Page images

As one also of the poets hath said, let not the Proteus escape

thee; (13) For he will blaze forth as fire, and quench himself in likeness of

water; He will fright thee as a roaring beast, or charm thee as a subtle

reptile. Mark, amid all his transformations, the complicate deceitfulness of

pride, And the more he striveth to elude thee, bind him the closer in thy

toils. Prayer is the net that snareth him; prayer is the fetter that hold

eth him : Thou canst not nourish pride, while waiting as an almsman on thy

God,Waiting in sincerity and trust, or pride shall meet thee even there; Yea, from the palaces of Heaven, hath pride cast down his millions. Root up the mandrake from thy heart, though it cost thee blood and

groans, Or the cherished garden of thy graces will fade and perish utterly.


I KNEW that age was enriched with the hard-earned wages of knowl

edge, And I saw that hoary wisdom was bred in the school of disappoint

ment: I noted that the wisest of youth, though provident and cautious of

evil, Yet sailed along unsteadily, as lacking some ballast of the mind; And the cause seemed to lie in this, that while they considered

around them, And warded off all dangers from without, they forgat their own

weakness within. So steer they in self-confidence, until, from the multitude of perils, They begin to be wary of themselves, and learn the first lesson of


I knew that in the morning of life, before its wearisome journey
The youthful soul doth expand, in the simple luxury of being;
It hath not contracted its wishes, nor set a limit to its hopes ;
The wing of fancy is unclipt, and sin hath not seared its feelings :
Each feature is stamped with immortality, for all its desires are in-

And it seeketh an ocean of happiness, to fill the deep hollow within.
But the old and the grave look on, pitying that generous youth,
For they also have tasted long ago the bitterness of hope destroyed:
They pity him, and are sad, remembering the days that are past.
But they know he must taste for himself, or he will not give ear to

their wisdom. For Experience hath another lesson, which a man will do well if he

learn, By checking the flight of expectation, to cheat disappointment of

its pain.

EXPERIENCE teacheth many things, and all men are his scholars;
Yet is he a strange tutor, unteaching that which he hath taught.
Youth is confident, manhood wary, and old age confident again :
Youth is kind, manhood cold, and age returneth unto kindness.
For youth suspecteth nought, till manhood, bitterly learned,
Mistrusteth all, overleaping the mark; and age correcteth his

Suspicion is the scaffold unto faith, a temporary needful eyesore,
By which the strong man's dwelling is slowly builded up behind;
But soon as the top-stone hath been set to the well-proved, goodly

pyramid, The scaffold is torn down, and well-timed trust taketh its long leave

of suspicion. A thousand volumes, in a thousand tongues, enshrine the lessons of

Experience, Yet a man shall read them all, and go forth none the wiser ; For self-love lendeth him a glass, to color all he conneth, Lest in the features of another he find his own complexion. And we secretly judge of ourselves, as differing greatly from all Or wrong-headed prejudice exulteth, in combating old experience; Or perchance caprice and discontent are the spurs that goad us into

men, And love to challenge causes to show how we can master their

effects : Pride is pampered in expecting that we need not fear a common


danger, Careless, and half in hope to find there an enemy to joust with. Private experience is an unsafe teacher, for we rarely learn both

sides, And from the gilt surface reckon not on steel beneath : The torrid sons of Guinea think scorn of icy seas, And the frost-bitten Greenlander disbelieveth suns too hot. But thou, student of Wisdom, feed on the marrow of the matter; If thou wilt suspect, let it be thyself; if thou wilt expect, let it not

be gladness.


RASHLY, nor ofttimes truly, doth man pass judgment on his brother; For he seeth not the springs of the heart, nor heareth the reasons

of the mind. And the world is not wiser than of old, when justice was meted by

the sword, When the spear avenged the wrong, and the lot decided the right, When the footsteps of blindfold innocence were tracked by burning

ploughshares, And the still condemning water delivered up the wizard to the

stake: For we wait, like the sage of Salamis, to see what the end will

be, (4) Fixing the right or the wrong by the issues of failure or success. Judge not of things by their events ; neither of character by provi

dence; And count not a man more evil, because he is more unfortunate; For the blessings of a better covenant lie not in the sunshine of

prosperity, But pain and chastisement the rather show the wise Father's love.

BEHOLD that daughter of the world; she is full of gayety and glad


The diadem of rank is on her brow, uncounted wealth is in her

coffers : She tricketh out her beauty like Jezebel, and is welcome in the

courts of kings; She is queen of the fools of fashion, and ruleth the revels of luxury. And though she sitteth not as Tamar, nor standeth in the ways as

Rahab, Yet in the secret of her chamber, she shrinketh not from dalliance

and guilt. She careth not if there be a God, or a soul, or a time of retribu

tion; Pleasure is the idol of her heart; she thirsteth for no purer heaven. And she laugheth with light good humor, and all men praise her

gentleness; They are glad in her lovely smile, and the river of her bounty filleth

them. So she prospered in the world, the worship and desire of thousands; And she died even as she had lived, careless, and courteous, and

liberal. The grave swallowed up her pomp, the marble proclaimed her

virtues, For men esteemed her excellent, and charities sounded forth her

praise ; But elsewhere far other judgment setteth her — with infidels and

harlots! She abused the trust of her splendor; and the wages of her sin shall

be hereafter.

Look again on this fair girl, the orphan of a village pastor
Who is dead, and hath left her his all, - his blessing, and a name

unstained. And friends, with busy zeal that their purses be not taxed, Place the sad mourner in a home, poor substitute for that she hath

lost. A stranger among strange faces, she drinketh the wormwood of

dependence; She is marked as a child of want; and the world hateth poverty. Prayer is not heard in that house; the day she hath loved to hallow Is noted but by deeper dissipation, the riot of luxury and gaming; And wantonness is in her master's eye, and she hath nowhere to

flee to;

She is cared for by none upon earth, and her God seemeth to for

sake her. Then cometh, in fair show, the promise, and the feint of affection, And her heart, long unused to kindness, remembereth her father,

and loveth. And the villain hath wronged her trust, and mocked, and flung her

from him, And men point at her and laugh; and women hate her as an out

cast; But elsewhere, far other judgment seateth her— among the mar

tyrs ! And the Lord, who seemed to forsake, giveth double glory to the


... ONCE more, in the matter of wealth : if thou throw thine all on a

chance, Men will come around thee, and wait and watch the turning of the

wheel ; And if, in the lottery of life, thou hast drawn a splendid prize, What foresight hadst thou, and skill! yea, what enterprise and

wisdom! But if it fall out against thee, and thou fail in thy perilous endeavor, Behold, the simple did sow, and hath reaped the right harvest of his

folly, And the world will be gladly accused, nor will reach out a finger to

help; For why should this speculative dullard be a whirlpool to all around

him? Go to, let him sink by himself: we know what the end of it would

be: For the man hath missed his mark, and his fellows look no farther.

• Also, touching guilt and innocence: a man shall walk in his up

Year after year without reproach, in charity and honesty with all:
But in one evil hour the enemy shall come in like a flood;
Shall track him, and tempt him, and hem him, — till he knoweth

not whither to fly.
Perchance his famishing little ones shall scream in his ears for

bread, And, maddened by that fierce cry, he rusheth as a thief upon the


« PreviousContinue »