Page images

And he abhors the jest by which he shines.
Remorse begets reform. His master-lust
Falls first before his resolute rebuke,
And seems dethroned and vanquish’d. Peace ensues,
But spurious and short-lived, the puny

child 621
Of self-congratulating Pride, begot
On fancied Innocence. Again he falls,
And fights again ; but finds his best essay
A presage ominous, portending still

625 Its own dishonour by a worse relapse. Till Nature, unavailing Nature foiled So oft, and wearied in the vain attempt, Scoffs at her own performance. Reason now Takes part with Appetite, and pleads the cause, 630 Perversely, which of late she so condemn'd; With shallow shifts and old devices, worn And tatter'd in the service of debauch, Covering his shame from his offended sight. “ Hath God indeed given appetites to man,

635 And stored the earth so plenteously with means To gratify the hunger of his wish, And doth he reprobate and will he damn The use of his own bounty ? making first So frail a kind, and then enacting laws

610 So strict, that less than perfect must despair 18 ?

18 His other excellence they'll not dispute,

But mercy sure is his chief attribute.
Shall pleasures of a short duration chain
A lady's soul in everlasting pain ?
Will the great Author us poor worms destroy
For now and then a sip of transient joy ? &c.

Falsehood! which whoso but suspects of truth,
Dishonours God, and makes a slave of man.
Do they themselves, who undertake for hire
The teacher's office, and dispense at large

Their weekly dole of edifying strains,
Attend to their own music ? have they faith
In what with such solemnity of tone
And gesture they propound to our belief?
Nay,—conduct hath the loudest tongue. The voice 650
Is but an instrument on which the priest
May play what tune he pleases. In the deed,
The unequivocal authentic deed,
We find sound argument, we read the heart.”

Such reasonings (if that name must needs belong To excuses in which reason has no part,)

656 Serve to compose a spirit well inclined 19 To live on terms of amity with vice, And sin without disturbance. Often urged (As often as libidinous discourse

660 Exhausted, he resorts to solemn themes Of theological and grave import,) They gain at last his unreserved assent; Till harden'd his heart's temper in the forge Of lust, and on the anvil of despair,

665 He slights the strokes of conscience. Nothing moves,

Poor Satan doubtless will at length be saved,
Though once upon a time he misbehaved.

Young. Satire vi.
Let priests do something for their one in ten,

It is their trade; so far they're honest men, &c.
19 Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt. Cæsar.


Or nothing much, his constancy in ill;
Vain tampering has but foster'd his disease,
'Tis desperate, and he sleeps the sleep of death.
Haste now, philosopher, and set him free! 670
Charm the deaf serpent wisely. Make him hear
Of rectitude and fitness; moral truth 20
How lovely, and the moral sense how sure,
Consulted and obeyed, to guide his steps
Directly to the FIRST AND ONLY FAIR.

Spare not in such a cause. Spend all the powers
Of rant and rhapsody in virtue's praise,
Be most sublimely good, verbosely grand,
And with poetic trappings grace thy prose
Till it out-mantle all the pride of verse.-
Ah, tinkling cymbal and high-sounding brass
Smitten in vain ! such music cannot charm
The eclipse that intercepts truth's heavenly beam,
And chills and darkens a wide-wandering soul.
The still small voice is wanted. He must speak 685
Whose word leaps forth at once to its effect,
Who calls for things that are not, and they come.
Grace makes the slave a freeman.

'Tis a change That turns to ridicule the turgid speech And stately tone of moralists, who boast,

As if, like him of fabulous renown,
They had indeed ability to smooth
The shag of savage nature, and were each
An Orpheus and omnipotent in song.
But transformation of apostate man

Abashed the devil stood
And felt how aweful goodness is, and saw
Virtue in her shape how lovely. Par. Lost, iv. 846.


From fool to wise, from earthly to divine,
Is work for Him that made him. He alone,
And He by means in philosophic eyes
Trivial and worthy of disdain, achieves
The wonder; humanizing what is brute

In the lost kind, extracting from the lips
Of asps their venom, overpowering strength
By weakness, and hostility by love.

Patriots have toiled, and in their country's cause Bled nobly?, and their deeds, as they deserve, 705 Receive proud recompense. We give in charge Their names to the sweet lyre. The historic Muse, Proud of the treasure, marches with it down To latest times; and Sculpture, in her turn, Gives bond in stone and ever-during brass, 710 To guard them, and to immortalize her trust. But fairer wreaths are due, though never paid, To those who posted at the shrine of truth, Have fallen in her defence. A patriot's blood


Ungrateful country, if thou e'er forget
The sons who for thy civil rights have bled !
How, like a Roman, Sidney bowed his head,
And Russel's milder blood the scaffold wet :
But these had fallen for profitless regret
Had not thy holy church her champions bred,
And claims from other worlds inspirited
The star of liberty to rise. Nor yet
(Grave this within thy heart!) if spiritual things
Be lost, through apathy, or scorn, or fear,
Shalt thou thy humbler franchises support
However hardly won, or justly dear;
What came from Heaven, to Heaven by nature clings,
And if dissevered thence its course is short.

Wordsworth. Ecc. Sketches. Sonnet ix. part 3.

Well spent in such a strife may earn indeed, 715
And for a time insure to his loved land
The sweets of liberty and equal laws;
But martyrs 22 struggle for a brighter prize,
And win it with more pain. Their blood is shed
In confirmation of the noblest claim,

Our claim to feed upon immortal truth,
To walk with God, to be divinely free,
To soar, and to anticipate the skies.
Yet few remember them. They lived unknown
Till persecution dragg’d them into fame

725 And chased them up to heaven. Their ashes flew

-No marble tells us whither. With their names No bard embalms and sanctifies his

song ; And history 23, so warm on meaner themes, Is cold on this. She execrates indeed

730 The tyranny that doom'd them to the fire, But gives the glorious sufferers little praise 24.

He is the freeman whom the truth makes free, And all are slaves beside. There's not a chain That hellish foes confederate for his harm

735 Can wind around him, but he casts it off With as much ease as Samson his green withes.

22 Wars, hitherto the only argument

Heroic deem'd ;-the better fortitude
Of patience and heroic martyrdom

Par. Lost, ix. 28.
23 Thus fame shall be achieved, renown on earth,
And what most merits fame in silence hid.

Par. Lost, ix. 698. 24 See Hume.

« PreviousContinue »