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No. 13.


Πέτομαι δ' ἐλπίσιν,

Οὔτ ̓ ἐνθάδ' ὁρῶν, ἔτ ̓ ὀπίσω.

Sophoclis Oldipus Tyrannus. Line 488.

THE following poem was prepared to be delivered before a society in College many years ago. It is founded on a story which has been told of several persons, of two skeptics agreeing that whichever of them should die first, should appear to his surviving friend to bear ocular testimony to the existence of the future world. Whether such a wild agreement was ever made, I know not. The object of the poem is to enforce the truth of Christianity, from the wants, sorrows, and sins of man. The story is merely assumed for poetic effect. Morbid misanthropy and snarly infidelity, having lately been brought into vogue by some popular writers, I wished to turn them to some account. I have therefore represented a troubled infidel going into the grave yard, at midnight, to meet the ghost of his friend according to appointment; and there, though disappointed of the expected witness, led by reflection to believe in his Saviour and his God. Perhaps the severest and most candid criticism that ought to be passed on my piece, is, that it is College poetry.

THRONGED by a host of doubts, the mind distrest
Looks round for truth, and longs for inward rest:
Tho' Pride and Passion in our hearts rebel,
And sensual nature o'er calm reason swell;

Though Fancy cheat us with her youthful train,
Her roses dying as her thorns remain ;
Though even Philosophy, the world's delight,
Throw on our path a dim, delusive light;
Yet who, among the thinking class received,
Would hug the lie, or wish to be deceived?
Though Error wanders, who would chase the stream?
Or dream o'er truth 'till truth becomes a dream?

'Tis night; and sullen darkness' solemn robe
Envelops in concealment half the globe:
The planetary torches o'er me shine,
Dull sleep embraces every eye but mine.
Here at the feet of these entangled trees,
Whose branches, fretted by the midnight breeze,
O'ershade the ghosts from yonder graves that glide,
And flatter Nature in her silent pride;-

Here will I muse, till from her secret throne,
Religion make her dubious lessons known:
From these abstracted walks I cannot part,
Till late conviction fasten on my heart.

This is the hour; and on this grassy side,
Alonzo promised, ere he, trembling, died—
To meet his friend,—yes, I may trust the dead—
The words were uttered on a dying bed:
Long had we doubted-more-we disbelieved
Those mystic doctrines by the world received:
We travelled all the mazes of the mind,
Forever curious, yet forever blind;

Along the brink of flowery joy we steered,

Believed and doubted, rioted and feared.

At length, in all his bloom, when youthful pride
Her branches stretched in towering hope—he died;
He died; and I was there to hear him tell
His last strong promise, still remembered well ;-
"If there's a world beyond the final urn,

To warn my friend, my spirit shall return.
Beneath the church-yard elm-at midnight-where
The cold dews drop-thou knowest-I'll meet thee

This is the spot, and time; I come to tread These walks, and meet alone the enlightened dead. He was my friend-I need not flinch or fear; In friendship's band—the dead—the dead are dear ; No, not a hair of this sad head, would he Injure, for kind were all his ways to me; I fear not-I am calm-I long to know Of worlds as yet unknown—of joy and wo.

The hour has come, from yonder steeple's height,
Twelve times has toll'd the iron tongue of night;
The wind expires, and weary nature throws
O'er land and sea a most profound repose.
From social life I seem, and pity thrown,
A wanderer in the lonely world alone;
Like some low worm I creep along this sod,
Without a father and without a God;

Yet not alone, if vows in Heaven are heard,
If spirits faithful ever keep their word;
Alonzo, thou art true, and I shall see
One tear, all tender, yet shall fall for me.

Hark! Did a voice my listening organs seize?
Was it a spirit passing? or the breeze?

Is that a shroud that yonder stands alone?
Or, flattery buried pride, some polished stone?
The eye and treacherous ear alike betray ;—
The shroud is gone-the breeze has passed away.

What change is here! What dreadful silence reigns Along these moonlight walks and glimmering plains! To his last mansion Rectitude is fled,

And sleeps with Falsehood in a wormy bed;

Pleasure has dashed her goblet down; and Pride
Has laid the tassel'd robe and plume aside;
Ambition here no rising impulse feels,
Nor yokes his horses to his fiery wheels;
The wicked from transgression are repressed ;-
They cease from troubling and the weary rest ;
The small and great are here; no lordling's breath
Molests the strict democracy of death.

Why is a terror, so peculiar, shed

O'er human hearts when walking near the dead? How can these mouldered hands such tumults weave? Why do the disbelieving now believe?

And why, as if by Heaven's judicial doom,

Is no man atheist, standing near a tomb?

He comes not, tho' the appointed hour is o'er ; He comes not-lives not-I shall wait no more. Long have I forced these trembling limbs to stay, Midst damps and silence, darkness and dismay; The moon in lustre mild, in glory still,

Shines westward of the brow of Heaven's blue hill.
The hour is past. Let me forsake this gloom,
Nor trust the faithful sponsors of the tomb.

My doubts are all confirmed; when breath retires, The lamp within goes out with all its fires; Soon as we reach these beds of lasting peace, Our schemes, our hopes, our very beings cease. This boasted man-this child of Heaven's decreeThis sage-this reasoning angel-what is he? A future worm-the victim of a shroud, A streak of glory fading from a cloud.

If ONE all-perfect garnished yonder skies,
And bade our peopled globe from nothing rise;
If power and wisdom in his heart combine;
His high perfections in his works must shine:
So kind his character, his love so bland,
The world must bear the impress of his hand;
Each stream of influence must its channel keep;
No foot must deviate and no eye must weep.
We know the sun's refulgence by his beams;
Pellucid fountains pour pellucid streams;
So perfect goodness must salute our eyes,
In thornless roses and in cloudless skies;
If sin, or error shade this earthly sod,
The stain is deep-it reaches up to God.

What is the truth? Does pleasure harbor fear? Does wisdom waking happiness appear? Nature, as onward through her laws, she moves, To all her progeny a step-dame proves;

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