"LOVE, He is love," I said it, where endless smoke, as a furnace, Hangs o'er the Dead-sea wave, grave of Gomorrah of yore; There where the balelire fell, and the dark sulphureous waters Closing above as a pall, hid the abhorred of God.
"Love, He is love," I said it, where old Vesuvius thunders Still with the fire in his heart, still with the wrath on his brow ;
There where the gay bright cities of fair Parthenope's girdle Trembled, as out of the cloud slow the great horror came down ;
Trembled, and when light dawned they knew that a judgment had fallen.
Two of their number were not; two of the circle had gone.
" Gone ! Was it love to slay them, the gay, the bright in the foretime, When the young earth yet knew scarcely the good and the ill?
Hard, where the rose twice blossoms to seek austerity's winter !
Hard, to exact life's frost there in the land of the Sun!" Nay, it was love, I answered. The keenest knife is the kindest, Where the whole body is sick, stern to dissever a limb; Stern, where the poison works, and thecureless, cancerous ulcer Threatens the life, forthwith ruthless to lop it away. Canaan's profitless tribes, corrupt Assyrian greatness, Roman, Egyptian, Greek, rotten they perish in turn. City, or prince, or people, what do ye sinning against Him ?
Here on His earth, God's work thwarting His purpose for man ?
Stern is the warrior's sword when a foe is writhing beneath him ; Justice is stern : but Love, love is the sternest of all, Love is too great for pity. A moan is heard on the mountains ;— Infinite dirge—one race dying is passing away. Life for a moment passes : the stream is slack at the fountain : Earth, as a breast grown old, cannot its sources supply. Listless the people sit; and the womb is barren, the altar
Cold ; and a shuddering race creep to their caverns and die. Only a pause ! Then Nature awakes, and—torrent gigantic—
Fresh with Niagara force rushes again to the sea.
Love is too great for pity. He loved them, e'en when he smote them; But Love is stern. Elsewhere planted the wicked may mend. Mystery all ! We know not. We shoot a shaft at a venture Into the void. Perchance there we may find it again : It or a something better, or something different wholly : Leave it to Love. With Love there we shall find it again. And meanwhile this faith I hold and carry about me, Small as a taper's spark lighting the infinite gloom : What is good for the whole will be also good for the unit : Law is beneficent love : love is benevolent law.
"And what of me," he murmured, my friend with the delicate features, Over his sad, worn face flitting a shadow of scorn,— " Me, to whom life is dreary, and faith is dark, and the problem Higher than Teneriffe's height, wider than Africa's sand ; If he but care for the many, the good of the general ant-hill, Not for the separate ant drawing its separate load ; If I, a millionth, get but a millionth part of a millionth Fraction of love, then what—what is his blessing to me ?"