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Here stay thy foot; how copious, and how clear,
Th' o'erflowing well of Charity springs here!
Hark! 'tis the music of a thousand rills,
Some thro' the groves, some down the sloping hills,
Winding a secret or an open course.
And all supplied from an eternal source.
The ties of Nature do but feebly bind;
And Commerce partially reclaims mankind;A
Philosophy, without his heav'nly guide,
May blow up self-conceit, and nourish pride ;
But, while his promise is the reas’ning part,
Has still a veil of midnight on his heart:
'Tis Truth divine, exhibited on earth,
Gives Charity her being and her birth.
Suppose (when thought is warm, and fancy flows
What will not argument sometimes suppose ?)
An isle possess'd by creatures of our kind,
Endued with reason, yet by nature blind.
Let Supposition lend her aid once more,
And land some grave optician on the shore :
He claps his lens, if haply they may see,
Close to the part where vision ought to be;
But finds, that, though his tubes assist the sight,
They cannot give it, or make darkness light.
He reads wise lectures, and describes aloud
A sense they know not, to the wond'ring crowd;
He talks of light, and the prismatic hues,
As men of depth in erudition use;
But all he gains for his harangue is--Well,
What monstrous lies some travellers will tell !
The soul, whose sight all-quick’ning grace renew, Takes the resemblance of the good she views, As diamonds, 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 vaip 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,
Revil'd by those that hate her, prays for them:
Suspicion lurks not in her artless breast,
The worst suggested, she believes the best ;
Not soon provok’d, however stung and teas'd,
And, if perhaps made angry, soon appeas’d;
She rather waves than will dispute her right,
And, injur'd, 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 fill'd his urn where these pure waters rise, And once more mingles with us meaner things, "Tis e'en 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 canvass furld,
In some safe haven of our western world,
"Twere vain inquiry to what port she went,
The gale informs us, laden with the scent.
Some seek, when queasy conscience has its qualms,
To lull the painful malady with alms;
But charity not feign'd intends alone
Another's good—theirs centres in their own;
And, too short liv'd to reach the realms of
peace, Must cease for ever when the
shall cease. Flavia, most tender of her own good name, Is rather careless of her sister's fame; Her superfluity the poor supplies, But, if she touch a character, it dies. The seeming virtue weigh’d against the vice, She deems all safe, for she has paid the price; No charity but alms aught values she, Except in porc’lain on her mantel-tree. How many deeds, with which the world has rung, From Pride in league with Ignorance, have sprung! But God o’errules all human follies still, And bends the tough materials to his will. A conflagration, or a wintry flood, Has left some hundreds without home or food; Extravagance and Av’rice shall subscribe, While fame and self-complacence are the bribe. The brief proclaim'd, it visits ev'ry pew, But first the squire's, a compliment but due: With slow deliberation he unties His glitt'ring purse, that envy of all eyes, And, while the clerk just puzzles out the psalm, Glides guinea behind guinea in his palm; Till finding, what he might have found before, A smaller piece amidst the precious store, Pinch'd close between his finger and his thumb, He half exhibits, and then drops the sum.
A thousand names are toss'd into the crowd ;
Some whisper'd softly and some twang'd aloud ;
Just as the sapience of an author's brain
Suggests it safe or dang'rous to be plain.
Strange! how the frequent interjected dash
Quickens a market, and helps off the trash;
Th’important letters, that include the rest,
Serve as a key to those that are suppress'd;
Conjecture gripes the victims in his paw,
The world is charm'd, and Scrib escapes the law.
So, when the cold, damp shades of night prevail,
Worms may be caught by either head or tail ;
Forcibly drawn from many a close recess,
They meet with little pity, no redress;
Plung'd in the stream they lodge upon the mud,
Food for the famish'd rovers of the flood.
All zeal for a reform, that gives offence
To peace and charity, is mere pretence :
A bold remark, but which, if well applied,
Would humble many a tow'ring poet's pride.
Perhaps the man was in a sportive fit,
And had no other play-place for his wit;
Perhaps enchanted with the love of fame,
He sought the jewel in his neighbour's shame ;
Perhaps—whatever end he might pursue,
The cause of virtue could not be his view.
At ev'ry stroke wit flashes in our eyes ;
The turns are quick, the polish'd points surprise,
But shine with cruel and tremendous charms,
That while they please, possess us with alarms;
So have I seen (and hasten’d to the sight
On all the wings of holiday delight),
Where stands that monument of ancient pow'r,
Nam'd with emphatic dignity, the Tow'r,
Guns, halberts, swords, and pistols, great and small,
In starry forms dispos'd upon the wall;
We wonder, as we gazing stand below,
That brass and steel should make so fine a show;