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With rapture, had the shades of Academe,
Or the learn'd Porch produc'd it: - tomes had then
Been multiplied on tomes, to draw the veil
Of graceful allegory, to unfold
Some hidden source of beauty, now not felt !
Do not the powers of soul-enchanting song,
Strong imagery, bold figure, every charm
Of eastern flight sublime, apt metaphor,
And all the graces in thy lovely train,
Divine Simplicity! assemble all
In Sion's songs, and bold Isaiah's strain ?
Why should the classic eye delight to trace
The tale corrupted from its prime pure source,
How Pyrrha and the fam’d Thessalian king
Restor’d the ruin'd race of lost mankind;
Yet turn, incurious, from the patriarch sav'd,
The rescu'd remnant of a delug'd world?
Why are we taught delighted to recount
Alcides' labours, yet neglect to note
Heroic Samson midst a life of toil
Herculean ? Pain and peril marking both,
A life eventful and disastrous death.
Can all the tales which Grecian story yields;
Can all the names the Roman page records
Of wondrous friendship and surpassing love;
Can gallant Theseus and his brave compeer;
Orestes, and the partner of his toils;
Achates and his friend ; Euryalus
And blooming Nisus, pleasant in their lives,
And undivided by the stroke of death ;
Can each, can all, a lovelier picture yield
Of virtuous friendship : can they all present
A tenderness more touching than the love Of Jonathan and David ? - Speak, ye young! Who, undebauch'd as yet with fashion's lore, And unsophisticate, unbiass'd judge, Say, is your quick attention more arous'd By the red plagues which wasted smitten Thebes, Than heaven's avenging hand on Pharaoh's host ? Or do the vagrant Trojans, driven by fate On adverse shores successive, yield a theme More grateful to the eager appetite Of young impatience, than the wand'ring tribes The Hebrew leader through the desert led ? The beauteous Maid *, (tho' tender is the tale,) Whose guiltless blood on Aulis' altar stream’d, Smites not the bosom with a softer pang Than her in fate how sadly similar, The Gileaditish virgin - victims both Of vows unsanctify'd. —
Such are the lovely themes which court the Bard, Scarce yet essay’d in verse - for verse how meet While heav'n-descended song, forgetting oft Her sacred dignity and high descent, Debases her fair origin; oft spreads Corruption’s deadly bane, pollutes the heart Of innocence, and with unhallow'd hand Presents the poison’d chalice, to the brim Fill'd with delicious ruin, ministring Th' unwholesome rapture to the fever'd taste, While its fell venom, with malignant pow'r, Strikes at the root of virtue, with’ring all Her vital energy. Oh ! for some balm
Of sov'reign power, to raise the drooping Muse
To all the health of virtue! to infuse
A gen'rous warmth, to rouse a holy zeal,
And give her high conceptions of herself,
Her dignity, her worth, her aim, her end !
For me, Eternal Spirit, let thy word
My path illume! O thou compassionate God!
Thou know'st our frame, thou know'st we are but dust;
From dust a Seraph's zeal thou wilt not seek,
Nor wilt thou ask an Angel's purity.
But hear, and hearing pardon; as I strive,
Tho' with a feeble voice and flagging wing,
A glowing heart, but pow’rless hand, to point
The faith of favour'd man to heav'n; to sing
The ways inscrutable of heav'n to man;
May I, by thy celestial guidance led,
Fix deep in my own heart the truths I teach !
In my own life transcribe whate'er of good
To others I propose ! and by thy rule
Correct th' irregular *, reform the wrong,
Exalt the low, and brighten the obscure !
Etill may I note, how all th' agreeing parts
Of this consummate system join to frame
One fair, one finish’d, one harmonious whole !
Trace the close links which form the perfect chain
In beautiful connexion ; mark the scale
Whose nice gradations, with progression true,
For ever rising, end in Deity!
• What in me is dark Illumine! what is low, raise and support !
Let me assert eternal Providence,
And justify the ways of God to man. - Parad. Los
HEBREW WOMEN. JOCHEBED, Mother of Moses. Miriam, his Sister, a Prophetess.
The PRINCESS, King Pharaoh's Daughter.
MELITA, and other Attendants.
SCENE – On the Banks of the Nile.
The Subject is taken from the Second Chapter of the Book of Exodus.