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A BALLAD; FOUNDED ON AN ANECDOTE HERE DETAILED.
NINE years the good ship's gallant mast
Encountered storm and battle,
Stood firm and fast against the blast,
And grape-shot's iron rattle :
And still, though lightning, ball, and pike,
Had stricken oft, and scor'd her,
The Victory could never strike, -
For Nelson was aboard her!
And past is many a weary day,
Since that dark glorious hour,
And half the mast was stow'd away
In Windsor's royal tower;
But three feet good of that old wood
So scarr'd in war, and rotten,
Was thrown aside, unknown its pride,
Its honors all forgotten:
When, as in shade the block was laid,
Two robins, perching on it,
Thought that place best to build a nest.
They plann'd it, and have done it:
The splintered spot which lodged a shot
Is lined with moss and feather,
And chirping loud, a callow brood
Are nestling up together:
How full of bliss, how peaceful is
That spot the soft nest caging,
Where war's alarms, and blood-stained arms
Were once around it raging!
And so in sooth it is a truth
That where the heart is stricken,
Sweeter at last, for perils past
That used the soul to sicken,
Comes a soft calm, with healing balm,
Where sorrow deeply smarted,
And peace with strength is sent at length
To bless the broken-hearted.
AN INQUIRY CONCERNING THE SOULS OF BRUTES.
"INCERTUS ERRO PER LOCA DEVIA.”— -HOR.
ARE these, then, made in vain? is man alone
Of all the marvels of creative love
Blest with a scintillation of His essence,
The heavenly spark of reasonable soul?
And hath not yon sagacious dog, that finds
A meaning in the shepherd's idiot face,
Or the huge elephant, that lends his strength
To drag the stranded galley to the shore,
And strives with emulative pride to excel
The mindless crowd of slaves that toil beside him,
Or the young generous war-horse, when he sniffs
The distant field of blood, and quick and shrill
Neighing for joy, instils a desperate courage
Into the veteran trooper's quailing heart
Have they not all an evidence of soul
Of soul, the proper attribute of man),
The same in kind, though meaner in degree?
Why should not that which hath been,― be for ever?
And death, - O can it be annihilation?
No, though the stolid atheist fondly clings
To that last hope, how kindred to despair!
No, 'tis the struggling spirit's hour of joy,
The glad emancipation of the soul,
The moment when the cumbrous fetters drop,
And the bright spirit wings its way to heaven!
To say that God annihilated aught,
Were to declare that in an unwise hour
He plann'd, and made somewhat superfluous.
Why should not the mysterious life, that dwells
In reptiles as in man, and shows itself
In memory, gratitude, love, hate, and pride,
Still energize, and be, though death may crush
Yon frugal ant or thoughtless butterfly,
Or with the simoom's pestilential gale
Strike down the patient camel in the desert?
There is one chain of intellectual soul,
In many links and various grades, throughout
The scale of nature; from the climax bright,
The first great Cause of all, Spirit supreme,
Incomprehensible, and unconfin'd,
To high archangels blazing near the throne,
Seraphim, cherubim, virtues, aids, and powers,
All capable of perfection in their kind;
To man, as holy from his Maker's hand
He stood, in possible excellence complete
(Man, who is destin'd now to brighter glories,
As nearer to the present God, in One
His Lord and substitute, — than angels reach);
Then man as fall'n, with every varied shade
Of character and capability,
From him who reads his title to the skies,
Or grasps with giant-mind all nature's wonders,
Down to the monster shap'd in human form,
Murderer, slavering fool, or blood-stained savage;
Then to the prudent elephant, the dog
Half-humanized, the docile Arab horse,
The social beaver, and contriving fox,
The parrot, quick in pertinent reply,
The kind-affectioned seal, and patriot bee,
The merchant-storing ant, and wintering swallow,
With all those other palpable emanations
And energies of one Eternal Mind
Pervading and instructing all that live,
Down to the sentient grass, and shrinking clay.
In truth, I see not why the breath of life,
Thus omnipresent, and upholding all,
Should not return to Him, and be immortal,
(I dare not say the same,) in some glad state
Originally destined for creation,
As well from brutish bodies, as from man.
The uncertain glimmer of analogy
Suggests the thought, and reason's shrewder guess;
Yet revelation whispers nought but this,
“Our Father careth when a sparrow dies,"
And that "the spirit of a brute descends,"
As to some secret and preserving Hades.
But for some better life, in what strange sort
Were justice, mixed with mercy, dealt to these?
Innocent slaves of sordid, guilty man,
Poor unthank'd drudges, toiling to his will,
Pampered in youth, and haply starved in age,
Obedient, faithful, gentle, though the spur
Wantonly cruel, or unsparing thong,
Weal your galled hides, or your strained sinews crack Beneath the crushing load, what recompense
Can He who gave you being render you,
If in the rank full harvest of your griefs
Ye sink annihilated, to the shame
Of government unequal? — In that day
When crime is sentenced, shall the cruel heart
Boast uncondemn'd, because no tortur'd brute
Stands there accusing? shall the embodied deeds
Of man not follow him, nor the rescued fly
Bear its kind witness to the saving hand?
Shall the mild Brahmin stand in equal sin
Regarding nature's menials, with the wretch
Who flays the moaning Abyssinian ox,
Or roasts the living bird, or flogs to death
The famishing pointer?and must these again,
These poor, unguilty, uncomplaining victims,
Have no reward for life with its sharp pains?
They have my suffrage: Nineveh was spared,
Though Jonah prophesied its doom, for sake
Of six-score thousand infants, and "much cattle;"
And space is wide enough, for every grain
Of the broad sands that curb our swelling seas,
Each separate in its sphere to stand apart