« PreviousContinue »
PROGRESS OF ERROUR.
Si quid loquar audiendum...Hor. Lib. iv. Od. 2.
SING, muse, (if such a theme, so dark, so long, May find a muse to grace it with a song) By what unseen and unsuspected arts, T'he serpent Errour twines round human hearts; Te!l where she lurks, beneath what flow'ry shades, 5 That not a glimpse of genuine light pervades, The pois'nous, black, insinuating worm Successfully conceals her loathsome for!n. Take, if ye can, ye careless and supine, Counsel and caution from a voice like mine!
10 Truths, that the theorist could never reach, And observation taught me, I would teach.
Not all, whose eloquence the fancy fills, Musical as the chime of tinkling rills, Weak to perform, though mighty to pretend, 15 Can trace her mazy windings to their end; Discern the fraud beneath the specious lure, Prevent the danger, or prescribe the cure. The clear harangue, and cold as it is clear, Falls soporifick on the listless ear ;
20 Like quicksilver, the rhet’rick they display Shines as it runs, but grasp'd at slips away.
Plac'd for his trial on this bustling stage, From thoughtless youth to ruminating age, Free in his will to choose or to refuse,
25 Man may improve the crisis or abuse ;
Else on the fatalist's unrighteous plan,
recompense is both unjust alike.
40 While, all his purposes and steps to guard, Peace follows Virtue as its sure reward; And Pleasure brings as surely in her train Remorse, and Sorrow, and vindictive Pain. Man, thus endu'd with an elective voice,
45 Must be supplied with objects of his choice ; Where'er he turns, enjoyment and delight, Or present, or in prospect, mcet his sight; Those open on the spot their honey'd store : These call him loudly to pursuit of more.
50 His unexhausted mine the sordid vice Avarice shows, and virtue is the price. Here various motives his ambition raise Pow'r, pomp, and splendour, and the thirst of praise. There Beauty woos him with expanded arms ; 55 E'en Bacchanalian madness has its charms.
Nor these alone whose pleasures, less refin'd, Might well alarm the most unguarded mind, Seek to supplant his inexperienc'd youth, Or lead him devious from the path of truth; , 60 Hlourly allurements on his passions press, Safe in themselves, but dang 'rous in th’excess.
Hark! how it floats upon the dewy air' O, wiat a dying, dying close was there !
'Tis harmony from yon sequester'd bow'r,
80 Leave Vice and Folly unsubdu'd behind.
Gray dawn appears ; the sportsman and his train Speckle the bosom of the distant plain ; 'Tis he, the Nimrod of the neighb'ring lairs; Save that his scent is less acute than theirs, 85 For persevering chase, and headlong leaps, True beagle as the stanchest hound he keeps. Charg'd with the folly of his life's mad scene, He takes offence, and wonders what you mean The joy the danger and the toil o'erpays
90 'Tis exercise, and health, and length of days. Again impetuous to the field he flies ; Leaps ev'ry fence, but one, there falls and dies ; Like a slain deer, the tumbrel brings him home, Unmiss'd but by his dogs and by his groom.
05 Yo clergy, while your orbit is your place, Lights of the world, and stars of human race ; But if eccentrick ye forsake your sphere, Prodigies ominous, and view'd with fear; The comet's baneful influence is a dream;
100 Yours real and pernicious in th' extreme. What then -are appetites and lusts laid down With the same ease that man puts on his gown?
Will Av'rice and Concupiscence give place,
to Monmouth-street! The sacred function in your hands is made Sad sacrilege ! no function, but a trade !
Occiduus is a pastor of renown; When he has pray'd and preach'd the sabbath down, With wire and catgut he concludes the day, 126 Quav'ring and semiquav'ring care away. The full concerto swells upon your ear; All elbows shake. Look in, and you would swear The Babylonian tyrant with a nod,
130 Had summond them to serve his golden god, So well that thought th' employment seems to suit, Psalt'ry and sackbut, dulcimer, and flute. O fie! 'tis evangelical and pure : Observe each face, how sober and demure
135 Ecstasy sets her stamp on every mien ; Chins fall'n and not an eyeball to be seen. Still I insist, though musick heretofore Has charm’d me much, (not e'n Occiduus morc,) Love, joy, and peace, make harmony more meet 110
For Sabbath ev'nings, and perhaps as sweet.
Will not the sickliest sheep of ev'ry flock
150 Laymen have leave to dance, if parsons play.
Oh Italy !--Thy sabbaths will be soon Our sabbaths, clos'd with mumm’ry and buffoon. Preaching and pranks will share the motley scene, Ours parcell’d out, as thine have ever been, 155 God's worship and the mountebank between. What says the prophet? Let that day be blest With holiness and consecrated rest. Pastime and business both it should exclude, And bar the door the moment they intrude ; 1C0 Nobly distinguish'd above all the six By deeds, in which the world must never mix. Hear him again. He calls it a delight, A day of luxury observ'd aright, When the glad soul is made Heav'ns welcome guest, Sits banqueting, and God provides the feast. 166 But triflers are engag'd and cannot coine; Their answer to the call is-Not at home.
O the dear pleasures of the velvet plain, The painted tablets, dealt and dealt again!
170 Cards with what rapture, and the polish'd die, The yawning chasm of indolence supply ! Then to the dance, and make the sober moon Witness of joys that shun the sight of noon. Blame, cynick, if you can, quadrille or ball, 175 The snug close party, or the splendid hall, Where nigkt, down-stooping from her ebon throne Views constellations brighter than her own.