POEMS BY WILLIAM COWPER, Of the INNER TEMPLE, ESQ.

Sicut aquae tremulum labris ubi lumen ahenis
Sole repercussum, aut radiantis imagine lunae,
Omnia pervolitat laté loca, jamque sub auras
Erigitur, summique ferit laquearia tecti.
VIRG. AEN. VIII.
So water trembling in a polish'd vase,
Reflects the beam that plays upon its face,
The sportive light, uncertain where it falls,
Now strikes the roof, now flashes on the walls.
Nous sommes nés pour la vérité, et nous ne pouvons souffrir son abord. les figures, les paraboles, les emblémes. sont toujours des ornements nécessaires pour qu'elle puisse s'annoncer. et soit quon craigne qu'elle ne découvre trop brusquement le défaut qu'on voudroit cacher, ou qu'enfin elle n'instruise avec trop peu de ménagement, ou veut, en la recevant, qu'elle soit déguisée. CARACCIOLI.

LONDON: Printed for J. JOHNSON, No. 72, St. Paul's Church Yard. 1782.

CONTENTS.

  • TABLE TALK Page 1
  • Progress of Error 41
  • Truth 73
  • Expostulation 103
  • Hope 140
  • Charity 180
  • Conversation 212
  • Retirement 258
  • The Doves 299
  • A Fable 302
  • A Comparison 304
  • Verses, supposed to be written by Alexander Selkirk, during his solitary Abode in the Island of Juan Fernandes 305
  • On the Promotion of Edward Thurlow, Esq. to the Lord High Chancellorship of England 309
  • Ode to Peace 310
  • Human Frailty 311
  • The Modern Patriot 313
  • On observing some Names of little Note recorded in the BIOGRAPHIA BRI­TANNICA 314
  • [Page] Report of an adjudged Case not to be found in any of the Books 315
  • On the burning of Lord Mansfield's Library, together with his MSS. by the Mob, in June 1780 318
  • On the same 319
  • The Love of the World reproved; or, Hypocrisy detected 320
  • The Lily and the Rose 322
  • Idem Latine Redditum 324
  • The Nightingale and Glowworm 326
  • Votum 328
  • On a Goldfinch starved to Death in a Cage 329
  • Horace, Book the 2d, Ode the 10th 332
  • A Reflection on the foregoing Ode 334
  • Translations from Vincent Bourn 335
  • The Shrubbery 344
  • The Winter Nosegay 346
  • Mutual Forbearance 347
  • To the Rev. Mr. Newton 351
  • Translation of Prior's Chloe and Euphelia 353
  • Boadicea 354
  • Heroism 357
  • The Poet, the Oyster, and the Sensitive Plant 362
  • To the Rev. Mr. William Cawthorne Unwin 366

TABLE TALK.

Si te fortè meae gravis uret sarcina chartoe
Abjicito.—
HOR. LIB. I. EPIS. 13.
A.
YOU told me, I remember, glory built
On selfish principles, is shame and guilt.
The deeds that men admire as half divine,
Stark naught, because corrupt in their design.
Strange doctrine this! that without scruple tears
The laurel that the very light'ning spares,
[Page 2] Brings down the warrior's trophy to the dust,
And eats into his bloody sword like rust.
B.
I grant, that men continuing what they are,
Fierce, avaricious, proud, there must be war.
And never meant the rule should be applied
To him that fights with justice on his side.
Let laurels, drench'd in pure Parnassian dews,
Reward his mem'ry, dear to ev'ry muse,
Who, with a courage of unshaken root,
In honour's field advancing his firm foot,
Plants it upon the line that justice draws,
And will prevail or perish in her cause.
Tis to the virtues of such men, man owes
His portion in the good that heav'n bestows,
And when recording history displays
Feats of renown, though wrought in antient days,
Tells of a few stout hearts that fought and dy'd
Where duty plac'd them, at their country's side,
The man that is not mov'd with what he reads,
That takes not fire at their heroic deeds,
[Page 3] Unworthy of the blessings of the brave,
Is base in kind, and born to be a slave.
But let eternal infamy pursue
The wretch to naught but his ambition true,
Who, for the sake of filling with one blast
The post horns of all Europe, lays her waste.
Think yourself station'd on a tow'ring rock,
To see a people scatter'd like a flock,
Some royal mastiff panting at their heels,
With all the savage thirst a tyger feels,
Then view him self-proclaim'd in a gazette,
Chief monster that has plagu'd the nations yet,
The globe and sceptre in such hands misplac'd,
Those ensigns of dominion, how disgrac'd!
The glass that bids man mark the fleeting hour,
And death's own scythe would better speak his pow'r,
Then grace the boney phantom in their stead
With the king's shoulder knot and gay cockade,
Cloath the twin brethren in each other's dress,
The same their occupation and success.
A.
[Page 4]
'Tis your belief the world was made for man,
Kings do but reason on the self same plan,
Maintaining your's you cannot their's condemn,
Who think, or seem to think, man made for them.
B.
Seldom, alas! the power of logic reigns
With much sufficiency in royal brains.
Such reas'ning falls like an inverted cone,
Wanting its proper base to stand upon.
Man made for kings! those optics are but dim
That tell you so—say rather, they for him.
That were indeed a king-enobling thought,
Could they, or would they, reason as they ought.
The diadem with mighty projects lin'd,
To catch renown by ruining mankind,
Is worth, with all its gold and glitt'ring store,
Just what the toy will sell for and no more.
Oh! bright occasions of dispensing good,
How seldom used, how little understood!
To pour in virtue's lap her just reward,
Keep vice restrain'd behind a double guard,
[Page 5] To quell the faction that affronts the throne,
By silent magnanimity alone;
To nurse with tender care the thriving arts,
Watch every beam philosophy imparts;
To give religion her unbridl'd scope,
Nor judge by statute a believer's hope;
With close fidelity and love unfeign'd,
To keep the matrimonial bond unstain'd;
Covetous only of a virtuous praise,
His life a lesson to the land he sways;
To touch the sword with conscientious awe,
Nor draw it but when duty bids him draw,
To sheath it in the peace-restoring close,
With joy, beyond what victory bestows,
Blest country! where these kingly glories shine,
Blest England! if this happiness be thine.
A.
Guard what you say, the patriotic tribe
Will sneer and charge you with a bribe.
B.
A bribe?
The worth of his three kingdoms I defy,
To lure me to the baseness of a lie.
[Page 6] And of all lies (be that one poet's boast)
The lie that flatters I abhor the most.
Those arts be their's that hate his gentle reign,
But he that loves him has no need to feign.
A.
Your smooth eulogium to one crown address'd,
Seems to imply a censure on the rest.
B.
Quevedo, as he tells his sober tale,
Ask'd, when in hell, to see the royal jail,
Approv'd their method in all other things,
But where, good Sir, do you confine your kings?
There—said his guide, the groupe is full in view.
Indeed? Replied the Don—there are but few.
His black interpreter the charge disdain'd—
Few, fellow? There are all that ever reign'd.
Wit undistinguishing is apt to strike
The guilty and not guilty, both alike.
I grant the sarcasm is too severe,
And we can readily refute it here,
While Alfred's name, the father of his age,
And the Sixth Edward's grace th' historic page.
A.
[Page 7]
King's then at last have but the lot of all,
By their own conduct they must stand or fall.
B.
True. While they live, the courtly laureat pays
His quit-rent ode, his pepper-corn of praise,
And many a dunce whose fingers itch to write,
Adds, as he can, his tributary mite;
A subject's faults, a subject may proclaim,
A monarch's errors are forbidden game.
Thus free from censure, over-aw'd by fear,
And prais'd for virtues that they scorn to wear,
The fleeting forms of majesty engage
Respect, while stalking o'er life's narrow stage,
Then leave their crimes for history to scan,
And ask with busy scorn, Was this the man?
I pity kings whom worship waits upon
Obsequious, from the cradle to the throne,
Before whose infant eyes the flatt'rer bows,
And binds a wreath about their baby brows.
Whom education stiffen'd into state,
And death awakens from that dream too late.
[Page 8] Oh! is servility with supple knees,
Whose trade it is to smile, to crouch, to please;
If smooth dissimulation, skill'd to grace
A devil's purpose with an angel's face;
Is smiling peeresses and simp'ring peers,
In compassing his throne a few short years;
If the gilt carriage and the pamper'd steed,
That wants no driving and disdains the lead;
If guards, mechanically form'd in ranks,
Playing, at beat of drum, their martial pranks;
Should'ring and standing as if struck to stone,
While condescending majesty looks on;
If monarchy consist in such base things,
Sighing, I say again, I pity kings!
To be suspected, thwarted, and withstood,
Ev'n when he labours for his country's good,
To see a band call'd patriot for no cause,
But that they catch at popular applause,
Careless of all th' anxiety he feels,
Hook disappointment on the public wheels,
[Page 9] With all their flippant fluency of tongue,
Most confident, when palpably most wrong,
If this be kingly, then farewell for me
All kingship, and may I be poor and free.
To be the Table Talk of clubs up stairs,
To which th' unwash'd artificer repairs,
T' indulge his genius after long fatigue,
By diving into cabinet intrigue,
(For what kings deem a toil, as well they may,
To him is relaxation and mere play)
To win no praise when well-wrought plans prevail,
But to be rudely censur'd when they fail,
To doubt the love his fav'rites may pretend,
And in reality to find no friend,
If he indulge a cultivated taste,
His gall'ries with the works of art well grac'd,
To hear it call'd extravagance and waste,
If these attendants, and if such as these,
Must follow royalty, then welcome ease;
However humble and confin'd the sphere,
Happy the state that has not these to fear.
A.
[Page 10]
Thus men whose thoughts contemplative have dwelt,
On situations that they never felt,
Start up sagacious, cover'd with the dust
Of dreaming study and pedantic rust,
And prate and preach about what others prove,
As if the world and they were hand and glove.
Leave kingly backs to cope with kingly cares,
They have their weight to carry, subjects their's;
Poets, of all men, ever least regret
Increasing taxes and the nation's debt.
Could you contrive the payment, and rehearse
The mighty plan, oracular, in verse,
No bard, howe'er majestic, old or new,
Should claim my fixt attention more than you.
B.
Not Brindley nor Bridgewater would essay
To turn the course of Helicon that way;
Nor would the nine consent, the sacred tide
Should purl amidst the traffic of Cheapside,
Or tinkle in 'Change Alley, to amuse
The leathern ears of stock-jobbers and jews.
A.
[Page 11]
Vouchsafe, at least, to pitch the key of rhime
To themes more pertinent, if less sublime.
When ministers and ministerial arts,
Patriots who love good places at their hearts,
When Admirals extoll'd for standing still,
Or doing nothing with a deal of skill;
Gen'rals who will not conquer when they may,
Firm friends to peace, to pleasure, and good pay,
When freedom wounded almost to despair,
Though discontent alone can find out where,
When themes like these employ the poet's tongue.
ear as mute as if a syren sung.
Or tell me if you can, what pow'r maintains
A Briton's scorn of arbitrary chains?
That were a theme might animate the dead,
And move the lips of poets cast in lead.
B.
The cause, tho' worth the search, may yet elude
Conjecture and remark, however shrewd.
They take, perhaps, a well-directed aim,
Who seek it in his climate and his frame.
[Page 12] Lib'ral in all things else, yet nature here
With stern severity deals out the year.
Winter invades the spring, and often pours
A chilling flood on summer's drooping flow'rs,
Unwelcome vapors quench autumnal beams,
Ungenial blasts attending, curl the streams,
The peasants urge their harvest, plie the fork
With double toil, and shiver at their work,
Thus with a rigor, for his good design'd,
She rears her fav'rite man of all mankind.
His form robust and of elastic tone,
Proportion'd well, half muscle and half bone,
Supplies with warm activity and force
A mind well lodg'd, and masculine of course.
Hence liberty, sweet liberty inspires,
And keeps alive his fierce but noble fires.
Patient of constitutional controul,
He bears it with meek manliness of soul,
But if authority grow wanton, woe
To him that treads upon his free-born toe,
[Page 13] One step beyond the bound'ry of the laws
Fires him at once in freedom's glorious cause.
Thus proud prerogative, not much rever'd,
Is seldom felt, though sometimes seen and heard;
And in his cage, like parrot fine and gay,
Is kept to strut, look big, and talk away.
Born in a climate softer far than our's,
Not form'd like us, with such Herculean pow'rs,
The Frenchman, easy, debonair and brisk,
Give him his lass, his fiddle and his frisk,
Is always happy, reign whoever may,
And laughs the sense of mis'ry far away.
He drinks his simple bev'rage with a gust,
And feasting on an onion and a crust,
We never feel th' alacrity and joy
With which he shouts and carols, Vive le Roy,
Fill'd with as much true merriment and glee,
As if he heard his king say—Slave be free.
Thus happiness depends, as nature shews,
Less on exterior things than most suppose.
[Page 14] Vigilant over all that he has made,
Kind Providence attends with gracious aid,
Bids equity throughout his works prevail,
And weighs the nations in an even scale;
He can encourage slav'ry to a smile,
And fill with discontent a British isle.
A.
Freeman and slave then, if the case be such,
Stand on a level, and you prove too much.
If all men indiscriminately share,
His fost'ring pow'r and tutelary care,
As well be yok'd by despotism's hand,
As dwell at large in Britain's charter'd land.
B.
No. Freedom has a thousand charms to show,
That slaves, howe'er contented, never know.
The mind attains beneath her happy reign,
The growth that nature meant she should attain.
The varied fields of science, ever new,
Op'ning and wider op'ning on her view,
She ventures onward with a prosp'rous force,
While no base fear impedes her in her course.
[Page 15] Religion, richest favour of the skies,
Stands most reveal'd before the freeman's eyes;
No shades of superstition blot the day,
Liberty chaces all that gloom away;
The soul, emancipated, unoppress'd,
Free to prove all things and hold fast the best,
Learns much, and to a thousand list'ning minds,
Communicates with joy the good she finds.
Courage in arms, and ever prompt to show
His manly forehead to the fiercest foe;
Glorious in war, but for the sake of peace,
His spirits rising as his toils increase,
Guards well what arts and industry have won,
And freedom claims him for her first-born son.
Slaves fight for what were better cast away,
The chain that binds them, and a tyrant's sway,
But they that fight for freedom, undertake
The noblest cause mankind can have at stake,
Religion, virtue, truth, whate'er we call
A blessing, freedom is the pledge of all.
[Page 16] Oh liberty! the pris'ners pleasing dream,
The poet's muse, his passion and his theme,
Genius is thine, and thou art fancy's nurse,
Lost without thee th' ennobling pow'rs of verse,
Heroic song from thy free touch acquires
Its clearest tone, the rapture it inspires;
Place me where winter breathes his keenest air,
And I will sing if liberty be there;
And I will sing at liberty's dear feet,
In Afric's torrid clime or India's fiercest heat.
A.
Sing where you please, in such a cause I grant
An English Poet's privilege to rant,
But is not freedom, at least is not our's
Too apt to play the wanton with her pow'rs,
Grow freakish, and o'er leaping ev'ry mound
Spread anarchy and terror all around?
B.
Agreed. But would you sell or slay your horse
For bounding and curvetting in his course;
Or if, when ridden with a careless rein,
He break away, and seek the distant plain?
[Page 17] No. His high mettle under good controul,
Gives him Olympic speed, and shoots him to the goal.
Let discipline employ her wholesome arts,
Let magistrates alert perform their parts,
Not skulk or put on a prudential mask,
As if their duty were a desp'rate task;
Let active laws apply the needful curb
To guard the peace that riot would disturb,
And liberty preserv'd from wild excess,
Shall raise no feuds for armies to suppress.
When tumult lately burst his prison door,
And set Plebeian thousands in a roar,
When he usurp'd authority's just place,
And dar'd to look his master in the face,
When the rude rabbles watch-word was, destroy,
And blazing London seem'd a second Troy,
Liberty blush'd and hung her drooping head,
Beheld their progress with the deepest dread,
Blush'd that effects like these she should produce,
Worse than the deeds of galley-slaves broke loose.
[Page 18] She loses in such storms her very name,
And fierce licentiousness should bear the blame.
Incomparable gem! thy worth untold,
Cheap, though blood-bought, and thrown away [...] sold;
May no foes ravish thee, and no false friend
Betray thee, while professing to defend;
Prize it ye ministers, ye monarchs spare,
Ye patriots guard it with a miser's care.
A.
Patriots, alas! the few that have been foun [...]
Where most they flourish, upon English ground,
The country's need have scantily supplied,
And the last left the scene, when Chatham died.
B.
Not so—the virtue still adorns our age,
Though the chief actor died upon the stage.
In him, Demosthenes was heard again,
Liberty taught him her Athenian strain;
She cloath'd him with authority and awe,
Spoke from his lips, and in his looks, gave law.
His speech, his form, his action, full of grace,
And all his country beaming in his face,
[Page 19] He stood, as some inimitable hand
Would strive to make a Paul or Tully stand.
No sycophant or slave that dar'd oppose
Her sacred cause, but trembl'd when he rose,
And every venal stickler for the yoke,
Felt himself crush'd at the first word he spoke.
Such men are rais'd to station and command,
When providence means mercy to a land.
He speaks, and they appear; to him they owe
Skill to direct, and strength to strike the blow,
To manage with address, to seize with pow'r
The crisis of a dark decisive hour.
So Gideon earn'd a vict'ry not his own,
Subserviency his praise, and that alone.
Poor England! thou art a devoted deer,
Beset with ev'ry ill but that of fear.
The nations hunt; all mark thee for a prey,
They swarm around thee, and thou standst at bay.
Undaunted still, though wearied and perplex'd,
Once Chatham sav'd thee, but who saves thee next?
[Page 20] Alas! the tide of pleasure sweeps along
All that should be the boast of British song.
'Tis not the wreath that once adorn'd thy brow,
The prize of happier times will serve thee now.
Our ancestry, a gallant christian race,
Patterns of ev'ry virtue, ev'ry grace,
Confess'd a God, they kneel'd before they fought,
And praised him in the victories he wrought.
Now from the dust of antient days bring forth
Their sober zeal, integrity and worth,
Courage, ungrac'd by these, affronts the skies,
Is but the fire without the sacrifice.
The stream that feeds the well-spring of the heart
Not more invigorates life's noblest part,
Than virtue quickens with a warmth divine,
The pow'rs that sin has brought to a decline.
A.
Th' inestimable estimate of Brown,
Rose like a paper-kite, and charm'd the town;
But measures plann'd and executed well,
Shifted the wind that rais'd it, and it fell.
[Page 21] He trod the very self-same ground you tread,
And victory refuted all he said.
B.
And yet his judgment was not fram'd amiss,
Its error, if it err'd, was merely this—
He thought the dying hour already come,
And a complete recov'ry struck him dumb.
But that effeminacy, folly, lust,
Enervate and enfeeble, and needs must,
And that a nation shamefully debas'd,
Will be despis'd and trampl'd on at last,
Unless sweet penitence her pow'rs renew,
Is truth, if history itself be true.
There is a time, and justice marks the date,
For long-forbearing clemency to wait,
That hour elaps'd, th'incurable revolt
Is punish'd, and down comes the thunder-bolt.
If mercy then put by the threat'ning blow,
Must she perform the same kind office now?
May she, and if offended heav'n be still
Accessible and pray'r prevail, she will.
[Page 22] 'Tis not however insolence and noise,
The tempest of tumultuary joys,
Nor is it yet despondence and dismay,
Will win her visits, or engage her stay,
Pray'r only, and the penitential tear,
Can call her smiling down, and fix her here.
But when a country, (one that I could name)
In prostitution sinks the sense of shame,
When infamous venality grown bold,
Writes on his bosom, to be lett or sold;
When perjury, that heav'n defying vice,
Sells oaths by tale, and at the lowest price,
Stamps God's own name upon a lie just made,
To turn a penny in the way of trade;
When av'rice starves, and never hides his face,
Two or three millions of the human race,
And not a tongue enquires, how, where, or when,
Though conscience will have twinges now and then;
When profanation of the sacred cause
In all its parts, times, ministry and laws,
[Page 23] Bespeaks a land once christian, fall'n and lost
In all that wars against that title most,
What follows next let cities of great name,
And regions long since desolate proclaim,
Nineveh, Babylon, and antient Rome,
Speak to the present times and times to come,
They cry aloud in ev'ry careless ear,
Stop, while ye may, suspend your mad career;
O learn from our example and our fate,
Learn wisdom and repentance e'er too late.
Not only vice disposes and prepares
The mind that slumbers sweetly in her snares,
To stoop to tyranny's usurp'd command,
And bend her polish'd neck beneath his hand,
(A dire effect, by one of nature's laws
Unchangeably connected with its cause)
But providence himself will intervene
To throw his dark displeasure o'er the scene.
All are his instruments; each form of war,
What burns at home, or threatens from afar,
[Page 24] Nature in arms, her elements at strife,
The storms that overset the joys of life,
Are but his rods to scourge a guilty land,
And waste it at the bidding of his hand.
He gives the word, and mutiny soon roars
In all her gates, and shakes her distant shores,
The standards of all nations are unfurl'd,
She has one foe, and that one foe, the world.
And if he doom that people with a frown,
And mark them with the seal of wrath, press'd down,
Obduracy takes place; callous and tough
The reprobated race grows judgment proof:
Earth shakes beneath them, and heav'n roars above,
But nothing scares them from the course they love;
To the lascivious pipe and wanton song
That charm down fear, they frolic it along,
With mad rapidity and unconcern,
Down to the gulph from which is no return.
They trust in navies, and their navies fail,
God's curse can cast away ten thousand sail;
[Page 25] They trust in armies, and their courage dies,
In wisdom, wealth, in fortune, and in lies;
But all they trust in, withers, as it must,
When he commands, in whom they place no trust.
Vengeance at last pours down upon their coast,
A long despis'd, but now victorious host,
Tyranny sends the chain that must abridge
The noble sweep of all their privilege,
Gives liberty the last, the mortal shock,
Slips the slave's collar on, and snaps the lock,
A.
Such lofty strains embellish what you teach,
Mean you to prophecy, or but to preach?
B.
I know the mind that feels indeed the fire
The muse imparts, and can command the lyre,
Acts with a force, and kindles with a zeal,
Whate'er the theme, that others never feel.
If human woes her soft attention claim,
A tender sympathy pervades the frame,
She pours a sensibility divine
Along the nerve of ev'ry feeling line.
[Page 26] But if a deed not tamely to be borne,
Fire indignation and a sense of scorn,
The strings are swept with such a pow'r, so loud,
The storm of music shakes th' astonish'd crowd.
So when remote futurity is brought
Before the keen enquiry of her thought,
A terrible sagacity informs
The poet's heart, he looks to distant storms,
He hears the thunder e'er the tempest low'rs,
And arm'd with strength surpassing human pow'rs,
Seizes events as yet unknown to man,
And darts his soul into the dawning plan.
Hence, in a Roman mouth, the graceful name
Of prophet and of poet was the same,
Hence British poets too the priesthood shar'd,
And ev'ry hallow'd druid was a bard.
But no prophetic fires to me belong,
I play with syllables, and sport in song.
A.
At Westminster, where little poets strive
To set a distich upon six and five,
[Page 27] Where discipline helps op'ning buds of sense,
And makes his pupils proud with silver-pence,
I was a poet too—but modern taste
Is so refin'd and delicate and chaste,
That verse, whatever fire the fancy warms,
Without a creamy smoothness has no charms.
Thus, all success depending on an ear,
And thinking I might purchase it too dear,
If sentiment were sacrific'd to sound,
And truth cut short to make a period round,
I judg'd a man of sense could scarce do worse,
Than caper in the morris-dance of verse.
B.
Thus reputation is a spur to wit,
And some wits flag through fear of losing it.
Give me the line, that plows its stately course
Like a proud swan, conq'ring the stream by force.
That like some cottage beauty strikes the heart,
Quite unindebted to the tricks of art.
When labour and when dullness, club in hand,
Like the two figures at St. Dunstan's stand,
[Page 28] Beating alternately, in measur'd time,
The clock-work tintinabulum of rhime,
Exact and regular the sounds will be,
But such mere quarter-strokes are not for me.
From him who rears a poem lank and long,
To him who strains his all into a song,
Perhaps some bonny Caledonian air,
All birks and braes, though he was never there,
Or having whelp'd a prologue with great pains,
Feels himself spent, and fumbles for his brains;
A prologue interdash'd with many a stroke,
An art contriv'd to advertise a joke,
So that the jest is clearly to be seen,
Not in the words—but in the gap between,
Manner is all in all, whate'er is writ,
The substitute for genius, sense, and wit.
To dally much with subjects mean and low,
Proves that the mind is weak, or makes it so.
Neglected talents rust into decay,
And ev'ry effort ends in push-pin play,
[Page 29] The man that means success, should soar above
A soldier's feather, or a lady's glove,
Else summoning the muse to such a theme,
The fruit of all her labour is whipt-cream.
As if an eagle flew aloft, and then—
Stoop'd from his highest pitch to pounce a wren.
As if the poet purposing to wed,
Should carve himself a wife in gingerbread.
Ages elaps'd e'er Homer's lamp appear'd,
And ages e'er the Mantuan swan was heard,
To carry nature lengths unknown before,
To give a Milton birth, ask'd ages more.
Thus genius rose and set at order'd times,
And shot a day-spring into distant climes,
Ennobling ev'ry region that he chose,
He sunk in Greece, in Italy he rose,
And tedious years of Gothic darkness pass'd,
Emerg'd all splendor in our isle at last.
Thus lovely Halcyons dive into the main,
Then show far off their shining plumes again.
A.
[Page 30]
Is genius only found in epic lays?
Prove this, and forfeit all pretence to praise.
Make their heroic pow'rs your own at once,
Or candidly confess yourself a dunce.
B.
These were the chief, each interval of night
Was grac'd with many an undulating light;
In less illustrious bards his beauty shone
A meteor or a star, in these, the sun.
The nightingale may claim the topmost bough,
While the poor grasshopper must chirp below.
Like him unnotic'd, I, and such as I,
Spread little wings, and rather skip than fly,
Perch'd on the meagre produce of the land,
An ell or two of prospect we command,
But never peep beyond the thorny bound
Or oaken fence that hems the paddoc round.
In Eden e'er yet innocence of heart
Had faded, poetry was not an art;
Language above all teaching, or if taught,
Only by gratitude and glowing thought,
[Page 31] Elegant as simplicity, and warm
As exstasy, unmanacl'd by form,
Not prompted as in our degen'rate days,
By low ambition and the thirst of praise,
Was natural as is the flowing stream,
And yet magnificent, a God the theme.
That theme on earth exhausted, though above
'Tis found as everlasting as his love,
Man lavish'd all his thoughts on human things,
The feats of heroes and the wrath of kings,
But still while virtue kindled his delight,
The song was moral, and so far was right.
'Twas thus till luxury seduc'd the mind,
To joys less innocent, as less refin'd,
Then genius danc'd a bacchanal, he crown'd
The brimming goblet, seiz'd the thyrsus, bound
His brows with ivy, rush'd into the field
Of wild imagination, and there reel'd
The victim of his own lascivious fires,
And dizzy with delight, profan'd the sacred wires.
[Page 32] Anacreon, Horace, play'd in Greece and Rome
This Bedlam part; and, others nearer home,
When Cromwell fought for pow'r, and while he reign'd
The proud protector of the pow'r he gain'd,
Religion harsh, intolerant, austere,
Parent of manners like herself severe,
Drew a rough copy of the Christian face
Without the smile, the sweetness, or the grace;
The dark and sullen humour of the time
Judg'd ev'ry effort of the muse a crime;
Verse in the finest mould of fancy cast,
Was lumber in an age so void of taste:
But when the second Charles assum'd the sway,
And arts reviv'd beneath a softer day,
Then like a bow long forc'd into a curve,
The mind releas'd from too constrain'd a nerve,
Flew to its first position with a spring
That made the vaulted roofs of pleasure ring.
His court, the dissolute and hateful school
Of wantonness, where vice was taught by rule,
[Page 33] Swarm'd with a scribbling herd as deep inlaid
With brutal lust as ever Circe made.
From these a long succession, in the rage
Of rank obscenity debauch'd their age,
Nor ceas'd, 'till ever anxious to redress
Th' abuses of her sacred charge, the press,
The muse instructed a well nurtur'd train
Of abler votaries to cleanse the stain,
And claim the palm for purity of song,
That lewdness had usurp'd and worn so long.
Then decent pleasantry and sterling sense
That never gave nor would endure offence,
Whipp'd out of sight with satyr just and keen,
The puppy pack that had defil'd the scene.
In front of these came Addison. In him
Humour in holiday and sightly trim,
Sublimity and attic taste combin'd,
To polish, furnish, and delight the mind.
Then Pope, as harmony itself exact,
In verse well disciplin'd, complete, compact,
[Page 34] Gave virtue and morality a grace
That quite eclipsing pleasure's painted face,
Levied a tax of wonder and applause,
Ev'n on the fools that trampl'd on their laws.
But he (his musical finesse was such,
So nice his ear, so delicate his touch)
Made poetry a mere mechanic art,
And ev'ry warbler has his tune by heart.
Nature imparting her satyric gift,
Her serious mirth, to Arbuthnot and Swist,
With droll sobriety they rais'd a smile
At folly's cost, themselves unmov'd the while.
That constellation set, the world in vain
Must hope to look upon their like again.
A.
Are we then left
B.
Not wholly in the dark,
Wit now and then, struck smartly, shows a spark,
Sufficient to redeem the modern race
From total night and absolute disgrace.
While servile trick and imitative knack
Confine the million in the beaten track,
[Page 35] Perhaps some courser who disdains the road,
Snuffs up the wind and flings himself abroad.
Cotemporaries all surpass'd, see one,
Short his career, indeed, but ably run.
Churchill, himself unconscious of his pow'rs,
In penury confum'd his idle hours,
And like a scatter'd seed at random sown,
Was left to spring by vigor of his own.
Lifted at length by dignity of thought,
And dint of genius to an affluent lot,
He laid his head in luxury's soft lap,
And took too often there his easy nap.
If brighter beams than all he threw not forth,
'Twas negligence in him, not want of worth.
Surly and slovenly and bold and coarse,
Too proud for art, and trusting in mere force,
Spendthrift alike of money and of wit,
Always at speed and never drawing bit,
He struck the lyre in such a careless mood,
And so disdain'd the rules he understood,
[Page 36] The laurel seem'd to wait on his command,
He snatch'd it rudely from the muses hand.
Nature exerting an unwearied pow'r,
Forms, opens and gives scent to ev'ry flow'r,
Spreads the fresh verdure of the field, and leads
The dancing Naiads through the dewy meads,
She fills profuse ten thousand little throats
With music, modulating all their notes,
And charms the woodland scenes and wilds unknown,
With artless airs and concerts of her own;
But seldom (as if fearful of expence)
Vouchsafes to man a poet's just pretence.
Fervency, freedom, fluency of thought,
Harmony, strength, words exquisitely sought,
Fancy that from the bow that spans the sky,
Brings colours dipt in heav'n that never die,
A soul exalted above earth, a mind
Skill'd in the characters that form mankind,
And as the sun in rising beauty dress'd,
Looks to the westward from the dappl'd east,
[Page 37] And marks, whatever clouds may interpose,
E'er yet his race begins, its glorious close,
An eye like his to catch the distant goal,
Or e'er the wheels of verse begin to roll,
Like his to shed illuminating rays
On ev'ry scene and subject it surveys,
Thus grac'd the man asserts a poet's name,
And the world chearfully admits the claim.
Pity! Religion has so seldom found
A skilful guide into poetic ground,
The flow'rs would spring where'er she deign'd to stray,
And ev'ry muse attend her in her way.
Virtue indeed meets many a rhiming friend,
And many a compliment politely penn'd,
But unattir'd in that becoming vest
Religion weaves for her, and half undress'd,
Stands in the desart shiv'ring and forlorn,
A wint'ry figure, like a wither'd thorn.
The shelves are full, all other themes are sped,
Hackney'd and worn to the last flimsy thread,
[Page 38] Satyr has long since done his best, and curst
And loathsome ribaldry has done his worst,
Fancy has sported all her pow'rs away
In tales, in trifles, and in children's play,
And 'tis the sad complaint, and almost true,
Whate'er we write, we bring forth nothing new.
'Twere new indeed, to see a bard all fire,
Touch'd with a coal from heav'n assume the lyre,
And tell the world, still kindling as he sung,
With more than mortal music on his tongue,
That he who died below, and reigns above
Inspires the song, and that his name is love.
For after all, if merely to beguile
By flowing numbers and a flow'ry stile,
The taedium that the lazy rich endure,
Which now and then sweet poetry may cure,
Or if to see the name of idol self
Stamp'd on the well-bound quarto, grace the shelf,
To float a bubble on the breath of fame,
Prompt his endeavour, and engage his aim,
[Page 39] Debas'd to servile purposes of pride,
How are the powers of genius misapplied?
The gift whose office is the giver's praise,
To trace him in his word, his works, his ways,
Then spread the rich discov'ry, and invite
Mankind to share in the divine delight,
Distorted from its use and just design,
To make the pitiful possessor shine,
To purchase at the fool-frequented fair
Of vanity, a wreath for self to wear,
Is profanation of the basest kind,
Proof of a trifling and a worthless mind.
A.
Hail Sternhold then and Hopkins hail!
B.
Amen.
If flatt'ry, folly, lust employ the pen,
If acrimony, slander and abuse,
Give it a charge to blacken and traduce;
Though Butler's wit, Pope's numbers, Prior's ease,
With all that fancy can invent to please,
Adorn the polish'd periods as they fall,
One Madrigal of their's is worth them all.
A.
[Page 40]
'Twould thin the ranks of the poetic tribe,
To dash the pen through all that you proscribe.
B.
No matter—we could shift when they were not,
And should no doubt if they were all forgot.

THE PROGRESS OF ERROR.

