Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

The thought that meditates a brother's wrong : 560
Brings not alone the more conspicuous part,
His conduct, to the test, but tries his heart.

Hark! universal nature shook and groan'd,
'Twas the last trumpet-sce the Judge enthron'd!
Rouse all your courage at your utmost need, 565
Now summon ev'ry virtue--stand and plead.
What! silent ? is your boasting heard no more?
That self-renouncing wisdom learn'd before,
Had shed immortal glories on your brow,
That all your virtues cannot purchase now. 570

All joy to the believer ! He can speak-
Trembling, yet happy; confident, yet meek.

Since the dear hour that brought me to thy foot,
And cut up all my follies by the root,
I never trusted in an arm but thine,

575
Nor hop'd, but in thy righteousness divine :
My pray’rs and alms, imperfect and defil'd,
Were but the feeble efforts of a child;
Howe'er perform’d, it was their brightest part
That they proceeded from a grateful heart ;

580
Cleans'd in thine own all-purifying blood,
Forgive their evil, and accept their good;
I cast them at thy feet-my only plea
Is what it was, dependence upon thee;
While struggling in the vale of tears below, 585
That never fail'd, nor shall it fail me now.

Angelick gratulations rend the skies,
Pride falls unpitied, never more to rise,
Humility is crown'd, and Faith receives the prize.

EXPOSTULATION.

Tantane, tam patiens, nullo certamine tolli
Dona sines?

VIRG.

a

WHY weeps the muse for England ? What appears In England's case, to move the muse to tears ? From side to side of her delightful isle Is she not cloth’d with a perpetual smile ? Can Nature add a charm, or Art confer

5 A new-found luxury not seen in her ? Where under Heav'n is pleasure more pursued, Or where does cold reflection less intrude ? Her fields a rich expanse of wavy corn, Pour'd out from Plenty's overflowing horn;

10 Ambrosial gardens, in which art supplies The fervour and the force of Indian skies ; Her peaceful shores, where busy Commerce waits To

pour his golden tide through all her gates ; Whom fiery suns, that scorch the russet spice

15 Of eastern groves, and oceans floor'd with ice, Forbid in vain to push his daring way To darker climes, or climes of brighter day ; Whom the winds waft where'er the billows roll, From the world's girdle to the frozen pole ;

20 The chariots bounding in her wheel-worn streets, Her vaults below, where ev'ry vintage meets ; Her theatres, her revels, and her sports ; 'The scenes to which not youth alone resorts.

But age, in spite of weakness and of pain,

25 Still haunts, in hope to dream of youth again ; All speak her happy: let the muse look round From east to west, no sorrow can be found ; Or only what, in cottages confin'd, Sighs unregarded to the passing wind.

30 Then wherefore weep for England ? What appears In England's case, to move the muse to tears ?

The prophet wept for Israel: wish'd his eyes
Were fountains fed with infinite supplies :
For Israel dwelt in robbery and wrong ;

35
There were the scorner's and the sland'rer's tongue ;
Oaths, used as playthings or convenient tools,
As interest bias'd knaves, or fashion fools ;
Adult'ry, neighing at his neighbour's door ;
Oppression, lab’ring hard to grind the poor : 40
The partial balance, and deceitful weight;
The treach'rous smile, a mask for secret hate ;
Hypocrisy, formality in pray'r,
And the dull service of the lip were there.
Her women, insolent and self-caress'd,

45 By Vanity's unwearied finger dress’d, Forgot the blush, that virgin fears impart To modest cheeks, and borrow'd one from art : Were just such trifles, without worth or use, As silly pride and idleness produce :

50 Curl'd, scented, furbelow'd, and flounced around, With feet too delicate to touch the ground, They stretch'd the neck, and roll’d the wanton eva, And sigh'd for every fool that flutter'd hy. He saw his people slaves to ev'ry lust,

55 Lewd, avaricious, arrogant, unjust : He heard the wheels of an avenging God Groan heavily along the distant road; Saw Babylon set wide her two-leav'd brass To let the military deluge pass ;

60 Jerusalem a prey, her glory soild, Her princes captive, and her treasure spoil'd;

Wept till all Israel heard his bitter cry, Stamp'd with his foot, and smote upon his thigh ; But wept, and stamp'd, and smote his thigh in vain, 65 Pleasure is deaf when told of future pain, And sounds prophetick are too rough to suit Ears long accustom’d to the pleasing lute: They scorn'd his inspiration and his theme, Pronounc'd him frantick, and his fears a dream ; 70 With self indulgence wing’d the fleeting hours, Till the foe found them, and down fell their tow'rs

Long time Assyria bound them in her chain, 'Till penitence had purg'd the publick stain, And Cyrus, with relenting pity mov’d,

75 Return’d them happy to the land they lov'd ; There, proof against prosperity, a while They stood the test of her ensnaring smile, And had the grace in scenes of peace to show The virtues they had learn’d in scenes of wo.

80 But man is frail, and can but ill sustain A long immunity from grief and pain ; And after all the joys that Plenty leads, With tiptoe step, Vice silently succeeds.

When he that ruld them with a shepherd's rod 85 In form a man, in dignity a God, Came, not expected in that humble guise, To sift and search them with unerring eyes ; He found conceal'd beneath a fair outside, The filth of rottenness, and worm of pride ;

90 Their piety a system of deceit, Scripture employ'd to sanctify the cheat; The pharisee the dupe of his own art, Self idoliz'd, and yet a knave at heart. When nations are to perish in their sins,

95 'Tis in the church the leprosy begins ; The priest, whose office is with zeal sincere To watch the fountain and preserve it clear, Carelessly nods and sleeps upon the brink, While others poison what the flock must drink ;

[ocr errors]

100

Or, waking at the call of lust alone,
Infuses lies and errours of his own;
His unsuspecting sheep believe it pure;
And, tainted by the very means of cure,
Catch from each other a contagious spot,

105
The foul forerunner of a gen'ral rot.
Then Truth is hush'd, that Heresy may preach;
And all is trash, that Reason cannot reach:
Then God's own image on the soul impressid
Becomes a mock’ry, and a standing jest ;

110 And Faith, the root whence only can arise The graces of a life that wins the skies, Loses at once all value and esteem, Pronounc'd by graybeards a pernicious dream : Then Ceremony leads her bigots forth,

115
Prepar'd to fight for shadows of no worth ;
While truths, on which eternal things depend,
Find not, or hardly find, a single friend;
As soldiers watch the signal of command,
Thcy learn to bow, to kneel, to sit, to stand ; 120
Happy to fill Religion's vacant place
With hollow form, and gesture, and grimace.

Such, when the Teacher of his church was there,
People and priest, the sons of Israel were ;
Stiff in the letter, lax in the design

125
And import, of their oracles divine ;
Their learning legendary, false, absurd,
And yet exalted above God's own word;
They drew a curse from an intended good,
Puff d up with gifts they never understood. 130
He judg’d them with as terrible a frown,
As if not love, but wrath, had brought him down:
Yet he was gentle as soft summer airs,
Had grace for others' sins, but none for theirs ;
Through all he spoke a noble plainness ran- 135
Rhet'rick is artifice, the work of man;
And tricks and turns, that fancy may devise,
Are far too mean for him that rules the skies.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »