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To quell the faction, that affronts the throne,
By silent magnanimity alone;
To nurse with tender care the thriving arts;
Watch every beam Philosophy imparts;
To give Religion her unbridled scope,
Nor judge by statute a believer's hope;
With close fidelity and love unfeigned,
To keep the matrimonial bond unstained;
Covetous only of a virtuous praise;
His life a lesson to the land he sways;
To touch the sword with conscientious awe,
Nor draw it but when duty bids him draw;
To sheathe it in the peace-restoring close,
With joy beyond what victory bestows;-
Blest country, where these kingly glories shine!
Blest England, if this happiness be thine!
A. Guard what you say, the patriotic tribe
Will sneer, and charge you with a bribe-
B. A bribe?
The worth of his three kingdoms I defy,
To lure me to the baseness of a lie:
And, of all lies (be that one poet's boast,)
The lie that flatters I abhor the most.
Those arts be theirs, who hate his gentle reign;
But he that loves him has no need to feign.
A. Your smooth eulogium to one crown addrest, Seems to imply a censure on the rest.
B. Quevedo, as he tells his sober tale,
Asked, when in hell, to see the royal jail;
Approved their method in all other things:
But where, good sir, do you confine your kings?
There said his guide-the group is full in view.
Indeed?-replied the don-there are but few.
His black interpreter the charge disdained-
Few, fellow?-there are all that ever reigned.
Wit, undistinguishing, is apt to strike
The guilty and not guilty both alike:
I grant the sarcasm is too severe,
And we can readily refute it here;
While Alfred's name, the father of his age,
And the sixth Edward's grace th' historic page.
A. Kings then, at last, have but the lot of all:
By their own conduct they must stand or fall.
B. True. While they live, the courtly laureat
His quitrent ode, his peppercorn of praise;
And many a dunce, whose fingers itch to write,
Adds, as he can, his tributary mite.
A subject's faults a subject may proclaim,
A monarch's errors are forbidden game!
Thus, free from censure, overawed by fear,
And praised for virtues that they scorn to wear,
The fleeting forms of majesty engage
Respect, while stalking o'er life's narrow stage;
Then leave their crimes for history to scan,
And ask, with busy scorn, was this the man?
I pity kings, whom Worship waits upon
Obsequious from the cradle to the throne;
Before whose infant eyes the flatterer bows,
And binds a wreath about their baby brows;
Whom Education stiffens into state,
And Death awakens from that dream too late.
Oh! if Servility, with supple knees,
Whose trade it is to smile, to crouch, to please;
If smooth Dissimulation, skilled to grace
A devil's purpose with an angel's face;
If smiling peeresses, and simpering peers,
Encompassing his throne a few short years;
If the gilt carriage and the pampered steed,
That wants no driving, and disdains the lead;
If guards, mechanically formed in ranks,
Playing, at beat of drum, their martial pranks,
Shouldering and standing as if struck to stone,
While condescending majesty looks on!
If monarchy consist in such base things,
Sighing, I say again, I pity kings!
To be suspected, thwarted, and withstood,
E'en when he labours for his country's good;
To see a band called patriot for no cause,
But that they catch at popular applause,
Careless of all th' anxiety he feels,
Hook disappointment on the public wheels;
With all their flippant fluency of tongue,
Most confident when palpably most wrong;
If this be kingly, then farewell for me
All kingship; and may I be poor and free!
To be the table talk of clubs up-stairs,
To which th' unwashed artificer repairs,
T' indulge his genius after long fatigue,
By diving into cabinet intrigue;
(For what kings deem a toil, as well they may,
To him is relaxation and mere play;)
To win no praise when well-wrought plans prevail,
But to be rudely censured when they fail;"
To doubt the love his favourites may pretend,
And in reality to find no friend;
If he indulge a cultivated taste,
His galleries with the works of art well graced,
To hear it called extravagance and waste;
If these attendants, and if such as these,
Must follow royalty, then welcome ease;
However humbled and confined the sphere,
Happy the state that has not these to fear.
A. Thus men, whose thoughts contemplative
On situations that they never felt,
Start up sagacious, covered with the dust,
Of dreaming study and pedantic rust,
And prate and preach about what others prove,
As if the world and they were hand and glove.
Leave kingly backs to cope with kingly cares;
They have their weight to carry, subjects theirs;
Poets, of all men, ever least regret
Increasing taxes and the nation's debt.
Could you contrive the payment, and rehearse
The mighty plan, oracular, in verse,
No bard, howe'er majestic, old or new,
Should claim my fixed attention more than you.
