« PreviousContinue »
Oh slave! with powers thou didst not dare exert,
Verse cannot stoop so low as thy desert;
It shakes the sides of splenetic Disdain,
Thou self-entitled ruler of the main,
To trace thee to the date when yon fair sea,
That clips thy shores, had no such charms for thee
When other nations flew from coast to coast,
And thou hadst neither fleet nur flag to boast.
Kneel now, and lay thy forehead in the dust;
Blush, if thou canst; not petrified, thou must:
Act but an honest and a faithful part;
Compare what then thou wast with what thou art;
And God's disposing providence confess'd,
Obduracy itself must yield the rest-
Then thou art bound to serve him, and to prove,
Hour after hour, thy gratitude and love.
Has he not hid thee, and thy favour'd land,
For ages safe beneath his sheltering hand,
Given thee his blessing on the clearest proof,
Bid nations leagued against thee stand aloof,
And charged Hostility and Hate to roar
Where else they would, but not upon thy shore?
power secured thee, when presumptuous Spain
Baptized her fleet invincible in vain.
Her gloomy monarch, doubtful and resign'd
To every pang that racks an anxious mind,
Ask'd of the waves, that broke upon his coast,
What tidings ? and the surge replied- All lost !
And when the Stuart, leaning on the Scot,
Then too much fear'd, and now too much forgot,
Pierced to the very centre of the realm,
And hoped to seize his abdicated helm,
'Twas but to prove how quickly with a frown
He that had raised thee could have pluck'd thee down.
Peculiar is the grace by thee possess'd,
Thy foes implacable, thy land at rest;
Thy thunders travel over earth and seas,
And all at home is pleasure, wealth, and ease.
'Tis thus, extending his tempestuous arm,
Thy Maker fills the nations with alarm,
While his own heaven surveys the troubled scene,
And feels no change, unshaken and serene.
Freedom, in other lands scarce known to shine,
Pours out a flood of splendour upon thine;
Thou hast as bright an interest in her rays
As ever Roman had in Rome's best days.
True freedom is where no restraint is known,
That Scripture, justice, and good sense disown,
Where only vice and injury are tied,
And all from shore to shore is free beside.
Such freedom is-and Windsor's hoary towers
Stood trembling at the boldness of thy powers,
That won a nymph on that immortal plain
Like her the fabled Phæbus woo'd in vain:
He found the laurel only–happier you
The unfading laurel, and the virgin too !*
Now think, if Pleasure have a thought to spare;
If God himself be not beneath her care;
If Business, constant as the wheels of time,
Can pause an hour to read a serious rhyme;
If the new mail thy merchants now receive,
Or expectation of the next, give leave;
Oh think! if chargeable with deep arrears
For such indulgence gilding all thy years,
How much though long neglected, shining yet,
The beams of heav'nly truth have swell’d the debt.
When persecuting zeal made royal sport
With tortured innocence in Mary's court,
And Bonner, blithe as shepherd at a wake,
Enjoyed the show and danced about the stake;
The sacred Book, its value understood,
Received the seal of martyrdom in blood.
Those holy men, so full of truth and grace,
Seem to reflection of a different race;
Meek, modest, venerable, wise, sincere,
In such a cause they could not dare to fear ;
They could not purchase earth with such a prize,
Or spare a life too short to reach the skies,
From them to thee convey'd along the tide,
Their streaming hearts pour'd freely when they died ;
Those truths, which neither use nor years impair,
Invite thee, woo thee, to the bliss they share.
* Allnding to the grant of Magna Charta, which was extorte from King Jobn, by the barons at Runnymede, near Windsor.
What dotage will not vanity maintain ?
What weh too weak to catch a modern brain?
The moles anel bats in full assembly find,
On special search, the keen-eyed eagle blind.
And did they dream, and art thou wiser now?
Prove it-jf better, I submit, and bow.
Wisdom and goodness are twin-born, one heart
Must hold both sisters, never seen apart.
