Edward Young

1683 - 1765


The Complaint,

or Night Thoughts

on Life, Time, Friendship,

Death, and Immortality:


In Nine Nights






Night VII.

Being the second part of The Infidel Reclaimed:

Containing the nature, proof, and

importance of immortality.



As we are at war with the power, it were well if we were at war with the manners, of France. A land of levity is a land of guilt. A serious mind is the native soil of every virtue, and the single character that does true honour to mankind. The soul's immortality has been the favourite theme with the serious of all ages. Nor is it strange; it is a subject by far the most interesting and important that can enter the mind of man. Of highest moment this subject always was, and always will be. Yet this its highest moment seems to admit of increase, at this day; a sort of occasional importance is superadded to the natural weight of it, if that opinion which is advanced in the Preface to the preceding Night be just. It is there supposed, that all our infidels, whatever scheme, for argument's sake, and to keep themselves in countenance, they patronize, are betrayed into their deplorable error by some doubt of their immortality at the bottom. And the more I consider this point, the more am I persuaded of the truth of that opinion. Though the distrust of a futurity is a strange error, yet it is an error into which bad men may naturally be distressed. For it is impossible to bid defiance to final ruin, without some refuge in imagination, some presumption of escape. And what presumption is there? There are but two in nature; but two within the compass of human thought; and these are,—That either God will not, or cannot, punish. Considering the Divine attributes, the first is too gross to be digested by our strongest wishes. And, since omnipotence is as much a Divine attribute as holiness, that God cannot punish, is as absurd a supposition as the former. God certainly can punish, as long as wicked men exist. In non-existence, therefore, is their only refuge; and, consequently, non-existence is their strongest wish. And strong wishes have a strange influence on our opinions; they bias the judgment in a manner almost incredible. And since on this member of their alternative there are some very small appearances in their favour, and none at all on the other, they catch at this reed, they lay hold on this chimera, to save themselves from the shock and horror of an immediate and absolute despair.

On reviewing my subject by the light which this argument, and others of like tendency, threw upon it, I was more inclined than ever to pursue it, as it appeared to me to strike directly at the main root of all our infidelity. In the following pages, it is accordingly pursued at large; and some arguments for immortality, new at least to me, are ventured on in them. There, also, the writer has made an attempt to set the gross absurdities and horrors of annihilation in a fuller and more affecting view than is, I think, to be met with elsewhere.

The gentlemen for whose sake this attempt was chiefly made, profess great admiration for the wisdom of Heathen antiquity: what pity it is they are not sincere! If they were sincere, how would it mortify them to consider with what contempt and abhorrence their notions would have been received by those whom they so much admire! What degree of contempt and abhorrence would fall to their share, may be conjectured by the following matter of fact, in my opinion, extremely memorable. Of all their Heathen worthies, Socrates, it is well known, was the most guarded, dispassionate, and composed: yet this great master of temper was angry; and angry at his last hour; and angry with his friend; and angry for what deserved acknowledgment; angry for a right and tender instance of true friendship towards him. Is not this surprising? What could be the cause? The cause was for his honour: it was a truly noble, though, perhaps, a too punctilious, regard for immortality; for his friend asking him, with such an affectionate concern as became a friend, where he should deposit his remains, it was resented by Socrates, as implying a dishonourable supposition that he could be so mean as to have regard for any thing, even in himself, that was not immortal.

This fact, well considered, would make our infidels withdraw their admiration from Socrates; or make them endeavour, by their imitation of this illustrious example, to share his glory; and, consequently, it would incline them to peruse the following pages with candour and impartiality; which is all I desire, and that for their sakes; for I am persuaded, that an unprejudiced infidel must, necessarily, receive some advantageous impressions from them.

July 7th, 1744.




Contents of night vii.

In the Sixth Night arguments were drawn from Nature, in proof of immortality. Here, others are drawn from Man: from his discontent, p. 168,—from his passions and powers, 169,—from the gradual growth of reason, 169,—from his fear of death, 170,—from the nature of hope, 170,—and of virtue, 171, &c,—from knowledge, and love, as being the most essential properties of the soul, 175,—from the order of creation, 176,—from the nature of ambition, 177, &c,—avarice, 180,—pleasure, 181,—A digression on the grandeur of the passions, 182,—Immortality alone renders our present state intelligible, 183,— An objection from the Stoics' disbelief of immortality, answered, 184,—Endless questions unresolvable, but on supposition of our immortality, 185, 186,—The natural, most melancholy, and pathetic complaint of a worthy man under the persuasion of no futurity, 187, &c,—The gross absurdities and horrors of annihilation urged home on Lorenzo, 192, &c,—The soul's vast importance, 197,—from whence it arises, 200,—The difficulty of being an infidel, 201,— The infamy, 202,—the cause, 203,—and the character, 203, of an infidel state,—What true free-thinking is, 204, 205,— The necessary punishment of the false, 206,—Man's ruin is from himself, 206,—An infidel accuses himself of guilt and hypocrisy, and that of the worst sort, 207,—His obligation to Christians, 208,—What danger he incurs by virtue, 209,—Vice recommended to him, 209,—His high pretences to virtue and benevolence exploded, 209,—The conclusion, on the nature of faith, 210,—reason, 211,—and hope, 211,—with an apology for this attempt, 212.




Heaven gives the needful, but neglected, call.

What day, what hour, but knocks at human hearts,

To wake the soul to sense of future scenes?

Deaths stand like Mercurys in every way,


And kindly point us to our journey's end.

Pope, who couldst make immortals! art thou dead?

I give thee joy: nor will I take my leave,

So soon to follow. Man but dives in death;

Dives from the sun, in fairer day to rise:


The grave his subterranean road to bliss.

Yes, infinite Indulgence plann'd it so:

Through various parts our glorious story runs;

Time gives the preface, endless Age unrolls

The volume (ne'er unroll'd) of human fate.


This, Earth and Skies already have proclaim'd.

The world's a prophecy of worlds to come;

And who what God foretells (who speaks in things,

Still louder than in words) shall dare deny?

If Nature's arguments appear too weak,


Turn a new leaf, and stronger read in man.

If man sleeps on, untaught by what he sees,

Can he prove infidel to what he feels?

He whose blind thought futurity denies,

Unconscious bears, Bellerophon! like thee,


His own indictment; he condemns himself:

Who reads his bosom, reads immortal life;

Or Nature, there, imposing on her sons,

Has written fables; man was made a lie. 

Why Discontent for ever harbour'd there?


Incurable consumption of our peace!

Resolve me, why the cottager and king,—

He whom sea-sever'd realms obey, and he

Who steals his whole dominion from the waste,

Repelling winter blasts with mud and straw,—


Disquieted alike, draw sigh for sigh,

In fate so distant, in complaint so near.

Is it that things terrestrial can't content?

Deep in rich pasture will thy flocks complain?

Not so; but to their master is denied


To share their sweet serene. Man, ill at ease

In this, not his own place, this foreign field,

Where Nature fodders him with other food

Than was ordain'd his cravings to suffice,

Poor in abundance, famish'd at a feast,


Sighs on for something more, when most enjoy'd.

Is Heaven then kinder to thy flocks than thee?

Not so: thy pasture richer, but remote;

In part, remote: for that remoter part

Man bleats from Instinct, though, perhaps, debauch'd


By Sense, his Reason sleeps, nor dreams the cause.

The cause how obvious, when his Reason wakes!

His grief is but his grandeur in disguise;

And discontent is immortality.

Shall sons of Ether, shall the blood of Heaven,


Set up their hopes on earth, and stable here,

With brutal acquiescence in the mire?

Lorenzo, no! They shall be nobly pain'd;

The glorious foreigners, distress'd, shall sigh

On thrones; and thou congratulate the sigh:


Man's misery declares him born for bliss:

His anxious heart asserts the truth I sing,

And gives the sceptic in his head the lie. 

Our heads, our hearts, our passions, and our powers,

Speak the same language; call us to the skies.


Unripen'd these, in this inclement clime,

Scarce rise above conjecture and mistake;

And for this land of trifles those too strong

Tumultuous rise, and tempest human life:

What prize on earth can pay us for the storm?


Meet objects for our passions Heaven ordain'd,

Objects that challenge all their fire, and leave

No fault but in defect. Bless'd Heaven! avert

A bounded ardour for unbounded bliss!

O for a bliss unbounded! Far beneath


A soul immortal is a mortal joy.