B. Not Brindley nor Bridgewater would essay
To turn the course of Helicon that way;
Nor would the Nine consent the sacred tide
Should purl amidst the traffic of Cheapside,
Or tinkle in 'Change Alley, to amuse
The leathern ears of stockjobbers and Jews.
A. Vouchsafe, at least, to pitch the key of rhyme
To themes more pertinent, if less sublime.
When ministers and ministerial arts;
Patriots, who love good places at their hearts;
When admirals, extolled for standing still,
Or doing nothing with a deal of skill;
Gen'rals, who will not conquer when they may,
Firm friends to peace, to pleasure, and good pay;
When Freedom, wounded almost to despair,
Though Discontent alone can find out where;
When themes like these employ the poet's tongue,
I hear as mute as if a syren sung.
Or tell me, if you can, what power maintains,
A Briton's scorn of arbitrary chains:
That were a theme might animate the dead,
And move the lips of poets cast in lead.
Is alwas happy, reign whoever may,
And laughs the sense of misery far away.
He drinks his simple beverage with a gust;
And, feasting on an onion and a crust,
We never feel th' alacrity and joy
With which he shouts and carols Vire la Roi,
Filled with as much true merriment and glee,
As if he heard his king say-Slave, be free.
Thus happiness depends, as Nature shows,
Less on exterior things than most suppose,
Vigilant over all that he has made,
Kind Providence attends with gracious aid;
Bids equity throughout his works prevail,
And weighs the nations in an even scale;
He can encourage Slavery to a smile,
And fill with discontent a British isle.
A. Freeman, and slave then, if the case be such,
Stand on a level; and you prove too much:.
If all men indiscriminately share
His fostering power, and tutelary care,
As well be yoked by Despotism's hand,
As dwell at large in Britain's chartered land.
B. No. Freedom has a thousand charms to
B. The cause, tho' worth the search, may yet That slaves, howe'er contented, never know. elude
Conjecture and remark, however shrewd.
They take perhaps a well-directed aim,
Who seek it in his climate and his frame.
Liberal in all things else, yet Nature here
With stern severity deals out the year,
Winter invades the spring, and often pours
A chilling flood on summer's drooping flowers;
Unwelcome vapeurs quench autumnal beams,
Ungenial blasts attending curl the streams:
The peasants urge their harvest, ply the fork
With double toil, and shiver at their work;
Thus with a rigour for his good designed,
She rears her favourite man of all mankind.
His form robust and of elastic tone,
Proportioned well, half muscle and half bone,
Supplies with warm activity and force
A mind well lodged, and masculine of course.
Hence Liberty, sweet Liberty inspires
And keeps alive his fierce but noble fires.
Patient of constitutional control,
He bears it with meek manliness of soul;
But if Authority grow wanton, wo
To him that treads upon his free-born toe;"
One step beyond the boundary of the laws
Fires him at once in Freedom's glorious cause. *
Thus proud Prerogative, not much revered,
Is seldom felt, though sometimes seen and heard;
And in his cage, like parrot fine and gay,
Is kept to strut, look big, and talk away.
Born in a climate softer far than ours,
Not formed, like us, with such Herculean powers,
The Frenchman, easy, debonair, and brisk,
Give him his lass, his fiddle, and his frisk,
The mind attains beneath her happy reign,
The growth, that Nature meant she should attain;
The varied fields of science, ever new,
Opening and wider opening on her view,
She ventures onward with a prosperous force,
While no base fear impedes her in her course.
Religion, richest favour of the skies,
Stands most revealed before the freeman's eyes;
No shades of superstition blot the day,
Liberty chases all that gloom away:
The soul emancipated, unopprest,
Free to prove all things, and hold fast the best,
Learns much; and to a thousand listening minds
Communicates with joy the good she finds:
Courage in arms, and ever prompt to show
His manly forehead to the fiercest foe;
Glorious in war, but for the sake of peace,
His spirits rising as his toils increase,
Guards well what arts and industry have won,
And Freedom claims him for her first-born son.
Slaves fight for what were better cast away-
The chains that binds them, and a tyrant's sway;
But they that fight for freedom, undertake
The noblest cause mankind can have at stake:—
Religion, virtue, truth, whate'er we call
A blessing-freedom is the pledge of all.
O Liberty! the prisoner's pleasing dream,
The poet's muse, his passion, and his theme;
Genius is thine, and thou art Fancy's nurse;
Lost without th' ennobling powers of verse;
Heroic song from thy free touch acquires
Its clearest tone, the rapture it inspires:
Place me where Winter breathes his keenest air,
And I will sing, if Liberty be there;
And I will sing at Liberty's dear feet,
In Afric's torrid clime, or India's fiercest heat.
