[The Complaint: or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death & Immortality.]

Night VII. Being the second part of The Infidel Reclaimed: Containing the nature, proof, and importance of immortality.


As we are at war with the power, it were well if we were at war with the manners, of France. A land of levity is a land of guilt. A serious mind is the native soil of every virtue, and the single character that does true honour to mankind. The soul's immortality has been the favourite theme with the serious of all ages. Nor is it strange; it is a subject by far the most interesting and important that can enter the mind of man. Of highest moment this subject always was, and always will be. Yet this its highest moment seems to admit of increase, at this day; a sort of occasional importance is superadded to the natural weight of it, if that opinion which is advanced in the Preface to the preceding Night be just. It is there supposed, that all our infidels, whatever scheme, for argument's sake, and to keep themselves in countenance, they patronize, are betrayed into their deplorable error by some doubt of their immortality at the bottom. And the more I consider this point, the more am I persuaded of the truth of that opinion. Though the distrust of a futurity is a strange error, yet it is an error into which bad men may naturally be distressed. For it is impossible to bid defiance to final ruin, without some refuge in imagination, some presumption of escape. And what presumption is there? There are but two in nature; but two within the compass of human thought; and these are, That either God will not, or cannot, punish. Considering the Divine attributes, the first is too gross to be digested by our strongest wishes. And, since omnipotence is as much a Divine attribute as holiness, that God cannot punish, is as absurd a supposition as the former. God certainly can punish, as long as wicked men exist. In non-existence, therefore, is their only refuge; and, consequently, non-existence is their strongest wish. And strong wishes have a strange influence on our opinions; they bias the judgment in a manner almost incredible. And since on this member of their alternative there are some very small appearances in their favour, and none at all on the other, they catch at this reed, they lay hold on this chimera, to save themselves from the shock and horror of an immediate and absolute despair.

On reviewing my subject by the light which this argument, and others of like tendency, threw upon it, I was more inclined than ever to pursue it, as it appeared to me to strike directly at the main root of all our infidelity. In the following pages, it is accordingly pursued at large; and some arguments for immortality, new at least to me, are ventured on in them. There, also, the writer has made an attempt to set the gross absurdities and horrors of annihilation in a fuller and more affecting view than is, I think, to be met with elsewhere.

The gentlemen for whose sake this attempt was chiefly made, profess great admiration for the wisdom of Heathen antiquity: what pity it is they are not sincere! If they were sincere, how would it mortify them to consider with what contempt and abhorrence their notions would have been received by those whom they so much admire! What degree of contempt and abhorrence would fall to their share, may be conjectured by the following matter of fact, in my opinion, extremely memorable. Of all their Heathen worthies, Socrates, it is well known, was the most guarded, dispassionate, and composed: yet this great master of temper was angry; and angry at his last hour; and angry with his friend; and angry for what deserved acknowledgment; angry for a right and tender instance of true friendship towards him. Is not this surprising? What could be the cause? The cause was for his honour: it was a truly noble, though, perhaps, a too punctilious, regard for immortality; for his friend asking him, with such an affectionate concern as became a friend, where he should deposit his remains, it was resented by Socrates, as implying a dishonourable supposition that he could be so mean as to have regard for any thing, even in himself, that was not immortal.

This fact, well considered, would make our infidels withdraw their admiration from Socrates; or make them endeavour, by their imitation of this illustrious example, to share his glory; and, consequently, it would incline them to peruse the following pages with candour and impartiality; which is all I desire, and that for their sakes; for I am persuaded, that an unprejudiced infidel must, necessarily, receive some advantageous impressions from them.

July 7th, 1744

Contents of night vii.

  • In the Sixth Night arguments were drawn from Nature, in proof of immortality. Here, others are drawn from Man: from his discontent, p. 168, from his passions and powers, 169, from the gradual growth of reason, 169, from his fear of death, 170, from the nature of hope, 170, and of virtue, 171, &c, from knowledge, and love, as being the most essential properties of the soul, 175, from the order of creation, 176, from the nature of ambition, 177, &c, avarice, 180, pleasure, 181, A digression on the grandeur of the passions, 182, Immortality alone renders our present state intelligible, 183, An objection from the Stoics' disbelief of immortality, answered, 184, Endless questions unresolvable, but on supposition of our immortality, 185, 186, The natural, most melancholy, and pathetic complaint of a worthy man under the persuasion of no futurity, 187, &c, The gross absurdities and horrors of annihilation urged home on Lorenzo, 192, &c, The soul's vast importance, 197, from whence it arises, 200, The difficulty of being an infidel, 201, The infamy, 202, the cause, 203, and the character, 203, of an infidel state, What true free-thinking is, 204, 205, The necessary punishment of the false, 206, Man's ruin is from himself, 206, An infidel accuses himself of guilt and hypocrisy, and that of the worst sort, 207, His obligation to Christians, 208, What danger he incurs by virtue, 209, Vice recommended to him, 209, His high pretences to virtue and benevolence exploded, 209, The conclusion, on the nature of faith, 210, reason, 211, and hope, 211, with an apology for this attempt, 212.
