Edward Young

1683 - 1765


The Complaint,

or Night Thoughts

on Life, Time, Friendship,

Death, and Immortality:


In Nine Nights






Night II.

On Time, Death, And Friendship.


Humbly inscribed to the right honourable

the Earl of Wilmington.


When the cock crew, he wept,”—smote by that eye,

Which looks on me, on all: that Power who bids

This midnight sentinel, with clarion shrill,

(Emblem of that which shall awake the dead,)


Rouse souls from slumber, into thoughts of heaven.

Shall I too weep? Where then is fortitude?

And, fortitude abandon'd, where is man?

I know the terms on which he sees the light:

He that is born is listed; life is war,


Eternal war with woe. Who bears it best,

Deserves it least.—On other themes I'll dwell.

Lorenzo! let me turn my thoughts on thee,

And thine on themes may profit; profit there

Where most thy need: themes, too, the genuine growth


Of dear Philander's dust. He thus, though dead,

May still befriend.—What themes? Time's wondrous price,

Death, friendship, and Philander's final scene.

So could I touch these themes as might obtain

Thine ear, nor leave thy heart quite disengaged,


The good deed would delight me; half-impress

On my dark cloud an Iris; and from grief

Call glory.—Dost thou mourn Philander's fate?

I know thou say'st it: says thy life the same?

—He mourns the dead who lives as they desire.


Where is that thrift, that avarice of TIME,

(O glorious avarice!) thought of death inspires,

As rumour'd robberies endear our gold?

O Time! than gold more sacred; more a load

Than lead to fools; and fools reputed wise.


What moment granted man without account?

What years are squander'd, Wisdom's debt unpaid!

Our wealth in days all due to that discharge.

Haste, haste, he lies in wait, he's at the door,

Insidious Death! should his strong hand arrest,


No composition sets the prisoner free.

Eternity's inexorable chain

Fast binds; and vengeance claims the full arrear.

How late I shudder'd on the brink! how late

Life call'd for her last refuge in despair!


That time is mine, O Mead, to thee I owe;

Fain would I pay thee with eternity.

But ill my genius answers my desire;

My sickly song is mortal, past thy cure.

Accept the will;—it dies not with my strain.


For what calls thy disease, Lorenzo? Not

For Aesculapian, but for moral aid.

Thou think'st it folly to be wise too soon.

Youth is not rich in time, it may be poor;

Part with it as with money, sparing; pay


No moment but in purchase of its worth;

And what its worth, ask death-beds; they can tell.

Part with it as with life, reluctant; big

With holy hope of nobler time to come;

Time higher-aim'd, still nearer the great mark


Of men and angels, virtue more divine.

Is this our duty, wisdom, glory, gain?

(These Heaven benign in vital union binds:)

And sport we like the natives of the bough,

When vernal suns inspire? Amusement reigns


Man's great demand: to trifle is to live:

And is it then a trifle, too, to die?

Thou say'st I preach, Lorenzo! 'T is confess'd.

What, if, for once, I preach thee quite awake?

Who wants amusement in the flame of battle?


Is it not treason to the soul immortal,

Her foes in arms, eternity the prize?

Will toys amuse when medicines cannot cure?

When spirits ebb, when life's enchanting scenes

Their lustre lose, and lessen in our sight,


(As lands and cities with their glittering spires,

To the poor shatter'd bark, by sudden storm

—Thrown off to sea, and soon to perish there,)

Will toys amuse? No; thrones will then be toys,

And earth and skies seem dust upon the scale.


Redeem we time?—Its loss we dearly buy.

What pleads Lorenzo for his high-prized sports?

He pleads time's numerous blanks; he loudly pleads

The straw-like trifles on life's common stream.

From whom those blanks and trifles but from thee?


No blank, no trifle, Nature made, or meant.

Virtue, or purposed virtue, still be thine;

This cancels thy complaint at once; this leaves

In act no trifle, and no blank in time.

This greatens, fills, immortalizes all;


This the blest art of turning all to gold;

This the good heart's prerogative to raise

A royal tribute from the poorest hours;

Immense revenue! every moment pays.

If nothing more than purpose in thy power,


Thy purpose firm is equal to the deed:

Who does the best his circumstance allows,

Does well, acts nobly; angels could no more.

