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THE

PROGRESS OF ERROR.

Si quid loquar audiendum.-Hor. Lib. 4. Od. 2.

SING, muse, if such a theme, so dark, so long,
May find a muse to grace it with a song,
By what unseen and unsuspected arts
The serpent, exror, twines round human hearts ;
Tell where she lurks, beneath what flowery shades,
That not a glimpse of genuine light pervades,
The poisonous, black, insinuating worm,
Successfully conceals her loathsome form.
Take, if ye can, ye careless and supine,
Counsel and caution from a voice like mine!
Truths, that the theorist could never reach,
And observation taught me, I would teach.

Not all whose eloquence the fancy fills,
Musical as the chime of tinkling rills,
Weak to perform, though mighty to pretend,
Can trace her mazy windings to their end;
Discern the fraud beneath the specious lure,
Prevent the danger, or prescribe the cure.
The clear harangue, and cold as it is clear,
Falls soporific on the listless ear :

Like quicksilver, the rhetoric they display
Shines as it runs, but grasp'd at, slips away.

Plac'd for his trial on this bustling stage,
From thoughtless youth to ruminating age,
Free in his will to choose or to refuse,
Man may improve the crisis, or abuse ;
Else on the fatalist's unrighteous plan,
Say, to what bar amenable were man ;
With naught in charge he could betray no trust ;
And, if he fell, would fall because he must;
If love reward him, or if vengeance strike,
His recompense is both unjust alike.
Divine authority within his breast
Brings every thought, word, action to the test ;
Warns him or prompts, approves him or restrains,
As reason, or as passion, takes the reins.
Heaven from above, and conscience from within,
Cry in his startled ear-Abstain from sin !
The world around solicits his desire,
And kindles in his soul a treacherous fire ;
While, all his purposes and steps to guard,
Peace follows virtue as its sure reward ;
And pleasure brings as surely in her train,
Remorse, and sorrow, and vindictive pain.

Man, thus endued with an elective voice, Must be supplied with objects of his choice. Where'er he turns, enjoyment and delight, Or present, or in prospect, meet his sight ;

Those open on the spot their honied store ;
These call him, loudly, to pursuit of more.
His unexhausted mine the sordid vice
Avarice shows, and virtue is the prioe.
Here various motives his ambition raise
Power, pomp and splendour, and the thirst of praise ;
There beauty woos him with expanded arms;
E’en Bacchanalian madness has its charms.

Nor these alone, whose pleasures, less refin'd,
Might well alarm the most unguarded mind,
Seek to supplant his inexperienc'd youth,
Or lead him, devious, from the path of truth;
Hourly allurements on his passions press,
Safe in themselves, but dangerous in th' excess.

Hark! how it floats upon the dewy air !
O what a dying, dying close was there !
'Tis harmony from yon sequester'd bower,
Sweet harmony, that soothes the midnight hour!
Long ere the charioteer of day had run
His morning course, th’enchantment was begun ;
And he shall gild yon mountain's height again,
Ere yet the pleasing toil becomes a pain.

Is this the rugged path, the steep ascent, That virtue points to ? Can a life thus spent Lead to the bliss she promises the wise, Detach the soul from earth, and speed her to the skies? Ye devotees to your ador'd employ, Enthusiast, drunk with an unreal joy,

Love makes the music of the blest above,
Heaven's harmony in universal love ;
And earthly sounds, though sweet, and well com- 2
And lenient as soft opiates to the mind, [bin'd,
Leave vice and folly unsubdu'd behind.

Grey dawn appears, the sportsman and his train
Speckle the bosom of the distant plain ;
'Tis he, the Nimrod of the neighbouring lairs,
Save that his scent is less acute than theirs;
For persevering chase, and headlong leaps,
True beagle, as the staunchest hound he keeps.
Charg'd with the folly of his life’s mad scene,
He takes offence and wonders what you mean ;
The joy the danger and the toil o'erpays-
'Tis exercise, and health, and length of days.
Again, impetuous to the field he fies ;
Leaps every fence but one, there falls and dies ;
Like a slain deer the tumbrel brings him home,
Unmiss'd, but by his dogs and by his groom.

Ye clergy ; while your orbit is your place,
Lights of the world, and stars of human race;
But if, eccentric, ye forsake your sphere,
Prodigies ominous, and view'd with fear.
The comet's baneful influence is a dream;
Yo:irs real, and pernicious in th’extreme.
What then! are appetites and lusts laid down
With the same ease that man puts on his gown?
Will avarice and concupiscence give place,
Charm'd by the sounds Your Reverence, or Your

Grace ?

No. But his own engagement binds him fast
Or if it does not, brands him to the last,
What atheists call him a designing kaave,
A mere church juggler, hypocrite, and slave.
Oh, laugh or mourn with me the rueful jest,
A cassock'd huntsman and a fiddling priest !
He from Italian songsters takes his cue :
Set Paul to music, he shall quote him too.
He takes the field. The master of the pack
Cries Well done, saint ! and claps him on the back.
Is this the path of sanctity? Is this
To stand a way-mark in the road to bliss ?
Himself a wanderer from the narrow way,
His silly sheep, what wonder if they stray ?
Go cast your orders at your bishop's feet,
Send your dishonour'd gown to Monmouth-street !
The sacred function in your hands is made
Sad sacrilege !--no function, but a trade !

Occiduus is a pastor of renown ; When he has pray'd and preach'd the Sabbath dowe, With wire and catgut he concludes the day, Quavering and semiquavering care away. The full concerto swells upon your ear; All elbows shake. Look in, and you would swear The Babylonian tyrant, with a nod, Had summond them to serve his golden god. So well that thought th' employment seems to suit, Psaltery and sackbut, dulcimer, and flute. Oh fie ! 'tis evangelical and pure : Observe each face how sober and demure !

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