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Let cottagers and unenlightened swains
Revere the laws they dream that heaven ordains;
Resort on Sundays to the house of prayer,
And ask, and fancy they find, blessings there.
Themselves, perhaps, when weary they retreat
T'enjoy cool nature in a country seat,
T'exchange the centre of a thousand trades,
For clumps, and lawns, and temples, and cascades,
May now and then their velvet cushions take,
And seem to pray for good example sake;
Judging, in charity no doubt, the town
Pious enough, and having need of none.
Kind souls! to teach their tenantry to prize
What they themselves, without remorse, despise :
Nor hope have they, nor fear, of aught to come,
As well for them had prophecy been dumb;
They could have held the conduct they pursue,
Had Paul of Tarsus lived and died a Jew;
And truth, proposed to reasoners wise as they,
Is a pearl cast_completely cast away.
They die,-Death lends them, pleased and as in sport,
All the grim honours of his ghastly court.
Far other paintings grace the chamber now,
Where late we saw the mimic landscape glow :
The busy heralds hang the sable scene
With mournful 'scutcheons, and dim lamps between;
Proclaim their titles to the crowd around,
But they that wore them move not at the sound ;
The coronet, placed idly at their head,
Adds nothing now to the degraded dead,
And even the star, that glitters on the bier,
Can only say–Nobility lies here.
Peace to all such—'twere pity to offend
By useless censare, whom we cannot mend ;
Life without hope can close but in despair,
'Twas there we found them, and must leave them there
As, when two pilgrims in a forest stray, Both may be lost, yet each in his own way; So fares it with the multitudes beguiled In vain opinions waste and dangerous wild ; Ten thousand rove the brakes and thorns among, Some eastward, and some westward, and all wrong. But here, alas! the fatal difference lies, Each man's belief is right in his own eyes; And he that blames what they have blindly chose, Incurs resentment for the love he shows.
Say, botanist, within whose province fall
The codar, and the hyssop on the wall,
Of all that deck the lanes, the fields, the bowers,
What parts the kindred tribes of weeds and flowers ?
Sweet scent, or lovely form, or both combined,
Distinguish every cultivated kind;
The want of both denotes a meaner breed,
And Chloe from her garland picks the weed.
Thus hopes of every sort, whatever sect
Esteem them, sow them, rear them, and protect,
If wild in nature, and not duly found,
Gethsemane! in thy dear hallowed ground,
That cannot bear the blaze of scripture light,
Nor cheer the spirit, nor refresh the sight,
Nor animate the soul to Christian deeds,
(Oh cast them from thee!) are weeds, arrant weeds.
Ethelred's house, the centre of six ways,
Diverging each from each, like equal rays,
Himself as bountiful as April rains,
Lord paramount of the surrounding plains,
Would give relief of bed and board to none,
But guests that sought it in th' appointed one,
And they might enter at his open door,
Even till his spacious hall would hold no more.
He sent a servant forth by every road,
To sound his horn and publish it abroad,
That all might mark-knight, menial, high and low,
An ordinance it concerned them much to know.
If after all some headstrong hardy lout
Would disobey, though sure to be shut out,
Could he with reason murmur at his case,
Himself sole author of his own disgrace?
No! the decree was just and without flaw;
And he that made, had right to make, the law;
His sovereign power and pleasure unrestrained,
The wrong was his, who wrongfully complained.
Yet half mankind maintain a churlish strife
With him the Donor of eternal life,
Because the deed, by which his love confirms
The largess he bestows, prescribes the terms.
Compliance with his will your lot ensures,
Accept it only, and the boon is yours.
And sure it is as kind to smile and give,
As with a frown to say, Do this, and live.
Love is not pedlar's trumpery bought and sold :
He will give freely, or he will withhold;
His soul abhors a mercenary thought,
And him as deeply who abhors it not;
He stipulates indeed, but merely this,
That man will freely take an unboaght bliss,
Will trust him for a faithful generous part,
Nor set a price upon a willing heart.
Of all the ways that seem to promise fair,
To place you where his saints his presence share,
This only can; for this plain cause, expressed
In terms as plain, himself has shut the rest.
But oh, the strife, the bickering, and debate,
The tidings of unpurchased heaven create !
The flirted fan, the bridle and the toss,
All speakers, yet all language at a loss.
From stuccoed walls smart arguments rebound;
And beaus, adepts in every thing profound,
Die of disdain, or whistle off the sound.
Such is the clamour of rooks, daws, and kites,
Th’ explosion of the levelled tube excites,
Where mouldering abbey-walls o’erhang the glade,
And oaks coeval spread a mournful shade,
The screaming nations, hovering in mid air,
Loudly resent the stranger's freedom there,
And seem to warn him never to repeat
His bold intrusion on their dark retreat.
Adieu, Vinosa cries, ere yet he sips
The purple bumper trembling at his lips,
Adieu to all morality! if grace
Make works a vain ingredient in the case.
The Christian hope is—Waiter, draw the cork
If I mistake not-Blockhead! with a fork!-
Without good works, whatever some may boast,
Mere folly and delusion-Sir, your toast.
My firm persuasion is, at least sometimes,
That heaven will weigh man's virtues and his crimes
With nice attention, in a righteous scale,
And save or damn as these or those prevail.
I plant my foot upon this ground of trust,
And silence every fear with-God is just.
But if perchance on some dull drizzling day
A thought intrude that says, or seems to say,
If thus th' important cause is to be tried,
Suppose the beam should dip on the wrong side ;
I soon recover from these needless frights,
And God is merciful-sets all to rights.
Thus, between justice, as my prime support,
And mercy, fled to as the last resort,
I glide and steal along with heaven in view,-
And, pardon me, the bottle stands with you.
I never will believe, the colonel cries,
The sanguinary schemes that some devise,
Who make the good Creator on their plan
A being of less equity than man.
If appetite, or what divines call lust,
Which men comply with, e'en beoause they must,
Be punished with perdition, who is pure ?
Then theirs, no doubt, as well as mine, is sure.
If sentence of eternal pain belong
To every sudden slip and transient wrong,
Then heaven enjoins the fallible and frail
An hopeless task, and damns them if they fail.
My creed (whatever some creed-makers mean
By Athanasian nonsense, or Nicene),
My creed is, he is safe that does his best,
And death's a doom sufficient for the rest.
Right, says an ensign; and for aught I see,
Your faith and mine substantially agree ;
The best of every man's performance here
Is to discharge the duties of his sphere.
A lawyer's dealings should be just and fair,
Honesty shines with great advantage there.
Fasting and prayer sit well upon a priest,
A decent caution and reserve at least.
A soldier's best is courage in the field,
With nothing here that wants to be concealed.
Manly deportment, gallant, easy, gay ;
A hand as liberal as the light of day.
The soldier thus endowed, who never shrinks,
Nor closets up his thoughts, whate’er he thinks,
Who scorns to do an injury by stealth,
Must go to heaven-and I must drink his health.
Sir Smug, he cries (for lowest at the board,
Just made fifth chaplain of his patron lord,
His shoulders witnessing by many a shrug
How much his feelings suffered, sat sir Smug),
Your office is to winnow false from true;
Come, prophet, drink, and tell us, What think you?
Sighing and smiling as he takes his glass, Which they that woo preferment rarely pass,