Edward Young.

Night thoughts on life, death and immortality online

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With the bold comet, take my bolder flight, *7 2 5
Amid those sov'reign glories of the skies,
Of independent, native luftre, proud;
The souls of systems! and the lords of life,
Through their wide empires! What behold I now?
A wilderness of wonders burning round; *73

Where larger suns inhabit higher spheres;
Perhaps the villas of descending gods!

R R 2


Nor halt I here; my toil is but begun;

'Tis but the threshold of the DEITY;

Or, far beneath it, I am groveling still. '735

Nor is it strange ; I built on a mistake ;

The grandeur of his works, whence folly sought

For aid, to reason sets his glory higher ;

Who built thus high for worms (mere worms to Him) ;

O where, LORENZO! must the Builder dwell ? 1740
Pause, then ; and, for a moment, here respire

If human thought can keep its station here.

Where am I ? Where is earth ? Nay, where art thou,

O Sun? Is the sun turn'd recluse ? and are

His boasted expeditions short to mine? J 745

To mine, how short ! On Nature's Alps I stand,

And see a thousand firmaments beneath !

A thousand systems ! as a thousand grains !

So much a stranger, and so late arriv'd,

How can Man's curious spirit not inquire, 1750

What are the natives of this world sublime,
Of this so foreign, un-terrestrial sphere,

Where mortal, untranslated, never stray'd ?

" O ye, as distant from my little home,
As swiftest sun-beams in an age can fly ! 1755

Far from my native element I roam,
In quest of new, and wonderful, to Man.
What province this, of his immense domain,
Whom all obey ? or mortals here, or gods ?
Ye bord'rers on the coasts of bliss ! what are you ?
A colony from Heav'n? or only rais'd, 1760

By frequent visit from Heav'n's neighb'ring realms,
To secondary gods, and half-divine ?
Whatever your nature, this is past dispute,


Far other life you live, far other tongue

You talk, far other thought, perhaps, you think,

Than Man. How various are the works of GOD !

But say, What thought ? Is reason here enthron'd,

And absolute ? or sense in arms against her ?

Have you two lights ? or need you no reveal'd ? 1770

Enjoy your happy realms their golden age ?

And had your Eden an abstemious Eve ?

Our Eve's fair daughters prove their pedigree,

And ask their Adams ' Who would not be wise?'

Or, if your mother fell, are you redeem'd? 1775

And if redeem'd is your Redeemer scorn'd ?

Is this your final residence ? If not,

Change you your scene, translated ? or by death ?

And if by death ; what death ? Know you disease ?

Or horrid war? With war, this fatal hour, 1780

Europa groans (so call we a small field,

Where kings run mad). In our world, Death deputes

Intemperance to do the work of Age !

And, hanging up the quiver Nature gave him,

As slow of execution, for dispatch '7^5

Sends forth imperial butchers ; bids them slay

Their sheep (the silly sheep they fleec'd before),

And toss him twice ten thousand at a meal.

Sit all your executioners on thrones ?

With you, can rage for plunder make a god? 1790

And bloodshed wash out ev'ry other stain ?

But you, perhaps, can't bleed : From matter gross

Your spirits clean, are delicately clad

In fine-spun ether, privileg'd to soar,

Unloaded, uninfected : How unlike ! 795

The lot of Man ! How few of human race


By their own miyi unmurder'd ! How we wage

Self- war eternal ! Is your painful day

Of hardy conflict o'er ? Or, are you still

Raw candidates at school? And have you those 1800

Who disaffect reversions, as with us ?

But what are we ? You never heard of Man,

Or Earth ; the bedlam of the universe !

Where Reason (undiseas'd with you) runs mad,

And nurses Folly's children as her own ; 1805

Fond of the foulest. In the sacred mount

Of holiness, where reason is pronounc'd

Infallible j and thunders, like a god ;

Ev'n there, by saints the demons are outdone ;

What these think wrong, our saints refine to right !

And kindly teach dull Hell her own black arts ; 1810

Satan, instructed, o'er their morals smiles.

But this, how strange to you, who know not Man !

Has the least rumour of our race arriv'd ?

CalPd here Elijah, in his naming car? 1815

Past by you the good Enoch, on his road

To those fair fields, whence Lucifer was hurl'd ;

Who brush'd, perhaps, your sphere, in his descent,

Stain'd your pure crystal ether, or let fall

A short eclipse from his portentous shade? 1820

O ! that the fiend had lodg'd on some broad orb

Athwart his way ; nor reach'd his present home,

Then blacken' d Earth with footsteps foul'd in Hell,

Nor wash'd in ocean, as from Rome he past

To Britain's isle ; too, too, conspicuous there !"

But this is all digression: Where is HE, 1826

That o'er Heav'n's battlements the felon hurl'd
To groans, and chains, and darkness ? Where is HE a


Who sees creation's summit in a vale?

HE, whom, while Man is Man, he can't but seek ; 1830

And if he finds, commences more than Man ?

O for a telescope his throne to reach !

Tell me, ye learn'd on earth ! or blest above !

Ye searching, ye Newtonian angels ! tell,

Where's your great Master's orb? His planets, where?

Those conscious satellites, those morning-stars, 1 836

First-born of DEITY ! from central love,

By veneration most profound, thrown off;

By sweet attraction, no less strongly drawn;

Aw'd, and yet raptur'd; raptur'd, yet serene; 1840

Past thought, illustrious, but with borrow'd beams ;
In still approaching circles, still remote,
Revolving round the sun's eternal Sire ?
Or sent, in lines direct, on embassies
To nations in what latitude? Beyond 1845

Terrestrial thought's horizon! And on what
High errands sent ? Here human effort ends ;
And leaves me still a stranger to his throne.

Full well it might ! I quite mistook my road.
Born in an age more curious than devout; 1850

More fond to fix the place of heav'n, or hell,
Than studious this to shun, or that secure.
'Tis not the curious, but the pious path,
That leads me to my point : LORENZO ! know,
Without or star, or angel, for their guide, ^5

Who worship GOD, shall find him. Humble Love,
And not proud Reason, keeps the door of Heav'n j
Love finds admission, where proud Science fails.
Man's science is the culture of his heart ;
And not to lose his plummet in the depths 1


Of Nature, or the more profound of GOD.

Either to know, is an attempt that sets

The wisest on a level: with the fool.

To fathom Nature (ill-attempted here!)

Past doubt, is deep philosophy above ; 1865

Higher degrees in bliss archangels take,

As deeper learn' d ; the deepest, learning still.

For, what a thunder of Omnipotence

(So might I dare to speak!) is seen in all!

In Man! inearth! in more amazing skies! 1870

Teaching this lesson, Pride is loth to learn

" Not deeply to discern, not much to know j

Mankind was born to wonder, and adore."

And is there cause for higher wonder still,
Than that which struck us from our past surveys ? 1875
Yes j and for deeper adoration too.
From my late airy travel unconfin'd,
Have I learn'd nothing ? Yes, LORENZO! this;
Each of these stars is a religious house;
I saw their altars smoke, their incense rise, 1880

And heard Hosannas ring through ev'ry sphere,
A seminary fraught with future gods.
Nature all o'er is consecrated ground,
Teeming with growths immortal, and divine.
The great Proprietor's all-bounteous hand 1885

Leaves nothing waste ; but sows these fiery fields
With seeds of reason, which to virtues rise
Beneath his genial ray ; and, if escap'd
The pestilential blasts of stubborn will,
When grown mature, are gather'd for the skies. 1890
And is devotion thought too much on earth,
When beings, so superior, homage boast,


And triumph in prostrations to the Throne ?

But wherefore more of planets, or of stars ?
Ethereal journies, and, discover'd there, '895

Ten thousand worlds, ten thousand ways devout,
All Nature sending incense to the Throne,
Except the bold LORENZOS of our sphere?
Op'ning the solemn sources of my soul,
Since I have pour'd, like feign'd Eridanus, 1900

My flowing numbers o'er the flaming skies,
Nor see, of fancy, or of fact, what more
Invites the muse Here turn we, and review
Our past nocturnal landscape wide : Then say,
Say, then, LORENZO! with what burst of heart, 1905
The whole, at once, revolving in his thought,
Must Man exclaim, adoring, and aghast?
" O what a root ! O what a branch is here !
O what a father ! what a fajmily !
Worlds ! systems ! and creations ! And creations,
In one agglomerated cluster, hung, 1911

Great Vine, on Thee, on Thee the cluster hangs j
The filial cluster ! infinitely spread
In glowing globes, with various being fraught ;
And drinks (nectareous draught !) immortal life.
Or, shall I say (for who can say enough ?) 1916

A constellation of ten thousand gems,
(And, O! of what dimension ! of what weight !)
Set in one signet, flames on the right-hand
Of Majesty Divine! The blazing seal, 1920

That deeply stamps, on all created mind,
Indelible, his sov'reign attributes,
Omnipotence, and love !. That, passing bound :
And this, surpassing that. Nor stop we here,

s s


For want of pow'r in GOD, but thought in Man.

Ev'n this acknowledg'd, leaves us still in debt j 1925

If greater aught, that greater all is thine,

Dread SIRE! Accept this miniature of Thee;

And pardon an attempt from mortal thought,

In which archangels might have faiPd, unblam'd."

How such ideas of th' Almighty's pow'r, I 93 9

And such ideas of th' Almighty's plan,
(Ideas not absurd) distend the thought
Of feeble mortals ! Nor of them alone !
The fulness of the DEITY breaks forth
In inconceivables to men, and gods* J 935

Think, then, O think ; nor ever drop the thought ;
How low must Man descend, when Gods adore!
Have I not, then, accomplish'd my proud boast ?
Did I not tell thee, " We would mount, LORENZO!
And kindle our devotion at the stars ?" J94O

And have I fail'd ? And did I flatter thee ?
And art all adamant ? And dost confute
All urg'd, with one irrefragable smile ?
LORENZO! Mirth how miserable here!
Swear by the stars, by Him who made them, swear,
Thy heart, henceforth, shall be as pure as they: 1946
Then thou, like them, shalt shine; like them, shalt rise
From low to lofty; from obscure to bright;
By due gradation, Nature's sacred law.
The stars, from whence? Ask Chaos He can tell.
These bright temptations to idolatry, 1951

From darkness, and confusion, took their birth ;
Sons of Deformity ! From fluid dregs
Tartarean, first they rose to masses rude :
And then, to spheres opaque; then dimly shone; 1955


Then brighten'd; then blaz'd out in perfect day.

Nature delights in progress ; in advance

From worse to better: But, when minds ascend,

Progress, in part, depends upon themselves.

Heav'n aids exertion ; greater makes the great j 1960

The voluntary little lessens more.

O be a man! and thou shalt be a god !

And half self-made! Ambition how divine !

O thou, ambitious of disgrace alone !
Still undevout? unkindled? Though high-taught, 1 965
School'd by the skies; and pupil of the stars j
Rank coward to the fashionable world!
Art thou asham'd to bend thy knee to heav'n ?
Curst fume of pride, exhal'd from deepest hell !
Pride in religion is Man's highest praise. J 97

Bent on destruction ! and in love with death !
Not all these luminaries, quench'd at once,
Were half so sad, as one benighted mind,
Which gropes for happiness, and meets despair.
How, like a widow in her weeds, the Night, J 975
Amid her glimm'ring tapers, silent sitsi
How sorrowful, how desolate, she weeps
Perpetual dews, and saddens Nature's scene !
A scene more sad sin makes the darken'd soul,
All comfort kills, nor leaves one spark alive. igScx-

Though blind of heart, still open is thine eye :
Why such magnificence in all thou seest ?
Of matter's grandeur, know, one end is this,
To tell the' rational, who gazes on it
" Though that immensely great, still greater He, 1985
Whose breast, capacious, can embrace, and lodge,
Unburden'd, Nature's universal scheme;

s s 2


Can grasp creation with a single thought ;

Creation grasp^and not exclude its SIRE."

