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Their wisdom pure, and given them from above,
Their usefulness ensured 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 bless'd,
Hophni and Phinehas 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.
The rich, the produce of a nobler stem,
Are more intelligent at least-try them.
Oh vain inquiry! they without remorse
Are altogether gone a devious course;
When beckoning Pleasure leads them, wildly stray;
Have burst the bands, and cast the yoke away.
Now borne upon the wings of truth sublime, Review thy dim original and prime. This island, spot of unreclaim'd rude earth, The cradle that received thee at thy birth, Was rock'd by many a rough Norwegian blast, And Danish howlings scared theà as they pass'd; For thou wast born amid the din of arms, And suck'd a breast that panted with alarms. While yet thou wast a grovelling Huling chit, Thy bones not fashion'd, and thy joints not knit, The Roman taught thy stubborn knee to bow, Though twice' a Cæsar could not bend thee now. His victory was that of orient light, When the sun's shafts disperse the gloom of night. Thy language at this distant moment shews How much the country to the conqueror owes ; Expressive, energetic, and refined, It sparkles with the gems he left behind:
He brought thy land a blessing when he came;
He found thee savage and he left thee tame;
Taught thee to clothe thy pink'd and painted hide,
And grace thy figure with a soldier's pride;
He sow'd the seeds of order where he went,
Improved thee far beyond his own intent;
And while he rul'd thee by the sword alone,
Made thee at last a warrior like his own.
Religion, if in heavenly truths attired,
Needs only to be seen to be admired;
But thine, as dark as witcheries of the night
Was form’d to harden hearts and shock the sight;
Thy Druids struck the well-hung harps they bore
With fingers deeply dyed in human gore;
And while the victim slowly bled to death,
Upon the rolling chords rung out his dying breath.
Who brought the lamp, that with awaking beams
Dispell’d thy gloom, and broke away thy dreams,
Tradition, now decrepit and worn out,
Babbler of ancient fables, leaves a doubt :
But still light reach'd thee; and those gods of thine,
Woden and Thor, each tottering in his shrine,
Fell broken and defaced at his own door,
As Dagon in Philistia long before.
But Rome, with sorceries and magic wand,
Soon raised a cloud that darken'd every land;
And thine was smother'd in the stench and fog
Of Tiber's marshes and the papal bog.
Then priests, with bulls and briefs, and shaven crowns,
And griping fists, and unrelenting frowns,
Legates and delegates, with powers from hell,
Though heavenly in pretension fleeced thee well;
And to this hour, to keep it fresh in mind,
Some twigs of that old scourge are left behind.*
Thy soldiery, the Pope's well-managed pack,
Were train'd beneath his lash, and knew the smack;
And when he laid them on the scent of blood,
Would hunt a Saracen through fire and flood.
Lavish of life, to win an empty tomb,
That proved a mint of wealth, a mine to Rome,
* Which may be found at Doctor's Commons.
They left their bones beneath unfriendly skies,
His worthless absolution all the prize.
Thou wast the veriest slave in days of yore,
That ever dragg'd a chain, or tugg'd an oar;
Thy monarchs arbitrary, fierce, unjust,
Themselves the slaves of bigotry and lust,
Disdain'd thy counsels, only in distress
Found thee a goodly sponge for power to press.
Thy chiefs, the lords of many a petty fee,
Provoked and harass'd, in return plagued thee;
Call’d thee away from peaceable employ,
Domestic happiness and rural joy,
To waste thy life in arms, or lay it down
In causeless feuds and bickerings of their own.
Thy parliaments adored on bended knees
The sovereignty they were convened to please;
Whate'er was asked, too timid to resist,
Complied with, and were graciously dismiss'd!
And if some Spartan soul a doubt express'd,
And, blushing at the tameness of the rest,
Dared to suppose the subject had a choice,
He was a traitor by the general voice.
Oh slave! with powers thou didst not dare exert,
Verse cannot stoop so low as thy desert;
It shakes the sides of splenetic Disdain,
Thou self-entitled ruler of the main,
To trace thee to the date when yon fair sea,
That clips thy shores, had no such charms for thee;
When other nations flew from coast to coast,
And thou hadst neither fleet nor flag to boast.
