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ARGUMENT OF THE SECOND BOOK. Reflections suggested by the conclusion of the former book
-Peace among the nations recommended on the ground of their common fellowship in sorrow-Prodigies enumèrated-Sicilian earthquakes-Man rendered obnoxious to these calamities by sin-God the agent in themThe philosophy that stops at secondary causes reproved -Ourown late miscarriages accounted fur-Satirical notice taken of our trips to Fontainbleau-But the pulpit, not satire, the proper engine of reforination-The Reverend Advertiser of engraved sermons-Petit-maitre parson—The good preacher-Picture of a theatrical cleri cal coxcomb-Story-tellers and jesters in the pulpit reproved Apostrophe w popular applause-Retailers of ancient philosophy expostulated with-Sum of the whole mauer-Effects of sacerdotal mismanagement on the laily-Their folly and extravagance- The mischiefs of profusion-Profusion itself, with all its consequent evils, ascribed, as to its principal cause, to the want of discipline in the universities.
O FOR a lodge in some vast wilderness,
Some boundless contiguity of shade,
Where rumor of oppression and deceit,
Of unsuccessful or successful war,
Might never reach me more! My ear is pain’d,
My soul is sick with ev'ry day?s report
Of wrong and outrage with which earth is fill'd.
There is no flesh in man's obdurate heart;
It does not feel for man; the natural bond
Of brotherhood is sever'd, as the flax,
That falls asunder at the touch of fire.
He finds his fellow guilty of a skin
Not colour'd like his own; and having pow'r
T' enforce the wrong, for such a worthy cause
Dooms and devotes him as a lawful prey.
Lands intersected by a narrow frith
Abhor each other. Mountains interpos'd
Make enemies of nations, who had else
Like kindred drops been mingled into one.
Thus man devotes his brother, and destroys;
And worse than all, and most to be deplor'd,
As human nature's broadest, foulest blot,
Chains him, and tasks him, and exacts his sweat
With stripes, that Mercy with a bleeding heart,
Weeps when she sees inflicted on a beast.
Then what is man? And what man, seeing this,
And having human feelings, does not blush,
And hang his head, to think himself a man?
I would not have a slave to till my ground,
To carry me, to fan me while I sleep,
And tremble when I wake, for all the wealth
That sinews bought and sold have ever earn'd.
No: dear as freedom is, and in my heart's
Just estimation priz'd above all price,
I had much rather be myself the slave,
And wear the bonds, than fasten them on him.
We have no slaves at home. Then why abroad ?
And they themselves, once ferried o'er the wave
That parts us, are emancipate and loos’d.
Slaves cannot breathe in England ; if their lungs
Receive our air, that moment they are free;
They touch our country, and their shackles fall.
That's noble, and bespeaks a nation proud
And jealous of the blessing. Spread it, then,
And let it circulate through ev'ry vein
Of all your empire: that, where Britain's pow'r
Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too.
Sure there is need of social intercourse,
Benevolence, and peace, and mutual aid,
Between the nations, in a world that seems
To toll the death-bell of its own disease,
And by the voice of all its elements
To preach the gen'ral doom.* When were the
winds Let slip with such a warrant to destroy ? When did the waves so haughtily o'erleap Their ancient barriers, deluging the dry ? Fires from beneath, and meteorst from above, Portentous, unexampled, unexplain'd Have kindled beacons in the skies; and th' old And crazy Earth has had her shaking fits
More frequent, and foregone her usual resi.
Is it a time to wrangle, when the props
And pillars of our planet seem to fail,
And Nature with a dim and sickly eye*
To wait the close of all ? But grant her end
More distant, and that prophecy demands
A longer respite, unaccomplish'd yet:
Still they are frowning signals, and bespeak
Displeasure in his breast who smites the Earth
Or heals it, makes it languish or rejoice.
And 'tis but seemly, that, where all deserve
And stand expos’d by common peccancy
To what no few have felt, there should be peace,
And brethren in calamity should love.
Alas for Sicily! rude fragments now
Lie scatter'd, where the shapely columns stood.
Her palaces are dust. In all her streets
The voice of singing and the sprightly chord
Are silent. Revelry, and dance, and show,
Suffer a syncope and solemn pause;
While God performs upon the trembling stage
Of his own works his dreadful part alone.
How does the earth receive him ? with what signs
Of gratulation and delight her king ?
Pours she not all her choicest fruits abroad,
Her sweetest flow'rs, her aromatick gums,
Disclosing Paradise where'er he treads ?
She quakes at his approach. Her hollow womb,
Conceiving thunders, through a thousand deeps
Alluding to the fog that covered both Europe and Asia ring the whole summer of 1783.
And fiery caverns roars beneath his foot.
The hills move lightly, and the mountains smoke,
For he has touch'd them. From th' extremest
Of elevation down into the abyss
His wrath is busy, and his frown is felt.
The rocks fall headlong, and the valleys rise,
The rivers die into offensive pools,
And, charg'd with putrid verdure, breathe a gross
And mortal nuisance into all the air.
What solid was, by transformation strange,
Grows fluid ; and the fix'd and rooted earth,
Tormented into billows, heaves and swells,
Or with vortiginous and hideous whirl
Sucks down its prey insatiable. Immense
The tumult and the overthrow, the pange
And agonies of human and of brute
Multitudes, fugitive on ev'ry side,
And fugitive in vain. · The sylvan scene
Migrates uplifted : and, with all its soil
Alighting in far distant fields, finds out
A new possessor, and survives the change.
Ocean has caught the frenzy, and, upwrought
To an enormous and o’erbearing height,
Not by a mighty wind, but by that voice
Which winds and waves obey, invades the shore
Resistless. Never such a sudden flood,
Upridg’d so high, and sent on such a charge,
Possess'd an inland scene. Where now the
throng That press'd the beach, and, hasty to depart, Look'd to the sea for safety? They are gone,