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To shun the deadly nightshade? Though the cherry
Boasts not a glossier hue, nor does the plum
Lure with more seeming sweets the amorous eye,
Yet will not the sagacious birds, decoyed
By fair appearance, touch the nauseous fruit;
They know to taste is fatal; whence alarmed,
Swift on the winnowing winds they work their way.
Go to, proud reasoner, philosophic man,
Hast thou such prudence? thou such knowledge? No!
Full many a race has fallen into the snare
Of meretricious looks, of pleasing surface;
And oft in desert isles the famished pilgrim,
By forms of fruit and luscious taste beguiled,
Like his forefather Adam, eats and dies.
For why? his wisdom, on the leaden feet
Of slow experience, dully, tedious creeps,
And comes, like vengeance, after long delay.
The venerable sage that nightly trims
The learned lamp to investigate the powers
Of plants medicinal, the earth, the air,
And the dark regions of the fossil world,
Grows old in following what he ne'er shall find;
Studious in vain! till haply at the last
He spies a mist, then shapes it into mountains,
And baseless fabrics from conjecture builds :
While the domestic animal, that guards
At midnight hours his threshold, if oppressed
By sudden sickness, at his master's feet
Begs not that aid his services might claim,
But is his own physician, knows the case,
And from the emetic herbage works his cure.
Hark! from afar the feathered matron screams,
And all her brood alarms! The docile crew
Accept the signal one and all; expert
In th' art of nature, and unlearned deceit:
Along the sod in counterfeited death
Mute, motionless they lie: full well apprized
That the rapacious adversary's near.
But who informed her of the approaching danger ?
Who taught the curious mother that the hawk
Was hatched her foe, and lived by her destruction ?
Her whole prophetic soul is active in her,
And more than human providence her guard.
When Philomela, ere the cold domain
Of crippled winter 'gins to advance, prepares
Her annual flight, and in some poplar shade
Takes her melodious leave, who then's her pilot?
Who points her passage through the pathless void
To realms from us remote, to us unknown?
Her science is the science of her God.
Not the magnetic index to the north
E'er ascertains her course, nor buoy, nor beacon:
She, heaven-taught voyager, that sails in air,
Courts not coy west or east, but instant knows
What Newton, or not sought, or sought in vain.
Illustrious name! irrefragable proof
Of man's vast genius, and the soaring soul!
Yet what wert thou to Him, who knew his works
Before creation formed them, long before
He measured in the hollow of his hand
The exulting ocean, and the highest heavens
He comprehended with a span, and weighed
The mighty mountains in his golden scales ;
Who shone supreme, who was Himself the light,
Ere yet refraction learned her skill to paint
And bend athwart the clouds her beauteous bow.'
When knowledge at her Father's dread command
Resigned to Israel's king her golden key,
Oh! to have joined the frequent auditors
In wonder and delight, that whilom heard
Great Solomon descanting on the brutes ;
Oh! how sublimely glorious to apply
To God's own honour and good-will to man
That wisdom he alone of men possessed,
In plenitude so rich, and scope so rare !
How did he raise the pampered silken sons
Of bloated ease, by placing to their view
The safe industrious ant, the wisest insect
And best economist of all the field!
Though she presumes not by the solar orb
To measure times and seasons, nor consults
Chaldean calculations for a guide ;
Yet conscious that December's on the march,
Pointing with icy hand to want and woe,
She waits his dire approach, and, undismayed,
Receives him as a welcome guest, prepared
Against the churlish winter's fiercest blow.
For when as yet the favourable sun
Gives to the genial earth the enlivening ray,
Not the poor suffering slave that hourly toils
To rive the groaning earth for ill-sought gold,
Endures such trouble, such fatigue as she;
While all her subterraneous avenues,
And stone-proof cells, with management most meet
And unexampled housewifery, she forms:
Then to the field she hies, and on her back,
Burden immense, she bears the cumbrous corn.
Then many a weary step, and many a strain,
And many a grievous groan subdued, at length
Up the huge hill she hardly heaves it home.
Nor rests she here her providence, but nips
With subtle tooth the grain, lest from her garner
In mischievous fertility it steal,
And back to day-light vegetate its way.
Go to the ant, thou sluggard, learn to live,
And by her wary ways reform thine own.
But if thy deadened sense and listless thought
More glaring evidence demand, behold
Where yon pellucid populous hive presents
A yet uncopied model to the world!
There Machiavel in the reflecting glass
May read himself a fool. The chemist there
May with astonishment invidious view
His toils outdone by each plebeian bee,
Who, at the royal mandate, on the wing
From various herbs and from discordant flowers
A perfect harmony of sweets compounds.
Avaunt, conceit! ambition, take thy flight
Back to the prince of vanity and air!
Oh! 'tis a thought of energy most piercing,
Formed to make pride grow humble, formed to force
Its weight on the reluctant mind, and give her
A true but irksome image of herself.
Woful vicissitude, when man, fallen man,
Who first from heaven, from gracious God Himself,
Learnt knowledge of the brutes, must know by brutes
Instructed and reproached, the scale of being
By slow degrees from lowly steps ascend,
And trace Omniscience upwards to its spring.
Yet murmur not, but praise, for though we stand
god-like privilege amerced, By Adam's dire transgression; though no more Is Paradise our home, but o'er the portal Hangs in terrific pomp the burning blade; Still with ten thousand thousand blooms the earth, With pleasures populous, and with riches crowned ; Still is there scope for wonder and for love, E'en to their last exertion-showers of blessing, Far more than human virtue can deserve, Or hope expect, or gratitude return. Then, O ye people! 0 ye sons of men! Whatever be the colour of your lives, Whatever portion of itself, his wisdom Shall deign to allow, still patiently abide, And praise Him more and more; nor cease to chant, “All glory to th’ Omniscient, and praise, And power, and domination, in the height!” And thou cherubic Gratitude, whose voice To pious ears sounds silvery, so sweet, Come with thy precious incense, bring thy gifts, And with thy choicest stores the altar crown.
POWER OF THE SUPREME BEING. “TREMBLE, thou earth,” the Anointed Poet said ; “At God's bright presence tremble all ye mountains, And all ye hillocks on the surface round.” Then once again, ye glorious thunders, roll! The Muse with transport hears ye once again Convulse the solid continent, and shake, Grand music of Omnipotence, the Isles ! 'Tis thy terrific voice, thou God of power, 'Tis thy terrific voice, all nature hears it Awakened and alarmed; she feels its force, In every spring she feels it, every wheel, And every movement of her vast machine. Behold! quakes Apennine. Behold! recoils Athos, and all the hoary-headed Alps Leap from their bases at the god-like sound! But what is this, celestial though the note, And proclamation of the reign supreme, Compared with such as, for a mortal ear Too great, amaze the incorporeal worlds ? Should ocean to his congregated waves Call in each river, cataract, and lake, And with the watery world down a huge rock Fall headlong in one horrible cascade, 'Twere but the echo of the parting breeze, When Zephyr faints upon the lily's breast; 'Twere but the ceasing of some instrument, When the last lingering undulation Dies on the doubting ear, if named with sounds So mighty, so stupendous, so divine. But not alone in the aërial vault Does He the dread Theocracy maintain: For oft enraged with his intestine thunders, He harrows up the bowels of the earth, And shocks the central magnet,-cities then Totter on their foundations, stately columns, Magnific walls, and heaven-assaulting spires. What though in haughty eminence erect,