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Oblivion is not to be hired. The greater part must be content to be as though they had pot been, to be found in the register of God, not in the record of man, Twenty-seven names make up the first story before the flood, and the recorded names ever since contain not one living century, The number of the dead long exceedeth all that shall live. The night of time far surpasseth the day, and who knows when was the equinox ? Every hour adds unto that current arithmetic, which scarce stands one moment. And since death must be the Lucina of life, and even Pagans could doubt, whether thus to live were to die ; since our longest sun sets at right declensions, and makes but winter arches, and therefore it cannot be long before we lie down in darkness, and have our light in ashes ; since the brother of death daily haunts us with dying mementos, and time, that grows old in itself, bids us hope no long duration ;-diuturnity is a dream and folly of expectation,
Darkness and light divide the course of time, and oblivion shares with memory a great part even of our living beings; we slightly remember our felicities, and the smartest strokes of affliction leave but short smart upon us. Sense endureth no extremities, and sorrows destroy us or themselves. To weep into stones are fables. Amictions induce callosities ; miseries are slippery, or fall like snow upon us, which notwithstanding is no unhappy stupidity. To be ignorant of evils to come, and forgetful of evils past, is a merciful provision in nature, whereby we digest the mixture of our few and evil days, and, our delivered senses not relapsing into cutting remembrances, our sorrows are not kept raw by the edge of repetitions. A great part of antiquity contented their hopes of subsistency with a transmigration of their souls-a good way to continue their memories, while, having the advantage of plural successes, they could not but act something remarkable in such variety of beings, and, enjoying the fame of their past selves, make accumulation of glory unto their last durations. Others, rather than be lost in the uncomfortable night of nothing, were content to recede into the common being, make one particle of the public soul of all things, which was no more than to return into their unknown and divine original again. Egyptian ingenuity was more unsatisfied, contriving their bodies in sweet consistencies, to attend the return of their souls. But all was vanity, feeding the wind, and folly. The Egyptian mummies, which Cambyses or time hath spared, avarice now consumeth. Mummy is become merchandise, Mizraim cures wounds, and Pharaoh is sold for balsams.
In vain do individuals hope for immortality, or any patent from oblivion, in preservations below the moon: men have been deceived even in their flatteries above the sun, and studied conceits to perpetuate their names in heaven. The various cosmography of that part hath already varied the names of contrived constellations ; Nimrod is lost in Orion, and Osiris in the dog-star. While we look for incorruption in the heavens, we find they are but like the earth ;-durable in their main bodies, alterable in their parts; whereof, beside comets and new stars, perspectives begin to tell tales, and the spots that wander about the sun, with Phaeton's favour, would make clear conviction,
There is nothing strictly immortal, but immortality. Whatever hath no beginning, may be confident of no end ;—which is the peculiar of that necessary essence that cannot destroy itself ;-and the highest strain of omnipotency, to be so powerfully constituted as not to suffer even from the power of itself: all others have a depen. dent being and within the reach of destruction. But the sufficiency of Christian immortality frustrates all earthly glory, and the quality of either state after death, makes a fully of posthumous memory. God who can only destroy our souls, and hath assured our resurrection, either of our bodies or names hath directly promised 1:0 duration. Wherein there is so much of chance, that the boldest expectants have found unhappy frustration ; and to hold long subsistence seems but a scape in oblivion. But man is a noble animal, splendid in ashes, and pompous in the grave, solemnizing nativities and deaths with cqual lustre, nor omitting ceremonies of bravery in the infamy of his nature*.
Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible sun within us. A small fire sufficeth for life, great flames seemed too little after death, while men vainly affected furious fires, and to burn like Sardanapalus ; but the wisdom of funeral laws found the folly of prodigal blazes, and reduced undoing fires unto the rule of sober obsequies, wherein few could be so mear as not to provide wood, pitch, a mourner, and an urn.
