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Oh cursed iust of gold! when for thy sake, The fool throws up his int’rest in both worlds: First starv'd in this, then damn'd in that to come. How shocking must thy summons be, O Death! To him that is at ease in his possessions; Who, counting on long years of pleasure here, Is quite unfurnish'd for that world to come ! In that dread moment, how the frantic soul Raves round the walls of her clay tenement, Runs to each avenue, and shrieks for help, But shrieks in vain? How wishfully she looks On all she's leaving, now no longer her’s! A little longer, yet a little longer, O might she stay, to wash away her stains, And fit her for her passage 1 Mournful sight ! Her very eyes weep blood; and every groan She heaves is big with horror: but the foe, Like a staunch murd’rer, steady to his purpose, Pursues her close through every lane of life, Nor misses once the track, but presses on ; Till forc'd at last to the tremendous verge, At once she sinks to everlasting ruin. Sure 'tis a serious thing to die, my soul What a strange moment must it be, when near Thy journey's end, thou hast the gulf in view: That awful gulf, no mortal e'er repass'd To tell what's doing on the other side. Nature runs back, and shudders at the sight, And every life-string bleeds at thoughts of parting! For part they must: body and soul must part; Fond couple; link'd more close than wedded pair. This wings its way to its Almighty Source, The witness of its actions, now its judge; That drops into the dark and noisome grave, Like a disabled pitcher of no use. If death were nothing, and nought after death; If when men dy'd, at once they ceas'd to be, Returning to the barren womb of nothing, Whence first they sprung, then might the debauchee Untrembling mouth the heavens:–then might the drunkard Reel over his full bowl, and, when 'tis drain'd, Fill up another to the brim, and laugh [wretch At the poor bugbear Death:—Then might the That's weary of the world, and tir'd of life, At once give each inquietude the slip, By stealing out of being when he pleas'd, And by what way, whether by hemp or steel; Death's thcusand doors stand open.—Who could The ill pleas'd guest to sit out his full time, [force Or blame him if he goes —Sure he does well, That helps himself as timely as he can, When able.—But if there's an hereafter; And that there is, conscience uninfluenc'd And suffer'd to speak out, tells ev'ry man; Then must it be an awful thing to die: More horrid yet to die by one's own hand. Self-murder!—name it not: our island's shame, That makes her the reproach of neighbouring states. Shall nature, swerving from her earliest dictate, Self-preservation, fall by her own act Forbid it, Heaven. Let not, upon disgust,
The shameless hand be foully crimson'd o'er With blood of its own lord.—Dreadful attempt! Just reeking from self-slaughter, in a rage To rush into the presence of our Judge; As if we challeng’d him to do his worst, And matter'd not his wrath —Unheard-of tortures Must be reserv'd for such: these herd together; The common damn'd shun their society, And look upon themselves as fiends less foul. Our time is fix'd, and all our days are number'd; How long, how short, we know not:—this we know, Duty requires we calmly wait the summons, Nor dare to stir till Heaven shall give permission: Like sentries that must keep their destin'd stand, And wait th' appointed hour, till they're reliev'd. Those only are the brave who keep their ground, And keep it to the last. To run away Is but a coward's trick: to run away From this world's ills, that at the very worst Will soon blow o'er, thinking to mend ourselves, By boldly vent'ring on a world unknown, And plunging headlong in the dark;-'tis mad: No frenzy half so desperate as this. Tell us, ye dead! will none of you, in pity To those you left behind, disclose the secret? Oh! that some courteous ghost would blab it out; What 'tis you are, and we must shortly be. I've heard, that souls departed, have sometimes Forewarn'd men of their death:—'twas kindly done To knock, and give the alarm.—But what means This stinted charity?—"Tis but lame kindness That does its work by halves.—Why might you not Tell us what 'tis to die o Do the strict laws Of your society forbid your speaking Upon a point so nice?—I'll ask no more: Sullen, like lamps in sepulchres, your shine Enlightens but yourselves. Well, 'tis no matter; A very little time will clear up all, And make us learn’d as you are, and as close. . Death's shafts fly thick:—Here falls the villageswain, And there his pamper'd lord.—The cup goes round: And who so artful as to put it by ? 'Tis long since Death had the majority; Yet strange: the living lay it not to heart. See yonder maker of the dead man's bed, The sexton, hoary-headed chronicle ! Of hard unmeaning face, down which ne'er stole A gentle tear; with mattock in his hand Digs thro' wholerows of kindred and acquaintance, By far his juniors! Scarce a skull's cast up, But well he knew its owner, and can tell Some passage of his life.—Thus hand in hand The sot has walk'd with death twice twenty years; And yet ne'er younker on the green laughs louder, Or clubs a smuttier tale:—when drunkards meet, None sings a merrier catch, or lends a hand [not, More willing to his cup.–Poor wretch! he minds That soon some trusty brother of the trade
Shall do for him what he has done for thousands.
