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BY A CLERGYMAN IN VIRGINIA,
Returning home from his Duty on a very gloomy Night.
COME, heav'nly pensive contemplation, come,
Possess my soul, and solemn thoughts inspire!
The sacred hours, that with too swift a wing
Incessant hurry by, nor quite elaps'd,
Demand a serious close; then be my soul
Sedate and solemn, as this gloom of night
That thickens round me. Free from care, compos'd
Be all my soul, as this dread solitude,
Thro' which with gloomy joy I make my way.
Above these clouds, above the spacious sky,
In whose vast arch these cloudy oceans roll,
Dispensing fatness to the world below,
There dwells the MAJESTY, whose single hand
Props universal nature, and who deals
His liberal blessings to this little globe,
The residence of worms; where Adam's sons,
Thoughtless of him who taught their souls to think,
Ramble in vain pursuits. The hosts of heav'n,
Cherubs and seraphs, potentates and thrones,
Array'd in glorious light, hover on wing
Before his throne, and wait his sovʼreign nod:
With active zeal, with sacred rapture fir'd,
To his extensive empire's utmost bound
They bear his orders, and his charge perform.
Yet He, e'en He (ye ministers of flame,
Admire the condescension and the grace!)
Employs a mortal form'd of meanest clay,
Debas'd by sin, whose best desert is hell,
Employs him to proclaim a SAVIOUR's name,
And offer pardon to a rebel world.
This day my tongue, the glory of my frame,
Enjoy'd the honour of his advocate:
Immortal souls, of more transcendent worth
Than Ophir, or Peru's exhaustless mines,
Are trusted to my care. Important trust!
What if some wretched soul, (tremendous thought!)
Once favour'd with the gospel's joyful sound,
Now lost, for ever lost through my neglect,
In dire infernal glooms, with flaming tongue,
Be heaping execrations on my head,
Whilst here secure I dream my life away!
What if some ghost, cut off from life and hope,
With fierce despairing eyes upturn'd to heaven,
That wildly stare, and witness horrors huge,
Be roaring horrid, " LORD, avenge my blood
On that unpitying wretch, who saw me run
« With full career, the dire enchanting road
"To these devouring flames, yet warn'd me not; "Or faintly warn'd me, and with languid tone, "And cool harangue, denounc'd eternal fire, "And wrath divine!" At the dread shocking thought My spirit shudders, all my inmost soul
Trembles and shrinks. Sure, if the plaintive cries
Of spirits reprobate can reach the ear
Of their great Judge, they must be cries like these.
But if the meanest of that happy choir,
That with eternal symphonies surround
The heavenly throne, can stand and thus declare,
“I owe it to his care that I am here,
"Next to Almighty grace: his faithful hand,
"Regardless of the frowns he might incur,
"Snatch'd me, reluctant, from approaching flames,
Ready to catch, and burn unquenchable.
"May richest grace reward his pious zeal
"With some bright mansion in this world of bliss!"
Transporting thought! Then blessed be the hand
That form'd my elemental clay to man,
And still supports me! 'Tis worth while to live,
If I may live to purposes so great.
Awake, my dormant zeal! for ever flame
With gen'rous ardour for immortal souls;
And may my head, and tongue, and heart, and all,
Spend and be spent in service so divine!
WHERE proud Augusta, bless'd with long repose,
Her ancient wall and ruin'd bulwark shows;
Close by a verdant plain, with graceful height,
A stately fabric rises to the sight.
Yet though its parts all elegantly shine,
And sweet proportion crowns the whole design;
Though art, in strong expressive sculpture shown,
Consummate art informs the breathing stone;
Far other views than these within appear,
And woe and horror dwells for ever here.
For ever from the echoing roofs rebounds
A dreadful din of het'rogeneous sounds;
From this, from that, from ev'ry quarter rise
Loud shouts, and sullen groans, and doleful cries;
Heart-soft'ning plaints demand the pitying tear,
And peals of hideous laughter shock the ear.
Thus, when in some fair human form we find The lusts all rampant, and the reason blind, Griev'd we behold such beauty giv'n in vain, And nature's fairest work survey with pain.
Within the chambers which this dome contains, In all her frantic forms Distraction reigns,
For when the sense from various objects brings,
Through organs craz'd, the images of things;
Ideas, all extravagant and vain,
In endless swarms, crowd in upon
The cheated reason true and false confounds,
And forms her notions from fantastic grounds.
Then if the blood impetuous swells the veins,
And choler in the constitution reigns,
Outrageous fury straight inflames the soul,
Quick beats the pulse, and fierce the eye-balls
Rattling his chains, the wretch all raving lies,
And roars and foams, and earth and heaven defies.
Not so, when gloomy the black bile prevails,
And lumpish phlegm the thicken'd mass congeals:
All lifeless then is the poor patient found,
And sits for ever moping on the ground!
His active pow'rs their uses all forego,
Nor senses, tongue, nor limbs, their function know:
In melancholy lost, the vital flame
Informs, and just informs the listless frame.
If brisk the circulating tides advance,
And nimble spirits through the fibres dance,
Then all the images delightful rise,
The tickled fancy sparkles through the eyes:
The mortal, all to mirth and joy resign'd,
In every gesture shows his freakish mind;