Ere Learning’s sacred beam expanded far,
Shone like the sun diffused o’er every clime,
Beamed thro’ the darkness many a scatter’d star.
With beacon light, the glory of the time
To Science vowed, proud Leyden’s walls arose
Still fresh in youth, exulting in their prime
’Twas night, and all were sunk in soft repose,
Unwrinkled now the furrow’d face of Care,
E’en Avarice slept, and Love forgot his woes.
Alone the midnight bell alarm’d the air
And to her vigils rose each cloister’d dame
While heavy slumber crush’d the half-form’d prayer.
Yet still to Leyden’s Sage no slumber came
Tho’ chill the blast, the fading fire was low.
And in the socket burn’d th’ expiring flame.
Thick were the crucibles in many a row
Enrich’d with earth, or gem, or precious ore,
Here black with fire, here white as virgin snow.
Dark stood Cunaeus ’mid his cumbrous store
Of phials with hermetic wisdom closed,
With names of snaky volume labell’d o’er,
Such as Prince Geber to the world disclos’d.
(Arabian Sage! thy name Gibraltar bears)
Such words had Recker and Van Helmont posed.
Oh see! the fruit of long laborious cares
Yon retorts, rich with loads of nameless wealth,
Earths, metals, yet unknown, unchristen’d airs.
See round yon furnace, grave of youth and health,
Whose murky fumes now tinge Cunaeus’ brow,
And sallow cheeks, whose roses but by stealth
To that red flame their short existence owe.
See round its brink what countless treasures lie
And speak of future danger, toil and woe.
But most that globe of sulphur meets the eye
Revolving swiftly on its ligneous pole,
See from its orb th’ electric sparkles fly!
But what bright thought Cunaeus, fires thy soul?
A nail within his phial held with art,
He bids the globe in quicker circles roll.
It takes the charge but whence that sudden start
Why sinks Cunaeus lifeless on the floor
Methinks that piercing scream has burst his heart.
Fainting he lies, and speaks and moves no more
In greasy flannels wrapt, and aged dame
All pale and trembling, oped the study door.
“And was it hence the sound of terror came!
Is this the doom ungrateful science gave!”
Lifeless she sunk upon his lifeless frame.
But Science will’d not that her faithful slave
Should die, the victim of a zeal so true,
She came, and snatch’d her favourite from the grave.
Warm thro’ his heart the lifeblood play’d anew
Clasp’d in this wife’s fond arms he rose again
And tells the source whence all his terrors grew.
With Eve’s impatience fill’d, his words in vain
Would stop her progress, to the globe she flies
Of danger reckless, nor afraid of pain.
She holds the nail prepared, the shock she tries
Controll’d by fate, her senses bear the blow,
Yet in his arms o’ercome and faint she lies.
Sooner she cried shall seas forget to flow
Than Science to her smile Cunaeus’ claim
Thy laurels with each added year shall grow
By thee condensed, the concentrated flame
Of yon machine with tenfold strength has shone
Oh long shall Leyden dwell upon thy fame
Adopt this great discovery as her own
And grace thy phial with her awful name.
Van der Jar