The Spirit Of Discovery By Sea: Book The Fifth.
Such are thy views, DISCOVERY! The great world
Rolls to thine eye revealed; to thee the Deep
Submits its awful empire; Industry
Awakes, and Commerce to the echoing marts
From east to west unwearied pours her wealth.
Man walks sublimer; and Humanity,
Matured by social intercourse, more high,
More animated, lifts her sovereign mien,
And waves her golden sceptre. Yet the heart
Asks trembling, is no evil found! Oh, turn,
Meek Charity, and drop a human tear
For the sad fate of Afric's injured sons,
And hide, for ever hide, the sight of chains,
Anguish, and bondage! Yes, the heart of man
Is sick, and Charity turns pale, to think
How soon, for pure religion's holy beam,
Dark crimes, that sullied the sweet day, pursued,
Like vultures, the Discoverer's ocean tract,
Screaming for blood, to fields of rich Peru,
Or ravaged Mexico, while Gold more Gold!
The caverned mountains echoed, Gold more Gold!
Then see the fell-eyed, prowling buccaneer,
Grim as a libbard! He his jealous look
Turns to the dagger at his belt, his hand
By instinct grasps a bloody scymitar,
And ghastly is his smile, as o'er the woods
He sees the smoke of burning villages
Ascend, and thinks ev'n now he counts his spoil.
See thousands destined to the lurid mine,
Never to see the sun again; all names
Of husband, sire, all tender charities
Of love, deep buried with them in that grave,
Where life is as a thing long passed; and hope
No more its sickly ray, to cheer the gloom,
Thou, too, dread Ocean, toss thine arms,
Exulting, for the treasures and the gems
That thy dark oozy realm emblaze; and call
The pale procession of the dead, from caves
Where late their bodies weltered, to attend
Thy kingly sceptre, and proclaim thy might!
Lord of the Hurricane! bid all thy winds
Swell, and destruction ride upon the surge,
Where, after the red lightning flash that shows
The labouring ship, all is at once deep night
And long suspense, till the slow dawn of day
Gleams on the scattered corses of the dead,
That strew the sounding shore!
Then think of him,
Ye who rejoice with those you love, at eve,
When winds of winter shake the window-frame,
And more endear your fire, oh, think of him,
Who, saved alone from the destroying storm,
Is cast on some deserted rock; who sees
Sun after sun descend, and hopeless hears;
At morn the long surge of the troubled main,
That beats without his wretched cave; meantime
He fears to wake the echoes with his voice,
So dread the solitude!
Let Greenland's snows
Then shine, and mark the melancholy train
There left to perish, whilst the cold pale day
Declines along the further ice, that binds
The ship, and leaves in night the sinking scene.
Sad winter closes on the deep; the smoke
Of frost, that late amusive to the eye
Rose o'er the coast, is passed, and all is now
One torpid blank; the freezing particles
Blown blistering, and the white bear seeks her cave.
Ill-fated outcasts, when the morn again
Shall streak with feeble beam the frozen waste,
Your air-bleached and unburied carcases
Shall press the ground, and, as the stars fade off,
Your stony eyes glare 'mid the desert snows!
These triumphs boast, fell Demon of the Deep!
Though never more the universal shriek
Of all that perish thou shalt hear, as when
The deep foundations of the guilty earth
Were shaken at the voice of God, and man
Ceased in his habitations; yet the sea
Thy might tempestuous still, and joyless rule,
Confesses. Ah! what bloodless shadows throng
Ev'n now, slow rising from their oozy beds,
From Mete, and those gates of burial
That guard the Erythræan; from the vast
Unfathomed caverns of the Western main
Or stormy Orcades; whilst the sad shell
Of poor Arion, to the hollow blast
Slow seems to pour its melancholy tones,
And faintly vibrate, as the dead pass by.
I see the chiefs, who fell in distant lands,
The prey of murderous savages, when yells,
And shouts, and conch, resounded through the woods.
Magellan and De Solis seem to lead
The mournful train. Shade of Perouse! oh, say
Where, in the tract of unknown seas, thy bones
Th' insulting surge has swept?
But who is he,
Whose look, though pale and bloody, wears the trace
Of pure philanthropy? The pitying sigh
Forbid not; he was dear to Britons, dear
To every beating heart, far as the world
Extends; and my faint faltering touch ev'n now
Dies on the strings, when I pronounce thy name,
Oh, lost, lamented, generous, hapless Cook!
But cease the vain complaint; turn from the shores,
Wet with his blood, Remembrance: cast thine eyes
Upon the long seas, and the wider world,
Displayed from his research. Smile, glowing Health!