To tell him farther " It behoves him much

To guard th' important, yet depending, fate

Of being, brighter than a thousand suns :

One single ray of thought outshines them all.'*

And if Man hears obedient, soon he'll soar

Superior heights, and on his purple wing, 1995

His purple wing bedropp'd with eyes of gold,

Rising, where thought is now deny'd to rise,

Look down triumphant on these dazzling spheres.

Why then persist? No mortal ever liv'd
But, dying, he pronounc'd (when words are true!) 2000
The whole that charms thee, absolutely vain ;
Vain, and far worse ! Think thou, with dying men ;
O condescend to think as angels think !
O tolerate a chance for happiness !
Our nature such, ill choice ensures ill fate 2005

And hell had been, though there had been no God.
Dost thou not know, my new astronomer !
Earth, turning from the sun, brings night to Man ?
Man, turning from his God, brings endless night ;
Where thou canst read no morals, find no friend, 2010
Amend no manners, and expect no peace.
How deep the darkness! and the groan, how loud !
And far, how far, from lambent are the flames!
Such is LORENZO'S purchase! such his praise!
The proud, the politic, LORENZO'S praise ! 2015

Though in his ear, and levell'd at his heart,
I've half read o'er the volume of the skies.

For think not thou hast heard all this from me ;
My song but echoes what great Nature speaks.


What has she spoken ? Thus the Goddess spoke, 2020

Thus speaks for ever " Place, at Nature's head,

A sov'reign, which o'er all things rolls his eye,

Extends his wing, promulgates his commands,

But, above all, diffuses endless good ; 2024

To whom, for sure redress, the wrong'd may fly ;

The vile, for mercy ; and the pain'd, for peace :

By whom, the various tenants of these spheres,

Diversify'd in fortunes, place, and pow'rs,

Rais'd in enjoyment, as in worth they rise,

Arrive at length (if worthy such approach) 2030

At that blest Fountain-head, from which they stream j

Where conflict past redoubles present joy;

And present joy looks forward on increase;

And that, on more ; no period! ev'ry step

A double boon ! a promise, and a bliss." 2O 35

How easy sits this scheme on human hearts !

It suits their make ; it sooths their vast desires ;

Passion is pleas'd, and Reason asks no more ;

'Tis rational, 'tis great! But what is thine?

It darkens ! shocks ! excruciates ! and confounds ! 2040

Leaves us quite naked, both of help and hope,

Sinking from bad to worse ; few years, the sport

Of fortune ; then the morsel of despair.

Say, then, LORENZO! (for thou know'st it well)
What's Vice ? Mere want of compass in our thought.
Religion, what ? The proof of common sense; 2046
How art thou whooted, where the least prevails !
Is it my fault, if these truths call thee fool?
And thou shalt never be miscall'd by me.
Can neither shame, nor terror, stand thy friend ? 2050
And art thou still an insect in the mire ?


How, like thy guardian angel, have I flown ;

Snatch'd thee from earth ; escorted thee through ail

Th* ethereal armies ; walk'd thee, like a God,

Through splendours of first magnitude, arrang'd 2055

On either hand; clouds thrown beneath thy feet;

Close-cruis'd on the bright paradise of GOD ;

And almost introduc'd thee to the Throne !

And art thou still carousing, for delight,

Rank poison; first, fermenting to mere froth, 2060

And then subsiding into final gall ?

To beings of sublime, immortal make,

How shocking is all joy, whose end is sure !

Such joy more shocking still, the more it charms !

And dost thou chuse what ends ere well begun, 2065

And infamous, as short ? And dost thou chuse

(Thou, to whose palate glory is so sweet)

To wade into perdition, through contempt,

Not of poor bigots only, but thy own ?

For I have peep'd into thy cover'd heart, 2070

And seen it blush beneath a boastful brow ;

For, by strong guilt's most violent assault,

Conscience is but disabled, not destroy'd.

