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Shone brighter still, once call’d to public view,
many, whose fequefter'd lot
Forbids their interference, looking on,
Anticipate perforce some dire event;
And seeing the old castle of the state,
That promis’d once more firmness, so affailid,
That all its tempest-beaten turrets shake,
Stand motionless, expectants of its fall.
All has its date below; the fatal hour
Was register'd in heav'n ere time began.
We turn to dust, and all our mightiest works
Die too: the deep foundations that we lay,
Time ploughs them up, and not a trace remains.
We build with what we deem eternal rock;
asks where the fabric stood, And in the dust, sifted and search'd in vain, The undiscoverable secret sleeps.
But there is yet a liberty unsung By poets, and by senators unprais’d,
Which monarchs cannot grant, nor all the powers
Of earth and hell confed’rate take away.
A liberty, which persecution, fraud,
Oppression, prisons, have no power to bind,
Which whoso tastes can be ensay'd no more.
'Tis liberty of heart, derived from heav'n,
Bought with HIS blood who gave it to mankind,
And feal'd with the same token. It is held
By charter, and that charter sanction’d sure
By th’unimpeachable and awful oath
And promise of a God. His other gifts
All bear the royal stamp that speaks them his,
And are august, but this transcends them all.
His other works, this visible display
Of all-creating energy and might,
Are grand, no doubt, and worthy of the word
That, finding an interminable space
Unoccupied, has filled the void so well,
And made so sparkling what was dark before.
But these are not his glory. Man, 'tis true,
Smit with the beauty of fo fair a scene,
Might well suppose th' artificer divine
Meant it eternal, had he not himself
Pronounc'd it tranfient, glorious as it is,
And still designing a more glorious far,
Doom'd it, as insufficient for his praise.
These therefore are occasional and pass;
Form'd for the confutation of the fool,
Whose lying heart disputes against a God;
That office serv'd, they must be swept away.
Not so the labours of his love: they shine
In other heay'ns than these that we behold,
And fade not. There is paradise that fears
No forfeiture, and of its fruits he sends
Large prelibation oft to faints below.
Of these the first in order, and the pledge
And confident assurance of the rest,
Is Liberty. A fight into his arms
Ere yet mortality's fine threads give way,
A clear escape from tyrannizing luft,
And full immunity from penal woe.
Chains are the portion of revolted man, Stripes and a dungeon; and his body serves The triple purpose. In that sickly, foul, Opprobrious residence, he finds them all. Propense his heart to idols, he is held In silly dotage on created things, Careless of their Creator, And that low And sordid gravitation of his pow'rs To a vile clod, so draws him, with such force Resistless from the center he should seek, That he at last forgets it. All his hopes Tend downward, his ambition is to fink, To reach a depth profounder still, and still Profounder, in the fathomless abyss Of folly, plunging in pursuit of death. But ere he gain the comfortless repose He seeks, and acquiescence of his soul
In heav'n-renouncing exile, he endures
What does he not ? from lusts oppos’d in vain,
And self-reproaching conscience. He foresees
The fatal issue to his health, fame, peace,
Fortune and dignity; the loss of all
That can ennoble man, and make frail life,
Short as it is, supportable. Still worse,
Far worse than all the plagues with which his fins
Infect his happiest moments, he forebodes
Ages of hopeless misery, Future death,
And death still future. Not an hasty stroke,
Like that which fends him to the dusty grave,
But unrepealable enduring death.
Scripture is still a trumpet to his fears :
What none can prove a forg'ry, may
What none but bad men wish exploded, must.
That fcruple checks him. Riot is not loud
Nor drunk enough to drown it. In the midst
Of laughter his compunctions are sincere,
And he abhors the jest by which he shines.