For now no more the wasted seaman sinks,
With haggard eye and feeble frame diseased;
No more with tortured longings for the sight
Of fields and hillocks green, madly he calls
On Nature, when before his swimming eye
The liquid long expanse of cheerless seas
Seems all one flowery plain. Then frantic dreams
Arise; his eye's distemper'd flash is seen
From the sunk socket, as a demon there
Sat mocking, till he plunges in the flood,
And the dark wave goes o'er him.
Nor wilt thou,
O Science! fail to deck the cold morai
Of him who wider o'er earth's hemisphere
Thy views extended. On, from deep to deep,
Thou shalt retrace the windings of his track;
From the high North to where the field-ice binds
The still Antarctic. Thence, from isle to isle,
Thou shalt pursue his progress; and explore
New-Holland's eastern shores, where now the sons
Of distant Britain, from her lap cast out,
Water the ground with tears of penitence,
Perhaps, hereafter, in their destined time,
Themselves to rise pre-eminent. Now speed,
By Asia's eastern bounds, still to the North,
Where the vast continents of either world
Approach: Beyond, 'tis silent boundless ice,
Impenetrable barrier, where all thought
Is lost; where never yet the eagle flew,
Nor roamed so far the white bear through the waste.
But thou, dread POWER! whose voice from chaos called
The earth, who bad'st the Lord of light go forth,
Ev'n as a giant, and the sounding seas
Roll at thy fiat: may the dark deep clouds,
That thy pavilion shroud from mortal sight,
So pass away, as now the mystery,
Obscure through rolling ages, is disclosed;
How man, from one great Father sprung, his race
Spread to that severed continent! Ev'n so,
FATHER, in thy good time, shall all things stand
Revealed to knowledge.
As the mind revolves
The change of mighty empires, and the fate
Of HIM whom Thou hast made, back through the dusk
Of ages Contemplation turns her view:
We mark, as from its infancy, the world
Peopled again, from that mysterious shrine
That rested on the top of Ararat,
Highest of Asian mountains; spreading on,
The Cushites from their mountain caves descend;
Then before GOD the sons of Ammon stood
In their gigantic might, and first the seas
Vanquished: But still from clime to clime the groan
Of sacrifice, and Superstition's cry,
Was heard; but when the Dayspring rose of heaven,
Greece's hoar forests echoed, The great Pan
Is dead! From Egypt, and the rugged shores
Of Syrian Tyre, the gods of darkness fly;
Bel is cast down, and Nebo, horrid king,
Bows in imperial Babylon: But, ah!
Too soon, the Star of Bethlehem, whose ray
The host of heaven hailed jubilant, and sang,
Glory to God on high, and on earth peace,
With long eclipse is veiled.
Usurped the meek dominion of the Lord
Of love and charity: vast as a fiend
She rose, Heaven's light was darkened with her frown,
And the earth murmured back her hymns of blood,
As the meek martyr at the burning stake
Stood, his last look uplifted to his GOD!
But she is now cast down, her empire reft.
They who in darkness walked, and in the shade
Of death, have seen a new and holy light,
As in th' umbrageous forest, through whose boughs,
Mossy and damp, for many a league, the morn
With languid beam scarce pierces, here and there
Touching some solitary trunk, the rest
Dark waving in the noxious atmosphere:
Through the thick-matted leaves the serpent winds
His way, to find a spot of casual sun;
The gaunt hyæna through the thicket glides
At eve: then, too, the couched tiger's eye
Flames in the dusk, and oft the gnashing jaws
Of the fell crocodile are heard. At length,
By man's superior energy and toil,
The sunless brakes are cleared; the joyous morn
Shines through the opening leaves; rich culture smiles
Around; and howling to their distant wilds
The savage inmates of the wood retire.
Such is the scene of human life, till want
Bids man his strength put forth; then slowly spreads
The cultured stream of mild humanity,
And gentler virtues, and more noble aims
Employ the active mind, till beauty beams
Around, and Nature wears her richest robe,
Adorned with lovelier graces. Then the charms
Of woman, fairest of the works of Heaven,
Whom the cold savage, in his sullen pride,
Scorned as unworthy of his equal love,
With more attractive influence wins the heart
Of her protector. Then the names of sire,
Of home, of brother, and of children, grow
More sacred, more endearing; whilst the eye,
Lifted beyond this earthly scene, beholds
A Father who looks down from heaven on all!
O Britain, my loved country! dost thou rise
Most high among the nations! Do thy fleets
Ride o'er the surge of ocean, that subdued
Rolls in long sweep beneath them! Dost thou wear
Thy garb of gentler morals gracefully!