On this side, and on that, men see their friends Drop off, like leaves in autumn; yet launch out
Into fantastic schemes, which the long livers
And jovial youth, of lightsome vacant heart,
Poor man!—how happy once in thy first state!
Grew loud and mutinous, nor would be gone; Lording it o'er the man, who now too late Saw the rash error, which he could not mend: An error fatal not to him alone, But to his future sons, his fortune's heirs, Inglorious bondage!—Human nature groans Beneath a vassalage so vile and cruel, And its vast body bleeds through ev'ry vein. What havoc hast thou made, foul monster, Sin Greatest and first of ills! the fruitful parent Of woes of all dimensions!—But for thee Sorrow had never been.—All noxious things, Of viole-t nature, other sorts of evils, Are kindly circumscrib'd, and have their bounds. The fierce volcano, from his burning entrails That belches molten stone and globes of fire, Involvd in pitchy clouds of smoke and stench, Mars the adjacent fields for some leagues round, And there it stops.-The big-swoln inundation, Of mischief more diffusive, raving loud, Buries whole tracks of country, threat'ning more; But that too has its shore it cannot pass. More dreadful far than these, siu has laid waste, Not here and there a country, but a world: Dispatching at a wide-extended blow Entire mankind; and for their sakes defacing A whole creation's beauty with rude hands; Blasting the foodful grain, the loaded branches, And marking all along its way with ruin. Accursed thing!—Oh! where shall fancy find A proper maine to call thee by, expressive Of all thy horrors?—Pregnant womb of ills! Of temper so transcendently malign, That toads and serpents of most deadly kind, Compar'd to thee, are harmless.-Sicknesses Of every size and symptom, racking pains, And bluest plagues, are thine !—See how the fiend Profusely scatters the contagion round ! [heels, Whilst deep-mouth'd slaughter, bellowing at her Wades deep in blood new-spilt | yet for to-morrow Shapes out new work of great uncommon daring, And inly pines till the dread blow is struck. But hold! I've gone too far; too much discover'd My father's nakedness, and nature's shame. Here let me pause, and drop an honest tear, One burst of filial duty and condolence, O'er all those ample deserts Death hath spread, This chaos of mankind.—O great man-eater! Whose ev'ry day is carnival, not sated yet! Unheard-of epicure! without a fellow ! The veriest gluttons do not always cram; Some intervals of abstinence are sought To edge the appetite: thou seekest none. Methinks the countless swarms thou hast devour'd, And thousands that each hour thou gobblest up, This, less than this, might gorge thee to the full. But ah! rapacious still, thou gap'st for more: Like one, whole days defrauded of his meals, On whom lank hunger lays his skinny hand, And whets to keenest eagerness his cravings. (As is diseases, massacre and poison, Famine, and war, were not thy caterers!)
