If Spring came but once in a century, instead of once a year, or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake, and not in silence, what wonder and expectation there would be in all hearts to behold the miraculous change! But now the silent succession suggests nothing but necessity. To most men only the cessation of the miracle would be miraculous and the perpetual exercise of God's power seems less wonderful than its withdrawal would be.
As a fond mother, when the day is o'er, Leads by the hand her little child to bed, Half willing, half reluctant to be led, And leave his broken playthings on the floor. Still gazing at them through the open door, Nor wholly reassured and comforted By promises of others in their stead Which, the more splendid, may not please him more; So Nature deals with us, and takes away Our playthings one by one, and by the hand Leads us to rest so gently, that we go Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay, Being too full of sleep to understand How far the unknown transcends the what we know.
Saint Augustine! well has thou said, That of our vices we can frame A ladder, if we will but tread Beneath our feet each deed of shame! . . . The heights by great men reached and kept Were not attained by sudden flight, But they, while their companions slept, Were toiling upward in the night.