« PreviousContinue »
B. Agreed. But would you sell or slay your horse For bounding and curveting in his course? Or if, when ridden with a careless rein He break away, and seek the distant plain o No. His high mettle, under good control, Gives him Olympic speed, and shoots him to the goal. Let Discipline employ her wholesome arts; Let magistrates alert perform their parts, Not skulk or put on a prudential mask, As if their duty were a desperate task; Let active laws apply the needful curb, To §o the peace that riot would disturb; And Liberty, preserved from wild excess, Shall raise no feuds for armies to suppress. When Tumult lately burst his prison-door, And set plebeian thousands in a roar; When he usurp'd authority's just place, And dared to look his master in the face; When the rude rabble's watchword was—Destroy, And blazing London seem’d a second Troy; Liberty blush'd, and hung her drooping head, #. their progress with the deepest dread; Blush'd that effects like these she should produce, Worse than the deeds of galley-slaves broke loose. She loses in such storms her very name, And fierce licentiousness should bear the blame. Incomparable ; ! thy worth untold: Cheap, though blood-bought, and thrown away when sold: May no foes ravish thee, and no false friend Betray thee, while professing to defend Prize it, ye ministers; ye monarchs, spare; Ye patriots, guard it with a miser's care. A. Patriots, alas ! the few that have been found, Where most they flourish, upon English found, The country's need have scantily supplied, And the last left the scene when Chatham died. B. Not so—the virtue still adorns our age, Though the chief actor died upon the stage. In him Demosthenes was heard again; Liberty taught him her Athenian strain; She clothed him with authority and awe, Spoke from his lips, and in his looks gave law. #. speech, his form, his action, full of grace, And all his country beaming in his face, He stood, as some inimitable hand Would strive to make a Paul cr Tully stand. No sycophant or slave, that dared oppose Her sacred cause, but trembled when he rose; And every venal stickler for the yoke Felt himself crush'd at the first word he spoke. Such men are raised to station and command, When Providence means mercy to a land. He speaks, and they appear; to him they owe Skill to direct, and strength to strike the blow;
To manage with address, to seize with power
The crisis of a dark decisive hour.
So Gideon earn’d a victory not his own;
Subserviency his praise, and that alone.
Poor England! thou art a devoted deer,
Beset with every ill but that of fear.
The nations hunt; all mark thee for a prey;
They swarm around thee, and thou stand'st at bay:
Undaunted still, though wearied and perplex'd,
Once Chatham saved thee; but who saves thee next?
Alas! the tide of pleasure sweeps along
All that should be the boast of British song.
'Tis not the wreath that once adorn'd thy brow,
The prize of happier times, will serve thee now.
Our ancestry, a gallant Christian race,
Patterns of every virtue, every grace,
Confess'd a God; they kneel'd before they fought,
And praised him in the victories he wrought.
Now }. the dust of ancient days bring #.
Their sober zeal, integrity, and worth;
Courage, ungraced by these, affronts the skies,
Is but the fire without the sacrifice.
The stream that feeds the wellspring of the heart
Not more invigorates life's noblest part,
Than virtue quickens with a warmth divine
The powers that sin has brought to a decline.
A. The inestimable estimate of Brown
Rose like a paper-kite, and charm'd the town;
But measures, plannid and executed well,
Shifted the wind that raised it, and it fell.
He trod the very selfsame ground you tread,
And victory refuted all he said.
B. And yet his *. was not framed amiss;
Its error, if it err'd, was merely this—
He thought the dying hour already come,
And a complete recovery struck him dumb.
But that effeminacy, folly, lust,
Enervate and enfeeble, and needs must;
And that a nation shamefully debased
Will be despised and trampled on at last,
Unless sweet penitence her powers renew,
Is truth, if history itself be true.
There is a time, and i. marks the date,
For long forbearing clemency to wait;
That hour elapsed, the incurable revolt
Is #. and down comes the thunderbolt.
If Mercy then put by the threatening blow,
Must she perform the same kind office now?
May shel and if offended Heaven be still
Accessible, and prayer prevail, she will.
'Tis not, however, insolence and noise,
The tempest of tumultuary joys,
Nor is it yet despondence and dismay
Will win her visits or engage her stay;
Prayer only, and the penitential tear,
Can call her smiling down, and fix her here.
But when a country (one that I could name)
In prostitution sinks the sense of shame;
When infamous venality, grown bold,
Writes on his bosom, To be let or sold;
When perjury, that Heaven-defying vice,
Sells oaths by tale, and at the lowest price,
Stamps God's own ame upon a lie just made,
To turn a penny in the way of trade;
When avarice starves (and never hides his face)
Two or three millions of the human race,
And not a tongue inquires how, where, or when,
Though conscience will have twinges now and then.
When profanation of the sacred cause
In all its parts, times, ministry, and laws,
Bespeaks a land, once Christian, fallen and lost,
In all that wars against that title most;
What follows next let cities of great name,
And regions long since desolate proclaim.