O thou most awful being, and most vain !
Thy will, how frail ! how glorious is thy pow'r ! 2075
Though dread Eternity has sown her seeds
Of bliss, and woe, in thy despotic breast ;
Though Heav'n, and Hell, depend upon thy choice !
A butterfly comes cross, and both are fled.
Is this the picture of a rational? 2080

This horrid image, shall it be most just ?
LORENZO ! No : It cannot, shall not, be,
If there is force in reason ; or, in sounds,


Chanted beneath the glimpses of the moon,

A magic, at this planetary hour, 2085

When slumber locks the gen'ral lip, and dreams

Through senseless mazes hunt souls uninspir'd.

Attend The sacred mysteries begin

My solemn night-born adjuration hear:

Hear, and I'll raise thy spirit from the dust ; 2090

"While the stars gaze on this enchantment new j

Enchantment, not infernal, but divine !

" By Silence, Death's peculiar attribute;
By Darkness, Guilt's inevitable doom ;
By Darkness, and by Silence, sisters dread ! 2095
That draw the curtain round Night's ebon throne,
And raise ideas, solemn as the scene!
By Night, and all of awful, Night presents
To thought, or sense ; (of awful much, to both,
The goddess brings !) By these her trembling fires,
Like Vesta's, everburning; and, like hers, 2101
Sacred to thoughts immaculate, and pure!
By these bright orators, that prove, and praise,
And press thee to revere the DEITY;
Perhaps, too, aid thee, when rever'd awhile, 2105
To reach his throne ; as stages of the soul,
Through which, at diff 'rent periods, she shall pass,
Refining gradual, for her final height,
And purging off some dross at ev'ry sphere !
By this dark pall thrown o'er the silent world ! 21 10
By the world's kings, and kingdoms, most renown'd,
From short ambition's zenith set for ever ;
Sad presage to vain boasters, now in bloom !
By the long list of swift mortality,
From Adam downward to this ev'ning knell, 2115


Which midnight waves in Fancy's startled eye ;

And shocks her with an hundred centuries,

Round Death's black banner throng'd, in human

thought !

By thousands, now, resigning their last breath,
And calling thee wert thou so wise to hear !
By tombs o'er tombs arising ; human earth 2121

Ejected, to make room for human earth ;
The monarch's terror ! and the sexton's trade !
By pompous obsequies, that shun the day,
The torch funereal, and the nodding plume, 2125
Which makes poor Man's humiliation proud j
Boast of our ruin ! triumph of our dust !
By the damp vault that weeps o'er royal bones ;
And the pale lamp that shews the ghastly dead,
More ghastly, through the thick incumbent gloom !
By visits (if there are) from darker scenes, 2131

The gliding fpectre ! and the groaning grave !
By groans, and graves, and miseries that groan
For the grave's shelter ! By desponding men,
Senseless to pains of death, fronT pangs of guilt !
By guilt's lad audit ! By yon moon in blood, 2136
The rocking firmament, the falling stars,
And thunder's last discharge, great Nature's knell !
By fecond Chaos ; and eternal night"
Be wise Nor let PHILANDER blame my charm j 2140
But own not ill-discharg'd my double debt,
Love to the living ; duty to the dead.

For know, I'm but executor j he left
This moral legacy ! I make it o'er
By his command j PHILANDER hear in me ; 2145

And heav'n in both. If deaf to these, Oh! hear


-*- , i . ,

FLORELLO'S tender voice ; his weal depends

On thy resolve; it trembles at thy choice;

For his sake love thyself: Example strikes

All human hearts; a bad example more; 2150

More still a father's ; that ensures his ruin.

As parent of his being, wouldst thou prove

Th' unnatural parent of his miseries,

And make him curse the being which thou gav'st?

Is this the blessing of so fond a father? 2155

If careless of LORENZO, fpare, Oh! spare,

FLORELLO'S father, and PHILANDER'S friendj

FLORELLO'S father ruin'd, ruins him;

And from PHILANDER'S friend the world expects

A conduct, no dishonour to the dead. 2160

Let passion do, what nobler motive should ;

Let love, and emulation, rise in aid

To reason; and persuade thee to be blest.