1 Heaven gives the needful, but neglected, call.
2 What day, what hour, but knocks at human hearts,
3 To wake the soul to sense of future scenes?
4 Deaths stand like Mercurys in every way,
5 And kindly point us to our journey's end.
6 Pope, who couldst make immortals! art thou dead?
7 I give thee joy: nor will I take my leave,
8 So soon to follow. Man but dives in death;
9 Dives from the sun, in fairer day to rise:
10 The grave his subterranean road to bliss.
11 Yes, infinite Indulgence plann'd it so:
12 Through various parts our glorious story runs;
13 Time gives the preface, endless Age unrolls
14 The volume (ne'er unroll'd) of human fate.
15 This, Earth and Skies already have proclaim'd.
16 The world's a prophecy of worlds to come;
17 And who what God foretells (who speaks in things,
18 Still louder than in words) shall dare deny?
19 If Nature's arguments appear too weak,
20 Turn a new leaf, and stronger read in man.
21 If man sleeps on, untaught by what he sees,
22 Can he prove infidel to what he feels?
23 He whose blind thought futurity denies,
24 Unconscious bears, Bellerophon! like thee,
25 His own indictment; he condemns himself:
26 Who reads his bosom, reads immortal life;
27 Or Nature, there, imposing on her sons,
28 Has written fables; man was made a lie.
29 Why Discontent for ever harbour'd there?
30 Incurable consumption of our peace!
31 Resolve me, why the cottager and king,
32 He whom sea-sever'd realms obey, and he
33 Who steals his whole dominion from the waste,
34 Repelling winter blasts with mud and straw,
35 Disquieted alike, draw sigh for sigh,
36 In fate so distant, in complaint so near.
37 Is it that things terrestrial can't content?
38 Deep in rich pasture will thy flocks complain?
39 Not so; but to their master is denied
40 To share their sweet serene. Man, ill at ease
41 In this, not his own place, this foreign field,
42 Where Nature fodders him with other food
43 Than was ordain'd his cravings to suffice,
44 Poor in abundance, famish'd at a feast,
45 Sighs on for something more, when most enjoy'd.
46 Is Heaven then kinder to thy flocks than thee?
47 Not so: thy pasture richer, but remote;
48 In part, remote: for that remoter part
49 Man bleats from Instinct, though, perhaps, debauch'd
50 By Sense, his Reason sleeps, nor dreams the cause.
51 The cause how obvious, when his Reason wakes!
52 His grief is but his grandeur in disguise;
53 And discontent is immortality.
54 Shall sons of Ether, shall the blood of Heaven,
55 Set up their hopes on earth, and stable here,
56 With brutal acquiescence in the mire?
57 Lorenzo, no! They shall be nobly pain'd;
58 The glorious foreigners, distress'd, shall sigh
59 On thrones; and thou congratulate the sigh:
60 Man's misery declares him born for bliss:
61 His anxious heart asserts the truth I sing,
62 And gives the sceptic in his head the lie.
63 Our heads, our hearts, our passions, and our powers,
64 Speak the same language; call us to the skies.
65 Unripen'd these, in this inclement clime,
66 Scarce rise above conjecture and mistake;
67 And for this land of trifles those too strong
68 Tumultuous rise, and tempest human life:
69 What prize on earth can pay us for the storm?
70 Meet objects for our passions Heaven ordain'd,
71 Objects that challenge all their fire, and leave
72 No fault but in defect. Bless'd Heaven! avert
73 A bounded ardour for unbounded bliss!
74 O for a bliss unbounded! Far beneath
75 A soul immortal is a mortal joy.
76 Nor are our powers to perish immature;
77 But, after feeble effort here, beneath
78 A brighter sun, and in a nobler soil,
79 Transplanted from this sublunary bed,
80 Shall flourish fair, and put forth all their bloom.
81 Reason progressive, Instinct is complete:
82 Swift Instinct leaps; slow Reason feebly climbs.
83 Brutes soon their zenith reach; their little all
84 Flows in at once; in ages they no more
85 Could know, or do, or covet, or enjoy.
86 Were man to live coeval with the sun,
87 The patriarch pupil would be learning still;
88 Yet, dying, leave his lesson half unlearnt.
89 Men perish in advance, as if the sun
90 Should set ere noon, in eastern oceans drown'd;
91 If fit, with dim illustrious to compare,
92 The sun's meridian with the soul of man.
93 To man why, step-dame Nature, so severe?
94 Why thrown aside thy master-piece half-wrought,
95 While meaner efforts thy last hand enjoy?
96 Or, if abortively poor man must die,
97 Nor reach what reach he might, why die in dread?
98 Why cursed with foresight, wise to misery?
99 Why of his proud prerogative the prey?
100 Why less pre-eminent in rank than pain?
101 His immortality alone can tell;
102 Full ample fund to balance all amiss,
103 And turn the scale in favour of the just!
104 His immortality alone can solve
105 That darkest of enigmas, human Hope;
106 Of all the darkest, if at death we die.
107 Hope, eager Hope, the' assassin of our joy,
108 All present blessings treading under foot,
109 Is scarce a milder tyrant than Despair.
110 With no past toils content, still planning new,
111 Hope turns us o'er to Death alone for ease.
112 Possession, why more tasteless than pursuit?
113 Why is a wish far dearer than a crown?
114 That wish accomplish'd, why the grave of bliss?
115 Because, in the great future buried deep,
116 Beyond our plans of empire and renown,
117 Lies all that man with ardour should pursue;
118 And HE who made him, bent him to the right.
119 Man's heart the' Almighty to the future sets,
120 By secret and inviolable springs;
121 And makes his hope his sublunary joy.
122 Man's heart eats all things, and is hungry still:
123 "More, more!"the glutton cries: for something new
124 So rages Appetite, if man can't mount,
125 He will descend. He starves on the possess'd.
126 Hence, the world's master, from Ambition's spire,
127 In Caprea plunged, and dived beneath the brute.
128 In that rank sty why wallow'd Empire's son
129 Supreme? Because he could no higher fly;
130 His riot was Ambition in despair.
131 Old Rome consulted birds; Lorenzo! thou,
132 With more success, the flight of Hope survey;
133 Of restless Hope, for ever on the wing.
134 High-perch'd o'er every thought that falcon sits,
135 To fly at all that rises in her sight;
136 And, never stooping but to mount again
137 Next moment, she betrays her aim's mistake,
138 And owns her quarry lodged beyond the grave.
139 There should it fail us, (it must fail us there,
140 If being fails,) more mournful riddles rise,
141 And Virtue vies with Hope in mystery.
142 Why Virtue? where its praise, its being fled?
143 Virtue is true self-interest pursued:
144 What true self-interest of quite mortal man?
145 To close with all that makes him happy here.
146 If Vice (as sometimes) is our friend on earth,
147 Then Vice is Virtue; 't is our sovereign good.
148 In self-applause is Virtue's golden prize;
149 No self-applause attends it on thy scheme.
150 Whence self-applause? From conscience of the right.
151 And what is right, but means of happiness?
152 No means of happiness when Virtue yields:
153 That basis failing, falls the building too,
154 And lays in ruin every virtuous joy.
155 The rigid guardian of a blameless heart,
156 So long revered, so long reputed wise,
157 Is weak; with rank knight-errantries o'er-run.
158 Why beats thy bosom with illustrious dreams
159 Of self-exposure, laudable and great,
160 Of gallant enterprise, and glorious death?
161 Die for thy country? Thou romantic fool!
162 Seize, seize the plank thyself, and let her sink.
163 Thy countryl what to thee? The Godhead, what,
164 (I speak with awe!) though He should bid thee bleed?
165 If, with thy blood, thy final hope is spilt,
166 Nor can Omnipotence reward the blow,
167 Be deaf; preserve thy being; disobey.
168 Nor is it disobedience: know, Lorenzo!
169 Whate'er the' Almighty's subsequent command,
170 His first command is this: "Man, love thyself."
171 In this alone, free-agents are not free.
172 Existence is the basis, bliss the prize:
173 If Virtue costs existence, 't is a crime,
174 Bold violation of our law supreme,
175 Black suicide; though nations, which consult
176 Their gain at thy expense, resound applause.
177 Since Virtue's recompence is doubtful here,
178 If man dies wholly, well may we demand,
179 Why is man suffer'd to be good in vain?
180 Why, to be good in vain, is man enjoin'd?
181 Why, to be good in vain, is man betray'd?
182 Betray'd by traitors lodged in his own breast,
183 By sweet complacencies from Virtue felt?
184 Why whispers Nature lies on Virtue's part?
185 Or if blind Instinct (which assumes the name
186 Of sacred Conscience) plays the fool in man,
187 Why Reason made accomplice in the cheat?
188 Why are the wisest loudest in her praise?
189 Can man by Reason's beam be led astray?
190 Or, at his peril, imitate his God?
191 Since Virtue sometimes ruins us on earth,
192 Or both are true, or man survives the grave.
193 Or man survives the grave, or own, Lorenzo,
194 Thy boast supreme a wild absurdity.
195 Dauntless thy spirit: cowards are thy scorn.
196 Grant man immortal, and thy scorn is just.
197 The man immortal, rationally brave,
198 Dares rush on death because he cannot die.
199 But if man loses all when life is lost,
200 He lives a coward, or a fool expires.
201 A daring infidel, (and such there are,
202 From pride, example, lucre, rage, revenge,
203 Or pure heroical defect of thought,)
204 Of all Earth's madmen, most deserves a chain.
205 When to the grave we follow the renown'd
206 For Valour, Virtue, Science, all we love,
207 And all we praise; for Worth, whose noon-tide beam,
208 Enabling us to think in higher style,
209 Mends our ideas of ethereal powers;
210 Dream we that lustre of the moral world
211 Goes out in stench, and rottenness the close?
212 Why was he wise to know, and warm to praise,
213 And strenuous to transcribe in human life,
214 The Mind Almighty? Could it be, that Fate,
215 Just when the lineaments began to shine,
216 And dawn the Deity, should snatch the draught,
217 With night eternal blot it out, and give
218 The Skies alarm, lest angels too might die?
219 If human souls, why not angelic too
220 Extinguish'd? and a solitary God,
221 O'er ghastly ruin, frowning from His throne?
222 Shall we this moment gaze on God in man?
223 The next, lose man for ever in the dust?
224 From dust we disengage, or man mistakes;
225 And there, where least his judgment fears a flaw.
226 Wisdom and Worth how boldly he commends!
227 Wisdom and Worth are sacred names; revered,
228 Where not embraced; applauded, deified!
229 Why not compassion'd too? If spirits die,
230 Both are calamities; inflicted both
231 To make us but more wretched: Wisdom's eye
232 Acute, for what? To spy more miseries;
233 And Worth, so recompensed, new-points their stings.
234 Or man surmounts the grave, or gain is loss,
235 And Worth exalted humbles us the more.
236 Thou wilt not patronize a scheme that makes
237 Weakness and Vice the refuge of mankind.
238 "Has Virtue, then, no joys?" Yes, joys dear-bought.
239 Talk ne'er so long, in this imperfect state,
240 Virtue and Vice are at eternal war.
241 Virtue's a combat; and who fights for nought,
242 Or for precarious or for small reward?
243 Who Virtue's self-reward so loud resound,
244 Would take degrees angelic here below,
245 And Virtue, while they compliment, betray,
246 By feeble motives and unfaithful guards.
247 The crown, the' unfading crown, her soul inspires:
248 'T is that, and that alone, can countervail
249 The Body's treacheries, and the World's assaults:
250 On Earth's poor pay our famish'd Virtue dies.
251 Truth incontestable, in spite of all
252 A Bayle has preach'd, or a Voltaire believed!
253 In man, the more we dive, the more we see
254 Heaven's signet stamping an immortal make.
255 Dive to the bottom of his soul, the base
256 Sustaining all, what find we? Knowledge, love.
257 As light and heat essential to the sun,
258 These to the soul. And why, if souls expire?
259 How little lovely here! How little known!
260 Small knowledge we dig up with endless toil;
261 And love unfeign'd may purchase perfect hate.
262 Why starved, on earth, our angel-appetites,
263 While brutal are indulged their fulsome fill?
264 Were then capacities Divine conferr'd,
265 As a mock diadem, in savage sport,
266 Rank insult of our pompous poverty,
267 Which reaps but pain from seeming claims so fair?
268 In future age lies no redress? and shuts
269 Eternity the door on our complaint?
270 If so, for what strange ends were mortals made!
271 The worst to wallow, and the best to weep;
272 The man who merits most, must most complain.
273 Can we conceive a disregard in Heaven,
274 What the worst perpetrate, or best endure?
275 This cannot be. To love, and know, in man
276 Is boundless appetite, and boundless power:
277 And these demonstrate boundless objects too.
278 Objects, powers, appetites, Heaven suits in all;
279 Nor, Nature through, e'er violates this sweet,
280 Eternal concord on her tuneful string.
281 Is man the sole exception from her laws?
282 Eternity struck off from human hope,
283 (I speak with truth, but veneration too,)
284 Man is a monster, the reproach of Heaven,
285 A stain, a dark impenetrable cloud
286 On Nature's beauteous aspect; and deforms,
287 (Amazing blot!) deforms her with her lord.