Nineveh, Babylon, and ancient Rome,
Speak to the present times and times to come;
They cry aloud in every careless ear,
Stop, while ye may; suspend your mad career;
0 learn, from our example and our fate,
Learn wisdom and repentance ere too late
Not only Vice disposes and prepares
The mind that slumbers sweetly in her snares,
To stoop to tyranny's usurp'd command,
And bend her polish'd neck beneath his hand
(A dire effect by one of Nature's laws
Unchangeably connected with its cause);
But Providence himself will intervene,
To throw his dark displeasure o'er the scene.
All are his instruments; each form of war,
What burns at home, or threatens from afar,
Nature in arms, her elements at strife,
The storms that overset the joys of life,
Are but his rods to scourge a guilty land,
And waste it at the bidding of his hand.
He gives the word, and mutiny soon roars
In all her gates, and shakes her distant shores;
The standards of all nations are unfurl’d;
She has one foe, and that one foe the world.
And if he doom that people with a frown,
And mark them with a seal of wrath press'd down.
Obduracy takes place; callous and tough,
The reprobated race grows judgment-proof:
Earth shakes beneath them, and Heaven roars abov
But nothing scares them from the course they love.
To the lascivious pipe and wanton song,
That charm down fear, they frolic it along,
With mad rapidity and unconcern,
Down to the gulf from which is no return.
They trust in navies, and their navies fail—
God's curse can cast away ten thousand sail!
They trust in armies, and their courage dies;
In wisdom, wealth, in fortune, and in lies;
But all they trust in withers, as it must,
When He commands in whom they place no trust.
Wengeance at last pours down upon their coast
A long despised, but now victorious, host;
Tyranny sends the chain that must abridge
The noble sweep of all their privilege;
Gives liberty the last, the mortal, shock;
Slips the slave's collar on, and snaps the lock.
A. Such lofty strains embellish what you teach, Mean you to prophesy, or but to preach?
B. }}. the mind that feels indeed the fire
The Muse imparts, and can command the lyre,
Acts with a force, and kindles with a zeal,
Whate'er the theme, that others never feel.
If human woes her soft attention claim,
A tender sympathy, pervades the frame,
She pours a sensibility divine
Along the nerve of every feeling line.
But if a deed not tamely to be borne
Fire indignation and a sense of scorn,
The strings are swept with such a power, so loud,
The storm of music'shakes the astonish’d crowd.
So, when remote futurity is brought
Before the keen inquiry of her thought,
A terrible sagacity informs
The poet's heart; he looks to distant storms;
He hears the thunder ere the tempest lowers!
And, arm'd with strength surpassing human powers,
Seizes events as yet unknown to man,
And darts his soul into the dawning plan.
Hence, in a Roman mouth, the graceful name
Of prophet and of poet was the same;
Hence British poets too the priesthood shared,
And every hallow'd droid was a bard.
But no prophetic fires to tie belong;
I play with syllables, and sport in song.
A. At Westminster, where little poets strive
To set a distich upon six and five,
Where Discipline helps opening buds of sense
And makes his pupils proud with silver pence,
I was a poet too; but modern taste
Is so refined, and delicate, and chaste,
That verse, whatever fire the fancy warms,
Without a creamy smoothness has no charms.
Thus all success depending on an ear,
And thinking I might purchase it too dear,
If sentiment were sacrificed to sound
And truth cut short to make a period round,
Ijudged a man of sense could scarce do worse
th. caper in the morris-dance of verse.
B. Thus reputation is a spur to wit, And some wits *i. fear of losing it. Give me the line that ploughs its stately course, Like a proud swan, conquering the stream by force; That, like some cottage beauty, strikes the heart, Quite unindebted to the tricks of art. When labour and when dulness, club in hand, Like the two figures at St Dunstan's stand, Beating alternately, in measured time, The clockwork tintinnabulum of rhyme, Exact and regular the sounds will be; But such mere quarter-strokes are not for me. From him who rears *. lank and long, To him who strains his all into a song; Perhaps some bonny Caledonian air, All birks and braes, though he was never there; Or, having whelp'd a prologue with great pains, Feels himself spent, and fumbles for his brains; A prologue interdash’d with many a stroke— An art contrived to advertise a joke, So that the jest is clearly to be seen, Not in the words—but in the gap between; Manner is all in all, whate'er is writ The substitute for genius, sense, and wit. To dally much with subjects mean and low Proves that the mind is weak, or makes it so. Neglected talents rust into decay, And every effort ends in pushpin play. The man that means success should soar above A soldier's feather, or a lady's glove; Else, summoning the muse to such a theme, The fruit of all her labour is whipp'd cream. As if an eagle flew aloft, and then— Stoop'd from its highest pitch to pounce a wren. As if the poet, purposing to wed, Should carve himself a wife in gingerbread. Ages elapsed ere Homer's lamp appear'd, And ages ere the Mantuan swan was heard; To carry nature lengths unknown before, To give a Milton birth, ask'd ages more. Thus genius rose and set at order'd times, And shot a day-spring into distant climes, Ennobling every region that he chose; He sunk in Greece, in Italy he rose; And, tedious years of Gothic darkness pass'd, #. all splendour in our isle at last. Thus lovely halcyons dive into the main, Then shew far off their shining plumes again. A. Is genius only found in epic lays? Prove this, and forfeit all pretence to praise. Make their heroic powers your own at once, Or candidly confess yourself a dunce. B. These were the chief; each interval of night Was graced with many an undulating light,