Appendix Two - 3
What sounds were those that broke upon mine ear
In fitful intervals? - calmly sublime
They rose above the groaning of the blast,
In tones of pathos, holy and serene.
The storm-blast paused: - I felt us if I stood
On hallowed ground, where heavenly sanctity
Breathed her pure airs, and shed her sacred dews,
And vivified the scene with moral bloom.
With such emotions stood the sainted seer,
On Horeb's mount - when lo! the hurricane
Arose, and rioted with giant force;
The forest groaned in desperate agony:
Their covering driven down each turbid stream,
The mountains trembled, and the rocks were riven.
Anon, an earthquake shook the solid earth; -
Hills heaved, and throbbed in their convulsive throes -
The rivers rushed in cataracts of foam;
And then a fire, unutterably fierce,
Sped in swift vengeance from the opening heavens,
Scorching the hues of vegetable health; -
But not until a still small voice of melody
Arose in heaven, and whispered peace to earth
Did the rapt prophet recognise his God,
And haste to hear the message of his love.
I passed with tremulous, yet joyful steps,
Unto a hut, from whence the evening lamp
Glimmered invitingly; and entering in,
Was hail'd in peace by one, across whose brow
Time's ruthless plough-share had been often driven;
Yet there was peace and consolation; strong
Triamphant hope was kindled in his eye,
In radiancy unquenchable and bright.
He had been climbing up that chain which links
The throne of Him, the Father of all Light,
The sanctuary of all Rectitude,
With the bruised spirit, contrite in its ‘plaint;
And, like a giant freshen'd with new wine,
He breathed that melody of glorious praise,
Which sunk into my spirit, chasing all
The dread of Nature's awful minstrelsy.
The spirits of the storm again rode forth,
In cars of darkness and of whirlwind speed,
And we drew nearer to a cheerful fire,
Intensely scanning all the wond'rous themes
Which time can never shrivel, darkness shroud,
Nor ruin gulph; but which shall ever glow
in waxing splendour, while eternity
Rolls on sublimely its unbroken age.
Beguiling thus the solemn midnight hours,
I heard with reverence and joy subdued;
Until as morning rich in beauty dawned,
Leading the orient harmonies of day,
Before we sighed that wasting word - farewell,
I asked my venerable friend how long
He had reposed upon that mighty Rock
Of Ages, ‘gainst which earth and deepest hell
In vain may blow their gusts of howling wrath,
Or roll their waves of foaming turbulence.
"Young brother, I have long enjoyed that truth
Which breaks the yoke of bondage, giving health,
True freedom, energy, and living hope;
But when my step was free as thine, and locks
Of raven hue were clust'ring round my brow,
I sat awhile upon the scorner's chair,
And drank a cup of frenzy from that stream
Which laves the shores of hell. - Yet I was reared,
Was nurtured, in devotion's atmosphere,
But was not taught to balance evidence -
To weigh in righteous scale conflicting things;
Hence, when the unbeliever's sophistry
Was spread before my young unpractised mind,
I felt as wild romance has painted him,
Who, travelling, stood upon a blasted heath,
Where terribly misshapen demon forms,
In the deep gloom of midnight's fearful hours,
Held their high carnival of revelry! -
And though in agony to pass along,
Was strangely fascinated to the spot.
I was arrested, charmed, and blindly walked
Into the temple of delusion, dark,
Where long I led their impious frantic rites.
But rolling years brought intellectual grasp,
And Truth's bright beams upon my spirit fell,
Illuminating the intricate maze,
In which my careless feet had been involved.
Yet, while I was a sceptic, I did hug
The very chains that held me to the earth!
"Behold that ruin! beautiful tho' drear,
Where Grandeur struggles sternly with Decay -
Resenting inch by inch her crumbling grasp.
Though the lank fingers leave their with'ring print
In many hideous and unshapely rents,
Yet splendour lingers o'er the wasting pile.
There I have often watched the setting sun,
Throned in a glorious amphitheatre,
With crimson, gold, and purple drapery.