Nor are our powers to perish immature;

But, after feeble effort here, beneath

A brighter sun, and in a nobler soil,

Transplanted from this sublunary bed,


Shall flourish fair, and put forth all their bloom. 

Reason progressive, Instinct is complete:

Swift Instinct leaps; slow Reason feebly climbs.

Brutes soon their zenith reach; their little all

Flows in at once; in ages they no more


Could know, or do, or covet, or enjoy.

Were man to live coeval with the sun,

The patriarch pupil would be learning still; 

Yet, dying, leave his lesson half unlearnt.

Men perish in advance, as if the sun


Should set ere noon, in eastern oceans drown'd;

If fit, with dim illustrious to compare,

The sun's meridian with the soul of man.

To man why, step-dame Nature, so severe?

Why thrown aside thy master-piece half-wrought,


While meaner efforts thy last hand enjoy?

Or, if abortively poor man must die,

Nor reach what reach he might, why die in dread?

Why cursed with foresight, wise to misery?

Why of his proud prerogative the prey?


Why less pre-eminent in rank than pain?

His immortality alone can tell;

Full ample fund to balance all amiss,

And turn the scale in favour of the just! 

His immortality alone can solve


That darkest of enigmas, human Hope;

Of all the darkest, if at death we die.

Hope, eager Hope, the' assassin of our joy,

All present blessings treading under foot,

Is scarce a milder tyrant than Despair.


With no past toils content, still planning new,

Hope turns us o'er to Death alone for ease.

Possession, why more tasteless than pursuit?

Why is a wish far dearer than a crown?

That wish accomplish'd, why the grave of bliss?


Because, in the great future buried deep,

Beyond our plans of empire and renown,

Lies all that man with ardour should pursue;

And HE who made him, bent him to the right.

Man's heart the' Almighty to the future sets,


By secret and inviolable springs;

And makes his hope his sublunary joy.

Man's heart eats all things, and is hungry still:

“More, more!” the glutton cries: for something new

So rages Appetite, if man can't mount,


He will descend. He starves on the possess'd.

Hence, the world's master, from Ambition's spire,

In Caprea plunged, and dived beneath the brute.

In that rank sty why wallow'd Empire's son

Supreme? Because he could no higher fly;


His riot was Ambition in despair.

Old Rome consulted birds; Lorenzo! thou,

With more success, the flight of Hope survey;

Of restless Hope, for ever on the wing.

High-perch'd o'er every thought that falcon sits,


To fly at all that rises in her sight;

And, never stooping but to mount again

Next moment, she betrays her aim's mistake,

And owns her quarry lodged beyond the grave. 

There should it fail us, (it must fail us there,


If being fails,) more mournful riddles rise,

And Virtue vies with Hope in mystery.

Why Virtue? where its praise, its being fled?

Virtue is true self-interest pursued:

What true self-interest of quite mortal man?


To close with all that makes him happy here.

If Vice (as sometimes) is our friend on earth,

Then Vice is Virtue; 't is our sovereign good.

In self-applause is Virtue's golden prize;

No self-applause attends it on thy scheme.


Whence self-applause? From conscience of the right.

And what is right, but means of happiness?

No means of happiness when Virtue yields:

That basis failing, falls the building too,

And lays in ruin every virtuous joy.


The rigid guardian of a blameless heart,

So long revered, so long reputed wise,

Is weak; with rank knight-errantries o'er-run.

Why beats thy bosom with illustrious dreams

Of self-exposure, laudable and great,


Of gallant enterprise, and glorious death?

Die for thy country?—Thou romantic fool!

Seize, seize the plank thyself, and let her sink.

Thy countryl what to thee?—The Godhead, what,

(I speak with awe!) though He should bid thee bleed?


If, with thy blood, thy final hope is spilt,

Nor can Omnipotence reward the blow,

Be deaf; preserve thy being; disobey.

Nor is it disobedience: know, Lorenzo!

Whate'er the' Almighty's subsequent command,


His first command is this:—“Man, love thyself.”

In this alone, free-agents are not free.

Existence is the basis, bliss the prize:

If Virtue costs existence, 't is a crime,

Bold violation of our law supreme,


Black suicide; though nations, which consult

Their gain at thy expense, resound applause.

Since Virtue's recompence is doubtful here,

If man dies wholly, well may we demand,

Why is man suffer'd to be good in vain?


Why, to be good in vain, is man enjoin'd?

Why, to be good in vain, is man betray'd?

Betray'd by traitors lodged in his own breast,

By sweet complacencies from Virtue felt?

Why whispers Nature lies on Virtue's part?


Or if blind Instinct (which assumes the name

Of sacred Conscience) plays the fool in man,

Why Reason made accomplice in the cheat?

Why are the wisest loudest in her praise?

Can man by Reason's beam be led astray?


Or, at his peril, imitate his God?

Since Virtue sometimes ruins us on earth,

Or both are true, or man survives the grave.

Or man survives the grave, or own, Lorenzo,

Thy boast supreme a wild absurdity.


Dauntless thy spirit: cowards are thy scorn.

Grant man immortal, and thy scorn is just.

The man immortal, rationally brave,

Dares rush on death—because he cannot die.

But if man loses all when life is lost,


He lives a coward, or a fool expires.

A daring infidel, (and such there are,

From pride, example, lucre, rage, revenge,

Or pure heroical defect of thought,)

Of all Earth's madmen, most deserves a chain.


When to the grave we follow the renown'd

For Valour, Virtue, Science, all we love,

And all we praise; for Worth, whose noon-tide beam,

Enabling us to think in higher style,

Mends our ideas of ethereal powers;


Dream we that lustre of the moral world

Goes out in stench, and rottenness the close?

Why was he wise to know, and warm to praise,

And strenuous to transcribe in human life,

The Mind Almighty? Could it be, that Fate,


Just when the lineaments began to shine,

And dawn the Deity, should snatch the draught,

With night eternal blot it out, and give

The Skies alarm, lest angels too might die?

If human souls, why not angelic too


Extinguish'd? and a solitary God,

O'er ghastly ruin, frowning from His throne?

Shall we this moment gaze on God in man?

The next, lose man for ever in the dust?

From dust we disengage, or man mistakes;


And there, where least his judgment fears a flaw.

Wisdom and Worth how boldly he commends!

Wisdom and Worth are sacred names; revered,

Where not embraced; applauded, deified!

Why not compassion'd too? If spirits die,


Both are calamities; inflicted both

To make us but more wretched: Wisdom's eye

Acute, for what? To spy more miseries;

And Worth, so recompensed, new-points their stings.

Or man surmounts the grave, or gain is loss,


And Worth exalted humbles us the more.

Thou wilt not patronize a scheme that makes

Weakness and Vice the refuge of mankind.

Has Virtue, then, no joys?”—Yes, joys dear-bought.

Talk ne'er so long, in this imperfect state,


Virtue and Vice are at eternal war.

Virtue's a combat; and who fights for nought,

Or for precarious or for small reward?

Who Virtue's self-reward so loud resound,

Would take degrees angelic here below,


And Virtue, while they compliment, betray,

By feeble motives and unfaithful guards.

The crown, the' unfading crown, her soul inspires:

'T is that, and that alone, can countervail

The Body's treacheries, and the World's assaults:


On Earth's poor pay our famish'd Virtue dies.

Truth incontestable, in spite of all

A Bayle has preach'd, or a Voltaire believed! 

In man, the more we dive, the more we see

Heaven's signet stamping an immortal make.


Dive to the bottom of his soul, the base

Sustaining all, what find we? Knowledge, love.

As light and heat essential to the sun,

These to the soul. And why, if souls expire?

How little lovely here! How little known!


Small knowledge we dig up with endless toil;

And love unfeign'd may purchase perfect hate.

Why starved, on earth, our angel-appetites,

While brutal are indulged their fulsome fill?

Were then capacities Divine conferr'd,


As a mock diadem, in savage sport,

Rank insult of our pompous poverty,

Which reaps but pain from seeming claims so fair?

In future age lies no redress? and shuts

Eternity the door on our complaint?


If so, for what strange ends were mortals made!

The worst to wallow, and the best to weep;

The man who merits most, must most complain.

Can we conceive a disregard in Heaven,

What the worst perpetrate, or best endure?


This cannot be. To love, and know, in man

Is boundless appetite, and boundless power:

And these demonstrate boundless objects too.

