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Death.

BY DR. PORTEUS, BISHOP OF LONDON.

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FRIEND to the wretch whom every friend forsakes,
I woo-thee, death In fancy's fairy paths
Let the gay songster rove, and gently trill
The strain of empty joy. Life and its joys
I leave to those that prize them. At this hour,
This solemn hour, when silence rules the world,
And wearied nature makes a general pause ;
Wrapt in night's sable robe, through cloisters drear
And charnels pale, tenanted by a throng
Of meagre phantoms shooting cross my path
With silent glance, I seek the shadowy vale
Of Death. Deep in a murky cave's recess,
Lav'd by Oblivion's listless stream, and fenc'd
By shelving rocks, and intermingled horrors
Of yew and cyprus shade, from all intrusion
Of busy noontide beam, the Monarch sits
In unsubstantial majesty enthron’d.
At his right hand, nearest himself in place
And fruitfulness of form his parent Sin,
With fatal industry and cruel care
Busies himself in pointing all his stings,
And tipping every shaft with venom drawn
From her infernal store : around him rangd

In terrible array, and mixture strange
Of uncooth shapes, stands his dread mipisters.
Foremost Old age, his, natural ally
And firmest friend ; next him Diseases thick,
A motley train ; Fever with cheek of fire ;
Consumption wan; Palsy, half-warm with life,
And half a clay-cold lump ; joint-tort'ring Gout;
And ever-gnawing Rheum ! Convulsion wild ;
Swoln Dropsy ; panting Asthma ; Apoplex
Full-gorg’d. : There too the Pestilence that walks
In darkness, and the Sickness that destroys
At broad noon-day. These, and a thousand more,
Horrid to tell, attentive wait; and, when
By Heaven's command Death waves his ebon wand,
Sudden rush forth to execute his purpose,
And scatter desolation o'er the earth.

Ill-fated Man ! for whom such various forms
Of misery wait, and mark their future prey !
Ah! why, all-righteous Father, didst thou make
This creature, Man? Why wake the unconscious dust
To life and wretchedness! O better far
Still had he slept in uncreated night,
If this the lot of being! Was it for this
Thy breath divine kindled within his breast
The vital flame? For this was thy fair image
Stamp'd on his soul in godlike lineaments ?
For this dominion given him absolute
O'er all thy works, only that he might reign
Supreme in wo? From the blest source of Good
Could Pain and Death proceed? Could such foul ills
Fall from fair Mercy's hands? Far be the thought,
The impious thought! God never made a creature

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But what was good. He made a living Soul ;
The wretched Mortal was the work of Man.
Forth from his Maker's hands he sprung to life,
Fresh with immortal bloom; no pain he knew,
No fear of change, no check to his desires,
Save one command. That one command, which stood
'Twixt him and death, the test of his obedience,
Urg'd on by wanton curiosity,
He broke. There in one moment was undone
The fairest of God's works. The same rash hand
That pluck'd in evil hour the fatal fruit,
Unbarr'd the gates of Hell, and let loose Sin
And Death, and all the family of Pain,
To prey upon Mankind. Young Nature saw
The monstrous crew, and shook thro' all her frame.
Then Aed her new-born lustre, then began
Heaven's cheerful face to lower, then vapors c ok'a
The troubled air, and form'd a veil of clouds
To hide the willing Sun. The earth convuls'd
With painful throes threw forth a bristly crop
Of thorns and briers; and insect, bird, and beast,
That wont before with admiration fond
To gaze at man, and fearless crowd around him,
Now fled before his face, shunning in haste
The infection of his misery. He alone
Who justly might, the offended Lord of Man,
Turn'd not away his face ; he, full of pity,
Forsook not in this uttermost distress
His best loy'd work. That comfort still remain'd
(That best, that greatest comfort in aftliction,)
The countenance of God, and through the gloom
Shot forth some kindly gleams, to cheer and warn

The offender's sinking soul. Hope. sent from Heaven
Uprąis’d his drooping head, and show'd afar
A happier scene of things; the Promised Seed
Trampling upon the Serpent's humbled crest ;
Death of his sting disarm'd ; and the dark grave,
Maqe pervious to the realms of endless day
No more the limit but the gate of life.

Cheer'd with the view, Man went to till the ground,
From whence he rose , sentenc'd indeed to toil
As to a punishment, yet (ev'n in wrath
So merciful is Heav'n) this toil became
The solace of his woes, the sweet employ
Of many a live-long hour, and surest guard
Against Disease and Death. Death tho denounc'd,
Was yet a distant ill, by feeble arm
Of Age, his sole support, led slowly on.
Not then, as since, the short-liv'd sons of men
Flock'd to his realms in countless multitudes;
Scarce in the course of twice five hundred years
One solitary ghost went shivering down
To his unpeopled shore. In sober state
Through the sequestered vale of rural life,
The venerable Patriarch guileless held
The tenour of his way; Labor prepard
His simple fare, and Temperance ruld his board,
Tir'd with his daily toil, at early eve
He sunk to sudden rest ; gentle and pure
As breath of evening Zephyr, and as sweet
Were all his slumbers; with the Sun he rose,
Alert and vigorous as He, to run

destin'd course. Thus nerv'd with giant strength,

He stemm’d the tide of time, and stood the shock
Of ages rolling harmless o'er his head.
At life's meridian point arriv'd, he stood,
And looking round, saw all the valleys filid
With nations from his loins ; full well content
To leave his race thus scatter'd o'er the earth,
Along the gentle slope of life's decline
He bent his gradual way, tilt full of years
He dropt like mellow fruit into his grave.

Such in the infancy of Time was Man;
So calm was life, so impotent was Death!
O had he but preserved these few remains,
The shattered fragments of lost happiness,
Snatch'd by the hand of Heay'n from the sad wreck
Of innocence primæval; still had he liv'd
In ruin great; thought fallen, yet not forlorn ;
Though mortal, yet not every where beset
With Death in every shape! But he, impatient
To be completely wretched, hastes to fill up
The measure of his woes :Twas Man himself
Brought Death into the world; and Man himself
Gave keenness to his darts, quicken'd his pace,
And multiplied destruction on mankind.

First Envy, eldest-born of Hell, embru'd Her hands in blood, and taught the Sons of Men To make a Death which Nature never made, And God abhorr'd ; with violence rude to break The thread of life ere half its length was run, And rob a wretched brother of his being. With joy Ambition saw, and soon improv'd The execrable deed. 'Twas not enough By subtle fraud to snatch a single life ;

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