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Where dwell they now, where dwelt in ancient day,
A people planted, water'd, blest as they ?
Let Egypt's plagues and Canaan's woes proclaim
The favours pour'd upon the Jewish name;
Their freedom purchased for them at the cost
Of all their hard oppressors valued most,
Their title to a country not their own
Made sure by prodigies till then unknown;
For them the state they left made waste and void,
For them the states to which they went destroy'd,
A cloud to measure out their march by day,
By night a fire to cheer the gloomy way,
That moving signal summoning, when best,
Their host to move, and, when it stay'd, to rest.
For them the rocks dissolved into a food,
The dews condensed into angelic food,
Their very garments sacred, old yet new,
And Time forbid to touch them as he flew;
Streams, swell’d above the bank, enjoin'd to stand,
While they pass'd through to their appointed land;
Their leader arm’d with meekness, zeal, and love,
And graced with clear credentials from above;
Themselves secured beneath the Almighty wing ;
Their God their captain, * lawgiver, and king;
Crown'd with a thousand victories, and at last
Lords of the conquer'd soil, there rooted fast,
In peace possessing what they won by war,
Their name far publish'd, and revered as far ;
Where will you find a race like theirs, endow'd
With all that man e'er wish'd or Heaven bestow'd ?
They and they only amongst all mankind
Received the transcript of the Eternal mind,
Were trusted with his own engraven laws,
And constituted guardians of his cause;
Theirs were the prophets, theirs the priestly call,
And theirs by birth the Saviour of us all.
In vain the nations that had seen them rise
With fierce and envious yet admiring eyes,
Had sought to crush them, guarded as they were
By power divine and skill that could not err.
Had they maintain'd allegiance firm and sure,
And kept the faith immaculate and pure,
Then the proud eagles of all-conquering Rome
Had found one city not to be o'ercome,
And the twelve standards of the tribes unfurl'd
Had bid defiance to the warring world.
But grace abused brings forth the foulest deeds,
As richest soil the most luxuriant weeds;
Cured of the golden calves, their fathers' sin,
They set up self, that idol-god, within;
View'd a deliverer with disdain and hate,
Who left them still a tributary state;
Seized fast his hand, held out to set them free
From a worse yoke, and nail'd it to the tree.
There was the consummation and the crown,
The flower of Israel's infamy full blown;
Thence date their sad declension and their fall
Their woes not yet repeal’d, thence date them all.
Thus fell the best instructed in her day,
And the most favour'd land, look where we may.
Philosophy indeed on Grecian eyes
Had pour'd the day, and clear'd the Roman skies;
In other climes perhaps creative art,
With power surpassing theirs, perform’d her part,
Might give more life to marble, or might fill
The glowing tablets with a juster skill,
Might shine in fable, and grace idle themes
With all the embroidery of poetic dreams;
’T was theirs alone to dive into the plan,
That truth and mercy had reveal'd to man;
And while the world beside, that plan unknown,
Deified useless wood or senseless stone,
They breathed in faith their well-directed prayers,
And the true God, the God of truth, was theirs.
Their glory faded, and their race dispersed, The last of nations now, though once the first, They warn and teach the proudest, would they learn, Keep wisdom, or meet vengeance in your turn!
If we escaped not, if Heaven spared not us,
Peel'd, scatter'd, and exterminated thus;
If Vice received her retribution due,
When we were visited, what hope for you
When God arises with an awful frown,
To punish lust, or pluck presumption down;
When gifts perverted, or not duly prized,
Pleasure o'ervalued, and his grace despised,
Provoke the vengeance of his righteous hand
To pour down wrath upon a thankless land,
He will be found impartially severe,
Too just to wink, or speak the guilty clear.
O Israel, of all nations most undone !
Thy diadem displaced, thy sceptre gone,
Thy temple, once thy glory, fallen and rased,
And thou a worshipper e'en where thou mayst ;
Thy services once only without spot,
Mere shadows now, their ancient pomp forgot;
Thy Levites, once a consecrated host,
No longer Levites, and their lineage lost,
And thou thyself o’er every country sown,
With none on earth that thou canst call thine own;
Cry aloud, thou that sittest in the dust,
Cry to the proud, the cruel, and unjust,
Knock at the gates of nations, rouse their fears,
Say wrath is coming, and the storm appears ;
But raise the shrillest cry in British ears.
What ails thee, restless as the waves that roar, And fling their foam against thy chalky shore ? Mistress, at least while Providence shall please, And trident-bearing queen of the wide seas, Why, having kept good faith, and often shown Friendship and truth to others, find'st thou none ? Thou that hast set the persecuted free, None interposes now to succour thee. Countries indebted to thy power, that shine With light derived from thee, would smother thine Thy very children watch for thy disgrace,A lawless brood, and curse thee to thy face: Thy rulers load thy credit, year by year, With sums Peruvian mines could never clear,
As if, like arches built with skilful hand,
The more 't were press'd the firmer it would stand.
The cry in all thy ships is still the same,
Speed us away to battle and to fame!
Thy mariners explore the wild expanse,
Impatient to descry the flags of France,
But, though they fight as thine have ever fought,
Return ashamed without the wreaths they sought.
Thy senate is a scene of civil jar,
Chaos of contrarieties at war,
Where sharp and solid, phlegmatic and light,
Discordant atoms meet, ferment, and fight;
Where Obstinacy takes his sturdy stand,
To disconcert what Policy has plann'd;
Where Policy is busied all night long
In setting right what Faction has set wrong;
Where flails of oratory thresh the floor,
That yields them chaff and dust, and nothing more.
Thy rack'd inhabitants repine, complain,
Tax'd till the brow of Labour sweats in vain;
War lays a burden on the reeling state,
And Peace does nothing to relieve the weight;
Successive loads succeeding broils impose,
And sighing millions prophesy the close.
Is adverse Providence, when ponder'd well,
So dimly writ or difficult to spell,
Thou canst not read with readiness and ease
Providence adverse in events like these ?
Know then, that heavenly wisdom on this ball
Creates, gives birth to, guides, consummates all :
That, while laborious and quick-thoughted man
Snuffs up the praise of what he seems to plan,
He first conceives, then perfects his design,
As a mere instrument in hands divine :
Blind to the working of that secret power
That balances the wings of every hour,
The busy trifler deems himself alone,
Frames many a purpose, and God works his own.
States thrive or wither as moons wax or wane,
Even as his will and his decrees ordain;
While honour, virtue, piety bear sway,
They flourish; and as these decline, decay.
In just resentment of his injured laws,
He pours contempt on them and on their cause;
Strikes the rough thread of error right athwart
The web of every scheme they have at heart,
Bids rottenness invade and bring to dust
The pillars of support in which they trust,
And do his errand of disgrace and shame
On the chief strength and glory of the frame.
None ever yet impeded what He wrought,
None bars Him out from his most secret thought;
Darkness itself before His eyes is light,
And hell's close mischief naked in His sight.
Stand now and judge thyself.—Hast thou incurr’d
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
The post that at his bidding speeds away,
Ghastly in feature, and his stammering tongue
With doleful rumour 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 breast, Exported slavery to the conquer'd East,