Objects, powers, appetites, Heaven suits in all;

Nor, Nature through, e'er violates this sweet,


Eternal concord on her tuneful string.

Is man the sole exception from her laws?

Eternity struck off from human hope,

(I speak with truth, but veneration too,)

Man is a monster, the reproach of Heaven,


A stain, a dark impenetrable cloud

On Nature's beauteous aspect; and deforms,

(Amazing blot!) deforms her with her lord.

If such is man's allotment, what is Heaven?

Or own the soul immortal, or blaspheme. 


Or own the soul immortal, or invert

All order. Go, mock-majesty! go, man!

And bow to thy superiors of the stall;

Through every scene of sense superior far:

They graze the turf untill'd; they drink the stream


Unbrew'd, and ever full, and unembitter'd

With doubts, fears, fruitless hopes, regrets, despairs;

Mankind's peculiar! Reason's precious dower!

No foreign clime they ransack for their robes;

Nor brothers cite to the litigious bar.


Their good is good entire, unmix'd, unmarr'd;

They find a paradise in every field,

On boughs forbidden, where no curses hang:

Their ill no more than strikes the sense; unstretch'd

By previous dread, or murmur in the rear:


When the worst comes, it comes unfear'd; one stroke

Begins and ends their woe: they die but once;

Bless'd, incommunicable privilege! for which

Proud man, who rules the globe, and reads the stars,

Philosopher or hero, sighs in vain.


Account for this prerogative in brutes.

No day, no glimpse of day, to solve the knot,

But what beams on it from eternity.

O sole and sweet solution! that unties

The difficult, and softens the severe;


The cloud on Nature's beauteous face dispels;

Restores bright order; casts the brute beneath;

And re-enthrones us in supremacy

Of joy, e'en here. Admit immortal life,

And virtue is knight-errantry no more:


Each Virtue brings in hand a golden dower,

Far richer in reversion; Hope exults,

And, though much bitter in our cup is thrown,

Predominates, and gives the taste of heaven.

O wherefore is the Deity so kind?


Astonishing beyond astonishment!

Heaven our reward—for heaven enjoy'd below.

Still unsubdued thy stubborn heart?—for there

The traitor lurks, who doubts the truth I sing.

Reason is guiltless! Will alone rebels.


What, in that stubborn heart if I should find

New, unexpected witnesses against thee?

Ambition, Pleasure, and the Love of Gain!

Canst thou suspect that these, which make the Soul

The slave of earth, should own her heir of heaven?


Canst thou suspect, what makes us disbelieve

Our immortality, should prove it sure? 

First, then, Ambition summon to the bar.

Ambition's “shame, extravagance, disgust,

And inextinguishable nature,” speak.


Each much deposes: hear them in their turn.

Thy soul, how passionately fond of Fame!

How anxious that fond passion to conceal!

We blush, detected in designs on praise,

Though for best deeds, and from the best of men;


And why? Because immortal. Art Divine

Has made the body tutor to the soul;

Heaven kindly gives our blood a moral flow;

Bids it ascend the glowing cheek, and there

Upbraid that little heart's inglorious aim,


Which stoops to court a character from man;

While o'er us in tremendous judgment sit

Far more than man, with endless praise and blame.

Ambition's boundless appetite out-speaks

The verdict of its shame. When souls take fire


At high presumptions of their own desert,

One age is poor applause; the mighty shout,

The thunder by the living few begun,

Late time must echo; worlds unborn, resound.

We wish our names eternally to live:


Wild dream! which ne'er had haunted human thought

Had not our natures been eternal too.

Instinct points out an interest in hereafter;

But our blind Reason sees not where it lies;

Or, seeing, gives the substance for the shade.


Fame is the shade of immortality,

And in itself a shadow. Soon as caught,

Contemn'd; it shrinks to nothing in the grasp.

Consult the' ambitious,—'t is ambition's cure.

“And is this all?” cried Caesar, at his height,


Disgusted. This third proof Ambition brings

Of immortality: The first in fame,

Observe him near, your envy will abate:

Shamed at the disproportion vast between

The passion and the purchase, he will sigh


At such success, and blush at his renown.

And why? Because far richer prize invites

His heart; far more illustrious glory calls;

It calls in whispers, yet the deafest hear.

And can Ambition a fourth proof supply?


It can, and stronger than the former three;

Yet quite o'erlook'd by some reputed wise.

Though disappointments in ambition pain,

And though success disgusts, yet still,

In vain we strive to pluck it from our hearts;


By Nature planted for the noblest ends.

Absurd the famed advice to Pyrrhus given,

More praised than ponder'd; specious, but unsound:

Sooner that hero's sword the world had quell'd,

Than Reason his ambition. Man must soar.


An obstinate activity within,

An insuppressive spring, will toss him up,

In spite of Fortune's load. Not kings alone,

Each villager has his ambition too;

No sultan prouder than his fetter'd slave.


Slaves build their little Babylons of straw,

Echo the proud Assyrian in their hearts,

And cry, “Behold the wonders of my might!”

And why? Because immortal as their lord:

And souls immortal must for ever heave


At something great; the glitter, or the gold;

The praise of mortals, or the praise of Heaven.

Nor absolutely vain is human praise,

When human is supported by Divine.

I'll introduce Lorenzo to himself:


Pleasure and Pride (bad masters) share our hearts.

As Love of Pleasure is ordain'd to guard

And feed our bodies, and extend our race;

The Love of Praise is planted to protect

And propagate the glories of the mind.


What is it but the Love of Praise inspires,

Matures, refines, embellishes, exalts,

Earth's happiness? From that the delicate,

The grand, the marvellous, of civil life.

Want and Convenience, under-workers, lay


The basis, on which Love of Glory builds.

Nor is thy life, O Virtue! less in debt

To Praise, thy secret stimulating friend.

Were men not proud, what merit should we miss!

Pride made the virtues of the Pagan world.


Praise is the salt that seasons right to man,

And whets his appetite for moral good.

Thirst of Applause is Virtue's second guard;

Reason her first; but Reason wants an aid;

Our private Reason is a flatterer;


Thirst of Applause calls Public Judgment in,

To poise our own, to keep an even scale,

And give endanger'd Virtue fairer play.

Here a fifth proof arises, stronger still:

Why this so nice construction of our hearts;


These delicate moralities of Sense;

This constitutional reserve of aid

To succour Virtue, when our Reason fails;

If Virtue—kept alive by care and toil,

And oft the mark of injuries on earth,


When labour'd to maturity, (its bill

Of disciplines and pains unpaid,)—must die?

Why freighted rich to dash against a rock?

Were man to perish when most fit to live,

O how misspent were all these stratagems,


By skill Divine inwoven in our frame!

Where are Heaven's holiness and mercy fled?

Laughs Heaven at once at Virtue and at man?

If not, why that discouraged, this destroy'd? 

Thus far Ambition. What says Avarice?


This her chief maxim, which has long been thine:

“The wise and wealthy are the same.” I grant it.

To store up treasure with incessant toil,—

This is man's province, this his highest praise,

To this great end keen Instinct stings him on.


To guide that Instinct, Reason! is thy charge;

Tis thine to tell us where true treasure lies:

But, Reason failing to discharge her trust,

Or to the deaf discharging it in vain,

A blunder follows; and blind Industry,


Gall'd by the spur, but stranger to the course,

(The course where stakes of more than gold are won,)

O'erloading, with the cares of distant age,

The jaded spirits of the present hour,

Provides for an eternity below.


Thou shalt not covet,” is a wise command;

But bounded to the wealth the sun surveys:

Look farther, the command stands quite reversed,

And avarice is a virtue most Divine.

Is faith a refuge for our happiness?


Most sure. And is it not for reason too?

Nothing this world unriddles, but the next.

Whence inextinguishable thirst of gain?

From inextinguishable life in man.

Man, if not meant, by worth, to reach the skies,


Had wanted wing to fly so far in guilt.

Sour grapes, I grant, ambition, avarice;

Yet still their root is immortality.

These its wild growths so bitter, and so base,

(Pain and reproach!) Religion can reclaim,


Refine, exalt, throw down their poisonous lee,

And make them sparkle in the bowl of bliss. 

See, the third witness laughs at bliss remote,

And falsely promises an Eden here:

Truth she shall speak for once, though prone to lie,


A common cheat, and Pleasure is her name.

