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Where science points her telescopic eye,
Familiar with the wonders of the sky,
Where bold inquiry, diving out of sight,
Brings many a precious pearl of truth to light,
Where nought eludes the persevering quest,
That fashion, taste, or luxury suggest,
But above all, in her own light array'd,
See Mercy's grand apocalypse display'd :
The sacred Book no longer suffers wrong,
Bound in the fetters of an unknown tongue,
But speaks with plainness art could never mend,
What simplest minds can soonest comprehend.
God gives the word, the preachers throng around,
Live from his lips, and spread the glorious sound:
That sound bespeaks salvation on her way,
The trumpet of a life-restoring day;
'Tis heard where England's eastern glory shines,
And in the gulphs of her Cornubian mines.
Throughout mankind, the Christian kind at least,
There dwells a consciousness in ev'ry breast,
That folly ends where genuine hope begins,
And he that finds his heav'n must lose his sins:
Nature opposes with her utmost force
This riving stroke, this ultimate divorce,
And while religion seems to be her view,
Hates with a deep sincerity the true;
For this of all that ever influenced man.
Since Abel worshipp'd, or the world began,
This only spares no lust, admits no plea,
But makes him, if at all, completely free,
Sounds forth the signal as she mounts her car,
Of an eternal, universal war,
Rejects all treaty, penetrates all wiles,
Scorns with the same indiffrence frowns and smiles,
Drives through the realms of sin, where riot reels,
And grinds his crown beneath her burning wheels 1
Hence all that is in man, pride, passion, art,
Pow’rs of the mind, and feelings of the heart,
Insensible of truth's almighty charms,
Starts at her first approach, and sounds to arms l
While Bigotry, with well-dissembled fears,
His eyes shut fast, his fingers in his ears,
Mighty to parry, and push by God's word
With senseless noise, his argument the sword,
Pretends a zeal for godliness and grace,
And spits abhorrence in the Christian's face,
Parent of hope, immortal Truth, make known
Thy deathless wreaths, and triumphs all thine own:
The silent progress of thy pow'r is such,
Thy means so feeble, and despised so much,
That few believe the wonders thou hast wrought,
And none can teach them but whom thou hast taught.
Happy the bard (if that fair name belong
To him that blends no fable with his song)
Whose lines uniting, by an honest art,
The faithful monitor's and poet's part,
Seek to delight, that they may mend mankind,
And while they captivate, inform the mind.
Still happier, if he till a thankful soil,
And fruit reward his honourable toil :
But happier far who comfort those that wait
To hear plain truth, at Judah's hallow'd gate ;
Their language simple as their manners meek,
No shining ornaments have they to seek,
Nor labour they, nor time, nor talents waste
In sorting flowers to suit a fickle taste;
But while they speak the wisdom of the skies,
Which art can only darken and disguise,
Th' abundant harvest, recompense divine,
Repays their work—the gleaning only, mine.
* Quâ nihil majus meliusve terris
Fata donavere, bonique divi;
Nee dabunt, quamvis redeant in aurum
—HOR. Lib. iv. Ode ii.
AIREST and foremost of the train that wait On man's most dignified and happiest state, Whether we name thee Charity, or love, Chief grace below, and all in all above, Prosper (I press thee with a pow'rful plea), A task I venture on, impell'd by thee: Oh, never seen but in thy blest effects, Nor felt but in the soul that Heav'n selects, Who seeks to praise thee, and to make thee known To other hearts, must have thee in his own. Come, prompt me with benevolent desires, Teach me to kindle at thy gentle fires, And, though disgraced and slighted, to redeem A poet's name, by making thee the theme. The soul, whose sight all-quick’ning grace renews, Takes the resemblance of the good she views, As di'monds, stripp'd of their opaque disguise, Reflect the noonday glory of the skies. She speaks of him, her author, guardian, friend, Whose love knew no beginning, knows no end, In language warm as all that love inspires, And, in the glow of her intense desires, Pants to communicate her noble fires. She sees a world stark blind to what employs Her eager thought, and feeds her flowing joys, Though wisdom hail them, heedless of her call, Flies to save some, and feels a pang for all :
Herself as weak as her support is strong,
She feels that frailty she denied so long,
And from a knowledge of her own disease,
Learns to compassionate the sick she sees.
Here see, acquitted of all vain pretence,
The reign of genuine Charity commence;
Though scorn repay her sympathetic tears,
She still is kind, and still she perseveres;
The truth she loves, a sightless world blaspheme,
'Tis childish dotage, a delirious dream,
The danger they discern not, they deny,
Laugh at their only remedy, and die:
But still a soul, thus touch'd, can never cease
Whoever threatens war, to speak of peace,
Pure in her aim and in her temper mild,
Her wisdom seems the weakness of a child,
She makes excuses where she might condemn,
Reviled by those that hate her, prays for them ;
Suspicion lurks not in her artless breast,
The worst suggested, she believes the best;
Not soon provoked, however stung and teased,
And, if perhaps made angry, soon appeased,
She rather waives than will dispute o right,
And, injured, makes forgiveness her delight.
Such was the portrait an apostle drew,
The bright original was one he knew,
Heav'n held his hand, the likeness must be true.
When one, that holds communion with the skies,
Has filled his urn where these pure waters rise,
And once more mingles with us meaner things,
'Tis ev'n as if an angel shook his wings:
Immortal fragrance fills the circuit wide,
That tells us whence his treasures are supplied.
So when a ship, well freighted with the stores
The sun matures on India's spicy shores,
Has dropp'd her anchor and her canvas furl’d,
In some safe haven of our western world,
'Twere vain inquiry to what port she went,
The gale informs us, laden with the scent.
True Charity, a plant divinely nursed,
Fed by the love from which it rose at first,
Thrives against hope and in the rudest 8cene,
Storms but enliven its unfading green;
Exub'rant is the shadow it supplies,
Its fruit on earth, its growth above the skies.
Where love in these the world's last doting years
As frequent, as the want of it appears,
The churches warm'd, they would no longer hold
Such frozen figures, stiff as they are cold ;
Relenting forms would lose their pow'r or cease,
And e'en the dipt and sprinkled live in peace;
Each heart would quit its prison in the breast,
And flow in free communion with the rest.
The statesman, skill'd in projects dark and deep,
Might burn his useless Machiavel, and sleep;
His budget, often fill'd yet always poor,
Might swing at ease behind his study-door,
No longer prey upon our annual rents,
Nor scare the nation with its big contents;
Disbanded legions freely might i.
And slaying man would cease to be an art.
No learned disputants would take the field,
Sure not to conquer, and sure not to yield,
Both sides deceived if rightly understood,
Pelting each other for the public good.
Did Charity prevail, the press would prove
A vehicle of virtue, truth, and love,
And I might spare myself the pains to show
What few can learn, and all suppose they know.
Thus have I sought to grace a serious lay