Five languages secured not the epitaph of Gordianus. The man of God lives longer without a tomb than any by one, invisibly interred by angels, and adjudged to obscurity, though not without some marks directing human discovery. Enoch and Elias, without either tomb or burial, in an anomalous state of being, are the great examples of perpetuity, in their long and living memory, in strict account being still on this side death, and having a late part yet to act upon this stage of earth. If in the decretory term of the world we shall not all die but be changed, according to received translation, the last day will make but few graves ; at least quick resurrections will anticipate lasting sepultures. Some graves will be opened before they be quite closed, and Lazarus no wonder. When many that feared to die, shall groan that they can dic but once, the dismal state is the second and living death, when life puts despair on the damned ; when men shall wish the coverings of mountains, not of monuments, and annihilation shall be courted.
While some have studied monuments, others have studiously declined them, and some have been so vainly boisterous, that they durst not acknowledge their graves ; wherein Alaricus seems most subtle, who had a river turned to hide his bones at the bottom. Even Sylla, that thought himself safe in his urn, could not prevent revenging tongues and stones thrown at his monument. Happy are they whom privacy makes innocent, who deal so with men in this world, that they are not afraid to meet them in the next; who, when they die, make no commotion among the dead, and are not touched with that poetical taunt of Isaiah.
Pyramids, arches, obelisks, were but the irregularities of vain-glory, and wild enormities of ancient magnanimity. But the most magnanimous resolution rests in the Christian religion, which trampleth upon pride, and sits on the neck of ambition, humbly pursuing that infallible perpetuity unto which all others must diminish their diameters, and be poorly seen in angles of contingency.
Pious spirits who passed their days in raptures of futurity, made little more of this world than the world that was before it, while they lay obscure in the chaos of pre-ordination, and night of their forebeings. And if any have been so happy as truly to understand Christian annihilation, ecstasies, exolution, liquefaction, transformation, the kiss of the spouse, gustation of God, and ingression into the divine shadow, they have already had an handsome anticipation of heaven; the glory of the world is surely over, and the earth in ashes unto them.
To subsist in lasting monuments, to live in their production, to exist in their names and predicament of chimeras, was large satisfaction unto old expectations, and made one part of their elysiums. But all this is nothing in the metaphysics of true belief. To live indeed, is to be again ourselves, which being not only an hope, but an evidence in noble believers, 'tis all one to lie in St. Innocent's churchyard, as in the sands of Egypt. Ready to be any thing, in the ecstasy of being ever, and as content with six foot as the moles of Adrianus.
* Southey, who quotes this passago in his .Colloqnies,' conjectures that Browne wrote infimy.
207 -HARVEST. The glad harvest-time has not been neglected by the Poets. THOMSON takes us into "the ripened field” with his solemn cadences :
Soon as the morning trembles o'er the sky,
What now, with hard reluctance, faint, ye give.
Will no one tell me what she sings? Yon solitary Highland lass!
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow Reaping and singing by herself;
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain, Is overflowing with the sound.
That has been, and may be again? No nightingale did ever chaunt' Whate'er the theme the maiden sang More welcome notes to weary bauds As if her song could have no ending; Of travellers, in some shady haunt I saw her singing at her work, Among Arabian sands :
And o'er the sickle bending ;Such thrilling voice was neyer heard I listencd---motionless and still; In spring-time, from the cuckoo-bird, And when I mounted up the hill, Breaking the silence of the seas
The music in my heart I bore, Among the farthest Hebrides.
Long after it was heard no more. But all the practical poetry of Harvest-Home belongs to a past time. Will it ever come ngain as Hernick las described it?-Come, sons of summer, by whose toil By whose tought labours and rough hands We are the lords of wine and oil; Wo rip up first, then reap our lands.
Crown'd with the ears of corn, now come, And bacon, which makes full the meal,
If smirking wine be wanting here,
beer ; The harvest swains and wenches bound Which freely drink to your lord's health, For joy, to see the hock-cart crowu’d. Then to the plough, the commonwealth, About the cart hear how the rout Next to your flails, your fanes, your fatts; Of rural younglings raise the shout, Then to the maids with wheaten hats ; Pressing before, some coming after, To the rough sickle, and crook'd scythe, Those with a shout, and these with Drink, frolic, boys, till all be blythe. laughter.
