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If there be, indeed, that within us that ontlives clay, what horrible fate were mine to be my own self again,—this deep anguish, that has been the torment of my natural life, fixed and frozen to permanence! an everlasting agony !

There has been, it will be observed, from the commencement of the poem, up to this point, a gradual awakening, on the part of the tempted one, to a renewed sense of immortalitya sense which we must suppose to have been paralyzed by some deep sorrow, while the tempting voice has been shifting in an opposite direction. He first pronounced death an “endless shade;" but his struggle with the voice, (which voice we must regard as the spontaneous counter suggestions presenting themselves to a mind oppressed by doubt and disease, and taking their coloring from the subjective condition of the man, and changing with the change of this condition), his struggle with the voice has somewhat awakened and set in motion the springs of his moral being; the intimations which he had of immortality in his earlier and happier days, when the feelings were fresh and keenly intuitive, are gradually returning to him; but his mind is still in a condition to harbor counter suggestions. It has traveled back to a partial belief in immortality, but his anguish has yet too intense a vitality to allow him to suppose that it will be canceled, when freed from the bonds of sense; he fears that he will pass into another state of being, a stereotyped agony. The counter voice then presents to his mind the peaceful features of the dead, and vaguely hints an everlasting sleep, and matchless is the picture presented of mingled beauty and gloom. But the vague voice has not gained any ground by this last effort. On the contrary, the debate has strengthened the unhappy man. It seems that by dint of doubting he has arrived at doubting the ustness of his doubts. The hint which the voice has presented, by an appeal to the senses, that death is an endless and unconscious sleep, carries him from the evidence of the simple senses, to that “inward evidence," by which he doubts against the sense.

He questions now the insufficiency of outward signs; he divines a deeper tale. 66 Who crowned death lord ?” he asks. The simple senses only, not the spirit; that




is to say, to man's simple senses, unaided by any inward divination, Death was King; they crowned him Victor. They did not with a Saint Paul's triumphant assurance of immortality, ask: “O, grave, where is thy victory ?" But death was to them, “Omega,” the end and Lord of all things. The eye sees a dried up sap—a declining plant—but the heart

-feels that it is not the end. A seed has fallen to the ground, and springs up again in a verdant bloom, bearing fruit a hundred fold. That lifeless corpse in the dark grave, has, during its earthly course, nourished an invisible seed which will spring up in an invisible land, and the dead are not dead. He continues :

“Why, if man rot in dreamless ease,
Should that plain fact, as taught by these,

Not make hirn sure that he shall cease ?
“Who forged that other influence,
That heat of inward evidence,
By which he doubts against the sense ?
“He owns the fatal gift of eyes,
That read his spirit blindly wise,

Not simple as a thing that dies.” That he has “the fatal gift of eyes," means that he has the gift of inward spiritual eyes, which gift is “fatal” to the verdict of the simple senses in regard to death. “That read the spirit blindly wise,” that declare the spirit to be “blindly wise," i. e., his spirit possesses far-reaching intuitions, but through the gross medium of this terrestrial life, it discerns and enjoys only imperfect glimpses of its high destiny; they are “blindly wise."

Then, as if to take firmer ground against the dawning belief in immortality, the still voice touches upon the natural evidences of physiology, and asks him:

“Where wert thou, when thy father play'd

A merry boy in sun and shade ?" Where wert thou? what wert thou? nothing. And nothing thou wilt be when under the earth! That which has a beginning has also an end.

If this small voice had a face, we might suppose it to have a

Mephistophelian grin at what it deemed an unrefutable suggestion. But hope has gained larger proportions in the troubled mind of the thinker, and he is ready for his antagonist. He rejoins,

“Yet how should I for certain hold,
Because my memory is so cold,

That I first was in human mould ?"
Who knows for certain that my birth was my beginning?
May I not have passed through existences, of which, in my
present state, I know nothing?

"Some draught of Lethe might await

The slipping through from state to state," and I may have lived, before this, another life of which I have no recollection now, but of which I may become conscious again, in stepping after this life into one similar; for the two likes might then meet and touch. There have been men in trances who have forgotten their dreams until they fell in trance again. I may have fallen from a nobler place than this, and be condemned to this earthly pilgrimage, to many more pilgrimages, perhaps, before I have redeemed


former self, and recovered my former station.

