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Such stuff the world is made of; and mankind
To passion, int’rest, pleasure, whim resign'd,
Insist on, as if each were his own pope,
Forgiveness, and the privilege of hope.
But Conscience, in some awful silent hour,
When captivating lusts have lost their pow'r,
Perhaps when sickness, or some fearful dream,
Reminds him of religion, hated theme !
Starts from the down, on which she lately slept,
And tells of laws despis'd, at least not kept :
Shows with a pointing finger, but no noise,
A pale procession of past sinful joys,
All witnesses of blessings foully scorn’d,
And life abus'd, and not to be suborn’d.
Mark these, she says; these summon'd from afar,
Begin their march to meet thee at the bar;
There find a Judge inexorably just,
And perish there, as all presumption must.
Peace be to those (such peace as Earth can give)
Who live in pleasure, dead e'en while they live;
Born capable indeed of heav'nly truth;
But down to latest age, from earliest youth,
Their mind a wilderness through want of care,
The plough of wisdom never ent’ring there.
Peace (if insensibility may claim
A right to the meek honours of her name)
To men of pedigree, their noble race,
Emulous always of the nearest place
To any throne, except the throne of Grace.
Let cottagers and unenlighten’d swains
Revere the laws they dream that Heav'n ordains:
Resort on Sundays to the house of pray’r,
And ask, and fancy they find, blessings there.
Themselves, perhaps, when weary they retreat
To enjoy cool nature in a country seat,
To exchange the centre of a thousand trades,
For clumps, and lawns, and temples, and cascades, -
May now and then their velvet cushions take,
And seem to pray for good example's sake;
Judging, in charity no doubt, the town
Pious enough, and having need of none.
Kind souls! to teach their tenantry to prize
What they themselves, without remorse, despise:
Nor hope have they, nor fear, of aught to come,
As well for them had prophecy been dumb;
They could have held the conduct they pursue,
Had Paul of Tarsus liv'd and died a Jew;
And truth, propos'd to reasoners wise as they,
Is a pearl cast—completely cast away.
They die—Death lends them, pleas'd, and as in
All the grim honours of his ghastly court.
Far other paintings grace the chamber now,
Where late we saw the mimick landscape glow:
The busy heralds hang the sable scene
With mournful 'scutcheons, and dim lamps be-
Proclaim their titles to the crowd around,
But they that wore them move not at the sound;
The coronet, plac’d idly at their head,
Adds nothing now to the degraded dead;
And een the star, that glitters on the bier,
Can only say—Nobility lies here.
Peace to all such—'twere pity to offend,
By useless censure, whom we cannot mend;
Life without hope can close but in despair,
"Twas there we found them, and must leave thema
As, when two pilgrims in a forest stray,
Both may be lost, yet each in his own way;
So fares it with the multitudes beguil'd
In vain Opinion's waste and dang'rous wild;
Ten thousand rove the brakes and thorns among,
Some eastward, and some westward, and all wrong.
But here, alas! the fatal diff'rence lies,
Each man's belief is right in his own eyes;
And he that blames what they have blindly chose
Incurs resentment for the love he shows.
Say botanist, within whose province fall
The cedar and the hyssop on the wall,
Of all that deck the lanes, the fields, the bow’rs,
What parts the kindred tribes of weeds and flow’rs?
Sweet scent, or lovely form, or both combin’d
Distinguish ev'ry cultivated kind;
The want of both denotes a meaner breed,
And Chloe from her garland picks the weed.
Thus hopes of ev'ry sort, whatever sect
Esteem them, sow them, rear them, and protect,
If wild in nature, and not duly found,
Gethsemane! in thy dear hallow’d ground,
That cannot bear the blaze of Scripture light,
Nor cheer the spirit, nor refresh the sight,
Nor animate the soul to Christian deeds,
(Oh cast them from thee!) are weeds, arrant weeds,
Ethelred's house, the centre of six ways,
Diverging each from each, like equal rays,
Himself as bountiful as April rains,
Lord paramount of the surrounding plains,
Would give relief of bed and board to none
But guests that sought it in th’ appointed One;
And they might enter at his open door,
E’en till his spacious hall would hold no more.
He sent a servant forth by ev’ry road,
To sound his horn, and publish it abroad,
That all might mark—knight, menial, high, and low,
An ord'nance it concern'd them all to know.
If, after all, some headstrong hardy lout
Would disobey, though sure to be shutout,
Could he with reason murmur at his case,
Himself sole author of his own disgrace?
No! the decree was just and without flaw;
And he, that made, had right to make, the law;
His sov’reign pow'r and pleasure unrestrain'd,
The wrong was his who wrongfully complain'd.
Yet half mankind maintain a churlish strife
With Him, the Donor of eternal life,
Because the deed, by which his love confirms
The largess he bestows, prescribes the terms.
Compliance with his will your lot ensures,
Accept it only, and the boon is yours.
And sure it is as kind to smile and give,
As with a frown to say, Do this, and live.
Love is not pedlar's trump’ry bought and sold
He will give freely, or he will withhold;
Hissoul abhors a mercenary thought,
And him as deeply who abhors it not;
WOL. I. 10*
He stipulates indeed, but merely this,
That man will freely take an unbought bliss,
Will trust him for a faithful gen'rous part,
Nor set a price upon a willing heart.
Of all the ways that seem to promise fair,
To place you where his saints his presence share,
This only can ; for this plain cause, express'd
In terms as plain, Himself has shut the rest.
But oh the strife, the bick’ring, and debate,
The tidings of unpurchas'd Heav'n create
The flirted fan, the bridle, and the toss,
All speakers, yet all language at a loss.
From stucco'd walls smart arguments rebound;
And beaux, adept in ev’ry thing profound,
Die of disdain, or whistle off the sound.
Such is the clamour of rooks, daws, and kites,
Th’ explosion of the levell'd tube excites,
Where mould'ring abbey-walls o'er hang the glade,
And oaks coeval spread a mournful shade;
The screaming nations, hov'ring in mid air,
Loudly resent the stranger's freedom there,
And seem to warn him never to repeat
His bold intrusion on their dark retreat.
Adieu, Vinosa cries, ere yet he sips
The purple bumper trembling at his lips,
Adieu to all morality if Grace
Make works a vain ingredient in the case.
The Christian hope is—Waiter, draw the cork—
If I mistake not—Blockhead' with a fork :
Without good works, whatever some may boast,
Mere folly and delusion—Sir, your toast.