‘Si quid loquar audiendum. HOR. LIB. 4. OD. 2.
SING muse (if such a theme, so dark, so long,
May find a muse to grace it with a song)
By what unseen and unsuspected arts
The serpent error twines round human hearts,
Tell where she lurks, beneath what flow'ry shades,
That not a glimpse of genuin light pervades,
The pois'nous, black, insinuating worm,
Successfully conceals her loathsome form.
[Page 42] Take, if ye can, ye careless and supine!
Counsel and caution from a voice like mine;
Truths that the theorist could never reach,
And observation taught me, I would teach.
Not all whose eloquence the fancy fills,
Musical as the chime of tinkling rills,
Weak to perform, though mighty to pretend,
Can trace her mazy windings to their end,
Discern the fraud beneath the specious lure,
Prevent the danger, or prescribe the cure.
The clear harangue, and cold as it is clear,
Falls soporific on the listless ear,
Like quicksilver, the rhet'ric they display,
Shines as it runs, but grasp'd at slips away.
Plac'd for his trial on this bustling stage,
From thoughtless youth to ruminating age,
Free in his will to chuse or to refuse,
Man may improve the crisis, or abuse.
Else, on the fatalists unrighteous plan,
Say, to what bar amenable were man?
[Page 43] With nought in charge, he could betray no trust,
And if he fell, would fall because he must;
[...] love reward him, or if vengeance strike,
His recompence in both, unjust alike.
Divine authority within his breast
Brings every thought, word, action to the test,
Warns him or prompts, approves him or restrains,
As reason, or as passion, takes the reins.
Heav'n from above, and conscience from within,
Cry in his startled ear, abstain from sin.
The world around solicits his desire,
And kindles in his soul a treach'rous fire,
While all his purposes and steps to guard,
Peace follows virtue as its sure reward,
And pleasure brings as surely in her train,
Remorse and sorrow and vindictive pain.
Man thus endued with an elective voice,
Must be supplied with objects of his choice.
Where'er he turns, enjoyment and delight,
Or present, or in prospect, meet his sight;
[Page 44] These open on the spot their honey'd store,
Those call him loudly to pursuit of more.
His unexhausted mine, the sordid vice
Avarice shows, and virtue is the price.
Here, various motives his ambition raise,
Pow'r, pomp, and splendor, and the thirst of praise;
There beauty woes him with expanded arms,
E'en Bacchanalian madness has its charms,
Nor these alone, whose pleasures less refin'd,
Might well alarm the most unguarded mind,
Seek to supplant his unexperienced youth,
Or lead him devious from the path of truth,
Hourly allurements on his passions press,
Safe in themselves, but dang'rous in th' excess.
Hark! how it floats upon the dewy air,
O what a dying, dying close was there!
'Tis harmony from yon sequester'd bow'r,
Sweet harmony that sooths the midnight hour;
Long e'er the charioteer of day had run
His morning course, th' enchantment was begun,
[Page 45] And he shall gild yon mountains height again,
[...]'er yet the pleasing toil becomes a pain.
Is this the rugged path, the steep ascent
That virtue points to? Can a life thus spent
Lead to the bliss she promises the wise,
Detach the soul from earth, and speed her to the skies?
Ye devotees to your ador'd employ,
Enthusiasts, drunk with an unreal joy,
Love makes the music of the blest above,
Heav'ns harmony is universal love;
And earthly sounds, though sweet and well combin'd,
And lenient as soft opiates to the mind,
Leave vice and folly unsubdu'd behind.
Grey dawn appears, the sportsman and his train
[...]peckle the bosom of the distant plain,
'Tis he, the Nimrod of the neighb'ring lairs,
[...]ave that his scent is less acute than their's,
For persevering chace, and headlong leaps,
True beagle as the staunchest hound he keeps.
Charg'd with the folly of his life's mad scene,
He takes offence, and wonders what you mean;
[Page 46] The joy, the danger and the toil o'erpays,
'Tis exercise, and health and length of days,
Again impetuous to the field he flies,
Leaps ev'ry fence but one, there falls and dies;
Like a slain deer, the tumbril brings him home,
Unmiss'd but by his dogs and by his groom.
Ye clergy, while your orbit is your place,
Lights of the world, and stars of human race—
But if eccentric yc forsake your sphere,
Prodigious, ominous, and view'd with fear.
The comets baneful influence is a dream,
Your's real, and pernicious in th' extreme.
What then—are appetites and lusts laid down,
With the same ease the man puts on his gown?
Will av'rice and concupiscence give place,
Charm'd by the sounds, your rev'rence, or your grace?
No. But his own engagement binds him fast,
Or if it does not, brands him to the last
What atheists call him, a designing knave,
A mere church juggler, hypocrite and slave.
[Page 47] Oh laugh, or mourn with me, the rueful jest,
A cassock'd huntsman, and a fiddling priest;
He from Italian songsters takes his cue,
Set Paul to music, he shall quote him too.
He takes the field, the master of the pack
Cries, well done Saint—and claps him on the back.
Is this the path of sanctity? Is this
To stand a way-mark in the road to bliss?
Himself a wand'rer from the narrow way,
His silly sheep, what wonder if they stray?
Go, cast your orders at your Bishop's feet,
Send your dishonour'd gown to Monmouth Street,
The sacred function, in your hands is made,
Sad sacrilege! No function but a trade.
Occiduus is a pastor of renown,
When he has pray'd and preach'd the sabbath down,
With wire and catgut he concludes the day,
Quav'ring and semiquav'ring care away.
The full concerto swells upon your ear;
All elbows shake. Look in, and you would swear
[Page 48] The Babylonian tyrant with a nod
Had summon'd them to serve his golden God.
So well that thought th' employment seems to suit,
salt'ry and sackbut, dulcimer, and flute,
Oh fie! 'Tis evangelical and pure,
Observe each face, how sober and demure,
Extasy sets her stamp on ev'ry mien,
Chins fall'n, and not an eye-ball to be seen.
Still I insist, though music heretofore
Has charm'd me much, not ev'n Occiduus more,
Love, joy and peace make harmony, more meet
For sabbath evenings, and perhaps as sweet.
Will not the sickliest sheep of ev'ry flock,
Resort to this example as a rock,
There stand and justify the foul abuse
Of sabbath hours, with plausible excuse?
If apostolic gravity be free
To play the fool on Sundays, why not we?
If he, the tinkling harpsichord regards
As inoffensive, what offence in cards?
[Page 49] Strike up the fiddles, let us all be gay,
Laymen have leave to dance, if parsons play.
Oh Italy! Thy sabbaths will be soon
Our sabbaths, clos'd with mumm'ry and buffoon.
Preaching and pranks will share the motley scene,
Our's parcell'd out, as thine have ever been,
God's worship and the mountebank between.
What says the prophet? Let that day be blest
With holiness and consecrated rest.
Pastime and bus'ness both it should exclude,
And bar the door the moment they intrude,
Nobly distinguish'd above all the six,
By deeds in which the world must never mix.
Hear him again. He calls it a delight,
A day of luxury, observ'd aright,
When the glad soul is made heav'ns welcome guest,
Sits banquetting, and God provides the feast.
But triflers are engag'd and cannot come;
Their answer to the call is—Not at home.
Oh the dear pleasures of the velvet plain,
The painted tablets, dealt and dealt again.
[Page 50] Cards with what rapture, and the polish'd die,
The yawning chasm of indolence supply!
Then to the dance, and make the sober moon
Witness of joys that shun the sight of noon.
Blame cynic, if you can, quadrille or ball,
The snug close party, or the splendid hall,
Where night down-stooping from her ebon throne,
Views constellations brighter than her own.
'Tis innocent, and harmless and refin'd,
The balm of care, elysium of the mind.
Innocent! Oh if venerable time
Slain at the foot of pleasure, be no crime,
Then with his silver beard and magic wand,
Let Comus rise Archbishop of the land,
Let him your rubric and your feasts prescribe,
Grand metropolitan of all the tribe.
Of manners rough, and coarse athletic cast,
The rank debauch suits Clodio's filthy taste.
Rufillus, exquisitely form'd by rule,
Not of the moral, but the dancing school,
[Page 51] Wonders at Clodio's follies, in a tone
As tragical, as others at his own.
He cannot drink five bottles, bilk the score,
Then kill a constable, and drink five more;
But he can draw a pattern, make a tart,
And has the ladies etiquette by heart.
Go fool, and arm in arm with Clodio, plead
Your cause, before a bar you little dread;
But know, the law that bids the drunkard die,
Is far too just to pass the trifler by.
Both baby featur'd and of infant size,
View'd from a distance, and with heedless eyes,
Folly and innocence are so alike,
The diff'rence, though essential, fails to strike.
Yet folly ever has a vacant stare,
A simp'ring count'nance, and a trifling air;
But innocence, sedate, serene, erect,
Delights us, by engaging our respect.
Man, nature's guest by invitation sweet,
Receives from her, both appetite and treat,
[Page 52] But if he play the glutton and exceed,
His benefactress blushes at the deed.
For nature, nice, as lib'ral to dispense,
Made nothing but a brute the slave of sense.
Daniel ate pulse by choice, example rare!
Heav'n bless'd the youth, and made him fresh and fair.
Gorgonius sits abdominous and wan,
Like a fatsquab upon a Chinese fan.
He snuffs far off th' anticipated joy,
Turtle and ven'son all his thoughts employ,
Prepares for meals, as jockeys take a sweat,
Oh nauseous! an emetic for a whet—
Will providence o'erlook the wasted good?
Temperance were no virtue if he cou'd.
That pleasures, therefore, or what such we call,
Are hurtful, is a truth confess'd by all.
And some that seem to threaten virtue less,
Still hurtful, in th' abuse, or by th' excess.
Is man then only for his torment plac'd,
The center of delights he may not taste?
[Page 53] Like fabled Tantalus condemn'd to hear
The precious stream still purling in his ear,
Lip-deep in what he longs for, and yet curst
With prohibition and perpetual thirst?
No, wrangler—destitute of shame and sense,
The precept that injoins him abstinence,
Forbids him none but the licentious joy,
Whose fruit, though fair, tempts only to destroy.
Remorse, the fatal egg by pleasure laid
In every bosom where her nest is made,
Hatch'd by the beams of truth denies him rest,
And proves a raging scorpion in his breast.
No pleasure? Are domestic comforts dead?
Are all the nameless sweets of friendship fled?
Has time worn out, or fashion put to shame
Good sense, good health, good conscience, and good fame?
All these belong to virtue, and all prove
That virtue has a title to your love.
Have you no touch of pity, that the poor
Stand starved at your inhospitable door?
[Page 54] Or if yourself too scantily supplied
Need help, let honest industry provide.
Earn, if you want, if you abound, impart,
These both are pleasures to the feeling heart.
No pleasure? Has some sickly eastern waste
Sent us a wind to parch us at a blast?
Can British paradise no scenes afford
To please her sated and indiff'rent lord?
Are sweet philosophy's enjoyments run
Quite to the lees? And has religion none?
Brutes capable, should tell you 'tis a lye,
And judge you from the kennel and the sty.
Delights like these, ye sensual and profane,
Ye are bid, begg'd, besought to entertain;
Call'd to these crystal streams, do ye turn off
Obscene, to swill and swallow at a trough?
Envy the beast then, on whom heav'n bestows
Your pleasures, with no curses in the close.
Pleasure admitted in undue degree,
Enslaves the will, nor leaves the judgment free.
[Page 55] 'Tis not alone the grapes enticing juice,
Unnerves the moral pow'rs, and marrs their use,
Ambition, av'rice, and the lust of fame,
And woman, lovely woman, does the same.
The heart, surrender'd to the ruling pow'r
Of some ungovern'd passion ev'ry hour,
Finds by degrees, the truths that once bore sway,
And all their deep impression wear away.
So coin grows smooth, in traffic current pass'd,
'Till Caesar's image is effac'd at last.
The breach, though small at first, soon op'ning wide,
In rushes folly with a full moon tide.
Then welcome errors of whatever size,
To justify it by a thousand lies.
As creeping ivy clings to wood or stone,
And hides the ruin that it feeds upon,
So sophistry, cleaves close to, and protects
Sin's rotten trunk, concealing its defects.
Mortals whose pleasures are their only care,
First wish to be impos'd on, and then are.
[Page 56] And lest the fulsome artifice should fail,
Themselves will hide its coarseness with a veil.
Not more industrious are the just and true
To give to virtue what is virtue's due,
The praise of wisdom, comeliness and worth,
And call her charms to public notice forth,
Than vice's mean and disingenuous race,
To hide the shocking features of her face.
Her form with dress and lotion they repair,
Then kiss their idol and pronounce her fair.
The sacred implement I now employ
Might prove a mischief or at best a toy,
A trifle if it move but to amuse,
But if to wrong the judgment and abuse,
Worse than a poignard in the basest hand,
It stabs at once the morals of a land.
Ye writers of what none with safety reads,
Footing it in the dance that fancy leads,
Ye novellists who marr what ye would mend,
Sniv'ling and driv'ling folly without end,
[Page 57] Whose corresponding misses fill the ream
With sentimental frippery and dream,
Caught in a delicate soft silken net
By some lewd Earl, or rake-hell Baronet;
Ye pimps, who under virtue's fair pretence,
Steal to the closet of young innocence,
And teach her unexperienc'd yet and green,
To scribble as you scribble at fifteen;
Who kindling a combustion of desire,
With some cold moral think to quench the fire,
Though all your engineering proves in vain,
The dribbling stream ne'er puts it out again;
Oh that a verse had pow'r, and could command
Far, far away, these flesh-flies of the land,
Who fasten without mercy on the fair,
And suck, and leave a craving maggot there.
Howe'er disguis'd th' inflammatory tale,
And covered with a fine-spun specious veil,
Such writers and such readers owe the gust
And relish of their pleasure all to lust.
[Page 58] But the muse eagle-pinion'd has in view
A quarry more important still than you,
Down down the wind she swims and sails away,
Now stoops upon it and now grasps the prey.
Petronius! all the muses weep for thee,
But ev'ry tear shall scald thy memory.
The graces too, while virtue at their shrine
Lay bleeding under that soft hand of thine,
Felt each a mortal stab in her own breast,
Abhorr'd the sacrifice, and curs'd the priest.
Thou polish'd and high finish'd foe to truth,
Gray beard corruptor of our list'ning youth,
To purge and skim away the filth of vice,
That so refin'd it might the more entice,
Then pour it on the morals of thy son
To taint his heart, was worthy of thine own.
Now while the poison all high life pervades,
Write if thou can'st one letter from the shades,
One, and one only, charg'd with deep regret,
That thy worst part, thy principles live yet;
[Page 59] One fad epistle thence, may cure mankind,
Of the plague spread by bundles left behind.
'Tis granted, and no plainer truth appears,
Our most important are our earliest years,
The mind impressible and soft, with ease
Imbibes and copies what she hears and sees,
And through life's labyrinth holds fast the clue
That education gives her, false or true.
Plants rais'd with tenderness are seldom strong,
Man's coltish disposition asks the thong,
And without discipline the fav'rite child,
Like a neglected forrester runs wild.
But we, as if good qualities would grow
Spontaneous, take but little pains to sow,
We give some latin and a smatch of greek,
Teach him to fence and figure twice a week,
And having done we think, the best we can,
Praise his proficiency and dub him man.
From school to Cam or Isis, and thence home,
And thence with all convenient speed to Rome,
[Page 60] With rev'rend tutor clad in habit lay,
To teaze for cash and quarrel with all day,
With memorandum-book for ev'ry town,
Aud ev'ry post, and where the chaise broke down:
His stock, a few French phrases got by heart,
With much to learn, but nothing to impart,
The youth obedient to his sire's commands,
Sets off a wand'rer into foreign lands:
Surpriz'd at all they meet, the goslin pair
With aukward gait, stretch'd neck, and silly stare,
Discover huge cathedrals built with stone,
And steeples tow'ring high much like our own,
But show peculiar light by many a grin
At Popish practices observ'd within.
E'er long some bowing, smirking, smart Abbé
Remarks two loit'rers that have lost their way,
And being always primed with politesse
For men of their appearance and andress,
With much compassion undertakes the task,
To tell them more than they have wit to ask.
[Page 61] Points to inscriptions wheresoe'er they tread,
Such as when legible were never read,
But being canker'd now, and half worn out,
Craze antiquarian brains with endless doubt:
Some headless hero or some Caesar shows,
Defective only in his Roman nose;
Exhibits elevations, drawings, plans,
Models of Herculanean pots and pans,
And sells them medals, which if neither rare
Nor antient, will be so, preserv'd with care.
Strange the recital! from whatever cause
His great improvement and new lights he draws,
The 'Squire once bashful is shame-fac'd no more,
But teems with pow'rs he never felt before:
Whether encreas'd momentum, and the force
With which from clime to clime he sped his course,
As axles sometimes kindle as they go,
Chaf'd him and brought dull nature to a glow;
Or whether clearer skies and softer air
That make Italian flow'rs so sweet and fair,
[Page 62] Fresh'ning his lazy spirits as he ran,
Unfolded genially and spread the man,
Returning he proclaims by many a grace,
By shrugs and strange contortions of his face,
How much a dunce that has been sent to roam,
Excels a dunce that has been kept at home.
Accomplishments have taken virtue's place,
And wisdom falls before exterior grace;
We slight the precious kernel of the stone,
And toil to polish its rough coat alone.
A just deportment, manners grac'd with ease
Elegant phrase, and figure form'd to please,
Are qualities that seem to comprehend
Whatever parents, guardians, schools intend;
Hence an unfurnish'd and a listless mind,
Though busy, trifling; empty, though refin'd,
Hence all that interferes, and dares to clash
With indolence and luxury, is trash;
While learning, once the man's exclusive pride,
Seems verging fast towards the female side.
[Page 63] Learning itself receiv'd into a mind
By nature weak, or viciously inclin'd,
Serves but to lead philosophers astray
Where children would with ease discern the way.
And of all arts sagacious dupes invent
To cheat themselves and gain the world's assent
The worst is scripture warp'd from it's intent.
The carriage bowls along and all are pleas'd
If Tom be sober, and the wheels well greas'd,
But if the rogue have gone a cup too far,
Left out his linch-pin or forgot his tar,
It suffers interruption and delay,
And meets with hindrance in the smoothest way.
When some hypothesis absurd and vain
Has fill'd with all its fumes a critic's brain,
The text that sorts not with his darling whim,
Though plain to others, is obscure to him.
The will made subject to a lawless force,
All is irregular, and out of course,
And judgment drunk, and bribed to lose his way,
Winks hard, and talks of darkness at noon day.
[Page 64] A critic on the sacred book, should be
Candid and learn'd, dispassionate and free;
Free from the wayward bias bigots feel,
From fancy's influence, and intemp'rate zeal.
But above all (or let the wretch refrain,
Nor touch the page he cannot but profane)
Free from the domineering pow'r of lust,
A lewd interpreter is never just.
How shall I speak thee, or thy pow'r address,
Thou God of our idolatry, the press?
By thee, religion, liberty and laws
Exert their influence, and advance their cause,
By thee, worse plagues than Pharaoh's land befel,
Diffus'd, make earth the vestibule of hell:
Thou fountain, at which drink the good and wise,
Thou ever-bubbling spring of endless lies,
Like Eden's dread probationary tree,
Knowledge of good and evil is from thee.
No wild enthusiast ever yet could rest,
Till half mankind were like himself possess'd.
[Page 65] Philosophers, who darken and put out
Eternal truth by everlasting doubt,
Church quacks, with passions under no command,
Who fill the world with doctrines contraband,
Discov'rers of they know not what, confin'd
Within no bounds, the blind that lead the blind,
To streams of popular opinion drawn,
Deposit in those shallows, all their spawn.
The wriggling fry soon fill the creeks around,
Pois'ning the waters where their swarms abound;
Scorn'd by the nobler tenants of the flood,
Minnows and gudgeons gorge th' unwholesome food.
The propagated myriads spread so fast,
E'en Leuwenhoek himself would stand aghast,
Employ'd to calculate th' enormous sum,
And own his crab-computing pow'rs o'ercome.
Is this Hyperbole? The world well known,
Your sober thoughts will hardly find it one.
Fresh confidence the speculatist takes
From ev'ry hare-brain'd proselyte he makes,
[Page 66] And therefore prints. Himself but half-deceiv'd,
'Till others have the soothing tale believ'd.
Hence comment after comment, spun as fine
As bloated spiders draw the flimsy line.
Hence the same word that bids our lusts obey,
Is misapplied to sanctify their sway.
If stubborn Greek refuse to be his friend,
Hebrew or Syriac shall be forc'd to bend;
If languages and copies all cry, No—
Somebody prov'd it centuries ago.
Like trout pursued, the critic in despair
Darts to the mud and finds his safety there.
Women, whom custom has forbid to fly
The scholar's pitch (the scholar best knows why)
With all the simple and unletter'd poor,
Admire his learning, and almost adore.
Whoever errs, the priest can ne'er be wrong,
With such fine words familiar to his tongue.
Ye ladies! (for, indiff'rent in your cause,
I should deserve to forfeit all applause)
[Page 67] Whatever shocks, or gives the least offence
To virtue, delicacy, truth or sense,
(Try the criterion, 'tis a faithful guide)
Nor has, nor can have scripture on its side.
None but an author knows an author's cares,
Or fancy's fondness for the child she bears.
Committed once into the public arms,
The baby seems to smile with added charms.
Like something precious ventur'd far from shore,
'Tis valued for the dangers sake the more.
He views it with complacency supreme,
Solicits kind attention to his dream,
And daily more enamour'd of the cheat,
Kneels, and asks heav'n to bless the dear deceit.
So one, whose story serves at least to show
Men lov'd their own productions long ago,
Wooed an unfeeling statue for his wife,
Nor rested till the Gods had giv'n it life.
If some mere driv'ler suck the sugar'd fib,
One that still needs his leading string and bib,
[Page 68] And praise his genius, he is soon repaid
In praise applied to the same part, his head.
For 'tis a rule that holds for ever true,
Grant me discernment, and I grant it you.
Patient of contradiction as a child,
Affable, humble, diffident and mild,
Such was Sir Isaac, and such Boyle and Locke,
Your blund'rer is as sturdy as a rock.
The creature is so sure to kick and bite,
A muleteer's the man to set him right.
First appetite enlists him truth's sworn foe,
Then obstinate self-will confirms him so.
Tell him he wanders, that his error leads
To fatal ills, that though the path he treads
Be flow'ry, and he see no cause of fear,
Death and the pains of hell attend him there;
In vain; the slave of arrogance and pride,
He has no hearing on the prudent side.
His still refuted quirks he still repeats,
New rais'd objections with new quibbles meets,
[Page 69] 'Till sinking in the quicksand he defends,
He dies disputing, and the contest ends;
But not the mischiefs: they still left behind,
Like thistle-seeds are sown by ev'ry wind.
Thus men go wrong with an ingenious skill,
Bend the strait rule to their own crooked will,
And with a clear and shining lamp supplied,
First put it out, then take it for a guide.
Halting on crutches of unequal size,
One leg by truth supported, one by lies,
They sidle to the goal with aukward pace,
Secure of nothing, but to lose the race.
Faults in the life breed errors in the brain,
And these, reciprocally, those again.
The mind and conduct mutually imprint
And stamp their image in each other's mint.
Each, sire and dam, of an infernal race,
Begetting and conceiving all that's base.
None sends his arrow to the mark in view,
Whose hand is feeble, or his aim untrue.
[Page 70] For though e'er yet the shaft is on the wing,
Or when it first forsakes th' elastic string,
It err but little from th' intended line,
It falls at last, far wide of his design.
So he that seeks a mansion in the sky,
Must watch his purpose with a stedfast eye,
That prize belongs to none but the sincere,
The least obliquity is fatal here.
With caution taste the sweet Circaean cup,
He that sips often, at last drinks it up.
Habits are soon assum'd, but when we strive
To strip them off, 'tis being flay'd alive.
Call'd to the temple of impure delight,
He that abstains, and he alone does right.
If a wish wander that way, call it home,
He cannot long be safe, whose wishes roam.
But if you pass the threshold, you are caught,
Die then, if pow'r Almighty save you not.
There hard'ning by degrees, 'till double steel'd,
Take leave of nature's God, and God reveal'd,
[Page 71] Then laugh at all you trembl'd at before,
And joining the free-thinkers brutal roar,
Swallow the two grand nostrums they dispense,
That scripture lies, and blasphemy is sense:
If clemency revolted by abuse
Be damnable, then, damn'd without excuse.
Some dream that they can silence when they will
The storm of passion, and say, Peace, be still;
But "Thus far and no farther, [...]
To the wild wave, or wilder human breast,
Implies authority that never can,
That never ought to be the lot of man.
But muse forbear, long flights forebode a fall,
Strike on the deep-toned chord the sum of all.
Hear the just law, the judgment of the skies!
He that hates truth shall be the dupe of lies.
And he that will be cheated to the last,
Delusions, strong as hell, shall bind him fast.
But if the wand'rer his mistake discern,
Judge his own ways, and sigh for a return,
[Page 72] Bewilder'd once, must he bewail his loss
For ever and for ever? No—the cross.
There and there only (though the deist rave,
And atheist, if earth bear so base a slave)
There and there only, is the pow'r to save.
There no delusive hope invites despair,
No mock'ry meets you, no deception there.
The spells and charms that blinded you before,
All vanish there, and fascinate no more.
I am no preacher, let this hint suffice,
The cross once seen, is death to ev'ry vice:
Else he that hung there, suffer'd all his pain,
Bled, groan'd and agoniz'd, and died in vain.

TRUTH.

‘Pensentur trutinâ. HOR.
MAN on the dubious waves of error toss'd,
His ship half founder'd and his compass lost,
Sees far as human optics may command,
A sleeping fog, and fancies it dry land:
Spreads all his canvass, ev'ry sinew plies,
Pants for it, aims at it, enters it, and dies.
Then farewell all self-satisfying schemes,
His well-built systems, philosophic dreams,
[Page 74] Deceitful views of future bliss, farewell!
He reads his sentence at the flames of hell.
Hard lot of man! to toil for the reward
Of virtue, and yet lose it—wherefore hard?
He that would win the race, must guide his horse
Obedient to the customs of the course,
Else, though unequall'd to the goal he flies,
A meaner than himself shall gain the prize.
Grace leads the right way, if you chuse the wrong,
Take it and perish, but restrain your tongue;
Charge not, with light sufficient and left free,
Your willful suicide on God's decree.
Oh how unlike the complex works of man,
Heav'ns easy, artless, unincumber'd plan!
No meretricious graces to beguile,
No clust'ring ornaments to clog the pile,
From ostentation as from weakness free,
It stands like the caerulean arch we see,
Majestic in its own simplicity.
Inscrib'd above the portal, from afar
Conspicuous as the brightness of a star,
[Page 75] Legible only by the light they give,
Stand the soul-quick'ning words—BELIEVE AND LIVE.
Too many shock'd at what should charm them most,
Despise the plain direction and are lost.
Heav'n on such terms! they cry with proud disdain,
Incredible, impossible, and vain—
Rebel because 'tis easy to obey,
And scorn for its own sake the gracious way.
These are the sober, in whose cooler brains
Some thought of immortality remains;
The rest too busy or too gay, to wait
On the sad theme, their everlasting state,
Sport for a day and perish in a night,
The foam upon the waters not so light.
Who judg'd the Pharisee? What odious cause
Expos'd him to the vengeance of the laws?
Had he seduc'd a virgin, wrong'd a friend,
Or stabb'd a man to serve some private end?
Was blasphemy his sin? Or did he stray
From the strict duties of the sacred day?
[Page 76] Sit long and late at the carousing board?
(Such were the sins with which he charg'd his Lord)
No—the man's morals were exact, what then?
'Twas his ambition to be seen of men;
His virtues were his pride; and that one vice
Made all his virtues gewgaws of no price;
He wore them as fine trappings for a show,
A praying, synagogue frequenting beau.
The self-applauding bird, the peacock see—
Mark what a sumptuous Pharisee is he!
Meridian sun-beams tempt him to unfold
His radiant glories, azure, green, and gold;
He treads as if some solemn music near,
His measur'd step were govern'd by his ear,
And seems to say, ye meaner fowl, give place,
I am all splendor, dignity and grace.
Not so the pheasant on his charms presumes,
Though he too has a glory in his plumes.
He, christian like, retreats with modest mien,
To the close copse or far sequester'd green,
And shines without desiring to be seen.
[Page 77] The plea of works, as arrogant and vain,
Heav'n turns from with abhorrence and disdain;
Not more affronted by avow'd neglect,
Than by the mere dissemblers feign'd respect.
What is all righteousness that men devise,
What, but a fordid bargain for the skies?
But Christ as soon would abdicate his own,
As sloop from heav'n to sell the proud a throne.
His dwelling a recess in some rude rock,
Book, beads, and maple-dish his meagre stock,
In shirt of hair and weeds of canvass dress'd,
Girt with a bell-rope that the Pope has bless'd,
Adust with stripes told out for ev'ry crime,
And sore tormented long before his time,
His pray'r preferr'd to saints that cannot aid,
His praise postpon'd, and never to be paid,
See the sage hermit by mankind admir'd,
With all that bigotry adopts, inspir'd,
Wearing out life in his religious whim,
'Till his religious whimsy wears out him.
[Page 78] His works, his abstinence, his zeal allow'd,
You think him humble, God accounts him proud;
High in demand, though lowly in pretence,
Of all his conduct, this the genuine sense—
My penitential stripes, my streaming blood
Have purchas'd heav'n, and prove my title good.
Turn eastward now, and fancy shall apply
To your weak sight her telescopic eye.
The Bramin kindles on his own bare head
The sacred fire, self-torturing his trade,
His voluntary pains, severe and long,
Would give a barb'rous air to British song,
Nor grand inquisitor could worse invent,
Than he contrives to suffer, well content.
Which is the saintlier worthy of the two?
Past all dispute, yon anchorite say you.
Your sentence and mine differ. What's a name?
I say the Bramin has the fairer claim.
If suff'rings scripture no where recommends,
Devis'd by self to answer selfish ends
[Page 79] Give saintship, then all Europe must agree,
Ten starvling hermits suffer less than he.
The truth is (if the truth may suit your ear,
And prejudice have left a passage clear)
Pride has attain'd its most luxuriant growth,
And poison'd every virtue in them both.
Pride may be pamper'd while the flesh grows lean;
Humility may cloath an English Dean;
That grace was Cowper's—his confess'd by all—
Though plac'd in golden Durham's second stall.
Not all the plenty of a Bishop's board,
His palace, and his lacqueys, and, my Lord!
More nourish pride, that condescending vice,
Than abstinence, and beggary and lice.
It thrives in misery, and abundant grows
In misery fools upon themselves impose.
But why before us Protestants produce
An Indian mystic or a French recluse?
Their sin is plain, but what have we to fear,
Reform'd and well instructed? You shall hear.
[Page 80] Yon antient prude, whose wither'd features show
She might be young some forty years ago,
Her elbows pinion'd close upon her hips,
Her head erect, her fan upon her lips,
Her eye-brows arch'd, her eyes both gone astray
To watch yon am'rous couple in their play,
With boney and unkerchief'd neck defies
The rude inclemency of wintry skies,
And sails with lappet-head and mincing airs
Duely at clink of bell, to morning pray'rs.
To thrift and parsimony much inclin'd,
She yet allows herself that boy behind;
The shiv'ring urchin, bending as he goes,
With slipshod heels, and dew drop at his nose,
His predecessors coat advanc'd to wear,
Which furture pages are yet doom'd to share,
Carries her bible tuck'd beneath his arm,
And hides his hands to keep his fingers warm.
She, half an angel in her own account,
Doubts not hereafter with the saints to mount,
[Page 81] Though not a grace appears on strictest search,
But that she fasts, and item, goes to church.
Conscious of age she recollects her youth,
And tells, not always with an eye to truth,
Who spann'd her waist, and who, where'er he came,
Scrawl'd upon glass Miss Bridget's lovely name,
Who stole her slipper, fill'd it with tokay,
And drank the little bumper ev'ry day.
Of temper as invenom'd as an asp,
Censorious, and her every word a wasp,
In faithful mem'ry she records the crimes,
Or real, or fictitious, of the times,
Laughs at the reputations she has torn,
And holds them dangling at arms length in scorn.
Such are the fruits of sanctimonious pride,
Of malice fed while flesh is mortified.
Take, Madam, the reward of all your pray'rs,
Where hermits and where Bramins meet with theirs,
Your portion is with them: nay, never frown,
But, if you please, some fathoms lower down.
[Page 82] Artist attend—your brushes and your paint—
Produce them—take a chair—now draw a Saint.
Oh sorrowful and sad! the streaming tears
Channel her cheeks, a Niobe appears.
Is this a Saint? Throw tints and all away,
True piety is chearful as the day,
Will weep indeed and heave a pitying groan
For others woes, but smiles upon her own.
What purpose has the King of Saints in view?
Why falls the gospel like a gracious dew?
To call up plenty from the teeming earth,
Or curse the desart with a tenfold dearth?
Is it that Adam's offspring may be sav'd
From servile fear, or be the more enslav'd?
[...] loose the links that gall'd mankind before,
Or bind them faster on, and add still more?
The freeborn Christian has no chains to prove,
Or if a chain, the golden one of love;
No fear attends to quench his glowing fires,
What fear he feels his gratitude inspires.
[Page 83] Shall he for such deliv'rance freely wrought,
Recompense ill? He trembles at the thought:
His masters int'rest and his own combin'd,
Prompt ev'ry movement of his heart and mind;
Thought, word, and deed, his liberty evince,
His freedom is the freedom of a Prince.
Man's obligations infinite, of course
His life should prove that he perceives their force,
His utmost he can render is but small,
The principle and motive all in all.
You have two servants—Tom, an arch, sly rogue,
From top to toe the Geta now in vogue;
Genteel in figure, easy in address,
Moves without noise, and swift as an express,
Reports a message with a pleasing grace,
Expert in all the duties of his place:
Say, on what hinge does his obedience move?
Has he a world of gratitude and love?
No, not a spark—'tis all mere sharpers play;
He likes your house, your housemaid and your pay;
[Page 84] Reduce his wages, or get rid of her,
Tom quits you, with, your most obedient Sir—
The dinner serv'd, Charles takes his usual stand,
Watches your eye, anticipates command,
Sighs if perhaps your appetite should fail,
And if he but suspects a frown, turns pale;
Consults all day your int'rest and your ease,
Richly rewarded if he can but please,
And proud to make his firm attachment known,
To save your life would nobly risque his own.
Now, which stands highest in your serious thought?
Charles, without doubt, say you—and so he ought;
One act that from a thankful heart proceeds,
Excels ten thousand mercenary deeds.
Thus heav'n approves as honest and sincere,
The work of gen'rous love and filial fear,
But with averted eyes th'omniscient judge,
Scorns the base hireling and the slavish drudge.
[Page 85] Where dwell these matchless Saints? Old Curio cries—
Ev'n at your side, Sir, and before your eyes,
The favour'd few, th' enthusiasts you despise.
And pleas'd at heart because on holy ground,
Sometimes a canting hypocrite is found,
Reproach a people with his single fall,
And cast his filthy raiment at them all.
Attend—an apt similitude shall show,
Whence springs the conduct that offends you so.
See where it smoaks along the sounding plain,
Blown all aslant, a driving dashing rain,
Peal upon peal redoubling all around,
Shakes it again and faster to the ground,
Now flashing wide, now glancing as in play,
Swift beyond thought the light'nings dart away;
Ere yet it came the traveller urg'd his steed,
And hurried, but with unsuccessful speed,
Now drench'd throughout, and hopeless of his case,
He drops the rein, and leaves him to his pace;
[Page 86] Suppose, unlook'd for in a scene so rude,
Long hid by interposing hill or wood,
Some mansion neat and elegantly dress'd,
By some kind hospitable heart possess'd,
Offer him warmth, security and rest;
Think with what pleasure, safe and at his ease,
He hears the tempest howling in the trees,
What glowing thanks his lips and heart employ,
While danger past is turn'd to present joy.
So fares it with the sinner when he feels,
A growing dread of vengeance at his heels,
His conscience like a glassy lake before,
Lash'd into foaming waves begins to roar,
The law grown clamorous, though silent long,
Arraigns him, charges him with every wrong,
Asserts the rights of his offended Lord,
And death or restitution is the word;
The last impossible, he fears the first,
And having well deserv'd, expects the worst
Then welcome refuge, and a peaceful home,
Oh for a shelter from the wrath to come!
[Page 87] Crush me ye rocks, ye falling mountains hide,
Or bury me in oceans angry tide—
The scrutiny of those all seeing eyes
I dare not—and you need not, God replies;
The remedy you want I freely give,
The book shall teach you, read, believe and live:
'Tis done—the raging storm is heard no more,
Mercy receives him on her peaceful shore,
And justice, guardian of the dread command,
Drops the red vengeance from his willing hand.
A soul redeem'd demands a life of praise,
Hence the complexion of his future days,
Hence a demeanor holy and unspeck'd,
And the world's hatred as its sure effect.
Some lead a life unblameable and just,
Their own dear virtue, their unshaken trust.
They never sin—or if (as all offend)
Some trivial slips their daily walk attend,
The poor are near at hand, the charge is small,
A slight gratuity atones for all.
[Page 88] For though the Pope has lost his int'rest here,
And pardons are not sold as once they were,
No Papist more desirous to compound,
Than some grave sinners upon English ground:
That plea refuted, other quirks they seek,
Mercy is infinite and man is weak,
The future shall obliterate the past,
And heav'n no doubt shall be their home at last.
Come then—a still, small whisper in your ear,
He has no hope that never had a fear;
And he that never doubted of his state,
He may perhaps—perhaps he may—too late.
The path to bliss abounds with many a snare,
Learning is one, and wit, however rare:
The Frenchman first in literary fame,
(Mention him if you please—Voltaire? The same)
With spirit, genius, eloquence supplied,
Liv'd long, wrote much, laugh'd heartily and died:
The scripture was his jest-book, whence he drew
Bon môts to gall the Christian and the Jew:
[Page 89] An infidel in health, but what when sick?
Oh then, a text would touch him at the quick:
View him at Paris in his last career,
Surrounding throngs the demi-god revere,
Exalted on his pedestal of pride,
And fum'd with frankincense on ev'ry side,
He begs their flattery with his latest breath,
And smother'd in't at last, is prais'd to death.
Yon cottager who weaves at her own door,
Pillow and bobbins all her little store,
Content though mean, and chearful, if not gay,
Shuffling her threads about the live-long day,
Just earns a scanty pittance, and at night
Lies down secure, her heart and pocket light;
She for her humble sphere by nature fit,
Has little understanding, and no wit,
Receives no praise, but (though her lot be such,
Toilsome and indigent) she renders much;
Just knows, and knows no more, her bible true,
A truth the brilliant Frenchman never knew,
[Page 90] And in that charter reads with sparkling eyes,
Her title to a treasure in the skies.
Oh happy peasant! Oh unhappy bard!
His the mere tinsel, her's the rich reward;
He prais'd perhaps for ages yet to come,
She never heard of half a mile from home;
He lost in errors his vain heart prefers,
She safe in the simplicity of hers.
Not many wise, rich, noble, or profound
In science, win one inch of heav'nly ground;
And is it not a mortifying thought
The poor should gain it, and the rich should not?
No—the voluptuaries, who ne'er forget
One pleasure lost, lose heav'n without regret;
Regret would rouse them and give birth to pray'r,
Pray'r would add faith, and faith would fix them there.
Not that the Former of us all in this,
Or aught he does, is govern'd by caprice,
The supposition is replete with sin,
And bears the brand of blasphemy burnt in.
[Page 91] Not so—the silver trumpet's heav'nly call,
Sounds for the poor, but sounds alike for all;
Kings are invited, and would kings obey,
No slaves on earth more welcome were than they:
But royalty, nobility, and state,
Are such a dead preponderating weight,
That endless bliss (how strange soe'er it seem)
In counterpoise, flies up and kicks the beam.
'Tis open and ye cannot enter—why?
Because ye will not, Conyers would reply—
And he says much that many may dispute
And cavil at with ease, but none refute.
Oh bless'd effect of penury and want,
The seed sown there, how vigorous is the plant!
No soil like poverty for growth divine,
As leanest land supplies the richest wine.
Earth gives too little, giving only bread,
To nourish pride or turn the weakest head:
To them, the sounding jargon of the schools,
Seems what it is, a cap and bells for fools:
[Page 92] The light they walk by, kindled from above,
Shows them the shortest way to life and love:
They, strangers to the controversial field,
Where deists always foil'd, yet scorn to yield,
And never check'd by what impedes the wise,
Believe, rush forward, and possess the prize.
Envy ye great the dull unletter'd small,
Ye have much cause for envy—but not all;
We boast some rich ones whom the gospel sways,
And one that wears a coronet and prays;
Like gleanings of an olive tree they show,
Here and there one upon the topmost bough.
How readily upon the gospel plan,
That question has its answer—what is man?
Sinful and weak, in ev'ry sense a wretch,
An instrument whose chords upon the stretch
And strain'd to the last screw that he can bear,
Yield only discord in his maker's ear:
Once the blest residence of truth divine,
Glorious as Solyma's interior shrine,
[Page 93] Where in his own oracular abode,
Dwelt visibly the light-creating God;
But made long since like Babylon of old,
A den of mischiefs never to be told:
And she, once mistress of the realms around,
Now scatter'd wide and no where to be found,
As soon shall rise and re-ascend the throne,
By native pow'r and energy her own,
As nature at her own peculiar cost,
Restore to man the glories he has lost.
Go bid the winter cease to chill the year,
Replace the wand'ring comet in his sphere,
Then boast (but wait for that unhop'd-for hour)
The self-restoring arm of human pow'r.
But what is man in his own proud esteem?
Hear him, himself the poet and the theme;
A monarch cloath'd with majesty and awe,
His mind his kingdom and his will his law.
Grace in his mien and glory in his eyes,
Supreme on earth and worthy of the skies,
[Page 94] Strength in his heart, dominion in his nod,
And, thunderbolts excepted, quite a God.
So sings he, charm'd with his own mind and form,
The song magnificent, the theme a worm:
Himself so much the source of his delight,
His maker has no beauty in his sight:
See where he sits contemplative and fixt,
Pleasure and wonder in his features mixt,
His passions tam'd and all at his controul,
How perfect the composure of his soul!
Complacency has breath'd a gentle gale
O'er all his thoughts, and swell'd his easy sail:
His books well trimm'd and in the gayest stile,
Like regimented coxcombs rank and file,
Adorn his intellects as well as shelves,
And teach him notions splendid as themselves:
The bible only stands neglected there,
Though that of all most worthy of his care,
And like an infant, troublesome awake,
Is left to sleep for peace and quiet sake.
[Page 95] What shall the man deserve of human kind,
Whose happy skill and industry combin'd,
Shall prove (what argument could never yet)
The bible an imposture and a cheat?
The praises of the libertine profess'd,
The worst of men, and curses of the best.
Where should the living, weeping o'er his woes,
The dying, trembling at their awful close,
Where the betray'd, forsaken and oppress'd,
The thousands whom the world forbids to rest,
Where should they find (those comforts at an end
The scripture yields) or hope to find a friend?
Sorrow might muse herself to madness then,
And seeking exile from the sight of men,
Bury herself in solitude profound,
Grow frantic with her pangs and bite the ground.
Thus often unbelief grown sick of life,
Flies to the tempting pool or felon knife,
The jury meet, the coroner is short,
And lunacy the verdict of the court:
[Page 96] Reverse the sentence, let the truth be known,
Such lunacy is ignorance alone;
They knew not, what some bishops may not know,
That scripture is the only cure of woe:
That field of promise, how it flings abroad
Its odour o'er the Christians thorny road;
The soul reposing on assur'd relief,
Feels herself happy amidst all her grief,
Forgets her labour as she toils along,
Weeps tears of joy, and bursts into a song.
But the same word that like the polish'd share
Ploughs up the roots of a believer's care,
Kills too the flow'ry weeds wheree'r they grow,
That bind the sinner's Bacchanalian brow.
Oh that unwelcome voice of heav'nly love,
Sad messenger of mercy from above,
How does it grate upon his thankless ear,
Crippling his pleasures with the cramp of fear!
His will and judgment at continual strife,
That civil war imbitters all his life;
[Page 97] In vain he points his pow'rs against the skies,
In vain he closes or averts his eyes,
Truth will intrude—she bids him yet beware—
And shakes the sceptic in the scorner's chair.
Though various foes against the truth combine,
Pride above all opposes her design;
Pride, of a growth superior to the rest,
The subtlest serpent with the loftiest crest,
Swells at the thought, and kindling into rage,
Would hiss the cherub mercy from the stage.
And is the soul indeed so lost, she cries,
Fall'n from her glory and too weak to rise,
Torpid and dull beneath a frozen zone,
Has she no spark that may be deem'd her own?
Grant her indebted to what zealots call
Grace undeserv'd, yet surely not for all—
Some beams of rectitude she yet displays,
Some love of virtue and some pow'r to praise,
Can lift herself above corporeal things,
And soaring on her own unborrow'd wings,
[Page 98] Possess herself of all that's good or true,
Assert the skies, and vindicate her due.
Past indiscretion is a venial crime,
And if the youth, unmellow'd yet by time,
Bore on his branch luxuriant then, and rude,
Fruits of a blighted size, austere and crude,
Maturer years shall happier stores produce,
And meliorate the well concocted juice.
Then conscious of her meritorious zeal,
To justice she may make her bold appeal,
And leave to mercy with a tranquil mind,
The worthless and unfruitful of mankind.
Hear then how mercy slighted and defied,
Retorts th' affront against the crown of pride.
Perish the virtue, as it ought, abhorr'd,
And the fool with it that insults his Lord.
Th' atonement a Redeemer's love has wrought
Is not for you▪ the [...]ighteous need it not.
[...] [...]ooing all she meets
[...] of the public streets,
[Page 99] Herself from morn to night, from night to morn,
Her own abhorrence, and as much your scorn,
The gracious show'r, unlimited and free,
Shall fall on her, when heav'n denies it thee.
Of all that wisdom dictates, this the drift,
That man is dead in sin, and life a gift.
Is virtue then, unless of christian growth,
Mere fallacy, or foolishness, or both,
Ten thousand sages lost in endless woe,
For ignorance of what they could not know?
That speech betrays at once a bigot's tongue,
Charge not a God with such outrageous wrong.
Truly not I—the partial light men have,
My creed persuades me, well employed may save,
While he that scorns the noon-day beam perverse,
Shall find the blessing, unimprov'd, a curse.
Let heathen worthies whose exalted mind,
Left sensuality and dross behind,
Possess for me their undisputed lot,
And take unenvied the reward they sought.
[Page 100] But still in virtue of a Savior's plea,
Not blind by choice, but destin'd not to see.
Their fortitude and wisdom were a flame
Celestial, though they knew not whence it came,
Deriv'd from the same source of light and grace
That guides the christian in his swifter race;
Their judge was conscience, and her rule their law,
That rule pursued with rev'rence and with awe,
Led them, however fault'ring, faint and slow,
From what they knew, to what they wish'd to know;
But let not him that shares a brighter day,
Traduce the splendor of a noon-tide ray,
Prefer the twilight of a darker time,
And deem his base stupidity no crime;
The wretch that slights the bounty of the skies,
And sinks while favour'd with the means to rise,
Shall find them rated at their full amount,
The good he scorn'd all carried to account.
Marshalling all his terrors as he came,
Thunder and earthquake and devouring flame,
[Page 101] From Sinai's top Jehovah gave the law,
Life for obedience, death for ev'ry flaw.
When the great sov'reign would his will express.
He gives a perfect rule; what can he less?
And guards it with a sanction as severe
As vengeance can inflict, or sinners fear:
Else his own glorious rights he would disclaim,
And man might safely trifle with his name:
He bids him glow with unremitting love
To all on earth, and to himself above;
Condemns th' injurious deed, the sland'rous tongue,
The thought that meditates a brother's wrong;
Brings not alone, the more conspicuous part,
His conduct to the test, but tries his heart.
Hark! universal nature shook and groan'd,
'Twas the last trumpet—see the judge enthron'd:
Rouse all your courage at your utmost need,
Now summon ev'ry virtue, stand and plead.
What, silent? Is your boasting heard no more?
That self-renouncing wisdom learn'd before,
[Page 102] Had shed immortal glories on your brow,
That all your virtues cannot purchase now.
All joy to the believer! He can speak—
Trembling yet happy, confident yet meek.
Since the dear hour that brought me to thy foot,
And cut up all my follies by the root,
I never trusted in an arm but thine,
Nor hop'd, but in thy righteousness divine:
My pray'rs and alms, imperfect and defil'd,
Were but the feeble efforts of a child,
Howe'er perform'd, it was their brightest part,
That they proceeded from a grateful heart:
Cleans'd in thine own all-purifying blood,
Forgive their evil and accept their good;
I cast them at thy feet—my only plea
Is what it was, dependence upon thee;
While struggling in the vale of tears below,
That never fail'd, nor shall it fail me now.
Angelic gratulations rend the skies,
Pride falls unpitied, never more to rise,
Humility is crown'd, and faith receives the prize.

EXPOSTULATION.

Tantane, tam patiens, nullo certamine tolli
Dona sines?
VIRG.
WHY weeps the muse for England?
What appears
In England's case to move the muse to tears?
From side to side of her delightful isle,
Is she not cloath'd with a perpetual smile?
Can nature add a charm, or art confer
A new found luxury not seen in her?
[Page 104] Where under heav'n is pleasure more pursued,
Or where does cold reflection less intrude?
Her fields a rich expanse of wavy corn
Pour'd out from plenty's overflowing horn,
Ambrosial gardens in which art supplies
The fervor and the force of Indian skies,
Her peaceful shores, where busy commerce waits
To pour his golden tide through all her gates,
Whom fiery suns that scorch the russet spice
Of eastern groves, and oceans floor'd with ice;
Forbid in vain to push his daring way
To darker climes, or climes of brighter day,
Whom the winds waft where'er the billows roll,
From the world's girdle to the frozen pole;
The chariots bounding in her wheel-worn streets,
Her vaults below where ev'ry vintage meets,
Her theatres, her revels, and her sports,
The scenes to which not youth alone resorts,
But age in spite of weakness and of pain
Still haunts, in hope to dream of youth again,
[Page 105] All speak her happy—let the muse look round
From East to West, no sorrow can be found,
Or only what in cottages confin'd,
Sighs unregarded to the passing wind;
Then wherefore weep for England, what appears
In England's case to move the muse to tears?
The prophet wept for Israel, wish'd his eyes
Were fountains fed with infinite supplies;
For Israel dealt in robbery and wrong,
There were the scorner's and the sland'rer's tongue,
Oaths used as playthings or convenient tools,
As Int'rest biass'd knaves, or fashion fools,
Adult'ry neighing at his neighbour's door,
Oppression labouring hard to grind the poor,
The partial balance and deceitsul weight,
The treach'rous smile, a mask for secret hate,
Hypocrisy, formality in pray'r,
And the dull service of the lip were there.
Her women insolent and self-caress'd,
By vanity's unwearied finger dress'd,
[Page 106] Forgot the blush that virgin fears impart
To modest cheeks, and borrowed one from art;
Were just such trifles without worth or use,
As silly pride and idleness produce,
Curl'd, scented, furbelow'd and flounc'd around,
With feet too delicate to touch the ground,
They stretch'd the neck, and roll'd the wanton eye,
And sigh'd for ev'ry fool that flutter'd by.
He saw his people slaves to ev'ry lust,
Lewd, avaricious, arrogant, unjust,
He heard the wheels of an avenging God
Groan heavily along the distant road;
Saw Babylon set wide her two leav'd brass
To let the military deluge pass;
Jerusalem a prey, her glory soil'd,
Her princes captive, and her treasures spoil'd;
Wept till all Israel heard his bitter cry,
Stamp'd with his foot and smote upon his thigh;
But wept and stamp'd and smote his thigh in vain,
Pleasure is deaf when told of future pain,
[Page 107] And sounds prophetic are too rough to suit
Ears long accustom'd to the pleasing lute;
They scorn'd his inspiration and his theme,
Pronounc'd him frantic and his fears a dream,
With self-indulgence wing'd the fleeting hours,
Till the foe found them, and down fell the tow'rs.
Long time Assyria bound them in her chain,
Till penitence had purg'd the public stain,
And Cyrus, with relenting pity mov'd,
Return'd them happy to the land they lov'd:
There, proof against prosperity, awhile
They stood the test of her ensnaring smile,
And had the grace in scenes of peace to show
The virtue they had learn'd in scenes of woe.
But man is frail and can but ill sustain
A long immunity from grief and pain,
And after all the joys that plenty leads,
With tip-toe step vice silently succeeds.
When he that rul'd them with a shepherd's rod,
In form a man, in dignity a God,
[Page 108] Came not expected in that humble guise,
To sift, aud search them with unerring eyes,
He found conceal'd beneath a fair outside,
The filth of rottenness and worm of pride,
Their piety a system of deceit,
Scripture employ'd to sanctify the cheat,
The pharisee the dupe of his own art,
Self-idolized and yet a knave at heart.
When nations are to perish in their sins,
'Tis in the church the leprosy begins:
The priest whose office is, with zeal sincere
To watch the fountain, and preserve it clear,
Carelessly nods and sleeps upon the brink,
While others poison what the flock must drink;
Or waking at the call of lust alone,
Infuses lies and errors of his own:
His unsuspecting sheep believe it pure,
And tainted by the very means of cure,
Catch from each other a contagious spot,
The foul forerunner of a general rot:
[Page 109] Then truth is hush'd that heresy may preach,
And all is trash that reason cannot reach;
Then God's own image on the soul impress'd,
Becomes a mock'ry and a standing jest,
And faith, the root whence only can arise
The graces of a life that wins the skies,
Loses at once all value and esteem,
Pronounc'd by gray beards a pernicious dream:
Then ceremony leads her bigots forth,
Prepar'd to fight for shadows of no worth,
While truths on which eternal things depend,
Find not, or hardly find a single friend:
As soldiers watch the signal of command,
They learn to bow, to kneel, to sit, to stand,
Happy to fill religion's vacant place
With hollow form and gesture and grimace.
Such when the teacher of his church was there,
People and priest, the sons of Israel were,
Stiff in the letter, lax in the design
And import of their oracles divine,
[Page 110] Their learning legendary, false, absurd,
And yet exalted above God's own word,
They drew a curse from an intended good,
Puff'd up with gifts they never understood.
He judg'd them with as terrible a frown,
As if, not love, but wrath had brought him down,
Yet he was gentle as soft summer airs,
Had grace for other sins, but none for theirs.
Through all he spoke a noble plainness ran,
Rhet'ric is artifice, the work of man,
And tricks and turns that fancy may devise,
Are far too mean for him that rules the skies.
Th' astonish'd vulgar trembl'd while he tore
The mask from faces never seen before;
He stripp'd th' impostors in the noon-day sun,
Show'd that they follow'd all they seem'd to shun,
Their pray'rs made public, their excesses kept
As private as the chambers where they slept.
The temple and its holy rites profan'd
By mumm'ries he that dwelt in it disdain'd,
[Page 111] Uplifted hands that at convenient times
Could act extortion and the worst of crimes,
Wash'd with a neatness scrupulously nice,
And free from ev'ry taint but that of vice.
Judgment, however tardy, mends her pace
When obstinacy once has conquer'd grace.
They saw distemper heal'd, and life restor'd
In answer to the fiat of his word,
Confess'd the wonder, and with daring tongue,
Blasphem'd th' authority from which it sprung.
They knew by sure prognostics seen on high,
The future tone and temper of the sky,
But grave dissemblers, could not understand
That sin let loose speaks punishment at hand.
Ask now of history's authentic page,
And call up evidence from ev'ry age,
Display with busy and laborious hand
The blessings of the most indebted land,
What nation will you find, whose annals prove
So rich an int'rest in almighty love?
[Page 112] Where dwell they now, where dwelt in antient day
A people planted, water'd, blest as they?
Let Egypt's plagues, and Canaan's woes proclaim
The favours pour'd upon the Jewish name;
Their freedom purchas'd for them, at the cost
Of all their hard oppressors valued most,
Their title to a country not their own,
Made sure by prodigies 'till then unknown,
For them, the state they left made waste and void,
For them, the states to which they went, destroy'd;
A cloud to measure out their march by day,
By night a fire to cheer the gloomy way,
That moving signal summoning, when best
Their host to move, and when it stay'd, to rest.
For them the rocks dissolv'd into a flood,
The dews condens'd into angelic food,
Their very garments sacred, old yet new,
And time forbid to touch them as he flew,
Streams swell'd above the bank, enjoin'd to stand,
While they pass'd through to their appointed land,
[Page 113] Their leader arm'd with meekness, zeal and love,
And grac'd with clear credentials from above,
Themselves secur'd beneath th' Almighty wing,
Their God their captain*, lawgiver, and king.
Crown'd with a thousand vict'ries, and at last
Lords of the conquer'd soil, there rooted fast,
In peace possessing what they won by war,
Their name far publish'd and rever'd as far;
Where will you find a race like theirs, endow'd
With all that man e'er wish'd, or Heav'n bestow'd?
They and they only amongst all mankind
Receiv'd the transcript of th' eternal mind,
Were trusted with his own engraven laws,
And constituted guardians of his cause,
Theirs were the prophets, theirs the priestly call,
And theirs by birth the Saviour of us all.
In vain the nations that had seen them rise,
With fierce and envious yet admiring eyes,
Had sought to crush them, guarded as they were
By power divine, and skill that could not err,
[Page 114] Had they maintain'd allegiance firm and sure,
And kept the faith immaculate and pure,
Then the proud eagles of all-conqu'ring Rome
Had found one city not to be o'ercome,
And the twelve standards of the tribes unfurl'd:
Had bid defiance to the warring world.
But grace abus'd brings forth the foulest deeds,
As richest soil the most luxuriant weeds;
Cur'd of the golden calves their fathers sin,
They set up self, that idol god within,
View'd a Deliv'rer with disdain and hate,
Who left them still a tributary state,
Seiz'd fast his hand, held out to set them free
From a worse yoke, and nail'd it to the tree;
There was the consummation and the crown,
The flow'r of Israel's infamy full blown;
Thence date their sad declension and their fall,
Their woes not yet repeal'd, thence date them all.
Thus fell the best instructed in her day,
And the most favor'd land, look where we may.
[Page 115] Philosophy indeed on Grecian eyes
Had pour'd the day, and clear'd the Roman skies;
In other climes perhaps creative art,
With pow'r surpassing theirs perform'd her part,
Might give more life to marble, or might fill
The glowing tablets with a juster skill,
Might shine in fable, and grace idle themes
With all th' embroid'ry of poetic dreams;
'Twas theirs alone to dive into the plan
That truth and mercy had reveal'd to man,
And while the world beside, that plan unknown,
Deified useless wood or senseless stone,
They breath'd in faith their well-directed pray'rs,
And the true God, the God of truth was theirs.
Their glory faded, and their race dispers'd,
The last of nations now, though once the first;
They warn and teach the proudest, would they learn,
Keep wisdom or meet vengeance in your turn:
If we escap'd not, if Heav'n spar'd not us,
Peel'd, scatter'd, and exterminated thus;
[Page 116] If vice receiv'd her retribution due
When we were visited, what hope for you?
When God arises with an awful frown,
To punish lust, or pluck presumption down;
When gifts perverted or not duly priz'd,
Pleasure o'ervalued and his grace despis'd,
Provoke the vengeance of his righteous hand
To pour down wrath upon a thankless land,
He will be found impartially severe,
Too just to wink, or speak the guilty clear.
Oh Israel, of all nations most undone!
Thy diadem displac'd, thy sceptre gone;
Thy temple, once thy glory, fall'n and ras'd,
And thou a worshipper e'en where thou mayst;
Thy services once holy without spot,
Mere shadows now, their antient pomp forgot;
Thy Levites once a consecrated host,
No longer Levites, and their lineage lost,
And thou thyself o'er ev'ry country sown,
With none on earth that thou canst call thine own;
[Page 117] Cry aloud thou that sittest in the dust,
Cry to the proud, the cruel and unjust,
Knock at the gates of nations, rouse their fears,
Say wrath is coming and the storm appears,
But raise the shrillest cry in British ears.
What ails thee, restless as the waves that roar,
And fling their foam against thy chalky shore?
Mistress, at least while Providence shall please,
And trident-bearing queen of the wide seas—
Why, having kept good faith, and often shown
Friendship and truth to others, findst thou none?
Thou that hast set the persecuted free,
None interposes now to succour thee;
Countries indebted to thy pow'r, that shine
With light deriv'd from thee, would smother thine;
Thy very children watch for thy disgrace,
A lawless brood, and curse thee to thy face:
Thy rulers load thy credit year by year
With sums Peruvian mines could never clear,
As if like arches built with skilful hand,
The more 'twere press'd the firmer it would stand.
[Page 118] The cry in all thy ships is still the same,
Speed us away to battle and to fame,
Thy mariners explore the wild expanse,
Impatient to descry the flags of France,
But though they fight as thine have ever fought,
Return asham'd without the wreaths they sought:
Thy senate is a scene of civil jar,
Chaos of contrarieties at war,
Where sharp and solid, phlegmatic and light,
Discordant atoms meet, ferment and fight,
Where obstinacy takes his sturdy stand,
To disconcert what policy has plann'd,
Where policy is busied all night long
In setting right what faction has set wrong,
Where flails of oratory thresh the floor,
That yields them chaff and dust, and nothing more.
Thy rack'd inhabitants repine, complain,
Tax'd 'till the brow of labour sweats in vain,
War lays a burthen on the reeling state,
And peace does nothing to relieve the weight,
[Page 119] Successive loads succeeding broils impose,
And sighing millions prophecy the close.
Is adverse providence when ponder'd well,
So dimly writ or difficult to spell,
Thou canst not read with readiness and ease,
Providence adverse in events like these?
Know then, that heav'nly wisdom on this ball
Creates, gives birth to, guides, consummates all:
That while laborious and quick-thoughted man
Snuffs up the praise of what he seems to plan;
He first conceives, then perfects his design,
As a mere instrument in hands divine:
Blind to the working of that secret pow'r
That balances the wings of ev'ry hour,
The busy trifler dreams himself alone,
Frames many a purpose, and God works his own.
States thrive or wither as moons wax and wane,
Ev'n as his will and his decrees ordain;
While honour, virtue, piety bear sway,
They flourish, and as these decline, decay.
[Page 120] In just resentment of his injur'd laws,
He pours contempt on them and on their cause,
Strikes the rough thread of error right athwart
The web of ev'ry scheme they have at heart,
Bids rottenness invade and bring to dust
The pillars of support in which they trust,
And do his errand of disgrace and shame
On the chief strength and glory of the frame.
None ever yet impeded what he wrought,
None bars him out from his most secret thought;
Darkness itself before his eye is light,
And Hell's close mischief naked in his sight.
Stand now and judge thyself—hast thou incurr'd
His anger who can waste thee with a word,
Who poises and proportions sea and land,
Weighing them in the hollow of his hand,
And in whose awful sight all nations seem
As grasshoppers, as dust, a drop, a dream?
Hast thou (a sacrilege his soul abhors)
Claim'd all the glory of thy prosp'rous wars,
[Page 121] Proud of thy fleets and armies, stol'n the gem
Of his just praise to lavish it on them?
Hast thou not learn'd what thou art often told,
A truth still sacred, and believ'd of old,
That no success attends on spears and swords
Unblest, and that the battle is the Lord's?
That courage is his creature, and dismay
The post that at his bidding speeds away,
Ghastly in feature, and his stamm'ring tongue
With doleful rumor and sad presage hung,
To quell the valor of the stoutest heart,
And teach the combatant a woman's part?
That he bids thousands fly when none pursue,
Saves as he will by many or by few,
And claims for ever as his royal right
Th' event and sure decision of the fight.
Hast thou, though suckl'd at fair freedom's breast,
Exported slav'ry to the conquer'd East,
Pull'd down the tyrants India serv'd with dread,
And rais'd thyself, a greater, in their stead,
[Page 122] Gone thither arm'd and hungry, returned full,
Fed from the richest veins of the Mogul,
A despot big with pow'r obtain'd by wealth,
And that obtain'd by rapine and by stealth?
With Asiatic vices stor'd thy mind,
But left their virtues and thine own behind,
And having truck'd thy soul, brought home the fee,
To tempt the poor to sell himself to thee?
Hast thou by statute shov'd from its design
The Savior's feast, his own blest bread and wine,
And made the symbols of atoning grace
An office-key, a pick-lock to a place,
That infidels may prove their title good
By an oath dipp'd in sacramental blood?
A blot that will be still a blot, in spite
Of all that grave apologists may write,
And though a Bishop toil to cleanse the stain,
He wipes and scours the silver cup in vain.
And hast thou sworn on ev'ry slight pretence,
'Till perjuries are common as bad pence,
[Page 123] While thousands, careless of the damning sin,
Kiss the book's outside who ne'er look within?
Hast thou, when heav'n has cloath'd thee with disgrace,
And long provok'd, repaid thee to thy face,
(For thou hast known eclipses, and endur'd
Dimness and anguish all thy beams obscur'd,
When sin has shed dishonour on thy brow,
And never of a sabler hue than now)
Hast thou with heart perverse and conscience sear'd,
Despising all rebuke, still persever'd,
And having chosen evil, scorn'd the voice
That cried repent—and gloried in thy choice?
Thy fastings, when calamity at last
Suggests th' expedient of an yearly fast,
What mean they? Canst thou dream there is a pow'r
In lighter diet at a later hour,
To charm to sleep the threat'nings of the skies,
And hide past folly from all-seeing eyes?
[Page 124] The fast that wins deliv'rance, and suspends
The stroke that a vindictive God intends,
Is to renounce hypocrisy, to draw
Thy life upon the pattern of the law,
To war with pleasures idolized before,
To vanquish lust, and wear its yoke no more.
All fasting else, whate'er be the pretence,
Is wooing mercy by renew'd offence.
Hast thou within thee sin that in old time
Brought fire from heav'n, the sex-abusing crime,
Whose horrid perpetration stamps disgrace
Baboons are free from, upon human race?
Think on the fruitful and well-water'd spot
That fed the flocks and herds of wealthy Lot,
Where Paradise seem'd still vouchsaf'd on earth,
Burning and scorch'd into perpetual dearth,
Or in his words who damn'd the base desire,
Suff'ring the vengeance of eternal fire:
Then nature injur'd, scandaliz'd, defil'd,
Unveil'd her blushing cheek, look'd on and smil'd,
Beheld with joy the lovely scene defac'd,
And prais'd the wrath that lay'd her beauties waste.
[Page 125] Far be the thought from any verse of mine,
And farther still the form'd and fixt design,
To thrust the charge of deeds that I detest,
Against an innocent unconscious breast:
The man that dares traduce because he can
With safety to himself, is not a man:
An individual is a sacred mark,
Not to be pierc'd in play or in the dark,
But public censure speaks a public foe,
Unless a zeal for virtue guide the blow.
The priestly brotherhood, devout, sincere,
From mean self-int'rest and ambition clear,
Their hope in Heav'n, servility their scorn,
Prompt to persuade, expostulate and warn,
Their wisdom pure, and giv'n them from above,
Their usefulness insur'd by zeal and love,
As meek as the man Moses, and withal
As bold as in Agrippa's presence, Paul,
Should fly the world's contaminating touch
Holy and unpolluted—are thine such?
[Page 126] Except a few with Eli's spirit blest,
Hophni and Phineas may describe the rest.
Where shall a teacher look in days like these,
For ears and hearts that he can hope to please?
Look to the poor—the simple and the plain
Will hear perhaps thy salutary strain;
Humility is gentle, apt to learn,
Speak but the word, will listen and return:
Alas, not so! the poorest of the flock
Are proud, and set their faces as a rock,
Denied that earthly opulence they chuse,
God's better gift they scoff at and refuse.
The rich, the produce of a nobler stem,
Are more intelligent at least, try them:
Oh vain enquiry! they without remorse
Are altogether gone a devious course,
Where beck'ning pleasure leads them, wildly stray,
Have burst the bands and cast the yoke away.
Now borne upon the wings of truth, sublime,
Review thy dim original and prime;
[Page 127] This island spot of unreclaim'd rude earth,
The cradle that receiv'd thee at thy birth,
Was rock'd by many a rough Norwegian blast,
And Danish howlings scar'd thee as they pass'd,
For thou wast born amid the din of arms,
And suck'd a breast that panted with alarms.
While yet thou wast a grov'ling puling chit,
Thy bones not fashion'd and thy joints not knit,
The Roman taught thy stubborn knee to bow,
Though twice a Caesar could not bend thee now:
His victory was that of orient light,
When the sun's shafts disperse the gloom of night:
Thy language at this distant moment shows
How much the country to the conqu'ror owes,
Expressive, energetic and refin'd,
It sparkles with the gems he left behind:
He brought thy land a blessing when he came,
He found thee savage, and he left thee tame,
Taught thee to cloath thy pink'd and painted hide,
And grace thy figure with a soldier's pride,
[Page 128] He sow'd the seeds of order where he went,
Improv'd thee far beyond his own intent,
And while he rul'd thee by the sword alone,
Made thee at last a warrior like his own.
Religion if in heav'nly truths attir'd,
Needs only to be seen to be admir'd,
But thine as dark as witch'ries of the night,
Was form'd to harden hearts and shock the sight:
Thy Druids struck the well-strung harps they bore,
With fingers deeply dy'd in human gore,
And while the victim slowly bled to death,
Upon the tolling chords rung out his dying breath.
Who brought the lamp that with awak'ning beams
Dispell'd thy gloom and broke away thy dreams,
Tradition, now decrepid and worn out,
Babbler of antient fables, leaves a doubt:
But still light reach'd thee; and those gods of thine
Woden and Thor, each tott'ring in his shrine,
Fell broken and defac'd at his own door,
As Dagon in Philistia long before.
[Page 129] But Rome with sorceries and magic wand,
Soon rais'd a cloud that darken'd ev'ry land,
And thine was smother'd in the stench and fog
Of Tiber's marshes and the papal bog:
Then priests with bulls and briefs and shaven crowns,
And griping fists and unrelenting frowns,
Legates and delegates with pow'rs from hell,
Though heav'nly in pretension, fleec'd thee well;
And to this hour to keep it fresh in mind,
Some twigs of that old scourge are left behind.*
Thy soldiery the pope's well-manag'd pack,
Were train'd beneath his lash and knew the smack,
And when he laid them on the scent of blood:
Would hunt a Saracen through fire and flood.
Lavish of life to win an empty tomb,
That prov'd a mint of wealth, a mine to Rome,
They left their bones beneath unfriendly skies,
His worthless absolution all the prize.
Thou wast the veriest slave in days of yore,
That ever dragg'd a chain or tugg'd an oar;
[Page 130] Thy monarchs arbitrary, fierce, unjust,
Themselves the slaves of bigotry or lust,
Disdain'd thy counsels, only in distress
Found thee a goodly spunge for pow'r to press.
Thy chiefs, the lords of many a petty fee,
Provok'd and harrass'd, in return plagu'd thee,
Call'd thee away from peaceable employ,
Domestic happiness and rural joy,
To waste thy life in arms, or lay it down
In causeless feuds and bick'rings of their own:
Thy parliaments ador'd on bended knees
The sov'reignty they were conven'd to please;
Whate'er was ask'd, too timid to resist,
Comply'd with, and were graciously dismiss'd:
And if some Spartan soul a doubt express'd
And blushing at the tameness of the rest,
Dar'd to suppose the subject had a choice,
He was a traitor by the gen'ral voice.
Oh slave! with pow'rs thou didst not dare exert,
Verse cannot stoop so low as thy desert,
[Page 131] It shakes the sides of splenetic disdain,
Thou self-entitled ruler of the main,
To trace thee to the date when yon fair sea
That clips thy shores, had no such charms for thee,
When other nations flew from coast to coast,
And thou hadst neither fleet nor flag to boast.
Kneel now, and lay thy forehead in the dust,
Blush if thou canst, not petrified, thou must:
Act but an honest and a faithful part,
Compare what then thou wast, with what thou art,
And God's disposing providence confess'd,
Obduracy itself must yield the rest—
Then thou art bound to serve him, and to prove
Hour after hour thy gratitude and love.
Has he not hid thee and thy favour'd land
For ages safe beneath his shelt'ring hand,
Giv'n thee his blessing on the clearest proof,
Bid nations leagu'd against thee stand aloof,
And charg'd hostility and hate to roar
Where else they would, but not upon thy shore?
[Page 132] His pow'r secur'd thee when presumptuous Spain
Baptiz'd her fleet invincible in vain;
Her gloomy monarch, doubtful, and resign'd
To ev'ry pang that racks an anxious mind,
Ask'd of the waves that broke upon his coast,
What tidings? and the surge replied—all lost—
And when the Stuart leaning on the Scot,
Then too much fear'd and now too much forgot,
Pierc'd to the very center of thy realm,
And hop'd to seize his abdicated helm,
'Twas but to prove how quickly with a frown,
He that had rais'd thee could have pluck'd thee down.
Peculiar is the grace by thee possess'd,
Thy foes implacable, thy land at rest;
Thy thunders travel over earth and seas,
And all at home is pleasure, wealth and ease.
'Tis thus, extending his tempestuous arm,
Thy Maker fills the nations with alarm,
While his own Heav'n surveys the troubled scene,
And feels no change, unshaken and serene.
[Page 133] Freedom, in other lands scarce known to shine,
Pours out a flood of splendour upon thine;
Thou hast as bright an int'rest in her rays,
As ever Roman had in Rome's best days.
True freedom is, where no restraint is known
That scripture, justice, and good sense disown,
Where only vice and injury are tied,
And all from shore to shore is free beside,
Such freedom is—and Windsor's hoary tow'rs
Stood trembling at the boldness of thy pow'rs,
That won a nymph on that immortal plain,
Like her the fabled Phoebus woo'd in vain;
He found the laurel only—happier you,
Th' unfading laurel and the virgin too.*
Now think, if pleasure have a thought to spare,
If God himself be not beneath her care;
If bus'ness, constant as the wheels of time,
Can pause one hour to read a serious rhime;
[Page 134] If the new mail thy merchants now receive,
Or expectation of the next give leave,
Oh think, if chargeable with deep arrears
For such indulgence gilding all thy years,
How much though long neglected, shining yet,
The beams of heav'nly truth have swell'd the debt.
When persecuting zeal made royal sport
With tortur'd innocence in Mary's court,
And Bonner, blithe as shepherd at a wake,
Enjoy'd the show, and danc'd about the stake;
The sacred book, its value understood,
Receiv'd the seal of martyrdom in blood.
Those holy men, so full of truth and grace,
Seem to reflection of a diff'rent race,
Meek, modest, venerable, wise, sincere,
In such a cause they could not dare to fear,
They could not purchase earth with such a prize,
Nor spare a life too short to reach the skies.
From them to thee convey'd along the tide,
Their streaming hearts pour'd freely when they died,
[Page 135] Those truths which neither use nor years impair,
Invite thee, wooe thee, to the bliss they share.
What dotage will not vanity maintain,
What web too weak to catch a modern brain?
The moles and bats in full assembly find
On special search, the keen-ey'd eagle blind.
And did they dream, and art thou wiser now?
Prove it—if better, I submit and bow.
Wisdom and goodness are twin-born, one heart
Must hold both sisters, never seen apart.
So then—as darkness overspread the deep,
'Ere nature rose from her eternal sleep,
And this delightful earth and that fair sky
Leap'd out of nothing, call'd by the Most High,
By such a change thy darkness is made light,
Thy chaos order, and thy weakness, might,
And he whose pow'r mere nullity obeys,
Who found thee nothing, form'd thee for his praise.
To praise him is to serve him, and fulfil,
Doing and suff'ring, his unquestion'd will,
[Page 136] 'Tis to believe what men inspir'd of old,
Faithful and faithfully inform'd, unfold;
Candid and just, with no false aim in view,
To take for truth what cannot but be true,
To learn in God's own school the Christian part,
And bind the task assign'd thee to thine heart:
Happy the man there seeking and there found,
Happy the nation where such men abound.
How shall a verse impress thee? by what name
Shall I adjure thee not to court thy shame?
By theirs whose bright example unimpeach'd
Directs thee to that eminence they reach'd,
Heroes and worthies of days past, thy sires?
Or his, who touch'd their hearts with hallow'd fires?
Their names, alas! in vain reproach an age
Whom all the vanities they scorn'd, engage,
And his that seraphs tremble at, is hung
Disgracefully on ev'ry trifler's tongue,
Or serves the champion in forensic war,
To flourish and parade with at the bar.
[Page 137] Pleasure herself perhaps suggests a plea,
If int'rest move thee, to persuade ev'n thee:
By ev'ry charm that smiles upon her face,
By joys possess'd, and joys still held in chace,
If dear society be worth a thought,
And if the feast of freedom cloy thee not,
Reflect that these and all that seems thine own,
Held by the tenure of his will alone,
Like angels in the service of their Lord,
Remain with thee, or leave thee at his word;
That gratitude and temp'rance in our use
Of what he gives, unsparing and profuse,
Secure the favour and enhance the joy,
That thankless waste and wild abuse destroy.
But above all reflect, how cheap soe'er
Those rights that millions envy thee, appear,
And though resolv'd to risk them, and swim down
The tide of pleasure, heedless of his frown,
That blessings truly sacred, and when giv'n
Mark'd with the signature and stamp of Heav'n,
[Page 138] The word of prophecy, those truths divine
Which make that Heav'n, if thou desire it, thine;
(Awful alternative! believ'd, belov'd,
Thy glory, and thy shame if unimprov'd,)
Are never long vouchsaf'd, if push'd aside
With cold disgust or philosophic pride,
And that judicially withdrawn, disgrace,
Error and darkness occupy their place.
A world is up in arms, and thou, a spot
Not quickly found if negligently sought,
Thy soul as ample as thy bounds are small,
Endur'st the brunt, and dar'st defy them all:
And wilt thou join to this bold enterprize
A bolder still, a contest with the skies?
Remember, if he guard thee and secure,
Whoe'er assails thee, thy success is sure;
But if he leave thee, though the skill and pow'r
Of nations sworn to spoil thee and devour,
Were all collected in thy single arm,
And thou couldst laugh away the fear of harm,
[Page 139] That strength would fail, oppos'd against the push
And feeble onset of a pigmy rush.
Say not (and if the thought of such defence
Should spring within thy bosom, drive it thence)
What nation amongst all my foes is free
From crimes as base as any charg'd on me?
Their measure fill'd—they too shall pay the debt.
Which God, though long forborn, will not forget;
But know, that wrath divine, when most severe,
Makes justice still the guide of his career,
And will not punish in one mingled crowd,
Them without light, and thee without a cloud.
Muse, hang this harp upon yon aged beech,
Still murm'ring with the solemn truths I teach,
And while, at intervals, a cold blast sings
Through the dry leaves, and pants upon the strings,
My soul shall sigh in secret, and lament
A nation scourg'd, yet tardy to repent.
I know the warning song is sung in vain,
That few will hear, and fewer heed the strain:
[Page 140] But if a fweeter voice, and one design'd
A blessing to my country and mankind,
Reclaim the wand'ring thousands, and bring home
A flock so scatter'd and so wont to roam,
Then place it once again between my knees,
The sound of truth will then be sure to please,
And truth alone, where'er my life be cast,
In scenes of plenty or the pining waste,
Shall be my chosen theme, my glory to the last.

