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Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.
What, though in solemn silence all
Move round this dark terrestrial ball
What, though no real voice, nor sound,
Amid their radiant orbs be found
In Reason's ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice;
Forever singing, as they shine,
“The hand that made us is Divine.”
One of Addison's best pieces is that written at the tomb of Virgil, in 1741 : he also achieved a dramatic triumph in his celebrated tragedy of Cato. Let us rehearse his grand soliloquy :—
It must be so. Plato, thou reason'st well
Else, whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after immortality ?
Or, whence this secret dread, and inward horror,
Of falling into naught : Why shrinks the soul
Back on herself, and startles at destruction ?
'Tis the Divinity that stirs within us:
'Tis Heaven itself that points out an hereafter,
And intimates—Eternity to man -
Eternity —thou pleasing, dreadful thought !
Through what variety of untried being—
Through what new scenes and changes must we pass |
The wide, th’ unbounded prospect lies before me ;
But shadows, clouds, and darkness rest upon it.
*Here will I hold.—If there's a power above us
(And that there is, all nature cries aloud
Through all her works), He must delight in virtue;
And that which He delights in, must be happy.
The soul, secured in her existence, smiles
At the drawn dagger, and defies its point.
The stars shall fade away, the sun himself
Grow dim with age, and nature sink in years;
But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,
Unhurt amidst the war of elements,
The wreck of matter, and the crush of worlds !
Pope was a precocious genius; for when only in his thirteenth year, he wrote these pleasing lines on Solitude :
Happy the man whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air
In his own ground.
Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.
Blest, who can unconcern’dly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,
Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
Together mixt; sweet recreation;
And innocence, which most does please
Thus let me live unseen, unknown,
Thus unlamented let me die,
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.
He tells us that he sought the solace of poesy to beguile his hours of physical suffering. At the age of sixteen he wrote his Pastorals; and two or three years later, his Messiah, and Essay on Criticism. Pope's bodily infirmity caused him to be at times very irascible; and on one occasion his long-tried friend, Bishop Atterbury, in pleasantry, described the poet as Mens curva in corpore curva." His Essay on Man is replete with nervous and picturesque passages; it is, however, occasionally tinctured with the heresies of his friend Bolingbroke. Subjoined are a few fine passages from his famous Essay on Man :
Hope humbly then—with trembling pinions soar ;
Wait the great teacher, Death ; and God adore.
What future bliss, He gives not thee to know,
But gives that hope to be thy blessing now.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast,-
Man never is, but always to be blest.
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
Lo! the poor Indian whose untutor'd mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears Him in the wind :
His soul, proud science never taught to stray
Far as the solar walk or Milky-way ;
Yet simple nature to his hope has given
Behind the cloud-topped hill a humbler heaven;
Some safer world in depth of woods embraced,
Some happier island in the watery waste,
Where slaves once more their native land behold,
Nor fiends torment, nor Christians thirst for gold.
To be, contents his natural desire,
He asks no angel's wing, no seraph’s fire;
What a grand conception of his is this closing passage:–
All are but parts of one stupendous whole, . -
Whose body nature is, and God the soul;
That, changed through all, and yet in all the same ;
Great in the earth, as in th’ ethereal frame;
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees;
Lives through all life, extends through all extent;
Spreads undivided, operates unspent ;
Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part,
As full, as perfect, in a hair as heart;
As full, as perfect, in vile man that mourns,
As the rapt seraph, that adores and burns;
To Him no high, no low, no great, no small;
He fills, He bounds, connects, and equals all.
Cease then, nor order imperfection name:
Our proper bliss depends on what we blame.
Know thy own point: this kind, this due degree
Of blindness, weakness, Heaven bestows on thee.
Submit.—In this, or any other sphere,
Secure to be as blest as thou canst bear :
Safe in the hand of one disposing Power,
Or in the natal, or the mortal hour.
All nature is but art, unknown to thee;
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see ;
All discord, harmony, not understood;
All partial evil, universal good.
The Rape of the Lock, which Johnson styles “the most airy, ingenious, and delightful of all Pope's compositions,” was occasioned by a frolic of gallantry. Here are two passages; one portraying the mysteries of the toilet, and the other the heroine of the story:—
And now, unveiled, the toilet stands displayed,
Each silver vase in mystic order laid.
First, robed in white, the nymph intent adores,
With head uncovered, the cosmetic powers;
A heavenly image in the glass appears,
To that she bends, to that her eyes she rears:
The inferior priestess, at her altar's side,
Trembling begins the sacred rites of pride.
Unnumbered treasures ope at once, and here
The various offerings of the world appear;
From each she nicely culls with curious toil,
And decks the goddess with the glittering spoil.