This seems not a request to be deny'd j
Yet (such th' infatuation of mankind !) 2165

'Tis the moft hopeless, Man can make to Man.
Shall I, then, rise in argument, and warmth j
And urge PHILANDER'S posthumous advice,
From topics yet unbroach'd ?

But Oh! I faint! My spirits fail! Nor strangel 2170
So long on wing, and in no middle clime;
To which my great Creator's glory call'd:
And calls but, now, in vain. Sleep's dewy wand
Has str'ok'd my drooping lids, and promises
My long arrear of rest; the downy god 2175

(Wont to return with our returning peace)
Will pay, ere long, and bless me with repose.
Haste, haste, sweet stranger! from the peasant's cot,



The ship-boy's hammock, or the soldier's straw,
Whence sorrow never chas'd thee; with thee bring,
Not hideous visions, as of late; but draughts 2181
Delicious of well-tasted, cordial Test ;
Man's rich restorative ; his balmy bath,
That supples, lubricates, and keeps in play,
The various movements of this nice machine, 2 1 85
Which asks such frequent periods of repair.
When tir'd with vain rotations of the day,
Sleep winds us up for the succeeding dawn ;
Fresh we spin on, till sickness clogs our wheels,
Or death quite breaks the spring, and motion ends.
When will it end with me ?

- THOU only kno w'st ! 2191

Thou ! whose broad eye, the future and the past,

Joins to the present ! making one of three

To mortal thought ! Thou know'st, and Thou alone,

All-knowing! all unknown ! and yet well known!

Near, though remote! and, though unfathom'd, felt!

And, though invisible, for ever seen!

And seen in all! 'the great, and the minute;

Each globe above, with its gigantic race, 2I 99

Each flower, each leaf, with its small people swarm'd,

(Those puny vouchers of Omnipotence !)

To the first thought, that asks, ' From whence?' declare

Their common Source. Thou Fountain running o'er

In rivers of communicated joy !

Who gav'st us speech for far, far humbler themes!

Say, by what name shall I presume to call 2206

Him I see burning in these countless suns,


As Moses in the bush ? Illustrious Mind!
The whole creation, less, far less, to Thee,
Than that to the creation's ample round. 2210

How shall I name Thee? How my labouring soul
Heaves underneath the thought, too big for birth!
" Great System of perfections ! Mighty Cause
Of causes mighty! Cause uncaus'd! fole Root
Of Nature, that luxuriant growth of GOD! 2215
First Father of effects ! that progeny
Of endless series; where the golden chain's
Last link admits a period, who can tell?
Father of all that is or heard, or hears!
Father of all that is or seen, or sees! 2220

Father of all that is, or shall arise!
Father of this immeasurable mass
Of matter multiform; or dense, or rare;
Opaque, or lucid ; rapid, or at rest ;
Minute, or passing bound! In each extreme 2225
Of like amaze, and mystery, to Man.
Father of these bright millions of the night !
Of which the least full godhead had proclaim'd,
And thrown the gazer on his knee Or, say,
Is appellation higher still, thy choice? 2230

Father of matter's temporary lords!
Father of spirits! nobler offspring! sparks
Of high paternal glory ; rich-endow'd
With various measures, and with various modes
Of instinct, reason, intuition; beams 22 35

More pale, or bright from day divine, to break
The dark of matter organiz'd (the ware
-Of all created spirit); beams, that rise
Each over other in superior light,

T T 2


Till the last ripens into lustre strong, 2240

Of next Approach to Godhead. Father fond

(Far fonder than e'er bore that name on earth)

Of intellectual beings! beings blest

With pow'rs to pleafe Thee ; not of passive ply

To laws they know not; beings lodg'd in seats 2245

Of well-adapted joys, in diff'rent domes

Of this imperial palace for thy sons ;

Of this proud, populous, well-policy'd,

Though boundless habitation, plann'd by Thee;

Whose several clans their several climates suit; 2250

And transposition, doubtless, would destroy.

Or, Oh! indulge, immortal King ! indulge

A title, less august indeed, but more

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