But know that thou must render up the dead, And with high int’rest too!—They are not thine, But only in thy keeping for a season, Till the great promis'd day of restitution; When loud diffusive sound from brazen trump Of strong-lung’d cherub, shall alarm thy captives, And rouse the long, long sleepers into life, Day-light, and liberty. Then must thy gates fly open. and reveal The mines that lay long forming under ground, In their dark cells immur'd : but now full ripe, And pure as silver from the crucible, That twice has stood the torture of the fire And inquisition of the forge. We know Th’ illustrious deliverer of mankind, The Son of God, thee soil'd.—Him in thy power Thou could'st not hold : self-vigorous he rose, And, shaking off thy fetters, soon retook Those spoils his voluntary yielding lent: (Sure pledge of our releasement from thy thrall!) Twice twenty days he sojourn'd here on earth, And show'd himself alive to chosen witnesses, By proofs so strong, that the most slow-assenting Had not a scruple left. This having done, He mounted up to Heav'n. Methinks I see him Climb the aerial heights, and glide along Athwart the severing clouds; but the faint eye, Flung backward in the chase, soon drops its hold; Disabled quite, and jaded with pursuing. Heaven's portals wide expand to let him in ; Nor are his friends shut out: as some great prince Not for himself alone procures admission, But for his train; it was his royal will, That where he is, there should his followers be. Death only lies between —A gloomy path ! Made yet more gloomy by our coward fear: But nor untrod, nor tedious: the fatigue Will soon go off—Besides, there's no bye-road To bliss.-Then why, like ill-condition'd children, Start we at transient hardships in the way That leads to purer air, and softer skies, And a ne'er-setting sun ?—Fools that we are I We wish to be where sweets unwith'ring bloom; But straight our wish revoke, and will not go. So have I seen, upon a summer's even, Fast by the riv'let's brink, a youngster play: How wishfully he looks to stem the tide : This moment resolute, next unresolv'd: At last he dips his foot; but as he dips His fears redouble, and he runs away From th' inoffensive stream, unmindful now Of all the flow'rs that paint the further bank, And smil'd so sweet of late.—Thrice welcomedeath! That after many a painful bleeding step Conducts us to our home, and lands us safe On the long-wish'd-for shore.—Prodigious change! our bane turn'd to a blessing —Death, disarm’d, Loses his sellness quite: all thanks to him who scourg'd the venom out!-Sure the last end Of the good man is peace!—How calm his exit! Night-dews fall not more gently to the ground, Nor weary worn-out winds expire so soft.
Behold him in the evening-tide of life,
Each soul shall have a body ready-furnish'd;
And each shall have his own.—Hence, ye profane!
SWIFT-A. D. 1667–1745.
I keep in my pocket, ty'd about my middle, next to my smock. So when I went to put up my purse, as God would have it, my smock was unript, And, instead of putting it into my pocket, down it slipt; Then the bell rung, and I went down to put my Lady to bed; And, God knows, I thought my money was as safe as my maidenhead. So, when I came up again, I found my pocket feel very light: But when I search'd, and miss'd my purse, Lord! I thought I should have sunk outright. Lord! Madam, says Mary, how d'ye do? Indeed, says I, never worse: But pray, Mary, can you tell what I have done with my purse * Lord help me! said Mary, I never stirr'd out of this place; Nay, said I, I had it in Lady Betty's chamber, that's a plain case. so Mary got me to bed, and cover'd me up warm: However, she stole away my garters, that I might do myself no harm, So I tumbled and toss'd all night, as you may very well think, But hardly everset my eyes together, or slept a wink. So I was adream'd, methought that we went and search'd the folks round, And in a corner of Mrs. Duke's box, ty'd in a rag, the money was found. So next morning we told Whittle, and he fell aswearing ; Then my dame Wadgar came ; and she, you know, is thick of hearing. Dame, said I, as loud as I could bawl, do you know what a loss I have had 2 Nay, said she, my Lord Conway's folks are all very sad : For my Lord Dromedary comes a Tuesday without fail. Pugh said I, but that's not the business that I ail. says Cary, says he, I have been a servant this five and twenty years come spring, And in all the places I liv'd I never heard of such a thing. Yes, says the steward, I remember, when I was at my Lady Shrewsbury's, such a thing as this happen'd just about the time of gooseberries.