HOPE.

‘—doceas iter et sacra ostia pandas. VIRG. EN. 6.
ASK what is human life—the sage replies
With disappointment low'ring in his eyes,
A painful passage o'er a restless flood,
A vain pursuit of fugitive false good,
A scene of fancied bliss and heart-felt care,
Closing at last in darkness and despair.—
[Page 142] The poor, inur'd to drudgery and distress,
Act without aim, think little and feel less,
And no where but in feign'd Arcadian scenes,
Taste happiness, or know what pleasure means.
Riches are pass'd away from hand to hand,
As fortune, vice or folly may command;
As in a dance the pair that take the lead
Turn downward, and the lowest pair succeed,
So shifting and so various is the plan
By which Heav'n rules the mixt affairs of man,
Vicissitude wheels round the motley crowd,
The rich grow poor, the poor become purse-proud:
Bus'ness is labour, and man's weakness such,
Pleasure is labour too, and tires as much,
The very sense of it foregoes its use,
By repetition pall'd, by age obtuse.
Youth lost in dissipation, we deplore
Through life's sad remnant, what no sighs restore,
Our years, a fruitless race without a prize,
Too many, yet too few to make us wise.
[Page 143] Dangling his cane about, and taking snuff,
Lothario cries, what philosophic stuff.
Oh querulous and weak! whose useless brain
Once thought of nothing, and now thinks in vain,
Whose eye reverted weeps o'er all the past,
Whose prospect shows thee a disheartning waste,
Would age in thee resign his wintry reign,
And youth invigorate that frame again,
Renew'd desire would grace with other speech
Joys always priz'd, when plac'd within our reach.
For lift thy palsied head, shake off the gloom
That overhangs the borders of thy tomb,
See nature gay as when she first began,
With smiles alluring her admirer, man,
She spreads the morning over eastern hills,
Earth glitters with the drops the night distils,
The sun obedient, at her call appears
To fling his glories o'er the robe she wears,
Banks cloath'd with flow'rs, groves fill'd with sprightly sounds,
The yellow tilth, green meads, rocks, rising grounds,
[Page 144] Streams edg'd with osiers, fatt'ning ev'ry field
Where'er they flow, now seen and now conceal'd,
From the blue rim where skies and mountains meet,
Down to the very turf beneath thy feet,
Ten thousand charms that only fools despise,
Or pride can look at with indiff'rent eyes,
All speak one language, all with one sweet voice
Cry to her universal realm, rejoice.
Man feels the spur of passions and desires,
And she gives largely more than he requires,
Not that his hours devoted all to care,
Hollow-ey'd abstinence and lean despair,
The wretch may pine, while to his smell, taste, sight,
She holds a Paradise of rich delight,
But gently to rebuke his aukward fear,
To prove that what she gives, she gives sincere,
To banish hesitation, and proclaim
His happiness, her dear, her only aim.
'Tis grave philosophy's absurdest dream,
That Heav'n's intentions are not what they seem,
[Page 145] That only shadows are dispens'd below,
And earth has no reality but woe.
Thus things terrestrial wear a diff'rent hue,
As youth or age persuades, and neither true;
So Flora's wreath through colour'd chrystal seen,
The rose or lily appears blue or green,
But still th' imputed tints are those alone
The medium represents, and not their own.
To rise at noon, sit slipshod and undress'd,
To read the news or fiddle as seems best,
'Till half the world comes rattling at his door,
To fill the dull vacuity 'till four,
And just when evening turns the blue vault grey,
To spend two hours in dressing for the day,
To make the sun a bauble without use,
Save for the fruits his heav'nly beams produce,
Quite to forget, or deem it worth no thought,
Who bids him shine, or if he shine or not,
Through mere necessity to close his eyes
Just when the larks and when the shepherds rise,
[Page 146] Is such a life, so tediously the same,
So void of all utility or aim,
That poor JONQUIL, with almost ev'ry breath
Sighs for his exit, vulgarly call'd, death:
For he, with all his follies, has a mind
Not yet so blank, or fashionably blind,
But now and then perhaps a feeble ray
Of distant wisdom shoots across his way,
By which he reads, that life without a plan,
As useless as the moment it began,
Serves merely as a soil for discontent
To thrive in, an incumbrance, e'er half spent.
Oh weariness beyond what asses feel,
That tread the circuit of the cistern wheel,
A dull rotation never at a stay,
Yesterday's face twin image of to-day,
While conversation, an exhausted stock,
Grows drowsy as the clicking of a clock.
No need, he cries, of gravity stuff'd out
With academic dignity devout,
[Page 147] To read wise lectures, vanity the text;
Proclaim the remedy, ye learned, next,
For truth self-evident with pomp impress'd,
Is vanity surpassing all the rest.
That remedy, not hid in deeps profound,
Yet seldom sought, where only to be found,
While passion turns aside from its due scope
Th' enquirer's aim, that remedy, is hope.
Life is his gift, from whom whate'er life needs,
And ev'ry good and perfect gift proceeds,
Bestow'd on man, like all that we partake,
Royally, freely, for his bounty sake.
Transient indeed, as is the fleeting hour,
And yet the seed of an immortal flow'r,
Design'd in honour of his endless love,
To fill with fragrance his abode above.
No trifle, howsoever short it seem,
And howsoever shadowy, no dream,
Its value, what no thought can ascertain,
Nor all an angel's eloquence explain.
[Page 148] Men deal with life, as children with their play,
Who first misuse, then cast their toys away,
Live to no sober purpose, and contend
That their creator had no serious end.
When God and man stand opposite in view,
Man's disappointment must of course ensue.
The just Creator condescends to write
In beams of inextinguishable light,
His names of wisdom, goodness, pow'r and love,
On all that blooms below or shines above,
To catch the wand'ring notice of mankind,
And teach the world, if not perversely blind,
His gracious attributes, and prove the share
His offspring hold in his paternal care.
If led from earthly things to things divine,
His creature thwart not his august design,
Then praise is heard instead of reas'ning pride,
And captious cavil and complaint subside.
Nature employ'd in her allotted place,
Is hand-maid to the purposes of grace,
[Page 149] By good vouchsaf'd makes known superior good,
And bliss not seen by blessings understood.
That bliss reveal'd in scripture with a glow
Bright as the covenant-insuring bow,
Fires all his feelings with a noble scorn
Of sensual evil, and thus hope is born.
Hope sets the stamp of vanity on all
That men have deem'd substantial since the fall,
Yet has the wond'rous virtue to educe
From emptiness itself a real use,
And while she takes as at a father's hand
What health and sober appetite demand,
From fading good derives with chymic art
That lasting happiness, a thankful heart.
Hope with uplifted foot set free from earth,
Pants for the place of her ethereal birth,
On steady wing sails through th' immense abyss,
Plucks amaranthin joys from bow'rs of bliss,
And crowns the soul while yet a mourner here,
With wreaths like those triumphant spirits wear.
[Page 150] Hope as an anchor firm and sure, holds fast
The Christian vessel, and defies the blast;
Hope! nothing else can nourish and secure
His new-born virtues, and preserve him pure;
Hope! let the wretch once conscious of the joy,
Whom now despairing agonies destroy,
Speak, for he can, and none so well as he,
What treasures center, what delights in thee.
Had he the gems, the spices, and the land
That boasts the treasure, all at his command,
The fragrant grove, th' inestimable mine,
Were light when weigh'd against one smile of thine.
Though clasp'd and cradl'd in his nurse's arms,
He shine with all a cherub's artless charms,
Man is the genuine offspring of revolt,
Stubborn and sturdy, a wild ass's colt;
His passions like the wat'ry stores that sleep
Beneath the smiling surface of the deep,
Wait but the lashes of a wintry storm,
To frown and roar, and shake his feeble form.
[Page 151] From infancy through childhood's giddy maze,
Froward at school, and fretful in his plays,
The puny tyrant burns to subjugate
The free republic of the whip-gig state.
If one, his equal in athletic frame,
Or more provoking still, of nobler name,
Dares step across his arbitrary views,
An Iliad, only not in verse, ensues.
The little Greeks look trembling at the scales,
'Till the best tongue or heaviest hand prevails.
Now see him launched into the world at large;
If priest, supinely droning o'er his charge,
Their fleece his pillow, and his weekly drawl,
Though short, too long, the price he pays for all;
If lawyer, loud whatever cause he plead,
But proudest of the worst, if that succeed.
Perhaps a grave physician, gath'ring fees,
Punctually paid for length'ning out disease,
No COTTON, whose humanity sheds rays
That make superior skill his second praise.
[Page 152] If arms engage him, he devotes to sport
His date of life, so likely to be short,
A soldier may be any thing, if brave,
So may a tradesman, if not quite a knave.
Such stuff the world is made of; and mankind
To passion, int'rest, pleasure, whim resign'd,
Insist on, as if each were his own pope,
Forgiveness, and the privilege of hope;
But conscience in some awful silent hour,
When captivating lusts have lost their pow'r,
Perhaps when sickness, or some fearful dream
Reminds him of religion, hated theme!
Starts from the down on which she lately slept,
And tells of laws despis'd, at least not kept;
Shows with a pointing finger and no noise,
A pale procession of past sinful joys,
All witnesses of blessings foully scorn'd,
And life abus'd—and not to be suborn'd.
Mark these, she says, these summoned from afar,
Begin their march to meet thee at the bar;
[Page 153] There find a Judge, inexorably just,
And perish there, as all presumption must.
Peace be to those (such peace as earth can give)
Who live in pleasure, dead ev'n while they live,
Born capable indeed of heav'nly truth,
But down to latest age from earliest youth
Their mind a wilderness through want of care,
The plough of wisdom never ent'ring there.
Peace (if insensibility may claim
A right to the meek honours of her name)
To men of pedigree, their noble race
Emulous always of the nearest place
To any throne, except the throne of grace.
Let cottagers and unenlightened swains
Revere the laws they dream that heav'n ordains,
Resort on Sundays to the house of pray'r,
And ask, and fancy they find blessings there;
Themselves perhaps when weary they retreat
T' enjoy cool nature in a country seat,
T' exchange the center of a thousand trades,
For clumps and lawns and temples and cascades,
[Page 154] May now and then their velvet cushions take,
And seem to pray for good example sake;
Judging, in charity no doubt, the town
Pious enough, and having need of none.
Kind souls! to teach their tenantry to prize
What they themselves without remorse despise;
Nor hope have they nor fear of aught to come,
As well for them had prophecy been dumb;
They could have held the conduct they pursue,
Had Paul of Tarsus lived and died a Jew;
And truth propos'd to reas'ners wise as they,
Is a pearl cast—completely cast away.
They die—Death lends them, pleas'd and as in sport,
All the grim honours of his ghastly court;
Far other paintings grace the chamber now,
Where late we saw the mimic landscape glow;
The busy heralds hang the sable scene
With mournful 'scutcheons and dim lamps between,
Proclaim their titles to the crowd around,
But they that wore them, move not at the sound;
[Page 155] The coronet placed idly at their head,
Adds nothing now to the degraded dead,
And ev'n the star that glitters on the bier,
Can only say, nobility lies here.
Peace to all such—'twere pity to offend
By useless censure whom we cannot mend,
Life without hope can close but in despair,
'Twas there we found them and must leave them there.
As when two pilgrims in a forest stray,
Both may be lost, yet each in his own way,
So fares it with the multitudes beguil'd
In vain opinion's waste and dang'rous wild;
Ten thousand rove the brakes and thorns among,
Some eastward, and some westward, and all wrong:
But here, alas! the fatal diff'rence lies,
Each man's belief is right in his own eyes;
And he that blames what they have blindly chose,
Incurs resentment for the love he shows.
Say botanist! within whose province fall
The cedar and the hyssop on the wall,
[Page 156] Of all that deck the lanes, the fields, the bow'rs,
What parts the kindred tribes of weeds and flow'rs?
Sweet scent, or lovely form, or both combin'd,
Distinguish ev'ry cultivated kind,
The want of both denotes a meaner breed,
And Chloe from her garland picks the weed.
Thus hopes of every sort, whatever sect
Esteem them, sow them, rear them, and protect;
If wild in nature, and not duly found
Gethsemane! in thy dear, hallowed ground,
That cannot bear the blaze of scripture light,
Nor cheer the spirit, nor refresh the sight,
Nor animate the soul to Christian deeds,
Oh cast them from thee! are weeds, arrant weeds.
Ethelred's house, the center of six ways,
Diverging each from each, like equal rays,
Himself as bountiful as April rains,
Lord paramount of the surrounding plains,
Would give relief of bed and board to none,
But guests that sought it in th' appointed, ONE.
[Page 157] And they might enter at his open door,
Ev'n till his spacious hall would hold no more.
He sent a servant forth by ev'ry road,
To sound his horn and publish it abroad,
That all might mark, knight, menial, high and low,
An ord'nance it concern'd them much to know.
If after all, some headstrong, hardy lowt,
Would disobey, though sure to be shut out,
Could he with reason murmur at his case,
Himself sole author of his own disgrace?
No! the decree was just and without flaw,
And he that made, had right to make the law;
His sov'reign pow'r and pleasure unrestrain'd,
The wrong was his, who wrongfully complain'd.
Yet half mankind maintain a churlish strife
With him, the donor of eternal life,
Because the deed by which his love confirms
The largess he bestows, prescribes the terms.
Compliance with his will your lot insures,
Accept it only, and the boon is yours;
[Page 158] And sure it is as kind to smile and give,
As with a frown to say, do this and live.
Love is not pedlars trump'ry, bought and sold,
He will give freely, or he will withold,
His soul abhors a mercenary thought,
And him as deeply who abhors it not;
He stipulates indeed, but merely this,
That man will freely take an unbought bliss,
Will trust him for a faithful gen'rous part,
Nor set a price upon a willing heart.
Of all the ways that seem to promise fair,
To place you where his saints his presence share,
This only can—for this plain cause, express'd
In terms as plain; himself has shut the rest.
But oh the strife, the bick'ring and debate,
The tidings of unpurchas'd heav'n create!
The flirted fan, the bridle and the toss,
All speakers, yet all language at a loss.
From stucco'd walls smart arguments rebound,
And beaus, adepts in ev'ry thing profound,
Die of disdain, or whistle off the sound.
[Page 159] Such is the clamor of rooks, daws, and kites,
Th' explosion of the levell'd tube excites,
Where mould'ring abbey-walls o'erhang the glade,
And oaks cooeval spread a mournful shade.
The screaming nations hov'ring in mid air,
Loudly resent the stranger's freedom there,
And seem to warn him never to repeat
His bold intrusion on their dark retreat.
Adieu, Vinoso cries, e'er yet he sips,
The purple bumper trembling at his lips,
Adieu to all morality! if grace
Make works a vain ingredient in the case.
The Christian hope is—waiter, draw the cork—
If I mistake not—blockhead! with a fork!
Without good works, whatever some may boast,
Mere folly and delusion—Sir, your toast.
My firm persuasion is, at least sometimes,
That heav'n will weigh man's virtues and his crimes,
With nice attention in a righteous scale,
And save or damn as these or those prevail.
[Page 160] I plant my foot upon this ground of trust,
And silence every fear with—God is just;
But if perchance on some dull drizzling day,
A thought intrude that says, or seems to say.
If thus th' important cause is to be tried,
Suppose the beam should dip on the wrong side,
I soon recover from these needless frights,
And God is merciful—sets all to rights.
Thus between justice, as my prime support,
And mercy fled to, as the last resort,
I glide and steal along with heav'n in view,
And—pardon me, the bottle stands with you.
I never will believe, the col'nel cries,
The sanguinary schemes that some devise,
Who make the good Creator, on their plan,
A being of less equity than man.
If appetite, or what divines call lust,
Which men comply with, e'en because they must,
Be punish'd with perdition, who is pure?
Then theirs, no doubt, as well as mine, is sure.
[Page 161] If sentence of eternal pain belong
To ev'ry sudden slip and transient wrong,
Then heav'n enjoins the fallible and frail,
An hopeless task, and damns them if they fail.
My creed (whatever some creed-makers mean
By Athanasian nonsense or Nicene)
My creed is, he is safe that does his best,
And death's a doom sufficient for the rest.
Right, says an ensign, and for aught I see,
Your faith and mine substantially agree:
The best of ev'ry man's performance here,
Is to discharge the duties of his sphere.
A lawyer's dealing should be just and fair,
Honesty shines with great advantage there;
Fasting and pray'r sit well upon a priest,
A decent caution and reserve at least.
A soldier's best is courage in the field,
With nothing here that wants to be conceal'd,
Manly deportment, gallant, easy, gay,
An hand as lib'ral as the light of day,
[Page 161] The soldier thus endow'd, who never shrinks,
Nor closets up his thought what'er he thinks,
Who scorns to do an injury by stealth,
Must go to heav'n—and I must drink his health.
Sir Smug! he cries (for lowest at the board,
Just made fifth chaplain of his patron lord,
His shoulders witnessing by many a shrug,
How much his feelings suffered, sat Sir Smug)
Your office is to winnow false from true,
Come, prophet, drink, and tell us what think you.
Sighing and smiling as he takes his glass,
Which they that wooe preferment, rarely pass,
Fallible man, the church-bred youth replies,
Is still found fallible, however wise,
And differing judgments serve but to declare
That truth lies somewhere, if we knew but where.
Of all it ever was my lot to read
Of critics now alive or long since dead,
The book of all the world that charm'd me most
Was, well-a-day, the title-page was lost.
[Page 163] The writer well remarks, an heart that knows
To take with gratitude what heav'n bestows,
With prudence always ready at our call,
To guide our use of it, is all in all.
Doubtless it is—to which of my own store
I superadd a few essentials more;
But these, excuse the liberty I take,
I wave just now, for conversation sake.—
Spoke like an oracle, they all exclaim,
And add Right Rev'rend to Smug's honour'd name,
And yet our lot is giv'n us in a land
Where busy arts are never at a stand,
Where science points her telescopic eye,
Familiar with the wonders of the sky,
Where bold enquiry diving out of sight,
Brings many a precious pearl of truth to light,
Where nought eludes the persevering quest,
That fashion, taste, or luxury suggest.
But above all, in her own light array'd,
See mercy's grand apocalypse display'd!
[Page 164] The sacred book no longer suffers wrong,
Bound in the fetters of an unknown tongue,
But speaks with plainness art could never mend,
What simplest minds can soonest comprehend.
God gives the word, the preachers throng around,
Live from his lips, and spread the glorious sound:
That sound bespeaks salvation on her way,
The trumpet of a life-restoring day;
'Tis heard where England's eastern glory shines,
And in the gulphs of her Cornubian mines.
And still it spreads. See Germany send forth
Her * sons to pour it on the farthest north:
Fir'd with a zeal peculiar, they defy
The rage and rigor of a polar sky,
And plant successfully sweet Sharon's rose,
On icy plains and in eternal snows.
Oh blest within th' inclosure of your rocks,
Nor herds have ye to boast, nor bleating flocks,
No fertilizing streams your fields divide,
That show revers'd the villas on their side,
[Page 165] No groves have ye; no cheerful sound of bird,
Or voice of turtle in your land is heard,
Nor grateful eglantine regales the smell
Of those that walk at ev'ning where ye dwell—
But winter arm'd with terrors, here unknown,
Sits absolute on his unshaken throne,
Piles up his stores amid'st the frozen waste,
And bids the mountains he has built, stand fast,
Beckons the legions of his storms away
From happier scenes, to make your land a prey,
Proclaims the soil a conquest he has won,
And scorns to share it with the distant sun.
—Yet truth is yours, remote, unenvied isle,
And peace, the genuine offspring of her smile,
The pride of letter'd ignorance that binds
In chains of error, our accomplish'd minds,
That decks with all the splendor of the true
A false religion, is unknown to you.
Nature indeed vouchsafes for our delight
The sweet vicissitudes of day and night,
[Page 166] Soft airs and genial moisture, feed and cheer
Field, fruit and flow'r, and ev'ry creature here,
But brighter beams than his who fires the skies,
Have ris'n at length on your admiring eyes,
That shoot into your darkest caves the day
From which our nicer optics turn away.
Here see th' encouragement grace gives to vice,
The dire effect of mercy without price!
What were they?—what some fools are made by [...]
They were by nature, atheists, head and heart.
The gross idolatry blind heathens teach
Was too refin'd for them, beyond their reach;
Not ev'n the glorious sun, though men revere
The monarch most that seldom will appear,
And though his beams that quicken where they shine▪
May claim some right to be esteem'd divine,
Not ev'n the sun, desirable as rare,
Could bend one knee, engage one vot'ry there;
They were what base credulity believes
True Christians are, dissemblers, drunkards, thieves▪
[Page 167] The full-gorged savage at his nauseous feast
Spent half the darkness, and snor'd out the rest,
Was one, whom justice on an equal plan
Denouncing death upon the sins of man,
Might almost have indulg'd with an escape,
Chargeable only with an human shape.
What are they now?—morality may spare
Her grave concern, her kind suspicions there.
The wretch that once sang wildly, danc'd and laugh'd,
And suck'd in dizzy madness with his draught,
Has wept a silent flood, revers'd his ways,
Is sober, meek, benevolent, and prays;
Feeds sparingly, communicates his store,
Abhors the craft he boasted of before,
And he that stole has learn'd to steal no more.
Well spake the prophet, let the desart sing,
Where sprang the thorn, the spiry fir shall spring,
And where unsightly and rank thistles grew,
Shall grow the myrtle and luxuriant yew.
Go now, and with important tone demand
On what foundation virtue is to stand,
[Page 168] If self-exalting claims be turn'd adrift,
And grace be grace indeed, and life a gift;
The poor reclaim'd inhabitant, his eyes
Glist'ning at once with pity and surprise,
Amaz'd that shadows should obscure the sight
Of one whose birth was in a land of light,
Shall answer, Hope, sweet Hope, has set me free,
And made all pleasures else mere dross to me.
These amidst scenes as waste as if denied
The common care that waits on all beside,
Wild as if nature there, void of all good,
Play'd only gambols in a frantic mood;
Yet charge not heav'nly skill with having plann'd
A play-thing world unworthy of his hand,
Can see his love, though secret evil lurks
In all we touch, stamp'd plainly on his works,
Deem life a blessing with its num'rous woes,
Nor spurn away a gift a God bestows.
Hard task indeed, o'er arctic seas to roam!
Is hope exotic? grows it not at home?
[Page 169] Yes, but an object bright as orient morn,
May press the eye too closely to be borne,
A distant virtue we can all confess,
It hurts our pride and moves our envy less.
Leuconomus (beneath well-sounding Greek
I slur a name a poet must not speak)
Stood pilloried on infamy's high stage,
And bore the pelting scorn of half an age,
The very butt of slander, and the blot
For ev'ry dart that malice ever shot.
The man that mentioned him, at once dismiss'd
All mercy from his lips, and sneer'd and hiss'd;
His crimes were such as Sodom never knew,
And perjury stood up to swear all true;
His aim was mischief, and his zeal pretence,
His speech rebellion against common sense,
A knave when tried on honesty's plain rule,
And when by that of reason, a mere fool,
The world's best comfort was, his doom was pass'd,
Die when he might, he must be damn'd at last.
[Page 170] Now truth perform thine office, waft aside
The curtain drawn by prejudice and pride,
Reveal (the man is dead) to wond'ring eyes,
This more than monster in his proper guise.
He lov'd the world that hated him: the tear
That dropped upon his Bible was sincere.
Assail'd by scandal and the tongue of strife,
His only answer was a blameless life,
And he that forged and he that threw the dart,
Had each a brother's interest in his heart.
Paul's love of Christ, and steadiness unbrib'd,
Were copied close in him, and well transcrib'd;
He followed Paul: his zeal a kindred flame,
His apostolic charity the same,
Like him cross'd chearfully tempestuous seas,
Forsaking country, kindred, friends, and ease;
Like him he labour'd, and like him, content
To bear it, suffer'd shame where'er he went.
Blush calumny! and write upon his tomb,
If honest eulogy can spare thee room,
[Page 171] Thy deep repentance of thy thousand lies,
Which aim'd at him, have pierc'd th' offended skies,
And say, blot out my sin, confess'd, deplor'd,
Against thine image in thy saint, oh Lord!
No blinder bigot, I maintain it still,
Than he that must have pleasure, come what will;
He laughs, whatever weapon truth may draw,
And deems her sharp artillery mere straw.
Scripture indeed is plain, but God and he
On scripture-ground, are sure to disagree;
Some wiser rule must teach him how to live,
Than that his Maker has seen fit to give,
Supple and flexible as Indian cane,
To take the bend his appetites ordain,
Contriv'd to suit frail nature's crazy case,
And reconcile his lusts with saving grace.
By this, with nice precision of design,
He draws upon life's map a zig-zag line,
That shows how far 'tis safe to follow sin,
And where his danger and God's wrath begin.
[Page 172] By this he forms, as pleas'd he sports along,
His well pois'd estimate of right and wrong,
And finds the modish manners of the day,
Though loose, as harmless as an infant's play.
Build by whatever plan caprice decrees,
With what materials, on what ground you please,
Your hope shall stand unblam'd, perhaps admir'd,
If not that hope the scripture has requir'd:
The strange conceits, vain projects and wild dreams,
With which hypocrisy for ever teems,
(Though other follies strike the public eye,
And raise a laugh) pass unmolested by;
But if unblameable in word and thought,
A man arise, a man whom God has taught,
With all Elijah's dignity of tone,
And all the love of the beloved John,
To storm the citadels they build in air,
And smite th' untemper'd wall, 'tis death to spare.
To sweep away all refuges of lies,
And place, instead of quirks themselves devise,
LAMA SABACTHANI, before their eyes,
[Page 173] To prove that without Christ, all gain is loss,
All hope, despair, that stands not on his cross,
Except the few his God may have impress'd,
A tenfold frenzy seizes all the rest.
Throughout mankind, the Christian kind at least,
There dwells a consciousness in ev'ry breast,
That folly ends where genuine hope begins,
And he that finds his heav'n must lose his sins:
Nature opposes with her utmost force,
This riving stroke, this ultimate divorce,
And while religion seems to be her view,
Hates with a deep sincerity, the true;
For this of all that ever influenced man,
Since Abel worshipp'd, or the world began,
This only spares no lust, admits no plea,
But makes him, if at all, completely free,
Sounds forth the signal, as she mounts her car,
Of an eternal, universal war,
Rejects all treaty, penetrates all wiles,
Scorns with the same indiff'rence frowns and smiles,
[Page 174] Drives through the realms of sin, where riot reels,
And grinds his crown beneath her burning wheels!
Hence all that is in man, pride, passion, art,
Powr's of the mind, and feelings of the heart,
Insensible of truth's almighty charms,
Starts at her first approach, and sounds to arms!
While bigotry with well-dissembled fears,
His eyes shut fast, his fingers in his ears,
Mighty to parry, and push by God's word
With senseless noise, his argument the sword,
Pretends a zeal for godliness and grace,
And spits abhorrence in the Christian's face.
Parent of hope, immortal truth, make known
Thy deathless wreaths, and triumphs all thine own:
The silent progress of thy pow'r is such,
Thy means so feeble, and despis'd so much,
That few believe the wonders thou hast wrought,
And none can teach them but whom thou hast taught.
Oh see me sworn to serve thee, and command
A painter's skill into a poet's hand,
[Page 175] That while I trembling trace a work divine,
Fancy may stand aloof from the design,
And light and shade and ev'ry stroke be thine.
If ever thou hast felt another's pain,
If ever when he sigh'd, hast sigh'd again,
If ever on thine eye-lid stood the tear
That pity had engender'd, drop one here.
This man was happy—had the world's good word,
And with it ev'ry joy it can afford;
Friendship and love seem'd tenderly at strife,
Which most should sweeten his untroubl'd life;
Politely learn'd, and of a gentle race,
Good-breeding and good sense gave all a grace,
And whether at the toilette of the fair
He laugh'd and trifled, made him welcome there;
Or, if in masculine debate he shar'd,
Insur'd him mute attention and regard.
Alas how chang'd! expressive of his mind,
His eyes are sunk, arms folded, head reclind,
Those awful syllables, hell, death, and sin,
Though whisper'd, plainly tell what works within,
[Page 176] That conscience there performs her proper part,
And writes a doomsday sentence on his heart;
Forsaking, and forsaken of all friends,
He now perceives where earthly pleasure ends,
Hard task! for one who lately knew no care,
And harder still as learnt beneath despair:
His hours no longer pass unmark'd away,
A dark importance saddens every day,
He hears the notice of the clock, perplex'd,
And cries, perhaps eternity strikes next:
Sweet music is no longer music here,
And laughter sounds like madness in his ear,
His grief the world of all her pow'r disarms,
Wine has no taste, and beauty has no charms:
God's holy word, once trivial in his view,
Now by the voice of his experience, true,
Seems, as it is, the fountain whence alone
Must spring that hope he pants to make his own.
Now let the bright reverse be known abroad,
Say, man's a worm, and pow'r belongs to God.
[Page 177] As when a felon whom his country's laws
Have justly doom'd for some atrocious cause,
Expects in darkness and heart-chilling fears,
The shameful close of all his mispent years,
If chance, on heavy pinions slowly borne,
A tempest usher in the dreaded morn,
Upon his dungeon walls the lightnings play,
The thunder seems to summon him away,
The warder at the door his key applies,
Shoots back the bolt, and all his courage dies:
If then, just then, all thoughts of mercy lost,
When Hope, long ling'ring, at last yields the ghost,
The sound of pardon pierce his startled ear,
He drops at once his fetters and his fear,
A transport glows in all he looks and speaks,
And the first thankful tears bedew his cheeks.
Joy, far superior joy, that much outweighs
The comfort of a few poor added days,
Invades, possesses, and o'erwhelms the soul
Of him whom hope has with a touch made whole:
[Page 178] 'Tis heav'n, all heav'n descending on the wings
Of the glad legions of the King of Kings;
'Tis more—'tis God diffus'd through ev'ry part,
'Tis God himself triumphant in his heart.
Oh welcome now, the sun's once hated light,
His noon-day beams were never half so bright,
Not kindred minds alone are call'd t' employ
Their hours, their days in list'ning to his joy,
Unconscious nature, all that he surveys,
Rocks, groves and streams must join him in his praise.
These are thy glorious works, eternal truth,
The scoff of wither'd age and beardless youth,
These move the censure and illib'ral grin
Of fools that hate thee and delight in sin:
But these shall last when night has quench'd the pole▪
And heav'n is all departed as a scroll:
And when, as justice has long since decreed,
This earth shall blaze, and a new world succeed,
Then these thy glorious works, and they that share▪
That Hope which can alone exclude despair,
[Page 179] Shall live exempt from weakness and decay,
The brightest wonders of an endless day.
Happy the bard, (if that fair name belong
To him that blends no fable with his song)
Whose lines uniting, by an honest art,
The faithful monitors and poets part,
Seek to delight, that they may mend mankind,
And while they captivate, inform the mind.
Still happier, if he till a thankful soil,
And fruit reward his honorable toil:
But happier far who comfort those that wait
To hear plain truth at Judah's hallow'd gate;
Their language simple as their manners meek,
No shining ornaments have they to seek,
Nor labour they, nor time nor talents waste
In sorting flowers to suit a fickle taste;
But while they speak the wisdom of the skies,
Which art can only darken and disguise,
Th' abundant harvest, recompence divine,
Repays their work—the gleaning only, mine.

