« PreviousContinue »
“There” said his guide—“the group is full in view.”
“Indeed!” replied the don—“there are but few.”
His black interpreter the charge disdain’d—
“Few, fellow?—there are all that ever reign'd.”
Wit, undistinguishing, is apt to strike
The guilty and not guilty both alike.
I grant the sarcasm is too severe,
And we can readily refute it here;
While Alfred’s name, the father of his age,
And the Sixth Edward’s, grace th’ historic page.
A. Kings, then, at last, have but the lot of all:
By their own conduct they must stand or fall.
True. While they live, the courtly laureat pays
His quit-rent ode, his pepper-corn of praise;
And many a dunce, whose fingers itch to write,
Adds, as i. can, his tributary mite.
A subject's faults a subject may proclaim,
A monarch's errors are forbidden game !
Thus, free from censure, overaw’d by fear,
And prais’d for virtues that they scorn to wear,
The fleeting forms of majesty engage
Respect, while stalking o'er life’s narrow stage;
Then leave their crimes for history to scan,
And ask, with busy scorn, Was this the man?" -
I pity kings, whom Worship waits upon w
Obsequious from the cradle to the throne;
Before whose infant eyes the flatt’rer bows,
And binds a wreath about their baby brows;
Whom Education stiffens into state,
And Death awakens from that dream too late.
Oh! if Servility, with supple knees,
Whose trade it is to smile, to crouch, to please;
If smooth Dissimulation, skill'd to grace
A devil's purpose with an angel’s face;
If smiling peeresses, and simp'ring peers,
Encompassing his throme a few short years;
If the gilt carriage, and the pamper'd steed,
That wants no driving, and disdains the lead;
If guards, mechanically form'd in ranks,
Playing, at beat of drum, their martial pranks,
Should'ring, and standing as if struck to stone,
While condescending majesty looks on —
If monarchy consist in such base things,
Sighing, I say again, “I pity kings!”
o be suspected, ão. and withstood,
E’en when he labours for his country's good;
To see a band, call'd patriot for no cause,
But that they catch at popular applause,
Careless of all th’ anxiety he feels,
Hook disappointment on the public wheels;
With all their flippant fluency of tongue,
Most confident, when j, most wrong ;--
If this be kingly, then farewell for me
All kingship à and may I be poor and free!
To be the Table Task of clubs up-stairs,
To which th' unwash'd artificer repairs,
To indulge his genius after long fatigue,
By diving into cabinet intrigue
§ what kings deem a toil, as well they may,
o him is relaxation and mere play);
To win no praise when well-wrought plans prevail,
But to be rudely censur'd when they sail;
To doubt the love his fav'rites may pretend,
And in reality to find no friend;
If he indulge a cultivated taste,
His galleries with the works of art well grac'd,
To hear it call'd extravagance and waste;
If these attendants, and if such as these,
Must follow royalty, then welcome ease;
However humble and confin'd the sphere,
Happy the state that has not these to fear.
A. Thus men, whose thoughts contemplative have
On situations that they never felt,
Start up sagacious, covered with the dust
Of dreaming, study, and pedantic rust,
And prate and preach about what others prove,
As if the world and they were hand and glove.
Leave kingly backs to cope with kingly cares;
They have their weight to carry, subjects theirs;
Poets, of all men, ever least regret
Increasing taxes and the nation's debt.
Could you contrive the payment, and rehearse
The mighty plan, oracular, in verse,
No bard, howe'er majestic, old or new,
Should claim my fix’d attention more than you.
... B. Not Brindley nor Bridgewater would essay
To turn the course of Helicon that way;
Nor would the Nine consent the sacred tide
Should purl amidst the traffic of Cheapside,
Or j. in 'Change Alley, to amuse
The leathern ears of stock-jobbers and Jews.
•A. Vouchsafe, at least, to pitch the key of rhyme
To themes more pertinent, if less sublime.
