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He too has a connecting pow'r, and draws
Man to the centre of the common cause,
Aiding a dubious and deficicnt 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.
He reads the skies, and, watching ev'ry change,
Provides the faculties an ampler range;
And wins mankind, as his attempts prevail.
A prouder 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 grac'd 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;
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 centre of enlightning 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 thro' 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;
Philosophy, without his heav'nly guide,
May blow up self-conceit, and nourish pride;
But, while his promise 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;
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 diamonds, stripp'd of their opaque disguise, Reflect the noonday 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 acqaitted of all vain pretence,
The reign of genuine Charity commence.
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 and in her temper mild,
Her wisdom seems the weakness of a child:
She makes excuses where she might condemn,
Revil'd by those that hate her, prays for them:
Suspicion lurks not in her artless breast,
The worst suggested, she believes the best;
Not soon provok’d, however stung and teasid,
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 portrait an apostle drew,
The bright original was one he knew :
Heav'n held his hand, the likeness must be true.
When one, that holds communion with the skies,
Has fill’d his urn where these pure waters rise,
And once more mingles with us meaner things,
"Tis e'en 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 sún matures on India's spicy shores,
Has dropp'd her anchor, and her canvass furld,
In some safe haven of our western world,
"Twere vain inquiry to what port she went,
The gale informs us, laden with the scent.
Some seek, when queasy conscience has its qualms,
To lull the painful malady with alms ;
But charity not feign'd intends alone
Another's good-theirs centres in their own;
And, too short liv'd 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 her sister's fame;
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 porc'lain on her mantel-tree.
How many deeds, with which the world has rung,
From Pride in league with Ignorance, have sprung!
But God o’errules 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 glittring purse, that envy of all eyes,
And, while the clerk just puzzles out the psalm,
Glides guinea behind guinea in his palm;
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 style,
A teacher should be sparing of his smile.
Unless a love of virtue light the flame,
Satire is, more than those he brands, to blame!
He hides behind a magisterial air
His own offences, and strips others bare;
Affects, indeed, a most humane concern,
That men, if gently tutor’d, will not learn,
That mulish 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 satrists 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 poniard whomsoe'er they meet. No skill in swordmanship, however just, Can be secure against a madman's thrust; And even Virtue so unfairly match'd, Although immortal, may be prick'd or scratchd. When Scandal has new minted an old lie, Or tax'd invention for a fresh supply, "Tis call'd a satire, and the world appears Gath’ring around it with erected ears ;