To Pleasure never was Lorenzo deaf;

Then hear her now, now first thy real friend.

Since Nature made us not more fond than proud

Of happiness, (whence hypocrites in joy,


Makers of mirth, artificers of smiles!)

Why should the joy most poignant Sense affords

Burn us with blushes, and rebuke our pride?—

Those heaven-born blushes tell us man descends,

E'en in the zenith of his earthly bliss.


Should Reason take her infidel repose,

This honest instinct speaks our lineage high:

This instinct calls on darkness to conceal

Our rapturous relation to the stalls.

Our glory covers us with noble shame,


And he that's unconfounded is unmann'd.

The man that blushes is not quite a brute.

Thus far with thee, Lorenzo, will I close:—

Pleasure is good, and man for pleasure made;

But pleasure full of glory as of joy;


Pleasure, which neither blushes nor expires. 

The witnesses are heard; the cause is o'er;

Let Conscience file the sentence in her court,

Dearer than deeds that half a realm convey:

Thus, seal'd by Truth, the' authentic record runs:—


Know, all; know, infidels,—unapt to know!

'T is immortality your nature solves;

'T is immortality deciphers man,

And opens all the mysteries of his make.

Without it, half his instincts are a riddle;


Without it, all his virtues are a dream.

His very crimes attest his dignity.

His sateless thirst of pleasure, gold, and fame,

Declares him born for blessings infinite:

What less than infinite makes un-absurd


Passions, which all on earth but more inflames?

Fierce passions, so mismeasured to this scene,

Stretch'd out, like eagles' wings, beyond our nest,

Far, far beyond the worth of all below,

For earth too large, presage a nobler flight,


And evidence our title to the skies.”

Ye gentle theologues of calmer kind!

Whose constitution dictates to your pen,

Who, cold yourselves, think ardour comes from hell!

Think not our passions from Corruption sprung,


Though to Corruption now they lend their wings;

That is their mistress, not their mother. All

(And justly) Reason deem Divine: I see,

I feel a grandeur in the Passions too,

Which speaks their high descent, and glorious end;


Which speaks them rays of an eternal fire.

In Paradise itself they burnt as strong,

Ere Adam fell, though wiser in their aim.

Like the proud Eastern, struck by Providence,

What, though our passions are run mad, and stoop,


With low terrestrial appetite, to graze

On trash, on toys, dethroned from high desire?

Yet still, through their disgrace, no feeble ray

Of greatness shines, and tells us whence they fell:

But these (like that fallen monarch when reclaim'd)


When Reason moderates the rein aright,

Shall re-ascend, remount their former sphere,

Where once they soar'd illustrious; ere seduced,

By wanton Eve's debauch, to stroll on earth,

And set the sublunary world on fire. 


But grant their frenzy lasts: their frenzy fails

To disappoint one providential end,

For which Heaven blew up ardour in our hearts:

Were Reason silent, boundless Passion speaks

A future scene of boundless objects too,


And brings glad tidings of eternal day.

Eternal day! 'T is that enlightens all;

And all, by that enlighten'd, proves it sure.

Consider man as an immortal being,

Intelligible all; and all is great;


A crystalline transparency prevails,

And strikes full lustre through the human sphere:

Consider man as mortal, all is dark,

And wretched; Reason weeps at the survey. 

The learn'd Lorenzo cries, “And let her weep,—


Weak, modern Reason! Ancient times were wise.

Authority, that venerable guide,

Stands on my part: the famed Athenian Porch

(And who for wisdom so renown'd as they?)

Denied this immortality to man.”


I grant it; but affirm, they proved it too.

A riddle this!—Have patience; I'll explain.

What noble vanities, what moral flights,

Glittering through their romantic wisdom's page,

Make us, at once, despise them, and admire!


Fable is flat to these high-season'd sires;

They leave the' extravagance of song below.

“Flesh shall not feel; or, feeling, shall enjoy

The dagger or the rack; to them alike

A bed of roses, or the burning bull.”


In men exploding all beyond the grave,

Strange doctrine, this!—As doctrine it was strange;

But not, as prophecy; for such it proved,

And, to their own amazement, was fulfill'd:

They feign'd a firmness Christians need not feign.


The Christian truly triumph'd in the flame;

The Stoic saw, in double wonder lost,

(Wonder at them, and wonder at himself,)

To find the bold adventures of his thought

Not bold, and that he strove to lie in vain.


Whence,then,those thoughts? those towering thoughts that flew

Such monstrous heights?—From instinct and from pride.

The glorious instinct of a deathless soul,

Confusedly conscious of her dignity,

Suggested truths they could not understand.


In Lust's dominion, and in Passion's storm,

Truth's system broken, scatter'd fragments lay:

(As light in chaos, glimmering through the gloom:)

Smitwith the pomp of lofty sentiments,

Pleased Pride proclaim'd what Reason disbelieved.


Pride, like the Delphic priestess, with a swell,

Raved nonsense, destined to be future sense,

When life immortal in full day should shine,

And death's dark shadows fly the gospel sun.

They spoke what nothing but immortal souls


Could speak; and thus the truth they question'd, proved. 

Can then absurdities, as well as crimes,

Speak man immortal? All things speak him so.

Much has been urged; and dost thou call for more?

Call; and with endless questions be distress'd,


All unresolvable, if earth is all.

Why life, a moment? infinite, desire?

Our wish, eternity? our home, the grave?

Heaven's promise dormant lies in human hope;

Who wishes life immortal, proves it too.


Why happiness pursued, though never found?

Man's thirst of happiness declares It is;

(For Nature never gravitates to nought;)

That thirst unquench'd declares, It is not here.

My Lucia, thy Clarissa, call to thought.


Why cordial friendship riveted so deep,

(As hearts, to pierce at first, at parting rend,)

If friend and friendship vanish in an hour?

Is not this Torment in the mask of Joy?

Why by Reflection marr'd the joys of Sense?


Why Past and Future preying on our hearts,

And putting all our present joys to death?

Why labours Reason? Instinct were as well;

Instinct, far better; what can choose, can err:

O how infallible the thoughtless brute!


'Twere well His Holiness were half as sure.

Reason with Inclination why at war?

Why sense of guilt? Why Conscience up in arms?”

Conscience of guilt is prophecy of pain,

And bosom-counsel to decline the blow.


Reason with Inclination ne'er had jarr'd,

If nothing future paid forbearance here.

Thus on:—these, and a thousand pleas uncall'd,

All promise, some insure, a second scene;

Which, were it doubtful, would be dearer far


Than all things else most certain; were it false,

What truth on earth so precious as the lie?

This world it gives us, let what will ensue;

This world it gives, in that high cordial, hope;

The future of the present is the soul:


How this life groans when sever'd from the next!

Poor, mutilated wretch, that disbelieves!

By dark distrust, his being, cut in two,

In both parts perishes; life void of joy,

Sad prelude of eternity in pain!


Couldst thou persuade me the next life could fail

Our ardent wishes, how should I pour out

My bleeding heart in anguish, new as deep!

O with what thoughts thy hope, and my despair,

Abhorr'd Annihilation, blasts the soul,


And wide extends the bounds of human woe!

Could I believe Lorenzo's system true,

In this black channel would my ravings run:— 

Grief from the future borrow'd peace, ere-while.

The future vanish'd, and the present pain'd!


Strange import of unprecedented ill!

Fall, how profound! like Lucifer's, the fall!

Unequal fate: his fall, without his guilt!

From where fond Hope built her pavilion high,

The gods among, hurl'd headlong, hurl'd at once


To night, to nothing! darker still than night.

If 'twas a dream, why wake me, my worst foe?

Lorenzo! boastful of the name of friend!

O for delusion! O for error still!

Could vengeance strike much stronger than to plant


A thinking being in a world like this,

Not over-rich before, now beggar'd quite,

More cursed than at the fall?—The sun goes out!

The thorns shoot up! What thorns in every thought!

Why sense of better? It embitters worse.


Why sense? why life, if but to sigh, then sink

To what I was? Twice nothing! and much woe!

Woe from Heaven's bounties! woe from what was wont

To flatter most,—high intellectual powers.

Thought, virtue, knowledge! blessings, by thy scheme


All poison'd into pains. First, knowledge, once

My soul's ambition, now her greatest dread.

To know myself, true wisdom? No, to shun

That shocking science. Parent of despair,

Avert thy mirror! if I see, I die.