Feed and grow fat, and as ye eat, Some bless the cart, some kiss the sheaves, Be mindful that the lab’ring neat, Some prank them up with oaken leaves; As you, may have their full of meat ; Some cross the fill-horse, some with great And know, besides, you must revoke Devotion stroke the home-borne wheat; The patient ox unto the yoke, While other rustics, less attent
And all go back unto the plough To prayers than to merriment,
And harrow, though they're hang'dup now. Run after with their breeches rent, And you must know, your lord's word's Well, on, brave boys,to your lord's hearth, true, Glitt’ring with fire, where, for your mirth, Feed him ye must, whose food fills you. Ye shall see first the large and chief And that this pleasure is like rain, Foundation of your feast, fat beef; Not sent ye for to drown your pain, With upper stories, mutton, veal, But for to make it spring again.
We want the spirit of brotherhood to bring back the English country-life which gladdened the hearts of the old poets :Sweet country life to such unknown, That the best compost for the lands Whose lives are others', not their own ; Is the wise master's feet and hands : But serving courts and cities, be There at the plough thou find'st thy team, Less happy, less enjoying thee.
With a hind whistling there to them; Thou never plough'st the ocean's foam And cheer'st them up, by singing how To seek and bring rough pepper home ; The kingdom's portion is the plough : Nor to the Eastern Ind dost rove
This done, then to th' enamellid meads To bring from thence the scorched clove; Thou go'st, and as thy foot there treadis, Nor, with the loss of thy loved rest, Thou seest a present god-like power Bring'st home the ingot from the west : Imprinted in each herb and flower ; No, thy ambition's master-piece
Andsmell'st the breath of great-eyed kine, Flies no thought higher than a fleece ; Sweet as the blossoms of the vine ; Or how to pay thy hinds, and clear Here thou behold'st thy large sleek neat All scores, and so to end the year : Unto the dew-laps up in mcat ; But walk’st about thine own dear bounds, And as thou look'st the wanton steer, Not envying others' larger grounds ; The heifer, cow, and ox draw near, For well thou know'st 't is not the extent To make a pleasing pastime there ; Of land makes life, but sweet content, These seen, thou go'st to view thy flocks When now the cock, the ploughman's horn, Of sheep safe from the wolf and fox, Calls forth the lily-wristed morn : And find'st their bellies there as full Then to thy corn-fields thou dost go, Of short sweet grass, as backs with wool; Which, though well soild, yet thou dost And leav'st them, as they feed and fill, know
A shepherd piping on a hill.
For sports, for pageantry and plays, To these thou hast thy times to go
Thy witty wiles to draw and get
HERRICK, The last poet who has described Harvest-Home was BLOOMFIELD, the “ Farmer's Boy." Even this solitary festival belongs, we fear, to the things that were before the flood.
Here once a year distinction lowers her crest;
H. MARTINEAU. [The following reflective passage is from Miss Martineau's admirable novel of Deerbrook.' Whatever differences of opinion may exist as to the tendencies of some of this lady's works-and no living writer has been more attacked by unjust prejudices-no candid mind can doubt that the mainspring of all her writings has been an ardent desire for the wellbeing of the hunnan race. She has the reward of all those who live for duty-something for higher than the victories of talent—the peace of the soul.]
The world rolls on, let what will be happening to the individuals who occupy it. The sun rises and sets, seed-time and harvest come and go, generations arise and pass away, law and authority hold on their course, while hundreds of millions of human hearts have stirring within them struggles and emotions eternally new ;an experience so diversified as that no two days appear alike to any one, and to no two does any one day appear the same. There is something so striking in this perpetual contrast between the external uniformity and internal variety of the procedure of existence, that it is no wonder that multitudes have formed a conception of Fate of a mighty unchanging power, blind to the differences of spirits, and deaf to the appeals of human delight and misery; a huge insensible force, beneath which all that is spiritual is sooner or later wounded, and is ever liable to be crushed. This conception of Fate is grand, is natural, and fully warranted to minds too lofty to be satisfied with the details of human life, but which have not risen to the far higher conception of a Providence to whom this uniformity and variety are but means to a higher end than they apparently involve. There is infinite blessing in having reached the nobler conception; the feeling of helplessness is relieved ; the