Edward Young.

Night thoughts on life, death and immortality online

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Hence just resentment, indignation, ire !

Be pacify'd ; if outward things are great,

'T is magnanimity great things to scorn ;

Pompous expenses, and parades august,

And courts ; that insalubrious soil to peace. 1020

True happiness ne'er eriter'd at an eye ;

True happiness resides in things unseen.

No smiles of Fortune ever blest the bad,

Nor can her frowns rob Innocence of joys ;

That jewel wanting, triple crowns are poor : 1025

So tell his Holiness, and be reveng'd.

Pleasure, we both agree, is Man's chief good ;

Our only contest, what deserves the name


Give Pleasure's name to nought, but what has pass'd

Th' authentic seal of Reason (which, like YORKE,

Demurs on what it passes), and defies I 3 I

The tooth of Time ; when past, a pleasure still ;

Dearer on trial, lovelier for its age,

And doubly to be priz'd, as it promotes

Our future, while it forms our present, joy. 1O 35

Some joys the future overcast ; and some

Throw all their beams that way, and gild the tomb.

Some joys endear eternity; some give

Abhorr'd annihilation dreadful charms.

Are rival joys contending for thy choice ? 1040

Consult thy whole existence, and be safe ;

That oracle will put all doubt to flight.

Short is the lesson, though my lecture long,

Be good and let Heav'n answer for the rest.

Yet, with a sigh o'er all mankind, I grant, 1045
In this our day of proof, our land of hope,
The good man has his clouds that intervene ;
Clouds, that obscure his sublunary day,
But never conquer : Ev'n the best must own,
Patience, and Resignation, are the pillars 1050

Of human peace on earth. The pillars, these :
But those of Seth not more remote from thee,
Till this heroic lesson thou hast learnt ;
To frown at pleasure, and to smile in pain.
Fir'd at the prospect of unclouded bliss, 1 055

Heav'n in reversion, like the sun, as yet
Beneath th' horizon, cheers us in this world ;
It sheds, on souls susceptible of light,
The glorious dawn of our eternal day.

" This (says LORENZO) is a fair harangue : 1060


But can harangues blow back strong Nature's stream ?
Or stem the tide Heav'n pushes through our veins,
Which sweeps away Man's impotent resolves,
And lays his labour level with the world ?" 1064

Themselves men make their comment on mankind ;
And think nought is, but what they find at home :
Thus, weakness to chimera turns the truth.
Nothing romantic has the muse prescrib*d.
Above, LORENZO saw the Man of earth,
The mortal Man ; and wretched was the sight. 1070
To balance that, to comfort, and exalt,
Now see the Man immortal : Him, I mean,
Who lives as such ; whose heart, full bent on Heav'n,
Leans all that way, his bias to the stars.
The world's dark shades, in contrast set, shall raise
His lustre more ; though bright without a foil : 1076
Observe his awful portrait, and admire ;
Nor stop at wonder ; imitate, and live.

Some angel guide my pencil, while I draw,
What nothing less than angel can exceed, 1080

A man on earth devoted to the skies ;
Like ships at sea, while in, above the world.

With aspect mild, and elevated eye,
Behold him seated on a mount serene,
Above the fogs of Sense, and Passion's storm; 1085
All the black cares, and tumults, of this life
(Like harmless thunders, breaking at his feetj,
Excite his pity, not impair his peace.
Earth's genuine sons, the scepter'd, and the slave,
A mingled mob ! a wand'ring herd ! he sees, 1090
Bewilder'd in the vale ; in all unlike !
His full reverse in all ! What higher praise ?

i i


What stronger demonstration of the right ?

The present all their care ; the future, his.
When public welfare calls, or private want,
They give to fa*ne ; his bounty he conceals.
Their virtues varnish Nature ; his, exalt.
Mankind's esteem they court 5 and he, his own.
Theirs, the wild chase of false felicities ;
His, the compos'd possession of the true. nco

Alike throughout is his consistent piece,
All of one colour, and an even thread ;
While party-colour'd shreds of happiness,
With hideous gaps between, patch up for them
A madman's robej each puff of fortune blows 1105
The tatters by, and shews their nakedness.

