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THE DESTINY OF NATIONS. A vision.
Auspicious Reverence! Hush all meaner song,
Such symphony requires best instrument. Seize, then, my soul! from Freedom's trophied dome, The Harp which hangeth high between the Shields Of Brutus and Leonidas! With that Strong music, that soliciting spell, force back Earth's free and stirring spirit that lies entranced.
For what is Freedom, but the unfetter'd use Of all the powers which God for use had given But chiefly this, him First, him Last to View Through meaner powers and secondary things Effulgent, as through clouds that veil his blaze. For all that meets the bodily sense I deem Symbolical, one mighty alphabet For infant minds; and we in this low world Placed with our backs to bright Reality, That we may learn with young unwounded ken The substance from its shadow. Infinite Love, Whose latence is the plenitude of All, Thou with retracted Beams, and Self-eclipse Weiling, revealest thine eternal Sun.
But some there are who deem themselves most free When they within this gross and visible sphere Chain down the winged thought, scoffing ascent, Proud in their meanness: and themselves they cheat With noisy emptiness of learned phrase, Their subtle fluids, impacts, essences, Self-working tools, uncaused effects, and all Those blind Omniscients, those Almighty Slaves, Untenanting creation of its God.
But properties are God: the naked mass (If mass there be, fantastic Guess or Ghost) Acts only by its inactivity. Here we pause humbly. Others boldlier think That as one body seems the aggregate Of Atoms numberless, each organized; So, by a strange and dim similitude, Infinite myriads of self-conscious minds Are one all-conscious Spirit, which informs With absolute ubiquity of thought (His one eternal self-affirming Act!) All his involved Monads, that yet seem With various province and apt agency Each to pursue its own self-centering end. Some nurse the infant diamond in the mine; Some roll the genial juices through the oak; Some drive the mutinous clouds to clash in air, And rushing on the storm with whirlwind speed, Yoke the red lightning to their volleying car. Thus these pursue their never-varying course, No eddy in their stream. Others, more wild, With complex interests weaving human fates, Duteous or proud, alike obedient all, Evolve the process of eternal good.
And what if some rebellious, o'er dark realms Arrogate power? yet these train up to God, . And on the rude eye, unconfirm'd for day, Flash meteor-lights better than total gloom. As ere from Lieule-Oaive's vapoury head The Laplander beholds the far-off Sun Dart his slant beam on unobeying snows, While yet the stern and solitary Night Brooks no alternate sway, the Boreal Morn With mimic lustre substitutes its gleam, Guiding his course or by Niemi lake Or Balda-Zhiok," or the mossy stone Of Solfar-kapper,” while the snowy blast Drifts arrowy by, or eddies round his sledge, Making the poor babe at its mother's back 3 Scream in its scanty cradle: he the while Wins gentle solace as with upward eye He marks the streamy banners of the North, Thinking himself those happy spirits shall join Who there in floating robes of rosy light Dance sportively. For Fancy is the Power That first unsensualizes the dark mind, Giving it new delights; and bids it swell With wild activity; and peopling air, By obscure fears of Beings invisible, Emancipates it from the grosser thrall Of the present impulse, teaching Self-control, Till Superstition with unconscious hand Seat Reason on her throne. Wherefore not vain, Nor yet without permitted power impress'd, I deem'd those legends terrible, with which The polar ancient thrills his uncouth throng; Whether of pitying Spirits that make their moan O'er slaughter'd infants, or that Giant Bird Wuokho, of whose rushing wings the noise Is Tempest, when the unutterable shape 4 Speeds from the mother of Death, and utters once That shriek, which never Murderer heard and lived. Or if the Greenland Wizard in strange trance Pierces the untravell'd realms of Ocean's bed (Where live the innocent, as far from cares As from the storms and overwhelming waves Dark tumbling on the surface of the deep), Over the abysm, even to that uttermost cave By mis-shaped prodigies beleaguer'd, such As Earth ne'er bred, nor Air, nor the upper Sea.
