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Thy mariners explore the wild expanse,
Impatient to descry the flags of France:
But though they fight as thine have ever fought,
Return asham'd 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 his sturdy stand,
To disconcert what Policy has plann'd;
Where Policy is busied all night long
In setting right what Faction has set wrong;
Where flails of oratory thresh the floor,
That yields them chaff and dust, and nothing more.
Thy rack'd inhabitants repine, complain,
Tax'd 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 prophesy the close.
Is adverse Providence, when ponder'd 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 pow'r,
That balances the wings of ev'ry 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,
Ev'n as his will and his decrees ordain;
While bonour, virtue, piety bear sway,
They flourish ; and as these decline, decay:
In just resentment of his injur'd laws,
He pours contempt on them and on their cause;
Strikes the roigh thread of error right athwart
The web of ev'ry 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 eye is light,
And Hell's close mischief naked in his sight.
Stand now and judge thyself-Hast thou incurr'd
His anger, who can waste thee with a word,
Who poises and proportions sea and land,
Weighing 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)
Claim'd all the glory of thy prosp'rous wars ?
Proud of thy fleets and armies, stoľn the gem
Of his just praise, to lavish it on them?
Hast thou not learn’d, what thou art often told,
A truth still sacred, and believ'd 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 stamm’ring tongue
With doleful humour 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,
Saves as he will by many or by few,
And claims for ever, as his royal right,
The' event and sure decision of the fight?
Hast thou, though suckled at fairFreedom's breast,
Exported slav'ry to the conquer'd East?
Pulld down the tyrants India serv'd with dread,
And rais'd thyself, a greater, in their stead?
Gone thither arm’d and hungry, return'd full,
Fed from the richest veins of the mogul,
A despot big with pow'r obtain'd by wealth,
And that obtain'd by rapine and by stealth ?
With Asiatic vices stor'd thy mind,
But left their virtues and thine own behind ?
And, having truck'd thy soul, brought home the fee,
To tempt the poor to sell himself to thee?
Hast thou by statute sliov'd 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 dipp'd 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 ev'ry slight pretence, Till perjuries are common as bad penceyi While thousands, careless of the damning sin, Kiss the book's outside, who ne'er look'd within? Hast thou, when Heav'n has cloth'd thee with
disgrace, And long provok'd, repaid thee to thy face,
(For thou hast known eclipses, and endur'd
Dimness and anguish, all thy beams obscur’d,
When sin has shed dishonour on thy brow;
And never of a sabler hue than now,)
Hast thou, with heart perverse and conscience seard,
Despising all rebuke, still persever'd,
And baving chosen evil, scorn’d the voice
That cried, Repent !-and gloried in thy choice?
Thy fastings, when calamity at last
Suggests the expedient of a yearly fast,
What mean they? Canst thou dream there is a pow'r
In lighter diet at a later hour,
To charm to sleep the threat'ning of the skies,
And bide past folly from all-seeing eyes?
The fast, that wins deliv’rance, and suspends
The stroke that a vindictive God intends,
Is to renounce hypocrisy ; to draw
Thy life upon the pattern of the law;
To war with pleasure, idoliz'd before ;
To vanquish lust, and wear its yoke no more.
All fasting else, whate'er be the pretence,
Is wooing mercy by renew'd offence.
Hast thou within the sin, that in old time
Brought fire from Heav'n, the sex-abusing crime,
Whose horrid perpetration stamps disgrace,
Baboons are free from, upon human race?
Think on the fruitful and well-water'd spot,
That fed the flocks and herds of wealthy Lot,
Where Paradise seem'd still vouchsaf'd on Earth,
Burning and scorch'd into perpetual dearth,
Or, in bis words who damn'd the base desire,
Suff’ring the vengeance of eternal fire :
Then Nature injur’d, scandaliz'd, defild,
Unveild her blushing cheek, look'd on, and smild;
Beheld with joy the lovely scene defac'd,
And prais'd the wrath that laid her beauties waste,
Far be the thought from any verse of mine,
And farther still the form'd and fix'd 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 pierc'd 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-intrest and ambition clear,
Their hope in Heav'n, servility their scorn,
Prompt to persuade, expostulate, and warn,
'Their wisdom pure, and giv’n them from above,
Their usefulness ensur'd 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 with Eli's spirit blest, Hophni and Phineas may describe the rest.
Where shall a teacher look, in days like these, For ears and hearts, that he can hope to please? Look to the poor-the simple and the plain Will hear perhaps thy salutary strain : Humility is gentle, apt to learn, Speak but the word, will listen and return. Alas, not so ! the poorest of the flock Are proud, and set their faces as a rock; Denied that earthly opulence they choose, God's better gift they scoff at and refuse.