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Narrow the path that leads to Truth's abode,
In spite of Bentham's wrong-expelling code.
While institutions thrive, and boys are made
Philosophers by adventitious aid;
While e'en the difference 'twixt right and wrong
Must now to calculation's art belong;
While barren axioms, with much parade,
Are as increase of mental wealth display'd;
While dull materialists will not believe
That there are modes our senses can't perceive,
Rapid as thought and bodiless as light,
As if what is, must present be to sight;-
Some seers predict (their prescience not divine)
That in this world far greater lights will shine;
(Then through the night of ages will the star
Of Shakspeare seem a luminous point afar)
That governments more perfect will be wrought
By an improved machinery of thought!
Experience may foreshow the future through
A glass indeed discoloured to our view :
A clearer prescience of hereafter none
Can have whose lives are measured by Time's zone. Who can foretell whate'er to-morrow's dawn
May bring?-not sage in ermine or in lawn.
Who, as they down through countless ages go, act foreknow?
Thought-executing projects, that alone
Once fastened on attention, now are gone—
Gone! like an arrow through the pathless air,
That closeth round and nought remaineth there!
Plan what you may, discover what you
Remain unchangeable old vices still-
The most depraved of this lust-dieted race
In arts excel not Valmont or Lovelace :*
Man is the same for ever, and to write
Of present times trite themes is to indite.
Power yet evades with Cunning for her guide
Deep plans by Knowledge framed to curb her pride;
Awhile defeated, soon she reappears,
When Superstition vile her flag uprears;
Then, (let the theorist of his race be proud,)
As round her troop the pomp-adoring crowd,
The despot slily fastens on their necks
His chain-adieu to legislative checks!
Historians fancy that a king is born
To trouble men, like great Astolfo's horn.
Princes will have their toys: for diadems
Some fight; more harmless, others play with gems,
Lengthen their palaces, pavilions build,
And ceilings gay of grand saloons o'ergild.
*The heroes of "Clarissa" and "Les Liaisons Dangereuses." Par nobile fratrum!
The self-will'd autocrat essays to bind,
Like fulminating Popes of old, the mind;
And Metternich, whose statecraft thrives so well,
Reacts the worn-out part of Machiavell.
Thus we improve; mild emperors succeed
The imperial h- -t. Does not Poland bleed?
As in a fox-chase, in pursuit of fame
is "Forward! forward!" still the same.
The restless spirit that impels the squire
To risk his neck, will set the world on fire,
When it impels proud princes, who, to fill
Their vacant hours up, hunt men and kill.
For fame-for fame unsated-Genius thirsts
And dies: thus mounts the bubble gay and bursts!
Thus Shelley blazed awhile-thus Byron shone,
And Burns-sons of the morning: they are gone!
Since they have pass'd away from earth in prime
Of manhood, surely in the abyme of time,
Else had they perish'd not with thoughts full-blown,
The seeds of mightier intellect are sown.
Are there not master-minds that in the deep
Abyss of time yet unawaken'd sleep?
Like birds of brighter plumage than have been
Discover'd yet, hereafter to be seen,
Poets profuse of many coloured thought
Shall from the morning's womb to life be brought *,
*The dew of thy birth is of the womb of the morning."
Gladden the favoured country where they shine,
And pour fresh lustre even on truths divine;
And new discoveries by science made
Shall to their songs bring illustration's aid.
Visions of glory they may see, and glow
With Milton's spirit-more than Milton know;
While prophecies now unfulfilled, but then
Complete, extend their intellectual ken.
Vain hope! still Shakspeare towers unmatched; and
Is Fancy's child with Spenser to compare?
With what an affluence of beauty now
The gay Elysiums in this island glow!
Nature hereafter never can improve
On high-born maids who win all hearts to love.
Who shall engirt by Venus' cestus be
Brighter than those in royal halls we see?
Though garmented in light they are, the rays
Of sparkling eyes outshine their diamonds' blaze!
Through Fancy's glass no poet can disclose
A fairer flower than the patrician rose;
Perfect in shape, and beautiful in hue-
Shall future suns a lovelier bring to view?
As Britomart * in magic mirror view'd
The semblance of her knight, and that pursued ;
* See Spenser's Faerie Queen, Book III, Canto ii. Stanzas 17, 18.
Thus in the glass of Fancy man beholds
Some object that to please him Passion moulds,—
Fame, fortune, honour, if of this possess'd,
Deeming himself to be as Croesus bless'd.
When won, though beautiful as god of day,
The golden idol has but feet of clay!
Many through gay saloons who laughing pass,
If window'd were their bosoms as with glass,
Would, as in Eblis' hall each glittering form,
Disclose to view the ever-burning, worm.
Impostors flourish in this age of light:
Not least of these the wizard Exquisite.
His stars are diamond-studs, that glitter through
The foldings of a waistcoat rich in hue
As clouds at sunset on a summer's eve,
Where gold and silver tissues interweave.
His magic wand a cane of polish'd stem
Of rarest wood, and rough with many a gem.*
His book an album, golden-clasp'd and bound
In velvet, wreath'd with flowers enamell'd round;
Within are words omnipotent to charm
Unharden'd minds, and youthful spirits warm,
On satin paper, beautifully writ:
Above are emblems-for such pages
Some in the hot-bed of a magazine
Would nurse their wit; you see in every
* Clara micante auro flammasque imitata pyropo.-Ovid.