White jagged rocks and frowning battlements;
Castles of antique shape, and forests huge;
Mountains of silver - cataracts of foam;
With all fantastic shapes, were crowded there,
In ever varying magnificence.
This ruin was my most endeared retreat,
When sober contemplation bid me think
And ponder deeply o'er the mighty mass
Of spurious principles, that fill the world
With their infernal issues, making man,
Despite of his innate divinity,
A victim, writhing in Delusion's fangs,
Yet worshipping the monster in his ire!
While gazing on the scene of my resort,
I thought it was in many points of view
A graphic image of man's fettered state:
Fallen, but still sublime in massive power,
Coossal night had on a desolate smile,
And Beauty, wasting sadness in her eye;
Yet the materials were scattered there,
Requiring but some hand of plastic skill
To bid them rise in pristine majesty.
So, thought I, would the sons of men arise,
If Christianity - that giant farce,
Yet in its issues deeply tragical,
With scorn were hooted from the human stage.
When its appalling dogmas ceased to roll
In spirit-crushing thunder o'er the land,
And the red lightnings of its penal rage,
No longer vollied in the moral heavens,
Then would the human spirit gratify
Its every desire without restraint -
Range unconfined, and speculate unbarred.
Each human mind would then in haste assume
Its rich and natural tone; expansive power
Would stamp each feature, radiate from each face,
And give a dignity to every limb
Of man, arrayed in true divinity!
Then would that golden age be realized,
Which never yet had an embodiment,
Except within the passion-heated brain
Of dreamy Bard, in his ecstatic trance.
"Mourning that our divine philosophy
Had in the world such feebleness of grasp,
I sat me down upon a ponderous stone,
Which oft had battled with the elements,
Before it left the cushion of its rest;
Even then, as if it had been conqueror,
‘Twas laurelled round with ivy! - There I slept.
How glorious was the scenery which rose
In my deep vision - vividly distinct.
A throne of granite, overlaid with gold,
Arose in fair proportions from the earth; -
Myriads of beings, with a mighty shout,
As if a thousand furious cataracts
Had mingled all their torrents into one,
Startled each hill, and pealed in every vale.
This was succeeded by a breathless calm,
An upward, ardent, concentrated gaze.
Then from the summit of that beauteous throne,
The most entrancing music breathed its strains;
At first in lulling cadences; anon,
In tones that waken high resolve, and cast
On every face enthusiasm's glow.
The music ceased - the ornate drapery
Rolled up, and there the mighty genius sat -
The idol of each sceptic's feverish dream.
No lambent glories played around his brow -
Gross darkness shrouded it from mortal ken;
But there was an unearthly majesty,
Invested all on which the eye could dwell.
With voice loud as the bellowing thunder storm,
Which sweeps across the boundless prairie,
He spake, - while thousands reverential bowed: -
‘The genius of the cross at last is fallen -
That spirit, which for rolling centuries,
Chained your proud minds, and blasted all your hopes,
Is mourning on oblivion's Lethean shore.
Now, knowledge shall increase in every land,
Giving each spirit life and liberty;
The portals of immensity are open -
Rush in! - all trick and mystery are fled.
This is great Nature's glorious jubilee -
The day of Reason's triumph. - Now, my sons,
Away to your ennobling pursuits!'
"With bounding spirits, with triumphant hope,
The myriads went their way ; and I beheld,
Prospectively, the earth embracing heaven,
In holy, intimate, eternal league!
"But how shall I relate the tempest throes -
The burning anguish in my inmost soul,
When stern Reality mine eyes unscaled,
To grasp the actual picture. Lo! I saw
Society in mad convulsion whirl,
While anarchy, with his insatiate jaws,
Mangled and gorged the giddy victims down.
"One gloomy group, in shades of deep despair,
Scowled darkly on the wild festivities,
That reigned in uproar round. As life was now
No longer radiant with blooming hope,
They hurried to a forest solitude,
And sternly passed around the poison cup;
Nor spake until the potion rioted
With frenzy in their veins; then they did dance
A horrid dance into the vale of death!
Another, and by far the largest group,
Assembled in a temple, where the light -
The cheering light of heaven could never shine;
And there the spirits of distraction flowed
Of every odour and of every hue.
