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MRS. BARBAULD. MRS. BARBAULD was born 1743, died 1823. Her name will ever be remembered as the authoress, in conjunction with her father, Dr. Aikin, of “ Evenings at Home,” and numerous charming works adapted to juvenile capacity.
'Tis past! the sultry tyrant of the south
Has spent his short-lived rage: more grateful hours
Move silent on; the skies no more repel
The dazzled sight, but, with mild maiden beams
Of temper'd light, invite the cherish'd eye
To wander o'er their sphere, where, hung aloft,
Dian's bright crescent, “ like a silver bow
New strung in heaven,” lifts high its beamy horns,
Impatient for the night, and seems to push
Her brother down the sky. Fair Venus shines,
Even in the eye of day; with sweetest beam
Propitious shines, and shakes a trembling flood
Of soften'd radiance from her dewy loins.
The shadows spread apace; while meekend Eve,
Her cheek yet warm with blushes, slow retires
Through the Hesperian gardens of the West,
And shuts the gates of day. 'Tis now the hour
When Contemplation, from her sunless haunts,
The cool damp grotto, or the lonely depth
Of unpierced woods, where wrapt in solid shade
She mused away the gaudy hours of noon,
And, fed on thoughts unripen'd by the sun,
Moves forward, and with radiant finger points
To yon blue concave, swell’d by breath divine,
Where, one by one, the living eyes of heaven
Awake, quick kindling o'er the face of ether
One boundless blaze; ten thousand trembling fires,
And dancing lustres, where th' unsteady eye,
Restless and dazzled, wanders unconfined
O'er all this field of glories : spacious field,
And worthy of the Master: He whose hand,
With hieroglyphics older than the Nile,
Inscribed the mystic tablet; hung on high
To public gaze; and said, Adore, O man,
The finger of thy God! From what pure wells
Of milky light what soft o'erflowing urn,
Are all these ramps so fill’d? these friendly lamps
For ever streaming o'er the azure deep
To point our path, and light us to our home.
How soft they slide along their lucid spheres !
And, silent as the foot of time, fulfil
Their destined course! Nature's self is hush'd,
And but a scatter'd leaf, which rustles through
The thick-wove foliage, not a sound is heard
To break the midnight air; though the raised ear,
Intensely listening, drinks in every breath.
How deep the silence, yet how loud the praise !
But are they silent all ? or is there not
A tongue in every star that talks with man,
And woos him to be wise ? nor woos in vain :
This dead of midnight is the noon of thought,
And Wisdom mounts her zenith with the stars.
At this still hour the self-collected soul
Turns inward, and beholds a stranger there
Of high descent, and more than mortal rank;
An embryo God; a spark of fire divine,
Which must burn on for ages, when the sun
(Fair transitory creature of a day)
Has closed his golden eye, and, wrapt in shades,
Forgets his wonted journey through the East.
Ye citadels of light, and seats of Gods-
Perhaps my future home, from whence the soul,
Revolving periods past, may oft look back,
With recollected tenderness, on all
The various busy scenes she left below,
Its deep-laid projects and its strange events,
As on some fond and doating tale that soothed
Her infant hours-oh, be it lawful now
To tread the hallow'd circle of your courts,
And with mute wonder and delighted awe
Approach your burning confines! Seized in thought,
On fancy's wild and roving wing I sail
From the green borders of the peopled earth,
And the pale moon, her duteous fair attendant;
From solitary Mars; from the vast orb
Of Jupiter, whose huge gigantic bulk
Dances in ether like the lightest leaf;
To the dim verge,
the suburbs of the system,
Where cheerless Saturn, midst his watery moons,
Girt with a lucid zone, in gloomy pomp,
Sits like an exiled monarch; fearless thence
I launch into the trackless deeps of space,
Where, burning round, ten thousand suns appear,
Of elder beams; which ask no leave to shine
Of our terrestrial star, nor borrow light
From the proud regent of our scanty day;
Sons of the Morning, first-born of creation,
And only less than Him who marks their track,
And guides their fiery wheels. Here must I stop,
Or is there aught beyond? What Hand unseen
Impels me onward through the glowing orbs
TO THE SHIP IN WHICH VIRGIL SAILED TO ATHENS.
Of habitable nature far remote,
To the dread confines of eternal night,
To solitudes of vast unpeopled space,
The deserts of creation wide and wild,
Where embryo systems and unkindled suns
Sleep in the womb of Chaos ? fancy droops,
And thought astonish'd stops her bold career.
But, O thou mighty Mind! whose powerful word
Said, Thus let all things be, and thus they were,
Where shall I seek Thy presence ? how unblamed
Invoke Thy dread perfection P-
Have the broad eyelids of the morn beheld Thee?
