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THE

PROGRESS OF ERROR.

Si quid loquar audienum.

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
The serpent error twines round human hearts;
Tell where she lurks, beneath what flowery shades,
That not a glimpse of genuine light pervades,
The poisonous, black, insinuating worm
Successfully conceals her loathsome form.
Take, if ye can, ye careless and supine,
Counsel and caution from a voice like mine!
Truths, that the theorist could never reach,
And observation taught me, I would teach.

Not all, whose eloquence the fancy tills,
Musical as the chime of tinkling rills,
Weak to perform, though mighty to pretend,
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 soporific on the listless ear;
Like quicksilver, the rhetoric they display
Shines as it runs, but grasped at, slips away.

Placed for his trial on this bustling stage,
From thoughtless youth to ruminating age,
Free in his will to choose or to refuse,
Man may improve the crisis or abuse ;
Else, on the fatalist's unrighteous plan,
Say to what bar amenable were man?

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With nought in charge he could betray no trust ;
And, if he fell, would fall because he must;
If love reward him, or if vengeance strike,
His recompense in both unjust alike,
Divine authority within his breast,
Brings every thought, word, action, to the test ;
Warns him, or prompts, approves him, or restrains,
As reason, or as passion, takes the reins,
Heaven from above, and conscience from within,
Cries in his startled ear---Abstain from sin !
The world around solicits his desire,
And kindles in his soul a treacherous fire ;
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 endued with an elective voice,
Must be supplied with objects of his choice :
Where'er he turns, enjoyment and delight,
Or present, or in prospect, meet his sight;
Those open on the spot their honeyed store ;
These call him loudly to pursuit of more.
His unexhausted mine the sordid vice
Avarice shows, and virtue is the price.
Here various motives his ambition raise---
Power, pomp, and splendour, and the thirst of praise ;
There beauty wooes him with expanded arms;
Even bacchanalian madness has its charms.

Nor these alone, whose pleasures less refined
Might well alarm the most unguarded mind,
Seek to supplant his inexperienced youth,
Or lead him devious from the path of truth;
Hourly allurements on his passions press,
Safe in themselves, but dangerous in th’excess,

Hark! how it floats upon the dewy air !
O what a dying, dying close was there!

'Tis harmony from yon sequestered bower,
Sweet harmony, that sooths the midnight hour !
Long ere the charioteer of day had run
His morning course, th’ enchantment was begun ;
And he shall gild yon mountain's height again,
Ere

yet the pleasing toil becomes a pain.
Is this the rugged path, the steep ascent,
That virtue points to ? Can a life thus spent
Lead to the bliss she promises the wise,
Detach the soul from earth, and speed her to the skies?
Ye devotees to your adored einploy,
Enthusiasts, drunk with an unreal joy,
Love makes the music of the blest above,
Heaven's harmony is universal love;
And earthly sounds, though sweet and well combined,
And lenient as soft opiates to the mind,
Leave vice and folly unsubdued behind,

Gray dawn appears ; the sportsman and his train Speckle the bosom of the distant plain ; 'Tis he, the Nimrod of the neighbouring lairs, Save that his scent is less acute than theirs ; For persevering chase, and headlong leaps, True beagle as the staunchest hound he keeps. Charged 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-'Tis exercise, and health, and length of days. Again impetuous to the field he fies; Leaps every fence but one, there falls and dies ; Like a slain deer, the tumbrel brings him home, Unmissed but by his dogs and by his groom.

Ye clergy, while your orbit is your place, Lights of the world, and stars of human race; But if eccentric ye forsake your sphere, Prodigies ominous, and viewed with fear.

D

The comet's baneful influence is a dream ;
Your's 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 avarice and concupiscence give place, [Grace?
Charmed by the sounds - Your Reverence, or Your
No. But his own engagement binds him fast ;
Or, if it does not, brands him to the last
What atheists call him---a designing knave,
A mere church juggler, hypocrite, and slave.
Oh, laugh or mourn with me the rueful jest,
A cassocked huntsman, and a fiddling priest !
He from Italian songsters takes his cue,
Set Paul to music, he shall quote him too.
He takes the field, the master of the pack,
Cries_Well done saint ! and claps him on the back.
Is this the path of sanctity? is this
To stand a way-mark in the road to bliss ?
Himself a wanderer from the narrow way,
His silly sheep, what wonder if they stray ?
Go, cast your orders at your Bishop's feet,
Send your dishonoured gown 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 prayed and preached the sabbath down,
With wire and catcut he concludes the day,
Quavering and semiquavering care away.
The full concerto swells upon your ear ;
All elbows shake. Look in, and you would swear
The Babylonian tyrant with a nod
Had summoned them to serve his golden god.
So well that thought th' employment seems to suit,
Psaltery and sackbut, dulcimer and flute.
Oh fie! 'tis evangelical and pure ;
Observe each face, how sober and demure !

.

Ecstasy sets her stamp on every mien ;
Chins fallen, and not an eye-ball to be seen.
Still I insist, though music heretofore
Has charmed me much, (not even Occiduus more)
Love, joy, and peace make harmony more meet
For sabbath evenings, and perhaps as sweet.
Will not the sickliest sheep of every

flock
Resort to this example as a rock ;
There stand and justify the foul abuse
Of sabbath hours with plausible excuse;
If apostolic gravity be free
To play the fool on Surdays, why not we?
If he the tinkling harpsicord regards
As inoffensive, what offence in cards ?
Strike up the fiddles, let us all be gay,
Laymen have leave to dance, if parsons play.

Oh Italy !--thy sabbaths will be soon
Our sabbaths, closed with mummery and buffoon :
Preaching and pranks will share the motley scene;
Our's parcelled out, as thine have ever been,
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;
Nobly distinguished 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, observed aright,
When the glad soul is made heaven's welcome guest,
Sits banqueting, and God provides the feast.
But triflers are engaged and cannot come ;
There answer to the call is---Not at home.

Oh the dear pleasures of the velvet plain, The painted tablets, dealt and dealt again,

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