Our outward act, indeed, admits restraint;

'T is not in things o'er thought to domineer.


Guard well thy thought; our thoughts are heard in heaven.

On all-important time, through every age,

Though much, and warm, the wise have urged, the man

Is yet unborn who duly weighs an hour.

I've lost a day”—the prince who nobly cried,


Had been an emperor without his crown;

“Of Rome?” say, rather, lord of human race:

He spoke as if deputed by mankind.

So should all speak: so Reason speaks in all.

From the soft whispers of that god in man,


Why fly to Folly, why to Frenzy fly,

For rescue from the blessing we possess?

Time, the supreme!—time is eternity;

Pregnant with all eternity can give;

Pregnant with all that makes archangels smile.


Who murders time, he crushes in the birth

A power ethereal, only not adored.

Ah! how unjust to Nature and himself

Is thoughtless, thankless, inconsistent man!

Like children babbling nonsense in their sports,


We censure Nature for a span too short;

That span too short we tax as tedious too;

Torture invention, all expedients tire,

To lash the lingering moments into speed,

And whirl us (happy riddance!) from ourselves.


Art, brainless Art! our furious charioteer,

(For Nature's voice unstifled would recall,)

Drives headlong towards the precipice of death;

Death, most our dread; death thus more dreadful made.

O what a riddle of absurdity!


Leisure is pain; takes off our chariot-wheels;

How heavily we drag the load of life!

Blest leisure is our curse; like that of Cain,

It makes us wander; wander earth around

To fly that tyrant, Thought. As Atlas groan'd


The world beneath, we groan beneath an hour.

We cry for mercy to the next amusement;

The next amusement mortgages our fields;

Slight inconvenience! Prisons hardly frown,

From hateful time if prisons set us free.


Yet when Death kindly tenders us relief,

We call him cruel: years to moments shrink,

Ages to years. The telescope is turn'd.

To man's false optics (from his folly false)

Time, in advance, behind him hides his wings,


And seems to creep, decrepit with his age.

Behold him, when pass'd by; what then is seen

But his broad pinions, swifter than the winds?

And all mankind, in contradiction strong,

Rueful, aghast, cry out on his career.


Leave to thy foes these errors, and these ills;

To Nature just, their cause and cure explore.

Not short Heaven's bounty, boundless our expense;

No niggard, Nature; men are prodigals.

We waste, not use, our time; we breathe, not live.


Time wasted is existence, used is life.

And bare existence man, to live ordain'd,

Wrings and oppresses with enormous weight.

And why? Since time was given for use, not waste,

Enjoin'd to fly, with tempest, tide, and stars,


To keep his speed, nor ever wait for man;

Time's use was doom'd a pleasure; waste, a pain;

That man might feel his error, if unseen;

And, feeling, fly to labour for his cure;

Not, blundering, split on idleness for ease.


Life's cares are comforts; such by Heaven design'd;

He that has none, must make them, or be wretched.

Cares are employments; and without employ

The soul is on a rack; the rack of rest,

To souls most adverse; action all their joy.


Here, then, the riddle, mark'd above, unfolds:

Then time turns torment, when man turns a fool.

We rave, we wrestle with great Nature's plan;

We thwart the Deity; and 't is decreed,

Who thwart His will shall contradict their own.


Hence our unnatural quarrel with ourselves;

Our thoughts at enmity; our bosom-broil:

We push Time from us, and we wish him back;

Lavish of lustrums, and yet fond of life;

Life we think long and short; Death seek and shun;


Body and soul, like peevish man and wife,

United jar, and yet are loath to part.

O the dark days of vanity! while here

How tasteless, and how terrible when gone!

Gone! they ne'er go; when past, they haunt us still;


The spirit walks of every day deceased,

And smiles an angel, or a fury frowns.

Nor death nor life delight us. If time past,

And time possess'd, both pain us, what can please?

That which the Deity to please ordain'd,—


Time used. The man who consecrates his hours

By vigorous effort, and an honest aim,

At once he draws the sting of life and death;

He walks with Nature, and her paths are peace.

Our error's cause and cure are seen: see next


Time's nature, origin, importance, speed;

And thy great gain from urging his career.—

All-sensual man, because untouch'd, unseen,

He looks on time as nothing. Nothing else

Is truly man's: 't is Fortune's.—Time's a god.