The curse profane, the sneer, the caustic scoff,
The wanton song, and raving blasphemies,
Were worse than once of old in princely dome,
When the mysterious hand ran o'er the wall,
Tracing, in characters of thrilling awe,
The impious monarch's doom. Domestic hearths,
Once vocal with the richest melody,
And strewed with wild flowers, fair and beautiful,
Became the scenes of prostitution vile,
Ending in lamentation and in blood!
Law, moral obligation, filial love,
Benevolence, and social sympathy,
Existed but as dreams of things that were.
Ambition, passion, pride, all iron-heeled,
Unscrupulous in agencies or ends,
Spurned lingering virtue from the dark'ning earth,
And wallowed in all crimes that hell could frame.
All classes were infected - all corrupt;
The gangrene was immedicable - fixed
Beyond the arresting power of moral balm.
I raved, and tore my hair in furious mood,
And fell in anguish on my mother earth;
When lo! I pressed the deep rank grass, and heard
The fitful wind moan hoarsely through the ruins,
For it was but a dream. Farewell, young friend;
If the philosophy of history
Has passed in solemn pomp before thy soul,
Graving its golden lessons, then my dream
Will find thy knowledge an interpreter,
As just as ever lift his eyes to heaven,
For visions from the everlasting throne."
‘Twas in those days of ardent sympathy
With all things fair and good, that I beheld
With deep'ning joy democracy's broad tide,
Sweeping away distorted deadly shrubs
From scorch'd and sterile soil, but leaving seeds,
Which, sleeping, germinating, blossoming,
As Nature's laws require, serenely glowed
In vegetable gold; - even now I hear
The people, source of power and majesty,
Uttering their wrongs, their hopes, and their resolves.
We never sat upon Parnassus' Mount,
Nor drank in largess from Castalia's stream;
And, therefore, will not call upon the Nine
To lend their fabled fires; for in our hearts
The truth is burning for its utterance.
Such invocation would but ill beseem
The solemn music of our earnest song.
Our lyres are strung by dread reality,
And we have hands of might to sweep their tones.
Antiquity may scowl with threat'ning mien,
And press in agony, her misty shore -
Calling her worshippers to waste their rage,
And prove our fathers in the olden days,
Were happy, ignorant, and crouching serfs.
With thrilling sorrow we admit as fact,
That they were ignorant and suppliant;
And though the iron pierced their very soul,
Oft kissed its barbed point in seeming joy;
But yet it was with loathing. Happy! no,
Ye insane libellers of God and man,
A voice of majesty, calm, yet severe,
Is pealing from the throne of Deity;
And from the depths of our humanity
We echo back its truth; - its burden is
That ignorance in her prolific womb,
Has nourished all the hideous giant brood
Of deadliest woes, which crush the human race:-
Wan dissipation, spectral despair,
Famine, with shrivelled face and rayless gaze,
Fell rapine with her lurid bloody eye;
Tyranny, with its cold and heavy chains -
Anarchy, with its seas of human gore;
And pride, with pillars reared by skeletons,
Who, while they raised them, lacked the bread of life.
These are the kindred shapes, that revel hold
Upon the barren heath, where ignorance,
From throne of awe, her leaden sceptre sways;
Making fit music for the ear of hell!
But we, who long did grope in darkness dense,
A prey to phantasms that mocked our pain,
Have with strong effort, lifted up the lids
Which hid our vision from the light of truth.
Radiance is streaming from the heaven of heavens,
With cheering, bracing, and expansive power.
Hail, knowledge, hail! our casements open wide
For thy inspiring rays. We drink the streams
Which flow from thy pure fount, deep and serene,
In spirit, life, and beauty, o'er the land.
We prize the flowers so fragrant and fair,
Which thou art planting in as rich a soil
As ever kissed the genial rising sun,
Or drank the dews of heaven. We hear thy voice:
Its music thrills our innermost recess,
Awakening aspirations which must soar,
Until we stand on freedom's pedestal.
