eye more rarely they appear,
The pompous name of prodigy they bear :
Let active thought these close meanders trace,
Let human wit their dubious boundaries place.
Are all things miracle, or nothing such ?
And 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 bud;
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 seed, 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 wondrous and abstruse, From Nature's constant or eccentric laws The thoughtful soul this general influence draws Chat an effect must presuppose a cause :
And while she does her upward flight sustain,
Touching each link of the continued chain,
At length she is oblig'd and forc'd 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,
Bless'd by all power, with all perfection crown'd,
How can we bind or limit his decree
By what our ear has heard, or eye may see?
Say, then, is all in heaps of water lost,
Beyond the islands and the midland coast ?
Or has that God, who gave our world its birth,
Sever'd those waters by some other earth,
Countries by future ploughshares to be torn,
And cities rais'd by nations yet unborn!
Ere the progressive course of restless age
Performs three thousand times its annual stage,
May not our power and learning be suppress'd,
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 happy fame; her armed fleets 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 sails unfurl'd, In other Indies and a second world.