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As London; opulent, enlarged, and still
Increasing London ? Babylon of old
Not more the glory of the earth than she,
A more accomplished world's chief glory now.
L She has her praise. Now mark a spot or two
That so much beauty would do well to purge;
And show this queen of cities that so fair
May yet be foul, so witty yet not wise.
It is not seemly, nor of good report,
That she is slack in discipline; more prompt
To avenge than to prevent the breach of law :
That she is 'rigid in denouncing death
On petty robbers, and indulges life
And liberty, and oft-times honour too,
To peculators of the public gold :
That thieves at home must hang, but he that puts
Into his overgorged and bloated purse
The wealth of Indian provinces escapes.
Nor is it well, nor can it come to good,
That, through profane and infidel contempt
Of holy writ, she has presumed to annul
And abrogate, as roundly as she may,
The total ordinance and will of God;
Advancing fashion to the post of truth,
And centering all authority in modes
And customs of her own, till sabbath rites
Have dwindled into unrespected forms,
And knees and hassocks are well-nigh divorced.
God made the country, and man made the town.
What wonder then that health and virtue, gifts
That can alone make sweet the bitter draught
That life holds out to all, should most abound
And least be threatened in the fields and groves ?
Possess ye therefore, ye who, borne about
In chariots and sedans, know no fatigue
But that of idleness, and taste no scenes
But such as art contrives, possess ye still
Your element; there only ye can shine,
There only minds like yours can do no harm..
Our groves were planted to console at noon
The pensive wanderer in their shades. At eve
The moonbeam, sliding softly in between
The sleeping leaves, is all the light they wish,
Birds warbling all the music. We can spare
The splendour of your lamps, they but eclipse
Our softer satellite. Your songs confound
Our more harmonious notes: the thrush departs
Scared, and the offended nightingale is mute.
There is a public mischief in your mirth,
It plagues your country. Folly such as yours,
Graced with a sword, and worthier of a fan,
Has made, which enemies could ne'er have done,
Our arch of empire, steadfast but for you,
A mutilated structure, soon to fall.
ARGUMENT.-Reflections suggested by the conclusion of the former book-Peace
among the nations recommended on the ground of their common fellowship in sorrow_Prodigies enumerated-Sicilian earthquakes-Man rendered obnoxious to these calamities by sin-God the agent in them—The philosophy that stops at secondary causes reproved-Our own late miscarriages accounted for-Satirical notice taken of our trips to Fontainebleau-But the pulpit, not satire, the proper engine of reformation-- The reverend advertiser of engraved sermons-Petitmaitre parson-The good preacher-- Picture of a theatrical clerical coxcomb-Story-tellers and jesters in the pulpit reproved-Apostrophe to popular applause-Retailers of ancient philosophy expostulated with-Sum of ihe whole matter-Effects of sacerdotal mismanagement on the laity—Their folly and extravagance--The mischiefs of profusion-Profusion itself, with all its consequent evils, ascribed, as to its principal cause, to the want of discipline in the universities.
H for a lodge in some vast wilderness,
Some boundless contiguity of shade,
Where rumour of oppression and deceit,
Of unsuccessful or successful war,
Might never reach me more! My ear is pained,
My soul is sick with every day's report
Of wrong and outrage with which earth is filled.
There is no flesh in man's obdurate heart,
It does not feel for man. The natural bond
Of brotherhood is severed as the flax
That falls asunder at the touch of fire.
He finds his fellow guilty of a skin
Not coloured like his own and, having power
To enforce the wrong, for such a worthy cause
Dooms and devotes him as his lawful prey.
THE RUSTIC BRIDGE FROM A DRAWING BY J. STORER, ENGRAVED IN "COWPER ILLUSTRATED BY A SERIES
OF VIEWS, 1803
Lands intersected by a narrow frith
Abhor each other. Mountains interposed
Make enemies of nations who had else
Like kindred drops been mingled into one.
Thus man devotes his brother, and destroys;
And, worse than all and most to be deplored,
As human nature's broadest, foulest blot,
Chains him, and tasks him, and exacts his sweat
With stripes that mercy, with a bleeding heart,
Weeps when she sees inflicted on a beast.
Then what is man? And what man seeing this,
And having human feelings, does not blush
And hang his head to think himself a man?
I would not have a slave to till my ground,
To carry me, to fan me while I sleep,
And tremble when I wake, for all the wealth
That sinews bought and sold have ever earned.
No: dear as freedom is, and in my heart's
Just estimation prized above all price,
I had much rather be myself the slave
And wear the bonds, than fasten them on him.
We have no slaves at home. Then why abroad?
And they themselves, once ferried o'er the wave
That parts us, are emancipate and loosed.
Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs
Receive our air that moment they are free,
They touch our country and their shackles fall.
That's noble, and bespeaks a nation proud
And jealous of the blessing. Spread it then,
And let it circulate through every vein
Of all your empire, that where Britain's power
Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too.
Sure there is need of social intercourse,
Benevolence, and peace, and mutual aid,
Between the nations, in a world that seems
To toll the death-bell of its own decease,
And by the voice of all its elements
To preach the general doom.* When were the winds
Let slip with such a warrant to destroy ?
When did the waves so haughtily o'erleap
Their ancient barriers, deluging the dry ?
Fires from beneath, and meteors † from above,
Portentous, unexampled, unexplained,
Have kindled beacons in the skies, and the old
And crazy earth has had her shaking fits
* Alluding to the late calamities at Jamaica.
† Aug. 18, 1783.