by James Meikle, 1730-1799
Worldly losses and misfortunes universal
“Mankind is born for trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7)
Convene, you mournful throng, and vent your dreary moans; muster all your complaints, and recite the causes of your sorrow. Then hear royalty itself break silence first in the melancholy list, and tell in tears. Distress even attacks the throne, and sorrow and gloom penetrate within the palace walls. Sorrow has a lodging place in every brow, from the king to the beggar; and at one time or other, we may expect to see the lodging possessed by all the gloomy train. Hence see one sad, under the loss of his honor and reputation; another meeting with disappointment instead of advancement; another seldom out of mourning, so fast his relations die around him. Some have neither son nor grandson in the neighborhood; daughter nor grand-daughter in the house.
There the affectionate wife has lost the husband of her youth, and here the disconsolate mourner has interred his lovely spouse. Here so many needy pensioners are real mourners at the burial of their benefactors, who can be no more concerned for them; there a tender family are weeping at the grave of both parents. Here the letter from the distant Indies, brings the melancholy account of father, son, or brother’s death, who was long expected home, but now shall return no more; there the list of the slain on the day of battle, fills many a sad heart with sorrow. Here a sudden misfortune snatches one away in the bloom of life; there another is slain by the bloody ruffian. Here the tender infant dies unseen in the silent night; and there the pretty boy perishes in the water. Here the devouring flame robs a man of his all, while some of the family are consumed in the burning; there the fierce tempest sends the merchant’s treasure into the depths of the sea, and the crew go down together. Here the barren wife longs to embrace a son; and there another bitterly bewails that ever her wayward son was born.
Here one loses his good name innocently, and has no method to clear it until the day of judgment; and there peace is taken away from those who should live in daily harmony. Here some are oppressed with pinching poverty; there others with pining sickness. Some are banished their native country; others condemned to perpetual imprisonment. Some are deformed from their mother’s womb; others lose their limbs by accidents. There sits the blind begging, while the lame is carried from door to door. Of some God has tied the tongue, that it cannot speak; of others stopped the ear, that it cannot hear. There some deprived of reason, neither rest themselves, nor allow those around them to rest—their case is melancholy above description.
In a word, what losses and crosses, sorrows and distresses, uncertainties and anxieties, do mankind labor under! The wisdom which is from above, will lead me to expect nothing but vanity and vexation here below. But, O! how happy is the soul that has all the treasure in heaven, all his happiness in God! May this be my case, and then I shall triumph in the midst of losses, distresses, disappointments, and pain!