He stood, as some inimitable hand
Would strive to make a Paul or Tully stand.
A. Sing where you please; in such a cause I No sycophant or slave, that dared oppose
An English poet's privilege to rant;
But is not Freedom-at least is not ours
Too apt to play the wanton with her powers,
Grow freakish, and, o'erleaping every mound,
Spread anarchy and terror all around?
B. Agreed. But would you sell or slay your
For bounding and curveting in his course?
Or if, when ridden with a careless rein,
He break away, and seek the distant plain?
No. His high mettle, under good control,
Gives him Olympic speed, and shoots him to the
Let discipline employ her wholesome arts;
Let magistrates alert perform their parts;
Not skulk or put on a prudential mask,
As if their duty were a desperate task;
Let active laws apply the needful curb,
To guard the peace that Riot would disturb;
And Liberty, preserved from wild excess,
Shall raise no feuds for armies to suppress.
When Tumult lately burst his prison-door,
And set plebeian thousands in a roar;
When he usurped Authority's just place
And dared to look his master in the face
When the rude rabble's watch-word was-De-
And blazing London seemed a second Troy;
Liberty blushed and hung her drooping head,
Beheld their progress with the deepest dread;
Blushed, that effects like these she should
Worse than the deeds of galley-slaves broke loose.
She loses in such storms her very name,
And fierce Licentiousness should bear the blame.
Incomparable gem! thy worth untold;
Cheap though blood-bought, and thrown away
May no foes ravish thee, and no false friend
Betray thee, while professing to defend!
Prize it, ye ministers; ye monarchs, spare;
Ye Patriots, guard it with a miser's care.
A. Patriots, alas! the few that have been found
Where most they flourish, upon English ground,
The country's need have scantily supplied,
And the last left the scene, when Chatham died.
B. Not so the virtue still adorns our age,
Though the chief actor died upon the stage.
In him Demosthenes was heard again;
Liberty taught him her Athenian strain;
She clothed him with authority and awe,
Spoke from his lips, and in his looks gave law.
His speech, his form, his action, full of grace,
And all his country beaming in his face,
Her sacred cause, but trembled when he rose;
And every venal stickler for the yoke
Felt himself crushed at the first word he spoke.
Such men are raised to station and command,
When Providence means mercy to a land,
He speaks, and they appear; to him they owe
Skill to direct, and strength to strike the blow;
To manage with address, to seize with power
The crisis of a dark decisive hour;
So Gideon earned a victory not his own;
Subserviency his praise, and that alone.
Poor England! thou art a devoted deer,
Beset with every ill but that of fear.
The nations hunt; all mark thee for a prey;
They swarm around thee, and thou stand'st at
Undaunted still, though wearied and perplexed;
Once Chatham saved thee; but who saves thee next?
Alas! the tide of pleasure sweeps along
All, that should be the boast of British song.
'Tis not the wreath, that once adorned thy brow,
The prize of happier times, will serve thee now
Our ancestry, a gallant, chieftain race,
Patterns of every virtue, every grace,
Confessed a God; they kneeled before they fought,
And praised him in the victories he wrought.
Now from the dust of ancient days bring forth
Their sober zeal, integrity, and worth;
Courage, ungraced by these, affronts the skies,
Is but the fire without the sacrifice.
The stream, that feeds the wellspring of the heart
Not more invigorates life's noblest part,
Than virtue quickens, with a warmth divine,
The powers, that Sin has brought to a decline.
A. Th' inestimable Estimate of Brown
Rose like a paper kite, and charmed the town;
But measures, planned and executed well,
He trod the very self-same ground you tread,
Shifted the wind that raised it, and it fell.
And victory refuted all he said.
B. And yet his judgment was not framed amiss;
Its error, if it erred, was merely this-
He thought the dying hour already come,
And a complete recovery struck him dumb.
But that effeminacy, folly, lust,
Enervate and enfeeble, and needs must;
And that a nation shamefully debased,
Will be despised and trampled on at last,
Unless sweet Penitence her powers renew;
Is truth, if history itself be true.
There is a time, and Justice marks the date,
For long-forbearing Clemency to wait;
That hour elapsed, the incurable revolt
Is punished, and down comes the thunderbolt.
If Mercy then put by the threat'ning blow,
Must she perform the same kind office now?
May she! and, if offended Heaven be still
Accessible, and prayer prevail, she will.
