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"O what a goodly outside falsehood hath."
To seem to be what one is not, is base.
Duplicity I can't and wont forgive.
When man is not sincere with fellow man,
And would betray him with love's sacred tokens,
The smile, the warm right hand, th' embrace and kiss,
O then I hate my species, hate the name
Of man, and hate myself if this I've done.
I can most willingly endure rebuke,
The coarsest. To my face a man may play
The very boor, and still I can forgive;
May call me every name that is uncouth,
And make me, if he please, the veriest fiend,
If still ingenuous, if bold and manly;
Will let me see, and hear him, all the while;
I then know who he is, and what; can tell
Him all my heart, and perchance make him feel,
That he's the very wretch, and thinks the thoughts,
And does the deed, he fathers upon me.
Or one may arm himself with spear
May in the onset act the bloody Turk,
If he but show his arms. I there can meet
NOTE. These few poetical productions of Mr. Clark are here inserted merely as specimens of his style, and to exhibit his versatility of talent. Most of them have appeared in the periodicals, for which they were originally prepared. He seems not to have written poetry except when deeply impressed with some matter of peculiar interest. Towards the close of his life, when he was unable to write, he frequently dictated to his daughter passages of uncommon strength and beauty. Those productions were seldom finished. His mind would act with great vigor for a little time, and then he would lose sight of his subject, and break off, exhibiting in the most affecting manner his consciousuess of his own imbecility.
The following stanza, the last he ever composed, shows the state of his mind, at that period of his life.
"I long to trace my footsteps back
And learn the traits of mind I lack,
And gird my mind for future flight
In darkness, or in shades of night."
Him, can present my shield before his thrust,
And parry off the stroke that would destroy me.
The very pirate dark in bloody deeds,
The curse of all lands, may approach my back,
And play his game, if he but hoist his flag,
And warn me I'm to meet with pirate's play.
Yes, I can fearless lay my shield aside,
And meet, with bosom bare, the prowess, frank,
That dares to show its steel, and give me time
To unsheath mine: I am then no coward.
But the base wretch that smiles but to betray,
Who asks me of my health, would know my cares,
Draws out my tale of woe, and proffers sympathy;
Deals off kind language in a tearful dress;
And all the while he hates me cordially,
And means but to betray and injure me;
Turns all my doling into basest crime,
And leaves me but to circumvent and ruin me!
That man I've not the meekness to forgive.
Would he not do less harm if all would shun him,
Just as we do the viper and the asp?
I want base names to call him; he's a wretch,
A miscreant, a thief, a dark assassin,
A dog, a wolf, and bites before he barks.
He ought to have a lair with beasts of prey,
And growl like them. Yes, in my soul I think
That claws, and tusks, and hoofs, and horns, far more
Than speech, and tears, and smiles, would well become him.
O who can see the gifts of God perverted?
What were tongues made for?
Merely to beguile! Why the face formed for smiles? To deal deceit ! Were tears, as in the sea-maid, and the panther, Bestowed but to be used as a decoy?
Were faces made to wear a thousand forms,
And each a lying index of the heart?
Must a creating God be thus insulted?
Why all the kind civilities of life?
That man more easily may seize his prey!—
To be the engine of malicious purpose !-
That man may not be safe unless alone !—
To make our race more wretched than the fall has!—
To make the world a desert! This the purpose?
O, give me then a lodge in some deep glen,
Amid the polar or the Alpine snows,
Where shines not sun, nor moon, nor stars, nor torch;
Where reigns eternal frost, and cold, and night;
Where prowls the bear, where screams the owl,
And panther; lives every fowl of prey;
Where frowns the pendant rock, and glaciers wild,
Where hang, suspended by a breath, the avalanche ;
I would far sooner court the eagle's grasp,
Associate with vultures, or the white bear,
Could cov'nant with the tempest and the whirlwind,
Could be where dwells one long eternal silence,
Or wrestle with the blast all day, all night,
Than live with men, if men must be such fiends.