288 If such is man's allotment, what is Heaven?
289 Or own the soul immortal, or blaspheme.
290 Or own the soul immortal, or invert
291 All order. Go, mock-majesty! go, man!
292 And bow to thy superiors of the stall;
293 Through every scene of sense superior far:
294 They graze the turf untill'd; they drink the stream
295 Unbrew'd, and ever full, and unembitter'd
296 With doubts, fears, fruitless hopes, regrets, despairs;
297 Mankind's peculiar! Reason's precious dower!
298 No foreign clime they ransack for their robes;
299 Nor brothers cite to the litigious bar.
300 Their good is good entire, unmix'd, unmarr'd;
301 They find a paradise in every field,
302 On boughs forbidden, where no curses hang:
303 Their ill no more than strikes the sense; unstretch'd
304 By previous dread, or murmur in the rear:
305 When the worst comes, it comes unfear'd; one stroke
306 Begins and ends their woe: they die but once;
307 Bless'd, incommunicable privilege! for which
308 Proud man, who rules the globe, and reads the stars,
309 Philosopher or hero, sighs in vain.
310 Account for this prerogative in brutes.
311 No day, no glimpse of day, to solve the knot,
312 But what beams on it from eternity.
313 O sole and sweet solution! that unties
314 The difficult, and softens the severe;
315 The cloud on Nature's beauteous face dispels;
316 Restores bright order; casts the brute beneath;
317 And re-enthrones us in supremacy
318 Of joy, e'en here. Admit immortal life,
319 And virtue is knight-errantry no more:
320 Each Virtue brings in hand a golden dower,
321 Far richer in reversion; Hope exults,
322 And, though much bitter in our cup is thrown,
323 Predominates, and gives the taste of heaven.
324 O wherefore is the Deity so kind?
325 Astonishing beyond astonishment!
326 Heaven our reward for heaven enjoy'd below.
327 Still unsubdued thy stubborn heart? for there
328 The traitor lurks, who doubts the truth I sing.
329 Reason is guiltless! Will alone rebels.
330 What, in that stubborn heart if I should find
331 New, unexpected witnesses against thee?
332 Ambition, Pleasure, and the Love of Gain!
333 Canst thou suspect that these, which make the Soul
334 The slave of earth, should own her heir of heaven?
335 Canst thou suspect, what makes us disbelieve
336 Our immortality, should prove it sure?
337 First, then, Ambition summon to the bar.
338 Ambition's "shame, extravagance, disgust,
339 And inextinguishable nature,"speak.
340 Each much deposes: hear them in their turn.
341 Thy soul, how passionately fond of Fame!
342 How anxious that fond passion to conceal!
343 We blush, detected in designs on praise,
344 Though for best deeds, and from the best of men;
345 And why? Because immortal. Art Divine
346 Has made the body tutor to the soul;
347 Heaven kindly gives our blood a moral flow;
348 Bids it ascend the glowing cheek, and there
349 Upbraid that little heart's inglorious aim,
350 Which stoops to court a character from man;
351 While o'er us in tremendous judgment sit
352 Far more than man, with endless praise and blame.
353 Ambition's boundless appetite out-speaks
354 The verdict of its shame. When souls take fire
355 At high presumptions of their own desert,
356 One age is poor applause; the mighty shout,
357 The thunder by the living few begun,
358 Late time must echo; worlds unborn, resound.
359 We wish our names eternally to live:
360 Wild dream! which ne'er had haunted human thought
361 Had not our natures been eternal too.
362 Instinct points out an interest in hereafter;
363 But our blind Reason sees not where it lies;
364 Or, seeing, gives the substance for the shade.
365 Fame is the shade of immortality,
366 And in itself a shadow. Soon as caught,
367 Contemn'd; it shrinks to nothing in the grasp.
368 Consult the' ambitious, 't is ambition's cure.
369 "And is this all?"cried Caesar, at his height,
370 Disgusted. This third proof Ambition brings
371 Of immortality: The first in fame,
372 Observe him near, your envy will abate:
373 Shamed at the disproportion vast between
374 The passion and the purchase, he will sigh
375 At such success, and blush at his renown.
376 And why? Because far richer prize invites
377 His heart; far more illustrious glory calls;
378 It calls in whispers, yet the deafest hear.
379 And can Ambition a fourth proof supply?
380 It can, and stronger than the former three;
381 Yet quite o'erlook'd by some reputed wise.
382 Though disappointments in ambition pain,
383 And though success disgusts, yet still,
384 In vain we strive to pluck it from our hearts;
385 By Nature planted for the noblest ends.
386 Absurd the famed advice to Pyrrhus given,
387 More praised than ponder'd; specious, but unsound:
388 Sooner that hero's sword the world had quell'd,
389 Than Reason his ambition. Man must soar.
390 An obstinate activity within,
391 An insuppressive spring, will toss him up,
392 In spite of Fortune's load. Not kings alone,
393 Each villager has his ambition too;
394 No sultan prouder than his fetter'd slave.
395 Slaves build their little Babylons of straw,
396 Echo the proud Assyrian in their hearts,
397 And cry, "Behold the wonders of my might!"
398 And why? Because immortal as their lord:
399 And souls immortal must for ever heave
400 At something great; the glitter, or the gold;
401 The praise of mortals, or the praise of Heaven.
402 Nor absolutely vain is human praise,
403 When human is supported by Divine.
404 I'll introduce Lorenzo to himself:
405 Pleasure and Pride (bad masters) share our hearts.
406 As Love of Pleasure is ordain'd to guard
407 And feed our bodies, and extend our race;
408 The Love of Praise is planted to protect
409 And propagate the glories of the mind.
410 What is it but the Love of Praise inspires,
411 Matures, refines, embellishes, exalts,
412 Earth's happiness? From that the delicate,
413 The grand, the marvellous, of civil life.
414 Want and Convenience, under-workers, lay
415 The basis, on which Love of Glory builds.
416 Nor is thy life, O Virtue! less in debt
417 To Praise, thy secret stimulating friend.
418 Were men not proud, what merit should we miss!
419 Pride made the virtues of the Pagan world.
420 Praise is the salt that seasons right to man,
421 And whets his appetite for moral good.
422 Thirst of Applause is Virtue's second guard;
423 Reason her first; but Reason wants an aid;
424 Our private Reason is a flatterer;
425 Thirst of Applause calls Public Judgment in,
426 To poise our own, to keep an even scale,
427 And give endanger'd Virtue fairer play.
428 Here a fifth proof arises, stronger still:
429 Why this so nice construction of our hearts;
430 These delicate moralities of Sense;
431 This constitutional reserve of aid
432 To succour Virtue, when our Reason fails;
433 If Virtue kept alive by care and toil,
434 And oft the mark of injuries on earth,
435 When labour'd to maturity, (its bill
436 Of disciplines and pains unpaid,) must die?
437 Why freighted rich to dash against a rock?
438 Were man to perish when most fit to live,
439 O how misspent were all these stratagems,
440 By skill Divine inwoven in our frame!
441 Where are Heaven's holiness and mercy fled?
442 Laughs Heaven at once at Virtue and at man?
443 If not, why that discouraged, this destroy'd?
444 Thus far Ambition. What says Avarice?
445 This her chief maxim, which has long been thine:
446 "The wise and wealthy are the same."I grant it.
447 To store up treasure with incessant toil,
448 This is man's province, this his highest praise,
449 To this great end keen Instinct stings him on.
450 To guide that Instinct, Reason! is thy charge;
451 Tis thine to tell us where true treasure lies:
452 But, Reason failing to discharge her trust,
453 Or to the deaf discharging it in vain,
454 A blunder follows; and blind Industry,
455 Gall'd by the spur, but stranger to the course,
456 (The course where stakes of more than gold are won,)
457 O'erloading, with the cares of distant age,
458 The jaded spirits of the present hour,
459 Provides for an eternity below.
460 "Thou shalt not covet,"is a wise command;
461 But bounded to the wealth the sun surveys:
462 Look farther, the command stands quite reversed,
463 And avarice is a virtue most Divine.
464 Is faith a refuge for our happiness?
465 Most sure. And is it not for reason too?
466 Nothing this world unriddles, but the next.
467 Whence inextinguishable thirst of gain?
468 From inextinguishable life in man.
469 Man, if not meant, by worth, to reach the skies,
470 Had wanted wing to fly so far in guilt.
471 Sour grapes, I grant, ambition, avarice;
472 Yet still their root is immortality.
473 These its wild growths so bitter, and so base,
474 (Pain and reproach!) Religion can reclaim,
475 Refine, exalt, throw down their poisonous lee,
476 And make them sparkle in the bowl of bliss.
477 See, the third witness laughs at bliss remote,
478 And falsely promises an Eden here:
479 Truth she shall speak for once, though prone to lie,
480 A common cheat, and Pleasure is her name.
481 To Pleasure never was Lorenzo deaf;
482 Then hear her now, now first thy real friend.
483 Since Nature made us not more fond than proud
484 Of happiness, (whence hypocrites in joy,
485 Makers of mirth, artificers of smiles!)
486 Why should the joy most poignant Sense affords
487 Burn us with blushes, and rebuke our pride?
488 Those heaven-born blushes tell us man descends,
489 E'en in the zenith of his earthly bliss.
490 Should Reason take her infidel repose,
491 This honest instinct speaks our lineage high:
492 This instinct calls on darkness to conceal
493 Our rapturous relation to the stalls.
494 Our glory covers us with noble shame,
495 And he that's unconfounded is unmann'd.
496 The man that blushes is not quite a brute.
497 Thus far with thee, Lorenzo, will I close:
498 Pleasure is good, and man for pleasure made;
499 But pleasure full of glory as of joy;
500 Pleasure, which neither blushes nor expires.
501 The witnesses are heard; the cause is o'er;
502 Let Conscience file the sentence in her court,
503 Dearer than deeds that half a realm convey:
504 Thus, seal'd by Truth, the' authentic record runs:
505 "Know, all; know, infidels, unapt to know!