He sees with other eyes than theirs : Where they
Behold a sun, he spies a Deity ;
What makes them only smile, makes him adore.
Where they see mountains, he but atoms sees ; 1 1 10
An empire, in his balance, weighs a grain.
They things terrestrial worship, as divine ;
His hopes immortal blow them by, as dust,
That dims his sight, and shortens his survey,
Which longs, in infinite, to lose all bound. 1115

Titles and honours (if they prove his fate)
He lays aside to find his dignity ;
No dignity they find in aught besides.
They triumph in externals (which conceal
Man's real glory), proud of an eclipse. U2O

Himself too much he prizes to be proud,
And nothing thinks so great in Man, as Man,
Too dear he holds his int'rest, to neglect
Another's welfare, or his right invade j


Their interest, like a lion, lives on prey* 1125

They kindle at the shadow of a wrong ;

Wrong he sustains with temper, looks on Heav'n,

Nor stoops to think his injurer his foe ;

Nought, but what wounds his virtue, wounds his peace.

A cover'd heart their character defends ; 1 130

A cover'd heart denies him half his praise.

"With nakedness his innocence agrees ;

While their broad foliage testifies their fall.

Their no-joys end, where his full feast begins :

His joys create, theirs murder, future bliss. 1135

To triumph in existence, his alone ;

And his alone, triumphantly to think

His true existence is not yet begun.

His glorious course was, yesterday, complete ;

Death, then, was welcome ; yet life still is sweet. 1 j 40

But nothing charms LORENZO, like the firm,
Undaunted breast and whose is that high praise ?
They yield to pleasure, though they danger brave,
And shew no fortitude, but in the field ;
If there they shew it, 't is for glory shewn ; 1 145,

Nor will that cordial always man their hearts.
A cordial his sustains, that cannot fail :
By pleasure unsubdu'd, unbroke by pain,
He shares in that Omnipotence he trusts.
All-bearing, dl-attempting, till he falls ; 1 1 59

And when he falls, writes vici on his shield-
From magnanimity, all fear above ;
From nobler recompense, above applause ;
Which owes to Man's short out-look all its charms.

Backward to credit what he never felt, 1 155

LORENZO cries " Where shines this miracle?

I I 2


From what root rises this immortal Man ?"
A root that grows not in LORENZO'S ground ;
The root dissect, nor wonder at the flower.

He follows Nature, (not like thee !) and shews us
An uninverted system of a Man. n6f

His appetite wears Reason's golden chain,
And finds, in due restraint, its luxury.
His passion, like an eagle well-reclaim'd,
Is taught to fly at nought, but infinite. 1165

Patient his hope, unanxious is his care,
His caution fearless, and his grief (if grief
The gods ordain) a stranger to despair.
And why ? Because affection, more than meet,
His wisdom leaves not disengag'd from Heav'n. 1 1 70
Those secondary goods that smile on earth,
He, loving, in proportion, loves in peace.
They most the world enjoy, who least admire.
His understanding 'scapes the common cloud
Of fumes, arising from a boiling breast. IJ 75

His head is clear, because his heart is cool,
By worldly competitions uninflam'd.
The mod'rate movements of his soul admit
Distinct ideas, and matur'd debate,
An eye impartial, and an even scale ; 1 180

Whence judgment sound, and unrepenting choice.
Thus, in a double sense, the good are wise ;
On its own dunghill, wiser than the world.
What, then, the world ? it must be doubly weak ;
Strange truth ! as soon would they believe the Creed.

Yet thus it is ; nor otherwise can be ; 1 1 86

So far from aught romantic what I sing.
Bliss has no being, Virtue has no strength,


But from the prospect of immortal life.

Who thinks earth all, or (what weighs just the same)

Who cares no farther, must prize what it yields; 1191

Fond of its fancies, proud of its parades.