CHARITY.

Quâ nihil majus meliusve terris
Fata donavere, boni (que) divi,
Nec dabunt, quamvis redeant in aurum
Tempora priscum.
HOR. Lib. IV. Ode II.
FAIREST and foremost of the train that wait
On man's most dignified and happiest state,
Whether we name thee Charity or love,
Chief grace below, and all in all above,
Prosper (I press thee with a pow'rful plea)
A task I venture on, impell'd by thee:
Oh never seen but in thy blest effects,
Nor felt but in the soul that heav'n selects,
[Page 181] Who seeks to praise thee, and to make thee known
To other hearts, must have thee in his own.
Come, prompt me with benevolent desires,
Teach me to kindle at thy gentle fires,
And though disgrac'd and slighted, to redeem
A poet's name, by making thee the theme.
God working ever on a social plan,
By various ties attaches man to man:
He made at first, though free and unconfin'd,
One man the common father of the kind,
That ev'ry tribe, though plac'd as he sees best,
Where seas or desarts part them from the rest,
Diff'ring in language, manners, or in face,
Might feel themselves allied to all the race.
When Cook—lamented, and with tears as just
As ever mingled with heroic dust,
Steer'd Britain's oak into a world unknown,
And in his country's glory sought his own,
Wherever he found man, to nature true,
The rights of man were sacred in his view:
[Page 182] He sooth'd with gifts and greeted with a smile
The simple native of the new-found isle,
He spurn'd the wretch that slighted or withstood
The tender argument of kindred blood,
Nor would endure that any should controul
His free-born brethren of the southern pole.
But though some nobler minds a law respect,
That none shall with impunity neglect,
In baser souls unnumber'd evils meet,
To thwart its influence and its end defeat.
While Cook is loved for savage lives he saved,
See Cortez odious for a world enslaved!
Where wast thou then sweet Charity, where then
Thou tutelary friend of helpless men?
Wast thou in Monkish cells and nunn'ries found,
Or building hospitals on English ground?
No—Mammon makes the world his legatee
Through fear not love, and heav'n abhors the fee:
Wherever found (and all men need thy care)
Nor age nor infancy could find thee there.
[Page 183] The hand that siew 'till it could slay no more,
Was glued to the sword-hilt with Indian gore;
Their prince as justly seated on his throne,
As vain imperial Philip on his own,
Trick'd out of all his royalty by art,
That stripp'd him bare, and broke his honest heart,
Died by the sentence of a shaven priest,
For scorning what they taught him to detest.
How dark the veil that intercepts the blaze
Of heav'ns mysterious purposes and ways;
God stood not, though he seem'd to stand aloof,
And at this hour the conqu'ror feels the proof.
The wreath he won drew down an instant curse,
The fretting plague is in the public purse,
The canker'd spoil corrodes the pining state,
Starved by that indolence their mines create.
Oh could their antient Incas rise again,
How would they take up Israel's taunting strain!
Art thou too fall'n Iberia, do we see
The robber and the murth'rer weak as we?
[Page 184] Thou that hast wasted earth, and dared despise
Alike the wrath and mercy of the skies,
Thy pomp is in the grave, thy glory laid
Low in the pits thine avarice has made.
We come with joy from our eternal rest,
To see th' oppressor in his turn oppress'd.
Art thou the God the thunder of whose hand
Roll'd over all our desolated land,
Shook principalities and kingdoms down,
And made the mountains tremble at his frown?
The sword shall light upon thy boasted pow'rs,
And waste them, as thy sword has wasted ours.
'Tis thus Omnipotence his law fulfils,
And vengeance executes what justice wills.
Again—the band of commerce was design'd
T' associate all the branches of mankind,
And if a boundless plenty be the robe,
Trade is the golden girdle of the globe:
Wise to promote whatever end he means,
God opens fruitful nature's various scenes,
[Page 185] Each climate needs what other climes produce,
And offers something to the gen'ral use;
No land but listens to the common call,
And in return receives supply from all;
This genial intercourse and mutual aid,
Cheers what were else an universal shade,
Calls nature from her ivy-mantled den,
And softens human rockwork into men.
Ingenious Art with her expressive face
Steps forth to fashion and refine the race,
Not only fills necessity's demand,
But overcharges her capacious hand;
Capricious taste itself can crave no more,
Than she supplies from her abounding store;
She strikes out all that luxury can ask,
And gains new vigour at her endless task.
Hers is the spacious arch, the shapely spire,
The painters pencil and the poets lyre;
From her the canvass borrows light and shade,
And verse more lasting, hues that never fade.
[Page 186] She guides the finger o'er the dancing keys,
Gives difficulty all the grace of ease,
And pours a torrent of sweet notes around,
Fast as the thirsting ear can drink the sound.
These are the gifts of art, and art thrives most
Where commerce has enrich'd the busy coast:
He catches all improvements in his flight,
Spreads foreign wonders in his country's sight,
Imports what others have invented well,
And stirs his own to match them, or excel.
'Tis thus reciprocating each with each,
Alternately the nations learn and teach;
While Providence enjoins to ev'ry soul
An union with the vast terraqueous whole.
Heav'n speed the canvass gallantly unfurl'd
To furnish and accommodate a world;
To give the Pole the produce of the sun,
And knit th' unsocial climates into one.—
Soft airs and gentle heavings of the wave
Impel the fleet whose errand is to save,
[Page 187] To succour wasted regions, and replace
The smile of opulence in sorrow's face.—
Let nothing adverse, nothing unforeseen,
Impede the bark that plows the deep serene,
Charg'd with a freight transcending in its worth
The gems of India, nature's rarest birth,
That flies like Gabriel on his Lord's commands,
An herald of God's love, to pagan lands.—
But ah! what wish can prosper, or what pray'r,
For merchants rich in cargoes of despair,
Who drive a loathsome traffic, gage and span,
And buy the muscles and the bones of man?
The tender ties of father, husband, friend,
All bonds of nature in that moment end,
And each endures while yet he draws his breath,
A stroke as fatal as the scythe of death.
The sable warrior, frantic with regret
Of her he loves, and never can forget,
Loses in tears the far receding shore,
But not the thought that they must meet no more;
[Page 188] Depriv'd of her and freedom at a blow,
What has he left that he can yet forego?
Yes, to deep sadness sullenly resign'd,
He feels his body's bondage in his mind,
Puts off his gen'rous nature, and to suit
His manners with his fate, puts on the brute.
Oh most degrading of all ills that wait
On man, a mourner in his best estate!
All other sorrows virtue may endure,
And find submission more than half a cure;
Grief is itself a med'cine, and bestow'd
T' improve the fortitude that bears the load,
To teach the wand'rer, as his woes encrease,
The path of wisdom, all whose paths are peace.
But slav'ry!—virtue dreads it as her grave,
Patience itself is meanness in a slave:
Or if the will and sovereignty of God
Bid suffer it awhile, and kiss the rod,
Wait for the dawning of a brighter day,
And snap the chain the moment when you may.
[Page 189] Nature imprints upon whate'er we see
That has a heart and life in it, be free;
The beasts are chartered—neither age nor force
Can quell the love of freedom in a horse:
He breaks the cord that held him at the rack,
And conscious of an unincumber'd back,
Snuffs up the morning air, forgets the rein,
Loose fly his forelock and his ample mane,
Responsive to the distant neigh he neighs,
No stops, till overleaping all delays,
He finds the pasture where his fellows graze.
Canst thou, and honour'd with a Christian name,
Buy what is woman-born, and feel no shame?
Trade in the blood of innocence, and plead
Expedience as a warrant for the deed?
So may the wolf whom famine has made bold
To quit the forest and invade the fold;
So may the ruffian who with ghostly glide,
Dagger in hand, steals close to your bed-side;
Not he, but his emergence forc'd the door,
He found it inconvenient to be poor.
[Page 190] Has God then giv'n its sweetness to the cane
Unless his laws be trampled on—in vain?
Built a brave world, which cannot yet subsist,
Unless his right to rule it be dismiss'd?
Impudent blasphemy! so folly pleads,
And av'rice being judge, with ease succeeds.
But grant the plea, and let it stand for just,
That man make man his prey, because he must,
Still there is room for pity to abate
And sooth the sorrows of so sad a state.
A Briton knows, or if he knows it not,
The Scripture plac'd within his reach, he ought,
That souls have no discriminating hue,
Alike important in their Maker's view,
That none are free from blemish since the fall,
And love divine has paid one price for all.
The wretch that works and weeps without relief,
Has one that notices his silent grief,
He from whose hands alone all pow'r proceeds,
Ranks its abuse among the foulest deeds,
Considers all injustice with a frown,
But marks the man that treads his fellow down.
[Page 191] Begone, the whip and bell in that hard hand,
Are hateful ensigns of usurp'd command,
Not Mexico could purchase kings a claim
To scourge him, weariness his only blame.
Remember, heav'n has an avenging rod;
To smite the poor is treason against God.
Trouble is grudgingly and hardly brook'd,
While life's sublimest joys are overlook'd.
We wander o'er a sun-burnt thirsty soil
Murm'ring and weary of our daily toil,
Forget t' enjoy the palm-tree's offer'd shade,
Or taste the fountain in the neighb'ring glade:
Else who would lose that had the pow'r t' improve
Th' occasion of transmuting fear to love?
Oh 'tis a godlike privilege to save,
And he that scorns it is himself a slave.—
Inform his mind, one flash of heav'nly day
Would heal his heart and melt his chains away;
`Beauty for ashes' is a gift indeed,
And slaves, by truth enlarg'd, are doubly freed:
[Page 192] Then would he say, submissive at thy feet,
While gratitude and love made service sweet,
My dear deliv'rer out of hopeless night,
Whose bounty bought me but to give me light,
I was a bondman on my native plain,
Sin forg'd, and ignorance made fast the chain;
Thy lips have shed instruction as the dew,
Taught me what path to shun, and what pursue;
Farewell my former joys! I sigh no more
For Africa's once lov'd, benighted shore,
Serving a benefactor I am free,
At my best home if not exiled from thee.
Some men make gain a fountain, whence proceeds
A stream of lib'ral and heroic deeds,
The swell of pity, not to be confin'd
Within the scanty limits of the mind,
Disdains the bank, and throws the golden sands,
A rich deposit, on the bord'ring lands:
These have an ear for his paternal call,
Who makes some rich for the supply of all,
[Page 193] God's gift with pleasure in his praise employ,
And THORNTON is familiar with the joy.
Oh could I worship aught beneath the skies,
That earth hath seen or fancy can devise,
Thine altar, sacred liberty, should stand,
Built by no mercenary vulgar hand,
With fragrant turf and flow'rs as wild and fair
As ever dress'd a bank or scented summer air.
Duely as ever on the mountain's height
The peep of morning shed a dawning light;
Again, when evening in her sober vest
Drew the grey curtain of the fading west,
My soul should yield thee willing thanks and praise
For the chief blessings of my fairest days:
But that were sacrilege—praise is not thine,
But his who gave thee and preserves thee mine:
Else I would say, and as I spake, bid fly
A captive bird into the boundless sky,
This triple realm adores thee—thou art come
From Sparta hither, and art here at home;
[Page 194] We feel thy force still active, at this hour
Enjoy immunity from priestly pow'r,
While conscience, happier than in antient years,
Owns no superior but the God she fears.
Propitious spirit! yet expunge a wrong
Thy rights have suffer'd, and our land, too long,
Teach mercy to ten thousand hearts that share
The fears and hopes of a commercial care;
Prisons expect the wicked, and were built
To bind the lawless and to punish guilt,
But shipwreck, earthquake, battle, fire and flood,
Are mighty mischiefs, not to be withstood,
And honest merit stands on slipp'ry ground,
Where covert guile and artifice abound:
Let just restraint for public peace design'd,
Chain up the wolves and tigers of mankind,
The foe of virtue has no claim to thee,
But let insolvent innocence go free.
Patron, of else the most despised of men,
Accept the tribute of a stranger's pen;
[Page 195] Verse, like the laurel its immortal meed,
Should be the guerdon of a noble deed,
I may alarm thee, but I fear the shame
(Charity chosen as my theme and aim)
I must incur, forgetting HOWARD'S name.
Blest with all wealth can give thee, to resign
Joys doubly sweet to feelings quick as thine,
To quit the bliss thy rural scenes bestow,
To seek a nobler amidst scenes of woe,
To traverse seas, range kingdoms, and bring home
Not the proud monuments of Greece or Rome,
But knowledge such as only dungeons teach,
And only sympathy like thine could reach;
That grief, sequester'd from the public stage,
Might smooth her feathers and enjoy her cage,
Speaks a divine ambition, and a zeal
The boldest patriot might be proud to feel.
Oh that the voice of clamor and debate,
That pleads for peace 'till it disturbs the state,
Were hush'd in favour of thy gen'rous plea,
The poor thy clients, and heaven's smile thy fee.
[Page 196] Philosophy that does not dream or stray,
Walks arm in arm with nature all his way,
Compasses earth, dives into it, ascends
Whatever steep enquiry recommends,
Sees planetary wonders smoothly roll
Round other systems under her controll,
Drinks wisdom at the milky stream of light
That cheers the silent journey of the night,
And brings at his return a bosom charged,
With rich instruction, and a soul enlarged.
The treasured sweets of the capacious plan
That heav'n spreads wide before the view of man,
All prompt his pleased pursuit, and to pursue
Still prompt him, with a pleasure always new:
He too has a connecting pow'r, and draws
Man to the center of the common cause,
Aiding a dubious and deficient sight
With a new medium and a purer light.
All truth is precious if not all divine,
And what dilates the pow'rs must needs refine,
[Page 197] He reads the skies, and watching ev'ry change,
Provides the faculties an ampler range,
And wins mankind, as his attempts prevail,
A proudcer station on the gen'ral scale.
But reason still unless divinely taught,
Whate'er she learns, learns nothing as she ought;
The lamp of revelation only, shows,
What human wisdom cannot but oppose,
That man in nature's richest mantle clad,
And graced with all philosophy can add,
Though fair without, and luminous within,
Is still the progeny and heir of sin.
Thus taught down falls the plumage of his pride,
He feels his need of an unerring guide,
And knows that falling he shall rise no more,
Unless the pow'r that bade him stand, restore.
This is indeed philosophy; this known,
Makes wisdom, worthy of the name, his own;
And without this, whatever he discuss,
Whether the space between the stars and us,
[Page 198] Whether he measure earth, compute the sea,
Weigh sunbeams, carve a fly, or spit a flea,
The solemn trifler with his boasted skill
Toils much, and is a solemn trifler still,
Blind was he born, and his misguided eyes
Grown dim in trifling studies, blind he dies.
Self-knowledge truly learn'd, of course implies
The rich possession of a nobler prize,
For self to self, and God to man reveal'd,
(Two themes to nature's eye for ever seal'd)
Are taught by rays that fly with equal pace
From the same center of enlight'ning-grace.
Here stay thy foot, how copious and how clear
Th' o'erflowing well of Charity springs here!
Hark! 'tis the music of a thousand rills,
Some through the groves, some down the sloping hills,
Winding a secret or an open course,
And all supplied from an eternal source.
The ties of nature do but feebly bind,
And commerce partially reclaims mankind,
[Page 199] Philosophy without his heav'nly guide,
May blow up self-conceit and nourish pride,
But while his province is the reas'ning part,
Has still a veil of midnight on his heart:
'Tis truth divine exhibited on earth,
Gives Charity her being and her birth.
Suppose (when thought is warm and fancy flows,
What will not argument sometimes suppose)
An isle possess'd by creatures of our kind,
Endued with reason, yet by nature blind.
Let supposition lend her aid once more,
And land some grave optician on the shore,
He claps his lens, if haply they may see,
Close to the part where vision ought to be,
But finds that though his tubes assist the sight,
They cannot give it, or make darkness light.
He reads wise lectures, and describes aloud
A sense they know not, to the wond'ring crowd,
He talks of light and the prismatic hues,
As men of depth in erudition use,
[Page 200] But all he gains for his harangue is—Well—
What monstrous lies some travellers will tell.
The soul whose sight all-quick'ning grace renews,
Takes the resemblance of the good she views,
As di'monds stript of their opaque disguise,
Reflect the noon-day glory of the skies.
She speaks of him, her author, guardian, friend,
Whose love knew no beginning, knows no end,
In language warm as all that love inspires,
And in the glow of her intense desires
Pants to communicate her noble fires.
She sees a world stark blind to what employs
Her eager thought, and feeds her flowing joys,
Though wisdom hail them, heedless of her call,
Flies to save some, and feels a pang for all:
Herself as weak as her support is strong,
She feels that frailty she denied so long,
And from a knowledge of her own disease,
Learns to compassionate the sick she sees.
Here see, acquitted of all vain pretence,
The reign of genuine Charity commence;
[Page 201] Though scorn repay her sympathetic tears,
She still is kind, and still she perseveres;
The truth she loves, a sightless world blaspheme,
'Tis childish dotage, a delirious dream,
The danger they discern not, they deny,
Laugh at their only remedy, and die:
But still a soul thus touch'd, can never cease
Whoever threatens war to speak of peace,
Pure in her aim and in her temper mild,
Her wisdom seems the weakness of a child,
She makes excuses where she might condemn,
Reviled by those that hate her, prays for them;
Suspicion lurks not in her artless breast,
The worst suggested, she believes the best;
Not soon provoked, however stung and teaz'd,
And if perhaps made angry, soon appeas'd,
She rather waves than will dispute her right,
And injur'd, makes forgiveness her delight.
Such was the pourtrait an apostle drew,
The bright original was one he knew,
Heav'n held his hand, the likeness must be true.
[Page 202] When one that holds communion with the skies,
Has filled his urn where these pure waters rise,
And once more mingles with us meaner things,
'Tis ev'n as if an angel shook his wings;
Immortal fragrance fills the circuit wide,
That tells us whence his treasures are supplied.
So when a ship well freighted with the stores
The sun matures on India's spicy shores,
Has dropt her anchor and her canvas furl'd,
In some safe haven of our western world,
'Twere vain enquiry to what port she went,
The gale informs us, laden with the scent.
Some seek, when queazy conscience has its qualms,
To lull the painful malady with alms;
But charity not feign'd, intends alone
Another's good—theirs centers in their own;
And too short-lived to reach the realms of peace,
Must cease for ever when the poor shall cease.
Flavia, most tender of her own good name,
Is rather careless of a sister's fame,
[Page 203] Her superfluity the poor supplies,
But if she touch a character, it dies.
The seeming virtue weigh'd against the vice,
She deems all safe, for she has paid the price,
No charity but alms aught values she,
Except in porcelain on her mantle-tree.
How many deeds with which the world has rung,
From pride in league with ignorance have sprung?
But God o'erules all human follies still,
And bends the tough materials to his will.
A conflagration or a wintry flood,
Has left some hundreds without home or food,
Extravagance and av'rice shall subscribe,
While fame and self-complacence are the bribe.
The brief proclaim'd, it visits ev'ry pew,
But first the 'Squire's, a compliment but due:
With slow deliberation he unties
His glitt'ring purse, that envy of all eyes,
And while the clerk just puzzles out the psalm,
Slides guinea behind guinea in his palm,
[Page 204] 'Till finding what he might have found before,
A smaller piece amidst the precious store,
Pinch'd close between his finger and his thumb,
He half exhibits, and then drops the sum;
Gold to be sure!—throughout the town 'tis told
How the good 'Squire gives never less than gold.
From motives such as his, though not the best,
Springs in due time supply for the distress'd,
Not less effectual than what love bestows,
Except that office clips it as it goes.
But lest I seem to sin against a friend,
And wound the grace I mean to recommend,
(Though vice derided with a just design
Implies no trespass against love divine)
Once more I would adopt the graver stile,
A teacher should be sparing of his smile.
Unless a love of virtue light the flame,
Satyr is more than those he brands, to blame,
He hides behind a magisterial air
His own offences, and strips others bare,
[Page 205] Affects indeed a most humane concern
That men if gently tutor'd will not learn,
That muleish folly not to be reclaim'd
By softer methods, must be made asham'd,
But (I might instance in St. Patrick's dean)
Too often rails to gratify his spleen.
Most sat'rists are indeed a public scourge,
Their mildest physic is a farrier's purge,
Their acrid temper turns as soon as stirr'd
The milk of their good purpose all to curd,
Their zeal begotten as their works rehearse,
By lean despair upon an empty purse;
The wild assassins start into the street,
Prepar'd to poignard whomsoe'er they meet;
No skill in swordsmanship however just,
Can be secure against a madman's thrust,
And even virtue so unfairly match'd,
Although immortal, may be prick'd or scratch'd.
When scandal has new minted an old lie,
Or tax'd invention for a fresh supply,
[Page 206] 'Tis called a satyr, and the world appears
Gath'ring around it with erected ears;
A thousand names are toss'd into the crowd,
Some whisper'd softly, and some twang'd aloud,
Just as the sapience of an author's brain
Suggests it safe or dang'rous to be plain.
Strange! how the frequent interjected dash,
Quickens a market and helps off the trash,
Th' important letters that include the rest,
Serve as a key to those that are suppress'd,
Conjecture gripes the victims in his paw,
The world is charm'd, and Scrib. escapes the law.
So when the cold damp shades of night prevail,
Worms may be caught by either head or tail,
Forcibly drawn from many a close recess,
They meet with little pity, no redress;
Plung'd in the stream they lodge upon the mud,
Food for the famish'd rovers of the flood.
All zeal for a reform that gives offence
To peace and charity, is mere pretence:
[Page 207] A bold remark, but which if well applied,
Would humble many a tow'ring poet's pride:
Perhaps the man was in a sportive fit,
And had no other play-place for his wit;
Perhaps enchanted with the love of fame,
He sought the jewel in his neighbour's shame;
Perhaps—whatever end he might pursue,
The cause of virtue could not be his view.
At ev'ry stroke wit flashes in our eyes,
The turns are quick, the polish'd points surprise,
But shine with cruel and tremendous charms,
That while they please possess us with alarms:
So have I seen, (and hasten'd to the sight
On all the wings of holiday delight)
Where stands that monument of antient pow'r,
Named with emphatic dignity, the tow'r,
Guns, halberts, swords and pistols, great and small,
In starry forms disposed upon the wall;
We wonder, as we gazing stand below,
That brass and steel should make so fine a show;
[Page 208] But though we praise th' exact designer's skill,
Account them implements of mischief still.
No works shall find acceptance in that day
When all disguises shall be rent away,
That square not truly with the Scripture plan,
Nor spring from love to God, or love to man.
As he ordains things sordid in their birth
To be resolved into their parent earth,
And though the soul shall seek superior orbs,
Whate'er this world produces, it absorbs,
So self starts nothing but what tends apace
Home to the goal where it began the race.
Such as our motive is our aim must be,
If this be servile, that can ne'er be free;
If self employ us, whatsoe'er is wrought,
We glorify that self, not him we ought:
Such virtues had need prove their own reward,
The judge of all men owes them no regard.
True Charity, a plant divinely nurs'd,
Fed by the love from which it rose at first,
[Page 209] Thrives against hope and in the rudest scene,
Storms but enliven its unfading green;
Exub'rant is the shadow it supplies,
Its fruit on earth, its growth above the skies.
To look at him who form'd us and redeem'd,
So glorious now, though once so disesteem'd,
To see a God stretch forth his human hand,
T' uphold the boundless scenes of his command,
To recollect that in a form like ours,
He bruis'd beneath his feet th' infernal pow'rs,
Captivity led captive rose to claim
The wreath he won so dearly, in our name,
That thron'd above all height, he condescends
To call the few that trust in him his friends,
That in the heav'n of heav'ns, that space he deems
Too scanty for th' exertion of his beams,
And shines as if impatient to bestow
Life and a kingdom upon worms below;
That sight imparts a never-dying flame,
Though feeble in degree, in kind the same;
[Page 210] Like him, the soul thus kindled from above,
Spreads wide her arms of universal love,
And still enlarg'd as she receives the grace,
Includes creation in her close embrace.
Behold a Christian—and without the fires
The founder of that name alone inspires,
Though all accomplishments, all knowledge meet,
To make the shining prodigy complete,
Whoever boasts that name—behold a cheat.
Were love in these the world's last doting years
As frequent, as the want of it appears,
The churches warm'd, they would no longer hold
Such frozen figures, stiff as they are cold;
Relenting forms would lose their pow'r or cease,
And ev'n the dipt and sprinkled, live in peace;
Each heart would quit its prison in the breast,
And flow in free communion with the rest.
The statesman skill'd in projects dark and deep,
Might burn his useless Machiavel, and sleep;
His budget often filled yet always poor,
Might swing at ease behind his study door,
[Page 211] No longer prey upon our annual rents,
Nor scare the nation with its big contents:
Disbanded legions freely might depart,
And slaying man would cease to be an art.
No learned disputants would take the field,
Sure not to conquer, and sure not to yield,
Both sides deceiv'd if rightly understood,
Pelting each other for the public good.
Did Charity prevail, the press would prove
A vehicle of virtue, truth and love,
And I might spare myself the pains to show
What few can learn, and all suppose they know.
Thus have I sought to grace a serious lay
With many a wild indeed, but flow'ry spray,
In hopes to gain what else I must have lost,
Th' attention pleasure has so much engross'd.
But if unhappily deceiv'd I dream,
And prove too weak for so divine a theme,
Let Charity forgive me a mistake
That zeal not vanity has chanc'd to make,
And spare the poet for his subject sake.

CONVERSATION.