Those sublime feelings, that at various periods of our life transport us beyond our earthly self, when contemplating a majestic Alpine height, a ruggy precipice, a tempestuous cataract; or, that undefinable longing for a vague felicity partially experienced in reveries amidst moonlit solitudes or during floods of melody; may not all these inexplicable conditions of the human soul be an evidence of its having enjoyed a higher rank than the present? Again, if from a lower destiny I have, through various states, cycled into the present, I may have forgotten the former, as we forget our first year. Still less could I remember, if I floated in the universe as a naked essence,

“For memory dealing but with time,
And he with matter, could she climb

Beyond her own material prime ?" But setting even all this aside, I cannot distrust that inborn feeling, that lifts me constantly upwards; that feeling that

prompts me, unceasingly, to run the race, and reach that great goal, set in futurity and invisible to the naked eye. A goal there is, for the soul drives instinctively towards it.

"The still voice laugh’d: 'I talk,' said he,
Not with thy dreams. Suffice it thee,
Thy pain is a reality.'”

Thou mayest forge the most dazzling suppositions, what do they amount to ? Thou canst not fancy away thy pain, thy misery, which is the one thing certain.

True, I am miserable, but thou hast combatted my misery with the wrong weapons. It is not death man wants, but life.

"Tis life, whereof our nerves are scant,
O life, not death, for which we pant;

More life, and fuller, that I want."
The combat is ended. The voice assumes a quiet scorn.
Self-deluded, self-tormenting, self-deceiving mortal, follow thy
old track, take up again thy former superstition,

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“Behold it is the Sabbath morn!"

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The voice says this “in quiet scorn,” implying that the Sabbath is a baseless type of a future Sabbath of the soul, which man vainly hopes to enjoy. What an exquisite picture is that which follows of the Sabbath morn, and the pious, hopeful worshipers, “old men, and babes, and loving friends, and youths and maidens gay," on their way to the village church. The reader breathes the balmy atmosphere of the holy morn, and his soul is awakened to a delicious revery by the pealing of the sweet church-bells; and all gloomy doubt is dissipated by the calm hope which illumines every face.

The tempter once gone, all things assume a different air and complexion. He becomes a new man. The air that blows so fresh through the open casement, seemed never so sweet before; the church bells that peal fill him with emotion; he follows with increasing sympathy the people that press on to the house of God; his heart begins to beat again in unison with the world; love gushes forth and chases away all his self-made misery, and instead of that dull and bitter voice,

“ A second voice was at his ear,
A little whisper, silver clear,
A murmur: •Be of better cheer.'”


A faint prophetic voice which assured him that it sees the end and knows the good. And he trusts that hidden hope, and love casts its softening light over all things. Then can he see nature in all her early loveliness. The green fields are filled with flowers, the woods are full of song, and he wonders

“How he was brought

To anchor by one gloomy thought.”
“And wherefore, rather he made choice,
To commune with that barren voice,

Than him that said, “Rejoice, rejoice!' The stubborn spirit has recognized its insufficiency to walk alone by itself; it has given itself up, child-like, to the leading strings of the gentle guides-Faith, Hope, and Love, which a Heavenly Parent appointed for it, and it has thus regained its equipoise.

Coleridge, in his Ancient Mariner, makes the crazed mind of the unfortunate seafarer recover its normal condition by the recognition of the beauties in nature. Goethe makes his Faust yield to the solemn sounds that recall to him his childhood and innocence; Tennyson saves the unfortunate lover of Maud, whose morbid melancholy had led him through the most painful stages of despair and lunacy, by bringing him again into sympathy with mankind; an evidence that the carth is still cur mother. Let the spirit soar; let it scale the tempting lights of the invisible world, but if it wishes to retain its healthfulness, and to breathe freely, it must remain in the neighborhood of the sound of the church-bells, of the song of the birds, of the bright colors and sweet perfumes of the flowers. Sentiment is the sacred fire that burns on that human altar—the heart. It keeps alive in man the generous impressions of his youth, guides him through the solitary and obscure avenues of his own intelligence, saves him from the chilling influences of mere knowledge, and, finally, lights him quietly and peaceably to his last home, where it blazes into a bright fanal, that illumines the whole valley of death.

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