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She sweeps the howling margin of the main ;
Where undissolving, from the first of time,
Snows swell on snows amazing to the sky;
And icy mountains high on mountains pild,
Seem to the shivering sailor from afar,
Shapeless and white, an atmosphere of clouds.
Projected huge, and horrid o'er the surge,
Alps frown on Alps; or rushing hideous down,
As if old Chaos was again return'd,
Wide-rend the deep, and shake the solid pole.
Ocean itself no longer can resist
The binding fury: but, in all its rage
Of tempest taken by the boundless frost,
Is many a fathom to the bottom chain'd,
And bid to roar no more: a bleak expanse,
Shaggd o'er with wavy rocks, cheerless, and void
Of every life, that from the dreary months
Flies conscious southward. Miserable they!
Who, here entangled in the gathering ice,
Take their last look of the descending sun;
While, full of death, and fierce with tenfold frost,
The long long night, incumbent o'er their heads,
Falls horrible. Such was the Briton's '4 fate,
As with first prow, (what have not Britons dard !)
He for the passage sought, attempted since
So much in vain, and seeming to be shut
By jealons Nature with eternal bars.
In these fell regions, in Arzina caught,
And to the stony deep his idle ship
Immediate seald, he with his hapless crew,
Each full exerted at his several task,
Froze into statues; to the cordage glued
The sailor, and the pilot to the helm. [stream
Hard by these shores, where scarce his freezing
Rolls the wild Oby, live the last of men;
And half enliven'd by the distant sun,
That rears and ripens man, as well as plants,
Here human Nature wears its rudest form.
Deep from the piercing season sunk in caves,
Here by dull fires, and with unjoyous cheer,
They waste the tedious gloom. Immers'd in furs,
Doze the gross race. Nor sprightly jest nor song,
Nor tenderness they know; nor aught of life,
Beyond the kindred bears that stalk without,
Till morn at length, her roses drooping all,
Sheds a long twilight brightening o'er their fields,
And calls the quiver'd savage to the chase.
What cannot active government perform, New-moulding man? Wide-stretching from these A people savage from remotest time, [shores, A huge neglected empire, one vast mind, By Heaven inspir’d, from gothic darkness call'd. Immortal Peter! first of monarchs! he His stubborn country tam'd, her rocks, her fens, Her floods, her seas, her ill-submitting sons; And while the fierce barbarian he subdu'd, To more exalted soul he rais'd the man. Ye shades of ancient heroes, ye who toil'd Through long successive ages to build up A labouring plan of state, behold at once The wonder done! behold the matchless prince! Who left his native throne, where reigo'd till then A mighty shadow of unreal power ; Who greatly spurn'd the slothful pomp of courts ;
And roaming every land, in every port
His sceptre laid aside, with glorious hand
Unwearied plying the mechanic tool,
Gather'd the seeds of trade, of useful arts,
Of civil wisdom, and of martial skill.
Charg'd with the stores of Europe home he goes !
Then cities rise amid the' illumin'd waste;
O'er joyless deserts smiles the rural reign ;
Far-distant flood to flood is social join'd ;
The' astonish'd Euxine hears the Baltic roar;
Proud navies ride on seas that never foam'd
With daring keel before ; and armies stretch
Each way their dazzling tiles, repressing here
The frantic Alexander of the north,
And awing there stern Othman's shrinking sons.
Sloth flies the land, and Ignorance, and Vice,
Of old dishonour prond: it glows around,
Taught by the Royal Hand that rous'd the whole,
One scene of arts, of arms, of rising trade:
For what his wisdom plann’d, and power enforcd,'
More potent still, his great example shew'd.
Muttering, the winds at eve, with blunted point,
Blow lollow-blustering fron the south. Subdued,
The frost resolves into a trickling thaw.
Spotted the mountains shine; loose sleet descends,
And floods the country round. The rivers swell,
Of bonds impatient. Sudden from the hills,
O'er rocks and woods, in broad brown cataracts,
A thousand snow-fed torrents shoot at once;
And, where they rush, the wide-resounding plain
Is left one slimy waste. Those sullen seas,
That wash'd the’ungenial pole, will rest no mare
Beneath the shackles of the miglity north ;
But, rousing all their waves, resistless beave.
And hark! the lengthening roar continuous runs
Athwart the rifted deep: at once it bursts,
And piles a thousand mountains to the clopds.
Ill fares the bark with trembling wretches charg'd,
That, tost amid the floating fragments, moors
Beneath the shelter of an icy isle,
While night o'erwhelms the sea, and horror looks
More horrible. Can human force endure
The'assembled mischiefs that besiege them round?
Heart-gpawing hunger, fainting weariness,
The roar of winds and waves, the crush of ice,
Now ceasing, now renew'd with louder rage,
And in dire echoes bellowing round the main.
More to embroil the deep, leviathan
And his unwieldy train, in dreadful sport,
Tempest the loosen'd brine, while through the gloom,
Far from the bleak inhospitable shore,
Loading the winds, is heard the hungry bowl
Of famish'd monsters, there awaiting wrecks.
Yet Providence, that ever-waking eye,
Looks down with pity on the feeble toil
Of mortals lost to hope, and lights them safe,
Through all this dreary labyrinth of fate.
'Tis done! dread Winter spreads his latest glooms,
And reigns tremendous o'er the conquer'd Year,
How dead the vegetable kingdom lies !
How dumb the tuneful! horror wide extends,
His desolate domain. Behold, fond man !
See here thy pictur'd life ; pass some few years,
Thy flowering Spring, thy Summer's ardent strength,
Thy sober Autumn fading into age,
And pale concluding Winter comes at last,
And shuts the scene. Ah! whither now are fed
Those dreams of greatness ? those unsolid hopes
Of happiness? those longings after fame?
Those restless cares? those busy bustling days?
Those gay-spent, festive nights ? those veering
Lost between good and ill, that shard thy life?
All now are vanish’d! Virtue sole-survives,
Immortal never-failing friend of Man,
His guide to happiness on high. And see!
'Tis come, the glorious morn! the second birth
Of heaven, and earth! awakening Nature hears
The new-creating word, and starts to life,
In every heighten'd form, from pain and death
For ever free. The great eternal scheme,
Involving all, and in a perfect whole
Uniting, as the prospect wider spreads,
To reason's eye refin'd clears up apace.
Ye vaiply wise! ye blind presumptuous! now,
Confounded in the dust, adore that Power
And Wisdom oft arraign’d: see now the cause,
Why unassuming worth in secret liv’d,
And died, neglected : why the good man's share
In jife was gall and bitterness of soul :
Why the lone widow and her orphans pin’d
In starving solitude; while luxury,
In palaces, lay straining her low thought,
To form unreal wants : why heaven-born truth,
And moderation fair, wore the red marks
Of superstition's scourge : why licens'd pain,
That cruel spoiler, that embosom'd foe,
Embitter'd all our bliss. Ye good distress'd !
Ye noble few! who bere unbending stand