When ministers and ministerial arts;
Patriots, who love good places at their hearts;
When admirals, extoll'd for standing still,
Or doing nothing with a deal of skill;
Gen'rals, who will not conquer when they may,
Firm friends to peace, to pleasure, and good pay;
When Freedom, wounded almost to despair,
Though Discontent alone can find out where;
When themes like these employ the poet's tongue,
I hear as mute as if a syren'sung.
Or tell me, if you can, what pow'r maintains
A Briton's scorn of arbitrary chains:
That were a theme might animate the dead,
And move the lips of poets cast in lead.
v. B. The cause, tho’ worth the search, may yet elude
Conjecture and remark, however shrewd,
They take, perhaps, a well-directed aim,
Who seek it in his climate and his frame.
Lib'ral in all things else, yet Nature here
With stern severity deals out the year.
Winter invades the spring, and often pours
A chilling flood on summer's drooping flow’rs:
Unwelcome vapours quench autumnal beams,
Ungenial blasts attending curl the streams:
The peasants urge their harvest, ply the fork
With double toil, and shiver at their work;
Thus with a rigour, for his good design'd,
She rears her fav'rite man of all mankind.
His form robust and of elastic tone,
Proportion'd well, half muscle and half bone,
Supplies with warm activity and force
A mind well-lodg’d and masculine of course. .
Hence Liberty, sweet Liberty, inspires
And keeps alive his fierce but noble fires.
Patient of constitutional control,
He bears it with meek manliness of soul:
But, if Authority grows wanton, woe
To him that treads upon his free-born toe;
One step beyond the bound'ry of the laws
Fires him at once in Freedom's glorious cause.
Thus proud Prerogative, not much rever'd,
Is seldom felt, though sometimes seen and heard;
And in his cage, like parrot fine and gay,
Is kept to strut, look big, and talk away.
Born in a climate softer far than ours,
Not form’d, like us, with such Herculean pow'rs,
The Frenchman, easy, debonair, and i.
Give him his lass, his fiddle, and his frisk,
Is always happy, reign whoever may,
And laughs the sense of mis’ry far away.
He drinks his simple bev'rage with a gust;
And, feasting on an onion and a crust,
We never feel th’ alacrity and joy,
With which he shouts and carols Pive le Roy 1
Fill'd with as much true merriment and glee,
As if he heard his king say—“Slave, be free.”
Thus happiness depends, as Nature shows,
Less on exterior things than most suppose.
Vigilant over all that he has made, -
Kind Providence attends with gracious aid;
Bids equity throughout his works prevail,
And weighs the nations in an even scale;
He can encourage Slav'ry to a smile,
And fill with Discontent a British isle.
.A. Freeman and slave, then, if the case be such,
Stand on a level; and you prove too much:
If all men indiscriminately share
His fost’ring pow'r and tutelary care,
As well be yok'd by Despotism's hand,
As dwell at large in Britain's charter'd land.
* B. No. Freedom has a thousand charms to show,
That slaves, howe'er contented, never know.
The mind attains, beneath her happy reign,
The growth that Nature meant she should attain;.
The varied fields of science, ever new,
Op'ning and wider op'ning on her view,
She yentures onward with a prosp’rous force,
While no base fear impedes her in her course.
Religion, richest favour of the skies,
Stands most reveal’d before the freeman's eyes;
No shades of superstition blot the day,
Liberty chases all that gloom away;
The soul emancipated, unoppress'd,
Free to prove all things, and hold fast the best,
Learns much; and to a thousand list’ming minds
Communicates with joy the good she finds;
Courage in arms, and ever prompt to show
His manly forehead to the s. foe;
Glorious in war, but for the sake of peace,
His spirits rising as his toils increase,
Guards well what arts and industry have won,
And Freedom claims him for her first-born son.
Slaves fight for what were better cast away—
The chain that binds them, and a tyrant's sway;
But they, that fight for freedom, undertake
The noblest cause mankind can have at stake:–