Page images


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 Oblivion, 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 a 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 de

light; 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 life-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 immor

tality; 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 their peers;
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 dayspring from on high, shed from the win-

dows of the skies; They be streams of living waters, fresh from the fountain of Intelli

gence; 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 shame was, thou art.

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 clew, 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. (1)
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, enamored of the right, is blinded by the spe

ciousness of wrong, And the prudent, perceiving an advantage, is content to overlook

the harm, On all things created remaineth the half-effaced signature of God, Somewhat of fair and good, though blotted by the finger of corrup

tion: 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 de

coyed. 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

disappointment. Wherefore? - to prove and humble them; and to teach the idola

ters 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

engendered, And a man may gather somewhat from the crudest theories of fancy: The alchemist laboreth in folly, but catcheth chance gleams of


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

unwarmed. 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 plucketh them

shall rue it.

A FREQUENT similar effect argueth a constant cause:
Yet who hath counted the links that bind an omen to its issue ?
Who hath expounded the law that rendereth calamities gregarious,
Pressing down with yet more woes the heavy-laden mourner?
Who knoweth wherefore a monsoon should swell the sails of the

Blithely speeding on their course the children of good luck ?
Who hath companioned a vision from the horn or ivory gate, (?)
Or met another's mind in his, and explained its presence?
There is a secret somewhat in antipathies; and love is more than
Yea, and a palpable notice warneth of an instant danger;
For the soul hath its feelers, cobwebs floating on the wind,
That catch events in their approach with sure and apt presentiment.
So that some halo of attraction heraldeth a coming friend,
Investing in his likeness the stranger that passed on before;
And while the word is in thy mouth, behold thy word fulfilled,
And he of whom we spake can answer for himself.
O man, little hast thou learnt of truth in things most true;
How therefore shall thy blindness wot of truth in things most false ?
Thou hast not yet perceived the causes of life or motion;
How then canst thou define the subtle sympathies of mind ?
For the spirit, sharpest and strongest when disease hath rent the


Hath welcomed kindred spirits in nightly visitations,
Or learnt from restless ghosts dark secrets of the living,
And helped slow Justice to her prey by the dreadful teaching of a


VERILY, there is nothing so true, that the damps of error have not

warped it; Verily, there is nothing so false, that a sparkle of truth is not in it. For the enemy, the father of lies, the giant Upas of creation, Whose deadly shade hath blasted this once green garden of the

Lord, Can but pervert the good, but may not create the evil; He destroyeth, but cannot build; for he is not antagonist deity; Mighty in his stolen power, yet is he a creature and a subject; Not a maker of abstract wrong, but a spoiler of concrete right: The fiend hath not a royal crown; he is but a prowling robber, Suffered, for some mysterious end, to haunt the King's highway; And the keen sword he beareth, once was a simple ploughshare; Yea, and his panoply of error is but a distortion of the truth; The sickle that once reaped righteousness, beaten from its useful

curve, With axe, and spike, and bar, headeth the marauder's halbert. Seek not further, O man, to solve the dark riddle of sin; Suffice it, that thine own bad heart is to thee thine origin of evil.

« PreviousContinue »