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In man or woman, but far most in man,
And most of all in man that ministers
And serves the altar, in my soul I loath
All affectation. 'Tis my perfect scorn;
Object of my implacable disgust.
What !—will a man play tricks, will he indulge
A silly fond conceit of his fair form
And just proportion, fashionable mien
And pretty face, in presence of his God?
Or will he seek to dazzle me with tropes,
As with the diamond on his lily hand,
And play his brilliant parts before my eyes
When I am hungry for the bread of life?
He mocks his Maker, prostitutes and shames
His noble office, and instead of truth
Displaying his own beauty, starves his flock.
Therefore avaunt! all attitude and stare
And start theatric, practised at the glass.
I seek divine simplicity in him
20 In the first edition thus
At conventicle heard, where worthy men.
He used to lay about and stickle,
Like ram or bull at conventicle.
Hudibras, 1. ii. 438.
A conventicle flush'd his greener years.
Dispensary. Canto iv.
Who handles things divine; and all beside,
Though learn'd with labour, and though much admired
By curious eyes and judgements ill-inform'd,
To me is odious as the nasal twang
Heard at conventicle 20, where worthy men
Misled by custom, strain celestial themes
Through the prest nostril, spectacle-bestrid.
Some, decent in demeanour while they preach,
That task perform'd, relapse into themselves,
And having spoken wisely, at the close
Grow wanton, and give proof to every eye,
Whoe'er was edified, themselves were not.
Forth comes the pocket mirror. First we stroke 445
An eyebrow; next, compose a straggling lock;
Then with an air, most gracefully perform'd,
Fall back into our seat; extend an arm
And lay it at its ease with gentle care,
With handkerchief in hand, depending low.
The better hand more busy, gives the nose
Its bergamot, or aids the indebted eye
With opera glass to watch the moving scene,
And recognize the slow-retiring fair.
Now this is fulsome, and offends me more
Than in a churchman slovenly neglect
And rustic coarseness would. An heavenly mind
May be indifferent to her house of clay,
And slight the hovel as beneath her care;
But how a body so fantastic, trim,
And quaint in its deportment and attire,
Can lodge an heavenly mind,-demands a doubt.
He that negotiates between God and man,
As God's ambassador, the grand concerns
Of judgement and of mercy, should beware
Of lightness in his speech. 'Tis pitiful
To court a grin, when you should woo a soul;
To break a jest, when pity would inspire
Pathetic exhortation; and to address
The skittish fancy with facetious tales,
When sent with God's commission to the heart.
Direct me to a quip
all he ever wrote,
So did not Paul.
Or merry turn in
And I consent you take it for your text,
Your only one, till sides and benches fail.
No: he was serious in a serious cause,
And understood too well the weighty terms
That he had ta'en in charge. He would not stoop
To conquer those by jocular exploits,
Whom truth and soberness assail'd in vain.
Oh, popular applause 21! what heart of man
Is proof against thy sweet seducing charms?
The wisest and the best feel urgent need
Of all their caution in thy gentlest gales;
But swell'd into a gust,-who then, alas!
With all his canvass set, and inexpert
And therefore heedless, can withstand thy power?
Praise from the rivel'd lips of toothless, bald
Decrepitude; and in the looks of lean
And craving poverty; and in the bow
Respectful of the smutch'd artificer 22
Is oft too welcome, and may much disturb
The bias of the purpose. How much more
Pour'd forth by beauty splendid and polite,
In language soft as adoration breathes?
Ah spare your
idol! think him human still;
21 The love of praise, howe'er conceal'd by art,
Reigns more or less, and glows, in every heart;
The proud to gain it, toils on toils endure,
The modest shun it but to make it sure.
22 Another lean unwashed artificer.
Young. Satire i.
Charms he may have, but he has frailties too;
Dote not too much, nor spoil what
All truth is from the sempiternal source
Of light divine. But Egypt, Greece, and Rome
Drew from the stream below. More favour'd we
Drink, when we chuse it, at the fountain head.
To them it flow'd much mingled and defiled
With hurtful error, prejudice, and dreams
Illusive of philosophy, so call'd,
But falsely. Sages after sages strove
In vain, to filter off a chrystal draught
Pure from the lees, which often more enhanced
The thirst than slaked it, and not seldom bred
Intoxication and delirium wild.
In vain they push'd enquiry to the birth
And spring-time of the world, asked, whence is man?
Why form'd at all? And wherefore as he is?
Where must he find his Maker? With what rites
Adore him? Will He hear, accept, and bless ?
Or does he sit regardless of his works?
Has man within him an immortal seed?
Or does the tomb take all? If he survive
His ashes, where? and in what weal or woe?
Knots worthy of solution, which alone
A Deity could solve. Their answers vague
And all at random, fabulous and dark,
Left them as dark themselves. Their rules of life
Defective and unsanction'd, proved too weak
To bind the roving appetite, and lead
Blind Nature to a God not yet reveal'd.
'Tis Revelation satisfies all doubts,
Explains all mysteries except her own,
And so illuminates the path of life
That fools discover it, and stray no more.
Now tell me, dignified and sapient sir,
My man of morals, nurtured in the shades
Of Academus, is this false or true?
Is Christ the abler teacher, or the schools?
If Christ, then why resort at every turn
To Athens or to Rome for wisdom short
Of man's occasions, when in Him reside
Grace, knowledge, comfort, an unfathom'd store?
How oft when Paul has served us with a text,
Has Epictetus, Plato, Tully preach'd!
Men that, if now alive, would sit content
And humble learners of a Saviour's worth,
23 Men whose life, learning, faith, and pure intent Would have been held in high esteem with Paul.
Milton. Sonnet xix.
Preach it who might 23. Such was their love of truth,
Their thirst of knowledge, and their candour too.
And thus it is. The pastor, either vain
By nature, or by flattery made so, taught
To gaze at his own splendour, and to exalt
Absurdly, not his office, but himself;
Or unenlighten'd, and too proud to learn,
Or vicious, and not therefore apt to teach,
Perverting often by the stress of lewd
And loose example, whom he should instruct,
Exposes and holds up to broad disgrace
The noblest function, and discredits much
The brightest truths that man has ever seen.
For ghostly counsel, if it either fall
Below the exigence, or be not back'd