Hast thou ne'er heard of Time's omnipotence?

For, or against, what wonders can he do!

And will: to stand blank neuter he disdains.

Not on those terms was Time (Heaven's stranger!) sent

On his important embassy to man.


Lorenzo! no; on the long-destined hour,

From everlasting ages growing ripe,

That memorable hour of wondrous birth,

When the dread Sire, on emanation bent,

And big with Nature, rising in his might,


Call'd forth Creation, (for then Time was born,)

By Godhead streaming through a thousand worlds:

Not on those terms, from the great days of heaven,

From old Eternity's mysterious orb,

Was Time cut off, and cast beneath the skies;


The Skies, which watch him in his new abode,

Measuring his motions by revolving spheres;

That horologe machinery divine.

Hours, Days, and Months, and Years, his children, play

Like numerous wings around him, as he flies:


Or, rather, as unequal plumes, they shape

His ample pinions, swift as darted flame,

To gain his goal, to reach his ancient rest,

And join anew Eternity his sire;

In his immutability to nest,


When worlds, that count his circles now, unhinged,

(Fate the loud signal sounding,) headlong rush

To timeless Night and Chaos, whence they rose.

Why spur the speedy? Why with levities

New-wing thy short, short day's too rapid flight?


Know'st thou or what thou dost, or what is done?

Man flies from time, and time from man; too soon

In sad divorce this double flight must end;

And then, where are we? where, Lorenzo, then

Thy sports? thy pomps?—I grant thee, in a state


Not unambitious; in the ruffled shroud,

Thy Parian tomb's triumphant arch beneath.

Has Death his fopperies? Then well may life

Put on her plume, and in her rainbow shine.

Ye well-array'd! ye lilies of our land!


Ye lilies male, who neither toil, nor spin,

(As sister lilies might,) if not so wise

As Solomon, more sumptuous to the sight!

Ye delicate! who nothing can support,

Yourselves most insupportable! for whom


The winter rose must blow, the Sun put on

A brighter beam in Leo; silky-soft

Favonius breathe still softer, or be chid;

And other worlds send odours, sauce, and song,

And robes, and notions, framed in foreign looms!


O ye Lorenzos of our age! who deem

One moment unamused a misery

Not made for feeble man; who call aloud

For every bauble drivell'd o'er by sense;

For rattles, and conceits of every cast,


For change of follies, and relays of joy,

To drag your patient through the tedious length

Of a short winter's day;—say, sages; say,

Wit's oracles; say, dreamers of gay dreams!

How will you weather an eternal night,


Where such expedients fail?

O treacherous Conscience! while she seems to sleep

On rose and myrtle, lull'd with siren song;

While she seems, nodding o'er her charge, to drop

On headlong appetite the slacken'd rein,


And give us up to licence, unrecall'd,

Unmark'd,—see, from behind her secret stand,

The sly informer minutes every fault,

And her dread diary with horror fills.

Not the gross act alone employs her pen;


She reconnoitres Fancy's airy band,

A watchful foe! the formidable spy,

Listening, o'erhears the whispers of our camp;

Our dawning purposes of heart explores,

And steals our embryos of iniquity.


As all-rapacious usurers conceal

Their Doomsday-book from all-consuming heirs;

Thus, with indulgence most severe, she treats

Us spendthrifts of inestimable time;

Unnoted, notes each moment misapplied;


In leaves more durable than leaves of brass,

Writes our whole history; which Death shall read

In every pale delinquent's private ear;

And Judgment publish; publish to more worlds

Than this; and endless Age in groans resound.


Lorenzo, such that sleeper in thy breast!

Such is her slumber; and her vengeance such

For slighted counsel; such thy future peace!

And think'st thou still thou canst be wise too soon?

But why on Time so lavish is my song?


On this great theme kind Nature keeps a school,

To teach her sons herself. Each night we die;

Each morn are born anew: each day a life!

And shall we kill each day? If trifling kills,

Sure vice must butcher. O what heaps of slain


Cry out for vengeance on us! Time destroy'd

Is suicide, where more than blood is spilt.

Time flies, Death urges, knells call, Heaven invites,

Hell threatens: all exerts; in effort, all;

More than creation labours!—labours more!