Know my Creator? Climb His bless'd abode

By painful speculation, pierce the veil,

Dive in His nature, read His attributes,

And gaze in admiration—on a foe,

Obtruding life, withholding happiness?


From the full rivers that surround His throne,

Not letting fall one drop of joy on man:

Man gasping for one drop, that he might cease

To curse his birth, nor envy reptiles more!

Ye sable clouds, ye darkest shades of night!


Hide Him, for ever hide Him, from my thought,

Once all my comfort, source and soul of joy!

Now leagued with furies, and with thee *) against me.

Know His achievements? Study His renown?

Contemplate this amazing universe,


Dropp'd from His hand, with miracles replete?—

For what? 'Mid miracles of nobler name,

To find one miracle of misery?

To find the being, which alone can know

And praise His works, a blemish on His praise?


Through Nature's ample range, in thought, to stroll,

And start at man, the single mourner there,

Breathing high hope, chain'd down to pangs and death?

Knowing is suffering: and shall Virtue share

The sigh of Knowledge?—Virtue shares the sigh.


By straining up the steep of excellent,

By battles fought, and from Temptation won,

What gains she, but the pang of seeing worth,

Angelic worth, soon shuffled in the dark

With every vice, and swept to brutal dust?


Merit is madness; virtue is a crime;

A crime to Reason, if it costs us pain

Unpaid: what pain, amidst a thousand more,

To think the most abandon'd, after days

Of triumph o'er their betters, find in death


As soft a pillow, nor make fouler clay!

Duty! Religion!—These, our duty done,

Imply reward. Religion is mistake.

Duty!—There's none, but to repel the cheat.

Ye cheats, away! ye daughters of my Pride!


Who feign yourselves the favourites of the Skies:

Ye towering hopes, abortive energies!

That toss and struggle in my lying breast,

To scale the skies, and build presumptions there,

As I were heir of an eternity.


Vain, vain ambitions! trouble me no more.

Why travel far in quest of sure defeat?

As bounded as my being, be my wish.

All is inverted, Wisdom is a fool.

Sense! take the rein; blind Passion! drive us on;


And, Ignorance! befriend us on our way;

Ye new, but truest patrons of our peace!

Yes; give the Pulse full empire; live the Brute,

Since as the Brute we die. The sum of man,

Of godlike man, to revel and to rot!


But not on equal terms with other brutes:

Their revels a more poignant relish yield,

And safer too; they never poisons choose.

Instinct, than Reason, makes more wholesome meals,

And sends all-marring Murmur far away.


For sensual life, they best philosophize;

Theirs that serene the sages sought in vain:

Tis man alone expostulates with Heaven;

His all the power, and all the cause, to mourn.

Shall human eyes alone dissolve in tears?


And bleed in anguish none but human hearts?

The wide-stretch'd realm of intellectual woe,

Surpassing sensual far, is all our own.

In life so fatally distinguish'd, why

Cast in one lot, confounded, lump'd in death?


Ere yet in being, was mankind in guilt?

Why thunder'd this peculiar clause against us,

All-mortal, and all-wretched?—Have the Skies

Reasons of state, their subjects may not scan,

Nor humbly reason when they sorely sigh?


All-mortal, and all-wretched.—'T is too much;

Unparallel'd in Nature: 't is too much

On being unrequested at Thy hands,

Omnipotent! for I see nought but Power.

And why see that? Why Thought? To toil and eat,


Then make our bed in darkness, needs no thought.

What superfluities are reasoning souls!

O give eternity, or thought destroy!—

But without thought our curse were half unfelt;

Its blunted edge would spare the throbbing heart;


And therefore 't is bestow'd. I thank thee, Reason,

For aiding Life's too small calamities,

And giving being to the dread of Death!

Such are thy bounties!—Was it then too much

For me to trespass on the brutal rights?


Too much for Heaven to make one emmet more?

Too much for Chaos to permit my mass

A longer stay with essences unwrought,

Unfashion'd, untormented into man?

Wretched preferment to this round of pains!


Wretched capacity of frenzy, Though!

Wretched capacity of dying, Life!

Life, Thought, Worth, Wisdom, all (O foul revolt!)

Once friends to peace, gone over to the foe.

Death, then, has changed its nature too. O Death,


Come to my bosom, thou best gift of Heaven!

Best friend of man! since man is Man no more.

Why in this thorny wilderness so long,

Since there's no Promised Land's ambrosial bower,

To pay me with its honey for my stings?


If needful to the selfish schemes of Heaven

To sting us sore, why mock'd our misery?

Why this so sumptuous insult o'er our heads?

Why this illustrious canopy display'd?

Why so magnificently lodged Despair?


At stated periods, sure-returning, roll

These glorious orbs, that mortals may compute

Their length of labours and of pains, nor lose

Their misery's full measure?—Smiles with flowers,

And fruits, promiscuous, ever-teeming earth,


That man may languish in luxurious scenes,

And in an Eden mourn his wither'd joys?

Claim Earth and Skies man's admiration, due

For such delights? Bless'd animals! too wise

To wonder, and too happy to complain!


Our doom decreed demands a mournful scene:

Why not a dungeon dark for the condemn'd?

Why not the dragon's subterranean den,

For man to howl in? Why not his abode

Of the same dismal colour with his fate?


A Thebes, a Babylon, at vast expense

Of time, toil, treasure, art, for owls and adders,

As congruous, as for man this lofty dome,

Which prompts proud Thought, and kindles high Desire;

If, from her humble chamber in the dust,


While proud Thought swells, and high Desire inflames,

The poor worm calls us for her inmates there;

And, round us, Death's inexorable hand

Draws the dark curtain close; undrawn no more. 

Undrawn no more!—Behind the cloud of Death,


Once, I beheld a sun; a sun which gilt

That sable cloud, and turn'd it all to gold:

How the grave's alter'd! fathomless as hell,

A real hell to those who dreamt of heaven!

Annihilation! how it yawns before me!


Next moment I may drop from thought, from sense,

The privilege of angels and of worms,

An outcast from existence! and this spirit,

This all-pervading, this all-conscious soul,

This particle of energy Divine,


Which travels Nature, flies from star to star,

And visits gods, and emulates their powers,

For ever is extinguish'd. Horror! Death!

Death of that death I fearless once survey'd!

When horror universal shall descend,


And Heaven's dark concave urn all human race,

On that enormous, unrefunding tomb,

How just this verse, this monumental sigh!”

Beneath the lumber of demolish 'd worlds,

Deep in the rubbish of the general wreck,


Swept ignominious to the common mass

Of matter never dignified with life,

Here lie proud Nationals, the sons of Heaven!

The lords of Earth, the property of worms!

Beings of yesterday, and no to-morrow!


Who lived in terror, and in pangs expired!

All gone to rot in chaos; or to make

Their happy transit into blocks or brutes,

Nor longer sully their Creator's name.

Lorenzo! hear, pause, ponder, and pronounce.


Just is this history? If such is man,

Mankind's historian, though Divine, might weep:

And dares Lorenzo smile?—I know thee proud:

For once let Pride befriend thee: Pride looks pale

At such a scene, and sighs for something more.


Amid thy boasts, presumptions, and displays,

And art thou then a shadow? less than shade?

A nothing? less than nothing? To have been,

And not to be, is lower than unborn.

Art thou ambitious? Why then make the worm


Thine equal? Runs thy taste of pleasure high?

Why patronize sure death of every joy?

Charm riches? Why choose beggary in the grave,

Of every hope a bankrupt, and for ever?

Ambition, Pleasure, Avarice, persuade thee


To make that world of glory, rapture, wealth,

They lately proved, thy soul's supreme desire.

What art thou made of? Rather, how unmade?

Great Nature's master-appetite destroy'd!

Is endless life, and happiness, despised?


Or both wish'd here, where neither can be found?

Such man's perverse, eternal war with Heaven!

Barest thou persist? And is there nought on earth

But a long train of transitory forms,

Rising, and breaking, millions in an hour?


Bubbles of a fantastic deity, blown up

In sport, and then in cruelty destroy'd?

O! for what crime, unmerciful Lorenzo,

Destroys thy scheme the whole of human race?

Kind is fell Lucifer, compared to thee:


O! spare this waste of being half-Divine;

And vindicate the' economy of Heaven.

Heaven is all love; all joy in giving joy:

It never had created but to bless:

And shall it, then, strike off the list of life


A being bless'd, or worthy so to be?