No longer men appear like misty trees,
Nor systems like the shade Eliphas saw,
When in the visions of the midnight watch;
No lineaments or limbs were visible,
But something fearful, dim, uncircumscribed,
Arrayed in shadow, mystery, and awe.
The film has passed away. Distinct we see
The monsters that have tortured us so long,
Giving us scorpions when we cried for bread,
"Stay! rebels, stay!" exclaims the croaking might
Of those who long have ground our fairest hopes
To dust and ashes, "pause ere ye arraign
The right divine of those who legislate.
Rash, frantic men, pause in your mad career."
Mad! ah, we might have been so; but we thank
The machinist of nature, and her forms,
That all the wild gusts of your tyrant wrath
Could not destroy our spirit's harmony.
What rights have you which nature gives not us?
Have we not all one father, by whose power
We sprang to life, and by whose circling love
We are sustained, and by whose streaming light
We all may tread the paths which angels tread?
Were we not in our helpless infancy,
Objects of trembling solicitude,
And hung at breasts that heaved with charity?
Do we not know the joys of friendship - love, -
Serene or rapturous! and have we not
Pledges of our affection, cherub-like
In purity and beauty? Have not we
Gazed upon heaven and earth, on ocean, stars,
On sun and moon, on cataracts and hills,
And, following nature to her solitudes,
Communed with all things glorious and fair,
And yearned for purity, and heaven, and God?
Go hush the winds that from their caverns rush;
Arrest the lightning in its arrowy course;
Awe the gigantic waves that onward roll,
In wantonness of power, to placid sleep;
But ask not us to pause, nor dare to taunt,
For all our energies are wide awake.
We will expose the evil principles
That from their thrones of darkness issue forth
Mandates of desolation; then our task
Will be to crash them from their putrid seats.
Creation's deep inaugural melody -
The mighty anthem of. the morning stars,
When all the sons of God with shout sublime,
Awoke the echoes of unnumbered worlds -
Was hushed, and lo! the dark destroyers sang
A song of exultation fierce and loud,
Over the scene, where Cain with darkened soul
Beheld the life-blood of his brother gush.
Since then, the stream of violence has risen,
And raged and widened, till the outstretched earth
Is but a channel for its turbid tide.
But who has urged the current on, and sunk
The channel deeper, and destroyed the walls
Which broke the fury of its ravages,
And rode upon its waves to dread renown?
The rulers, princes, potentates of earth;
They who were richly paid by sleepless toil,
To crush disorder, and establish peace; -
Yes, they, to gratify their pride, revenge,
And burning lust, have led whole myriads forth
With fire, and sword, and rapine; until scenes,
Where cherubs might have sung their morning hymn,
Or swept o'er nature's lyre their vesper strains,
Have fulminated forth their horrid shades;
Relieved with bloody daubs, and laved with streams
Of human agony. And, stranger still, -
Historians, sages, bards, of fancy rare,
And keen in intellectual grasp, have raved -
Calling destruction glory. Famine, filth,
Deformity, disease, and ignorance,
Have grimly smiled, when garlanded with flowers,
And mounted into virtues sung by fame.
When Christ was born, the holy angels sang
Of peace on earth, and glory in the heavens;
And their deep harmonies were realized
In peace and love, till that disastrous day,
When Christianity so grand and fair,
Renounced the freedom of her mountain breeze,
And crouched beneath the imperial diadem!
Then energy and purity expired,
And love was covered with a funeral pall.
Then pride, hypocrisy, intolerance,
And desperate profligacy, hot with lust,
And sneering scepticism, all put on
The robes of sanctity, and ministered
In holy things - lured by the golden spoil!
Such is the working of the system now,
Where Christianity, inglorious yoked
Unto the state car, trails through blood and dust.
These are two carmined monsters, dragon-like,
In uttering great words of blasphemy.
Within the gorgeous folding of their scales,
They treasure up that fascinating slime,
With which they charm the victims whom they gorge.
But we have truth's intense and searching fire;
And we have revelation's radiant shield;
And we have reason's keen and lambent sword.
Our armour is divine - our cause is strong
In the unyielding energy of right.
On! on! to conflict and to victory.