And is there in creation what, amidst

This tumult universal, wing'd despatch,

And ardent energy, supinely yawns?—

Man sleeps, and man alone; and man, whose fate,

Fate irreversible, entire, extreme,


Endless, hair-hung, breeze-shaken, o'er the gulf

A moment trembles; drops! and man, for whom

All else is in alarm; man, the sole cause

Of this surrounding storm!—and yet he sleeps,

As the storm rock'd to rest. “Throw years away?”


Throw empires, and be blameless. Moments seize;

Heaven's on their wing: a moment we may wish

When worlds want wealth to buy. Bid Day stand still,

Bid him drive back his car, and re-import

The period past, re-give the given hour.


Lorenzo, more than miracles we want:

Lorenzo—O for yesterdays to come!

Such is the language of the man awake;

His ardour such for what oppresses thee.

And is his ardour vain, Lorenzo? No;


That more than miracle the gods indulge:

To-day is yesterday return'd; return'd

Full-power'd to cancel, expiate, raise, adorn,

And reinstate us on the rock of peace.

Let it not share its predecessor's fate;


Nor, like its elder sisters, die a fool.

Shall it evaporate in fume? fly off

Fuliginous, and stain us deeper still?

Shall we be poorer for the plenty pour'd?

More wretched for the clemencies of Heaven?


Where shall I find him? Angels! tell me where.

You know him: he is near you: point him out:

Shall I see glories beaming from his brow,

Or trace his footsteps by the rising flowers?

Your golden wings, now hovering o'er him, shed


Protection; now are waving in applause

To that blest Son of Foresight! Lord of Fate!

That awful Independent on To-morrow!

Whose work is done; who triumphs in the past;

Whose yesterdays look backward with a smile;


Nor, like the Parthian, wound him as they fly;

That common, but opprobrious lot! Past hours,

If not by guilt, yet wound us by their flight,

If folly bounds our prospect by the grave,

All feeling of futurity benumb'd;


All god-like passion for eternals quench'd;

All relish of realities expired;

Renounced all correspondence with the skies;

Our freedom chain'd; quite wingless our desire;

In sense dark-prison'd all that ought to soar;


Prone to the centre; crawling in the dust;

Dismounted every great and glorious aim;

Embruted every faculty divine;

Heart-buried in the rubbish of the world:

The world, that gulf of souls, immortal souls,


Souls elevate, angelic, wing'd with fire

To reach the distant skies, and triumph there

On thrones, which shall not mourn their masters changed;

Though we from earth, ethereal they that fell.

Such veneration due, O man, to man.


Who venerate themselves, the world despise.

For what, gay friend, is this escutcheon'd world,

Which hangs out DEATH in one eternal night?

A night that glooms us in the noon-tide ray,

And wraps our thought, at banquets, in the shroud.


Life's little stage is a small eminence,

Inch-high the grave above; that home of man,

Where dwells the multitude: we gaze around;

We read their monuments; we sigh; and while

We sigh, we sink, and are what we deplored:


Lamenting, or lamented, all our lot!

Is Death at distance? No: he has been on thee;

And given sure earnest of his final blow.

Those hours that lately smiled, where are they now?

Pallid to thought, and ghastly! drown'd, all drown'd


In that great deep, which nothing disembogues!

And, dying, they bequeath'd thee small renown.

The rest are on the wing: how fleet their flight!

Already has the fatal train took fire;

A moment, and the world's blown up to thee,


The sun is darkness, and the stars are dust.

'T is greatly wise to talk with our past hours;

And ask them, what report they bore to Heaven;

And how they might have borne more welcome news.

Their answers form what men Experience call;


If Wisdom's friend, her best; if not, worst foe.

O reconcile them! Kind Experience cries,

“There's nothing here, but what as nothing weighs;

The more our joy, the more we know it vain,

And by success are tutor'd to despair.”


Nor is it only thus, but must be so.

Who knows not this, though grey, is still a child.

Loose then from earth the grasp of fond desire,

Weigh anchor, and some happier clime explore.

Art thou so moor'd thou canst not disengage,


Nor give thy thoughts a ply to future scenes?

