« PreviousContinue »
But oh the strife, the bickering, and debate,
The tidings of unpurchased Heaven create !
The flirted fan, the bridle, and the toss,
All speakers, get all language at a loss.
From stuccoed walls smart arguments rebound;
And beaus, adept in every thing profound,
Die of disdain, or whistle off the sound.
Such is the clamour of rooks, daws, and kites,
The explosion of the leveli'd tube excites,
Where mouldering abbey-walls o'erhang the glade,
And oaks coeval spread a mournful shade;
The screaming nations, hovering 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, Vinosa cries, ere 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 Heaven will weigh man's virtues and his crimes
With nice attention, in a righteous scale,
And save or damn as these or those prevail.
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 the important cause is to be tried,
Suppose the beam should dip on the wrong
; 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 Heaven in view, And,--pardon me, the bottle stands with you.
I never will believe, the Colonel 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 divides 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.
If sentence of eternal pain belong
To every sudden slip and transient wrong,
Then Heaven enjoins the fallible and frail
A hopeless task, and damns them if they fail.
My creed (whatever some creed-
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 every man's performance here
Is to discharge the duties of his sphere.
A lawyer's dealings should be just and fair,
Honesty shines with great advantage there.
Fasting and prayer 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, tasy, gay;
A hand as liberal as the light of day.
The soldier thus endow'd, who never shrinks,
Nor closets up his thoughts, whate'er he thinks,
Who scorns to do an injury by stealth,
Must go to Heaven--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 suffer'd, 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 woo 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;
The writer well remarks, a heart that knows
To take with gratitude what Heaven 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's sake,
Spoke like an oracle, they all exclaim,
And add Right Reverend to Smug's honour'd name.
And yet our lot is given 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 Inquiry, 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 !
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 gulfs of her Cornubian mines.
And still it spreads. See Germany send forth
Her sons* to pour it on the farthest north:
• The Moravian Missionaries in Greenland. See Krantz,
Fired with a zeal peculiar, they defy
The rage and rigour of a polar sky,
And plant successfully sweet Sharon's rosé
On icy plains, and in eternal snows.
O bless'd within the enclosure of your rocks,
Nor herds have ye to boast, nor bleating flocks;
No fertilizing streams your fields divide,
That show reversed the villas on their side;
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 evening where ye dwell:
But Winter, arm’d with terrours here unknown,
Sits absolute on his unshaken throne;
Piles up his stores amidst 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, remoté, unenvied isle !
And Peace, the genuine offspring of her smile;
The pride of letter'd Ignorance, that binds
In chains of errour our accomplish'd minds,
That decks, with all the splendour of the true,
A false religion, is unknown to you.
Nature, indeed, vouchsafes for our delight
The sweet vicissitudes of day and night;
Soft airs and genial moisture feed and cheer
Field, fruit, and flower, and every creature here;
But brighter beams than his who fires the skies,
Have risen at length on your admiring eyes,
That shoot into your darkest caves the day,
From which our nicer optics turn away.
Here see the encouragement Grace gives to vice, The dire effect of mercy without price! What were they? what some fools are made by art, They were by nature, atheists, head and heart. The gross idolatry blind heathens teach Was too refined for them, beyond their reach.
Not e'en 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 e'en the sun, desirable as rare,
Could bend one knee, engage one votary there;
They were, what base Credulity believes
True Christians are, dissemblers, drunkards, thieves.
The full-gorged savage, at his nauseous feast,
Spent half the darkness, and snored out the rest,
Was one, whom Justice, on an equal plan,
Denouncing death upon the sins of man,
Might almost have indulged with an escape,
Chargeable only with a human shape.
What are they now?-Morality may spare
Her grave concern, her kind suspicions there:
The wretch, who once sang wildly, danced, and
And suck'd in dizzy madness with his draught,
Has wept a silent flood, reversed his ways,
Is sober, meek, benevolent, and prays,
Feeds sparingly, communicates his store,
Abhors the craft he boasted of before,
And be that stole has learn'd to steal no more.
Well spake the prophet, Let the desert 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,
If self-exalting claims be turn'd adrift,
And grace be grace indeed, and life a gift;
The poor reclaim'd inhabitant, his eyes,
Glistening at once with pity and surprise,
Amazed 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,