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At once the shock unseated him : he flew
Sheer o'er the craggy barrier; and, immers'd
Deep in the flood, found, when he sought it not,
The death he had deserv'd—and died alone !
So God wrought double justice ; made the fool
The victim of his own tremendous choice,
And taught a brute the way to safe revenge.
I would not enter on my list of friends
(Though grac'd with polish'd manners and fine sense,
Yet wanting sensibility) the man
Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm.
An inadvertent step may crush the snail
That crawls at ev'ning in the public path ;
But he that has humanity, forewarn’d,
Will tread aside, and let the reptile live.
The creeping vermin, loathsome to the sight,
And charg'd perhaps with venom, that intrudes,
A visitor unwelcome, into scenes
Sacred to neatness and repose-th' alcove,
The chamber, or refectory-may die :
A necessary act incurs no blame.
Not so when held within their proper bounds,
And guiltless of offence, they range the air,
Or take their pastime in the spacious field:
There they are priviledg’d; and he that hunts.
Or harms them there is guilty of a wrong,
Disturbs th’economy of nature's realm,
Who, when she form’d, design'd them an abode.
The sum is this.--If man's convenience, health,
Or safety, interfere, his rights and claims
Are paramount, and must extinguish theirs.
Else they are all—the meanest things that are
As free to live, and to enjoy that life,
As God was free to form them at the first,
Who, in his sov'reign wisdom, made them all.
Ye, therefore, who love mercy, teach your sons
To love it too. The spring-time of our years
Is soon dishonour'd and defil'd in most
By budding ills, that ask a prudent hand
To check them. But, alas! none sooner shoots,
If unrestrain’d, into luxuriant growth,
Than cruelty, most dev'lish of them all.
Mercy to him that shows it, is the rule
And righteous limitation of its act,
By which Heav'n moves in pard’ning guilty man ;
And he that shows none, being ripe in years,
And conscious of the outrage he commits,
Shall seek it, and not find it, in his turn.
Distinguish'd much by reason, and still more
By our capacity of grace divine,
From creatures that exist but for our sake,
Which, having serv'd us, perish, we are held
Accountable ; and God, some future day,
Will reckon with us roundly for th' abuse
Of what he deems no mean or trivial trust.
Superior as we are, they yet depend
Not more on human help than we on theirs.
Their strength, or speed, or vigilance, were giv'n
In aid of our defects. In some are found
Such teachable and apprehensive parts,
That man's attainments in his own concerns, Match'd with th' expertness of the brute's in theirs, Are oft-times vanquish'd and thrown far behind. Some show that nice sagacity of smell, And read with such discernment, in the port And figure of the man, his secret aim, That oft we owe our safety to a skill We could not teach, and must despair to learn. But learn we might, if not too proud to stoop To quadruped instructors, many a good And useful quality, and virtue too, Rarely exemplified among ourselves. Attachment never to be wean’d, or chang'd By any change of fortune ; proof alike Against unkindness, absence, and neglect; Fidelity, that neither bribe nor threat Can move or warp ; and gratitude for small And trivial favours lasting as the life, And glist’ning even in the dying eye. Man praises man. Desert in arts or arms Wins public honour; and ten thousand sit Patiently present at a sacred song, Commemoration-mad; content to hear (Oh wonderful effect of music's pow'r !) Messiah's eulogy for Handel's sake! But less, methinks, than sacrilege might serve (For, was it less ? what heathen would have dar'd To strip Jove's statue of his oaken wreath, And hang it up in honour of a man?) Much less might serve, when all that we design
Is but to gratify an itching ear,
And give the day to a musician's praise.
Remember Handel? Who, that was not born
Deaf as the dead to harmony, forgets,
Or can, the more than Homer of his age ?
Yes—we remember him; and, while we praise
A talent so divine, remember too,
That his most holy book from whom it came,
Was never meant, was never us'd before,
To buckram out the mem'ry of a man.
But hush !-the muse perhaps is too severe ;
And, with a gravity beyond the size
And measure of th' offence, rebukes a deed
Less impious than absurd, and owing more
To want of judgment than to wrong design.
So in the chapel of old Ely House,
When wand'ring Charles, who meant to be the third,
Had Aed from William, and the news was fresh,
The simple clerk, but loyal, did announce,
And eke did rear right merrily, two staves,
Sung to the praise and glory of King George!
-Man praises man; and Garrick’s mem'ry next,
When time hath somewhat mellow'd it, and made
The idol of our worship while he liv'd
The God of our idolatry once more, ..
Shall have its altar ; and the world shall go
In pilgrimage to bow before his shrine.
The theatre, too small, shall suffocate
Its squeez'd contents, and more than it admits
Shall sigh at their exclusion, and return
Ungratified. For there some noble lord
Shall stuff his shoulders with King Richard's bunch,
Or wrap himself in Hamlet's inky cloak,
And strut, and storm, and straddle, stamp, and stare,
To show the world how Garrick did not act-
For Garrick was a worshipper himself;
He drew the liturgy, and fram'd the rites
And solemn ceremonial of the day,
And call'd the world to worship on the banks
Of Avon, fam'd in song. Ah, pleasant proof
That piety has still in human hearts
Some place, a spark or two not yet extinct.
The mulb'ry-tree was hung with blooming wreaths;
The mulb'ry-tree stood centre of the dance ;
The mulb'ry-tree was hymn’d with dulcet airs ;
And from his touch-wood trunk the mulb’ry-tree
Supplied such relics as devotion holds
Still sacred, and preserves with pious care.
So 'twas a hallow'd time: decorum reign'd,
And mirth without offence. No few return'd,
Doubtless, much edified, and all refresh’d.
-Man praises man. The rabble, all alive,
From tippling-benches, cellars, stalls, and styes,
Swarm in the streets. The statesman of the day,
Some shout him, and some hang upon his car,
To gaze in 's eyes, and bless him. Maidens wave
Their ’kerchiefs, and old women weep for joy:
While others, not so satisfied, unhorse
The gilded equipage, and, turning loose