Who thinks earth nothing, can't its charms admire ;

He can't a foe, though most malignant, hate,

Because that hate would prove his greater foe. 1 195

J T is hard for them (yet who so loudly boast

Good-will to Men ?) to love their dearest friend ;

For may not he invade their good supreme,

Where the least jealousy turns love to gall ?

All shines to them, that for a season shines. 1203

Each act, each thought, he questions, " what its weight,

Its colour what, a thousand ages hence ?"

And what it there appears, he deems it now.

Hence, pure are the recesses of his soul.

The god-like Man has nothing to conceal. 1205

His virtue, constitutionally deep,

Has habit's firmness, and affection's flame ;

Angels, ally'd, descend to feed the fire ;

And Death, which others slays, makes him a god.

And now, LORENZO ! bigot of the world ! 1210
Wont to disdain poor bigots caught by Heav'n !
Stand by thy scorn, and be reduc'd to nought :
For what art thou ? Thou boaster ! while thy glare,
Thy gaudy grandeur, and mere worldly worth,
Like a broad mist, at distance strikes us most ; 1215
And, like a mist, is nothing when at hand ;
His merit, like a mountain, on approach,
Swells more, and rises nearer to the skies,
By promise, now, and, by possession, soon
(Too soon, too much, it cannot be) his own. 1220


From this thy just annihilation rise,
LORENZO ! rise to something, by reply.
The world, thy client, listens, and expects ;
And longs to crown thee with immortal praise.
Canst thou be silent ? No ; for Wit is thine ; 1225
And Wit talks most, when least she has to say,
And Reason interrupts not her career.
She'll say That mists above the mountains rise ;
And, with a thousand pleasantries, amuse :
She'll sparkle, puzzle, flutter, raise a dust, 1 230

And fly conviction, in the dust she rais'd.

Wit, how delicious to Man's dainty taste !
J T is precious, as the vehicle of Sense ;
But, as its substitute, a dire disease.
Pernicious talent ! flatter'd by the world, 1235

By the blind world, which thinks the talent rare.
Wisdom is rare, LORENZO ! Wit abounds j
Passion can give it ; sometimes wine inspires
The lucky flash : And madness rarely fails.
Whatever cause the spirit strongly stirs, 1240

Confers the bays, and rivals thy renown.
For thy renown, 't were well, was this the worst j
Chance often hits it, and, to pique thee more,
See Dulness, blund'ring on vivacities,
Shakes her sage head at the calamity, 1245

Which has expos'd, and let her down to thee.
But Wisdom, awful Wisdom ! which inspects,
Discerns, compares, weighs, separates, infers,
Seizes the right, and holds it to the last ;
How rare ! in senates, synods, sought in vain j 1 250
Or if there found, 't is sacred to the few j
While a lewd prostitute to multitudes,


Frequent, as fatal, Wit : In civil live,

Wit makes an enterpriser ; Sense a Man.

Wit hates authority ; commotion loves, I2 55

And thinks herself the lightning of the storm.

In states, 'tis dangerous ; in religion, death :

Shall Wit turn Christian, when the dull believe ?

Sense is our helmet, Wit is but the plume ;

The plume exposes, 'tis our helmet saves. 1260

Sense is the di'mond, weighty, solid, sound ;

When cut by Wit, it casts a brighter beam ;

Yet, Wit apart, it is a di'mond still.

Wit, widow'd of Good Sense, is worse than nought j

It hoists more sail to run against a rock. 1265

Thus, a half-Chesterfield is quite a fool ;

Whom dull fools scorn, and bless their want of wit.