So then-as darkness overspread the deep,
Ere Nature rose from her eternal sleep,
And this delightful earth, and that fair sky,
Leap'd out of nothing, call'd by the Most High :
By such a change thy darkness is made light,
Thy chaos order, and thy weakness might;
And He, whose power mere nullity obeys,
Who found thee nothing, form’d thee for his praise :
To praise him is to serve him, and fulfil,
Doing and suffering his unquestion'd will;
'Tis to believe what men inspired of old,
Faithful, and faithfully inform’d, unfold;
Candid and just, with no false aim in view,
To take for truth what cannot but be true;
To learn in God's own school the Christian part,
And bind the task assign'd thee to thine heart :
Happy the man there seeking and there found,
Happy the nation where such men abound.
How shall a verse impress thee? by what name
Shall I adjure thee not to court thy shame?
By theirs, whose bright example unimpeach'd
Directs thee to that eminence they reach'd,
Heroes and worthies of days past, thy sires ?
Or his, who touch'd their hearts with hallow'd fires ?
Their names, alas ! in vain reproach an age,
Whom all the vanites they scorn'd engage!
And His, that seraphs tremble at, is hung
Disgracefully on every trifler's tongue,
Or serves the champion in forensic war
To flourish and parade with at the bar.
Pleasure herself perhaps suggests a plea,
If interest move thee, to persuade e'en thee;
By every charm that smiles upon her face,
By joys possess’d, and joys still held in chase,
If dear society be worth a thought,
And if the feast of freedom cloy thee not,
Reflect that these, and all that seems thine own,
Held by the tenure of his will alone,
Like angels in the service of their Lord,
Remain with thee, or leave thee at his word;
That gratitude and temperance in our use
Of what he gives, unsparing and profuse.
Secure the favour and enhance the joy,
That thankless waste and wild abuse destroy.
But above all, refiect, how cheap soe'er
Those rights, that milions envy thee, appear,
And, though resolved to risk them, and swim down
The tide of pleasure, heedless of His frown,
That blessings truly sacred, and when given,
Mark'd with the signature and stamp of Heaven,
The word of prophecy, those truths divine,
Which make that heaven, if thou desire it, thine
(Awful alternative! believed, beloved,
Thy glory and thy shame if unimproved),
Are never long vouchsafed, if push'd aside
With cold disgust or philosophic pride!
And that, judicially withdrawn, disgrace,
Error, and darkness, occupy their place.
A world is up in arms, and thou, a spot
Not quickly found, if negligently sought,
Thy soul as ample as thy bounds are small,
Endur'st the brunt, and darest defy them all :
And wilt thou join to this bold enterprise
A bolder still, a contest with the skies?
Remember, if He guard thee, and secure,
Whoe'er assails thee, thy success is sure;
But if He leave thee, though the skill and power
Of nations sworn to spoil thee and devour,
Were all collected in thy single arm,
And thou couldst laugh away the fear of harm,
That strength would fail, opposed against the push
And feeble onset of a pigmy rush.
Say not (and if the thought of such defence Should spring within thy bosom, drive it thence) What nation amongst all my foes is free From crimes as base as any charged on me?
Their measure fill'd, they too shall pay the debt,
Which God, though long forborne, will not forget.
But know that wrath divine, when most severe,
Makes justice still the guide of his career,
And will not punish, in one mingled crowd,
Them without light, and thee without a cloud.
Muse, hang this harp upon yon aged beech,
Still murmuring with the solemn truths I teach;
And while at intervals a cold blast sings
Through the dry leaves, and pants upon the strings;
My soul shall sigh in secret, and lament
A nation scourged, yet tardy to repent.
I know the warning song is sung in vain ;
That few will hear, and fewer heed the strain ;
But if a sweeter voice, and one design'd
A blessing to my country and mankind,
Reclaim the wandering thousands, and bring home
A flock so scatter'd and so wont to roam,
Then place it once again between my knees ;
The sound of truth will then be sure to please:
And truth alone, where'er my life be cast,
In scenes of plenty, or the pining waste,
Shall be my chosen theme, my glory to the last.
doceas iter, et sacra otia pandas.-Virg. Æn. 6.
Ask what is human life-the sage replies,
With disappointment lowering in his eyes,
A painful passage o'er a restless flood,
A vain pursuit of fugitive false good,
A scene of fancied bliss and heart-felt care,
Closing at last in darkness and despair,
The poor, inured to drudgery and distress,
Act without aim, think little, and feel less,
And nowhere, but in feigned Arcadian scenes,
Taste happiness, or know what pleasure means.