Kneel now, and lay thy forehead in the dust;
Blush, if thou canst; not petrified, thou must :
Act but an honest and a faithful part;
Compare what then thou wast with what thou art;
And God's disposing providence confess'd,
Obduracy itself must yield the rest
Then thou art bound to serve him, and to prove,
Hour after hour, thy gratitude and love.
Has he not hid thee, and thy favour'd land,
For ages safe beneath his sheltering hand,
Given thee his blessing on the clearest proof,
Bid nations leagued against thee stand aloof,
And charged Hostility and Hate to roar
Where else they would, but not upon thy shore ?
His power secured thee, when presumptuous Spain
Baptized her fleet invincible in vain.
Her gloomy monarch, doubtful and resign'd
To every pang that racks an anxious mind,
Ask'd of the waves, that broke upon his coast,
What tidings ? and the surge replied--All lost!
And when the Stuart leaning on the Scot,
Then too much fear'd, and now too much forgot,
Pierced to the very centre of the realm,
And hoped to seize his abdicated helm,
'Twas but to prove how quickly with a frown
He that had raised thee could have pluck'd thee down.
Peculiar is the grace by thee possessid,
Thy foes implacable, thy land at rest;
Thy thunders travel over earth and seas,
And all at home is pleasure, wealth, and ease.
'Tis thus, extending his tempestuous arm,
Thy Maker fills the nations with alarm,
While his own heaven surveys the troubled scene,
And feels no change, unshaken and serene.
Freedom, in other lands scarce known to shine,
Pours out a flood of splendour upon thine;
Thou hast as bright an interest in her rays
As ever Roman had in Rome's best days.
True freedom is where no restraint is known,
That Scripture, justice, and good sense disown,
Where only vice and injury are tied,
And all from shore to shore is free beside.
Such freedom is--and Windsor's hoary towers
Stood trembling at the boldness of thy powers,
That won a nymph on that immortal plain
Like her the fabled Phoebus woo'd in vain :
He found the laurel only-happier you
The unfading laurel, and the virgin too !*
Now think, if Pleasure have a thought to spare;
If God himself be not beneath her care;
If Business, constant as the wheels of time,
Can pause an hour to read a serious rhyme;
* Alluding to the grant of Magna Charta, which was extorted from king John by the barons at Runnymede near Windsor.,
If the new mail thy merchants now receive,
Or expectation of the next, give leave;
On think! if chargeable with deep arrears
For such indulgence gilding all thy years,
How much, though long neglected, shining yet,
The beams of heavenly truth have swelled the debt.
When persecuting zeal made royal sport
With tortured innocence in Mary's court,
And Bonner, blithe as shepherd at a wake,
Enjoyed the show, and danced about the stake;
The sacred Book, its value understood,
Received the seal of martyrdom in blood.
Those holy men, so full of truth and grace,
Seem to reflection of a different race,
Meek, modest, venerable, wise, sincere,
In such a cause they could not dare to fear;
They could not purchase earth with such a prize,
Or spare a life too short to reach the skies.
From them to thee convey'd along the tide,
Their streaming hearts pour'd freely when they died ;
Those truths, which neither use nor years impair,
Invite thee, woo thee, to the bliss they share.
What dotage will not vanity maintain ?
What web too weak to catch a modern brain ?
The moles and bats in full assembly find,
On special search, the keen-eyed eagle blind.
And did they dream, and art thou wiser now?
Prove it—if better, I submit and bow.
Wisdom and goodness are twin-born, one heart
Must hold both sisters, never seen apart.
So then-as darkness overspread the deep,
Ere Nature rose from her eternal sleep,
And this delightful earth, and that fair sky,
Leap'd out of nothing, call’d by the Most High ; :
By such a change thy darkness is made light,
Thy chaos order, and thy weakness might;
And He, whose power mere nullity obeys,
Who found thee nothing, form’d thee for his praise,
To praise him is to serve him, and fulfil,
Doing and suffering, his unquestion'd will;
'Tis to believe what men inspired of old,
Faithful, and faithfully inform’d, unfold;