Heaven starts at an annihilating God.

Is that all Nature starts at, thy desire?

Art such a clod to wish thyself all clay?

What is that dreadful wish?—The dying groan


Of Nature, murder'd by the blackest guilt.

What deadly poison has thy nature drunk?

To Nature undebauch'd no shock so great;

Nature's first wish is endless happiness;

Annihilation is an after-thought,


A monstrous wish, unborn till Virtue dies.

And, O! what depth of horror lies enclosed!

For non-existence no man ever wish'd,

But first he wish'd the Deity destroy'd.

If so, what words are dark enough to draw


Thy picture true? The darkest are too fair.

Beneath what baleful planet, in what hour

Of desperation, by what Fury's aid,

In what infernal posture of the soul,

All hell invited, and all hell in joy


At such a birth, a birth so near of kin,

Did thy foul fancy whelp so black a scheme

Of hopes abortive, faculties half-blown,

And deities begun, reduced to dust?

There's nought,” thou say'st, “but one eternal flux


Of feeble essences, tumultuous driven

Through Time's rough billows into Night's abyss.”

Say, in this rapid tide of human ruin,

Is there no rock on which man's tossing thought

Can rest from terror, dare his fate survey,


And boldly think it something to be born?

Amid such hourly wrecks of being fair,

Is there no central, all-sustaining base,

All-realizing, all-connecting power,

Which, as it call'd forth all things, can recall,


And force Destruction to refund her spoil?

Command the Grave restore her taken prey?

Bid Death's dark vale its human harvest yield,

And Earth, and Ocean, pay their debt of man,

True to the grand deposit trusted there?


Is there no Potentate, whose out-stretch'd arm,

When ripening Time calls forth the' appointed hour,

Pluck'd from foul Devastation's famish'd maw,

Binds Present, Past, and Future to his throne?

His throne, how glorious, thus divinely graced,


By germinating beings clustering round!

A garland worthy the Divinity!

A throne, by Heaven's omnipotence in smiles,

Built (like a Pharos towering in the waves)

Amidst immense effusions of His love,


An ocean of communicated bliss!

An all-prolific, all-preserving God!

This were a God indeed.—And such is man,

As here presumed: he rises from his fall.

Think'st thou Omnipotence a naked root,


Each blossom fair of Deity destroy'd?

Nothing is dead; nay, nothing sleeps; each soul

That ever animated human clay

Now wakes, is on the wing; and where, O where,

Will the swarm settle?—When the trumpet's call,


As sounding brass, collects us round Heaven's throne,

Conglobed we bask in everlasting day,

(Paternal splendour!) and adhere for ever.

Had not the soul this outlet to the skies,

In this vast vessel of the universe,


How should we gasp, as in an empty void!

How in the pangs of famish'd Hope expire!

How bright my prospect shines! How gloomy thine!

A trembling world! and a devouring God!

Earth but the shambles of Omnipotence!


Heaven's face all stain'd with causeless massacres

Of countless millions, born to feel the pang

Of being lost. Lorenzo, can it be?

This bids us shudder at the thoughts of life.

Who would be born to such a phantom world,


Where nought substantial but our misery?

Where joy (if joy) but heightens our distress,

So soon to perish, and revive no more?

The greater such a joy, the more it pains.

A world so far from great, (and yet how great


It shines to thee!) there's nothing real in it;

Being a shadow, consciousness a dream!

A dream how dreadful! Universal blank

Before it and behind! Poor man, a spark

From non-existence struck by wrath Divine,


Glittering a moment, nor that moment sure,

'Midst upper, nether, and surrounding night,

His sad, sure, sudden, and eternal tomb!

Lorenzo, dost thou feel these arguments?

Or is there nought but vengeance can be felt?


How hast thou dared the Deity dethrone?

How dared indict Him of a world like this?

If such the world, creation was a crime;

For what is crime, but cause of misery?

Retract, blasphemer! and unriddle this,


Of endless arguments, above, below,

Without us, and within, the short result,—

“If man's immortal, there's a God in heaven.”

But wherefore such redundancy, such waste

Of argument? One sets my soul at rest;


One obvious, and at hand, and O!—at heart.

So just the Skies, Philander's life so pain'd,

His heart so pure; that or succeeding scenes

Have palms to give, or ne'er had he been born.

What an old tale is this!” Lorenzo cries.


I grant this argument is old; but truth

No years impair; and had not this been true,

Thou never hadst despised it for its age.

Truth is immortal as thy soul; and fable

As fleeting as thy joys. Be wise, nor make


Heaven's highest blessing vengeance: O be wise!

Nor make a curse of immortality. 

Say, know'st thou what it is? or what thou art?

Know'st thou the' importance of a soul immortal?

Behold this midnight glory: worlds on worlds!


Amazing pomp! Redouble this amaze!

Ten thousand add, add twice ten thousand more;

Then weigh the whole: one soul outweighs them all;

And calls the' astonishing magnificence

Of unintelligent Creation, poor.


For this, believe not me; no man believe;

Trust not in words, but deeds; and deeds no less

Than those of the Supreme; nor His, a few;

Consult them all. Consulted, all proclaim

Thy soul's importance: tremble at thyself;


For whom Omnipotence has waked so long;

Has waked and work'd for ages; from the birth

Of Nature to this unbelieving hour.

In this small province of His vast domain,

(All Nature bow, while I pronounce His name!)


What has God done, and not for this sole end,—

To rescue souls from death? The soul's high price

Is writ in all the conduct of the Skies.

The soul's high price is the Creation's key,

Unlocks its mysteries, and naked lays


The genuine cause of every deed Divine:

That is the chain of ages which maintains

Their obvious correspondence, and unites

Most distant periods in one bless'd design:

That is the mighty hinge on which have turn'd


All revolutions, whether we regard

The natural, civil, or religious world;

The former two but servants to the third;

To that their duty done, they both expire,

Their mass new-cast, forgot their deeds renown'd;


And angels ask, “where once they shone so fair!”

To lift us from this abject to sublime;

This flux to permanent; this dark to day;

This foul to pure; this turbid to serene;

This mean to mighty!—for this glorious end


The' Almighty, rising, His long sabbath broke:

The world was made; was ruin'd; was restored;

Laws from the Skies were publish'd; were repeal'd;

On earth kings, kingdoms rose; kings, kingdoms fell;

Famed sages lighted up the Pagan world;


Prophets from Sion darted a keen glance

Through distant age; saints travell'd; martyrs bled;

By wonders sacred Nature stood controll'd;

The living were translated; dead were raised;

Angels, and more than angels, came from heaven;


And, O! for this, descended lower still;

Gilt was hell's gloom: astonish'd at his Guest,

For one short moment Lucifer adored:

Lorenzo! and wilt thou do less?—For this

That hallow'd page fools scoff at, was inspired,


Of all these truths thrice-venerable code!

Deists, perform your quarantine; and then

Fall prostrate ere you touch it, lest you die.

Nor less intensely bent infernal powers

To mar, than those of light this end to gain.


O what a scene is here!—Lorenzo, wake,

Rise to the thought: exert, expand thy soul

To take the vast idea: it denies

All else the name of great. Two warring worlds!

Not Europe against Afric; warring worlds


Of more than mortal, mounted on the wing!

On ardent wings of energy and zeal,

High-hovering o'er this little brand of strife!

This sublunary ball!—But strife, for what?

In their own cause conflicting? No; in thine,


In man's. His single interest blows the flame;

His the sole stake; his fate the trumpet sounds,

Which kindles war immortal. How it burns!

Tumultuous swarms of deities in arms!

Force, force opposing, till the waves run high,


And tempest Nature's universal sphere.

Such opposites eternal, steadfast, stern,

Such foes implacable, are Good and Ill;

Yet man, vain man, would mediate peace between them.

Think not this fiction. “There was war in heaven.”


From heaven's high crystal mountain, where it hung,

The' Almighty's out-stretch'd arm took down His bow,

And shot His indignation at the deep:

Re-thunder'd Hell, and darted all her fires.

And seems the stake of little moment still?


And slumbers man, who singly caused the storm?

He sleeps.—And art thou shock'd at mysteries?

The greatest, thou! How dreadful to reflect,

What ardour, care, and counsel mortals cause

In breasts Divine! how little in their own! 


Where'er I turn, how new proofs pour upon me!

How happily this wondrous view supports

My former argument! How strongly strikes

Immortal life's full demonstration here!

Why this exertion? Why this strange regard


From Heaven's Omnipotent indulged to man?

Because in man the glorious dreadful power,

Extremely to be pain'd, or bless'd, for ever.

Duration gives importance; swells the price.

An angel, if a creature of a day,


What would he be? A trifle of no weight;

Or stand or fall,—no matter which,—he's gone.

Because IMMORTAL, therefore is indulged

This strange regard of deities to dust.

Hence Heaven looks down on earth with all her eyes;


Hence the soul's mighty moment in her sight;

Hence every soul has partisans above,

And every thought a critic in the skies:

Hence clay, vile clay, has angels for its guard,

And every guard a passion for his charge:


Hence, from all age, the Cabinet Divine

Has held high counsel o'er the fate of man.

Nor have the clouds those gracious counsels hid.

Angels undrew the curtain of the throne,

And Providence came forth to meet mankind.


In various modes of emphasis and awe,

He spoke His will, and trembling Nature heard:

He spoke it loud, in thunder and in storm.

Witness, thou Sinai! whose cloud-cover'd height,

And shaken basis, own'd the present God:


Witness, ye billows! whose returning tide,

Breaking the chain that fasten'd it in air,

Swept Egypt and her menaces to hell:

Witness, ye flames the' Assyrian tyrant blew

To sevenfold rage, as impotent as strong:


And thou, Earth! witness, whose expanding jaws

Closed o'er Presumption's sacrilegious sons:  **)

Has not each element, in turn, subscribed

The soul's high price, and sworn it to the wise?

Has not flame, ocean, ether, earthquake, strove


To strike this truth through adamantine man?

If not all-adamant, Lorenzo! hear:

All is delusion; Nature is wrapp'd up,

In tenfold night, from Reason's keenest eye;

There's no consistence, meaning, plan, or end


In all beneath the sun, in all above,

(As far as man can penetrate,) or heaven

Is an immense, inestimable prize;

Or all is nothing, or that prize is all.—

And shall each toy be still a match for heaven?


And full equivalent for groans below?

Who would not give a trifle to prevent

What he would give a thousand worlds to cure? 

Lorenzo, thou hast seen (if thine to see)

All Nature, and her God, (by Nature's course,


And Nature's course controll'd,) declare for me:

The Skies above proclaim “Immortal man!”

And “Man immortal!” all below resounds.

The world's a system of theology,

Read by the greatest strangers to the schools;


If honest, learn'd; and sages o'er a plough.

Is not, Lorenzo, then, imposed on thee

This hard alternative,—or to renounce

Thy reason and thy sense, or to believe?

What then is unbelief? 'T is an exploit;


A strenuous enterprise: to gain it, man

Must burst through every bar of common sense,

Of common shame, magnanimously wrong.

And what rewards the sturdy combatant?

His prize, repentance; infamy, his crown. 


But wherefore infamy?—For want of faith,

Down the steep precipice of wrong he slides;

There's nothing to support him in the right.

Faith in the future wanting, is, at least

In embryo, every weakness, every guilt;


And strong Temptation ripens it to birth.

If this life's gain invites him to the deed,

Why not his country sold, his father slain?

'T is virtue to pursue our good supreme;

And his supreme, his only good is here.


Ambition, Avarice, by the wise disdain'd,

Is perfect wisdom, while mankind are fools,

And think a turf or tomb-stone covers all:

These find employment, and provide for Sense

A richer pasture, and a larger range;


And Sense by right Divine ascends the throne,

When Virtue's prize and prospect are no more:

Virtue no more we think the will of Heaven.

Would Heaven quite beggar Virtue, if beloved?

Has Virtue charms?”—I grant her heavenly fair;


But if unportion'd, all will Interest wed;

Though that our admiration, this our choice.

The virtues grow on immortality;

That root destroy'd, they wither and expire.

A Deity believed will nought avail;


Rewards and punishments make God adored;

And hopes and fears give Conscience all her power.

As in the dying parent dies the child,

Virtue with Immortality expires.

Who tells me he denies his soul immortal,


Whate'er his boast, has told me he's a knave.

His duty 't is to love himself alone;

Nor care, though mankind perish, if he smiles.

Who thinks ere long the man shall wholly die,

Is dead already; nought but brute survives. 


And are there such?—Such candidates there are

For more than death; for utter loss of being;

Being, the basis of the Deity!

Ask you the cause?—The cause they will not tell:

Nor need they: O the sorceries of Sense!


They work this transformation on the soul,

Dismount her, like the serpent at the fall,

Dismount her from her native wing, (which soar'd

Erewhile ethereal heights,) and throw her down,

To lick the dust, and crawl in such a thought. 


Is it in words to paint you? O ye fallen!

Fallen from the wings of Reason, and of Hope!

Erect in stature, prone in appetite!

Patrons of pleasure, posting into pain!

Lovers of argument, averse to sense!


Boasters of liberty, fast bound in chains!

Lords of the wide creation, and the shame!

More senseless than the' irrationals you scorn!

More base than those you rule! than those you pity,

Far more undone! O ye most infamous


Of beings, from superior dignity!

Deepest in woe, from means of boundless bliss!

Ye cursed by blessings infinite! because

Most highly favour'd, most profoundly lost!

Ye motley mass of contradictions strong!


And are you, too, convinced your souls fly off

In exhalation soft, and die in air,

From the full flood of evidence against you?

In the coarse drudgeries and sinks of Sense,

Your souls have quite worn out the make of Heaven,


By vice new-cast, and creatures of your own:

But though you can deform, you can't destroy;

To curse, not uncreate, is all your power. 

Lorenzo, this black brotherhood renounce:

Renounce St. Evremont, and read St. Paul.


Ere rapt by miracle, by reason wing'd,

His mounting mind made long abode in heaven.

This is freethinking,—unconfined to parts,—

To send the soul, on curious travel bent,

Through all the provinces of human thought;


To dart her flight through the whole sphere of man;

Of this vast universe to make the tour;

In each recess of space and time at home;

Familiar with their wonders; diving deep,

And, like a prince of boundless interests there,


Still most ambitious of the most remote;

To look on truth unbroken and entire;

Truth in the system, the full orb; where truths,

By truths enlighten'd and sustain'd, afford

An arch-like strong foundation, to support


The' incumbent weight of absolute, complete

Conviction: Here the more we press, we stand

More firm; who most examine, most believe.

Parts, like half-sentences, confound: the whole

Conveys the sense, and God is understood;


Who not in fragments writes to human race:

Read His whole volume, sceptic! then reply.

This, this is thinking free,—a thought that grasps

Beyond a grain, and looks beyond an hour.

Turn up thine eye, survey this midnight scene;


What are Earth's kingdoms to yon boundless orbs,

Of human souls one day the destined range?

And what yon boundless orbs to godlike man?

Those numerous worlds that throng the firmament,

And ask more space in heaven, can roll at large


In man's capacious thought, and still leave room

For ampler orbs, for new creations, there.

Can such a soul contract itself, to gripe

A point of no dimension, of no weight?

It can: it does: the world is such a point;


And of that point, how small a part enslaves!

How small a part—of nothing, shall I say?

Why not?—Friends, our chief treasure! How they drop!

Lucia, Narcissa fair, Philander gone!

The grave, like fabled Cerberus, has oped


A triple mouth; and, in an awful voice,

Loud calls my soul, and utters all I sing.

How the world falls to pieces round about us,

And leaves us in a ruin of our joy!

What says this transportation of my friends?


It bids me love the place where now they dwell,

And scorn this wretched spot they leave so poor.

Eternity's vast ocean lies before thee;

There, there, Lorenzo, thy Clarissa sails.

Give thy mind sea-room; keep it wide of earth,


That rock of souls immortal; cut thy cord;

Weigh anchor; spread thy sails; call every wind;

Eye thy great Pole-star; make the land of life. 

Two kinds of life has double-natured man,

And two of death: the last far more severe.


Life animal is nurtured by the sun;

Thrives on his bounties, triumphs in his beams,

Life rational subsists on higher food,

Triumphant in His beams who made the day.

When we leave that sun, and are left by this,


'The fate of all who die in stubborn guilt,)

'T is utter darkness; strictly double death.

We sink by no judicial stroke of Heaven,

But Nature's course; as sure as plummets fall.