Nam ne (que) me tantum venientis sibilus austri,
Nec percussa juvant fluctû tam litora, nec quae
Saxosas inter decurrunt flumina valles.
VIRG. ECL. 5.
THOUGH nature weigh our talents, and dispens [...]
To ev'ry man his modicum of sense,
And Conversation in its better part,
May be esteemed a gift and not an art,
Yet much depends, as in the tiller's toil,
On culture, and the sowing of the soil.
Words learn'd by rote, a parrot may rehearse,
But talking is not always to converse,
[Page 213] Not more distinct from harmony divine
The constant creaking of a country sign.
As alphabets in ivory employ
Hour after hour the yet unletter'd boy,
Sorting and puzzling with a deal of glee
Those seeds of science called his ABC,
So language in the mouths of the adult,
Witness its insignificant result,
Too often proves an implement of play,
A toy to sport with, and pass time away.
Collect at evening what the day brought forth,
Compress the sum into its solid worth,
And if it weigh th' importance of a fly,
The scales are false or Algebra a lie.
Sacred interpreter of human thought,
How few respect or use thee as they ought!
But all shall give account of ev'ry wrong
Who dare dishonour or defile the tongue,
Who prostitute it in the cause of vice,
Or sell their glory at a market-price,
[Page 214] Who vote for hire, or point it with lampoon,
The dear-bought placeman, and the cheap buffoon.
There is a prurience in the speech of some,
Wrath stays him, or else God would strike them dumb;
His wise forbearance has their end in view,
They fill their measure and receive their due.
The heathen law-givers of antient days,
Names almost worthy of a Christian praise,
Would drive them forth from the resort of men,
And shut up ev'ry satyr in his den.
Oh come not ye near innocence and truth,
Ye worms that eat into the bud of youth!
Infectious as impure, your blighting pow'r
Taints in its rudiments the promised flow'r,
Its odour perish'd and its charming hue,
Thenceforth 'tis hateful for it smells of you.
Not ev'n the vigorous and headlong rage
Of adolescence or a firmer age,
Affords a plea allowable or just,
For making speech the pamperer of lust;
[Page 215] But when the breath of age commits the fault,
'Tis nauseous as the vapor of a vault.
So wither'd stumps disgrace the sylvan scene,
No longer fruitful and no longer green,
The sapless wood divested of the bark,
Grows fungous and takes fire at ev'ry spark.
Oaths terminate, as Paul observes, all strife—
Some men have surely then a peaceful life,
Whatever subject occupy discourse,
The feats of Vestris or the naval force,
Asseveration blust'ring in your face
Makes contradiction such an hopeless case;
In ev'ry tale they tell, or false or true,
Well known, or such as no man ever knew,
They fix attention, heedless of your pain,
With oaths like rivets forced into the brain,
And ev'n when sober truth prevails throughout,
They swear it, 'till affirmance breeds a doubt.
A Persian, humble servant of the sun,
Who though devout yet bigotry had none,
[Page 216] Hearing a lawyer, grave in his address,
With adjurations ev'ry word impress,
Supposed the man a bishop, or at least,
God's name so much upon his lips, a priest,
Bowed at the close with all his graceful airs,
And begg'd an int'rest in his frequent pray'rs.
Go quit the rank to which ye stood preferred,
Henceforth associate in one common herd,
Religion, virtue, reason, common sense
Pronounce your human form a false pretence,
A mere disguise in which a devil lurks,
Who yet betrays his secret by his works.
Ye pow'rs who rule the tongue, if such there are,
And make colloquial happiness your care,
Preserve me from the thing I dread and hate,
A duel in the form of a debate:
The clash of arguments and jar of words
Worse than the mortal brunt of rival swords,
Decide no question with their tedious length,
For opposition gives opinion strength,
[Page 217] Divert the champions prodigal of breath,
And put the peaceably-disposed to death.
Oh thwart me not, Sir Soph. at ev'ry turn,
Nor carp at ev'ry flaw you may discern,
Though syllogisms hang not on my tongue,
I am not surely always in the wrong;
'Tis hard if all is false that I advance,
A fool must now and then be right, by chance.
Not that all freedom of dissent I blame,
No—there I grant the privilege I claim.
A disputable point is no man's ground,
Rove where you please, 'tis common all around,
Discourse may want an animated—No—
To brush the surface and to make it flow,
But still remember if you mean to please,
To press your point with modesty and ease.
The mark at which my juster aim I take,
Is contradiction for its own dear sake;
Set your opinion at whatever pitch,
Knots and impediments make something hitch,
[Page 218] Adopt his own, 'tis equally in vain,
Your thread of argument is snapt again;
The wrangler, rather than accord with you,
Will judge himself deceiv'd, and prove it too.
Vociferated logic kills me quite,
A noisy man is always in the right,
I twirl my thumbs, fall back into my chair,
Fix on the wainscot a distressful stare,
And when I hope his blunders are all out,
Reply discreetly—to be sure—no doubt.
DUBIUS is such a scrupulous good man—
Yes—you may catch him tripping if you can.
He would not with a peremptory tone
Assert the nose upon his face his own;
With hesitation admirably slow,
He humbly hopes, presumes it may be so.
His evidence, if he were called by law,
To swear to some enormity he saw,
For want of prominence and just relief,
Would hang an honest man and save a thief.
[Page 219] Through constant dread of giving truth offence,
He ties up all his hearers in suspense,
Knows what he knows as if he knew it not,
What he remembers seems to have forgot,
His sole opinion, whatsoe'er befall,
Cent'ring at last in having none at all.
Yet though he teaze and baulk your list'ning ear,
He makes one useful point exceeding clear;
Howe'er ingenious on his darling theme,
A sceptic in philosophy may seem,
Reduced to practice, his beloved rule,
Would only prove him a consummate fool,
Useless in him alike both brain and speech,
Fate having placed all truth above his reach;
His ambiguities his total sum,
He might as well be blind and deaf and dumb.
Where men of judgment creep and feel their way,
The Positive pronounce without dismay,
Their want of light and intellect supplied
By sparks absurdity strikes out of pride:
[Page 220] Without the means of knowing right from wrong,
They always are decisive, clear and strong;
Where others toil with philosophic force,
Their nimble nonsense takes a shorter course,
Flings at your head conviction in the lump,
And gains remote conclusions at a jump:
Their own defect invisible to them,
Seen in another they at once condemn,
And though self-idolized in ev'ry case,
Hate their own likeness in a brother's face.
The cause is plain and not to be denied,
The proud are always most provok'd by pride,
Few competitions but engender spite,
And those the most, where neither has a right.
The point of honour has been deemed of use,
To teach good manners and to curb abuse;
Admit it true, the consequence is clear,
Our polished manners are a mask we wear,
And at the bottom, barb'rous still and rude,
We are restrained indeed, but not subdued;
[Page 221] The very remedy, however sure,
Springs from the mischief it intends to cure,
And savage in its principle appears,
Tried, as it should be, by the fruit it bears.
'Tis hard indeed if nothing will defend
Mankind from quarrels but their fatal end,
That now and then an hero must decease,
That the surviving world may live in peace.
Perhaps at last, close scrutiny may show
The practice dastardly and mean and low,
That men engage in it compelled by force,
And fear not courage is its proper source,
The fear of tyrant custom, and the fear
Lest fops should censure us, and fools should sneer;
At least to trample on our Maker's laws,
And hazard life, for any or no cause,
To rush into a fixt eternal state,
Out of the very flames of rage and hate,
Or send another shiv'ring to the bar
With all the guilt of such unnat'ral war,
[Page 222] Whatever use may urge or honour plead,
On reason's verdict is a madman's deed.
Am I to set my life upon a throw
Because a bear is rude and surly? No—
A moral, sensible and well-bred man
Will not affront me, and no other can.
Were I empow'rd to regulate the lists,
They should encounter with well-loaded fists,
A Trojan combat would be something new,
Let DARES beat ENTELLUS black and blue,
Then each might show to his admiring friends
In honourable bumps his rich amends,
And carry in contusions of his scull,
A satisfactory receipt in full.
A story in which native humour reigns
Is often useful, always entertains,
A graver fact enlisted on your side,
May furnish illustration, well applied;
But sedentary weavers of long tales,
Give me the fidgets and my patience fails.
[Page 223] 'Tis the most asinine employ on earth,
To hear them tell of parentage and birth,
And echo conversations dull and dry,
Embellished with, he said, and so said I.
At ev'ry interview their route the same,
The repetition makes attention lame,
We bustle up with unsuccessful speed,
And in the saddest part cry—droll indeed!
The path of narrative with care pursue,
Still making probability your clue,
On all the vestiges of truth attend,
And let them guide you to a decent end.
Of all ambitions man may entertain,
The worst that can invade a sickly brain,
Is that which angles hourly for surprize,
And baits its hook with prodigies and lies.
Credulous infancy or age as weak
Are fittest auditors for such to seek,
Who to please others will themselves disgrace,
Yet please not, but affront you to your face.
[Page 224] A great retailer of this curious ware,
Having unloaded and made many stare,
Can this be true? an arch observer cries—
Yes, rather moved, I saw it with these eyes.
Sir! I believe it on that ground alone,
I could not, had I seen it with my own.
A tale should be judicious, clear, succinct,
The language plain, and incidents well-link'd,
Tell not as new what ev'ry body knows,
And new or old, still hasten to a close,
There centring in a focus, round and neat,
Let all your rays of information meet:
What neither yields us profit or delight,
Is like a nurse's lullaby at night,
Guy Earl of Warwick and fair Eleanore,
Or giant-killing Jack would please me more.
The pipe with solemn interposing puff,
Makes half a sentence at a time enough;
The dozing sages drop the drowsy strain,
Then pause, and puff—and speak, and pause again.
[Page 225] Such often like the tube they so admire,
Important trifles! have more smoke than fire.
Pernicious weed! whose scent the fair annoys
Unfriendly to society's chief joys,
Thy worst effect is banishing for hours
The sex whose presence civilizes ours:
Thou art indeed the drug a gard'ner wants,
To poison vermin that infest his plants,
But are we so to wit and beauty blind,
As to despise the glory of our kind,
And show the softest minds and fairest forms
As little mercy, as he, grubs and worms?
They dare not wait the riotous abuse,
Thy thirst-creating steams at length produce,
When wine has giv'n indecent language birth,
And forced the flood-gates of licentious mirth;
For sea-born Venus her attachment shows
Still to that element from which she rose,
And with a quiet which no fumes disturb,
Sips meek infusions of a milder herb.
[Page 226] Th' emphatic speaker dearly loves t' oppose
In contact inconvenient, nose to nose,
As if the gnomon on his neighbour's phiz,
Touched with a magnet had attracted his.
His whisper'd theme, dilated and at large,
Proves after all a wind-gun's airy charge,
An extract of his diary—no more,
A tasteless journal of the day before.
He walked abroad, o'ertaken in the rain
Called on a friend, drank tea, stept home again,
Resumed his purpose, had a world of talk
With one he stumbled on, and lost his walk.
I interrupt him with a sudden bow,
Adieu dear Sir! lest you should lose it now.
I cannot talk with civet in the room,
A fine puss-gentleman that's all perfume;
The sight's enough—no need to smell a beau—
Who thrusts his nose into a raree-show?
His odoriferous attempts to please,
Perhaps might prosper with a swarm of bees,
[Page 227] But we that make no honey though we sting,
Poets, are sometimes apt to mawl the thing.
'Tis wrong to bring into a mixt resort,
What makes some sick, and others a-la-mort,
An argument of cogence, we may say,
Why such an one should keep himself away.
A graver coxcomb we may sometimes see,
Quite as absurd though not so light as he:
A shallow brain behind a serious mask,
An oracle within an empty cask,
The solemn fop; significant and budge;
A fool with judges, amongst fools a judge.
He says but little, and that little said
Owes all its weight, like loaded dice, to lead.
His wit invites you by his looks to come,
But when you knock it never is at home:
'Tis like a parcel sent you by the stage,
Some handsome present, as your hopes presage,
'Tis heavy, bulky, and bids fair to prove
An absent friend's fidelity and love,
[Page 228] But when unpack'd your disappointment groans
To find it stuff'd with brickbats, earth and stones.
Some men employ their health, an ugly trick,
In making known how oft they have been sick,
And give us in recitals of disease
A doctor's trouble, but without the fees:
Relate how many weeks they kept their bed,
How an emetic or cathartic sped,
Nothing is slightly touched, much less forgot,
Nose, ears, and eyes seem present on the spot.
Now the distemper spite of draught or pill
Victorious seem'd, and now the doctor's skill;
And now—alas for unforeseen mishaps!
They put on a damp night-cap and relapse;
They thought they must have died they were so bad,
Their peevish hearers almost wish they had.
Some fretful tempers wince at ev'ry touch,
You always do too little or too much:
You speak with life in hopes to entertain,
Your elevated voice goes through the brain;
[Page 229] You fall at once into a lower key,
That's worse—the drone-pipe of an humble bee.
The southern sash admits too strong a light,
You rise and drop the curtain—now its night.
He shakes with cold—you stir the fire and strive
To make a blaze—that's roasting him alive.
Serve him with ven'son and he chuses fish,
With soal—that's just the sort he would not wish,
He takes what he at first profess'd to loath,
And in due time feeds heartily on both;
Yet still o'erclouded with a constant frown,
He does not swallow but he gulps it down.
Your hope to please him, vain on ev'ry plan,
Himself should work that wonder if he can—
Alas! his efforts double his disttess,
He likes yours little and his own still less,
Thus always teazing others, always teazed,
His only pleasure is—to be displeas'd.
I pity bashful men, who feel the pain
Of fancied scorn and undeserv'd disdain,
[Page 230] And bear the marks upon a blushing face
Of needless shame and self-imposed disgrace.
Our sensibilities are so acute,
The fear of being silent makes us mute.
We sometimes think we could a speech produce
Much to the purpose, if our tongues were loose,
But being tied, it dies upon the lip,
Faint as a chicken's note that has the pip:
Our wasted oil unprofitably burns
Like hidden lamps in old sepulchral urns.
Few Frenchmen of this evil have complained,
It seems as if we Britons were ordained
By way of wholesome curb upon our pride,
To fear each other, fearing none beside.
The cause perhaps enquiry may descry,
Self-searching with an introverted eye,
Concealed within an unsuspected part,
The vainest corner of our own vain heart:
For ever aiming at the world's esteem,
Our self-importance ruins its own scheme,
[Page 231] In other eyes our talents rarely shown,
Become at length so splendid in our own,
We dare not risque them into public view,
Lest they miscarry of what seems their due.
True modesty is a discerning grace,
And only blushes in the proper place,
But counterfeit is blind, and skulks through fear,
Where 'tis a shame to be ashamed t' appear;
Humility the parent of the first,
The last by vanity produced and nurst.
The circle formed we sit in silent state,
Like figures drawn upon a dial-plate,
Yes ma'am, and no ma'am, utter'd softly, show
Ev'ry five minutes how the minutes go;
Each individual suffering a constraint
Poetry may, but colours cannot paint,
As if in close committee on the sky,
Reports it hot or cold, or wet or dry;
And finds a changing clime, an happy source
Of wise reflection and well-timed discourse.
[Page 232] We next enquire, but softly and by stealth,
Like conservators of the public health,
Of epidemic throats if such there are,
And coughs and rheums and phtisic and catarrh.
That theme exhausted, a wide chasm ensues,
Filled up at last with interesting news,
Who danced with whom, and who are like to wed,
And who is hanged, and who is brought to bed,
But fear to call a more important cause,
As if 'twere treason against English laws.
The visit paid, with extasy we come
As from a seven years transportation, home,
And there resume an unembarrass'd brow,
Recov'ring what we lost we know not how,
The faculties that seem'd reduc'd to nought,
Expression and the privilege of thought.
The reeking roaring hero of the chase,
I give him over as a desp'rate case.
Physicians write in hopes to work a cure,
Never, if honest ones, when death is sure;
[Page 233] And though the fox he follows may be tamed,
A mere fox-follower never is reclaimed.
Some farrier should prescribe his proper course,
Whose only fit companion is his horse,
Or if deserving of a better doom
The noble beast judge otherwise, his groom.
Yet ev'n the rogue that serves him, though he stand
To take his honour's orders cap in hand,
Prefers his fellow-grooms with much good sense,
Their skill a truth, his master's a pretence.
If neither horse nor groom affect the squire,
Where can at last his jockeyship retire?
Oh to the club, the scene of savage joys,
The school of coarse good fellowship and noise;
There in the sweet society of those
Whose friendship from his boyish years he chose,
Let him improve his talent if he can,
'Till none but beasts acknowledge him a man.
Man's heart had been impenetrably sealed,
Like theirs that cleave the flood or graze the field,
[Page 234] Had not his Maker's all-bestowing hand
Giv'n him a soul and bade him understand.
The reas'oning pow'r vouchsafed of course inferred
The pow'r to cloath that reason with his word,
For all is perfect that God works on earth,
And he that gives conception, adds the birth.
If this be plain, 'tis plainly understood
What uses of his boon the Giver would.
The mind dispatched upon her busy toil
Should range where Providence has blest the soil,
Visiting ev'ry flow'r with labour meet,
And gathering all her treasures sweet by sweet,
She should imbue the tongue with what she sips,
And shed the balmy blessing on the lips,
That good diffused may more abundant grow,
And speech may praise the pow'r that bids it flow.
Will the sweet warbler of the live-long night
That fills the list'ning lover with delight,
Forget his harmony with rapture heard,
To learn the twitt'ring of a meaner bird,
[Page 235] Or make the parrot's mimickry his choice,
That odious libel on an human voice?
No—nature unsophisticate by man,
Starts not aside from her Creator's plan,
The melody that was at first design'd
To cheer the rude forefathers of mankind,
Is note for note deliver'd in our ears,
In the last scene of her six thousand years:
Yet Fashion, leader of a chatt'ring train,
Whom man for his own hurt permits to reign,
Who shifts and changes all things but his shape,
And would degrade her vot'ry to an ape,
The fruitful parent of abuse and wrong,
Holds an usurp'd dominion o'er his tongue:
There sits and prompts him with his own disgrace,
Prescribes the theme, the tone and the grimace,
And when accomplished in her wayward school,
Calls gentleman whom she has made a fool.
'Tis an unalterable fixt decree
That none could frame or ratify but she,
[Page 236] That heav'n and hell and righteousness and sin,
Snares in his path and foes that lurk within,
God and his attributes (a field of day
Where 'tis an angel's happiness to stray)
Fruits of his love and wonders of his might,
Be never named in ears esteemed polite.
That he who dares, when she forbids, be grave,
Shall stand proscribed, a madman or a knave,
A close designer not to be believed,
Or if excus'd that charge, at least deceived.
Oh folly worthy of the nurse's lap,
Give it the breast or stop its mouth with pap!
Is it incredible, or can it seem
A dream to any except those that dream,
That man should love his Maker, and that fire
Warming his heart should at his lips transpire?
Know then, and modestly let fall your eyes,
And vail your daring crest that braves the skies,
That air of insolence affronts your God,
You need his pardon, and provoke his rod,
[Page 237] Now, in a posture that becomes you more
Than that heroic strut assumed before,
Know, your arrears with ev'ry hour accrue,
For mercy shown while wrath is justly due.
The time is short, and there are souls on earth,
Though future pain may serve for present mirth,
Acquainted with the woes that fear or shame
By fashion taught, forbade them once to name,
And having felt the pangs you deem a jest,
Have prov'd them truths too big to be express'd:
Go seek on revelation's hallow'd ground,
Sure to succeed, the remedy they found,
Touch'd by that pow'r that you have dared to mock,
That makes seas stable and dissolves the rock,
Your heart shall yield a life-renewing stream,
That fools, as you have done, shall call a dream.
It happened on a solemn even-tide,
Soon after He that was our surety died,
Two bosom-friends each pensively inclined,
The scene of all those sorrows left behind,
[Page 238] Sought their own village, busied as they went
In musings worthy of the great event:
They spake of him they loved, of him whose life
Though blameless, had incurred perpetual strife,
Whose deeds had left, in spite of hostile arts,
A deep memorial graven on their hearts;
The recollection like a vein of ore,
The farther traced enrich'd them still the more,
They thought him, and they justly thought him one
Sent to do more than he appear'd to have done,
T' exalt a people, and to place them high
Above all else, and wonder'd he should die.
E're yet they brought their journey to an end,
A stranger joined them, courteous as a friend,
And asked them with a kind engaging air,
What their affliction was, and begged a share.
Informed, he gather'd up the broken thread,
And truth and wisdom gracing all he said,
Explained, illustrated and searched so well
The tender theme on which they chose to dwell,
[Page 239] That reaching home, the night, they said, is near,
We must not now be parted, sojourn here—
The new acquaintance soon became a guest,
And made so welcome at their simple feast,
He blessed the bread, but vanish'd at the word,
And left them both exclaiming, 'twas the Lord!
Did not our hearts feel all he deigned to say,
Did they not burn within us by the way?
Now theirs was converse such as it behoves
Man to maintain, and such as God approves;
Their views indeed were indistinct and dim,
But yet successful being aimed at him.
Christ and his character their only scope,
Their object and their subject and their hope,
They felt what it became them much to feel,
And wanting him to loose the sacred seal,
Found him as prompt as their desire was true,
To spread the new-born glories in their view.
Well—what are ages and the lapse of time
Matched against truths as lasting as sublime?
[Page 240] Can length of years on God himself exact,
Or make that fiction which was once a fact?
No—marble and recording brass decay,
And like the graver's mem'ry pass away;
The works of man inherit, as is just,
Their authors frailty and return to dust;
But truth divine for ever stands secure,
Its head as guarded as its base is sure,
Fixt in the rolling flood of endless years
The pillar of th' eternal plan appears,
The raving storm and dashing wave defies,
Built by that architect who built the skies.
Hearts may be found that harbour at this hour,
That love of Christ in all its quick'ning pow'r,
And lips unstained by folly or by strife,
Whose wisdom drawn from the deep well of life,
Tastes of its healthful origin, and flows
A Jordan for th' ablution of our woes.
Oh days of heav'n and nights of equal praise,
Serene and peaceful as those heav'nly days,
[Page 241] When souls drawn upward in communion sweet,
Enjoy the stillness of some close retreat,
Discourse as if released and safe at home,
Of dangers past and wonders yet to come,
And spread the sacred treasures of the breast
Upon the lap of covenanted rest.
What always dreaming over heav'nly things,
Like angel-heads in stone with pigeon-wings?
Canting and whining out all day the word
And half the night? fanatic and absurd!
Mine be the friend less frequent in his pray'rs,
Who makes no bustle with his soul's affairs,
Whose wit can brighten up a wintry day,
And chase the splenetic dull hours away,
Content on earth in earthly things to shine,
Who waits for heav'n e'er he becomes divine,
Leaves saints t' enjoy those altitudes they teach,
And plucks the fruit plac'd more within his reach.
Well spoken, Advocate of sin and shame,
Known by thy bleating, Ignorance thy name.
[Page 242] Is sparkling wit the world's exclusive right,
The fixt fee-simple of the vain and light?
Can hopes of heav'n, bright prospects of an hour
That come to waft us out of sorrow's pow'r,
Obscure or quench a faculty that finds
Its happiest soil in the serenest minds?
Religion curbs indeed its wanton play,
And brings the trifler under rig'rous sway,
But gives it usefulness unknown before,
And purifying makes it shine the more.
A Christian's wit is inoffensive light,
A beam that aids but never grieves the sight,
Vig'rous in age as in the flush of youth,
'Tis always active on the side of truth,
Temp'rance and peace insure its healthful state,
And make it brightest at its latest date.
Oh I have seen (nor hope perhaps in vain
E'er life go down to see such sights again)
A vet'ran warrior in the Christian field,
Who never saw the sword he could not wield;
[Page 243] Grave without dullness, learned without pride,
Exact yet not precise, though meek, keen-eyed,
A man that would have foiled at their own play,
A dozen would-be's of the modern day:
Who when occasion justified its use,
Had wit as bright as ready, to produce,
Could fetch from records of an earlier age,
Or from philosophy's enlighten'd page
His rich materials, and regale your ear
With strains it was a privilege to hear;
Yet above all his luxury supreme,
And his chief glory was the gospel theme;
There he was copious as old Greece or Rome,
His happy eloquence seem'd there at home,
Ambitious, not to shine or to excel,
But to treat justly what he lov'd so well.
It moves me more perhaps than folly ought,
When some green heads as void of wit as thought,
Suppose themselves monopolists of sense,
And wiser men's ability pretence.
[Page 244] Though time will wear us, and we must grow old,
Such men are not forgot as soon as cold,
Their fragrant mem'ry will out last their tomb,
Embalmed for ever in its own perfume:
And to say truth, though in its early prime,
And when unstained with any grosser crime,
Youth has a sprightliness and fire to boast,
That in the valley of decline are lost,
And virtue with peculiar charms appears
Crown'd with the garland of life's blooming years;
Yet age by long experience well informed,
Well read, well temper'd, with religion warmed,
That fire abated which impells rash youth,
Proud of his speed to overshoot the truth,
As time improves the grape's authentic juice,
Mellows and makes the speech more fit for use,
And claims a rev'rence in its short'ning day,
That 'tis an honour and a joy to pay.
The fruits of age, less fair, are yet more sound,
Than those a brighter season pours around,
[Page 245] And like the stores autumnal suns mature,
Through wintry rigours unimpaired endure.
What is fanatic frenzy, scorned so much,
And dreaded more than a contagious touch?
I grant it dang'rous, and approve your fear,
That fire is catching if you draw too near,
But sage observers oft mistake the flame,
And give true piety that odious name.
To tremble (as the creature of an hour
Ought at the view of an almighty pow'r)
Before his presence, at whose awful throne
All tremble in all worlds, except our own,
To supplicate his mercy, love his ways,
And prize them above pleasure, wealth or praise,
Though common sense allowed a casting voice,
And free from bias, must approve the choice,
Convicts a man fanatic in th' extreme,
And wild as madness in the world's esteem.
But that disease when soberly defin'd
Is the false fire of an o'erheated mind,
[Page 246] It views the truth with a distorted eye,
And either warps or lays it useless by,
'Tis narrow, selfish, arrogant, and draws
Its sordid nourishment from man's applause,
And while at heart sin unrelinqush'd lies,
Presumes itself chief fav'rite of the skies.
'Tis such a light as putrefaction breeds
In fly-blown flesh, whereon the maggot feeds,
Shines in the dark, but usher'd into day,
The stench remains, the lustre dies away.
True bliss, if man may reach it, is composed
Of hearts in union mutually disclosed:
And, farewell else all hope of pure delight,
Those hearts should be reclaim'd, renew'd, upright.
Bad men, profaning friendship's hallow'd name,
Form, in its stead, a covenant of shame,
A dark confed'racy against the laws
Of virtue, and religion's glorious cause.
They build each other up with dreadful skill,
As bastions set point-blank against God's will,
[Page 247] Enlarge and fortify the dread redoubt,
Deeply resolv'd to shut a Saviour out,
Call legions up from hell to back the deed,
And curst with conquest, finally succeed:
But souls that carry on a blest exchange
Of joys they meet with in their heav'nly range,
And with a fearless confidence make known
The sorrows sympathy esteems its own,
Daily derive encreasing light and force
From such communion in their pleasant course,
Feel less the journey's roughness and its length,
Meet their opposers with united strength,
And one in heart, in int'rest and design,
Gird up each other to the race divine.
But Conversation, chuse what theme we may,
And chiefly when religion leads the way,
Should flow like waters after summer show'rs,
Not as if rais'd by mere mechanic pow'rs.
The Christian in whose soul, though now distress'd,
Lives the dear thought of joys he once possess'd,
[Page 248] When all his glowing language issued forth
With God's deep stamp upon its current worth,
Will speak without disguise, and must impart
Sad as it is, his undissembling heart,
Abhors constraint, and dares not feign a zeal,
Or seem to boast a fire he does not feel.
The song of Sion is a tasteless thing,
Unless when rising on a joyful wing
The soul can mix with the celestial bands,
And give the strain the compass it demands.
Strange tidings these to tell a world who treat
All but their own experience as deceit!
Will they believe, though credulous enough
To swallow much upon much weaker proof,
That there are blest inhabitants of earth,
Partakers of a new aethereal birth,
Their hopes, desires and purposes estranged
From things terrestrial, and divinely changed,
Their very language of a kind that speaks
The soul's sure int'rest in the good she seeks,
[Page 249] Who deal with scripture, its importance felt,
As Tully with philosophy once dealt,
And in the silent watches of the night,
And through the scenes of toil-renewing light,
The social walk, or solitary ride,
Keep still the dear companion at their side?
No—shame upon a self-disgracing age,
God's work may serve an ape upon a stage,
With such a jest as fill'd with hellish glee
Certain invisibles as shrewd as he,
But veneration or respect finds none,
Save from the subjects of that work alone.
The world grown old, her deep discernment shows,
Claps spectacles on her sagacious nose,
Peruses closely the true Christian's face,
And finds it a mere mask of sly grimace,
Usurps God's office, lays his bosom bare,
And finds hypocrisy close-lurking there,
And serving God herself through mere constraint,
Concludes his unfeign'd love of him, a feint.
[Page 250] And yet God knows, look human nature through,
(And in due time the world shall know it too)
That since the flow'rs of Eden selt the blast,
That after man's defection laid all waste,
Sincerity towards th' heart-searching God,
Has made the new-born creature her abode,
Nor shall be found in unregen'rate souls,
Till the last fire burn all between the poles.
Sincerity! Why 'tis his only pride,
Weak and imperfect in all grace beside,
He knows that God demands his heart entire,
And gives him all his just demands require.
Without it, his pretensions were as vain,
As having it, he deems the world's disdain;
That great defect would cost him not alone
Man's favourable judgment, but his own,
His birthright shaken and no longer clear,
Than while his conduct proves his heart sincere.
Retort the charge, and let the world be told
She boasts a confidence she does not hold,
[Page 251] That conscious of her crimes, she feels instead,
A cold misgiving, and a killing dread▪
That while in health, the ground of her support
Is madly to forget that life is short,
That fick, she trembles, knowing she must die,
Her hope presumption, and her faith a lie.
That while she doats and dreams that she believes,
She mocks her maker and herself deceives,
Her utmost reach, historical assent,
The doctrines warpt to what they never meant.
That truth itself is in her head as dull
And useless as a candle in a scull,
And all her love of God a groundless claim,
A trick upon the canvass, painted flame.
Tell her again, the sneer upon her face,
And all her censures of the work of grace,
Are insincere, meant only to conceal
A dread she would not, yet is forc'd to feel,
That in her heart the Christian she reveres,
And while she seems to scorn him, only fears.
[Page 252] A poet does not work by square or line,
As smiths and joiners perfect a design,
At least we moderns, our attention less,
Beyond th' example of our sires, digress,
And claim a right to scamper and run wide,
Wherever chance, caprice, or fancy guide.
The world and I fortuitously met,
I ow'd a trifle and have paid the debt,
She did me wrong, I recompens'd the deed,
And having struck the balance, now procecd.
Perhaps, however, as some years have pass'd
Since she and I conversed together last,
And I have liv'd recluse in rural shades,
Which seldom a distinct report pervades,
Great changes and new manners have occurr'd,
And blest reforms that I have never heard,
And she may now be as discreet and wise,
As once absurd in all discerning eyes.
Sobriety perhaps may now be found,
Where once intoxication press'd the ground,
[Page 253] The subtle and injurious may be just,
And he grown chaste that was the slave of lust;
Arts once esteem'd may be with shame dismiss'd,
Charity may relax the miser's fist,
The gamester may have cast his cards away,
Forgot to curse and only kneel to pray.
It has indeed been told me (with what weight,
How credibly, 'tis hard for me to state)
That fable's old that seem'd for ever mute,
Reviv'd, are hast'ning into fresh repute,
And gods and goddesses discarded long,
Like useless lumber or a stroller's fong,
Are bringing into vogue their heathen train,
And Jupiter bids fair to rule again.
That certain feasts are instituted now,
Where Venus hears the lover's tender vow,
That all Olympus through the country roves,
To consecrate our few remaining groves,
And echo learns politely to repeat,
The praise of names for ages obsolete,
[Page 254] That having proved the weakness, it should seem,
Of revelation's ineffectual beam,
To bring the passions under sober sway,
And give the moral springs their proper play,
They mean to try what may at last be done
By stout substantial gods of wood and stone,
And whether Roman rites may not produce
The virtues of old Rome for English use.
May much success attend the pious plan,
May Mercury once more embellish man,
Grace him again with long forgotten arts,
Reclaim his taste and brighten up his parts,
Make him athletic as in days of old,
Learn'd at the bar, in the paloestra bold,
Divest the rougher sex of female airs,
And teach the softer not to copy theirs.
The change shall please, nor shall it matter aught
Who works the wonder if it be but wrought.
'Tis time, hoewever, if the case stand thus,
For us plain folks and all who side with us,
[Page 255] To build our altar, confident and bold,
And say as stern Elijah said of old,
The strife now stands upon a fair award,
If Is'rael's Lord be God, then serve the Lord—
If he be silent, faith is all a whim,
Then Baal is the God and worship him.
Digression is so much in modern use,
Thought is so rare, and fancy so profuse,
Some never seem so wide of their intent,
As when returning to the theme they meant.
As mendicants whose business is to roam,
Make ev'ry parish but their own, their home
Though such continual zigzags in a book,
Such drunken reelings have an aukward look,
And I had rather creep to what is true,
Than rove and stagger with no mark in view,
Yet to consult a little, seem'd no crime,
The freakish humour of the present time.
But now, to gather up what seems dispers'd,
And touch the subject I design'd at first,
[Page 256] May prove, though much beside the rules of art,
Best for the public, and my wisest part.
And first let no man charge me that I mean
To cloath in sables every social scene,
And give good company a face severe
As if they met around a father's bier;
For tell some men that pleasure all their bent,
And laughter all their work, is life mispent,
Their wisdom bursts into this sage reply,
Then mirth is sin, and we should always cry.
To find the medium asks some share of wit,
And therefore 'tis a mark fools never hit.
But though life's valley be a vale of tears,
A brighter scene beyond that vale appears,
Whose glory with a light that never fades,
Shoots between scattered rocks and opening shades,
And while it shows the land the soul desires,
The language of the land she seeks, inspires.
Thus touched, the tongue receives a sacred cure
Of all that was absurd, profane, impure,
[Page 257] Held within modest bounds the tide of speech
Pursues the course that truth and nature teach,
No longer labours merely to produce
The pomp of sound, or tinkle without use,
Where'er it winds, the salutary stream
Sprightly and fresh, enriches ev'ry theme,
While all the happy man possess'd before,
The gift of nature or the classic store,
Is made subservient to the grand design
For which heav'n form'd the faculty divine.
So should an ideot while at large he strays,
Find the sweet lyre on which an artist plays,
With rash and aukward force the chords he shakes,
And grins with wonder at the jar he makes;
But let the wise and well-instructed hand,
Once take the shell beneath his just command,
In gentle sounds it seems as it complained
Of the rude injuries it late sustained,
'Till tun'd at length to some immortal song,
It sounds Jehovah's name, and pours his praise along.

RETIREMENT.