506 'T is immortality your nature solves;
507 'T is immortality deciphers man,
508 And opens all the mysteries of his make.
509 Without it, half his instincts are a riddle;
510 Without it, all his virtues are a dream.
511 His very crimes attest his dignity.
512 His sateless thirst of pleasure, gold, and fame,
513 Declares him born for blessings infinite:
514 What less than infinite makes un-absurd
515 Passions, which all on earth but more inflames?
516 Fierce passions, so mismeasured to this scene,
517 Stretch'd out, like eagles' wings, beyond our nest,
518 Far, far beyond the worth of all below,
519 For earth too large, presage a nobler flight,
520 And evidence our title to the skies."
521 Ye gentle theologues of calmer kind!
522 Whose constitution dictates to your pen,
523 Who, cold yourselves, think ardour comes from hell!
524 Think not our passions from Corruption sprung,
525 Though to Corruption now they lend their wings;
526 That is their mistress, not their mother. All
527 (And justly) Reason deem Divine: I see,
528 I feel a grandeur in the Passions too,
529 Which speaks their high descent, and glorious end;
530 Which speaks them rays of an eternal fire.
531 In Paradise itself they burnt as strong,
532 Ere Adam fell, though wiser in their aim.
533 Like the proud Eastern, struck by Providence,
534 What, though our passions are run mad, and stoop,
535 With low terrestrial appetite, to graze
536 On trash, on toys, dethroned from high desire?
537 Yet still, through their disgrace, no feeble ray
538 Of greatness shines, and tells us whence they fell:
539 But these (like that fallen monarch when reclaim'd)
540 When Reason moderates the rein aright,
541 Shall re-ascend, remount their former sphere,
542 Where once they soar'd illustrious; ere seduced,
543 By wanton Eve's debauch, to stroll on earth,
544 And set the sublunary world on fire.
545 But grant their frenzy lasts: their frenzy fails
546 To disappoint one providential end,
547 For which Heaven blew up ardour in our hearts:
548 Were Reason silent, boundless Passion speaks
549 A future scene of boundless objects too,
550 And brings glad tidings of eternal day.
551 Eternal day! 'T is that enlightens all;
552 And all, by that enlighten'd, proves it sure.
553 Consider man as an immortal being,
554 Intelligible all; and all is great;
555 A crystalline transparency prevails,
556 And strikes full lustre through the human sphere:
557 Consider man as mortal, all is dark,
558 And wretched; Reason weeps at the survey.
559 The learn'd Lorenzo cries, "And let her weep,
560 Weak, modern Reason! Ancient times were wise.
561 Authority, that venerable guide,
562 Stands on my part: the famed Athenian Porch
563 (And who for wisdom so renown'd as they?)
564 Denied this immortality to man."
565 I grant it; but affirm, they proved it too.
566 A riddle this! Have patience; I'll explain.
567 What noble vanities, what moral flights,
568 Glittering through their romantic wisdom's page,
569 Make us, at once, despise them, and admire!
570 Fable is flat to these high-season'd sires;
571 They leave the' extravagance of song below.
572 "Flesh shall not feel; or, feeling, shall enjoy
573 The dagger or the rack; to them alike
574 A bed of roses, or the burning bull."
575 In men exploding all beyond the grave,
576 Strange doctrine, this! As doctrine it was strange;
577 But not, as prophecy; for such it proved,
578 And, to their own amazement, was fulfill'd:
579 They feign'd a firmness Christians need not feign.
580 The Christian truly triumph'd in the flame;
581 The Stoic saw, in double wonder lost,
582 (Wonder at them, and wonder at himself,)
583 To find the bold adventures of his thought
584 Not bold, and that he strove to lie in vain.
585 Whence, then, those thoughts? those towering thoughts that flew
586 Such monstrous heights? From instinct and from pride.
587 The glorious instinct of a deathless soul,
588 Confusedly conscious of her dignity,
589 Suggested truths they could not understand.
590 In Lust's dominion, and in Passion's storm,
591 Truth's system broken, scatter'd fragments lay:
592 (As light in chaos, glimmering through the gloom:)
593 Smit with the pomp of lofty sentiments,
594 Pleased Pride proclaim'd what Reason disbelieved.
595 Pride, like the Delphic priestess, with a swell,
596 Raved nonsense, destined to be future sense,
597 When life immortal in full day should shine,
598 And death's dark shadows fly the gospel sun.
599 They spoke what nothing but immortal souls
600 Could speak; and thus the truth they question'd, proved.
601 Can then absurdities, as well as crimes,
602 Speak man immortal? All things speak him so.
603 Much has been urged; and dost thou call for more?
604 Call; and with endless questions be distress'd,
605 All unresolvable, if earth is all.
606 "Why life, a moment? infinite, desire?
607 Our wish, eternity? our home, the grave?
608 Heaven's promise dormant lies in human hope;
609 Who wishes life immortal, proves it too.
610 Why happiness pursued, though never found?
611 Man's thirst of happiness declares It is;
612 (For Nature never gravitates to nought;)
613 That thirst unquench'd declares, It is not here.
614 My Lucia, thy Clarissa, call to thought.
615 Why cordial friendship riveted so deep,
616 (As hearts, to pierce at first, at parting rend,)
617 If friend and friendship vanish in an hour?
618 Is not this Torment in the mask of Joy?
619 Why by Reflection marr'd the joys of Sense?
620 Why Past and Future preying on our hearts,
621 And putting all our present joys to death?
622 Why labours Reason? Instinct were as well;
623 Instinct, far better; what can choose, can err:
624 O how infallible the thoughtless brute!
625 'Twere well His Holiness were half as sure.
626 Reason with Inclination why at war?
627 Why sense of guilt? Why Conscience up in arms?"
628 Conscience of guilt is prophecy of pain,
629 And bosom-counsel to decline the blow.
630 Reason with Inclination ne'er had jarr'd,
631 If nothing future paid forbearance here.
632 Thus on: these, and a thousand pleas uncall'd,
633 All promise, some insure, a second scene;
634 Which, were it doubtful, would be dearer far
635 Than all things else most certain; were it false,
636 What truth on earth so precious as the lie?
637 This world it gives us, let what will ensue;
638 This world it gives, in that high cordial, hope;
639 The future of the present is the soul:
640 How this life groans when sever'd from the next!
641 Poor, mutilated wretch, that disbelieves!
642 By dark distrust, his being, cut in two,
643 In both parts perishes; life void of joy,
644 Sad prelude of eternity in pain!
645 Couldst thou persuade me the next life could fail
646 Our ardent wishes, how should I pour out
647 My bleeding heart in anguish, new as deep!
648 O with what thoughts thy hope, and my despair,
649 Abhorr'd Annihilation, blasts the soul,
650 And wide extends the bounds of human woe!
651 Could I believe Lorenzo's system true,
652 In this black channel would my ravings run:
653 "Grief from the future borrow'd peace, ere-while.
654 The future vanish'd, and the present pain'd!
655 Strange import of unprecedented ill!
656 Fall, how profound! like Lucifer's, the fall!
657 Unequal fate: his fall, without his guilt!
658 From where fond Hope built her pavilion high,
659 The gods among, hurl'd headlong, hurl'd at once
660 To night, to nothing! darker still than night.
661 If 'twas a dream, why wake me, my worst foe?
662 Lorenzo! boastful of the name of friend!
663 O for delusion! O for error still!
664 Could vengeance strike much stronger than to plant
665 A thinking being in a world like this,
666 Not over-rich before, now beggar'd quite,
667 More cursed than at the fall? The sun goes out!
668 The thorns shoot up! What thorns in every thought!
669 Why sense of better? It embitters worse.
670 Why sense? why life, if but to sigh, then sink
671 To what I was? Twice nothing! and much woe!
672 Woe from Heaven's bounties! woe from what was wont
673 To flatter most, high intellectual powers.
674 "Thought, virtue, knowledge! blessings, by thy scheme
675 All poison'd into pains. First, knowledge, once
676 My soul's ambition, now her greatest dread.
677 To know myself, true wisdom? No, to shun
678 That shocking science. Parent of despair,
679 Avert thy mirror! if I see, I die.
680 "Know my Creator? Climb His bless'd abode
681 By painful speculation, pierce the veil,
682 Dive in His nature, read His attributes,
683 And gaze in admiration on a foe,
684 Obtruding life, withholding happiness?
685 From the full rivers that surround His throne,
686 Not letting fall one drop of joy on man:
687 Man gasping for one drop, that he might cease
688 To curse his birth, nor envy reptiles more!
689 Ye sable clouds, ye darkest shades of night!
690 Hide Him, for ever hide Him, from my thought,
691 Once all my comfort, source and soul of joy!
692 Now leagued with furies, and with thee
* Lorenzo.
against me.
693 "Know His achievements? Study His renown?