Since, by life's passing breath, blown up from earth

Light, as the summer's dust, we take in air

A moment's giddy flight, and fall again;

Join the dull mass, increase the trodden soil,


And sleep till Earth herself shall be no more;

Since, then, (as emmets, their small world o'erthrown,)

We, sore amazed, from out earth's ruins crawl,

And rise to fate extreme of foul or fair,

As man's own choice, (controller of the skies!)


As man's despotic will, perhaps one hour,

(O how omnipotent is time!) decrees;

Should not each warning give a strong alarm?

Warning, far less than that of bosom torn

From bosom, bleeding o'er the sacred dead!


Should not each dial strike us as we pass,

Portentous, as the written wall, which struck,

O'er midnight bowls, the proud Assyrian pale,

Erewhile high-flush'd with insolence and wine?

Like that the dial speaks; and points to thee,


Lorenzo! loath to break thy banquet up:

“O man, thy kingdom is departing from thee;

And, while it lasts, is emptier than my shade.”

Its silent language such: nor need'st thou call

Thy Magi to decipher what it means.


Know, like the Median, Fate is in thy walls:

Dost ask, “How?” “Whence?” Belshazzar-like, amazed?

Man's make encloses the sure seeds of death;

Life feeds the murderer. Ingrate! he thrives

On her own meal, and then his nurse devours.


But here, Lorenzo, the delusion lies;

That solar shadow, as it measures life,

It life resembles too: life speeds away

From point to point, though seeming to stand still.

The cunning fugitive is swift by stealth:


Too subtle is the movement to be seen;

Yet soon man's hour is up, and we are gone.

Warnings point out our danger; gnomons, time:

As these are useless when the sun is set;

So those, but when more glorious Reason shines.


Reason should judge in all; in Reason's eye,

That sedentary shadow travels hard.

But such our gravitation to the wrong,

So prone our hearts to whisper what we wish,

'T is later with the wise than he's aware;


A Wilmington goes slower than the sun:

And all mankind mistake their time of day;

E'en age itself. Fresh hopes are hourly sown

In furrow'd brows. So gentle life's descent,

We shut our eyes, and think it is a plain.


We take fair days in Winter for the Spring;

And turn our blessings into bane. Since oft

Man must compute that age he cannot feel,

He scarce believes he's older for his years.

Thus, at life's latest eve, we keep in store


One disappointment sure, to crown the rest,—

The disappointment of a promised hour.

On this, or similar, Philander!—thou

Whose mind was moral as the Preacher's tongue,

And strong to wield all science worth the name;—


How often we talk'd down the summer's sun,

And cool'd our passions by the breezy stream!

How often thaw'd and shorten'd winter's eve,

By conflict kind, that struck out latent truth,

Best found, so sought; to the recluse more coy!


Thoughts disentangle, passing o'er the lip;

Clean runs the thread; if not, 't is thrown away

Or kept to tie up nonsense for a song;

Song, fashionably fruitless; such as stains

The fancy, and unhallow'd passion fires;


Chiming her saints to Cytherea's fane.

Know'st thou, Lorenzo, what a friend contains?

As bees mix'd nectar draw from fragrant flowers,

So men, from FRIENDSHIP, wisdom and delight;

Twins tied by Nature, if they part, they die.


Hast thou no friend to set thy mind abroach?

Good sense will stagnate. Thoughts shut up want air,

And spoil, like bales unopen'd to the sun.

Had thought been all, sweet speech had been denied;

Speech, thought's canal! speech, thought's criterion too!


Thought in the mine may come forth gold or dross;

When coin'd in word, we know its real worth.

If sterling, store it for thy future use;

'T will buy thee benefit; perhaps, renown.

Thought, too, deliver'd, is the more possess'd:


Teaching we learn; and giving we retain

The births of intellect; when dumb, forgot.

Speech ventilates our intellectual fire;

Speech burnishes our mental magazine,

Brightens for ornament, and whets for use.


What numbers, sheath'd in erudition, lie,

Plunged to the hilts in venerable tomes,

And rusted in; who might have borne an edge,

And play'd a sprightly beam, if born to speech;

If born blest heirs of half their mother's tongue!


'T is thought's exchange which, like the' alternate push

Of waves conflicting, breaks the learned scum,

And defecates the student's standing pool.

In contemplation is his proud resource?

'T is poor as proud, by converse unsustain'd.


