Page images



THOUGHTS, that have tarried in my mind, and peopled its inner chambers,
The sober children of reason, or desultory train of fancy ;
Clear running wine of conviction, with the scum and the lees of specu-

Corn from the sheaves of Science, with stubble from mine own garner;
Searchings after Truth, that have tracked her secret lodes,
And come up again to the surface-world with a knowledge grounded

deeper; Arguments of high scope, that have soared to the keystone of heaven, And thence have swooped to their certain mark, as the falcon to its quarry ; The fruits I have gathered of prudence, the ripened harvest of my musings, These commend I unto thee, O docile scholar of Wisdom, These I give to thy gentle heart, thou lover of the right.

What though a guilty man renew that hallowed theme,
And strike with feebler hand the harp of Sirach's son ?
What, though a youthful tongue take up that ancient parable,
And utter faintly forth dark sayings as of old ?
Sweet is the virgin honey, though the wild bee have stored it in a reed;
And bright the jewelled band, that circleth an Ethiop's arm;
Pure are the grains of gold in the turbid stream of Ganges,
And fair the living flowers, that spring from the dull cold sod.
Wherefore, thou gentle student, bend thine ear to my speech,
For I also am as thou art; our hearts can commune together;
To meanest matters will I stoop, for mean is the lot of mortal;
I will rise to noblest themes, for the soul hath an heritage of glory :

The passions of puny man; the majestic characters of God;
The feverish shadows of time, and the mighty substance of eternity.

Commend thy mind unto candour, and grudge not as though thou hadst a

Nor scorn angelic Truth for the sake of her evil herald ;
Heed not him, but hear his words, and care not whence they come ;
The viewless winds might whisper them, the billows roar them forth,
The mean unconscious sedge sigh them in the ear of evening,
Or the mind of pride conceive, and the mouth of folly speak them.

I stand not forth laying hold on spear and buckler,
I come a man of peace, to comfort, not to combat ;
With soft persuasive speech to charm thy patient ear,
Giving the hand of fellowship, acknowledging the heart of sympathy :
Let us walk together as friends in the shaded paths of meditation,
Nor judgment set his seal until he hath poised his balance;
That the chastenings of mild reproof may meet unwitting error,
And charity not be a stranger at the board that is spread for brothers.

Lo now,


Few and precious are the words which the lips of Wisdom utter :
To what shall their rarity be likened ? What price shall count their worth ?
Perfect and much to be desired, and giving joy with riches,
No lovely thing on earth can picture all their beauty.
They be chance pearls, flung among the rocks by the sullen waters of

Which Diligence loveth to gather, and hang round the neck of Memory;
They be white-winged seeds of happiness, wafted from the islands of the

blessed, Which Thought carefully tendeth, in the kindly garden of the heart; They be sproutings of an harvest for eternity, bursting through the tilth of

time, Green promise of the golden wheat, that yieldeth angels' food; They be drops, of the crystal dew, which the wings of seraphs scatter, When on some brighter Sabbath, their plumes quiver most with delight; Such, and so precious, are the words which the lips of Wisdom utter.

Yet more, for the half is not said, of their might, and dignity, and value;
For live-giving be they and glorious, redolent of sanctity and heaven:
As the fumes of hallowed incense, that veil the throne of the Most High;
As the beaded bubbles that sparkle on the rim of the cup of Immortality;
As wreaths of the rainbow spray, from the pure cataracts of Truth.
Such, and so precious, are the words which the lips of Wisdom utter.

Yet once again, loving student, suffer the praises of thy teacher.
For verily the sun of the mind, and the life of the heart, is Wisdom:
She is pure and full of light, crowning gray hairs with lustre,
And kindling the eye of youth with a fire not its own;
And her words, whereunto canst thou liken them ? for earth cannot show
They be grains of the diamond sand, the radiant floor of heaven,
Rising in sunny dust behind the chariot of God;
They be flashes of the day-spring from on high, shed from the windows


peers :

of the skies; They be streams of living waters, fresh from the fountain of Intelligence; Such and so precious, are the words which the lips of Wisdom utter.

For these shall guide thee well, and guard thee on thy way ;
And wanting all beside, with these shalt thou be rich :
Though all around be woe, these shall make thee happy ;
Though all within be pain, these shall bring thee health ;
Thy good shall grow into ripeness, thine evil wither and decay,
And Wisdom's words shall sweetly charm thy doubtful into virtues :
Meanness shall then be frugal care ; where shaine was, thou art modest ;
Cowardice riseth into caution, rashness is sobered into courage ;
The wrathful spirit, rendering a reason, standeth justified in anger
The idle hand hath fair excuse, propping the thoughtful forehead.
Life shall have no labyrinth but thy steps can track it,
For thou hast a silken clue, to lead thee through the darkness:
The rampant Minotaur of ignorance shall perish at thy coming,
And thine enfranchised fellows hail thy white victorious sails. (°)
Wherefore, friend and scholar, hear the words of Wisdom;
Whether she speaketh to thy soul in the full chords of revelation;
In the teaching earth, or air, or sea; in the still melodies of thought,
Or, haply, in the humbler strains that would detain thee here.


ERROR is a hardy plant; it flourisheth in every soil ;
In the heart of the wise and good, alike with the wicked and foolish;
For there is no error so crooked, but it hath in it some lines of truth;
Nor is any poison so deadly, that it serveth not some wholesome use:
And the just man, enamoured of the right, is blinded by the speciousness

of wrong

And the prudent, perceiving an advantage, is content to overlook the harın. On all things created remaineth the half-effaced signature of God,

Somewhat of fair and good, though blotted by the finger of corruption :
And if error cometh in like a flood, it mixeth with streams of truth,
And the Adversary loveth to have it so, for thereby many are decoyed.
Providence is dark in its permissions; yet one day, when all is known,
The universe of reason shall acknowledge how just and good were they;
For the wise man leaneth on his wisdom, and the righteous trusteth to his

righteousness, And those who thirst for independence, are suffered to drink of disappoint

ment. Wherefore ?—to prove and humble them; and to teach the idolaters of

truth, That it is but the ladder unto Him, on whom only they should trust.

There is truth in the wildest scheme that imaginative heat hath engen

dered, And a man may gather somewhat from the crudest theories of fancy: The alchemist laboureth in folly, but catcheth chance gleams of wisdom. And findeth out many inventions, though his crucible breed not gold; The sinner, toying with witchcraft, thinketh to delude his fellows, But there be very spirits of evil, and what if they come at his bidding ; He is a bold bad man who dareth to tamper with the dead ; For their whereabout lieth in a mystery—that vestibule leading to Eternity, The waiting-room for unclad ghosts, before the presence-chamber of their

King : Mind may act upon mind, though bodies be far divided ; For the life is in the blood, but souls communicate unseen: And the heat of an excited intellect, radiating to its fellows, Doth kindle dry leaves afar off, while the green wood around it is un

warmed. The dog may have a spirit as well as his brutal master ; A spirit to live in happiness; for why should he be robbed of his existence ? Hath he not a conscience of evil, a glimmer of moral sense, Love and hatred, courage and fear, and visible shame and pride ? There

may be a future rest for the patient victims of the cruel ; And a season allotted for their bliss, to compensate for unjust suffering. Spurn not at seeming error, but dig below its surface for the truth ; And beware of seeming truths, that grow on the roots of error: For comely are the apples that spring from the Dead Sea's cursed shore : But within are they dust and ashes, and the hand that plucked them shall

rue it.

« PreviousContinue »