‘—studiis florens ignobilis oti. VIRG. GEOR. LIB. 4.
HACKNEY'D in business, wearied at that oar
Which thousands once fast chain'd to, quit no more,
But which when life at ebb runs weak and low,
All wish, or seem to wish they could forego,
The statesman, lawyer, merchant, man of trade,
Pants for the refuge of some rural shade,
Where all his long anxieties forgot
Amid the charms of a sequester'd spot,
[Page 259] Or recollected only to gild o'er
And add a smile to what was sweet before,
He may possess the joys he thinks he sees,
Lay his old age upon the lap of ease,
Improve the remnant of his wasted span,
And having liv'd a trifler, die a man.
Thus conscience pleads her cause within the breast,
Though long rebell'd against, not yet suppress'd,
And calls a creature formed for God alone,
For heaven's high purposes and not his own,
Calls him away from selfish ends and aims,
From what debilitates and what inflames,
From cities humming with a restless crowd,
Sordid as active, ignorant as loud,
Whose highest praise is that they live in vain,
The dupes of pleasure, or the slaves of gain,
Where works of man are cluster'd close around,
And works of God are hardly to be found,
To regions where in spite of sin and woe,
Traces of Eden are still seen below,
[Page 260] Where mountain, river, forest, field and grove,
Remind him of his Maker's pow'r and love.
'Tis well if look'd for at so late a day,
In the last scene of such a senseless play,
True wisdom will attend his feeble call,
And grace his action e'er the curtain fall.
Souls that have long despised their heav'nly birth,
Their wishes all impregnated with earth,
For threescore years employed with ceaseless care,
In catching smoke and feeding upon air,
Conversant only with the ways of men,
Rarely redeem the short remaining ten.
Invet'rate habits choak th' unfruitful heart,
Their fibres penetrate its tend'rest part,
And draining its nutritious pow'rs to feed
Their noxious growth, starve ev'ry better seed.
Happy if full of days—but happier far
If e'er we yet discern life's evening star,
Sick of the service of a world that feeds
Its patient drudges with dry chaff and weeds,
[Page 261] We can escape from custom's ideot sway,
To serve the sov'reign we were born t' obey.
Then sweet to muse upon his skill display'd
(Infinite skill) in all that he has made!
To trace in nature's most minute design,
The signature and stamp of pow'r divine,
Contrivance intricate express'd with ease
Where unassisted sight no beauty sees,
The shapely limb and lubricated joint,
Within the small dimensions of a point,
Muscle and nerve miraculously spun,
His mighty work who speaks and it is done,
Th' invisible in things scarce seen reveal'd,
To whom an atom is an ample field.
To wonder at a thousand insect forms,
These hatch'd, and those resuscitated worms,
New life ordain'd and brighter scenes to share,
Once prone on earth, now buoyant upon air,
Whose shape would make them, had they bulk and size,
More hideous foes than fancy can devise,
[Page 262] With helmed heads and dragon scales adorn'd,
The mighty myriads, now securely scorn'd,
Would mock the majesty of man's high birth,
Despise his bulwarks and unpeople earth.
Then with a glance of fancy to survey,
Far as the faculty can stretch away,
Ten thousand rivers poured at his command
From urns that never fail through ev'ry land,
These like a deluge with impetuous force,
Those winding modestly a silent course,
The cloud-surmounting alps, the fruitful vales,
Seas on which ev'ry nation spreads her sails,
The sun, a world whence other worlds drink light,
The crescent moon, the diadem of night,
Stars countless, each in his appointed place,
Fast-anchor'd in the deep abyss of space—
At such a sight to catch the poet's flame,
And with a rapture like his own exclaim,
These are thy glorious works, thou source of good,
How dimly seen, how faintly understood!—
[Page 263] Thine, and upheld by thy paternal care,
This universal frame, thus wond'rous fair;
Thy pow'r divine and bounty beyond thought,
Ador'd and prais'd in all that thou hast wrought.
Absorbed in that immensity I see,
I shrink abased, and yet aspire to thee;
Instruct me, guide me to that heav'nly day,
Thy words, more clearly than thy works display,
That while thy truths my grosser thoughts refine,
I may resemble thee and call thee mine.
Oh blest proficiency! surpassing all
That men erroneously their glory call,
The recompence that arts or arms can yield,
The bar, the senate or the tented field.
Compar'd with this sublimest life below,
Ye kings and rulers what have courts to show?
Thus studied, used and consecrated thus,
Whatever is, seems form'd indeed for us,
Not as the plaything of a froward child,
Fretful unless diverted and beguiled,
[Page 264] Much less to feed and fan the fatal fires
Of pride, ambition or impure desires,
But as a scale by which the soul ascends
From mighty means to more important ends,
Securely, though by steps but rarely trod,
Mounts from inferior beings up to God,
And sees by no fallacious light or dim,
Earth made for man, and man himself for him.
Not that I mean t' approve, or would inforce
A superstitious and monastic course:
Truth is not local, God alike pervades
And fills the world of traffic and the shades,
And may be fear'd amid the busiest scenes,
Or scorn'd where business never intervenes.
But 'tis not easy with a mind like ours,
Conscious of weakness in its noblest pow'rs,
And in a world where (other ills apart)
The roving eye misleads the careless heart,
To limit thought, by nature prone to stray
Wherever freakish fancy points the way,
[Page 265] To bid the pleadings of self-love be still,
Resign our own and seek our maker's will,
To spread the page of scripture, and compare
Our conduct with the laws engraven there,
To measure all that passes in the breast,
Faithfully, fairly, by that sacred test,
To dive into the secret deeps within,
To spare no passion and no fav'rite sin,
And search the themes important above all,
Ourselves and our recov'ry from our fall.
But leisure, silence, and a mind releas'd
From anxious thoughts how wealth may be encreas'd,
How to secure in some propitious hour,
The point of int'rest or the post of power,
A soul serene, and equally retired,
From objects too much dreaded or desired,
Safe from the clamours of perverse dispute,
At least are friendly to the great pursuit.
Op'ning the map of God's extensive plan,
We find a little isle, this life of man,
[Page 266] Eternity's unknown expanse appears
Circling around and limiting his years;
The busy race examine and explore
Each creek and cavern of the dang'rous shore,
With care collect what in their eyes excells,
Some, shining pebbles, and some, weeds and shells,
Thus laden dream that they are rich and great,
And happiest he that groans beneath his weight;
The waves o'ertake them in their serious play,
And ev'ry hour sweep multitudes away,
They shriek and sink, survivors start and weep,
Pursue their sport, and follow to the deep;
A few forsake the throng, with lifted eyes
Ask wealth of heav'n, and gain a real prize,
Truth, wisdom, grace, and peace like that above,
Seal'd with his signet whom they serve and love;
Scorn'd by the rest, with patient hope they wait
A kind release from their imperfect state,
And unregretted are soon snatch'd away
From scenes of sorrow into glorious day.
[Page 267] Nor these alone prefer a life recluse,
Who seek retirement for its proper use,
The love of change that lives in ev'ry breast,
Genius, and temper, and desire of rest,
Discordant motives in one center meet,
And each inclines it's vot'ry to retreat.
Some minds by nature are averse to noise.
And hate the tumult half the world enjoys,
The lure of av'rice, or the pompous prize
That courts display before ambitious eyes,
The fruits that hang on pleasure's flow'ry stem,
Whate'er enchants them are no snares to them.
To them the deep recess of dusky groves,
Or forest where the deer securely roves,
The fall of waters and the song of birds,
And hills that echo to the distant herds,
Are luxuries excelling all the glare
The world can boast, and her chief fav'rites share.
With eager step and carelessly array'd,
For such a cause the poet seeks the shade,
[Page 268] From all he sees he catches new delight,
Pleas'd fancy claps her pinions at the sight,
The rising or the setting orb of day,
The clouds that flit, or slowly float away,
Nature in all the various shapes she wears,
Frowning in storms, or breathing gentle airs,
The snowy robe her wintry state assumes,
Her summer heats, her fruits, and her perfumes,
All, all alike transport the glowing bard,
Success in rhime his glory and reward.
Oh nature! whose Elysian scenes disclose
His bright perfections at whose word they rose,
Next to that pow'r who form'd thee and sustains,
Be thou the great inspirer of my strains.
Still as I touch the lyre, do thou expand
Thy genuine charms, and guide an artless hand,
That I may catch a fire but rarely known,
Give useful light though I should miss renown,
And poring on thy page, whose ev'ry line
Bears proof of an intelligence divine,
[Page 269] May feel an heart enrich'd by what it pays,
That builds its glory on its Maker's praise.
Woe to the man whose wit disclaims its use,
Glitt'ring in vain, or only to seduce,
Who studies nature with a wanton eye,
Admires the work, but slips the lesson by,
His hours of leisure and recess employs,
In drawing pictures of forbidden joys,
Retires to blazon his own worthless name,
Or shoot the careless with a surer aim.
The lover too shuns business and alarms,
Tender idolator of absent charms.
Saints offer nothing in their warmest prayr's,
That he devotes not with a zeal like theirs;
'Tis consecration of his heart, soul, time,
And every thought that wanders is a crime.
In sighs he worships his supremely fair,
And weeps a sad libation in despair,
Adores a creature, and devout in vain,
Wins in return an answer of disdain.
[Page 270] As woodbine weds the plants within her reach,
Rough elm, or smooth-grain'd ash, or glossy beech,
In spiral rings ascends the trunk, and lays
Her golden tassels on the leafy sprays,
But does a mischief while she lends a grace,
Streight'ning its growth by such a strict embrace,
So love that clings around the noblest minds,
Forbids th' advancement of the soul he binds,
The suitor's air indeed he soon improves,
And forms it to the taste of her he loves,
Teaches his eyes a language, and no less
Refines his speech and fashions his address;
But farewell promises of happier fruits,
Manly designs, and learning's grave pursuits,
Girt with a chain he cannot wish to break,
His only-bliss is sorrow for her sake,
Who will may pant for glory and excell,
Her smile his aim, all higher aims farewell!
Thyrsis, Alexis, or whatever name
May least offend against so pure a flame,
[Page 271] Though sage advice of friends the most sincere,
Sounds harshly in so delicate an ear,
And lovers of all creatures, tame or wild,
Can least brook management, however mild,
Yet let a poet (poetry disarms
The fiercest animals with magic charms)
Risque an intrusion on thy pensive mood,
And wooe and win thee to thy proper good.
Pastoral images and still retreats,
Umbrageous walks and solitary seats,
Sweet birds in concert with harmonious streams,
Soft airs, nocturnal vigils, and day-dreams,
Are all enchantments in a case like thine▪
Conspire against thy peace with one design,
Sooth thee to make thee but a surer prey,
And feed the fire that wastes thy pow'rs away.
Up—God has formed thee with a wiser view,
Not to be led in chains, but to subdue,
Calls thee to cope with enemies, and first
Points out a conflict with thyself, the worst.
[Page 272] Woman indeed, a gift he would bestow
When he design'd a paradise below,
The richest earthly boon his hands afford,
Deserves to be belov'd, but not ador'd.
Post away swiftly to more active scenes,
Collect the scatter'd truths that study gleans,
Mix with the world, but with its wiser part,
No longer give an image all thine heart,
Its empire is not her's, nor is it thine,
'Tis God's just claim, prerogative divine.
Virtuous and faithful HEBERDEN! whose skill
Attempts no task it cannot well fulfill,
Gives melancholy up to nature's care,
And sends the patient into purer air.
Look where he comes—in this embower'd alcove,
Stand close conceal'd, and see a statue move:
Lips busy, and eyes fixt, foot falling slow,
Arms hanging idly down, hands clasp'd below,
Interpret to the marking eye, distress,
Such as its symptoms can alone express.
[Page 273] That tongue is silent now, that silent tongue
Could argue once, could jest or joint the song,
Could give advice, could censure or commend,
Or charm the sorrows of a drooping friend.
Renounced alike its office and its sport,
Its brisker and its graver strains fall short,
Both fail beneath a fever's secret sway,
And like a summer-brook are past away.
This is a sight for pity to peruse
'Till she resemble faintly what she views,
'Till sympathy contract a kindred pain,
Pierced with the woes that she laments in vain.
This of all maladies that man infest,
Claims most compassion and receives the least,
Job felt it when he groan'd beneath the rod,
And the barbed arrows of a frowning God,
And such emollients as his friends could spare,
Friends such as his for modern Jobs prepare.
Blest, (rather curst) with hearts that never feel,
Kept snug in caskets of close-hammer'd steel,
[Page 274] With mouths made only to grin wide and eat,
And minds that deem derided pain, a treat,
With limbs of British oak and nerves of wire,
And wit that puppet-prompters might inspire,
Their sov'reign nostrum is a clumsy joke,
On pangs inforc'd with God's severest stroke.
But with a soul that ever felt the sting
Of sorrow, sorrow is a sacred thing,
Not to molest, or irritate, or raise
A laugh at its expence, is slender praise;
He that has not usurp'd the name of man.
Does all, and deems too little, all he can,
T' assuage the throbbings of the sester'd part,
And staunch the bleedings of a broken heart;
'Tis not as heads that never ach suppose,
Forg'ry of fancy and a dream of woes,
Man is an harp whose chords elude the sight,
Each yielding harmony, disposed aright,
The screws revers'd (a task which if he please
God in a moment executes with ease)
[Page 275] Ten thousand thousand strings at once go loose,
Lost, 'till he tune them, all their pow'r and use.
Then neither heathy wilds, nor scenes as fair
As ever recompensed the peasant's care,
Nor soft declivities with tufted hills,
Nor view of waters turning busy mills,
Parks in which art preceptress nature weds,
Nor gardens interspers'd with flow'ry beds,
Nor gales that catch the scent of blooming groves,
And waft it to the mourner as he roves,
Can call up life into his faded eye,
That passes all he sees unheeded by:
No wounds like those a wounded spirit feels,
No cure for such, 'till God who makes them, heals.
And thou sad suff'rer under nameless ill,
That yields not to the touch of human skill,
Improve the kind occasion, understand
A father's frown, and kiss his chast'ning hand:
To thee the day-spring and the blaze of noon,
The purple evening and resplendent moon,
[Page 276] The stars that sprinkled o'er the vault of night
Seem drops descending in a show'r of light,
Shine not, or undesired and hated shine,
Seen through the medium of a cloud like thine:
Yet seek him, in his favour life is found,
All bliss beside, a shadow or a sound:
Then heav'n eclipsed so long, and this dull earth
Shall seem to start into a second birth,
Nature assuming a more lovely face,
Borrowing a beauty from the works of grace,
Shall be despised and overlook'd no more,
Shall fill thee with delights unfelt before,
Impart to things inanimate a voice,
And bid her mountains and her hills rejoice,
The sound shall run along the winding vales,
And thou enjoy an Eden e'er it fails.
Ye groves (the statesman at his desk exclaims
Sick of a thousand disappointed aims)
My patrimonial treasure and my pride,
Beneath your shades your gray possessor hide,
[Page 277] Receive me languishing for that repose
The servant of the public never knows.
Ye saw me once (ah those regretted days
When boyish innocence was all my praise)
Hour after hour delightfully allot
To studies then familiar, since forgot,
And cultivate a taste for antient song,
Catching its ardour as I mused along;
Nor seldom, as propitious heav'n might send,
What once I valued and could boast, a friend,
Were witnesses how cordially I press'd
His undissembling virtue to my breast;
Receive me now, not uncorrupt as then,
Nor guiltless of corrupting other men,
But vers'd in arts that while they seem to stay
A falling empire, hasten its decay.
To the fair haven of my native home,
The wreck of what I was, fatigued I come,
For once I can approve the patriot's voice,
And make the course he recommends, my choice,
[Page 278] We meet at last in one sincere desire,
His wish and mine both prompt me to retire.
'Tis done—he steps into the welcome chaise,
Lolls at his ease behind four handsome bays,
That whirl away from bus'ness and debate,
The disincumber'd Atlas of the state.
Ask not the boy, who when the breeze of morn
First shakes the glitt'ring drops from ev'ry thorn,
Unfolds his flock, then under bank or bush
Sits linking cherry stones or platting rush,
How fair is freedom?—he was always free—
To carve his rustic name upon a tree,
To snare the mole, or with ill-fashion'd hook
To draw th' incautious minnow from the brook,
Are life's prime pleasures in his simple view,
His flock the chief concern he ever knew:
She shines but little in his heedless eyes,
The good we never miss, we rarely prize.
But ask the noble drudge in state-affairs,
Escap'd from office and its constant cares,
[Page 279] What charms he sees in freedom's smile express'd,
In freedom lost so long, now repossess'd,
The tongue whose strains were cogent as commands,
Revered at home, and felt in foreign lands,
Shall own itself a stamm'rer in that cause,
Or plead its silence as its best applause.
He knows indeed that whether dress'd or rude,
Wild without art, or artfully subdued,
Nature in ev'ry form inspires delight,
But never mark'd her with so just a sight.
Her hedge row shrubs, a variegated store,
With woodbine and wild roses mantled o'er,
Green baulks and furrow'd lands, the stream that spreads
Its cooling vapour o'er the dewy meads,
Downs that almost escape th' enquiring eye,
That melt and fade into the distant skie,
Beauties he lately slighted as he pass'd,
Seem all created since he travell'd last.
Master of all th' enjoyments he design'd,
No rough annoyance rankling in his mind,
[Page 280] What early philosophic hours he keeps,
How regular his meals, how sound he sleeps!
Not sounder he that on the mainmast head,
While morning kindles with a windy red,
Begins a long look-out for distant land,
Nor quits till evening-watch his giddy stand,
Then swift descending with a seaman's haste,
Slips to his hammock, and forgets the blast.
He chuses company, but not the squire's,
Whose wit is rudeness, whose good breeding tires;
Nor yet the parson's, who would gladly come,
Obsequious when abroad, though proud at home,
Nor can he much affect the neighb'ring peer,
Whose toe of emulation treads too near,
But wisely seeks a more convenient friend,
With whom, dismissing forms, he may unbend,
A man whom marks of condescending grace
Teach, while they flatter him, his proper place,
Who comes when call'd, and at a word withdraws,
Speaks with reserve, and listens with applause,
[Page 281] Some plain mechanic, who without pretence
To birth or wit, nor gives nor takes offence,
On whom he rests well pleas'd his weary pow'rs,
And talks and laughs away his vacant hours.
The tide of life, swift always in its course,
May run in cities with a brisker force,
But no where with a current so serene,
Or half so clear as in the rural scene.
Yet how fallacious is all earthly bliss,
What obvious truths the wisest heads may miss;
Some pleasures live a month, and some a year,
But short the date of all we gather here,
Nor happiness is felt, except the true,
That does not charm the more for being new.
This observation, as it chanced, not made,
Or if the thought occurr'd, not duely weigh'd,
He sighs—for after all, by slow degrees,
The spot he loved has lost the pow'r to please;
To cross his ambling poney day by day,
Seems at the best, but dreaming life away,
[Page 282] The prospect, such as might enchant despair,
He views it not, or sees no beauty there,
With aching heart and discontented looks,
Returns at noon, to billiards or to books,
But feels while grasping at his faded joys,
A secret thirst of his renounced employs,
He chides the tardiness of every post,
Pants to be told of battles won or lost,
Blames his own indolence, observes, though late,
'Tis criminal to leave a sinking state,
Flies to the levee, and receiv'd with grace,
Kneels, kisses hands, and shines again in place.
Suburban villas, highway-side retreats,
That dread th' encroachment of our growing streets,
Tight boxes, neatly sash'd, and in a blaze
With all a July sun's collected rays,
Delight the citizen, who gasping there
Breathes clouds of dust and calls it country air.
Oh sweet retirement, who would baulk the thought,
That could afford retirement, or could not?
[Page 283] 'Tis such an easy walk, so smooth and strait,
The second milestone fronts the garden gate,
A step if fair, and if a show'r approach,
You find safe shelter in the next stage-coach.
There prison'd in a parlour snug and small,
Like bottled wasps upon a southern wall,
The man of bus'ness and his friends compress'd,
Forget their labours, and yet find no rest;
But still 'tis rural—trees are to be seen
From ev'ry window, and the fields are green,
Ducks paddle in the pond before the door,
And what could a remoter scene show more?
A sense of elegance we rarely find
The portion of a mean or vulgar mind,
And ignorance of better things, makes man
Who cannot much, rejoice in what he can;
And he that deems his leisure well bestow'd
In contemplations of a turnpike road,
Is occupied as well, employs his hours
As wisely, and as much improves his pow'rs,
[Page 284] As he that slumbers in pavilion's graced
With all the charms of an accomplish'd taste.
Yet hence alas! Insolvencies, and hence
Th' unpitied victim of ill-judg'd expence,
From all his wearisome engagements freed,
Shakes hands with bus'ness, and retires indeed.
Your prudent grand mammas ye modern belles,
Content with Bristol, Bath, and Tunbridge-wells,
When health requir'd it would consent to roam,
Else more attach'd to pleasures found at home.
But now alike, gay widow, virgin, wife,
Ingenious to diversify dull life,
In coaches, chaises, caravans and hoys,
Fly to the coast for daily, nightly joys,
And all impatient of dry land, agree
With one consent to rush into the sea.—
Ocean exhibits, fathomless and broad,
Much of the pow'r and majesty of God.
He swathes about the swelling of the deep,
That shines and rests, as infants smile and sleep,
[Page 285] Vast as it is, it answers as it flows
The breathings of the lightest air that blows,
Curling and whit'ning over all the waste,
The rising waves obey th' increasing blast,
Abrupt and horrid as the tempest roars,
Thunder and flash upon the stedfast shores,
'Till he that rides the whirlwind, checks the rein,
Then, all the world of waters sleeps again.—
Nereids or Dryads, as the fashion leads,
Now in the floods, now panting in the meads,
Vot'ries of pleasure still, where'er she dwells,
Near barren rocks, in palaces or cells,
Oh grant a poet leave to recommend,
(A poet fond of nature and your friend)
Her slighted works to your admiring view,
Her works must needs excel, who fashion'd you.
Would ye, when rambling in your morning ride,
With some unmeaning coxcomb at your side,
Condemn the prattler for his idle pains,
To waste unheard the music of his strains,
[Page 286] And deaf to all the impertinence of tongue,
That while it courts, affronts and does you wrong.
Mark well the finish'd plan without a fault,
The seas globose and huge, th' o'erarching vault,
Earth's millions daily fed, a world employ'd
In gath'ring plenty yet to be enjoy'd,
'Till gratitude grew vocal in the praise
Of God, beneficent in all his ways,
Grac'd with such wisdom how would beauty shine?
Ye want but that to seem indeed divine.
Anticipated rents and bills unpaid,
Force many a shining youth into the shade,
Not to redeem his time but his estate,
And play the fool, but at a cheaper rate.
There hid in loath'd obscurity, remov'd
From pleasures left, but never more belov'd,
He just endures, and with a sickly spleen
Sighs o'er the beauties of the charming scene.
Nature indeed looks prettily in rhime,
Streams tinkle sweetly in poetic chime,
[Page 287] The warblings of the black-bird, clear and strong,
Are musical enough in Thomson's song,
And Cobham's groves and Windsor's green retreats,
When Pope describes them, have a thousand sweets,
He likes the country, but in truth must own,
Most likes it, when he studies it in town.
Poor Jack—no matter who—for when I blame
I pity, and must therefore sink the name,
Liv'd in his saddle, lov'd the chace, the course,
And always, e'er he mounted, kiss'd his horse.
Th' estate his sires had own'd in antient years,
Was quickly distanc'd, match'd against a peer's.
Jack vanish'd, was regretted and forgot,
'Tis wild good-nature's never-failing lot.
At length, when all had long suppos'd him dead,
By cold submersion, razor, rope or lead,
My lord, alighting at his usual place,
The crown, took notice of an ostler's face.
Jack knew his friend, but hop'd in that disguise
He might escape the most observing eyes,
[Page 288] And whistling as if unconcern'd and gay,
Curried his nag and look'd another way.
Convinc'd at last upon a nearer view,
'Twas he, the same, the very Jack he knew,
O'erwhelm'd at once with wonder, grief and joy,
He press'd him much to quit his base employ,
His countenance, his purse, his heart, his hand,
Infl'ence and pow'r were all at his command.
Peers are not always gen'rous as well-bred,
But Granby was, meant truly what he said.
Jack bow'd and was oblig'd—confess'd 'twas strange
That so retir'd he should not wish a change,
But knew no medium between guzzling beer,
And his old stint, three thousand pounds a year.
Thus some retire to nourish hopeless woe,
Some seeking happiness not found below,
Some to comply with humour, and a mind
To social scenes by nature disinclin'd,
Some sway'd by fashion, some by deep disgust,
Some self-impoverish'd, and because they must,
[Page 289] But few that court Retirement, are aware
Of half the toils they must encounter there.
Lucrative offices are seldom lost
For want of pow'rs proportion'd to the post:
Give ev'n a dunce th' employment he desires,
And he soon finds the talents it requires;
A business with an income at its heels,
Furnishes always oil for its own wheels.
But in his arduous enterprize to close
His active years with indolent repose,
He finds the labours of that state exceed
His utmost faculties, severe indeed.
'Tis easy to resign a toilsome place,
But not to manage leisure with a grace,
Absence of occupation is not rest,
A mind quite vacant is a mind distress'd.
The vet'ran steed excused his task at length,
In kind compassion of his failing strength,
And turn'd into the park or mead to graze,
Exempt from future service all his days,
[Page 290] There feels a pleasure perfect in its kind,
Ranges at liberty, and snuffs the wind.
But when his lord would quit the busy road,
To taste a joy like that he has bestow'd,
He proves, less happy than his favour'd brute,
A life of ease a difficult pursuit.
Thought, to the man that never thinks, may seem
As natural, as when asleep, to dream,
But reveries (for human minds will act)
Specious in show, impossible in fact,
Those flimsy webs that break as soon as wrought,
Attain not to the dignity of thought.
Nor yet the swarms that occupy the brain
Where dreams of dress, intrigue, and pleasure reign,
Nor such as useless conversation breeds,
Or lust engenders, and indulgence feeds.
Whence, and what are we? to what end ordain'd?
What means the drama by the world sustain'd?
Business or vain amusement, care or mirth,
Divide the frail inhabitants of earth,
[Page 291] Is duty a mere sport, or an employ?
Life an intrusted talent, or a toy?
Is there as reason, conscience, scripture say,
Cause to provide for a great future day,
When earth's assign'd duration at an end,
Man shall be summon'd and the dead attend?
The trumpet—will it sound? the curtain rise?
And show th' august tribunal of the skies,
Where no prevarication shall avail,
Where eloquence and artifice shall fail,
The pride of arrogant distinctions fall,
And conscience and our conduct judge us all?
Pardon me, ye that give the midnight oil,
To learned cares or philosophic toil,
Though I revere your honourable names,
Your useful labors and important aims,
And hold the world indebted to your aid,
Enrich'd with the discoveries ye have made,
Yet let me stand excused, if I esteem
A mind employ'd on so sublime a theme,
[Page 292] Pushing her bold enquiry to the date
And outline of the present transient state,
And after poising her advent'rous wings,
Settling at last upon eternal things,
Far more intelligent, and better taught
The strenuous use of profitable thought,
Than ye when happiest, and enlighten'd most,
And highest in renown, can justly boast.
A mind unnerv'd, or indispos'd to bear
The weight of subjects worthiest of her care,
Whatever hopes a change of scene inspires,
Must change her nature, or in vain retires.
An idler is a watch that wants both hands,
As useless if it goes as when it stands.
Books therefore, not the scandal of the shelves,
In which lewd sensualists print out themselves,
Nor those in which the stage gives vice a blow,
With what success, let modern manners show,
Nor his, who for the bane of thousands born,
Built God a church and laugh'd his word to scorn,
[Page 293] Skilful alike to seem devout and just,
And stab religion with a sly side-thrust;
Nor those of learn'd philologists, who chase
A panting syllable through time and space,
Start it at home, and hunt it in the dark,
To Gaul, to Greece, and into Noah's ark;
But such as learning without false pretence,
The friend of truth, th' associate of sound sense,
And such as in the zeal of good design,
Strong judgment lab'ring in rhe scripture mine,
All such as manly and great souls produce,
Worthy to live, and of eternal use;
Behold in these what leisure hours demand,
Amusement and true knowledge hand in hand.
Luxury gives the mind a childish cast,
And while she polishes, perverts the taste,
Habits of close attention, thinking heads,
Become more rare as dissipation spreads,
'Till authors hear at length, one gen'ral cry,
Tickle and entertain us, or we die.
[Page 294] The loud demand from year to year the same,
Beggars invention and makes fancy lame,
'Till farce itself most mournfully jejune,
Calls for the kind assistance of a tune,
And novels (witness ev'ry month's review)
Belie their name and offer nothing new.
The mind relaxing into needfull sport,
Should turn to writers of an abler sort,
Whose wit well manag'd, and whose classic stile,
Give truth a lustre, and make wisdom smile.
Friends (for I cannot stint as some have done
Too rigid in my view, that name to one,
Though one, I grant it in th' gen'rous breast
Will stand advanc'd a step above the rest,
Flow'rs by that name promiscuously we call,
But one, the rose, the regent of them all)
Friends, not adopted with a school-boy's haste,
But chosen with a nice discerning taste,
Well-born, well-disciplin'd, who plac'd a-part
From vulgar minds, have honour much at heart,
[Page 295] And (tho' the world may think th' ingredients odd)
The love of virtue, and the fear of God!
Such friends prevent what else wou'd soon succeed,
A temper rustic as the life we lead,
And keep the polish of the manners clean,
As their's who bustle in the busiest scene▪
For solitude, however some may rave,
Seeming a sanctuary, proves a grave,
A sepulchre in which the living lie,
Where all good qualities grow sick and die.
I praise the * Frenchman, his remark was shrew'd—
How sweet, how passing sweet is solitude!
But grant me still a friend in my retreat,
Whom I may whisper, solitude is sweet.
Yet neither these delights, nor aught beside
That appetite can ask, or wealth provide,
Can save us always from a tedious day,
Or shine the dullness of still life away;
Divine communion carefully enjoy'd,
Or sought with energy, must fill the void.
[Page 296] Oh sacred art, to which alone life owes
Its happiest seasons, and a peaceful close,
Scorn'd in a world, indebted to that scorn
For evils daily felt and hardly borne,
Not knowing thee, we reap with bleeding hands,
Flow'rs of rank odor upon thorny lands,
And while experience cautions us in vain,
Grasp seeming happiness, and find it pain.
Despondence, self-deserted in her grief,
Lost by abandoning her own relief,
Murmuring and ungrateful discontent,
That scorns afflictions mercifully meant,
Those humours tart as wines upon the fret,
Which idleness and weariness beget,
These and a thousand plagues that haunt the breast
Fond of the phantom of an earthly rest,
Divine communion chases as the day
Drives to their dens th' obedient beasts of prey.
See Judah's promised king, bereft of all,
Driv'n out an exile from the face of Saul,
[Page 297] To distant caves the lonely wand'rer flies,
To seek that peace a tyrant's frown denies.
Hear the sweet accents of his tuneful voice,
Hear him o'erwhelm'd with sorrow, yet rejoice,
No womanish or wailing grief has part,
No, not a moment, in his royal heart,
Tis manly music, such as martyrs make,
Suff'ring with gladness for a Saviour's sake;
His soul exults, hope animates his lays,
The sense of mercy kindles into praise,
And wilds familiar with the lion's roar,
Ring with extatic sounds unheard before;
'Tis love like his that can alone defeat
The foes of man, or make a desart sweet.
Religion does not censure or exclude
Unnumber'd pleasures harmlessly pursued.
To study culture, and with artful toil
To meliorate and tame the stubborn soil,
To give dissimilar yet fruitful lands
The grain or herb or plant that each demands,
[Page 298] To cherish virtue in an humble state,
And share the joys your bounty may create,
To mark the matchless workings of the pow'r
That shuts within its seed the future flow'r,
Bids these in elegance of form excell,
In colour these, and those delight the smell,
Sends nature forth, the daughter of the skies,
To dance on earth, and charm all human eyes;
To teach the canvass innocent deceit,
Or lay the landscape on the snowy sheet,
These, these are arts pursued without a crime,
That leave no stain upon the wing of time.
Me poetry (or rather notes that aim
Feebly and vainly at poetic fame)
Employs, shut out from more important views,
Fast by the banks of the slow-winding Ouse,
Content, if thus sequester'd I may raise
A monitor's, though not a poet's praise,
And while I teach an art too little known,
To close life wisely, may not waste my own.

THE DOVES.

1
REAS'NING at every step he treads,
Man yet mistakes his way,
While meaner things whom instinct leads
Are rarely known to stray.
2.
One silent eve I wander'd late,
And heard the voice of love,
The turtle thus address'd her mate,
And sooth'd the list'ning dove.
3.
Our mutual bond of faith and truth,
No time shall disengage,
Those blessings of our early youth,
Shall cheer our latest age.
4.
While innocence without disguise,
And constancy sincere,
Shall fill the circles of those eyes,
And mine can read them there,
5.
Those ills that wait on all below,
Shall ne'er be felt by me,
Or gently felt, and only so,
As being shared with thee.
6.
When light'nings flash among the trees,
Or kites are hov'ring near,
I fear lest thee alone they seize,
And know no other fear.
7.
'Tis then I feel myself a wife,
And press thy wedded side,
Resolv'd an union form'd for life,
Death never shall divide.
8.
But oh! if fickle and unchaste
(Forgive a transient thought)
Thou couldst become unkind at last,
And scorn thy present lot,
9.
No need of light'nings from on high,
Or kites with cruel beak,
Denied th' endearments of thine eye
This widow'd heart would break.
10.
Thus sang the sweet sequester'd bird
Soft as the passing wind,
And I recorded what I heard,
A lesson for mankind.

A FABLE.

A raven while with glossy breast,
Her new-laid eggs she fondly press'd,
And on her wicker-work high mounted
Her chickens prematurely counted,
(A fault philosophers might blame
If quite exempted from the same)
Enjoy'd at ease the genial day,
'Twas April as the bumkins say,
The legislature call'd it May.
But suddenly a wind as high
As ever swept a winter sky,
Shook the young leaves about her ears,
And fill'd her with a thousand fears,
Lest the rude blast should snap the bough,
And spread her golden hopes below.
But just at eve the blowing weather,
And all her fears were hush'd together:
And now, quoth poor unthinking Raph,
'Tis over, and the brood is fafe;
[Page 303] (For ravens though as birds of omen,
They teach both conj'rers and old women
To tell us what is to befall,
Can't prophecy, themselves, at all.)
The morning came, when neighbour Hodge,
Who long had mark'd her airy lodge,
And destin'd all the treasure there
A gift to his expecting fair,
Clim'b like a squirrel to his dray,
And bore the worthless prize away.

MORAL.

'Tis providence alone secures
In every change, both mine and your's.
Safety consists not in escape
From dangers of a frightful shape,
An earthquake may be bid to spare
The man that's strangled by a hair.
Fate steals along with silent tread,
Found oft'nest in what least we dread,
Frowns in the storm with angry brow,
But in the sunshine strikes the blow.

A COMPARISON.

THE lapse of time and rivers is the same,
Both speed their journey with a restless stream,
The silent pace with which they steal away,
No wealth can bribe, no pray'rs persuade to stay,
Alike irrevocable both when past,
And a wide ocean swallows both at last.
Though each resemble each in ev'ry part,
A difference strikes at length the musing heart;
Streams never flow in vain; where streams abound,
How laughs the land with various plenty crown'd!
But time that should enrich the nobler mind,
Neglected, leaves a dreary waste behind.

ANOTHER.
Addressed to a YOUNG LADY.

SWEET stream that winds through yonder glade,
Apt emblem of a virtuous maid—
[Page 305] Silent and chaste she steals along
Far from the world's gay busy throng,
With gentle yet prevailing force
Intent upon her destin'd course,
Graceful and useful all she does,
Blessing and blest where're she goes,
Pure—bosom'd as that wat'ry glass,
And heav'n reflected in her face.

VERSES, supposed to be written by ALEXANDER SELKIRK, during his solitary Abode in the Island of JUAN FERNANDEZ.

1.
I AM monarch of all I survey,
My right there is none to dispute,
From the center all round to the sea,
I am lord of the fowl and the brute.
Oh solitude! where are the charms
That sages have seen in the face?
Better dwell in the midst of alarms,
Than reign in this horrible place.
2.
I am out of humanity's reach,
I must finish my journey alone,
Never hear the sweet music of speech,
I start at the sound of my own.
The beasts that roam over the plain,
My form with indifference see,
They are so unacquainted with man,
Their tameness is shocking to me.
3.
Society, friendship, and love,
Divinely bestow'd upon man,
Oh had I the wings of a dove,
How soon wou'd I taste you again!
My sorrows I then might assuage
In the ways of religion and truth,
Might learn from the wisdom of age,
And be cheer'd by the fallies of youth.
4.
Religion! what treasure untold
Resides in that heav'nly word!
More precious than silver and gold,
Or all that this earth can afford.
But the sound of the church going bell
These vallies and rocks never heard,
Ne'er sigh'd at the sound of a knell,
Or smil'd when a sabbath appear'd.
5.
Ye winds that have made me your sport,
Convey to this desolate shore,
Some cordial endearing report
Of a land I shall visit no more.
My friends do they now and then send
A wish or a thought after me?
O tell me I yet have a friend,
Though a friend I am never to see,
6.
How fleet is a glance of the mind!
Compar'd with the speed of its flight,
The tempest itself lags behind,
And the swift winged arrows of light.
When I think of my own native land,
In a moment I seem to be there;
But alas! recollection at hand
Soon hurries me back to despair.
7.
But the sea fowl is gone to her nest,
The beast is laid down in his lair,
Ev'n here is a season of rest,
And I to my cabbin repair.
There is mercy in ev'ry place,
And mercy, encouraging thought!
Gives even affliction a grace,
And reconciles man to his lot.

