Hymn II.


By scale and method works the Will Supreme,1
Nor clouds, nor waves, without a limit stream ;2
And all the floods that daylight never saw,3
The rayless tide of ruin owns a law.4


O’er all confusion’s marring earth and air,5
O’er all the shuddering hours of man’s despair,6
Still reigns one fix’d decree of peace and love,7
And still, though dim below, ’tis bright above.8


Yet those clear eyes that seek and read the True,9
Which disappoints not long the earnest view,10
Though firm their faith, sometimes with doubt may mark11
The fearful signs when Heaven, it seems, is dark.12


When hoary rule and custom’s hallow’d sway13
By selfish force are lavish’d all away,14
Misused by pride and gain, while power impure15
Reveres no right, so leans on none secure ;16


When through the ranks of grave ancestral state17
Poor Baseness creeps, and saps whate’er was great,18
Chokes with sweet baits a nation’s vital breath,19
And decks it out to be a prey for death ;20


When ancient glories blazon modern shame,21
And Folly blows the moss-grown trump of Fame,22
When waste profuse, and idlest joys alone,23
Degrade the Council’s halls and Monarch’s throne ;24


Then Faith and Conscience note with sober ken25
The brood of woes begot by sins of men,26
And, standing fast, behold majestic Law27
By those its chosen hands, despoil’d of awe.28


No self-subjecting force of soul is theirs,29
That public toil as noblest honour bears ;30
And seeks to raise, from step to step of good,31
The hearts that now but long for daily food.32


To build their tower they undermine the wall,33
And let, to feed their fire, the roof-tree fall ;34
To frame a wine-cup, they pluck off their crown,35
And play in lordly sloth the drunken clown.36


So spreads from hearth to hearth o’er all the land37
The rumour whispering late revenge at hand ;38
And countless hosts unsheath at last and wield39
The curses long within the heart conceal’d.40


Then eyes, made hard and dull by want and woe,41
With bestial fierceness each select a foe ;42
And souls, untrain’d to yearn for purer joy,43
With Hate’s dark instinct burst, pursue, destroy.44


Unrighteous deeds of long-departed time,45
Forgotten follies, ghosts of buried crime,46
Each inner chamber’s thoughts of lust and gore47
All start to view, and sweep with ocean’s roar.48


The glittering legends fraught with smooth delight,49
The names revered, and blazonries of right,50
All ties of living love, pride, ease, and trust,51
Laws, charters, customs, quiet, crash to dust ;52


While madd’ning stars in new-found courses wheel,53
And earth’s invaded bases quake and reel,54
Each frantic wish, and strange deluding cry,55
Like mountain flames and ashes, leap on high.56


So fire invades a regal palace old,57
With all its carven ivory, bronze, and gold,58
And sunk in uncouth wreck and shapeless gloom,59
Gem, column, kingly bust, and marble tomb.60


Thus fade in havoc’s wide and fierce embrace,61
By mortals’ will, their life’s repose and grace,62
And all that wore the look of weightiest power63
But strikes with louder fall the fatal hour.64


’Tis hard, O God ! for men unmoved to scan65
The weary bounds of grief that compass man,66
The dusk expanse of seething ills survey,67
Nor wish the whole a dream’s unsteadfast play.68


Thus fain the wise would bid depart afar69
The sight of myriads lost in passion’s war,70
In blind and empty reasoning’s vague debate,71
Devouring appetite, and poisoning hate.72


Yet o’er the whirl of ruin, ’mid the shock73
That smites all towers, makes all foundations rock,74
It is thy arm, O God ! which, wrapt in cloud,75
Weighs down the strong, and thunderstrikes the proud.76


With blasting flames thy holiest judgments shine,77
And lightnings flash around thy face benign,78
While clad in wrath and night thy blessings dwell,79
And seem the horrid shades of Death and Hell.80


And thus, through all Destruction’s ’whelming course,81
A hopeful promise works with secret force,82
O’er those remains, immense and shatter’d soil,83
Bids new-born powers with happier purpose toil,84


Now Law to peace and reverence moulds again85
The sadden’d hearts and firmer thoughts of men ;86
And rights by bad occasion long subdued87
To bolder growth arise, at heart renew’d.88


Uprear’d to loftier height on surer ground,89
A nation lifts the head serene and crown’d,90
And o’er the waste of battle-fields and graves,91
With strong feet stands, and sun-bright pinions waves.92


Through fast-receding skirts of storm and dread,93
With kindling eyes it sees thy glory spread ;94
With songs triumphant over vanquish’d ill,95
Thy love proclaims and hymns thy peaceful will.96