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Pensantur trutinâ-Hor. Lib. II. Epist. 1.
MAN, on the dubious waves of errour toss'd,
10 Hard lot of man-to toil for the revard Of virtue, and yet lose it! Wherefore hard ?He that would win the race must guide his horse Obedient to the customs of the course ; Else, ino' unequall’d to the goal he flies,
15 A meaner than himself shall gain the prize. Grace leads the right way; if you choose the wrong, Take it and perish ; but restrain your tongue ; Charge not with light sufficient, and left free, Your wilful suicide on God's decree.
20 Oh how unlike the complex works of man, Heav'n's easy, artless, unencumber'd plan! No meretricious graces to beguile, No clust’ring ornaments to clog the pile ; From ostentation as from weakness free,
25 It stands like the cerulean arch we see, Majestick in its own simplicity. Ve., I.
Inscrib'd above the portal, from afar
35 Rebel, because 'tis easy to obey : And scorn, for its own sake, the gracious way. These are the sober, in whose cooler brains Some thought of immortality remains; The rest too busy or too gay to wait
40 On the sad theme, their everlasting state, Sport for a day, and perish in a night, The foam upon the waters not so light.
Who judg’d the pharisee? What odious cause Expos’d him to the vengeance of the laws ? 45 Had he seduc'd a virgin, wrong'd a friend, Or stabb’d a man to serve some private end ? Was blasphemy his sin ? Or did he stray From the strict duties of the sacred day? Sit long and late at the carousing board ?
56 (Such were the sins with which he charg'd his Lord.) No--the man's morals were exact, what then? 'Twas his ambition to be seen of men; His virtues were his pride ; and that one vice Made all his virtues gewgaws of no price ;
50 He wore them as fine trappings for a show, A praying, synagogue-frequenting beau. The self-applauding bird, the peacock, see Mark what a sumptuous pharisee is he ! Meridian sunbeame tempt him to unfold His radiant glories, azure, green, and gold ; He treads as if some solemn musick near, His measur'd step were govern’d by his ear ; And seems to say—Ye meaner fowl, give place, I am all splendour, dignity, and grace!
Not so the pheasant on his charms presumes,
75 What_but a sordid bargain for the skies ? But Christ as soon would abdicate his own, As stoop from Heav'n to sell the proud a throne.
His dwelling a recess in some rude rock, Book, beads, and maple dish, his meagre stock : 80 In shirt of hair and weeds of canvass dress'd, Girt with a bell rope that the pope has bless'd ; Adust with stripes told out for ev'ry crime, And sore tormented long before his time; His pray’r preferr’d to saints that cannot aid ; 25 His praise postpon’d, and never to be paid ; See the sage hermit, by mankind admir'd, With all that bigotry adopts inspir'd, Weariæg out life in his religious whim, Till his religious whimsy wears out him.
90 His works, his abstinence, his zeal allow'd, You think him humble-God accounts him proud ; High in demand, though lowly in pretence, Of all his conduct this the genuine senseMy penitential stripes, my streaming blood, 95 Have purchas'd Heav'n, and prov'd my title good. Turn eastward now, and Fancy shall apply To your weak sight her telescopick eye. The bramin kindles on his own bare head The sacred fire, self-torturing his trade ;
100 His voluntary pains, severe and long, Would give a barb'rous air to British song ; No grand inquisitor could worse invent,
Thus it viatu ves to suffer, well content.
hraselt is the saintlier worthy of the two? 105 Past an dispuit, yon anchorite, say you. Your sentence and mine differ. What's a name? I say
îñe bramin has the fairer claim. If sufførings, Scripture no where recommends, Devis'd by self to answer selfish ends,
110 Give saintship, then all Europe must agree Ten starving hermits suffer less than he.
The truth, is, (if the truth may suit your ear, And prejudice have left a passage clear,) Pride has attain'd its most luxuriant growth, 115 And poison'd ev'ry virtue in them both. Pride may be pamper'd while the flesh grows lean ; Humility may clothe an English dean ; That grace was Cowper's—his, confess’d by all — Though plac'd in golden Durham's second stall.
120 Not all the plenty of a bishop's board, His palace, and his lacqueys, and “ My lord,” More nourish pride, that condescending vice, Than abstinence, and beggary, and lice; It thrives in mis’ry, and abundant grows ;
125 In mis’ry fools upon themselves impose.
But why before us protestants produce
Yon ancient prude, whose wither'd features show
eyes both gone astray 135
140 To thrift and parsimony much inclind,
She yet allows herself that boy behind ;
She half an angel in her own account, Doubts not hereafter with the saints to mount. 150 Though not a grace appears on strictest search, But that she fasts, and, item, goes to church. Conscious of age she recollects her youth, And tells, not always, with an eye to truth, Who spann'd her waist, and who, where’or he came, Scrawl'd upon glass Miss Bridget's lovely name ;
156 Who stole her slipper, fill'd it with tokay, And drank the little bumper ev'ry day. Of temper as envenom'd as an asp, Censorious, and her ev'ry word a wasp ;
160 In faithful mem’ry she records the crimes, Or real or fictitious of the times; Laughs at the reputations she has torn, And holds them dangling at arm's length in scorn.
Such are the fruits of sanctimonious pride, 165
Artist, attend-your brushes and your paint-
What purpose has the King of saints in view ?