'Tis not, however, insolence and noise,
The tempest of tumultuary joys,
Nor is it yet despondence and dismay
Will win her visits, or engage her stay;
Prayer only, and the penitential tear,
Can call her smiling down, and fix her here.
But when a country (one that I could name)
In prostitution sinks the sense of shame:
When infamous Venality, grown bold,
Writes on his bosom, to be let or sold ;
When Perjury, that Heaven-defying vice,
Sells oaths by tale, and at the lowest price;
Stamps God's own name upon a lie just made,
To turn a penny in the way of trade;
When Avarice starves (and never hides his face)
Two or three millions of the human race,
And not a tongue inquires, how, where, or when, Though conscience will have twinges now and
When profanation of the sacred cause
In all its parts, times, ministry, and laws,
Bespeaks a land, once Christian, fallen and lost,
In all, that wars against the title most;
What follows next let cities of great name,
And regions long since desolate proclaim.
Nineveh, Babylon, and ancient Rome,
Speak to the present time, and times to come;
They cry aloud, in every careless ear,
Stop, while ye may; suspend your mad career;
O learn from our example and our fate,
Learn wisdom and repentance, ere too late.
Not only Vice disposes and prepares
The mind, that slumbers sweetly in her snares,
To stoop to Tyranny's usurped command,
And bend her polished neck beneath his hand,
(A dire effect, by one of Nature's laws,
Unchangeably connected with its cause ;)
But Providence himself will intervene,
To throw his dark displeasure o'er the scene.
All are his instruments; each form of war,
What burns at home, or threatens from afar,
Nature in arms, her elements at strife,
The storms, that overset the joys of life,
Are but the rods to scourge a guilty land,
And waste it at the bidding of his hand.
He gives his word, and Mutiny soon roars
In all her gates, and shakes her distant shores;
The standards of all nations are unfurled;
She has one foe, and that one foe the world:
And, if he doom that people with a frown,
And mark them with a seal of wrath pressed down,
Obduracy takes place; callous and tough,
The reprobated race grows judgment-proof:
Earth shakes beneath them, and Heaven roars above;
To the lascivious pipe and wanton song,
That charm down fear, they frolic it along,
With mad rapidity and unconcern, *
Down to the gulf, from which is no return.
They trust in navies, and their navies fail-
God's curse can cast away ten thousand sail!
They trust in armies, and their courage dies;
In wisdom, wealth, in fortune, and in lies;
But all they trust in withers, as it must,
When He commands, in whom they place no trust.
Vengeance at last pours down upon their coast
A long despised, but now victorious host;
Tyranny sends the chain that must abridge
The noble sweep of all their privilege;
Gives liberty the last, the mortal shock;
Slips the slave's collar on, and snaps the lock.
Mean you to prophesy, or but to preach?
A. Such lofty strains embellish what you teach;
The muse imparts, and can command the lyre,
Acts with a force, and kindles with a zeal,
B. I know the mind, that feels indeed the fire
Whate'er the theme, that others never feel.
If human woes her soft attention claim,"
A tender sympathy pervades the frame;
She pours a sensibility divine
Along the nerve of every feeling line.
But if a deed, not tamely to be borne,
Fire indignation and a sense of scorn,
The strings are swept with a power, so loud,
The storm of music shakes the astonished crowd.
So, when remote futurity is brought
Before the keen inquiry of her thought,
A terrible sagacity informs
The poet's heart; he looks to distant storms;
He hears the thunder ere the tempest lowers;
And, armed with strength surpassing human
Seizes events as yet unknown' to man,
And darts his soul into the dawning plan.
Hence, in a Roman mouth, the graceful name
Of prophet and of poet was the same;
Hence British poets too the priesthood shared,
And every hallowed druid was a bard.
But no prophetic fires to me belong;
I play with syllables, and sport in song.
A. At Westminster, where little poets strive
To set a distich upon six and five,
Where discipline helps th' opening buds of sense,
And makes his pupils proud with silver pence,
I was a poet too; but modern taste
Is so refined, and delicate, and chaste,
That verse, whatever fire the fancy warms,
Without a creamy smoothness has no charms.
Thus, all success depending on an ear,
And thinking I might purchase it too dear,
If sentiment were sacrificed to sound,
And truth cut short to make a period round, judged a man of sense could scarce do worse,
But nothing scares them from the course they love. Than caper in the morris-dance of verse.
B. Thus reputation is a spur to wit,
And some wits flag through fear of losing it.
Give me the line that ploughs its stately course.
