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TABLE TALK.

Si te forte meæ gravis uret sarcina chartæ,
Abjicito.

Hor. Lib. t. Epist. 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 seruple tears The laurel that the very lightning spares, 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, 2 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 Heaven bestows. And when recording history displays Feats of renown, though wrought in ancient days, Tells of a few stout hearts that fought and died, Where duty placed them, at their country's side ; The man, that is not moved with what he reads, That takes not fire at their heroic deeds,

all this management and contrivance be necessary I do not know, but am inclined to suspect that if my Muse had gone forth clad in Quaker colour, without one bit of riband to enliven her appearance, she might walk from one end of London to the other as little noticed as if she were one of the sisterhood indeed.” February, 1781. Newton, through whose hands the manuscripts of Cowper's first volume were transmitted to the press, concurred in this supposed necessity of forbearing to put religion foremost. “ The poet's favourite topics,” so the original preface composed by that divine expresses it, “are least insisted on in the piece entitled Table Talk ; which, therefore, with some regard to the prevailing taste, and that those who are governed by it may not be discouraged at the very threshold from proceeding farther, is placed first.” All this, we confess, resembles not a little that exclusive righteousness which, viewing with overweening partiality its own modes and attainments, is disposed to give to the world at large less credit than due for piety and serious thoughts. At all events, we feel assured that to the present age no such ground of precedence could be justly pleaded. Had not the order of these poems been fixed by long prescription, and also by some allusions in the Task, a different arrangement might now have been substituted with propriety.

TABLE TALK.

Si te forte meæ gravis uret sarcina chartæ,
Abjicito,

Hor. Lib. I. Epist. 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 lightning spares, 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 Heaven bestows. And when recording history displays Feats of renown, though wrought in ancient days, Tells of a few stout hearts that fought and died, Where duty placed them, at their country's side ; The man, that is not moved with what he reads, That takes not fire at their heroic deeds,

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 nought 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 towering rock,
To see a people scatter'd like a flock,
Some royal mastiff panting at their heels,
With all the savage thirst a tiger feels ;
Then view him self-proclaim'd in a gazette,
Chief monster that has plagued the nations yet.
The globe and sceptre in such hands misplaced,
Those ensigns of dominion how disgraced !
The glass, that bids man mark the fleeting hour,
And Death's own scythe would better speak his power;
Then grace the boney phantom, in their stead,
With the king's shoulder-knot and gay cockade ;
Clothe the twin brethren in each other's dress,
The same their occupation and success.

A. 'Tis your belief the world was made for man;
Kings do but reason on the self-same plan:
Maintaining yours, you cannot theirs 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-ennobling thought,
Could they, or would they, reason as they ought.
The diadem, with mighty projects lined,
To catch renown by ruining mankind,
Is worth, with all its gold and glittring store,
Just what the toy will sell for, and no more.

Oh! bright occasions of dispensing good,3
How seldom used, how little understood !
To pour in virtue's lap her just reward,
Keep vice restrain'd behind a double guard ;

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 unbridled 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 sheathe 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:
And, of all lies, (be that one poet's boast,)
The lie that flatters I abhor the most.
Those arts be theirs, who hate his gentle reign ;
But he that loves them 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, Approved their method in all other things, “ But where, good sir, do you confine your kings ?” • There,” said his guide, “ the group 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 sarcasın 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.

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