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(Reading Plato on the Immortality of the soul.)
It must be so- - Plato, thou reasonest well!
Else, whence this pleasing hope—this fond desire,
This longing after immortality ?
Or whence this secret dread and inward horror
Of falling into nought ? Why shrinks the soul
Back on herself, and startles at destruction ?
'Tis the Divinity that stirs within us,
'Tis heaven itself that points out an hereafter,
And intimates eternity to man.
ETERNITY! thou pleasing, dreadful thought !
Through what new scenes and changes must we pass !
The wide, the unbounded prospect lies before me,
But shadows, clouds, and darkness rest upon it.
Here will I hold. If there's a power above us,
(And that there is, all Nature cries aloud
Through all her works) he must delight in virtue ;
And that which he delights in, must be happy.
But when or where? This world was made for Cæsar.
I'm weary of conjecture—this must end 'em.
Thus am I doubly armed: my death, my life,
My bane and antidote, are both before me:
This in a moment brings me to an end;
But this informs me I shall never die.
The soul, secured in her existence, smiles
At the drawn dagger, and defies its point.
The stars shall fade away, the sun himself
Grow dim with age, and nature sink in years;
But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,
Unhurt amidst the war of elements,
The wreck of matter and the crash of worlds.
Roll on, thou deep and dark-blue ocean-roll!
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain ; Man marks the earth with ruin-his controul
Stops with the shore;-upon the watery plain
The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
A shadow of man's ravage, save his own ;
When for a moment, like a drop of rain,
He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,
Without a grave, unknelled, uncoffin'd and unknown.
The armaments, which thunder strike the walls
Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake, And monarchs tremble in their capitals,
Those oaken leviathians, whose huge ribs make
Their clay-creator the vain title take Of lord of thee, and arbiter of war;
These are thy toys, and as the snowy flake, They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar Alike the Armada's pride, or spoils of Trafalgar.
Thy shores are empires changed in all save thee
Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, what are they? Thy waters wasted them while they were free,
And many a tyrant since; their shores obey
The stranger, slave, or savage; their decay
Has dried up realms to deserts; not so thou,-
Unchangeable, save to thy wild waves' play
Time writes no wrinkle on thy azure brow-
Such as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now,
Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form
Glasses itself in tempests; in all time,
Calm or convulsed-in breeze, or gale, or storm,
Icing the pole, or in the torrid clime,
Dark heaving ;-boundless, endless, and sublime-
The image of eternity-the throne
Of the INVISIBLE; een from out thy slime
The monsters of the deep are made; each zone
Obeys thee ; thou goest forth, dread fathomless, alone.
And I have loved thee, Ocean! and my joy
Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be Borne, like thy bubbles, onward ; from a boy
I wantoned with thy breakers—they to me
Were a delight; and if a freshening sea
Made them a terror—'twas a pleasing fear;
For I was, as it were, a child of thee,
And trusted to thy billows far and near,
And laid my hand upon thy mane-as I do here.
THINK, ye vile chains, to curb the soul of Tell?
Dungeons can never daunt the Patriot's spirit!
I'd sooner be within these four damp walls,
With three-fold fetters on me, with the worm,
That leaves its slimy trace of wretchedness,
For my companion, than the pampered wretch,
Who, in his gorgeous tyranny above,
Tramples upon a people's Rights, and earns
A people's CURSES for his nightly blessing!
My body is thy prisoner, Gesler! chains
May gall my flesh-may manacle my limbs,
And for a time may make me blush to mark
The stains they've left upon them; but my mind
Can ne'er be soil'd by things like these !
The coward crouches if the treacherous pard
Doth look on him. My spirit will not crouch
Nor quail before the spotted beast; I feel
There's that within me which doth hold me up,
And prompt me with a mighty unseen power
To deeds of unseen glory. I am FREE-
Free in this prison-house! I range at will
The mighty bulwarks of our mountain world :
Over beloved Switzerland I go,
With my mind's energy!
Think ye the spirit requires corporeal form
To converse with the spirits ? are there not hours,
Hours of pale solitude, when the outer world
Is to the inner world a thing as vague
As the obscure and twilight line that bounds
The dim horizon ? for the mind can make,
By its own magic powers, worlds, fairer far
Than this one!
Yes, it must, it must be so !
A beauteous land is passing now before me,
And there are glorious Alps, whereon the sun
Oft, in his journey, pauses to look back
Upon the paradise he leaves behind him!
