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And stand expos’d by common peccancy
To what no few have felt, there should be peace,
And brethren in calamity should love.
Alas for Sicily! rude fragments now
Lie scatter'd where the shapely column stood.
Her palaces are dust. In all her streets
The voice of singing and the sprightly chord
Are silent. Revelry, and dance, and show
Suffer a syncope and solemn pause ;
While God performs upon the trembling stage
Of his own works his dreadful part alone.
How does the earth receive ħim ?-With what signs
Of gratulation and delight, her King ?
Pours she not all her choicest fruits abroad,
Her sweetest flow'rs, her aromatic gums,
Disclosing paradise where’er he treads ?.
She quakes at his approach. Her hollow womb,
Conceiving thunders, through a thousand deeps.
And fiery caverns roars beneath his foot.
The hills move lightly, and the mountains smoke,
For he has touch'd them. From th' extremest point
Of elevation down into th' abyss
His wrath is busy, and his frown is felt.
The rocks fall headlong, and the valleys rise,
The rivers die into offensive pools,
And, charg'd with putrid verdure, breathe a gross
And mortal nuisance into all the air.
What solid was, by transformation strange,
Grows fluid; and the fix'd and rooted earth,
Tormented into billows, heaves and swells,
Or with vortiginous and hideous whirl
Sucks down its prey insatiable. Immense
The tumult and the overthrow, the pangs
And agonies of human and of brute
Multitudes, fugitive on ev'ry side,
And fugitive in vain. The sylvan scene
Migrates uplifted; and, with all its soil
Alighting in far distant fields, finds out
A new possessor, and survives the change.
Ocean has caught the frenzy, and, upwrought
To an enormous and o'erbearing height,
Not by a mighty wind, but by that voice
Which winds and waves obey, invades the shore
Resistless. Never such a sudden flood,
Upridg’d so high, and sent on such a charge,
Possess'd an inland scene. Where now the throng
That press’d the beach, and, hasty to depart,
Look'd to the sea for safety? They are gone,
Gone with the refluent wave into the deep
A prince with half his people ! Ancient tow'rs,
And roofs embattled high, the gloomy scenes
Where beauty oft and letter'd worth consume
Life in the unproductive shades of death,
Fall prone : the pale inhabitants come forth,
And, happy in their unforeseen release
From all the rigours of restraint, enjoy
The terrors of the day that sets them free.
Who then, that has thee, would not hold thee fast,
Freedom! whom they that lose thee so regret,
That ev'n a judgment, making way for thee,
Seems in their eyes a mercy for thy sake.
Such evil sin hath wrought ; and such a flame
Kindled in heav'n, that it burns down to earth,
And, in the furious inquest that it makes
On God's behalf, lays waste his fairest works.
The very elements, though each be meant
The minister of man, to serve his wants,
Conspire against him. With his breath he draws
A plague into his blood ; and cannot use
Life’s necessary means, but he must die.
Rise not, the waters of the deep shall rise,
And, needing none assistance of the storm,
Shall roll themselves ashore, and reach him there.
The earth shall shake him out of all his holds,
Or make his house his grave; nor so content,
Shall counterfeit the motions of the flood,
And drown him in her dry and dusty gulfs.
What then! were they the wicked above all,
And we the righteous, whose fast anchor'd isle
Mov'd not, while theirs was rock'd, like a light skiff,
The sport of ev'ry wave ? No: none are clear,
And none than we more guilty. But, where all
Stand chargeable with guilt, and to the shafts
Of wrath obnoxious, God may choose his mark :
May punish, if he please, the less, to warn
The more malignant. If he spard not them,
Tremble and be amaz’d at thine escape,
Far guiltier England, lest he spare not thee !
Happy the man who sees a God employ'd In all the good and ill that chequer life! Resolving all events, with their effects And manifold results, into the will And arbitration wise of the Supreme. Did not his eye rule all things, and intend The least of our concerns (since from the least The greatest oft originate); could chance Find place in his dominion, or dispose One lawless particle to thwart his plan; Then God might be surpris’d, and unforeseen Contingence might alarm him, and disturb The smooth aud equal course of his affairs. This truth philosophy, though eagle-ey'd In nature's tendencies, oft overlooks ; And, having found his instrument, forgets, Or disregards, or, more presumptuous still, Denies the pow'r that wields it. God proclaims His hot displeasure against foolish men, That live an atheist life : involves the heav'n In tempests; quits his grasp upon the winds, And gives them all their fury ; bids a plague Kindle a fiery boil upon the skin, And putrify the breath of blooming health. He calls for famine, and the meagre fiend Blows mildew from between his shrivel'd lips, And taints the golden ear. He springs his mines, And desolates a nation at a blast. Forth steps the spruce philosopher, and tells Of homogeneal and discordant springs And principles; of causes, how they work
By necessary laws their sure effects ;
Of action and re-action. He has found
The source of the disease that nature feels,
And bids the world take heart and banish fear.
Thou fool! will thy discovery of the cause
Suspend th' effect, or heal it ? Has not God
Still wrought by means since first he made the world?
And did he not of old employ his means
Than a capacious reservoir of means
Form'd for his use, and ready at his will?
Go, dress thine eyes with eye-salve ; ask of him,
Or ask of whomsoever he has taught ;
And learn, though late, the genuine cause of all.
England, with all thy faults, I love thee still
My country! and, while yet a nook is left.
Where English minds and manners may be found,
Shall be constrain’d to love thee. Though thy clime
Be fickle, and thy year most part deform'd
With dripping rains, or wither'd by a frost,
I would not yet exchange thy sullen skies,
And fields without a flow'r, for warmer France
With all her vines ; nor for Ausonia's groves
Of golden fruitage, and her myrtle bow'rs.
To shake thy senate, and from heights sublime
Of patriot eloquence to flash down fire
Upon thy foes, was never meant my task :
But I can feel thy fortunes, and partake
Thy joys and sorrows, with as true a heart
As any thund'rer there. And I can feel