Every death even the cruelest death drowns in the total indifference of Nature Nature herself would watch unmoved if we destroyed the entire human race I hate Nature this passionless spectator this unbreakable iceberg-face that can bear everything this goads us to greater and greater acts
.. that which renders morality an active principle and constitutes virtue our happiness, and vice our misery: it is probable, I say, that this final sentence depends on some internal sense or feeling, which nature has made universal in the whole species.
Once you realize that it is impossible to capture the character of the various manifestations of nature by pictorial means, and that an interpretation based on imagination is equally erroneous, you will not find yourself facing a gaping void as you might have feared.
Look round this universe. What an immense profusion of beings, animated and organized, sensible and active! You admire this prodigious variety and fecundity. But inspect a little more narrowly these living existences, the only beings worth regarding. How hostile and destructive to each other! How insufficient all of them for their own happiness! How contemptible or odious to the spectator! The whole presents nothing but the idea of a blind Nature, inpregnated by a great vivifying principle, and pouring forth from her lap, without discernment or parental care, her maimed and abortive children.
I believe it is no wrong Observation, that Persons of Genius, and those who are most capable of Art, are always fond of Nature, as such are chiefly sensible, that all Art consists in the Imitation and Study of Nature. On the contrary, People of the common Level of Understanding are principally delighted with the Little Niceties and Fantastical Operations of Art, and constantly think that finest which is least Natural.
Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure. Consider also the devilish brilliance and beauty of many of its most remorseless tribes, as the dainty embellished shape of many species of sharks. Consider, once more, the universal cannibalism of the sea; all whose creatures prey upon each other, carrying on eternal war since the world began.
If nature has been frugal in her gifts and endowments, there is the more need of art to supply her defects. If she has been generous and liberal, know that she still expects industry and application on our part, and revenges herself in proportion to our negligent ingratitude. The richest genius, like the most fertile soil, when uncultivated, shoots up into the rankest weeds; and instead of vines and olives for the pleasure and use of man, produces, to its slothful owner, the most abundant crop of poisons.
Where is the reward of virtue? and what recompense has nature provided for such important sacrifices as those of life and fortune, which we must often make to it? O sons of earth! Are ye ignorant of the value of this celestial mistress? And do ye meanly inquire for her portion, when ye observe her genuine beauty?
First follow Nature, and your judgment frame
By her just standard, which is still the same:
Unerring nature, still divinely bright,
One clear, unchanged, and universal light,
Life, force, and beauty must to all impart,
At once the source, and end, and test of art.
[T]hro this Air, this Ocean, and this Earth, All Nature quick, and bursting into birth. Above, how high progressive life may go? Around how wide? how deep extend below? Vast Chain of Being! which from God began, Ethereal Essence, Spirit, Substance, Man, Beast, Bird, Fish, Insect! what no Eye can see, No Glass can reach! from Infinite to Thee! From Thee to Nothing.... From Natures Chain whatever Link you strike, Tenth, or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike.... All are but parts of one stupendous Whole: Whose Body Nature is, and God the Soul.
Poets like painters, thus unskilled to trace The naked nature and the living grace, With gold and jewels cover ev'ry part, And hide with ornaments their want of art. True wit is Nature to advantage dressed, What oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed.
That, chang'd thro' all and yet in all the same, Great in the Earth as in th' Ætherial frame, Warms in the Sun, refreshes in the Breeze, Glows in the Stars, and blossoms in the Trees... Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part... Submit - in this, or any other Sphere, Secure to be as blest as thou canst bear. All Nature is but Art, unknown to thee; All Chance, Direction which thou canst not see; All Discord, Harmony not understood... All partial Evil, universal Good.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be Blest.
The soul, uneasy, and confin'd from home,
Rest and expatiates in a life to come.
Lo, the poor Indian! whose untutor'd mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind;
His soul proud Science never taught to stray
Far as the solar walk or milky way;
Yet simple Nature to his hope has giv'n,
Behind the cloud-topp'd hill, an humbler heav'n.
The way of the Creative works through change and transformation, so that each thing receives its true nature and destiny and comes into permanent accord with the Great Harmony: this is what furthers and what perseveres.