Obrazy na stronie

Himself, as in the hollow of his hand,
Holding, obedient to his high command,
The deep abyss, the long-continued store, (pour
Where months, and days, and hours, and 'minutes
Their floating parts, and thenceforth are no more :
This Alpha and Omega, first and last,
Who like the potter in a mould has cast
The world's great frame, commanding it to be
Such as the eyes of Sense and Reason see ;
Yet if he wills may change or spoil the whole ;
May take yon' beauteous, mystic, starry roll,
And burn it like an useless parchment scroll ;
May from its basis in one moment pour
This melted earth –
Like liquid metal, and like burning ore ;
Who, sole in power, at the beginning said,
Let Sea, and Air, and Earth, and Heaven be made;
And it was so : - and, when he shall ordain
In other sort, has but to speak again,
And they shall be no more : of this great theme,
This glorious, hallow'd, everlasting name,
This Gon, I would discourse.”

The learned elders sat appallid, amaz’d,
And each with mutual look on other gaz'd;
Nor speech they meditate, nor answer frame,
(Too plain, alas ! their silence spake their shame)
Till one, in whom an outward mien appear'd,
And turn superior to the vulgar herd,
Began: That human learning's furthest reach
Was but to note the doctrine I could teach ;
That mine to speak, and theirs was to obey ;
For I in knowledge more than power

did sway.

And the astonish'd world in me beheld
Moses eclips'd, and Jesse's son excell’d.
Humble a second bow'd, and took the word ;
Foresaw my name by future age ador'd:
“ () live," said he, “ thou wisest of the wise;
As none has equall’d, none shall ever rise
Excelling thee.'

Parent of wicked, bane of honest deeds,
Pernicious Flattery ! thy malignant seeds,
In an ill hour, and by a fatal hand,
Sadly diffus'd o'er Virtue's gleby land,
With rising pride amidst the corn appear,
And choke the hopes and harvest of the year.

And now the whole perplex'd ignoble crowd,
Mute to my questions, in my praises loud,
Echo'd the word : whence things arose, or how
They thus exist, the aptest nothing know:
What yet is not, but is ordain'd to be,
All veil of doubt apart, the dullest see!

My prophets and my sophists finish'd here The civil efforts of the verbal war : Not so my rabbins and logicians yield; Retiring, still they combat; from the field Of open arms unwilling they depart, And skulk behind the subterfuge of art. To speak one thing, mix'd dialects they join, Divide the simple, and the plain define ; Fix fancy'd laws, and form imagin'd rules, Terms of their art, and jargon of their schools, Ill-grounded maxims, by false gloss enlarg'd, And captious science against reason charg'd.

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Soon their crude notions with each other fought;
The adverse sect deny'd what this had taught;
And he at length the amplest triumph gain’d,
Who contradicted what the last maintain'd.

O wretched impotence of human mind!
We, erring still, excuse for errour find,
And darkling grope, not knowing we are blind.

Vain man ! since first thy blushing sire essay'd
His folly with connected leaves to shade,
How does the crime of thy resembling race
With like attempt that pristine errour trace !
Too plain thy nakedness of soul espy'd,
Why dost thou strive the conscious shame to hide
By masks of eloquence and veils of pride ?

With outward smiles their flattery I receiv'd, Own'd my sick mind by their discourse reliev'd; But bent, and inward to myself, again Perplex’d, these matters I revolv'd in vain. My search still tir'd, my labour still renew'd, At length I ignorance and knowledge view'd, Impartial; both in equal balance laid, [weigh’d. Light flew the knowing scale, the doubtful heavy

Forc'd by reflective reason, I confess, That human science is uncertain guess. Alas! we grasp at clouds, and beat the air, Vexing that spirit we intend to clear. Can thought beyond the bounds of matter climb ? Or who shall tell me what is space or time? In vain we lift up our presumptuous eyes To what our Maker to their ken denies : The searcher follows fast; the object faster flies.

The little which imperfectly we find,
Seduces only the bewilder'd mind
To fruitless search of something yet behind.
Various discussions tear our heated brain;
Opinions often turn; still doubts remain ;
And who indulges thought, increases pain.

How narrow limits were to Wisdom given ! Earth she surveys; she thence would measure

Heaven: Through mists obscure now wings her tedious way; Now wanders dazzled with too bright a day ; And from the summit of a pathless coast Sees infinite, and in that sight is lost.

Remember, that the curs’d desire to know, Offspring of Adam ! was thy source of woe. Why wilt thou then renew the vain pursuit, And rashly catch at the forbidden fruit ; With empty labour and eluded strife Seeking, by knowledge, to attain to life ; For ever from that fatal tree debarr'd, Which flaming swords and angry cherubs guard ?


Texts chiefly alluded to in Book II. “ I said in my own heart, Go to now, I will prove

thee with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure.”

Eccles. chap. ii. ver. 1. ti I made me great works, I builded me houses, I planted me vineyards.".

Ver. 4.

I made me gardens and orchards; and I planted

trees in them of all kind of fruits.”. Ver. 5. “ I made me pools of water, to water therewith the

wood that bringeth forth trees." - Ver. 6. “ Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and behold all was vanity and vexation of spirit;

and there was no profit under the Sun."Ver. 11. “ I gat me men-singers and women-singers, and the

delights of the sons of men, as musical instru

ments, and that of all sorts." - Ver. 8. “ I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine,

(yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom) and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under Heaven all the days of their life.".

Ver. 3. “ Then I said in my heart, As it happeneth unto

the fool, so it happeneth even unto me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart,

that this also is vanity.” — Ver. 15. “ Therefore I hated life, because the work that is

wrought under the Sun is grievous unto me."

Ver. 17. « Dead Aies cause the ointment to send forth a

stinking savour : so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour."

- Ch.'a. ver. 1.

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