There dwells the Fury Form, whose unheard name With eager eye, pale cheek, suspended breath,
'Balda Zhiok; i. e. mons altitudinis, the highest mountain in Lapland. * Solfar Kapper; capitium Solfar, hic locus omnium quotguot veterum Lapponum superstitio sacrificiis religiosoque cultui dedicavit, celebratissimus erat, in parte sinus australis situs semimilliaris spatio a mari distans. Ipse locus, quem curiositatis gratia aliquando me invisisse memini, duabus prealtis lapidibus, sibi invicem oppositis, quorum alter musco circumdatus erat, constabat.-Lormits De Lapponibus. * The Lapland women carry their infants at their back in a piece of excavated wood, which serves them for a cradle. Opposite to the infant's mouth there is a hole for it to breath through.-Mirandum prorsus est et vix credibile nisi cui widisset contigit. Lappones hyeme iter facientes per vastas montes, perque horrida et invia tesqua, eo presertim tempore quo omnia perpetuis nivibus obtecta sunt et nives ventis agitantur et in Gyros aguntur, viam ad destinata loca absolue errore invenire posse, lactantem autem infantem si quem habeat, ipsa mater in dorso bajulat, in excavato ligno (Gieed'k ipsi vocant) quod procunis utuntur: in hoc infans pannis et Pellibus convolutus colligatus jacet.—Lenwics De Lapponibus. * Jaibme Aibmo.
And lips half-opening with the dread of sound,
If there be Beings of higher class than Man, I deem no nobler province they possess, Than by disposal of apt circumstance To rear up Kingdoms; and the deeds they prompt, Distinguishing from mortal agency, They chuse their human ministers from such states As still the Epic song half fears to name, Repell'd from all the Minstrelsies that strike The Palace-Roof and soothe the Monarch's pride.
And such, perhaps, the Spirit, who (if words Witness'd by answering deeds may claim our Faith) Held commune with that warrior-maid of France Who scourged the Invader. From her infant days, With Wisdom, Mother of retired Thoughts, Her soul had dwelt; and she was quick to mark The good and evil thing, in human lore Undisciplined. For lowly was her Birth, And Heaven had doom'd her early years to Toil, That pure from Tyranny's least deed, herself Unfear'd by Fellow-natures, she might wait On the poor Labouring man with kindly looks, And minister refreshment to the tired Way-wanderer, when along the rough-hewn Bench The sweltry man had stretch'd him, and aloft Vacantly watch'd the rudely pictured board Which on the Mulberry-bough with welcome creak Swung to the pleasant breeze. Here, too, the Maid Learnt more than Schools could teach : Man's shifting
His Vices and his Sorrows! And full oft
So twenty seasons past. The Virgin's Form, Active and tall, nor Sloth nor Luxury Had shrunk or paled. Her front sublime and broad, Her flexile eye-brows wildly haird and low, And her full eye, now bright, now unillumed, Spake more than Woman's Thought; and all her face
They call the Good Spirit Torngarsuck. The other great but malignant spirit is a nameless Female ; she dwells under the sea in a great house, where she can detain in captivity all the animals of the ocean by her inagic power. When a dearth befalls the Greenlanders, an Angekok or magician must undertake a journey thither. He passes through the kingdom of souls, over an horrible abyss into the Palace of this phantom, and by his enchantments causes the captive creatures to ascend directly to the surface of the ocean. See Cn Antz' Hist. of Greenland, vol. i. 206.
Was moulded to such Features as declared
'T was the cold season, when the Rustic's eye From the drear desolate whiteness of his fields Rolls for relief to watch the skiey tints And clouds slow varying their huge imagery; When now, as she was wont, the healthful Maid Had left her pallet ere one beam of day Slanted the fog-smoke. She went forth alone, Urged by the indwelling angel-tuide, that oft, With dim inexplicable sympathies Disquieting the Heart, shapes out Man's course To the predoom'd adventure. Now the ascent She climbs of that steep upland, on whose top The Pilgrim-Man, who long since eve had watch'd The alien shine of unconcerning Stars, Shouts to himself, there first the Abbey-lights Seen in Neufchatel's vale; now slopes adown The winding sheep-track vale-ward; when, behold In the first entrance of the level road An unattended Team . The foremost horse Lay with stretch'd limbs; the others, yet alive, But stiff and cold, stood motionless, their manes Hoar with the frozen night-dews. Dismally The dark-red down now glimmer'd; but its gleams Disclosed no face of man. The Maiden paused, Then hail'd who might be near. No voice replied, From the thwart wain at length there reach'd her ear A sound so feeble that it almost seem'd Distant: and feebly, with slow effort push'd, A miserable man crept forth : his limbs The silent frost had eat, scathing like fire. Faint on the shafts he rested. She, mean time, Saw crowded close beneath the coverture A mother and her children—lifeless all, Yet lovely! not a lineament was marr’d— Death had put on so slumber-like a form' It was a piteous sight; and one, a babe, The crisp milk frozen on its innocent lips, Lay on the woman's arm, its little hand Stretch'd on her bosom.
Mutely questioning, The Maid gazed wildly at the living wretch. He, his head feebly turning, on the group Look'd with a vacant stare, and his eye spoke The drowsy calm that steals on worn-out anguish. She shudder'd : but, each vainer pant; subdued, Quick disentangling from the foremost horse The rustic bands, with difficulty and toil The stiff cramp'd team forced homeward. There arrived, Anxiously tends him she with healing herbs, And weeps and prays—but the numb power of Death Spreads o'er his limbs; and ere the noon-tide hour, The hovering spirits of his Wife and Babes Hail him immortal! Yet amid his pangs,
With interruptions long from ghastly throes, His voice had falter'd out this simple tale.
The Village, where he dwelt an Husbandman, By sudden inroad had been seized and fired Late on the yester-evening. With his wife And little ones he hurried his escape. They saw the neighbouring Hamlets flame, they heard Uproar and shrieks! and terror-struck drove on Through unfrequented roads, a weary way! But saw nor house nor cottage. All had quench'd Their evening hearth-fire : for the alarm had spread. The air clipt keen, the night was fang'd with frost, And they provisionless : The weeping wife Ill hush'd her children's moans; and still they moan'd, Till Fright and Cold and Hunger drank their life. They closed their eyes in sleep, nor knew 't was Death. He only, lashing his o'er-wearied team, Gain’d a sad respite, till beside the base Of the high hill his foremost horse dropped dead. Then hopeless, strengthless, sick for lack of food, He crept beneath the coverture, entranced, Till waken'd by the maiden.—Such his tale.
Ah! suffering to the height of what was suffer'd, Stung with too keen a sympathy, the Maid Brooded with moving lips, mute, startful, dark! And now her flush'd tumultuous features shot Such strange vivacity, as fires the eye Of misery Fancy-crazed" and now once more Naked, and void, and fix'd, and all within The unquiet silence of confused thought And shapeless feelings. For a mighty hand Was strong upon her, till in the heat of soul To the high hill-top tracing back her steps, Aside the beacon, up whose smoulder'd stones The tender ivy-trails crept thinly, there, Unconscious of the driving element, Yea, swallow'd up in the ominous dream, she sate Ghastly as broad-eyed Slumber! a dim anguish Breathed from her look! and still, with pant and sob, Inly she toil'd to flee, and still subdued, Felt an inevitable Presence near.
Thus as she toiled in troublous ecstasy, An horror of great darkness wrapt her round, And a voice uttered forth unearthly tones, Calming her soul,-- O Thou of the Most High Chosen, whom all the perfected in Heaven Behold expectant——
[The following fragments were intended to form part of the Poem when finished.]
• Maid beloved of Heaven'. (To her the tutelary Power exclaimed) “Of Chaos the adventurous progeny Thou seest; foul missionaries of foul sire, Fierce to regain the losses of that hour When love rose glittering, and his gorgeous wings Over the abyss flutter'd with such glad noise, As what time after long and pestful calms, With slimy shapes and miscreated life Poisoning the vast Pacific, the fresh breeze Wakens the merchant-sail uprising. Night A heavy unimaginable moan
Sent forth, when she the Protoplast beheld
From his obscure haunt Shriek'd Fear, of Cruclty the ghastly Dam, Feverish yet freezing, eager-paced yet slow, As she that creeps from forth her swampy reeds, Ague, the biform Hag when early Spring Beams on the marsh-bred vapours.
« Even son (the exulting Maiden said) « The sainted Heralds of Good Tidings fell, And thus they witnessed God! But now the clouds Treading, and storms beneath their feet, they soar Higher, and higher soar, and soaring sing Loud songs of Triumph! O ye spirits of God, Hover around my mortal agonies!" She spake, and instantly faint melody Melts on her ear, soothing and sad, and slow, Such Measures, as at calmest midnight heard By aged Hermit in his holy dream, Foretell and solace death; and now they rise Louder, as when with harp and mingled voice The white-robed, multitude of slaughter'd saints At Heaven's wide-opened portals gratulant Receive some martyrd Patriot. The harmony Entranced the Maid, till each suspended sense Brief slumber seized, and confused ecstasy.
At length awakening slow, she gazed around: And through a Mist, the relick of that trance Still thinning as she gazed, an Isle appeard, Its high, o'er-hanging, white, broad-breasted cliffs, Glass'd on the subject ocean. A vast plain Stretch'd opposite, where ever and anon
* Revel. vi. 9, 11. And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held. And white robes were given unto every one of them, and it was said unto them that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
The Plough-man, following sad his meagre team,
But soon a deep precursive sound moan'd hollow: Black rose the clouds, and now (as in a dream) Their reddening shapes, transformed to Warrior-hosts, Coursed o'er the Sky, and battled in mid-air. Nor did not the large blood-drops fall from Heaven Portentous ! while aloft were seen to float, Like hideous features booming on the mist, Wan Stains of ominous Light! Resign'd, yet sad, The fair Form bowed her olive-crowned Brow, Then o'er the plain with oft-reverted eye Fled till a Place of Tombs she reach'd, and there Within a ruined Sepulchre obscure Found Hiding-place.
The delegated Maid Gazed through her tears, then in sad tones exclaim'd, • Thou mild-eyed Form! wherefore, ah! wherefore fled? The Power of Justice, like a name all Light, Shone from thy hrow; but all they, who unblamed Dwelt in thy dwellings, call thee Happiness. Ah! why, uninjured and unprofited, Should multitudes against their brethren rush? Why sow they guilt, still reaping Misery : Lenient of care, thy songs, O Peace! are sweet, As after showers the perfumed gale of eve, That flings the cool drops on a feverous cheek: And gay thy grassy altar piled with fruits. But boasts the shrine of Daemon War one charm, Save that with many an orgie strange and foul, Dancing around with interwoven arms, The Maniac Suicide and Giant Murder Exult in their fierce union 2 I am sad, And know not why the simple Peasants crowd Beneath the Chieftains standard ' " Thus the Maid.
To her the tutelary Spirit replied: • When Luxury and Lust's exhausted stores No more can rouse the appetites of Kings; when the low flattery of their reptile Lords Falls flat and heavy on the accustom'd ear; When Eunuchs sing, and Fools buffoonery make, And Dancers writhe their harlot-limbs in vain; Then War and all its dread vicissitudes Pleasingly agitate their stagnant Hearts; Its hopes, its fears, its victories, its defeats, Insipid Royalty's keen condiment! Therefore uninjured and unprofited
(Victims at once and Executioners),
The Maiden paused, musing what this might mean.
when I have borne in memory what has tamed
appear to mortals. The second Strophe calls on men to suspend their private joys and sorrows, and devote them for a while to the cause of human nature in general. The first Epode speaks of the Empress of Russia, who died of an apoplexy on the 17th of November, 1796; having just concluded a subsidiary treaty with the Kings combined against France. The first and second Antistrophe describe the Image of the Departing Year, etc. as in a vision. The second Epode prophesies, in anguish of spirit, the downfall of this country.
I. Spratt who sweepest the wild Harp of Time! It is most hard, with an untroubled ear Thy dark inwoven harmonies to hear ! Yet, mine eye fix'd on Heaven's unchanging clime Long when I listen'd, free from mortal fear, With inward stillness, and submitted mind; When lo! its folds far waving on the wind, I saw the train of the DEPARTING YEAal Starting from my silent sadness, Then with no unholy madness, Ere yet the enter'd cloud foreclosed my sight, I raised the impetuous song, and solemnized his flight.
Hither, from the recent tomb, From the prison's direr gloom, From Distemper's midnight anguish; And thence, where Poverty doth waste and languish; Or where, his two bright torches blending, Love illumines manhood's maze; Or where, o'er cradled infants bending, Hope has fix'd her wishful gaze, Hither, in perplexed dance, Ye Woes! ye young-eyed Joys! advance!