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With opera glass, to watch the moving scene,
And recognize the slow-retiring fair.-
Now this is fulsome, and offends me more
Than in a churchman slovenly neglect
And rustic coarseness would. A heavenly mind
May be indifferent to her house of clay,
And slight the hovel as beneath her care;
But how a body so fantastic, trim,
And quaint, in its deportment and attire,
Can lodge a heavenly mind-demands a doubt..
He, that negotiates between God and man,
As God's ambassador, the grand concerns
Of judgment and of mercy, should beware
Of lightness in his speech. "Tis pitiful
To court a grin, when you should woo a soul ;
To break a jest, when pity would inspire
Pathetic exhortation; and t' address
The skittish fancy with facetious tales,
When sent with God's commission to the heart!
So did not Paul. Direct me to a quip
Or merry turn in all he ever wrote, '
And I consent you take it for your text,
Your only one, till sides and benches fail.
No: he was serious in a serious cause,
And understood too well the weighty terms,
That he had taken in charge. He would not stoop
To conquer those by jocular exploits,
Whom truth and soberness assailed in vain.
O Popular Applause! what heart of man
Is proof against thy sweet seducing charms ?
The wisest and the best feel urgent need
Of all their caution in thy gentlest gales ;
But swelled into a gust-Who then, alas !
With all his canvass set, and inexpert,
And therefore heedless, can withstand thy power?.
Praise from the rivelled lips of toothless, bald
Decrepitude, and in the looks of lean
And craving Poverty, and in the bow
Respectful of the smutched artificer,
Is oft too welcome, and may much disturb
The bias of the purpose. How imuch more,
Poured forth by beauty splendid and polite,
In language soft as Adoration breathes ?
Ah spare your idol! think him human still.
Charms he may have, but he has trailties too!
Dote not too inuch, nor spoil what ye admire.
All truth is from the sempiternal source
Of light divine. But Egypt, Greece and Rome,
Drew from the stream below. More favoured we
Drink, when we choose it, at the fountain-head.
To them it flowed much mingled and defiled
With hurttui error, prejudice, and dreams
Illusive of philosophy, so called,
But falsely. Sages after sages strove
In vain to filter off a crystal draught
Pure from the lees, which often more enhanced
The thirst than slaked it, and not seldom bred
Intoxication and dilirium wild
In vain they pushed inquiry to the birth
And spring-time of the world; asked, Whence is man?
Why formed at all? and wherefore as he is?
Where must he find his Maker ? with what rites
Adore him? Will he hear, accept, and bless ?
Or does he sit regardless of his works?
Has man within him an immortal seed ?
Or does the tomb take all ? If he survive
His ashes, where ? and in what weal or wo?
Knots worthy of solution, which alone
A deity could solve. Their answers, vague
And all at random, fabulous and dark,
Left them as dark themselves. Their rules of life,
Defective and unsanctioned, proved too weak
To bind the roving appetite, and lead
Blind nature to a God not yet revealed.
'Tis Revelation satisfies all doubts,
Explains all mysteries, except her own,
And so illuminates the path of life,
That fools discover it, and stray no more,
Now tell me, dignified and sapient sir,
My man of morals, nurtured in the shades
Of Academus—is this false or true ?
Is Christ the abler teacher, or the schools ?
If Christ, then why resort at every turn
To Athens or to Rome, for wisdom short
of man's occasions, when in him reside
Grace, knowledge, comfort-an unfathomed store ?
How oft, when Paul has served us with a text,
Has Epictetus, Plato, Tully, preached !
Men that, if now alive, would sit content
And humble learners of a Saviour's worth,
Preach it who might. Such was their love of truth,
Their thirst of knowledge, and their candour too!
And thus it is.—The pastor, either vain
By nature, or by flattery made so, taught
To gaze at his own splendour, and t' exalt
Absurdly, not his office, but himself; .
Or unenlightened, and too proud to learn ;
Or vicious, and not therefore apt to teach ;
Perverting often by the stress of lewd
And loose example, whom he should instruct; ...
Exposes, and holds up to broad disgrace,
The noblest function, and discredits much
The brightest truths that man has ever seen.
For ghostly counsel; if it either fall
Below the exigence, or be not backed
With show of love, at least with hopeful proof
Of some sincerity on the giver's part;
Or be dishonoured in th'exterior form
And mode of its conveyance by such tricks
As move derision, or by foppish airs
And histrionic mummery, that let down
The pulpit to the level of the stage ;
Drops from the lips a disregarded thing.
The weak perhaps are moved, but are not taught,
While prejudice in men of stronger minds
Takes deeper root, confirmed by what they see.
A relaxation of religion's hold
Upon the roving and untutored heart,
Soon follows, and, the curb of conscience snapped,
The laity run wild. But do they now?
Note their extravagance, and be convinced.
As nations, ignorant of God, contrive
A wooden one ; so we, no longer taught
By monitors that mother church supplies,
Now make our own. Posterity will ask
(If e'er posterity see verse of mine)
Some fifty or a hundred lustrums hence,
What was a monitor in George's days?
My very gentle reader, yet unborn,
Of whom I needs must augur better things.
Since Heaven would sure grow weary of a world
Productive only of a race like ours,
A monitor is wood-plank shaven thin.
We wear it at our backs. There, closely braced
And neatly fitted, it compresses hard ,
The prominent and most unsightly bones,
And binds the shoulders flat. We prove its use
Sovereign and most effectual to secure
A form, not now gymnastic as of yore,
From rickets and distortion, else our lot.
But thus admonished, we can walk erect
One proof at least of manhood! while the friend
Sticks close, a Mentor worthy of his charge.
Our habits, costlier than Lucullus wore,
And by caprice as multiplied as his,
Just please us while the fashion is at full,
But change with every moon. The sycophant,
Who waits to dress us, arbitrates their date ;
Surveys his fair reversion with keen eye;
Finds one ill made, another obsolete,
This fits not nicely, that is ill conceived ;
And, making prize of all that he condemns,
With our expenditure defrays his own.
Variety's the very spice of life,
That gives it all its flavour. We have run
Through every change, that Fancy, at the loom
Exhausted, has had genius to supply ;