694 Contemplate this amazing universe,
695 Dropp'd from His hand, with miracles replete?
696 For what? 'Mid miracles of nobler name,
697 To find one miracle of misery?
698 To find the being, which alone can know
699 And praise His works, a blemish on His praise?
700 Through Nature's ample range, in thought, to stroll,
701 And start at man, the single mourner there,
702 Breathing high hope, chain'd down to pangs and death?
703 "Knowing is suffering: and shall Virtue share
704 The sigh of Knowledge? Virtue shares the sigh.
705 By straining up the steep of excellent,
706 By battles fought, and from Temptation won,
707 What gains she, but the pang of seeing worth,
708 Angelic worth, soon shuffled in the dark
709 With every vice, and swept to brutal dust?
710 Merit is madness; virtue is a crime;
711 A crime to Reason, if it costs us pain
712 Unpaid: what pain, amidst a thousand more,
713 To think the most abandon'd, after days
714 Of triumph o'er their betters, find in death
715 As soft a pillow, nor make fouler clay!
716 "Duty! Religion! These, our duty done,
717 Imply reward. Religion is mistake.
718 Duty! There's none, but to repel the cheat.
719 Ye cheats, away! ye daughters of my Pride!
720 Who feign yourselves the favourites of the Skies:
721 Ye towering hopes, abortive energies!
722 That toss and struggle in my lying breast,
723 To scale the skies, and build presumptions there,
724 As I were heir of an eternity.
725 Vain, vain ambitions! trouble me no more.
726 Why travel far in quest of sure defeat?
727 As bounded as my being, be my wish.
728 All is inverted, Wisdom is a fool.
729 Sense! take the rein; blind Passion! drive us on;
730 And, Ignorance! befriend us on our way;
731 Ye new, but truest patrons of our peace!
732 Yes; give the Pulse full empire; live the Brute,
733 Since as the Brute we die. The sum of man,
734 Of godlike man, to revel and to rot!
735 "But not on equal terms with other brutes:
736 Their revels a more poignant relish yield,
737 And safer too; they never poisons choose.
738 Instinct, than Reason, makes more wholesome meals,
739 And sends all-marring Murmur far away.
740 For sensual life, they best philosophize;
741 Theirs that serene the sages sought in vain:
742 Tis man alone expostulates with Heaven;
743 His all the power, and all the cause, to mourn.
744 Shall human eyes alone dissolve in tears?
745 And bleed in anguish none but human hearts?
746 The wide-stretch'd realm of intellectual woe,
747 Surpassing sensual far, is all our own.
748 In life so fatally distinguish'd, why
749 Cast in one lot, confounded, lump'd in death?
750 "Ere yet in being, was mankind in guilt?
751 Why thunder'd this peculiar clause against us,
752 All-mortal, and all-wretched? Have the Skies
753 Reasons of state, their subjects may not scan,
754 Nor humbly reason when they sorely sigh?
755 All-mortal, and all-wretched. 'T is too much;
756 Unparallel'd in Nature: 't is too much
757 On being unrequested at Thy hands,
758 Omnipotent! for I see nought but Power.
759 "And why see that? Why Thought? To toil and eat,
760 Then make our bed in darkness, needs no thought.
761 What superfluities are reasoning souls!
762 O give eternity, or thought destroy!
763 But without thought our curse were half unfelt;
764 Its blunted edge would spare the throbbing heart;
765 And therefore 't is bestow'd. I thank thee, Reason,
766 For aiding Life's too small calamities,
767 And giving being to the dread of Death!
768 Such are thy bounties! Was it then too much
769 For me to trespass on the brutal rights?
770 Too much for Heaven to make one emmet more?
771 Too much for Chaos to permit my mass
772 A longer stay with essences unwrought,
773 Unfashion'd, untormented into man?
774 Wretched preferment to this round of pains!
775 Wretched capacity of frenzy, Though!
776 Wretched capacity of dying, Life!
777 Life, Thought, Worth, Wisdom, all (O foul revolt!)
778 Once friends to peace, gone over to the foe.
779 "Death, then, has changed its nature too. O Death,
780 Come to my bosom, thou best gift of Heaven!
781 Best friend of man! since man is Man no more.
782 Why in this thorny wilderness so long,
783 Since there's no Promised Land's ambrosial bower,
784 To pay me with its honey for my stings?
785 If needful to the selfish schemes of Heaven
786 To sting us sore, why mock'd our misery?
787 Why this so sumptuous insult o'er our heads?
788 Why this illustrious canopy display'd?
789 Why so magnificently lodged Despair?
790 At stated periods, sure-returning, roll
791 These glorious orbs, that mortals may compute
792 Their length of labours and of pains, nor lose
793 Their misery's full measure? Smiles with flowers,
794 And fruits, promiscuous, ever-teeming earth,
795 That man may languish in luxurious scenes,
796 And in an Eden mourn his wither'd joys?
797 Claim Earth and Skies man's admiration, due
798 For such delights? Bless'd animals! too wise
799 To wonder, and too happy to complain!
800 "Our doom decreed demands a mournful scene:
801 Why not a dungeon dark for the condemn'd?
802 Why not the dragon's subterranean den,
803 For man to howl in? Why not his abode
804 Of the same dismal colour with his fate?
805 A Thebes, a Babylon, at vast expense
806 Of time, toil, treasure, art, for owls and adders,
807 As congruous, as for man this lofty dome,
808 Which prompts proud Thought, and kindles high Desire;
809 If, from her humble chamber in the dust,
810 While proud Thought swells, and high Desire inflames,
811 The poor worm calls us for her inmates there;
812 And, round us, Death's inexorable hand
813 Draws the dark curtain close; undrawn no more.
814 "Undrawn no more! Behind the cloud of Death,
815 Once, I beheld a sun; a sun which gilt
816 That sable cloud, and turn'd it all to gold:
817 How the grave's alter'd! fathomless as hell,
818 A real hell to those who dreamt of heaven!
819 Annihilation! how it yawns before me!
820 Next moment I may drop from thought, from sense,
821 The privilege of angels and of worms,
822 An outcast from existence! and this spirit,
823 This all-pervading, this all-conscious soul,
824 This particle of energy Divine,
825 Which travels Nature, flies from star to star,
826 And visits gods, and emulates their powers,
827 For ever is extinguish'd. Horror! Death!
828 Death of that death I fearless once survey'd!
829 When horror universal shall descend,
830 And Heaven's dark concave urn all human race,
831 On that enormous, unrefunding tomb,
832 How just this verse, this monumental sigh!"
833 Beneath the lumber of demolish'd worlds,
834 Deep in the rubbish of the general wreck,
835 Swept ignominious to the common mass
836 Of matter never dignified with life,
837 Here lie proud Nationals, the sons of Heaven!
838 The lords of Earth, the property of worms!
839 Beings of yesterday, and no to-morrow!
840 Who lived in terror, and in pangs expired!
841 All gone to rot in chaos; or to make
842 Their happy transit into blocks or brutes,
843 Nor longer sully their Creator's name.
844 Lorenzo! hear, pause, ponder, and pronounce.
845 Just is this history? If such is man,
846 Mankind's historian, though Divine, might weep:
847 And dares Lorenzo smile? I know thee proud:
848 For once let Pride befriend thee: Pride looks pale
849 At such a scene, and sighs for something more.
850 Amid thy boasts, presumptions, and displays,
851 And art thou then a shadow? less than shade?
852 A nothing? less than nothing? To have been,
853 And not to be, is lower than unborn.
854 Art thou ambitious? Why then make the worm
855 Thine equal? Runs thy taste of pleasure high?
856 Why patronize sure death of every joy?
857 Charm riches? Why choose beggary in the grave,
858 Of every hope a bankrupt, and for ever?
859 Ambition, Pleasure, Avarice, persuade thee
860 To make that world of glory, rapture, wealth,
861 They lately proved, thy soul's supreme desire.
862 What art thou made of? Rather, how unmade?
863 Great Nature's master-appetite destroy'd!
864 Is endless life, and happiness, despised?
865 Or both wish'd here, where neither can be found?
866 Such man's perverse, eternal war with Heaven!
867 Barest thou persist? And is there nought on earth
868 But a long train of transitory forms,
869 Rising, and breaking, millions in an hour?
870 Bubbles of a fantastic deity, blown up
871 In sport, and then in cruelty destroy'd?
872 O! for what crime, unmerciful Lorenzo,
873 Destroys thy scheme the whole of human race?
874 Kind is fell Lucifer, compared to thee:
875 O! spare this waste of being half-Divine;
876 And vindicate the' economy of Heaven.
877 Heaven is all love; all joy in giving joy:
878 It never had created but to bless:
879 And shall it, then, strike off the list of life
880 A being bless'd, or worthy so to be?
881 Heaven starts at an annihilating God.
882 Is that all Nature starts at, thy desire?
883 Art such a clod to wish thyself all clay?
884 What is that dreadful wish? The dying groan
885 Of Nature, murder'd by the blackest guilt.
886 What deadly poison has thy nature drunk?
887 To Nature undebauch'd no shock so great;
888 Nature's first wish is endless happiness;
889 Annihilation is an after-thought,
890 A monstrous wish, unborn till Virtue dies.
891 And, O! what depth of horror lies enclosed!
892 For non-existence no man ever wish'd,
893 But first he wish'd the Deity destroy'd.
894 If so, what words are dark enough to draw
895 Thy picture true? The darkest are too fair.
896 Beneath what baleful planet, in what hour
897 Of desperation, by what Fury's aid,
898 In what infernal posture of the soul,
899 All hell invited, and all hell in joy
900 At such a birth, a birth so near of kin,
901 Did thy foul fancy whelp so black a scheme
902 Of hopes abortive, faculties half-blown,
903 And deities begun, reduced to dust?
904 "There's nought,"thou say'st, "but one eternal flux
905 Of feeble essences, tumultuous driven
906 Through Time's rough billows into Night's abyss."
907 Say, in this rapid tide of human ruin,
908 Is there no rock on which man's tossing thought
909 Can rest from terror, dare his fate survey,
910 And boldly think it something to be born?
911 Amid such hourly wrecks of being fair,
912 Is there no central, all-sustaining base,
913 All-realizing, all-connecting power,
914 Which, as it call'd forth all things, can recall,
915 And force Destruction to refund her spoil?
916 Command the Grave restore her taken prey?
917 Bid Death's dark vale its human harvest yield,
918 And Earth, and Ocean, pay their debt of man,
919 True to the grand deposit trusted there?
920 Is there no Potentate, whose out-stretch'd arm,
921 When ripening Time calls forth the' appointed hour,
922 Pluck'd from foul Devastation's famish'd maw,
923 Binds Present, Past, and Future to his throne?
924 His throne, how glorious, thus divinely graced,
925 By germinating beings clustering round!
926 A garland worthy the Divinity!
927 A throne, by Heaven's omnipotence in smiles,
928 Built (like a Pharos towering in the waves)
929 Amidst immense effusions of His love,
930 An ocean of communicated bliss!
931 An all-prolific, all-preserving God!
932 This were a God indeed. And such is man,
933 As here presumed: he rises from his fall.
934 Think'st thou Omnipotence a naked root,
935 Each blossom fair of Deity destroy'd?
936 Nothing is dead; nay, nothing sleeps; each soul
937 That ever animated human clay
938 Now wakes, is on the wing; and where, O where,
939 Will the swarm settle? When the trumpet's call,
940 As sounding brass, collects us round Heaven's throne,
941 Conglobed we bask in everlasting day,
942 (Paternal splendour!) and adhere for ever.
943 Had not the soul this outlet to the skies,
944 In this vast vessel of the universe,
945 How should we gasp, as in an empty void!
946 How in the pangs of famish'd Hope expire!
947 How bright my prospect shines! How gloomy thine!
948 A trembling world! and a devouring God!
949 Earth but the shambles of Omnipotence!
950 Heaven's face all stain'd with causeless massacres
951 Of countless millions, born to feel the pang
952 Of being lost. Lorenzo, can it be?
953 This bids us shudder at the thoughts of life.
954 Who would be born to such a phantom world,
955 Where nought substantial but our misery?
956 Where joy (if joy) but heightens our distress,
957 So soon to perish, and revive no more?
958 The greater such a joy, the more it pains.
959 A world so far from great, (and yet how great
960 It shines to thee!) there's nothing real in it;
961 Being a shadow, consciousness a dream!
962 A dream how dreadful! Universal blank
963 Before it and behind! Poor man, a spark
964 From non-existence struck by wrath Divine,
965 Glittering a moment, nor that moment sure,
966 'Midst upper, nether, and surrounding night,
967 His sad, sure, sudden, and eternal tomb!
968 Lorenzo, dost thou feel these arguments?
969 Or is there nought but vengeance can be felt?
970 How hast thou dared the Deity dethrone?
971 How dared indict Him of a world like this?
972 If such the world, creation was a crime;
973 For what is crime, but cause of misery?
974 Retract, blasphemer! and unriddle this,
975 Of endless arguments, above, below,
976 Without us, and within, the short result,
977 "If man's immortal, there's a God in heaven."
978 But wherefore such redundancy, such waste
979 Of argument? One sets my soul at rest;
980 One obvious, and at hand, and O! at heart.
981 So just the Skies, Philander's life so pain'd,
982 His heart so pure; that or succeeding scenes
983 Have palms to give, or ne'er had he been born.
984 "What an old tale is this!"Lorenzo cries.
985 I grant this argument is old; but truth
986 No years impair; and had not this been true,
987 Thou never hadst despised it for its age.
988 Truth is immortal as thy soul; and fable
989 As fleeting as thy joys. Be wise, nor make
990 Heaven's highest blessing vengeance: O be wise!
991 Nor make a curse of immortality.
992 Say, know'st thou what it is? or what thou art?
993 Know'st thou the' importance of a soul immortal?
994 Behold this midnight glory: worlds on worlds!
995 Amazing pomp! Redouble this amaze!
996 Ten thousand add, add twice ten thousand more;
997 Then weigh the whole: one soul outweighs them all;
998 And calls the' astonishing magnificence
999 Of unintelligent Creation, poor.
1000 For this, believe not me; no man believe;
1001 Trust not in words, but deeds; and deeds no less
1002 Than those of the Supreme; nor His, a few;
1003 Consult them all. Consulted, all proclaim
1004 Thy soul's importance: tremble at thyself;
1005 For whom Omnipotence has waked so long;
1006 Has waked and work'd for ages; from the birth
1007 Of Nature to this unbelieving hour.
1008 In this small province of His vast domain,
1009 (All Nature bow, while I pronounce His name!)
1010 What has God done, and not for this sole end,
1011 To rescue souls from death? The soul's high price
1012 Is writ in all the conduct of the Skies.
1013 The soul's high price is the Creation's key,
1014 Unlocks its mysteries, and naked lays
1015 The genuine cause of every deed Divine:
1016 That is the chain of ages which maintains
1017 Their obvious correspondence, and unites
1018 Most distant periods in one bless'd design:
1019 That is the mighty hinge on which have turn'd
1020 All revolutions, whether we regard
1021 The natural, civil, or religious world;
1022 The former two but servants to the third;
1023 To that their duty done, they both expire,
1024 Their mass new-cast, forgot their deeds renown'd;
1025 And angels ask, "where once they shone so fair!"
1026 To lift us from this abject to sublime;
1027 This flux to permanent; this dark to day;
1028 This foul to pure; this turbid to serene;
1029 This mean to mighty! for this glorious end
1030 The' Almighty, rising, His long sabbath broke:
1031 The world was made; was ruin'd; was restored;
1032 Laws from the Skies were publish'd; were repeal'd;
1033 On earth kings, kingdoms rose; kings, kingdoms fell;
1034 Famed sages lighted up the Pagan world;
1035 Prophets from Sion darted a keen glance
1036 Through distant age; saints travell'd; martyrs bled;
1037 By wonders sacred Nature stood controll'd;
1038 The living were translated; dead were raised;
1039 Angels, and more than angels, came from heaven;
1040 And, O! for this, descended lower still;
1041 Gilt was hell's gloom: astonish'd at his Guest,
1042 For one short moment Lucifer adored:
1043 Lorenzo! and wilt thou do less? For this
1044 That hallow'd page fools scoff at, was inspired,
1045 Of all these truths thrice-venerable code!
1046 Deists, perform your quarantine; and then
1047 Fall prostrate ere you touch it, lest you die.
1048 Nor less intensely bent infernal powers
1049 To mar, than those of light this end to gain.
1050 O what a scene is here! Lorenzo, wake,
1051 Rise to the thought: exert, expand thy soul
1052 To take the vast idea: it denies
1053 All else the name of great. Two warring worlds!
1054 Not Europe against Afric; warring worlds
1055 Of more than mortal, mounted on the wing!
1056 On ardent wings of energy and zeal,
1057 High-hovering o'er this little brand of strife!
1058 This sublunary ball! But strife, for what?
1059 In their own cause conflicting? No; in thine,
1060 In man's. His single interest blows the flame;
1061 His the sole stake; his fate the trumpet sounds,
1062 Which kindles war immortal. How it burns!
1063 Tumultuous swarms of deities in arms!
1064 Force, force opposing, till the waves run high,
1065 And tempest Nature's universal sphere.
1066 Such opposites eternal, steadfast, stern,
1067 Such foes implacable, are Good and Ill;
1068 Yet man, vain man, would mediate peace between them.
1069 Think not this fiction. "There was war in heaven."
1070 From heaven's high crystal mountain, where it hung,
1071 The' Almighty's out-stretch'd arm took down His bow,
1072 And shot His indignation at the deep:
1073 Re-thunder'd Hell, and darted all her fires.
1074 And seems the stake of little moment still?
1075 And slumbers man, who singly caused the storm?
1076 He sleeps. And art thou shock'd at mysteries?
1077 The greatest, thou! How dreadful to reflect,
1078 What ardour, care, and counsel mortals cause
1079 In breasts Divine! how little in their own!
1080 Where'er I turn, how new proofs pour upon me!
1081 How happily this wondrous view supports
1082 My former argument! How strongly strikes
1083 Immortal life's full demonstration here!
1084 Why this exertion? Why this strange regard
1085 From Heaven's Omnipotent indulged to man?
1086 Because in man the glorious dreadful power,
1087 Extremely to be pain'd, or bless'd, for ever.
1088 Duration gives importance; swells the price.
1089 An angel, if a creature of a day,
1090 What would he be? A trifle of no weight;
1091 Or stand or fall, no matter which, he's gone.
1092 Because IMMORTAL, therefore is indulged
1093 This strange regard of deities to dust.
1094 Hence Heaven looks down on earth with all her eyes;
1095 Hence the soul's mighty moment in her sight;
1096 Hence every soul has partisans above,
1097 And every thought a critic in the skies:
1098 Hence clay, vile clay, has angels for its guard,
1099 And every guard a passion for his charge:
1100 Hence, from all age, the Cabinet Divine
1101 Has held high counsel o'er the fate of man.
1102 Nor have the clouds those gracious counsels hid.
1103 Angels undrew the curtain of the throne,
1104 And Providence came forth to meet mankind.
1105 In various modes of emphasis and awe,
1106 He spoke His will, and trembling Nature heard:
1107 He spoke it loud, in thunder and in storm.
1108 Witness, thou Sinai! whose cloud-cover'd height,
1109 And shaken basis, own'd the present God:
1110 Witness, ye billows! whose returning tide,
1111 Breaking the chain that fasten'd it in air,
1112 Swept Egypt and her menaces to hell:
1113 Witness, ye flames the' Assyrian tyrant blew
1114 To sevenfold rage, as impotent as strong:
1115 And thou, Earth! witness, whose expanding jaws
1116 Closed o'er Presumption's sacrilegious sons:
* Korah, etc.