Is widest science thine, and the fair train
Of lovelier arts! While commerce throngs thy ports
With her ten thousand streamers, is the tract
Of the undeviating ploughshare white
That rips the reeking furrow, followed soon
By plenty, bidding all the scene rejoice,
Even like a cultured garden! Do the streams
That steal along thy peaceful vales, reflect
Temples, and Attic domes, and village towers!
Is beauty thine, fairest of earthly things,
Woman; and doth she gain that liberal love
And homage, which the meekness of her voice,
The rapture of her smile, commanding most
When she seems weakest, must demand from him,
Her master; whose stern strength at once submits
In manly, but endearing, confidence,
Unlike his selfish tyranny who sits
The sultan of his harem!
Oh, then, think
How great the blessing, and how high thy rank
Amid the civilised and social world!
But hast thou no deep failings, that may turn
Thy thoughts within thyself! Ask, for the sun
That shines in heaven hath seen it, hath thy power
Ne'er scattered sorrow over distant lands!
Ask of the East, have never thy proud sails
Borne plunder from dismembered provinces,
Leaving the groans of miserable men
Behind! And free thyself, and lifting high
The charter of thy freedom, bought with blood,
Hast thou not stood, in patient apathy,
A witness of the tortures and the chains
That Afric's injured sons have known! Stand up;
Yes, thou hast visited the caves, and cheered
The gloomy haunts of sorrow; thou hast shed
A beam of comfort and of righteousness
On isles remote; hast bid the bread-fruit shade
Th' Hesperian regions, and has softened much
With bland amelioration, and with charms
Of social sweetness, the hard lot of man.
But weighed in truth's firm balance, ask, if all
Be even. Do not crimes of ranker growth
Batten amid thy cities, whose loud din,
From flashing and contending cars, ascends,
Till morn! Enchanting, as if aught so sweet
Ne'er faded, do thy daughters wear the weeds
Of calm domestic peace and wedded love;
Or turn, with beautiful disdain, to dash
Gay pleasure's poisoned chalice from their lips
Untasted! Hath not sullen atheism,
Weaving gay flowers of poesy, so sought
To hide the darkness of his withered brow
With faded and fantastic gallantry
Of roses, thus to win the thoughtless smile
Of youthful ignorance! Hast thou with awe
Looked up to Him whose power is in the clouds,
Who bids the storm rush, and it sweeps to earth
The nations that offend, and they are gone,
Like Tyre and Babylon! Well weigh thyself:
Then shalt thou rise undaunted in the might
Of thy Protector, and the gathered hate
Of hostile bands shall be but as the sand
Blown on the everlasting pyramid.
Hasten, O Love and Charity! your work,
Ev'n now whilst it is day; far as the world
Extends may your divinest influence
Be felt, and more than felt, to teach mankind
They all are brothers, and to drown the cries
Of superstition, anarchy, or blood!
Not yet the hour is come: on Ganges' banks
Still superstition hails the flame of death,
Behold, gay dressed, as in her bridal tire,
The self-devoted beauteous victim slow
Ascend the pile where her dead husband lies:
She kisses his cold cheeks, inclines her breast
On his, and lights herself the fatal pile
That shall consume them both!
On Egypt's shore,
Where Science rose, now Sloth and Ignorance
Sleep like the huge Behemoth in the sun!
The turbaned Moor still stains with strangers' blood
The inmost sands of Afric. But all these
The light shall visit, and that vaster tract
From Fuego to the furthest Labrador,
Where roam the outcast Esquimaux, shall hear
The voice of social fellowship; the chief
Whose hatchet flashed amid the forest gloom,
Who to his infants bore the bleeding scalp
Of his fall'n foe, shall weep unwonted tears!
Come, Faith; come, Hope; come, meek-eyed Charity!
Complete the lovely prospect: every land
Shall lift up one hosannah; every tongue
Proclaim thee FATHER, INFINITE, and WISE,
And GOOD. The shores of palmy Senegal
(Sad Afric's injured sons no more enslaved)
Shall answer HALLELUJAH, for the LORD
Of truth and mercy reigns; reigns KING OF KINGS;
HOSANNAH, KING OF KINGS, and LORD OF LORDS!
So may His kingdom come, when all the earth,
Uniting thus as in one hymn of praise,
Shall wait the end of all things. This great globe,
His awful plan accomplished, then shall sink
In flames, whilst through the clouds, that wrap the place
Where it had rolled, and the sun shone, the voice
Of the ARCHANGEL, and the TRUMP OF GOD,
Amid heaven's darkness rolling fast away,
Then shall the sea give up its dead;
But man's immortal mind, all trials past
That shook his feverish frame, amidst the scenes
Of peril and distemper, shall ascend
Exulting to its destined seat of rest,
And "justify His ways" from whom it sprung.