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Darkness itself before his eye is light,
And hell's close mischief naked in his sight.
Stand now and judge thyself-Hast thou incurra
His anger, who can waste thee with a word,
Who poises and proportions sea and land,
Weighing them in the hollow of his hand,
And in whose awful sight all nations seem
As grasshoppers, as dust, a drop, a dream ?
Hast thou (a sacrilege his soul abhors)
Claim'd all the glory of thy prosperous wars?
Proud of thy fleets and armies, stolen the gem
Of his just praise, to lavish it on them?
Hast thou not learn'd, what thou art often told,
A truth still sacred, and believed of old,
That no success attends on spears and swords
Unbless'd, and that the battle is the Lord's?
That courage is his creature; and dismay
post, that at his bidding speeds away,
Ghastly in feature, and his stammering tongue
With doleful humour and sad presage hung,
To quell the valour of the stoutest heart,
And teach the combatant a woman's part?
That he bids thousands fly when none pursue,
Saves as he will by many or by few,
And claims for ever, as his royal right,
The event and sure decision of the fight?
Hast thou, though suckled at fair Freedom's breasi,
Exported slavery to the conquer'd east ?
Pulld down the tyrants India served with dread,
And raised thyself a greater, in their stead?
Gone thither arm’d and hungry, return'd full,
Fed from the richest veins of the Mogul,
A despot big with power obtained by wealth,
And that obtain'd by rapine and by stealth ?
With Asiatic vices stored thy mind,
But left their virtues and thine own behind?
And, having truck'd thy soul, brought home the fee,
To tempt the poor to sell himself to thee?
Hast thou by statute shoved from its design
The Saviour's feast, his own bless'd bread and wine,
And made the symbols of atoning grace
An ofice-key, a ricklock to a place,
That infidels may prove their title good
By an oath dipp'd in sacramental blood?
A blot that will be still a blot, in spite
Of all that grave apologists may write;
And though a bishop toil to cleanse the stain,
He wipes and scours the silver cup in vain.
And hast thou sworn on every slight pretence,
Till perjuries are common as bad pence,
While thousands, careless of the damning sin,
Kiss the books outside, who ne'er look'd within ?
Hast thou, when Heaven has clothed thee with disgrace,
And long provoked, repaid thee to thy face
(For thou hast known eclipses, and endured
Dimness and anguish, all thy beams obscured,
When sin has shed dishonour on thy brow;
And never of a sabler hue than now),
Hast thou, with heart perverse and conscience sear'd,
Despising all rebuke, still persevered,
And having chosen' evil, scorn'd the voice
That cried, Repent !-and gloried in thy choice?
Thy fastings, when calamity at last
Suggest the expedient of a yearly fast,
What mean they? Canst thou dream there is a power
In lighter diet at a later hour,
To charm to sleep the threatening of the skies,
And hide past folly from all-seeing eyes ?
The fast, that wins deliverance, and suspends
The stroke, that a vindictive God intends,
Is to renounce hypocrisy; to draw
Thy life upon the pattern of the law!
To war with pleasure, idolized before;
To vanquish lust, and wear its yoke no more.
All fasting else, whate'er be the pretence,
Is wooing mercy by renew'd offence.
Hast'thou within the sin, that in old time
Brought fire from heaven, the sex-abusing crime,
Whose horrid perpetration stamps disgrace,
Baboons are free from, upon human race?
Think on the fruitful and well-water'd spot,
That fed the flocks and herds of wealthy Lot,
Where Paradise seem'd still vouchsafed on earth,
Burning and scorch'd into perpetual dearth,
Or, in his words who damn'd the base desire,
Suffering the vengeance of eternal fire:
Then Nature injured, scandalized, defiled,
Unveil'd her blushing cheek, looked on, and smiled;
Beheld with joy the lovely scene defaced,
And praised the wrath that laid her beauties waste.
Far be the thought from any verse of mine,
And farther still the form’d and fix'd design,
To thrust the charge of deeds that I detest,
Against an innocent, unconscious breast:
The man that dares traduce, because he can
With safety to himself, is not a man:
An individual is a sacred mark,
Not to be pierced in play, or in the dark ;
But public censure speaks a public foe,
Unless a zeal for virtue guides the blow.
The priestly brotherhood, devout, sincere,
From mean self-interest and ambition clear,
Their hope in Heaven, servility their scorn,
Prompt to persuade, expostulate, and warn,
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 Phineas 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 thee 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 puling 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 shows 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 ruld thee by the sword alonu, 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 rais’d 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,
Legutes 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,
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 or 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,
Provok'd 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 feud and bickerings of their own.
Thy parliaments adored on bended knees
The sov'reignty 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.
* Which may be found at Doctors' Commons.