« PreviousContinue »
(For thou hast known eclipses, and endured
Dimness and anguish, all thy beams obscured,
When sin has shed dishonour on thy brow
And never of a sabler hue than now,)
Hast thou, with heart perverse and conscience seard,
Despising all rebuke, still persevered,
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 a yearly fast,
What mean they ? Canst thou dream there is a power
In lighter diet, at a later hour,
To charm to sleep the threatning of the skies,
And hide past folly from all-seeing eyes ?
The fast, that wins deliverance, 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 pleasure, 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 heaven, 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 vouchsafed 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, injured, scandalized, defiled,
Unveil'd her blushing cheek, look'd on and smiled ;
Beheld with joy the lovely scene defaced,
And praised the wrath that laid her beauties waste.
Vindictive is here used in the sense of " avenging,” “ justifying”_ an application of the word not warranted by common usage, though not contrary to its derivative import,
Far be the thought from any verse of mine,
And farther still the form’d and fix'd 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 pierced in play, or in the dark ;
But public censure speaks a public foe,
Unless a zeal for virtue guide the blow. 10
The priestly brotherhood, devout, sincere,
From mean self-int'rest and ambition clear,
Their hope in Heaven, servility their scorn,
Prompt to persuade, expostulate, and warn,
Their wisdom pure, and given them from above,
Their usefulness ensured 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 ?
Except a few with Eli's spirit blest,
Hophni and Phineas may describe the rest. 11
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 choose, God's better gift they scoff at and refuse. The rich, the produce of a nobler stem, Are more intelligent at least - try them. O vain inquiry! 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.
This island, spot of unreclaim'd rude earth, The cradle that received thee at thy birth Was rock'd by many a rough Norwegian blast, And Danish howlings scared 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 Cæsar 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 refined, It sparkles with the gems he left behind : 19 He brought thy land a blessing when he came, He found thee savage, and he left thee tame; Taught thee to clothe thy pink'd and painted hide, And grace thy figure with a soldier's pride; . He sow'd the seeds of order where he went, Improved thee far beyond his own intent, And, while he ruled thee by the sword alone, Made thee at last a warrior like his own.13 Religion, if in heavenly truths attired : Needs only to be seen to be admired; But thine, as dark as witcheries of the night, Was form’d to harden hearts and shock the sight; Thy Druids struck the well-hung harps they bore With fingers deeply dyed in human gore; And, while the victim slowly bled to death, Upon the rolling chords rung out his dying breath.
Who brought the lamp, that with awaking beams Dispelld thy gloom, and broke away thy dreams, Tradition, now decrepid and worn out, Babbler of ancient fables, leaves a doubt ; But still light reach'd thee; and those gods of thine, Woden and Thor, each tottring in his shrine, Fell broken and defaced at their own door, As Dagon in Philistia long before.
But Rome, with sorceries and magic wand,
Soon raised a cloud that darken'd every 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 powers from hell,
Though heavenly in pretension, fleeced 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-managed 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 proved 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.
Thy monarchs, arbitrary, fierce, unjust,
Themselves the slaves of bigotry or lust,
Disdain'd thy counsels ; only in distress
Found thee a goodly sponge for power to press.
Thy chiefs, the lords of many a petty fee,
Provoked and harass'd, in return plagued thee ;
Calld 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 adored on bended knees
The sov'reignty they were convened to please;
Whate'er was ask'd, too timid to resist,
Complied with, and were graciously dismiss'd ;
And if some Spartan soul a doubt express’d,
And, blushing at the tameness of the rest,
Dared to suppose the subject had a choice,
He was a traitor by the gen’ral voice.
O slave! with powers thou didst not dare exert,
Verse cannot stoop so low as thy desert ;
• Which may be found at Doctors' Commons. ~Author's Note.
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,
Given thee his blessing on the clearest proof,
Bid nations leagued against thee stand aloof,
And charged hostility and hate to roar
Where else they would, but not upon thy shore ?
His power secured thee, when presumptuous Spain
Baptized 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,
Pierced to the very centre of the realm,
And hoped to seize his abdicated helm,
'Twas but to prove how quickly with a frown
He that had raised 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 heaven surveys the troubled scene,
And feels no change, unshaken and serene.