On the Promotion of EDWARD THURLOW, Esq. to the Lord High Chancellorship of ENGLAND.

1.
ROUND Thurlow's head in early youth,
And in his sportive days,
Fair science pour'd the light of truth,
And genius shed his rays.
2.
See! with united wonder, cry'd
Th' experienc'd and the sage,
Ambition in a boy supplied
With all the skill of age.
3.
Discernment, eloquence and grace,
Proclaim him born to sway
The balance in th' highest place,
And bear the palm away.
4.
The praise bestow'd was just and wise,
He sprang impetuous forth,
Secure of conquest where the prize
Attends superior worth.
[Page 310] So the best courser on the plain
E'er yet he starts is known,
And does but at the goal obtain
What all had deem'd his own.

ODE TO PEACE.

1.
COME, peace of mind, delightful guest!
Return and make thy downy nest
Once more in this sad heart:
Nor riches I, nor pow'r pursue,
Nor hold forbidden joys in view,
We therefore need not part.
2.
Where wilt thou dwell if not with me,
From av'rice and ambition free,
And pleasures fatal wiles?
For whom alas! dost thou prepare
The sweets that I was wont to share,
The banquet of thy smiles?
3.
The great, the gay, shall they partake
The heav'n that thou alone canst make,
And wilt thou quit the stream
That murmurs through the dewy mead,
The grove and the sequester'd shed,
To be a guest with them?
4.
For thee I panted, thee I priz'd,
For thee I gladly sacrific'd
Whate'er I lov'd before,
And shall I see thee start away,
And helpless, hopeless, hear thee say—
Farewell! we meet no more?

HUMAN FRAILTY.

1.
WEAK and irresolute is man;
The purpose of to day,
Woven with pains into his plan,
To morrow rends away.
2.
The bow well bent and smart the spring,
Vice seems already slain,
But passion rudely snaps the string,
And it revives again.
3.
Some foe to his upright intent
Finds out his weaker part,
Virtue engages his assent,
But pleasure wins his heart.
4.
'Tis here the folly of the wise
Through all his art we view,
And while his tongue the charge denies,
His conscience owns it true.
5.
Bound on a voyage of awful length
And dangers little known,
A stranger to superior strength,
Man vainly trusts his own.
6.
But oars alone can ne'er prevail
To reach the distant coast,
The breath of heav'n must swell the sail,
Or all the toil is lost.

THE MODERN PATRIOT.

REBELLION is my theme all day,
I only wish 'twould come
(As who knows but perhaps it may)
A little nearer home.
2.
Yon roaring boys who rave and fight
On t'other side the Atlantic,
I always held them in the right,
But most so, when most frantic.
3.
When lawless mobs insult the court,
That man shall be my toast,
If breaking windows be the sport
Who bravely breaks the most.
4.
But oh! for him my fancy culls
The choicest flow'rs she bears,
Who constitutionally pulls
Your house about your ears.
5.
Such civil broils are my delight,
Tho' some folks can't endure 'em,
Who say the mob are mad outright,
And that a rope must cure 'em.
6.
A rope! I wish we patriots had
Such strings for all who need 'em—
What! hang a man for going mad?
Then farewell British freedom.

On observing some Names of little Note recorded in the BIOGRAPHIA BRITANNICA.

OH fond attempt to give a deathless lot,
To names ignoble, born to be forgot!
[Page 315] In vain recorded in historic page,
They court the notice of a future age,
Those twinkling tiney lustres of the land,
Drop one by one from Fame's neglecting hand,
Lethaean gulphs receive them as they fall,
And dark oblivion soon absorbs them all.
So when a child, as playful children use,
Has burnt to tinder a stale last year's news,
The flame extinct, he views the roving fire,
There goes my lady, and there goes the 'squire,
There goes the parson, oh! illustrious spark,
And there, scarce less illustrious, goes the clerk.

REPORT Of an adjudged Case not to be found in any of the Books.

1.
BETWEEN Nose and Eyes a strange contest arose,
The spectacles set them unhappily wrong;
The point in dispute was, as all the world knows,
To which the said spectacles ought to belong.
2.
So the Tongue was the lawyer and argued the cause
With a great deal of skill, and a wig full of learning,
While chief baron Ear sat to balance the laws,
So fam'd for his talent in nicely discerning.
3.
In behalf of the Nose, it will quickly appear,
And your lordship he said, will undoubtedly find,
That the Nose has had spectacles always in wear,
Which amounts to possession time out of mind.
4.
Then holding the spectacles up to the court—
Your lordship observes they are made with a straddle,
As wide as the ridge of the Nose is, in short,
Design'd to sit close to it, just like a saddle.
5.
Again would your lordship a moment suppose
('Tis a case that has happen'd and may be again)
That the visage or countenance had not a Nose,
Pray who wou'd or who cou'd wear spectacles then?
6.
On the whole it appears, and my argument shows
With a reasoning the court will never condemn,
That the spectacles plainly were made for the Nose,
And the Nose was as plainly intended for them.
7.
Then shifting his side as a lawyer knows how,
He pleaded again in behalf of the Eyes,
But what were his arguments few people know,
For the court did not think they were equally wise.
8.
So his lordship decreed with a grave solemn tone,
Decisive and clear without one if or but—
That whenever the Nose put his spectacles on
By day-light or candle-light—Eyes should be shut.

On the Burning of LORD MANSFIELD'S Library, together with his MSS. by the Mob, in the Month of June, 1780.

1.
SO then—the Vandals of our isle,
Sworn foes to sense and law,
Have burnt to dust a nobler pile
Than ever Roman saw!
2.
And MURRAY sighs o'er Pope and Swift,
And many a treasure more,
The well-judg'd purchase and the gift
That grac'd his letter'd store.
3.
Their pages mangl'd, burnt and torn,
The loss was his alone,
But ages yet to come shall mourn
The burning of his own.

ON THE SAME.

1.
WHEN wit and genius meet their doom
In all devouring flame,
They tell us of the fate of Rome,
And bid us fear the same.
2.
O'er MURRAY'S loss the muses wept,
They felt the rude alarm,
Yet bless'd the guardian care that kept
His sacred head from harm.
3.
There mem'ry, like the bee that's fed
From Flora's balmy store,
The quintessence of all he read
Had treasur'd up before.
4.
The lawless herd with fury blind
Have done him cruel wrong,
The flow'rs are gone—but still we find
The honey on his tongue.

THE LOVE OF THE WORLD REPROVED; OR, HYPOCRISY DETECTED.*

THUS says the prophet of the Turk,
Good mussulman abstain from pork;
There is a part in ev'ry swine,
No friend or follower of mine
May taste, whate'er his inclination,
On pain of excommunication.
Such Mahomet's mysterious charge,
And thus he left the point at large.
Had he the sinful part express'd
They might with safety eat the rest;
But for one piece they thought it hard
From the whole hog to be debarr'd,
And set their wit at work to find
What joint the prophet had in mind.
[Page 321] Much controversy strait arose,
These chuse the back, the belly those;
By some 'tis confidently said
He meant not to forbid the head,
While others at that doctrine rail,
And piously prefer the tail.
Thus, conscience freed from ev'ry clog,
Mahometans eat up the hog.
You laugh—'tis well—the tale apply'd
May make you laugh on t'other side.
Renounce the world, the preacher cries—
We do—a multitude replies.
While one as innocent regards
A snug and friendly game at cards;
And one, whatever you may say,
Can see no evil in a play;
Some love a concert or a race,
And others, shooting and the chase.
Revil'd and lov'd, renounc'd and follow'd,
Thus bit by bit the world is swallow'd;
[Page 322] Each thinks his neighbour makes too free,
Yet likes a slice as well as he,
With sophistry their sauce they sweeten,
'Till quite from tail to snout 'tis eaten.

THE LILY AND THE ROSE.

1.
THE nymph must lose her female friend
If more admir'd than she—
But where will fierce contention end
If flowr's can disagree?
2.
Within the garden's peaceful scene
Appear'd two lovely foes,
Aspiring to the rank of queen,
The lily and the rose.
3.
The rose soon redden'd into rage,
And swelling with disdain,
Appeal'd to many a poet's page
To prove her right to reign.
4.
The lily's height bespoke command,
A fair imperial flow'r,
She seem'd design'd for Flora's hand,
The sceptre of her pow'r.
5.
This civil bick'ring and debate
The goddess chanc'd to hear,
And flew to save, e'er yet too late,
The pride of the parterre.
6.
Your's is, she said, the nobler hue,
And your's the statelier mien,
And 'till a third surpasses you,
Let each be deem'd a queen.
[Page 324] Thus sooth'd and reconcil'd, each seeks
The fairest British fair,
The seat of empire is her cheeks,
They reign united there.

IDEM LATINE REDDITUM.

1.
HEU inimicitias quoties parit aemula forma,
Quam raro pulchrae, pulchra placere potest?
Sed fines ultrà solitos discordia tendit,
Cum flores ipsos bilis et ira movent.
2.
Hortus ubi dulces praebet tacitosque recessûs,
Se rapit in partes gens animosa duas,
Hic sibi regales amaryllis candida cultûs,
Illic purpureo vindicat ore rosa.
3.
Ira rosam et meritis quaesita superbia tangunt,
Multaque ferventi vix cohibenda sinû,
Dum sibi fautorum ciet undique nomina vatûm,
Jusque suum, multo carmine fulta, probat.
4.
Altior emicat illa, et celso vertice nutat,
Ceu flores inter non habitura parem,
Fastiditque alios, et nata videtur in usûs
Imperii, sceptrum, Flora quod ipsa gerat.
5.
Nec Dea non sensit civilis murmura rixae,
Cui curae est pictas pandere ruris opes.
Deliciasque suas nunquam non prompta tueri,
Dum licet et locus est, ut tueatur, adest.
6.
Et tibi forma datur procerior omnibus, inquit,
Et tibi, principibus qui solet esse, color,
Et donec vincat quaedam formosior ambas,
Et tibi reginae nomen, et esto tibi.
7.
His ubi sedatus furor est, petit utraque nympham
Qualem inter Veneres Anglia sola parit,
Hanc penés imperium est, nihil optant amplius, hujus
Regnant in nitidis, et sine lite, genis.

THE NIGHTINGALE AND GLOW-WORM.

A Nightingale that all day long
Had cheer'd the village with his song,
Nor yet at eve his note suspended,
Nor yet when even tide was ended,
Began to feel as well he might
The keen demands of appetite;
When looking eagerly around,
He spied far off upon the ground,
A something shining in the dark,
And knew the glow-worm by his spark,
[Page 327] So stooping down from hawthorn top,
He thought to put him in his crop;
The worm aware of his intent,
Harangu'd him thus right eloquent.
Did you admire my lamp, quoth he,
As much as I your minstrelsy,
You would abhor to do me wrong,
As much as I to spoil your song,
For 'twas the self-same power divine,
Taught you to sing, and me to shine,
That you with music, I with light,
Might beautify and cheer the night.
The songster heard his short oration,
And warbling out his approbation,
Releas'd him as my story tells,
And found a supper somewhere else.
Hence jarring sectaries may learn,
Their real int'rest to discern:
That brother should not war with brother,
And worry and devour each other,
[Page 328] But sing and shine by sweet consent,
'Till life's poor transient night is spent,
Respecting in each other's case
The gifts of nature and of grace.
Those christians best deserve the name
Who studiously make peace their aim;
Peace, both the duty and the prize
Of him that creeps and him that flies.

VOTUM.

O matutini rores, auraeque salubres,
O nemora, et laetae rivis felicibus herbae,
Graminei colles, et amaenae in vallibus umbrae!
Fata modó dederint quas olim in rure paterno
Delicias, procul arte, procul formidine novi,
Quam vellem ignotus, quod mens mea semper avebat,
Ante larem proprium placidam expectare senec­tam,
[Page 329] Tum demùm exactis non infeliciter annis,
Sortiri tacitum lapidem, aut sub cespite condi!

On a GOLDFINCH starved to Death in his Cage.

1.
TIME was when I was free as air,
The thistles downy seed my fare,
My drink the morning dew;
I perch'd at will on ev'ry spray,
My form genteel, my plumage gay,
My strains for ever new.
2.
But gawdy plumage, sprightly strain,
And form genteel were all in vain
And of a transient date,
For caught and caged and starved to death,
In dying sighs my little breath
Soon pass'd the wiry grate.
3.
Thanks, gentle swain, for all my [...]
And thanks for this effectual close
And cure of ev'ry ill!
More cruelty could none express,
And I, if you had shewn me less
Had been your pris'ner still.

The PINE APPLE and the BEE.

THE pine apples in triple row,
Were basking hot and all in blow,
A bee of most discerning taste
Perceiv'd the fragrance as he pass'd,
On eager wing the spoiler came,
And search'd for crannies in the frame,
Urg 'd his attempt on ev'ry side,
To ev'ry pane his trunk applied,
[Page 331] But still in vain, the frame was tight
And only pervious to the light.
Thus having wasted half the day,
He trimmed his flight another way.
Methinks, I said, in thee I find
The sin and madness of mankind;
To joys forbidden man aspires,
Consumes his soul with vain desires;
Folly the spring of his pursuit,
And disappointment all the fruit.
While Cynthio ogles as she passes
The nymph between two chariot glasses,
She is the pine apple, and he
The silly unsuccessful bee.
The maid who views with pensive air
The show-glass fraught with glitt'ring ware,
Sees watches, bracelets, rings, and lockets,
But sighs at thought of empty pockets,
Like thine her appetite is keen,
But ah the cruel glass between!
[Page 332] Our dear delights are often such,
Expos'd to view but not to touch;
The sight our foolish heart inflames,
We long for pine apples in frames,
With hopeless wish one looks and lingers,
One breaks the glass and cuts his fingers,
But they whom truth and wisdom lead,
Can gather honey from a weed.

HORACE. Book the 2d. ODE the 10th.

1.
RECEIVE, dear friend, the truths I teach,
So shalt thou live beyond the reach
Of adverse fortunes pow'r;
Not always tempt the distant deep,
Nor always timorously creep
Along the treach'rous shore.
2.
He that holds fast the golden mean,
And lives contentedly between
The little and the great,
Feels not the wants that pinch the poor,
Nor plagues that haunt the rich man's door,
Imbitt'ring all his state.
3.
The tallest pines feel most the pow'r
Of wintry blasts, the loftiest tow'r
Comes heaviest to the ground,
The bolts that spare the mountains side,
His cloud-capt eminence divide
And spread the ruin round.
4.
The well inform'd philosopher
Rejoices with an wholesome fear,
And hopes in spite of pain;
If winter bellow from the north,
Soon the sweet spring comes dancing forth,
And nature laughs again.
5.
What if thine heav'n be overcast,
The dark appearance will not last,
Expect a brighter sky;
The God that strings the silver bow,
Awakes sometimes the muses too,
And lays his arrows by.
6.
If hindrances obstruct thy way,
Thy magnanimity display,
And let thy strength be seen,
But oh! if Fortune fill thy sail
With more than a propitious gale,
Take half thy canvass in.

A REFLECTION on the foregoing ODE.

AND is this all? Can reason do no more
Than bid me shun the deep and dread the shore?
[Page 335] Sweet moralist! afloat on life's rough sea
The christian has an art unknown to thee;
He holds no parley with unmanly sears,
Where duty bids he confidently steers,
Faces a thousand dangers at her call,
And trusting in his God, surmounts them all.

Translations from VINCENT BOURNE.

1. THE GLOW-WORM,

1.
BENEATH the hedge, or near the stream,
A worm is known to stray;
That shews by night a lucid beam,
Which disappears by day.
2.
Disputes have been and still prevail
From whence his rays proceed;
Some give that honour to his tail,
And others to his head.
3.
But this is sure—the hand of might
That kindles up the skies,
Gives him a modicum of light,
Proportion'd to his size.
4.
Perhaps indulgent nature meant
By such a lamp bestow'd,
To bid the trav'ler, as he went,
Be careful where he trod:
5.
Nor crush a worm, whose useful light
Might serve, however small,
To shew a stumbling stone by night,
And save him from a fall.
6.
Whate'er she meant, this truth divine
Is legible and plain,
'Tis power almighty bids him shine,
Nor bids him shine in vain.
7.
Ye proud and wealthy, let this theme
Teach humbler thoughts to you,
Since such a reptile has its gem,
And boasts its splendour too.

2. THE JACK DAW.

1.
THERE is a bird who by his coat,
And by the hoarseness of his note,
Might be suppós'd a crow;
A great frequenter of the church,
Where bishop-like he finds a perch,
And dormitory too.
2.
Above the steeple shines a plate,
That turns and turns, to indicate
From what point blows the weather;
Look up—your brains begin to swim,
'Tis in the clouds—that pleases him,
He chooses it the rather.
3.
Fond of the speculative height,
Thither he wings his airy flight,
And thence securely sees
The bustle and the raree-show
That occupy mankind below,
Secure and at his ease.
4.
You think no doubt he sits and muses
On future broken bones and bruises,
If he should chance to fall;
No not a single thought like that
Employs his philosophic pate,
Or troubles it at all.
5.
He sees that this great roundabout
The world, with all its motley rout,
Church, army, physic, law,
Its customs and its businesses
Are no concern at all of his,
And says, what says he? Caw.
6.
Thrice happy bird! I too have seen
Much of the vanities of men,
And sick of having seen e'm,
Would chearfully these limbs resign
For such a pair of wings as thine,
And such a head between 'em.

3. THE CRICKET.

1.
LITTLE inmate, full of mirth,
Chirping on my kitchen hearth;
Wheresoe'er be thine abode,
Always harbinger of good,
Pay me for thy warm retreat,
With a song more soft and sweet,
In return thou shalt receive
Such a strain as I can give.
2.
Thus thy praise shall be exprest,
Inoffensive, welcome guest!
While the rat is on the scout,
And the mouse with curious snout,
With what vermin else infest
Every dish and spoil the best;
Frisking thus before the fire,
Thou hast all thine heart's desire.
3.
Though in voice and shape they be
Form'd as if akin to thee,
Thou surpassest, happier far,
Happiest grasshoppers that are,
Theirs is but a summer's song,
Thine endures the winter long,
Unimpair'd and shrill and clear,
Melody throughout the year.
4.
Neither night nor dawn of day,
Puts a period to thy play,
Sing then—and extend thy span
Far beyond the date of man—
Wretched man, whose years are spent
In repining discontent;
Lives not, aged tho' he be,
Half a span compar'd with thee.

4. THE PARROT.

1.
IN painted plumes superbly drest,
A native of the gorgeous east,
By many a billow tost;
Poll gains at length the British shore,
Part of the captain's precious store,
A present to his toast.
2.
Belinda's maids are soon preferr'd
To teach him now and then a word,
As Poll can master it;
But 'tis her own important charge
To qualify him more at large,
And make him quite a wit.
3.
Sweet Poll! his doating mistress cries,
Sweet Poll! the mimic bird replies,
And calls aloud for sack,
She next instructs him in the kiss,
'Tis now a little one like Miss,
And now a hearty smack.
4.
At first he aims at what he hears
And listening close with both his ears,
Just catches at the sound;
But soon articulates aloud,
Much to th' amusement of the crowd
And stuns the neighbours round.
5.
A querulous old woman's voice
His humorous talent next employs,
He scolds and gives the lie;
And now he sings, and now is sick,
Here Sally, Susan, come, come quick,
Poor Poll is like to die.
6.
Belinda and her bird! 'tis rare
To meet with such a well-match'd pair,
The language and the tone,
Each character in every part
Sustain'd with so much grace and art,
And both in unison.
7.
When children first begin to spell
And stammer out a syllable,
We think them tedious creatures;
But difficulties soon abate,
When birds are to be taught to prate,
And women are the teachers.

THE SHRUBBERY, Written in a Time of Affliction.

1.
OH happy shades! to me unblest,
Friendly to peace, but not to me,
How ill the scene that offers rest,
And heart that cannot rest, agree!
2.
This glassy stream, that spreading pine,
Those alders quiv'ring to the breeze,
Might sooth a soul less hurt than mine,
And please, if any thing could please.
3.
But fixt unalterable care
Foregoes not what she feels within,
Shows the same sadness ev'ry where,
And slights the season and the scene.
4.
For all that pleas'd in wood or lawn,
While peace possess'd these silent bow'rs,
Her animating smile withdrawn,
Has lost its beauties and its pow'rs.
5.
The saint or moralist should tread
This moss-grown alley, musing slow,
They seek like me the secret shade,
But not like me, to nourish woe.
6.
Me fruitful scenes and prospects waste,
Alike admonish not to roam,
These tell me of enjoyments past,
And those of sorrows yet to come.

THE WINTER NOSEGAY.

1.
WHAT nature, alas! has denied
To the delicate growth of our isle,
Art has in a measure supplied,
And winter is deck'd with a smile.
See Mary what beauties I bring
From the shelter of that sunny shed,
Where the flow'rs have the charms of the spring,
Though abroad they are frozen and dead.
2.
'Tis a bow'r of Arcadian sweets,
Where Flora is still in her prime,
A fortress to which she retreats,
From the cruel assaults of the clime.
While earth wears a mantle of snow,
These pinks are as fresh and as gay,
As the fairest and sweetest that blow,
On the beautiful bosom of May.
3.
See how thcy have safely surviv'd
The frowns of a sky so severe,
Such Mary's true love that has liv'd
Through many a turbulent year.
The charms of the late blowing rose,
Seem grac'd with a livelier hue,
And the winter of sorrow best shows
The truth of a friend, such as you.

MUTUAL FORBEARANCE, Necessary to the Happiness of the Married State.

THE lady thus address'd her spouse—
What a mere dungeon is this house,
By no means large enough, and was it,
Yet this dull room and that dark closet,
Those hangings with their worn out graces,
Long beards, long noses, and pale faces,
[Page 348] Are such an antiquated scene,
They overwhelm me with the spleen.
—Sir Humphrey shooting in the dark,
Makes answer quite beside the mark.
No doubt, my dear, I bade him come,
Engag'd myself to be at home,
And shall expect him at the door
Precisely when the clock strikes four.
You are so deaf, the lady cried,
(And rais'd her voice and frown'd beside)
You are so sadly deaf, my dear,
What shall I do to make you hear?
Dismiss poor Harry, he replies,
Some people are more nice than wise,
For one slight trespass all this stir?
What if he did ride, whip and spur,
'Twas but a mile—your fav'rite horse
Will never look one hair the worse.
Well, I protest 'tis past all bearing—
Child! I am rather hard of hearing—
[Page 349] Yes, truly—one must scream and bawl,
I tell you you can't hear at all.
Then with a voice exceeding low,
No matter if you hear or no.
Alas! and is domestic strife,
That forest ill of human life,
A plague so little to be fear'd,
As to be wantonly incurr'd;
To gratify a fretful passion,
On ev'ry trivial provocation?
The kindest and the happiest pair,
Will find occasion to forbear,
And something ev'ry day they live
To pity, and perhaps, forgive.
But if infirmities that fall
In common to the lot of all,
A blemish, or a sense impair'd,
Are crimes so little to be spar'd,
Then farewel all that must create
The comfort of the wedded state,
[Page 350] Instead of harmony, 'tis jar
And tumult, and intestine war.
The love that cheers life's latest stage,
Proof against sickness and old age,
Preserv'd by virtue from declension,
Becomes not weary of attention,
But lives, when that exterior grace
Which first inspir'd the flame, decays.
'Tis gentle, delicate and kind,
To faults compassionate or blind,
And will with sympathy endure
Those evils it would gladly cure.
But angry, coarse, and harsh expression
Shows love to be a mere profession,
Proves that the heart is none of his,
Or soon expels him if it is.

To the REV. MR. NEWTON. An Invitation into the Country.

1.
THE swallows in their torpid state,
Compose their useless wing,
And bees in hives as idly wait
The call of early spring.
2.
The keenest frost that binds the stream,
The wildest wind that blows,
Are neither felt nor fear'd by them,
Secure of their repose.
3.
But man all feeling and awake
The gloomy scene surveys,
With present ills his heart must ach,
And pant for brighter days.
4.
Old winter halting o'er the mead,
Bids me and Mary mourn,
But lovely spring peeps o'er his head,
And whispers your return.
5.
Then April with her sister May,
Shall chase him from the bow'rs,
And weave fresh garlands ev'ry day,
To crown the smiling hours.
6.
And if a tear that speaks regret
Of happier times appear,
A glimpse of joy that we have met
Shall shine, and dry the tear.

TRANSLATION OF PRIOR'S CHLOE AND EUPHELIA.

1.
MERCATOR, vigiles oculos ut fallere possit,
Nomine sub ficto trans mare mittit opes;
Lené sonat liquidumque meis Euphelia chordis,
Sed solam exoptant te, mea vota, Chlöe.
2.
Ad speculum ornabat nitidos Euphelia crines,
Cum dixit mea lux, heus, cane, sume lyram.
Namque lyram juxtà positam cum carmine vidit,
Suave quidem carmen dulcisonamque lyram,
3.
Fila lyrae vocemque paro, suspiria surgunt,
Et miscent numeris murmura maesta meis,
Dumque tuae memoro laudes, Euphelia, formae,
Tota anima intereá pendet ab ore Chlöes.
4.
Subrubet illa pudore, et contrahit altera frontem,
Me torquet mea mens conscia, psallo, tremo;
Atque Cupidineâ dixit Dea cincta coronâ,
Heu! fallendi artem quam didicere parum.

BOADICEA, AN ODE.

1.
WHEN the British warrior queen,
Bleeding from the Roman rods,
Sought with an indignant mien,
Counsel of her country's gods,
2.
Sage beneath a spreading oak
Sat the Druid, hoary chief,
Ev'ry burning word he spoke,
Full of rage and full of grief.
3.
Princess! if our aged eyes
Weep upon thy matchless wrongs,
'Tis because resentment ties
All the terrors of our tongues.
4.
Rome shall perish—write that word
In the blood that she has spilt;
Perish hopeless and abhorr'd,
Deep in ruin as in guilt.
5.
Rome for empire far renown'd,
Tramples on a thousand states,
Soon her pride shall kiss the ground—
Hark! the Gaul is at her gates.
6.
Other Romans shall arise,
Heedless of a soldier's name,
Sounds, not arms, shall win the prize,
Harmony the path to fame.
7.
Then the progeny that springs
From the forests of our land,
Arm'd with thunder, clad with wings,
Shall a wider world command.
8.
Regions Caesar never knew,
Thy posterity shall sway,
Where his eagles never flew,
None invincible as they.
9.
Such the bards prophetic words,
Pregnant with celestial fire,
Bending as he swept the chords
Of his sweet but awful lyre.
10.
She with all a monarch's pride,
Felt them in her bosom glow,
Rush'd to battle, fought and died,
Dying, hurl'd them at the foe.
11.
Ruffians, pittiless as proud,
Heav'n awards the vengeance due,
Empire is on us bestow'd,
Shame and ruin wait for you.

HEROISM.

THERE was a time when Aetna's silent fire
Slept unperceiv'd, the mountain yet entire,
When conscious of no danger from below,
She towr'd a cloud-capt pyramid of snow.
No thunders shook with deep intestine sound
The blooming groves that girdled her around,
Her unctuous olives and her purple vines,
(Unfelt the fury of those bursting mines)
The peasant's hopes, and not in vain, assur'd,
In peace upon her sloping sides matur'd.
[Page 358] When on a day, like that of the last doom,
A conflagration lab'ring in her womb,
She teem'd and heav'd with an infernal birth,
That shook the circling seas and solid earth.
Dark and voluminous the vapours rise,
And hang their horrors in the neighb'ring skies,
While through the stygian veil that blots the day,
In dazzling streaks the vivid light'nings play.
But oh! what muse, and in what pow'rs of song,
Can trace the torrent as it burns along?
Havock and devastation in the van,
It marches o'er the prostrate works of man,
Vines, olives, herbage, forests disappear,
And all the charms of a Sicilian year.
Revolving seasons, fruitless as they pass,
See it an uninform'd and idle mass,
Without a soil t'invite the tiller's care,
Or blade that might redeem it from despair.
Yet time at length (what will not time atchieve?)
Cloaths it with earth, and bids the produce live,
[Page 359] Once more the spiry myrtle crowns the glade,
And ruminating flocks enjoy the shade.
Oh bliss precarious, and unsafe retreats,
Oh charming paradise of short liv'd sweets!
The self-same gale that wafts the fragrance round,
Brings to the distant ear a sullen sound,
Again the mountain feels th' imprison'd foe,
Again pours ruin on the vale below,
Ten thousand swains the wasted scene deplore,
That only future ages can restore.
Ye monarchs, whom the lure of honour draws,
Who write in blood the merits of your cause,
Who strike the blow, then plead your own de­fence,
Glory your aim, but justice your pretence;
Behold in Aetna's emblematic fires
The mischiefs your ambitious pride inspires.
Fast by the stream that bounds your just do­main,
And tells you where ye have a right to reign,
[Page 360] A nation dwells, not envious of your throne,
Studious of peace, their neighbours and their own.
Ill-fated race! how deeply must they rue
Their only crime, vicinity to you!
The trumpet sounds, your legions swarm abroad,
Through the ripe harvest lies their destin'd road,
At ev'ry step beneath their feet they tread
The life of multitudes, a nation's bread;
Earth seems a garden in its loveliest dress
Before them, and behind a wilderness;
Famine and pestilence, her first-born son,
Attend to finish what the sword begun,
And ecchoing praises such as fiends might earn,
And folly pays, resound at your return.
A calm succeeds—but plenty with her train
Of heart-felt joys, succeeds not soon again,
And years of pining indigence must show
What scourges are the gods that rule below.
Yet man, laborious man, by slow degrees,
(Such is his thirst of opulence and ease)
[Page 361] Plies all the sinews of industrious toil,
Gleans up the refuse of the general spoil,
Rebuilds the towr's that smok'd upon the plain,
And the sun gilds the shining spires again.
Increasing commerce and reviving art
Renew the quarrel on the conqu'rors part,
And the sad lesson must be learn'd once more;
That wealth within is ruin at the door.
What are ye monarchs, laurel'd heroes, say,
But Aetnas of the suff'ring world ye sway?
Sweet nature stripp'd of her embroider'd robe,
Deplores the wasted regions of her globe,
And stands a witness at truth's awful bar,
To prove you there, destroyers as ye are.
Oh place me in some heav'n-protected isle,
Where peace and equity and freedom smile,
Where no Volcano pours his fiery flood,
No crested warrior dips his plume in blood,
Where pow'r secures what industry has won,
Where to succeed is not to be undone,
[Page 362] A land that distant tyrants hate in vain,
In Britain's isle, beneath a George's reign.

THE POET, THE OYSTER, AND SENSITIVE PLANT.

AN Oyster cast upon the shore
Was heard, though never heard before;
Complaining in a speech well worded,
And worthy thus to be recorded:
Ah hapless wretch! condemned to dwell
For ever in my native shell,
Ordain'd to move when others please,
Not for my own content or ease,
But toss'd and buffeted about,
Now in the water, and now out.
'Twere better to be born a stone
Of ruder shape and feeling none,
[Page 363] Than with a tenderness like mine,
And sensibilities so fine;
I envy that unfeeling shrub,
Fast-rooted against ev'ry rub.
The plant he meant grew not far off,
And felt the sneer with scorn enough,
Was hurt, disgusted, mortified,
And with asperity replied.
When cry the botanists, and stare,
Did plants call'd sensitive grow there?
No matter when—a poet's muse is
To make them grow just where she chuses.
You shapeless nothing in a dish,
You that are but almost a fish,
I scorn your coarse insinuation,
And have most plentiful occasion
To wish myself the rock I view,
Or such another dolt as you.
For many a grave and learned clerk,
And many a gay unletter'd spark,
[Page 364] With curious touch examines me,
If I can feel as well as he;
And when I bend, retire and shrink,
Says, well—'tis more than one would think—
Thus life is spent, oh fie upon't!
In being touch'd, and crying, don't.
A poet in his evening walk,
O'erheard and check'd this idle talk.
And your fine sense, he said, and yours,
Whatever evil it endures,
Deserves not, if so soon offended,
Much to be pitied or commended.
Disputes though short, are far too long,
Where both alike are in the wrong;
Your feelings in their full amount,
Are all upon your own account.
You in your grotto-work inclos'd
Complain of being thus expos'd,
Yet nothing feel in that rough coat,
Save when the knife is at your throat,
[Page 365] Wherever driv'n by wind or tide,
Exempt from every ill beside.
And as for you, my Lady Squeamish,
Who reckon ev'ry touch a blemish,
If all the plants that can be found
Embellishing the scene around,
Should droop and wither where they grow,
You would not feel at all, not you.
The noblest minds their virtue prove
By pity, sympathy, and love,
These, these are feelings truly fine,
And prove their owner half divine.
His censure reach'd them as he dealt it,
And each by shrinking shew'd he felt it.

To the Rev. WILLIAM CAWTHORNE UNWIN.

1.
UNWIN, I should but ill repay,
The kindness of a friend,
Whose worth deserves as warm a lay
As ever friendship penn'd,
Thy name omitted in a page,
That would reclaim a vicious age.
2.
An union form'd, as mine with thee,
Not rashly or in sport,
May be as fervent in degree,
And faithful in its sort,
And may as rich in comfort prove,
As that of true fraternal love.
3.
The bud inserted in the rind,
The bud of peach or rose,
Adorns, though diff'ring in its kind,
The stock whereon it grows
[Page 367] With flow'r as sweet or fruit as fair,
As if produc'd by nature there.
4.
Not rich, I render what I may,
I seize thy name in haste,
And place it in this first assay,
Lest this should prove the last.
'Tis where it should be, in a plan
That holds in view the good of man.
5.
The poet's lyre, to fix his fame,
Should be the poet's heart,
Affection lights a brighter flame
Than ever blaz'd by art.
No muses on these lines attend,
I sink the poet in the friend.
FINIS.

ERRATA.

Pag. 3, line 4, for naught read nought.

7, l. 19, for stiffen'd r. stiffens.

8, l. 6, for In compassing r. Incompassing.

11, l. 12, for ear, r. I hear.

25, l. 10, p. 28, line last, p. 32, l. 2, p. 48. l. 4. for a comma place a full stop.

33, l. 12, for never r. neither.

46, l. 8, instead of a full stop after world, place a comma

48, l. 4, for salt'ry r. psalt'ry.

242, l. 4, for come r. comes.

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