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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, though 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 streak'd and glowing with the morning red; Anon at noon in flaming yellow bright, And choosing sable for the peaceful night. Ask reason, now, whence light and shade were given, And whence this great variety of Heaven? Reason our guide, what cap she more reply, Than that the sun illuminates the sky? Than that night rises from his absent ray, And his returning lustre kindles day?
But we expect the morning red in vain, 'Tis hid in vapours, or obscur'd by rain : The noontide yellow we in vain require, 'Tis black in storm, or red in lightning fire. Pitchy and dark the night sometimes appears, Friend to our woe, and parent of our fears, Our joy and wonder sometimes she excites, With stars unnumber'd and eternal lights, Send forth, ye wise, send 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,
'Lo! as a giant strong the lusty 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 vast, such various light, As speaks the hand that form’d them infinite. How mean the order and perfection sought In the best product of the human thought, Compar'd to the great larmony that reigns In what the Spirit of the world ordains !
Now if the sun to earth transmits his ray,
• In vain we measure this amazing sphere,
'This problem yet, this offspring of a guess, Let us for once a child of Truth confess; That these fair stars, these objects of delight ) And terror to our searching dazzled sight, Are worlds immense, unnumber'd, infinite; But do these worlds display their beams, or guide Their orbs, to serve thy use, to please thy pride? Thyself but dust, thy stature but a span, A moment thy duration, foolish man! As well may the minutest emmet say That Caucasus was rais'd to pave his way; The snail, that Lebanon's extended wood Was destin'd only for his walk and food; The vilest cockle, gaping on the coast That rounds the ample seas, as well may boast The craggy rock projects above the sky, That he in safety at its foot may lie; And the whole ocean's confluent waters swell, Only to quench his thirst, or move and blanch his
shell. “A higher flight the ventrous goddess tries, Leaving material worlds and local skies; Inquires what are the beings, where the space, That form'd and held the angel's ancient race? For rebel Lucifer with Michael sought (I offer only what tradition taught) Embattled cherub against cherub rose, Did shield to shield, and power to power oppose ;( Heaven rung with triumph, hell was fill'd with
woes. What were these forms, of which your volumes tell How some fought great, and others recreant fell?
These bound to bear an everlasting load, Durance of chain, and banishment of God;
By fatal turns their wretched strength to tire,