Like a proud swan, conquering the stream by force,
That, like some cottage beauty, strikes the heart,
Quite unindebted to the tricks of art.
When Labour and when Dullness, club in hand,
Like the two figures at St. Dunstan's stand,
Beating alternately, in measured time,
The clock-work tintinabulum of rhyme,
Exact and regular the sounds will be;
But such mere quarter-strokes are not for me.
From him, who rears a poem lank and long,
To him who strains his all into a song;
Perhaps some bonny Caledonian air,
All birks and braes, though he was never there;
Or, having whelped a prologue with great pains;
Feels himself spent, and fumbles for his brains;
A prologue interdashed with many a stroke-
An art contrived to advertise a joke,
So that the jest is clearly to be seen,
Not in the words-but in the gap between:
Manner is all in all, whate'er is writ,
The substitute for genius, sense, and wit.
To dally much with subjects mean and low
Proves that the mind is weak, or makes it so.
Neglected talents rust into decay,
And every effort ends in pushpin play.
The man, that means success, should soar above
A soldier's feather, or a lady's glove;
Else, summoning the muse to such a theme,
The fruit of all her labour is whipped cream.
As if an eagle flew aloft, and then-
Stooped from its highest pitch to pounce a wren.
As if the poet, purposing to wed,
Should carve himself a wife in gingerbread.
Ages elapsed ere Homer's lamp appeared,
And ages ere the Mantuan swan was heard.
To carry nature lengths unknown before,
To give a Milton birth, asked ages more.
Thus Genius rose and set at ordered times,
And shot a dayspring into distant climes,
Ennobling every region that he chose;
He sunk in Greece, in Italy he rose:
And tedious years of Gothic darkness past,
Emerged, all splendour, in our isle at last.
Thus lovely halcyons dive into the main,
Then show far off their shining plumes again.
A. Is genius only found in epic lays?"
Prove this, and forfeit all pretence to praise.
Make their heroic powers your own at once,
Or candidly confess yourself a dunce.
B. These were the chief: each interval of night
Was graced with many an undulating light.
In less illustrious bards his beauty shone
A meteor, or a star; in these the sun.
The nightingale may claim the topmost bough, While the poor grasshopper must chirp below.
Like him unnoticed, I, and such as I,
Spread little wings, and rather skip than fly;
Perched on the meagre produce of the land,
An ell or two of prospect we command;
But never peep beyond the thorny bound
Or oaken fence, that hems the paddock round.
In Eden, ere yet innocence of heart
Had faded, poetry was not an art:
Language, above all teaching, or, if taught,
Only by gratitude and glowing thought,
Elegant as simplicity, and warm
As ecstacy, unmanacled by form;
Not prompted, as in our degenerate days,
By low ambition and the thirst of praise;
Was natural as is the flowing stream,
And yet magnificent. A God the theme!
That theme on earth exhausted, though above
'Tis found as everlasting as his love.
Man lavished all his thoughts on human things-
The feats of heroes, and the wrath of kings;
But still, while Virtue kindled his delight,
The song was moral, and so far was right.
'Twas thus, till Luxury seduced the mind
To joys less innocent, as less refined;
Then genius danced a bacchanal; he crowned
The brimming goblet, seized the thyrsus, bound
His brows with ivy, rushed into the field
Of wild imagination, and there reeled,
The victim of his own lascivious fires,
And dizzy with delight, profaned the sacred wires.
Anacreon, Horace played in Greece and Rome
This bedlam part; and others nearer home.
When Cromwell fought for power, and while he
The proud protector of the power he gained,
Religion, harsh, intolerant, austere,
Parent of manners like herself severe,
Drew a rough copy of the Christian face,
Without the smile, the sweetness, or the grace;
The dark and sullen humour of the time
Judged every effort of the muse a crime;
Verse, in the finest mould of fancy cast,
Was lumber in an age so void of taste:
But when the Second Charles assumed the sway,
And arts revived beneath a softer day;
Then, like a bow long foreed into a curve,
The mind, released from too constrained, a nerve,
Flew to its first position with a spring,
That made the vaulted roofs of pleasure ring.
His court, the dissolute and hateful school
Of Wantonness, where vice was taught by rule,
Swarmed with a scribbling herd, as deep inlaid
With brutal lust as ever Circe made.
From these a long succession, in the rage
Of rank obscenity, debauched their age;
Nor ceased, till, ever anxious to redress
The abuses of her sacred charge, the press,
The muse instructed a well-nurtured train
Of abler votaries to cleanse the stain,