1117 Has not each element, in turn, subscribed
1118 The soul's high price, and sworn it to the wise?
1119 Has not flame, ocean, ether, earthquake, strove
1120 To strike this truth through adamantine man?
1121 If not all-adamant, Lorenzo! hear:
1122 All is delusion; Nature is wrapp'd up,
1123 In tenfold night, from Reason's keenest eye;
1124 There's no consistence, meaning, plan, or end
1125 In all beneath the sun, in all above,
1126 (As far as man can penetrate,) or heaven
1127 Is an immense, inestimable prize;
1128 Or all is nothing, or that prize is all.
1129 And shall each toy be still a match for heaven?
1130 And full equivalent for groans below?
1131 Who would not give a trifle to prevent
1132 What he would give a thousand worlds to cure?
1133 Lorenzo, thou hast seen (if thine to see)
1134 All Nature, and her God, (by Nature's course,
1135 And Nature's course controll'd,) declare for me:
1136 The Skies above proclaim "Immortal man!"
1137 And "Man immortal!"all below resounds.
1138 The world's a system of theology,
1139 Read by the greatest strangers to the schools;
1140 If honest, learn'd; and sages o'er a plough.
1141 Is not, Lorenzo, then, imposed on thee
1142 This hard alternative, or to renounce
1143 Thy reason and thy sense, or to believe?
1144 What then is unbelief? 'T is an exploit;
1145 A strenuous enterprise: to gain it, man
1146 Must burst through every bar of common sense,
1147 Of common shame, magnanimously wrong.
1148 And what rewards the sturdy combatant?
1149 His prize, repentance; infamy, his crown.
1150 But wherefore infamy? For want of faith,
1151 Down the steep precipice of wrong he slides;
1152 There's nothing to support him in the right.
1153 Faith in the future wanting, is, at least
1154 In embryo, every weakness, every guilt;
1155 And strong Temptation ripens it to birth.
1156 If this life's gain invites him to the deed,
1157 Why not his country sold, his father slain?
1158 'T is virtue to pursue our good supreme;
1159 And his supreme, his only good is here.
1160 Ambition, Avarice, by the wise disdain'd,
1161 Is perfect wisdom, while mankind are fools,
1162 And think a turf or tomb-stone covers all:
1163 These find employment, and provide for Sense
1164 A richer pasture, and a larger range;
1165 And Sense by right Divine ascends the throne,
1166 When Virtue's prize and prospect are no more:
1167 Virtue no more we think the will of Heaven.
1168 Would Heaven quite beggar Virtue, if beloved?
1169 "Has Virtue charms?" I grant her heavenly fair;
1170 But if unportion'd, all will Interest wed;
1171 Though that our admiration, this our choice.
1172 The virtues grow on immortality;
1173 That root destroy'd, they wither and expire.
1174 A Deity believed will nought avail;
1175 Rewards and punishments make God adored;
1176 And hopes and fears give Conscience all her power.
1177 As in the dying parent dies the child,
1178 Virtue with Immortality expires.
1179 Who tells me he denies his soul immortal,
1180 Whate'er his boast, has told me he's a knave.
1181 His duty 't is to love himself alone;
1182 Nor care, though mankind perish, if he smiles.
1183 Who thinks ere long the man shall wholly die,
1184 Is dead already; nought but brute survives.
1185 And are there such? Such candidates there are
1186 For more than death; for utter loss of being;
1187 Being, the basis of the Deity!
1188 Ask you the cause? The cause they will not tell:
1189 Nor need they: O the sorceries of Sense!
1190 They work this transformation on the soul,
1191 Dismount her, like the serpent at the fall,
1192 Dismount her from her native wing, (which soar'd
1193 Erewhile ethereal heights,) and throw her down,
1194 To lick the dust, and crawl in such a thought.
1195 Is it in words to paint you? O ye fallen!
1196 Fallen from the wings of Reason, and of Hope!
1197 Erect in stature, prone in appetite!
1198 Patrons of pleasure, posting into pain!
1199 Lovers of argument, averse to sense!
1200 Boasters of liberty, fast bound in chains!
1201 Lords of the wide creation, and the shame!
1202 More senseless than the' irrationals you scorn!
1203 More base than those you rule! than those you pity,
1204 Far more undone! O ye most infamous
1205 Of beings, from superior dignity!
1206 Deepest in woe, from means of boundless bliss!
1207 Ye cursed by blessings infinite! because
1208 Most highly favour'd, most profoundly lost!
1209 Ye motley mass of contradictions strong!
1210 And are you, too, convinced your souls fly off
1211 In exhalation soft, and die in air,
1212 From the full flood of evidence against you?
1213 In the coarse drudgeries and sinks of Sense,
1214 Your souls have quite worn out the make of Heaven,
1215 By vice new-cast, and creatures of your own:
1216 But though you can deform, you can't destroy;
1217 To curse, not uncreate, is all your power.
1218 Lorenzo, this black brotherhood renounce:
1219 Renounce St. Evremont, and read St. Paul.
1220 Ere rapt by miracle, by reason wing'd,
1221 His mounting mind made long abode in heaven.
1222 This is freethinking, unconfined to parts,
1223 To send the soul, on curious travel bent,
1224 Through all the provinces of human thought;
1225 To dart her flight through the whole sphere of man;
1226 Of this vast universe to make the tour;
1227 In each recess of space and time at home;
1228 Familiar with their wonders; diving deep,
1229 And, like a prince of boundless interests there,
1230 Still most ambitious of the most remote;
1231 To look on truth unbroken and entire;
1232 Truth in the system, the full orb; where truths,
1233 By truths enlighten'd and sustain'd, afford
1234 An arch-like strong foundation, to support
1235 The' incumbent weight of absolute, complete
1236 Conviction: Here the more we press, we stand
1237 More firm; who most examine, most believe.
1238 Parts, like half-sentences, confound: the whole
1239 Conveys the sense, and God is understood;
1240 Who not in fragments writes to human race:
1241 Read His whole volume, sceptic! then reply.
1242 This, this is thinking free, a thought that grasps
1243 Beyond a grain, and looks beyond an hour.
1244 Turn up thine eye, survey this midnight scene;
1245 What are Earth's kingdoms to yon boundless orbs,
1246 Of human souls one day the destined range?
1247 And what yon boundless orbs to godlike man?
1248 Those numerous worlds that throng the firmament,
1249 And ask more space in heaven, can roll at large
1250 In man's capacious thought, and still leave room
1251 For ampler orbs, for new creations, there.
1252 Can such a soul contract itself, to gripe
1253 A point of no dimension, of no weight?
1254 It can: it does: the world is such a point;
1255 And of that point, how small a part enslaves!
1256 How small a part of nothing, shall I say?
1257 Why not? Friends, our chief treasure! How they drop!
1258 Lucia, Narcissa fair, Philander gone!
1259 The grave, like fabled Cerberus, has oped
1260 A triple mouth; and, in an awful voice,
1261 Loud calls my soul, and utters all I sing.
1262 How the world falls to pieces round about us,
1263 And leaves us in a ruin of our joy!
1264 What says this transportation of my friends?
1265 It bids me love the place where now they dwell,
1266 And scorn this wretched spot they leave so poor.
1267 Eternity's vast ocean lies before thee;
1268 There, there, Lorenzo, thy Clarissa sails.
1269 Give thy mind sea-room; keep it wide of earth,
1270 That rock of souls immortal; cut thy cord;
1271 Weigh anchor; spread thy sails; call every wind;
1272 Eye thy great Pole-star; make the land of life.
1273 Two kinds of life has double-natured man,
1274 And two of death: the last far more severe.
1275 Life animal is nurtured by the sun;
1276 Thrives on his bounties, triumphs in his beams,
1277 Life rational subsists on higher food,
1278 Triumphant in His beams who made the day.
1279 When we leave that sun, and are left by this,
1280 'The fate of all who die in stubborn guilt,)
1281 'T is utter darkness; strictly double death.
1282 We sink by no judicial stroke of Heaven,
1283 But Nature's course; as sure as plummets fall.
1284 Since God or man must alter ere they meet,
1285 (For light and darkness blend not in one sphere,)
1286 'T is manifest, Lorenzo! who must change.
1287 If then that double death should prove thy lot,
1288 Blame not the bowels of the Deity:
1289 Man shall be bless'd as far as man permits.
1290 Not man alone, all rationals Heaven arms
1291 With an illustrious but tremendous power
1292 To counteract its own most gracious ends;
1293 And this of strict necessity, not choice:
1294 That power denied, men, angels, were no more
1295 But passive engines, void of praise or blame.
1296 A nature rational implies the power
1297 Of being bless'd, or wretched, as we please;
1298 Else idle Reason would have nought to do;
1299 And he that would be barr'd capacity
1300 Of pain, courts incapacity of bliss.
1301 Heaven wills our happiness, allows our doom;
1302 Invites us ardently, but not compels;
1303 Heaven but persuades, almighty man decrees;
1304 Man is the maker of immortal fates.
1305 Man falls by man, if finally he falls;
1306 And fall he must, who learns from Death alone
1307 The dreadful secret that he lives for ever.
1308 Why this to thee? thee yet perhaps in doubt
1309 Of second life? But wherefore doubtful still?
1310 Eternal life is Nature's ardent wish:
1311 What ardently we wish, we soon believe:
1312 Thy tardy faith declares that wish destroy'd:
1313 What has destroy'd it? Shall I tell thee what?
1314 When fear'd the future, 't is no longer wish'd;
1315 And when unwish'd, we strive to disbelieve.
1316 "Thus infidelity our guilt betrays."