How ruinous the rock I warn thee shun,
Where sirens sit, to sing thee to thy fate !
A joy, in which our reason bears no part, 1270

Is but a sorrow tickling, ere it stings.
Let not the cooings of the world allure thee ;
Which of her lovers ever found her true ?
Happy ! of this bad world who little know !
And yet, we much must know her, to be safe. 1275
To know the world, not love her, is thy point j
She gives but little, nor that little, long.
There is, 1 grant, a triumph of the pulse ;
A dance of spirits, a mere froth of joy,
Our thoughtless agitation's idle child, 1280

That mantles high, that sparkles, and expires,
Leaving the soul more vapid than before.
An animal ovation ! such as holds
No commerce with our reason, but subsists


On juices, through the well-ton'd tubes well-strain'd ;

A. nice machine ! scarce ever tun'd aright ; 1286

And when it jars thy sirens sing no more ;

Thy dance is done ; the Demi-god is thrown

(Short apotheosis !) beneath the Man,

In coward gloom immers'd, or fell despair. 1 290

Art thou yet dull enough despair to dread,
And startle at destruction ? If thou art,
Accept a buckler, take it to the field ;
(A field of battle is this mortal life !)
When danger threatens, lay it on thy heart; 12 95
A single sentence proof against the world.
* e Soul, body, fortune ! ev'ry good pertains
To one of these ; but prize not all alike ;
The goods of fortune to thy body's health,
Body to soul, and soul submit to God/* '300

Wouldst thou build lasting happiness ? Do this ;
Th' inverted pyramid can never stand.

Is this truth doubtful ? it outshines the sun ;
Nay, the sun shines not, but to shew us this,
The single lesson of Mankind on earth. J 35

And yet yet, what ? no news ! Mankind is mad ;
Such mighty numbers list against the right,
(And what can't numbers, when bewitch'd, atchieve ?)
They talk themselves to something like belief,
That all earth's joys are theirs: As Athens' fool 1310
Grinn'd from the port, on ev'ry sail his own.

They grin; but wherefore? And how long the laugh?
Half ignorance, their mirth ; and half, a lie ;
To cheat the world, and cheat themselves, they smile.
Hard either task ! The most abandon'd own, 1315
That others, if abandon'd, are undone :



Then, for themselves, the moment Reason wakes

(And Providence denies it long repose),

O how laborious is their gaiety !

They scarce can swallow their ebullient spleen, 1320

Scarce muster patience to support the farce,

And pump sad laughter, till the curtain falls.

Scarce, did I say ? some cannot sit it out ;

Oft their own daring hands the curtain draw,

And shew us what their joy, by their despair. 1325

The clotted hair ! gor'd breast ! blaspheming eye !
Its impious fury still alive in death !
Shut, shut the shocking scene. But Heav'n denies
A cover to such guilt ; and so should Man.
Look round, LORENZO! see the reeking blade, 1330
Th' invenom'd phial, and the fatal ball ;
The strangling cord, and suffocating stream j
The loathsome rottenness, and foul decays
From raging riot, (slower suicides !)
And pride in these, more execrable still ! * '335

How horrid all to thought ! But horrors, these,
That vouch the truth j and aid my feeble song.

From Vice, Sense, Fancy, no man can be blest ;
Bliss is too great, to lodge within an hour :
When an immortal being aims at bliss, 1340

Duration is essential to the name.
O for a joy from Reason ! joy from that,
Which makes Man Man ; and, exercis'd aright,
Will make him more : A bounteous joy ! that gives,
And promises ; that weaves, with art divine, 1 345
The richest prospect into present peace :
A joy ambitious ! joy in common held
With thrones ethereal, and their greater far :



A joy high-privileg'd from chance, time, death !
A joy, which death shall double ! judgment crown !
Crown'd higher, and still higher, at each stage, 1351
Through blest eternity's long day ; yet still,
Not more remote from sorrow, than from HIM,
Whose lavish hand, whose love, stupendous, pours
So much of Deity on guilty dust. 1355

There, O my LUCIA ! may I meet thee there,
Where not thy presence can improve my bliss !

