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For thou wast born amid the din of arms,
And sucked a breast that panted with alarms,
While yet thou wast a groveling puling chit,
Thy bones not fashioned, 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 conqueror owes ;
Expressive, energetic, and refined,
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 clothe thy pinked and painted hide,
And grace thy figure with a soldier's pride;
He sowed 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.
Religion, if in heavenly truths attired,
Needs only to be seen to be admired;
But thine, as dark as witcheries of the night,
Was formed 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
Dispelled thy gloom, and broke away thy dreams,
Tradition, now decrepit and worn out,
Babbler of ancient fables, leaves a doubt :
But still light reached thee; and those gods of thine
Wodon and Thor, each tottering in his shrine,
Fell broken and defaced at his own door,
As Dagon in Philista long before.
But Rome with sorceries and magic wand
Soon raised a cloud, that darkened every land;
And thine was smothered 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, Aeeced 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 trained 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 was the veriest slave in days of yore,
That ever dragged a chain, or tugged an oar :
Thy monarchs, arbitrary, fierce, unjust,
Themselves the slaves of bigotry or lust,
Disdained thy counsels, only in distress
Found thee a goodly spunge for power to press.
Thy chiefs, the lords of many a petty fee,
Provoked and harassed, in return plagued thee;
Called thee away from peaceable employ,
Domestic happiness and rural joy,
To waste thy life in arms, or lay it down
In causeless feuds and bickerings of their own.
Thy parliaments adored on bended knees
The sovereignty, they were convened to please;
Whate'er was asked, too timid to resist,
Complied with, and were graciously dismissed;
And if some Spartan soul a doubt expressed,
And blushing at the tameness of the rest,
Dared to suppose the subject had a choice,
He was a traitor by the general voice.
Oh slave! with powers thou didst not dare exert,
Verse cannot stoop so low as thy desert;
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 Aag to boast.
Which niay be found at Doctors' Commons.
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 confessed,
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 favoured land,
For ages safe beneath his sheltering 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 feet invincible in vain;
Her gloomy monarch, doubtful and resigned,
To every pang, that racks an anxious mind,
Asked 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 feared, 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 plucked thee down.
Peculiar is the grace by thee possessed,
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.
Freedom, in other lands scarce known to shine,
Pours out a food of splendour upon thine;
Thou hast as bright an interest 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 towers
Stood trembling at the boldness of thy powers,
That won a nymph on that immortal plain,
Like her the fabled Phæbus wooed 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 business, constant as the wheels of time,
Can pause an hour to read a serious rhime;
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 heavenly truth have swelled the debt.
When persecuting zeal made royal sport
With tortured innocence in Mary's court,
And Bonner, blithe as shepherd at a wake,
Enjoyed the show, and danced about the stake;
The sacred book, its value understood,
Received the seal of martyrdom in blood.
Those holy men, so full of truth and grace,
Seem to reflection of a different 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,
Or spare a life too short to reach the skies.
From them to thee conveyed along the tide,
Their streaming hearts poured freely when they died ;
Those truths, which neither use nor years impair,
Invite thee, woo thee, to the bliss they share.
What dotage will not vanity maintain ?
What web too weak to catch a moderate brain ?
The moles and bats in full assembly find,
On special search, the keen-eyed eagle blind.
And did they dream, and art thou wiser now!
Prove it---if better, I submit and bow.
* Alluding to the grant of Magna Charta, which was ex. torted from King John by the Barons at Runnymede, near Windsor.
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,
Leaped out of nothing ; called by the Most High;
By such a change thy darkness is made light,
Thy chaos order, and thy weakness might;
And He, whose power mere nullity obeys,
Who found thee nothing, formed thee for his praise.
To praise him is to serve him, and fulfil,
Doing and suffering, his unquestioned will;
'Tis to believe what men inspired of old,
Faithful, and faithfully informed, 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 assigned 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 unimpeached
Directs thee to that eminence they reached,
Heroes and worthies of days past, thy sires ?
Or his, who touched their hearts with hallowed fires ?
alas! in vain reproach an age,
Whom all the vanities they scorned engage;
And his, that seraphs tremble at, is hung
Disgracefully on every trifler's tongue,
Or serves the champion in forensic war
To fourish and parade with at the bar.
Pleasure herself perhaps suggests a plea,
If interest move thee, to persuade even thee;
By every charm, that smiles upon her face,
By joys possessed, and joys still held in chase,
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;