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not be provided, even according to, what we very falsely imagine, the easy and simple manner in which he is commonly accommodated. Compared, indeed, with the more extravagant luxury of the great, his accommodation must no doubt appear extremely simple and easy; and yet it may be true, perhaps, that the accommodation of an European prince does not always so much exceed that of an industrious and frugal peasant, as the accommodation of the latter exceeds that of many an African king, the absolute masters of the lives and liberties of ten thousand naked savages.
SONNET ON HIS OWN BLINDNESS.1
WHEN I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide :
“ Doth God exact day-labour, light denied ?” I fondly ask : but Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man's work, or his own gifts ; who best ':
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best : his state
Is kingly : thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest :
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
Hail, holy light ! offspring of heaven first-born,
Or of the Eternal co-eternal beam
May I express thee unblam’d? ? since God is light,
And never but in unapproached light
Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee,
Bright effluence of bright essence increate !
Or hear'st thou rather pure ethereal stream,
Whose fountain who shall tell? Before the sun,
Before the heavens thou wert, and at the voice
Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest
The rising world of waters dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless infinite.
Thee I revisit now with bolder wing,
Escap'd the Stygian pool, though long detain'd
In that obscure sojourn, while, in my flight,
Through utter and through middle darkness borne,
With other notes than to the Orphean lyre
I sung of chaos and eternal night,
Taught by the heavenly muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to re-ascend,
Though hard and rare : thee I revisit safe,
And feel thy sovran vital lamp; but thou
Revisit'st not these eyes, that roll in vain
To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;
So thick a drop serene hath quench'd their orbs,
Or dim suffusion veil'd. Yet not the more
Cease I to wander where the muses haunt
Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,
Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief
Thee, Sion, and the flowery brooks 5 beneath,
That wash thy hallow'd feet, and warbling flow,
Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget
Those other two equall’d with me in fate,
So were I equall'd with them in renown,
Blind Thamyris, and blind Mæonides,
And Tiresias, and Phineus, prophets old :
Then feed on thoughts, that voluntary move
Harinonious numbers; as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid
Tunes her nocturnal note.
Thus with the year
Seasons return, but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
Presented with a universal blank
Of nature's works, to me expung'd and ras'd,
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou, celestial light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate; there plant eyes, all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.
O Loss of sight, of thee I most complain !
Blind among enemies ! 0 worse than chains,
Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age !
Light, the prime work of God, to me is extinct,
And all her various objects of delight
Annull’d, which might in part my grief have eased.
Inferior to the vilest now become
Of man or worm ; the vilest here excel me:
They creep, yet see; I, dark in light, exposed
To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong,
Within doors or without, still as a fool,
In power of others, never in my own ;
Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half.
O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon,
Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse
Without all hope of day !
O first created Beam, and thou great Word,
“ Let there be light, and light was over all,”
Why am I thus bereaved Thy prime decree ?
The sun to me is dark,
And silent as the moon,
When she deserts the night,
Hid in her vacant interlunar cave.2
Since light so necessary is to life,
And almost life itself, if it be true
That light is in the soul,
She all in every part, why was the sight
To such a tender ball as the eye confined,
So obvious 3 and so easy to be quench'd ?
And not, as feeling, through all parts diffused,
That she might look at will through every pore ?
Then had I not been thus exiled from lights
As in the land of darkness, yet in light,
To live a life half dead, a living death,
And buried; but, O yet more miserable !
Myself my sepulchre, a moving grave;
Buried, yet not exempt,
By privilege of death and burial,
From worst of other evils, pains and wrongs;
But made hereby obnoxious. more
To all the miseries of life,
Life in captivity
Among inhuman foes.
RICCABOCCA IN THE STOCKS.*
“O KIND sir, have pity—let me out!"
" Diavolo !” said the philosopher, startled, "I wonder that I never thought of that before. After all, I believe he has hit the right nail on the head ;" and, looking close, he perceived that though the
From My Novel. By kind permission of Messrs George Routledge & Sons.