In my young boyhoood once I read this line,
"An honest man's the noblest work of God,"
I thought the poet vexed, and blamed his spleen;
(As you perhaps may smile or scowl at mine ;)
I called the doctrine infidel, and said,
The Christian is the noblest work of God.
Ah, yes, but how can he be better known,
Than by his honesty? Would God no man
Could take the Christian name without the nature;
But truth is, many wear a fair outside,
While all within is stench and dead men's bones;
To speak out all, I mean but few are frank.
They will not say to friends and foes the truth,
The whole of truth, and nothing but the truth.
How few before your face will tell your faults,
Yet honesty says loudly here or no where.
Why hate my faults and will not tell me why?
Why have me tried where none defends my cause?
'Tis only the whole truth that gives the fact;
More than the whole, or half, is but a lie.
The Christian's great Exemplar was sincere ;
At every place and time his lips spoke truth-
Said he, and said it to the men themselves,
Ye serpents, ye progeny of vipers,
How can ye hope to 'scape the Hell ye earn?
Ah, this was heaven-like, was being honest.
He dared to be the foe of vice out-right ;
And shall we fear to copy from the Lord ?
We cast reproach upon him when we dare not.
How can the good man dare deceive his fellows?
Let the ungodly practice their deceit ;
They have their sure reward! Let us speak truth.
Be men the foes of God? Then tell them so.
Say nothing that shall hide from them their state,
And make them hope for heaven while lost.
Why tell them God is pleased, while conscience lowers,
And death draws near, the judgment close at hand.
"Hell moves to meet them," all their hopes a dream?
The pit, the outer darkness, and the gnawing worm,
Will soon their doom disclose, your treachery prove.
Be men the friends of God, Why injure them?
Why need they on the road to Heaven be betrayed,
And grieved, and wounded by a Christian friend?
Lips, that a coal from off the altar touched,
How can they lie? But if all this may be,
(0, tell it not in Gath, hush it in Askalon.)
Still can they to their very kindred lie
Deceive a brother! undermine a friend!
Hope too, to live in heaven with that friend!
The author hopes that he possesses a spirit of forgiveness, though he has thus made use of the poet's license, and expressed in strong language his hatred of duplicity.
LINES SENT AS A "RETURN TOKEN" FOR A VALUABLE PRESENT, JANUARY 1, 1831.
"TWAS New Year's day of thirty-one,
It dawned on Troy with promise kind;
The Spirit had its work begun;
The dead to raise, the lost to find.
We early sought the house of prayer-
'Twas full of feeling, full of God,
For scores of throbbing hearts were there
To seek his grace and plead his word.
Kind Heaven heard the morning song,
And listened to our fervent cry,
While angels did the song prolong,
And told the story through the sky.
God had shed down some mercy drops,
And Troy its sweetest New Year saw,
And cheerful smiles and heavenly hopes
Graced many a lately anxious brow.
Two forms appeared in kindness dressed—
Affection's token in their hands;
The giver shall be doubly blessed,
The God of mercy so demands.
May God your kindness quite repay,
Your New Year's gift in grace restore,
And guide you by a heavenly ray,
And on your seed his blessings pour,
For ever and for ever more.
A DIRGE OF THE SANCTUARY.
Twas the third watch of night, and all was still,
Save the lone house-dog in his kennel dark,
Who gave portentous signs of woe at hand-
Then burst the cry of fire! on my drowsy ear.
I hearkened, and the cry waxed louder still,
My chamber opened on the north and east,
And the shrill piercing cry had waked me-
Oh! 'twas the Temple of the living God
All lighted up by its own gloomy fires;
Each ornament became a flaming torch,
And guided the destroyer in his ruthless march.
Oh! it seized at length the stubborn frame-work,
• Written on the night of the burning of St. Philip's (an Episcopal) Church, at Charleston, S. C., in 1835—the oldest church in that city, and one of the most ancient church edifices in the United States.