Affects not this the sages of the world ?
Can nought affect them, but what fools them too ?
Eternity, depending on an hour, 1360

Makes serious thought Man's wisdom, joy, and praise.
Nor need you blush (though sometimes your designs
May shun the light) at your designs on Heav'n :
Sole point ! where over-bashful is your blame.
Are you not wise? You know you are: Yet hear 1365
One truth, amid your num'rous schemes, mislaid,
Or overlook'd, or thrown aside, if seen ;
" Our schemes to plan by this world, or the next,
Is the sole difference between wise and fool."
All worthy men will weigh you in this scale ; 1370
What wonder, then, if they pronounce you light ?
Is their esteem alone not worth your care ?
Accept my simple scheme of common sense :
Thus, save your fame, and make two worlds your own.
The world replies not ; but the world persists j 1375
And puts the cause off to the longest day,
Planning evasions for the day of doom.
So far, at that re-hearing, from redress,
They then turn witnesses against themselves.
Hear that, LORENZO ! nor be wise to-morrow. 1 380


Haste, haste ! a Man, by nature, is in haste j
For who shall answer for another hour ?
'T is highly prudent, to make one sure friend ;
And that thou canst not do, this side the skies.

Ye sons of earth ! (nor willing to be more !)' 1385
Since verse you think from priestcraft somewhat free,
Thus, in an age so gay, the muse plain truths
(Truths, which, at church, you might have heard in


Has ventur'd into light ; well-pleas'd the verse
Should be forgot, if you the truths retain; J 39

And crown her with your welfare, not your praise.
But praise she need not fear : I see my fate ;
And headlong leap, like Curtius, down the gulph.
Since many an ample volume, mighty tome,
Must die ; and die unwept ; O thou minute, 1395
Devoted page ! go forth among thy foes ;
Go, nobly proud of martyrdom for truth,
And die a double death : Mankind, incens'd,
Denies thee long to live : Nor shalt thou rest,
When thou art dead j in Stygian shades arraigned 1400
By Lucifer, as traitor to his throne :
And bold blasphemer of his friend the World ;
The World, whose legions cost him slender pay,
And volunteers around his banner swarm ;
Prudent, as Prussia, in her zeal for Gaul. 1405

" Are all, then, fools r" LORENZO cries. Yes, all,
But such as hold this doctrine (new to thee) ;
" The mother of true wisdom is the willj"
The noblest intellect, a fool without it.
World- wisdom much has done, and more may do, 1410

K K 2


In arts and sciences, in wars and peace ;

But art and science, like thy wealth, will leave thee,

And make thee twice a beggar at thy death.

This is the most indulgence can afford ;

" Thy wisdom all can do, but make thee wise."

Nor think this censure is severe on thee j 1416

Satan, thy master, I dare call a dunce.






-Fall's contraria fata rependens. YIRO.

As when a traveller, a long day past
In painful search of what he cannot find,
At night's approach, content with the next cot,
There ruminates, awhile, his labour lost ;
Then cheers his heart with what his fate affords,
And chants his sonnet to deceive the time,
Till the due season calls him to repose;


Thus I, long travell'd in the ways of men,

And dancing, with the rest, the giddy maze,

Where Disappointment smiles at Hope's career ; i o

Warn'd by the languor of Life's ev'ning ray,

At length have hous'd me in an humble shed ;

Where, future wandering banish'd from my thought,

And waiting, patient, the sweet hour of rest j

I chase the moments with a serious song. 15-

Song sooths our pains ; and age has pains to sooth.

When age, care, crime, and friends embraced at heart,,
Torn from my bleeding breast, and Death's dark shade,
Which hovers o'er me, quench th' ethereal fire ;
Canst thou, O Night ! indulge one labour more ? 20
One labour more indulge ! Then sleep, my strain !
Till, haply, wak'd by Raphael's golden lyre,
Where night, death, age, care, crime, and sorrow, cease;
To bear a part in everlasting lays j
Though far, far higher set, in aim, I trust, 2

Symphonious to this humble prelude here.

