Page images

To a keen edge, and made it bright for war.
Him, Tubal named, the Vulcan of old times,
The sword and falchion their inventor claim;
And the first smith was the first murderer's son.
His art survived the waters; and ere long,
When man was multiplied and spread abroad
In tribes and clans, and had begun to call
These meadows and that range of hills bis own,
The tasted sweets of property begat
Desire of more, and industry in some
To improve and cultivate their just demesne,
Made others cover what they saw so fair.
Thus war began on earth: these fought for spoil,
And those in self-defence, Savage at first
The onset, and irregular, At length
One eminent above the rest for strength,
For stratagem, for courage, or for all,
Was cliosen leader; him they served in war,
And him in peace, for sake of warlike deeds
Reyerenced, no less. Who could with him compare?
Or who so worthy to control themselves
As he, whose prowess had subdued their foes ?
Thus war, affording field for the display
Of virtue, made one chief, whom times of peace,
Which have their exigencies too, and call
For skill in government, at length made king.
King was a name too proud for man to wear
With modesty and meekness; and the crown,
So dazzling io their eyes, who set it on,
Was sure to intoxicate the brows it bound.

It is the abject property of most,
That, being parcel of the common mass,
And destitute of means to raise themselves,
They sink, and settle lower than they need. :
They know not what it is to feel within:
A comprehensive faculty, that grasps «
Great purposes with ease, that turns and wields,
Almost without an effort, plans too vast.
For their conception, which they cannot move.
Conscious of impotence they soon grow drunk".
With gazing, when they see an able man.
Step forth to notice; aid besotted thus
Build him a pedestal, and say, "Stand there,
And be our admiration and our praise.".
They roll themselves before him in the dust,
Then most deserving in their own account
When most extravagant in his applause,
As if exalting him they raised themselves.
Tbus by degrees, self-cheated of their sound
And sober judgment, that he is but man,
They demi-deify and fume him-so,
That in due season he forgets it too.
Inflated and astrat with self conceit,
He gulps the windy diet; and ere long,
Adopting their mistake, profoundly thinks
The world was made in vain, if not for him.
Thenceforthy they are bis cattle: drudges, borny
To bear his burdens, drawing in his gears,
And sweating in his service, his caprice
Becomes the soul that animates them all.

[ocr errors]

He deems a' thousand, or ten thousand lives, Spent in the purchase of renown for him, An easy reckoning; and they think the same. Thus kings were first invented, and thus kings Were burnished into heroes, and became The arbiters of this terraqueous swamp; Storksamong frogs, that have but croaked and died. Strange, that such folly, as lifts bloated man To eminence fit only for a god, Should ever drivel out of human lips, Even in the cradled weakness of the world! Still stranger much, that when at length mankind Had reached the sinewy firmness of their youth, And could discriminate and argue well On subjects more mysterious, they were yet Babes in the cause of freedom, and should fear And quake before the gods themselves had made: But above measure strange, that neither proof Of sad experience, nor examples set By some, whose patriot virtue has prevailed, Can even now, when they are grown mature In wisdom, and with philosophic deeds Familiar, serve to emancipate the rest! Such dupes are men to custom, and so prone To reverence what is ancient, and can plead A course of long observance for its use, That even servitude, the worst of ills, Because delivered down froin sire to son, Is kept and guarded as a sacred thing. But is it fit, or can it bear the shock

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Of rational discussion, that a man, Compounded and made up like other men Of elements tumultuous, in whom lust And folly in as ample measure meet, As in the bosoms of the slaves he rules, Should be a despot absolute, and boast Himself the only freeman of his land? Should, when he pleases, and on whom he wilt, Wage war, with any or with no pretence Of provocation given, or wrong sustained, And force the beggarly last doit by means, That his own humour dictates, from the cluich Of poverty, that thus he may procure His thousands, weary of penurious life, A splendid opportunity to die? Say ye, who (with less prudence than of old Jotham ascribed to his assembled trees In politic convention) put your trust In the sbadow of a bramble, and reclined In fancied peace beneath his dangerous branch, Rejoice in him, and celebrate his sway , Where find ye passive fortitude? Whence springs Your self-denying zeal, that holds it good To stroke the prickly grievance, and to bang His thorns with streamers of continual praise ? We too are friends to loyalty. We love, The king, who loves the law, respects his bounds, And reigns content within them: him we serve Freely and with delight, who leaves us free But recollecting still that he is man,

We trust him not too far. King though he be,
And king in England too, he may be weak,
And vain enough to be ambitious' still;
May exercise amiss his proper powers,
Or covet more than freemen choose to grant:
Beyond that mark is treason. He is our's,
To administer, to guard, to adorn, the state,
But not to warp or change it. We are his
To serve him nobly in the common cause,
True to the death, but not to be his slaves.
Mark now the difference, ye that boast your love
Of kings, between your loyalty and our’s.
We'love the man, the paltry pageant you:
We the chief patron of the commonwealth,
You the regardless author of its woes:
We for the sake of liberty a king,
You chains and bondage for a tyrant's sake.
Our love is principle, and has its root
In reason, is judicious, manly, free;
Your's, a blind instinct, crouches to the rod,
And licks the foot, that treads it in the dust.
Were kingship as true treasure as it seems,
Sterling, and worthy of a wise man's wish,
I would not be a king to be beloved
Causeless, and daubed with undiscerning praise,
Where love is mere attachment to the throne,
Nốt to the man, who fills it as he ought. in

Whose freedom is by sufferance, and at will
Of a superior, he is never free.
Who lives, and is not weary of a life

« PreviousContinue »