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Knock at the gates of nations, rouse their fears ;
Say, wrath is coming, and the storm appears ;
But raise the shrillest cry in British ears.
What ails thee, restless as the waves that roar,
And fling their foam against thy chalky shore?
Mistress at least while Providence shall please,
And trident-bearing queen of the wide seas-
Why, having kept good faith, and often shown
Friendship and truth to others, find'st thou none?
Thou that hast set the persecuted free,
None interposes now to succour thee.
Countries indebted to thy power, that shine
With light derived from thee, would smother thine :
Thy very children watch for thy disgrace-
A lawless brood, and curse thee to thy face.
Thy rulers load thy credit, year by year,
With sums Peruvian mines could never clear;
As if, like arches built with skilful hand,
The more 'twere prest the firmer it would stand.
The cry in all thy ships is still the same, Speed us away to battle and to tame. Thy mariners explore the wild expanse, Impatient to descry the flags of France: But, though they fight as thine have ever fought, Return ashamed without the wreaths they sought. Thy senate is a scene of civil jar, Chaos of contrarieties at war; Where sharp and solid, phlegmatic and light, Discordant atoms meet, ferment, and fight; Where obstinacy takes bis sturdy stand, To disconcert what policy has planned; Where policy is busied all night long In setting right what faction has set wrong; Where flails of oratory thresh the floor,
yields them chaff and dust, and nothing more. Thy racked inhabitants repine, complain, Taxed till the brow of labour sweats in vain;
War lays a burden on the reeling state,
And peace does nothing to relieve the weight;
Successive loads succeeding broils impose,
And sighing millions prophecy the close.
Is adverse providence, when pondered well,
So dimly writ, or difficult to spell,
Thou canst not read with readiness and ease
Providence adverse in events like these?
Know then that heavenly wisdom on this ball
Creates, gives birth to, guides, consummates all;
That, while laborious and quick-thoughted man
Snuffs up the praise of what he seems to plan,
He first conceives, then perfects his design,
As a mere instrument in hands divine :
Blind to the working of that secret power,
That balances the wings of every hour,
The busy trifler dreams himself alone,
Frames many a purpose, and God works his own.
States thrive or wither as moons wax and wane,
Even as his will and his decrees ordain;
While honour, virtue, piety bear sway,
They flourish; and as these decline, decay.
In just resentment of his injured laws,
He pours contempt on them and on their cause;
Strikes the rough thread of error right athwart
The web of every scheme they have at heart;
Bids rottenness invade and bring to dust
The pillars of support, in which they trust,
And do his errand of disgrace and shame
On the chief strength and glory of the frame.
None ever yet impeded what he wrought,
None bars him out from his most secret thought:
Darkness itself before his
is light, And hell's close mischief naked in his sight.
Stand now and judge thyself.:-Hast thou incurred His anger, who can waste thee with a word,
Who poises and proportions sea and land,
Weigbing them in the hollow of his hand,
And in whose awful sight all nations seem
As grasshoppers, as dust, a drop, a dream ;
Hast thou (a sacrilege his soul abhors)
Claimed all the glory of thy prosperous wars?
Proud of thy fleets and armies, stolen the gem
Of his just praise, to lavish it on them?
Hast thou not learned, what thou art often told,
A truth still sacred, and believed of old,
That no success attends on spears and swords
Unblest, and that the battle is the Lord's?
That courage is his creature, and dismay
The post that at his bidding speeds away,
Ghastly in feature, and his stammering tongue,
With doleful rumour and sad presage hung,
To quell the valour of the stoutest heart,
And teach the combatant a woman's part?
That he bids thousands fly when none pursue,
Save, as he will, by many or by few,
And claims for ever, as his royal right,
Th' event and sure decision of the fight?
Hast thou, though suckled at fair freedom's breast,
Exported slavery to the conquered East,
Pulled down the tyrants India served with dread,
And raised thyself a greater in their stead?
Gone thither armed and hungry, returned full,
Fed from the richest veins of the Mogul,
A despot big with power obtained by wealth,
And that obtained by rapine and by stealth?
With Asiatic vices stored thy mind,
But left their virtues and thine own behind ;
And, having trucked thy soul, brought home the fee,
To tempt the poor to sell himself to thee?
Hast thou by statute showed from its design The Saviour's feast his own blest bread and wine,
And made the symbols of atoning grace
An office key, a picklock to a place,
That infidels may prove their title good
By an oath dipped in sacramental blood ?
A blot that will be still a blot, in spite
Of all that grave apologists may write :
And though a bishop toil to cleanse the stain,
He wipes and scours the silver cup in vain.
And hast thou sworn on every slight pretence,
Till perjuries are common as bad pence,
While thousands careless of the damning sin,
Kiss the book's outside, who ne'er looked within?
Hast thou, when heaven has clothed thee with disgrace,
And long provoked, repaid thee to thy face,
(For thou hast known eclipses, and endured
Dimness and anguish, all thy beams obscured,
When sin has shed dishonour on thy brow;
And never of a sabler hue than now)
Hast thou, with heart perverse and conscience seared,
Despising all rebuke, still persevered,
And having chosen evil, scorned the voice
That cried, Repent!-and gloried in thy choice?
Thy fastings, when calamity at last
Suggests th' expedient of a yearly fast,
What mean they? Canst thou dream there is a power
In lighter diet at a later hour,
To charm to sleep the threatening of the skies,
And hide past folly from all-seeing eyes ?
The past, that wins deliverance, and suspends
The stroke, that a vivdictive God intends,
Is to renounce hypocrisy; to draw
Thy life upon the pattern of the law;
To war with pleasnre idolized before ;
To vanquish lust, and wear its yoke no more.
All fasting else, whate'er be the pretence,
Is wooing mercy by renewed offence.
Hast thou within thee sin, that in old time
Brought fire from heaven, the sex-abusing crime,
Whose horrid perpetration stamps disgrace,
Baboons are free from, upon human race?
Think on the fruitful and well-watered spot,
That fed the flocks and herds of wealthy Lot,
Where Paradise seemed still youchsafed on earth,
Burning and scorched into perpetual dearth,
Or, in his words who damned the base desire,
Suffering the vengeance of eternal fire :
Then nature injured, scandalized, defiled,
Unveiled her blushing cheek, looked on, and smiled;
Beheld with joy the lovely scene defaced,
And praised the wrath, that laid her beauties waste.
Far be the thought from any verse of mine,
And further still the formed and fixed design,
To thrust the charge of deeds, that I detest,
Against an innocent unconscious breast :
The man that dares traduce, because he can
With safety to himself, is not a man ;
An individual is a sacred mark,
Not to be pierced in play, or in the dark ;
But public censure speaks a public foe,
Unless a zeal for virtue guide the blow.
The priestly brotherhood, devout, sincere,
From mean self-interest and ambition clear,
Their hope in Heaven, servility their scorn,
Prompt to persuade, expostulate, and warn,
Their wisdom pure, and given them from above,
Their usefulness ensured by zeal and love,
As meek as the man Moses, and withal
As bold as in Agrippa's presence Paul,
Should fly the world's contaminating touch,
Holy and unpolluted :-
:-are thine such ?
Except a few li's spirit blest,
Hophni and Phineas may describe the rest.