Since God or man must alter ere they meet,


(For light and darkness blend not in one sphere,)

'T is manifest, Lorenzo! who must change. 

If then that double death should prove thy lot,

Blame not the bowels of the Deity:

Man shall be bless'd as far as man permits.


Not man alone, all rationals Heaven arms

With an illustrious but tremendous power

To counteract its own most gracious ends;

And this of strict necessity, not choice:

That power denied, men, angels, were no more


But passive engines, void of praise or blame.

A nature rational implies the power

Of being bless'd, or wretched, as we please;

Else idle Reason would have nought to do;

And he that would be barr'd capacity


Of pain, courts incapacity of bliss.

Heaven wills our happiness, allows our doom;

Invites us ardently, but not compels;

Heaven but persuades, almighty man decrees;

Man is the maker of immortal fates.


Man falls by man, if finally he falls;

And fall he must, who learns from Death alone

The dreadful secret—that he lives for ever. 

Why this to thee?—thee yet perhaps in doubt

Of second life? But wherefore doubtful still?


Eternal life is Nature's ardent wish:

What ardently we wish, we soon believe:

Thy tardy faith declares that wish destroy'd:

What has destroy'd it?—Shall I tell thee what?

When fear'd the future, 't is no longer wish'd;


And when unwish'd, we strive to disbelieve.

“Thus infidelity our guilt betrays.”

Nor that the sole detection! Blush, Lorenzo

Blush for hypocrisy, if not for guilt.

The future fear'd?—An infidel, and fear!


Fear what? a dream? a fable? How thy dread,

Unwilling evidence, and therefore strong,

Affords my cause an undesign'd support!

How disbelief affirms what it denies!

“It, unawares, asserts immortal life.”—


Surprising! Infidelity turns out

A creed, and a confession of our sins:

Apostates, thus, are orthodox divines.

Lorenzo, with Lorenzo clash no more:

Nor longer a transparent vizor wear.


Think'st thou, Religion only has her mask?

Our infidels are Satan's hypocrites,

Pretend the worst, and at the bottom fail.

When visited by Thought, (Thought will intrude,)

Like him they serve, they “tremble, and believe.”


Is their hypocrisy so foul as this?

So fatal to the welfare of the world?

What detestation, what contempt their due!

And, if unpaid, be thank'd for their escape

That Christian candour they strive hard to scorn.


If not for that asylum, they might find

A hell on earth; nor 'scape a worse below. 

With insolence and impotence of thought,

Instead of racking fancy to refute,

Reform thy manners, and the truth enjoy.—


But shall I dare confess the dire result?

Can thy proud reason brook so black a brand?

From purer manners, to sublimer faith,

Is Nature's unavoidable ascent:

An honest deist, where the gospel shines,


Matured to nobler, in the Christian ends.

When that bless'd change arrives, e'en cast aside

This song superfluous: life immortal strikes

Conviction, in a flood of light Divine.

A Christian dwells, like Uriel, ***) in the sun.


Meridian Evidence puts Doubt to flight;

And ardent Hope anticipates the skies.

Of that bright sun, Lorenzo! scale the sphere:

'T is easy; it invites thee; it descends

From heaven to woo, and waft thee whence it came:


Read and revere the sacred page; a page

Where triumphs Immortality; a page

Which not the whole creation could produce;

Which not the conflagration shall destroy;

In Nature's ruins not one letter lost:


'T is printed in the minds of gods for ever. 

In proud disdain of what e'en gods adore,

Dost smile?—Poor wretch! thy guardian-angel weeps.

Angels and men assent to what I sing;

Wits smile, and thank me for my midnight dream.


How vicious hearts fume frenzy to the brain!.

Parts push us on to Pride, and Pride to Shame;

Pert Infidelity is Wit's cockade,

To grace the brasen brow that braves the Skies;

By loss of being dreadfully secure. 


Lorenzo! if thy doctrine wins the day,

And drives my dreams, defeated, from the field;

If this is all, if earth a final scene,

Take heed: stand fast; be sure to be a knave;

A knave in grain; ne'er deviate to the right:


Shouldst thou be good—how infinite thy loss!

Guilt only makes annihilation gain.

Bless'd scheme! which life deprives of comfort, Death

Of hope; and which Vice only recommends!

If so, where, infidels, your bait thrown out


To catch weak converts? Where your lofty boast

Of zeal for virtue, and of love to man?

Annihilation, I confess, in these. 

What can reclaim you? Dare I hope profound

Philosophers the converts of a song?


Yet know, its title ****) flatters you, not me;

Yours be the praise to make my title good:

Mine to bless Heaven, and triumph in your praise.

But since so pestilential your disease,

Though sovereign is the medicine I prescribe,


As yet I'll neither triumph nor despair:

But hope, ere long, my midnight dream will wake

Your hearts, and teach your wisdom—to be wise:

For why should souls immortal, made for bliss,

E'er wish (and wish in vain!) that souls could die?


What ne'er can die, O! grant to live; and crown

The wish, and aim, and labour of the Skies;

Increase, and enter on, the joys of heaven:

Thus shall my title pass a sacred seal,

Receive an imprimatur from above,


While angels shout—“An Infidel Reclaim'd!” 

To close, Lorenzo! Spite of all my pains,

Still seems it strange that thou shouldst live for ever?

Is it less strange that thou shouldst live at all?

This is a miracle; and that no more.


Who gave beginning can exclude an end.

Deny thou art: then doubt if thou shalt be.

A miracle with miracles enclosed

Is man: and starts his faith at what is strange?

What less than wonders from the Wonderful?


What less than miracles from God can flow?

Admit a GOD, (that mystery supreme,

That Cause uncaused!)—all other wonders cease;

Nothing is marvellous for Him to do:

Deny Him—all is mystery besides;


Millions of mysteries! each darker far

Than that thy wisdom would unwisely shun.

If weak thy faith, why choose the harder side?

We nothing know but what is marvellous;

Yet what is marvellous we can't believe.


So weak our reason, and so great our God,

What most surprises in the sacred page,

Or full as strange, or stranger, must be true.

Faith is not Reason's labour, but repose.

To Faith and Virtue why so backward man?


From hence:—The Present strongly strikes us all;

The Future, faintly: can we, then, be men?

If men, Lorenzo! the reverse is right. 

Reason is man's peculiar; Sense, the brute's.

The Present is the scanty realm of Sense;


The Future, Reason's empire unconfined:

On that expending all her godlike power,

She plans, provides, expatiates, triumphs there;

There builds her blessings; there expects her praise;

And nothing asks of Fortune or of men.


And what is Reason? Be she thus defined:

Reason is upright stature in the soul.

O! be a man;—and strive to be a god. 

For what?” (thou say'st:) “to damp the joys of life?”

No; to give heart and substance to thy joys.


That tyrant, Hope, mark how she domineers:

She bids us quit realities for dreams;

Safety and peace, for hazard and alarm:

That tyrant o'er the tyrants of the soul,—

She bids Ambition quit its taken prize,


Spurn the luxuriant branch on which it sits,

Though bearing crowns, to spring at distant game,

And plunge in toils and dangers—for repose.

If hope precarious, and of things, when gain'd,

Of little moment, and as little stay,


Can sweeten toils and dangers into joys;

What, then, that hope, which nothing can defeat,

Our leave unask'd? Rich hope of boundless bliss!

Bliss past man's power to paint it; Time's, to close!

This hope is earth's most estimable prize:


This is man's portion, while no more than man:

Hope, of all passions, most befriends us here;

Passions of prouder name befriend us less.

Joy has her tears; and Transport has her death:

Hope, like a cordial, innocent, though strong,


Man's heart at once inspirits and serenes;

Nor makes him pay his wisdom for his joys.

'T is all our present state can safely bear,—

Health to the frame, and vigour to the mind!

A joy attemper'd, a chastised delight!


Like the fair summer evening, mild and sweet!

'T is man's full cup, his Paradise below! 

A bless'd hereafter, then, or hoped, or gain'd,

Is all;—our whole of happiness: full proof

I chose no trivial or inglorious theme.


And know, ye foes to song! (well-meaning men,

Though quite forgotten half your Bible's praise!)

Important truths, in spite of verse, may please:

Grave minds you praise; nor can you praise too much:

If there is weight in an Eternity,


Let the grave listen;—and be graver still.




*) Lorenzo. 

**) Korah, etc. 

***) Milton. 

****) The Infidel Reclaimed.