Rude thought runs wild in contemplation's field;

Converse, the menage, breaks it to the bit

Of due restraint; and emulation's spur

Gives graceful energy, by rivals awed.

'T is converse qualifies for solitude,


As exercise for salutary rest.

By that untutor'd, Contemplation raves;

And Nature's fool by Wisdom's is outdone.

Wisdom, though richer than Peruvian mines,

And sweeter than the sweet ambrosial hive,—


What is she but the means of happiness?

That unobtain'd, than Folly more a fool;

A melancholy fool, without her bells.

Friendship, the means of wisdom, richly gives

The precious end which makes our wisdom wise.


Nature, in zeal for human amity,

Denies or damps an undivided joy.

Joy is an import; joy is an exchange;

Joy flies monopolists; it calls for two;

Rich fruit, heaven-planted, never pluck'd by one!


Needful auxiliars are our friends, to give

To social man true relish of himself.

Full on ourselves descending in a line,

Pleasure's bright beam is feeble in delight:

Delight intense is taken by rebound;


Reverberated pleasures fire the breast.

Celestial Happiness, whene'er she stoops

To visit earth, one shrine the goddess finds,

And one alone, to make her sweet amends

For absent heaven,—the bosom of a friend;


Where heart meets heart, reciprocally soft,

Each other's pillow to repose divine.

Beware the counterfeit: in Passion's flame

Hearts melt; but melt like ice, soon harder froze.

True love strikes root in Reason, Passion's foe:


Virtue alone entenders us for life;

I wrong her much—entenders us for ever:

Of Friendship's fairest fruits, the fruit most fair

Is Virtue kindling at a rival fire,

And emulously rapid in her race.


O the soft enmity! endearing strife!

This carries friendship to her noon-tide point,

And gives the rivet of eternity.

From Friendship, which outlives my former themes,

Glorious survivor of old Time and Death!


From Friendship, thus, that flower of heavenly seed,

The wise extract earth's most Hyblaean bliss,

Superior wisdom, crown'd with smiling joy.

But for whom blossoms this Elysian flower?

Abroad they find, who cherish it at home.


Lorenzo, pardon what my love extorts,

An honest love, and not afraid to frown.

Though choice of follies fasten on the great,

None clings more obstinate, than fancy fond

That sacred Friendship is their easy prey;


Caught by the wafture of a golden lure,

Or fascination of a high-born smile.

Their smiles the great and the coquette throw out

For others' hearts, tenacious of their own;

And we no less of ours, when such the bait.


Ye Fortune's cofferers, ye powers of wealth,

Can gold gain friendship? Impudence of hope!

As well mere man an angel might beget.

Love, and love only, is the loan for love.

Lorenzo! pride repress; nor hope to find


A friend, but what has found a friend in thee.

All like the purchase; few the price will pay;

And this makes friends such miracles below.

What, if (since daring on so nice a theme)

I show thee Friendship delicate as dear,


Of tender violations apt to die?

Reserve will wound it, and Distrust destroy.

Deliberate on all things with thy friend.

But since friends grow not thick on every bough,

Nor every friend unrotten at the core;


First, on thy friend, deliberate with thyself;

Pause, ponder, sift; not eager in the choice,

Nor jealous of the chosen: fixing, fix;

Judge before friendship; then confide till death.

Well for thy friend; but nobler far for thee;


How gallant danger for earth's highest prize!

A friend is worth all hazards we can run.

“Poor is the friendless master of a world:

A world in purchase for a friend is gain.”

So sung he: (angels hear that angel sing!


Angels from friendship gather half their joy:)

So sung Philander, as his friend went round

In the rich ichor, in the generous blood

Of Bacchus, purple god of joyous wit,

A brow solute, and ever-laughing eye.


He drank long health and virtue to his friend;

His friend, who warm'd him more, who more inspired.

Friendship's the wine of life; but friendship new

(Not such was his) is neither strong nor pure.

O for the bright complexion, cordial warmth,


And elevating spirit of a friend,

For twenty summers ripening by my side;

All feculence of falsehood long thrown down;

All social virtues rising in his soul,

As crystal clear, and smiling as they rise!


Here nectar flows; it sparkles in our sight;

Rich to the taste, and genuine from the heart.

High-flavour'd bliss for gods! on earth how rare!

On earth how lost!—Philander is no more.