And there are valleys, basking in his beams,
Starred with white cottages, and orange-bowers,
And vine-groves, and where the light guitar is swept,
To charm the golden fruitage. I behold
Lakes blue as morning, where, at eve, the star
Delights to lave its far descending rays,
And ancient forests, giant-like, advancing
With towering strides, up to the high hill tops ;
And ever and anon I hear the sounds,
The mighty sounds of avalanches rolling,
The crash of forests, and the roar of waters;
But in the vales the maiden's free voice rings,
And on the hills the bold-eyed mountaineer
Looks proudly up to heaven, and children sport
Like swallows on the lea, and ancient sires
Within the trellised porch serenely sit,
And grandams read their missals in the sun,
Which Austrian banners dare not now obscure.
I cannot be mistaken :-'tis my country!
O Switzerland! and shall it be a dream
A wild imaginative dream? No, no!
Thou shalt be free,-thy fetters rive in twain ;
The voice of prophecy is on me now!
Roll back the gloomy clouds, the mighty mists
That veil the future, roll, at my bidding, back!
Come forth! It comes! the sun of Freedom comes,
With its refulgent canopy of clouds,
And in its radiance, Switzerland's banners glitter;
Helvetic swords its beams are multiplying;
Ten thousand stars upon their spear-points tremble:
Ten thousand voices roll their living thunders.
And all cry LIBERTY! it is no dream!
They shout again, and my own name they shout;
A TELL, a Tell! they cry. I come, I come!
Thou shalt be FREE ; thy fetters rend asunder,
Thus, as I rend my own !
CURSED be the fatal day when Edward came,
In crested pride, to urge a lawless claim;
Cursed be the day. Let weeping History tell
How fought the brave, and how the noble fell;
When slowly swelling, rolld the battle-tide
On Falkirk's field of Death and Carron's side.
The beam of morn, that rose on eastern height,
Danced on the plume of many a gallant knight ;
The ray that lingered on the ocean-wave
Kissed the red turf of many a soldier's grave:
Dark as the torrent's desolating flow,
And drear as winter was that time of woe,
Yet drooped not Hope; she turned her azure eyes
Where, heaven-ward, Caledonia's mountains rise,
And deep embosomed in the gloom of night,
A star was seea to shed a lonely light;
It burn'd afar, with lustre pale and sweet,
To mark the spot of Freedor's last retreat?
There, on a rock, unmoved and undismayed,
The sable plumage waving o'er his head,
Stern Wallace stood. With high uplifted hand,
He shook the gleamy terrors of his brand,
Glanced proudly on the embattled host below,
And mocked the menace of a conquering foem
And long had mocked—but Heaven untimely frowned,
And plucked the fairest flower on Scottish ground.
It was no falchion raised in mortal strife,
That snatched thee, Wallace, from the light of life;
No arrow glided on the wings of death
To drink thy blood, and steal away thy breath ;
There were no honours of a glorious grave.
The patriot's boast, the birth-right of the brave;
Far other fate thy generous zeal repaid,
Torn from thy country, by thy friend betrayed.
Methinks I see thee led id sullen state,
High in thy fall, and e'en in fetters great;
And view thee, dragged in all the pomp of woe,
A sport of impotence, a public show.
Still conscious virtue cheers thy latest hour,
Nor sinks thy spirit in the grasp of power.
Still, in the pangs of death, thy closing eyes
Speaks the proud thoughts that in thy bosom rise;
And the last sigh, that gave thy soul release,
Breathed to thy Scotland, Liberty and Peace.
O WALLACE! if my voice can pierce the gloom,
And rouse the silent slumbers of the tomb,
O'er the cold dust the muse shall pour her strain,
To tell thee that thou didst not fall in vain !
Yes, honoured shade! though brief was thy career,
And not a stone records thy lowly bier;
E’en yet thy native woods and wilds among,
Thy wreaths are verdant, and thy deeds are sung:
There, haply, as some minstrel tells thy tale,
To many a mountain chief, and list’ning Gael,
Their kindling bosoms catch the patriot flame,
And learn the path to freedom and to fame.
Smirke.-Cambridge Prize Essay.
Oh! sacred Truth! thy triumphs ceased awhile,
And Hope, thy sister, ceased with thee to smile,
When leagued oppression poured to Northern wars
Her whiskered panders, and her fierce huzzars,
Waved her dread standard to the breeze of morn,
Pealed her loud drum, and twanged her trumpet horn;
Tumultuous horror brooded o'er the van
Presaging wrath to POLAND and to MAN!
Warsaw's last champion from her heights surveyed, Wide o'er the fields a waste of ruin laid.
Oh heaven! (he cried) my bleeding country save,
Is there no hand on high to shield the brave?
Yet though destruction sweep those lovely plains,
Rise, fellow men! our country yet remains !
By that dread name we wave the sword on high
And swear for her to Live! with her to Die!'
He said, and on the rampart heights arrayed
His trusty warriors, few but undismayed ;
Firm paced and slow, a horrid front they form,
Still as the breeze, but dreadful as the storm;