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Pensantur trutina-Hor. Lib. II. Epist. 1.
MAN, on the dubious waves of errour toss'd,
Hard lot of man-to toil for the reyard
20 Oh how unlike the complex works of man, Heav'n's easy, artless, unencumber'd plan! No meretricious graces to beguile, No clust'ring ornaments to clog the pile ; From ostentation as from weakness free,
25 It stands like the ceruloan arch we see, Majestick in its own simplicity. VOL. I.
Inscrib'd above the portal, from afar
Who judg'd the pharisee? What odious cause
50 (Such were the sins with which he charg'd his Lord.) No--the man's morals were exact, what then? 'Twas his ambition to be seen of men ; His virtues were his pride ; and that one vice, Made all his virtues gewgaws of no price ;
55 He wore them as fine trappings for a show, A praying, synagogue-frequenting beau. The self-applauding bird, the peacock, seeMark what a sumptuous pharisee is he ! Meridian sunbeams tempt him to unfold
60 His radiant glories, azure, green, and gold; He treads as if some solemn musick near, His measur'd step were govern'd by his ear ; And seems to say-Ye meaner fowl, give place, I am all splendour, dignity, and grace!
Not so the pheasant on his charms presumes,
His dwelling a recess in some rude rock, Book, beads, and maple dish, his meagre stock. 80 In shirt of hair and weeds of canvass dress'd, Girt with a bell rope that the pope has bless'd; Adust with stripes told out for ev'ry crime, And sore tormented long before his time; His pray'r preferr'd to saints that cannot aid ; 85 His praise postpon'd, and never to be paid; See the sage hermit, by mankind admir'd, With all that bigotry adopts inspir’d, Wearing out life in his religious whim, Till his religious whimsy wears out him.
90 His works, his abstinence, his zeal allow'd, You think him humble—God accounts him proud ; High in demand, though lowly in pretence, Of all his conduct this the genuine senseMy penitential stripes, my streaming blood, 95 Have purchas'd Heav'n, and prov'd my title good. Turn eastward now, and Fancy shall apply To your weak sight her telescopick eye. The bramin kindles on his own bare head The sacred fire, self-torturing his trade ;
100 His voluntary pains, severe and long, Would give a barb'rous air to British song ; No grand inquisitor could worse invent,
Than he contrives to suffer, well content.
Which is the saintlier worthy of the two? 105 Past all dispute, yon anchorite, say you. Your sentence and mine differ. What s a name? I say the bramin has the fairer claim. If suff'rings, Scripture no where recommends, Devis’d by self to answer selfish ends,
110 Give saintship, then all Europe must agree Ten starving hermits suffer less than he.
The truth, is, (if the truth may suit your ear And prejudice have left a passage clear,) Pride has attain'd its most luxuriant growth, 115 And poison'd ev'ry virtue in them both. Pride may be pamper'd while the flesh grows lean; Humility may clothe an English dean; That grace was Cowper's—his, confess'd by allThough plac'd in golden Durham's second stall.
120 Not all the plenty of a bishop's board, His palace, and his lacqueys, and “ My lord,” More nourish pride, that condescending vice, Than abstinence, and beggary, and lice; It thrives in mis’ry, and abundant grows;
125 In mis’ry fools upon themselves impose.
But why before us protestants produce
140 To thrift and parsimony much inclin’d,
She get allows herself that boy behind ;
She half an angel in her own account, Doubts not hereafter with the saints to mount. 150 Though not a grace appears on strictest search, But that she fasts, and, item, goes to church. Conscious of age she recollects her youth, And tells, not always, with an eye to truth, Who spann'd her waist, and who, where'er he came, Scrawl'd upon glass Miss Bridget's lovely name; 156 Who stole her slipper, fill'd it with tokay, And drank the little bumper ev'ry day. Of temper as envenom'd as an asp, Censorious, and her ev'ry word a wasp ;
160 In faithful mem’ry she records the crimes, Or real or fictitious of the times; Laughs at the reputations she has torn, And holds them dangling at arm's length in scorn.
Such are the fruits of sanctimonious pride, 165 Of malice fed while flesh is mortified : Take, Madam, the reward of all your pray’rs, Where hermits and where bramins meet with theirs, Your portion is with them.–Nay, never frown, But if you please, some fathoms lower down. 170
Artist, attend—your brushes and your paintProduce them—take a chair—now draw a saint. Oh sorrowful and sad ! the streaming tears Channel her cheeks—a Niobe appears ! Is this a saint? Throw tints and all away- 175 True Piety is cheerful as the day, Will weep indeed and heave a pitying groan For others' woes, but smiles upon her own.
What purpose has the King of saints in view ?