Think'st thou the theme intoxicates my song?


Am I too warm?—Too warm I cannot be.

I loved him much; but now I love him more.

Like birds, whose beauties languish, half conceal'd,

Till, mounted on the wing, their glossy plumes

Expanded shine with azure, green, and gold;


How blessings brighten as they take their flight!

His flight Philander took; his upward flight,

If ever soul ascended. Had he dropp'd,

(That eagle genius!) O, had he let fall

One feather as he flew, I then had wrote


What friends might flatter, prudent foes forbear,

Rivals scarce damn, and Zoilus reprieve.

Yet what I can, I must: it were profane

To quench a glory lighted at the skies,

And cast in shadows his illustrious close.


Strange, the theme most affecting, most sublime,

Momentous most to man, should sleep unsung!

And yet it sleeps, by genius unawaked,

Paynim or Christian, to the blush of wit.

Man's highest triumph, man's profoundest fall,


The death-bed of the just, is yet undrawn

By mortal hand; it merits a Divine!

Angels should paint it, angels ever there;

There, on a post of honour, and of joy.

Dare I presume, then? But Philander bids;


And glory tempts, and inclination calls.

Yet am I struck; as struck the soul beneath

Aerial groves' impenetrable gloom;

Or in some mighty ruin's solemn shade;

Or gazing by pale lamps on high-born dust,


In vaults; thin courts of poor unflatter'd kings!

Or at the midnight altar's hallow'd flame.

It is religion to proceed: I pause—

And enter, awed, the temple of my theme.

Is it his death-bed? No: it is his shrine:


Behold him there just rising to a god.

The chamber where the good man meets his fate

Is privileged beyond the common walk

Of virtuous life, quite in the verge of heaven.

Fly, ye profane! if not, draw near with awe,


Receive the blessing, and adore the chance

That threw in this Bethesda your disease:

If unrestored by this, despair your cure.

For here resistless Demonstration dwells;

A death-bed's a detector of the heart.


Here tired Dissimulation drops her mask

Through Life's grimace, that mistress of the scene!

Here real and apparent are the same.

You see the man; you see his hold on heaven,

If sound his virtue, as Philander's sound:


Heaven waits not the last moment; owns her friends

On this side death; and points them out to men,

A lecture, silent, but of sovereign power!

To vice, confusion; and to virtue, peace.

Whatever farce the boastful hero plays,


Virtue alone has majesty in death;

And greater still, the more the tyrant frowns.

Philander! he severely frown'd on thee:

“No warning given! unceremonious fate!

A sudden rush from life's meridian joys!


A wrench from all we love, from all we are!

A restless bed of pain! a plunge opaque

Beyond conjecture, feeble Nature's dread!

Strong Reason's shudder at the dark unknown!

A sun extinguish'd, a just opening grave!


And, O! the last, last—what? (can words express,

Thought reach it?) the last—silence of a friend!”

Where are those horrors, that amazement where,

This hideous group of ills, which singly shock,

Demand from man?—I thought him man till now.


Through Nature's wreck, through vanquish'd agonies,

(Like the stars struggling through this midnight gloom,)

What gleams of joy, what more than human peace!

Where the frail mortal, the poor abject worm?

No, not in death the mortal to be found.


His conduct is a legacy for all;

Richer than Mammon's for his single heir.

His comforters he comforts; great in ruin,

With unreluctant grandeur, gives, not yields,

His soul sublime; and closes with his fate.


How our hearts burnt within us at the scene!

Whence this brave bound o'er limits fix'd to man?

His God sustains him in his final hour!

His final hour brings glory to his God!

Man's glory Heaven vouchsafes to call her own.


We gaze, we weep mix'd tears of grief and joy!

Amazement strikes, devotion bursts to flame!

Christians adore, and infidels believe!

As some tall tower, or lofty mountain's brow,

Detains the sun, illustrious from its height;


While rising vapours and descending shades,

With damps, and darkness, drown the spacious vale;

Undamp'd by doubt, undarken'd by despair,

Philander thus augustly rears his head,

At that black hour which general horror sheds


On the low level of the' inglorious throng:

Sweet Peace, and heavenly Hope, and humble Joy,

Divinely beam on his exalted soul,

Destruction gild, and crown him for the skies,

With incommunicable lustre bright.