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To move the deep stagnation of his soul,—
Might imitate and equal.

But mean lust
Has bound its chains so tight around the earth,
That all within it but the virtuous man
Is venal: gold or fame will surely reach
The price prefixed by selfishness, to all
But him of resolute and unchanging will;
Whom, nor the plaudits of a servile crowd,
Nor the vile joys of tainting luxury,
Can bribe to yield his elevated soul
To tyranny or falsehood, though they wield
With blood-red hand the sceptre of the world.

All things are sold: the very light of heaven

Is venal; earth's unsparing gifts of love.

The smallest and most despicable things

That lurk in the abysses of the deep,

All objects of our life,—even life itself,

And the poor pittance which the laws allow

Of liberty,—the fellowship of man,

Those duties which his heart of human love

Should urge him to perform instinctively,

Are bought and sold as in a public mart

Of undisguising selfishness, that sets

On each its price, the stamp-mark of her reign.

Even love is sold: the solace of all woe

Is turned to deadliest agony:—old age

Shivers in selfish beauty's loathing arms,

And youth's corrupted impulses prepare

A life of horror from the blighting bane

Of commerce; whilst the pestilence that springs

From unenjoying sensualism, has filled

All human life with hydra-headed woes.

Falsehood demands but gold to pay the pangs
Of outraged conscience; for the slavish priest
Sets no great value on his hireling faith:
A little passing pomp, some servile souls,
Whom cowardice itself might safely chain,
Or the spare mite of avarice could bribe
To deck the triumph of their languid zeal,
Can make him minister to tyranny.
More daring crime requires a loftier meed:

Without a shudder, the slave-soldier lends

His arms to murderous deeds, and steels his heart,

When the dread eloquence of dying men,

Low mingling on the lonely field of fame,

Assails that nature, whose applause he sells

For the gross blessings of a patriot mob,

For the vile gratitude of heartless kings,

And for a cold world's good word,—viler still!

There is a nobler glory, which survives

Until our being fades, and, solacing

All human care, accompanies its change;

Deserts not virtue in the dungeon's gloom,

And, in the precincts of the palace, guides

Her footsteps through that labyrinth of crime;

Imbues her lineaments with dauntlessness,

Even when, from power's avenging hand, she takes

Her sweetest, last, and noblest title—death!

—The consciousness of good, which neither gold,

Nor sordid fame, nor hope of heavenly bliss,

Can purchase; but a life of resolute good,

Unalterable will, quenchless desire

Of universal happiness, the heart

That beats with it in unison, the brain,

Whose ever wakeful wisdom toils to change

Reason's rich stores for its eternal weal.

This commerce of sincerest virtue needs
No mediative signs of selfishness,—
No jealous intercourse of wretched gain,—
No balancings of prudence, cold and long;
In just and equal measure all is weighed,
One scale contains the sum of human weal,
And one, the good man's heart.

How vainly seek
The selfish for that happiness denied
To aught but virtue! Blind and hardened, they,
Who hope for peace amid the storms of care,
Who covet power they know not how to use,
And sigh for pleasure they refuse to give,—
Madly they frustrate still their own designs;
And, where they hope that quiet to enjoy
Which virtue pictures, bitterness of soul,

Pining regrets, and vain repentance,
Disease, disgust, and lassitude, pervade
Their valueless and miserable lives.

But hoary-headed selfishness has felt
Its death-blow, and is tottering to the grave:
A brighter morn awaits the human day,
When every transfer of earth's natural gifts
Shall be a commerce of good words and works
When poverty and wealth, the thirst of fame,
The fear of infamy, disease, and woe,
War with its million horrors, and fierce hell
Shall live but in the memory of time,
Who, like a penitent libertine, shall start,
Look back, and shudder at his younger years.


All touch, all eye, all ear,
The Spirit felt the Fairy's burning speech.