Or does the beamy shoulder of Orion
Support Thy throne? Oh, look with pity down
On erring, guilty man! not in Thy names
Of terror clad; not with those thunders arm'd
That conscious Sinai felt, when fear appall’d
The scatter'd tribes! Thou hast a gentler voice,
That whispers comfort to the swelling heart
Abash’d, yet longing to behold her Maker.
But now my soul, unused to stretch her powers
In flight so daring, drops her weary wing,
And seeks again the known accustom'd spot,
with sun, and shade, and lawns, and streams;
A mansion fair and spacious for its guest,
And full, replete with wonders. Let me here,
Content and grateful, wait the appointed time,
And ripen for the skies. The hour will come
When all these splendours, bursting on my sight,
Shall stand unveil’d, and to my ravish'd sense
Unlock the glories of the world unknown.
To the Ship in which Virgil sailed to Athens.
the Cyprian queen divine,
And the twin-stars with saving lustre shine ;
So may the father of the wind All but the western gales
propitious bind, As you, dear vessel, safe restore Th’intrusted pledge to the Athenian shore,
And of my soul the partner save,
My much-loved Virgil, from the raging wave.
Or oak, or brass, with triple fold,
That hardy mortal's daring breast enroll'd,
Who first, to the wild ocean's rage,
Launch'd the frail bark, and heard the winds engage
Tempestuous, when the south descends
Precipitate, and with the north contends ;
Nor fear'd the stars portending rain,
Of power supreme the storm to raise,
Or calmer smooth the surface of the seas.
What various forms of death could fright
The man, who view'd with fix'd, unshaken sight,
The floating monsters, waves enflam’d,
And rocks, for shipwreck'd fleets, ill-fam'd?
Jove has the realms of earth in vain
Divided by th' inhabitable main :
If ships profane, with fearless pride,
Bound o'er th’inviolable tide,
No laws, or human, or divine,
Can the presumptuous race of man confine.
Thus from the sun's ethereal beam,
When bold Prometheus stole th' enlivening flame,
Of fevers dire a ghastly brood,
'Till then unknown, th' unhappy fraud pursu'd.
On earth their horrors baleful spread
And the pale monarch of the dead,
'Till then slow-moving to his prey,
Precipitately rapid swept his way.
Thus did the venturous Cretan dare
To tempt, with impious wings, the void of air;
Through hell Alcides urged his course;
No work too high for man's audacious force.
Our folly would attempt the skies,
And with gigantic boldness impious rise ;
Nor Jove, provok'd by mortal pride,
Can lay his angry thunderbolts aside.
Satan's Soliloquy. O THOU that, with surpassing glory crown'd, Look’st from thy sole dominion like the god Of this new world ; at whose sight all the stars Hide their diminish'd heads; to thee I call, But with no friendly voice, and add thy name, O Sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams, That bring to my remembrance from what state I fell, how glorious once above thy sphere ; Till pride and worse ambition threw me down, Warring in Heaven against Heaven's matchless King: Ah, wherefore? he deserved no such return From me, whom he created what I was
In that bright eminence, and with his good
Upbraided none: nor was his service hard.
What could be less than to afford him praise,
The easiest recompense, and pay him thanks ?
How due! yet all his good proved ill in me,
And wrought but malice; lifted up so high,
I’sdain’d subjection, and thought one step higher
Would set me highest, and in a moment quit
The debt immense of endless gratitude,
So burthensome, still paying, still to owe,
Forgetful what from him I still received;
And understood not that a grateful mind
By owing owes not, but still pays, at once
Indebted and discharged: what burden then ?
O had his powerful destiny ordained
Me some inferior angel, I had stood
Then happy; no unbounded hope had raised
Ambition. Yet why not? some other power
As great might have aspired, and me, though mean,
Drawn to his part; but other powers as great
Fell not, but stand unshaken, from within
Or from without, to all temptations arm’d.
Hadst thou the same free will and power to stand?
Thou hadst. Whom hast thou, then, or what t'accuse,
But Heaven's free love dealt equally to all :
Be then his love accursed, since love or hate,
To me alike, it deals eternal woe.
Nay, curs'd be thou; since against his thy will
Chose freely, what it now so justly rues.
Me miserable! which way shall I fiy
Infinite wrath, and infinite despair?
Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell;
And, in the lowest deep, a lower deep,
Still threat’ning to devour me opens wide,
To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heaven.
O then at last relent; is there no place
Left for repentance, none for pardon left ?
None left but by submission! and that word
Disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame
Among the spirits beneath, whom I seduced
With other promises and other vaunts
Than to submit, boasting I could subdue
The Omnipotent. Ah me, they little know
How dearly I abide that boast so vain,
Under what torments inwardly I groan,
While they adore me on the throne of hell:
With diadem and sceptre high advanced,
The lower still I fall, only supreme
In nisery; such joy ambition finds.
But say I could repent, and could obtain,