1317 Nor that the sole detection! Blush, Lorenzo
1318 Blush for hypocrisy, if not for guilt.
1319 The future fear'd? An infidel, and fear!
1320 Fear what? a dream? a fable? How thy dread,
1321 Unwilling evidence, and therefore strong,
1322 Affords my cause an undesign'd support!
1323 How disbelief affirms what it denies!
1324 "It, unawares, asserts immortal life. "
1325 Surprising! Infidelity turns out
1326 A creed, and a confession of our sins:
1327 Apostates, thus, are orthodox divines.
1328 Lorenzo, with Lorenzo clash no more:
1329 Nor longer a transparent vizor wear.
1330 Think'st thou, Religion only has her mask?
1331 Our infidels are Satan's hypocrites,
1332 Pretend the worst, and at the bottom fail.
1333 When visited by Thought, (Thought will intrude,)
1334 Like him they serve, they "tremble, and believe."
1335 Is their hypocrisy so foul as this?
1336 So fatal to the welfare of the world?
1337 What detestation, what contempt their due!
1338 And, if unpaid, be thank'd for their escape
1339 That Christian candour they strive hard to scorn.
1340 If not for that asylum, they might find
1341 A hell on earth; nor 'scape a worse below.
1342 With insolence and impotence of thought,
1343 Instead of racking fancy to refute,
1344 Reform thy manners, and the truth enjoy.
1345 But shall I dare confess the dire result?
1346 Can thy proud reason brook so black a brand?
1347 From purer manners, to sublimer faith,
1348 Is Nature's unavoidable ascent:
1349 An honest deist, where the gospel shines,
1350 Matured to nobler, in the Christian ends.
1351 When that bless'd change arrives, e'en cast aside
1352 This song superfluous: life immortal strikes
1353 Conviction, in a flood of light Divine.
1354 A Christian dwells, like Uriel,
* Milton.
in the sun.
1355 Meridian Evidence puts Doubt to flight;
1356 And ardent Hope anticipates the skies.
1357 Of that bright sun, Lorenzo! scale the sphere:
1358 'T is easy; it invites thee; it descends
1359 From heaven to woo, and waft thee whence it came:
1360 Read and revere the sacred page; a page
1361 Where triumphs Immortality; a page
1362 Which not the whole creation could produce;
1363 Which not the conflagration shall destroy;
1364 In Nature's ruins not one letter lost:
1365 'T is printed in the minds of gods for ever.
1366 In proud disdain of what e'en gods adore,
1367 Dost smile? Poor wretch! thy guardian-angel weeps.
1368 Angels and men assent to what I sing;
1369 Wits smile, and thank me for my midnight dream.
1370 How vicious hearts fume frenzy to the brain!.
1371 Parts push us on to Pride, and Pride to Shame;
1372 Pert Infidelity is Wit's cockade,
1373 To grace the brasen brow that braves the Skies;
1374 By loss of being dreadfully secure.
1375 Lorenzo! if thy doctrine wins the day,
1376 And drives my dreams, defeated, from the field;
1377 If this is all, if earth a final scene,
1378 Take heed: stand fast; be sure to be a knave;
1379 A knave in grain; ne'er deviate to the right:
1380 Shouldst thou be good how infinite thy loss!
1381 Guilt only makes annihilation gain.
1382 Bless'd scheme! which life deprives of comfort, Death
1383 Of hope; and which Vice only recommends!
1384 If so, where, infidels, your bait thrown out
1385 To catch weak converts? Where your lofty boast
1386 Of zeal for virtue, and of love to man?
1387 Annihilation, I confess, in these.
1388 What can reclaim you? Dare I hope profound
1389 Philosophers the converts of a song?
1390 Yet know, its title
* The Infidel Reclaimed.
flatters you, not me;
1391 Yours be the praise to make my title good:
1392 Mine to bless Heaven, and triumph in your praise.
1393 But since so pestilential your disease,
1394 Though sovereign is the medicine I prescribe,
1395 As yet I'll neither triumph nor despair:
1396 But hope, ere long, my midnight dream will wake
1397 Your hearts, and teach your wisdom to be wise:
1398 For why should souls immortal, made for bliss,
1399 E'er wish (and wish in vain!) that souls could die?
1400 What ne'er can die, O! grant to live; and crown
1401 The wish, and aim, and labour of the Skies;
1402 Increase, and enter on, the joys of heaven:
1403 Thus shall my title pass a sacred seal,
1404 Receive an imprimatur from above,
1405 While angels shout "An Infidel Reclaim'd!"
1406 To close, Lorenzo! Spite of all my pains,
1407 Still seems it strange that thou shouldst live for ever?
1408 Is it less strange that thou shouldst live at all?
1409 This is a miracle; and that no more.
1410 Who gave beginning can exclude an end.
1411 Deny thou art: then doubt if thou shalt be.
1412 A miracle with miracles enclosed
1413 Is man: and starts his faith at what is strange?
1414 What less than wonders from the Wonderful?
1415 What less than miracles from God can flow?
1416 Admit a GOD, (that mystery supreme,
1417 That Cause uncaused!) all other wonders cease;
1418 Nothing is marvellous for Him to do:
1419 Deny Him all is mystery besides;
1420 Millions of mysteries! each darker far
1421 Than that thy wisdom would unwisely shun.
1422 If weak thy faith, why choose the harder side?
1423 We nothing know but what is marvellous;
1424 Yet what is marvellous we can't believe.
1425 So weak our reason, and so great our God,
1426 What most surprises in the sacred page,
1427 Or full as strange, or stranger, must be true.
1428 Faith is not Reason's labour, but repose.
1429 To Faith and Virtue why so backward man?
1430 From hence: The Present strongly strikes us all;
1431 The Future, faintly: can we, then, be men?
1432 If men, Lorenzo! the reverse is right.
1433 Reason is man's peculiar; Sense, the brute's.
1434 The Present is the scanty realm of Sense;
1435 The Future, Reason's empire unconfined:
1436 On that expending all her godlike power,
1437 She plans, provides, expatiates, triumphs there;
1438 There builds her blessings; there expects her praise;
1439 And nothing asks of Fortune or of men.
1440 And what is Reason? Be she thus defined:
1441 Reason is upright stature in the soul.
1442 O! be a man; and strive to be a god.
1443 "For what?"(thou say'st:) "to damp the joys of life?"
1444 No; to give heart and substance to thy joys.
1445 That tyrant, Hope, mark how she domineers:
1446 She bids us quit realities for dreams;
1447 Safety and peace, for hazard and alarm:
1448 That tyrant o'er the tyrants of the soul,
1449 She bids Ambition quit its taken prize,
1450 Spurn the luxuriant branch on which it sits,
1451 Though bearing crowns, to spring at distant game,
1452 And plunge in toils and dangers for repose.
1453 If hope precarious, and of things, when gain'd,
1454 Of little moment, and as little stay,
1455 Can sweeten toils and dangers into joys;
1456 What, then, that hope, which nothing can defeat,
1457 Our leave unask'd? Rich hope of boundless bliss!
1458 Bliss past man's power to paint it; Time's, to close!
1459 This hope is earth's most estimable prize:
1460 This is man's portion, while no more than man:
1461 Hope, of all passions, most befriends us here;
1462 Passions of prouder name befriend us less.
1463 Joy has her tears; and Transport has her death:
1464 Hope, like a cordial, innocent, though strong,
1465 Man's heart at once inspirits and serenes;
1466 Nor makes him pay his wisdom for his joys.
1467 'T is all our present state can safely bear,
1468 Health to the frame, and vigour to the mind!
1469 A joy attemper'd, a chastised delight!
1470 Like the fair summer evening, mild and sweet!
1471 'T is man's full cup, his Paradise below!
1472 A bless'd hereafter, then, or hoped, or gain'd,
1473 Is all; our whole of happiness: full proof
1474 I chose no trivial or inglorious theme.
1475 And know, ye foes to song! (well-meaning men,
1476 Though quite forgotten half your Bible's praise!)
1477 Important truths, in spite of verse, may please:
1478 Grave minds you praise; nor can you praise too much:
1479 If there is weight in an Eternity,
1480 Let the grave listen; and be graver still.


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Title (in Source Edition): [The Complaint: or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death & Immortality.] Night VII. Being the second part of The Infidel Reclaimed: Containing the nature, proof, and importance of immortality.
Author: Edward Young
Themes: philosophical enquiry; death
Genres: blank verse; meditation; graveyard school

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Night Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality; and a paraphrase on part of the Book of Job. By the Rev. Edward Young, LL.D., sometime rector of Welwyn, Herts. Revised and collated with the early Quarto editions. With a life of the author by Dr. [John] Doran. Illustrated. Third edition. London: William Tegg and Co., 85, Queen-Street, Cheapside, 1859, p. . 

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.