Has not the muse asserted pleasures pure,
Like those above ; exploding other joys ?
Weigh what was urg'd, LORENZO! fairly weigh ;
And tell me, hast thou cause to triumph still ? 30
J think thou wilt forbear a boast so bold.
But if, beneath the favour of mistake,
Thy smile 's sincere ; not more sincere can be
LORENZO'S smile, than my compassion for him.
The sick in body call for aid ; the sick 35

In mind are covetous of more disease ;
And when at worst, they dream themselves quite well..
To know ourselves diseas'd, is half our cure.
When Nature's blush by custom is wip'd off,


And conscience, deaden' d by repeated strokes, 40

Has into manners naturaliz'd out crimes ;

The curse of -curses is> our curse to love ;

Te triumph in the blackness of our guilt

(As Indians glory in the deepest jet) ;

And throw aside oar senses with our peace. 45

But, grant no guilt, no shame, no least alloy ;

Orant joy and glory, quite unsully'd, shone i

Yet, still, it ill deserves LORENZO'S heart.

No joy, no glory, glitters in thy sight,

But, through the thin partition of an hour, 50

1 see its sables wove by Destiny ;

And that in sorrow buryM ; this in shame ;

While howling furies ring the doleful knell ;

And Conscience, now so stjft thou scarce canst hear

Her whisper, echoes her eternal peal. 55

Where, the prime actors of the last year's scene ;
Their port so proud, their buskin, and their plume?
How many sleep, who kept the world awake
With lustre, and with noise ! Has Death prociaim'd
A truce, and hung his sated lance on high ? 60

'T is brandish'd still, nor shall the present year
Be more tenacious of her human leaf,
Or spread of feeble life a thinner fall.

But needless monuments to wake the thought ;
Life's gayest scenes speak Man's mortality ; , -65

Though in a style more florid, full as plain,
As mausoleums, pyramids, and tombs.
What are our noblest ornaments, but deaths
Turn'd flatterers of life, in paint or marble,
The well-stain'd canvas, or the featur'd stone ? 70
Our fathers grace, or rather haunt, the scene.


Joy peoples her pavilion from the dead.

" Profest diversions ! cannot these escape ?"
Far from it : These present us with a shroud ;
And talk of Death, like garlands o'er a grave. 75
As some bold plunderers, for bury'd wealth,
We ransack tombs for pastime j from the dust
Call up the sleeping hero j bid him tread
The scene for our amusement : How like gods
We sit ; and, wrapt in immortality, 80

Shed gen'rous tears on wretches born to die j
Their fate deploring, to forget our own !

What, all the pomps and triumphs of our lives,
But legacies in blossom ? Our lean soil,
Luxuriant grown, and rank in vanities, 85

From friends interr'd beneath ; a rich manure !
Like other worms, we banquet on the dead ;
Like other worms, shall we crawl on, nor know
Our present frailties, or approaching fate ?

LORENZO ! such the glories of the world ! 90

What is the world itself ? thy world ? A grave.
Where is the dust that has not been alive ?
The spade, the plough, disturb our ancestors ;
From human mould we reap our daily bread.
The globe around earth's hollow surface shakes, 95
And is the ceiling of her sleeping sons.
O'er devastation we blind revels keep ;
Whole bury'd towns support the dancer's heel.
The moist of human frame the sun exhales ;
Winds scatter, through the mighty void, the dry; 100
Earth repossesses part of what she gave,
And the freed spirit mounts on wings of fire j
Each element partakes our scatter'd spoils j


As Nature, wide, our ruins spread ; Man's death
Inhabits all things, but the thought of Man. 105

Nor Man alone ; his breathing bust expires,
His tomb is mortal j empires die : Where, now,
The Reman ? Greek ? They stalk, an empty name !
Yet few regard them in this useful light ;
Though half our learning is their epitaph. no

When down thy vale unlock'd by midnight thought,
That loves to wander in thy sunless realms,

Death ! I stretch my view ; what visions rise !
What triumphs, toils imperial, arts divine,

In withered laurels glide before my sight ! 115

What lengths of far-fam'd ages, billow'd high

With human agitation, roll along

In unsubstantial images of air !

The melancholy ghosts of dead renown,

Whisp'ring faint echoes of the world's applause : 120

With penitential aspect, as they pass,

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