O'er the thin texture of its frame,
The varying periods painted changing glows,

As on a summer even,
When soul-enfolding music floats around,
The stainless mirror of the lake
Re-images the eastern gloom,
Mingling convulsively its purple hues
With sunset's burnished gold,

Then thus the Spirit spoke:
It is a wild and miserable world!

Thorny, and full of care, Which every fiend can make his prey at will. O Fairy! in the lapse of years, Is there no hope in store 1 Will yon vast suns roll on Interminably, still illumining The night of so many wretched souls. And see no hope for them 1 Will not the universal Spirit e'er Revivify this withered limb of Heaven 1

The Fairy calmly smiled
In comfort, and a kindling gleam of hope

Suffused the Spirit's lineaments.
Oh! rest thee tranquil: chase those fearful doubts,
Which ne'er could rack an everlasting soul,
That sees the chains which bind it to its doom.
Yes! crime and misery are in yonder earth,

Falsehood, mistake, and lust;

But the eternal world
Contains at once the evil and the cure.
Some eminent in virtue shall start up,

Even in perversest time:
The truths of their pure lips, that never die,
Shall bind the scorpion falsehood with a wreath

Of ever-living flame,
Until the monster sting itself to death.

How sweet a scene will earth become!
Of purest spirits, a pure dwelling-place,
Symphonious with the planetary spheres,
When man, with changeless nature coalescing,
Will undertake regeneration's work,
When its ungenial poles no longer point

To the red and baleful sun

That faintly twinkles there.

Spirit! on yonder earth,
Falsehood now triumphs; deadly power
Has fixed its seal upon the lip of truth!

Madness and misery are there!
The happiest is most wretched! yet confide,
Until pure health-drops from the cup of joy,
Fall like a dew of balm upon the world.
Now, to the scene I show, in silence, turn,
And read the blood-stained charter of all woe,
Which nature soon, with re-creating hand,
Will blot in mercy from the book of earth.
How bold the flight of passion's wandering wing,
How swift the step of reason's firmer tread,
How calm and sweet the victories of life,
How terrorless the triumph of the grave!
How powerless were the mightiest monarch's arm,
Vain his loud threat, and impotent his frown!
How ludicrous the priest's dogmatic roar!
The weight of his exterminating curse,
How light! and his affected charity,

To suit the pressure of the changing times,
What palpable deceit!—but for thy aid,
Religion! but for thee, prolific fiend,
Who peoplest earth with demons, hell with men,
And heaven with slaves!

Thou taintest all thou lookest upon! the stars,

Which on thy cradle beamed so brightly sweet,

Were gods to the distempered playfulness

Of thy untutored infancy; the trees,

The grass, the clouds, the mountains, and the sea,

All living things that walk, swim, creep, or fly,

Were gods; the sun had homage, and the moon ,

Her worshipper. Then thou becamest a boy,

More daring in thy frenzies: every shape,

Monstrous or vast, or beautifully wild,

Which, from sensation's relics, fancy culls;

The spirits of the air, the shuddering ghost,

The genii of the elements, the powers

That give a shape to nature's varied works,

Had life and faith in the corrupt belief

Of thy blind heart: yet still thy youthful hands

Were pure of human blood. Then manhood gave

Its strength and ardour to thy frenzied brain:

Thine eager gaze scanned the stupendous scene,

Whose wonders mocked the knowledge of thy pride:

Their everlasting and unchanging laws

Reproached thine ignorance. Awhile thou stoodst

Baffled and gloomy; then thou didst sum up

The elements of all that thou didst know;

The changing seasons, winter's leafless reign,

The budding of the heaven-breathing trees,

The eternal orbs that beautify the night,

The sun-rise, and the setting of the moon,

Earthquakes and wars, and poisons and disease,

And all their causes, to an abstract point.

Converging, thou didst bend, and called it—God!

The self-sufficing, the omnipotent,

The merciful, and the avenging God!

Who, prototype of human misrule, sits

High in heaven's realm, upon a golden throne,

Even like an earthly king: and whose dread work,

Hell gapes for ever for the unhappy slaves

Of fate, whom he created, in his sport,

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