Изображения страниц


Th' astonish'd vulgar trembled while he tore
The mask from faces never seen before :

He stripp'd the impostors in the noonday sun,
Show'd that they follow'd all they seem'd to shun:
Their pray’rs made publick, their excessos kept
As private as the chambers where they slept :
The temple and its holy rites profan'd

145 By mumm'ries he that dwelt in it disdain'd; Uplifted hands, that at convenient times Could act extortion and the worst of crimes, Wash'd with a neatness scrupulously nice, And free from ev'ry taint but that of vice.

150 Judgment, however tardy, mends her pace When Obstinacy once has conquer'd Grace. They saw distemper heal’d, and life restor'd, In answer to the fiat of his word; Confess'd the wonder, and with daring tongue 155 Blasphem'd th' authority from which it sprung. They knew by sure prognosticks seen on high, The future tone and temper of the sky; But, grave dissemblers, could not understand, That Sin let loose speaks Punishment at hand. 160

Ask now of history's authentick page, And call up evidence from every age; Display with busy and laborious hand The blessings of the most indebted land ; What nation will you find, whose annals prove 165 So rich an int’rest in almighty love? Where dwell they now, where dwelt in ancient day, A people planted, water'd, bless'd as they ? Let Egypt's plagues and Canaan's woes proclaim The favours pour'd upon the Jewish naine ;

170 Their freedom purchas'd for them at the cost Of all their hard oppressors valued most ; Their title to a country not their own, Made sure by prodigies till then unknown; 174 For them, the states they left made waste and void ; For them, the states to which they went destroy'd ;

A cloud to measure out their march by day,
By night a fire to cheer the gloomy way:
That moving signal summoning, when best
Their host to move, and when it stay'd, to rest. 180
For them the rocks dissolv'd into a flood,
The dews condens'd into angelick food,
Their very garments sacred-old, yet new,
And Time forbid to touch them as he flew;
Streams, swell’d above the bank, enjoin'd to stand, 185
While they pass'd through to their appointed land;
Their leader arm'd with meekness, zeal, and love,
And grac'd with clear credentials from above :
Themselves secur'd beneath the Almighty wing ;
Their God their captain,* lawgiver, and king ; 190
Crown'd with a thousand vict'ries, and at last
Lords of the conquer'd soil, there rooted fast,
In peace possessing what they won by war,
Their name far published, and rever'd as far :
Where will you find a race like theirs, endow'd

195 With all that man e'er wish'd, or Heav'n bestow'd ?

They, and they only, amongst all mankind Receiv'd the transcript of the eternal mind ; Were trusted with his own engraven laws, And constituted guardians of his cause;

200 Theirs were the prophets, theirs the priestly call, And theirs, by birth, the Saviour of us all. In vain the nations that had seen them rise With fierce and envious, yet admiring eyes, Had sought to crush them, guarded as they were

205 By pow'r divine, and skill that could not err. Had they maintain'd allegiance firm and sure, And kept the faith immaculate and pure, Then the proud eagles of all-conquering Rome Had found one city not to be o'ercome;

210 And the twelve standards of the tribes unfurl'd, Had bid defiance to the warring world.

* Vide Joshua, v. 14.

But grace abus'd brings forth the foulest deeds,
As richest soil the most luxuriant weeds.
Cur'd of the golden calves, their fathers' sin, 215
They set up self, that idol god, within ;
View'd a deliverer with disdain and hate,
Who left them still a tributary state ;
Seiz'd fast his hand, held out to set them free
From a worse yoke, and nail'd it to the tree : 220
There was the consummation and the crown,
The flow'r of Israel's infamy full blown;
Thence date their sad declension and their fall,
Their woes not yet repeal'd, thence date them all.

Thus fell the best instructed in her day, 225
And the most favour'd land, look where we may.
Philosophy, indeed, on Grecian eyes
Had pour'd the day, and clear'd the Roman skics;
In other climes perhaps creative Art,
With pow'r surpassing theirs, perform'd her part ; 230
Might give more life to marble, or might fill
The glowing tablets with a juster skill ;
Might shine in fable, and grace idle themes
With all the embroid'ry of poetick dreams;
'Twas theirs alone to dive into the plan,

235 That Truth and Mercy had reveal'd to man ; And, while the world beside, that plan unknown, Deified useless wood or senseless stone, They breath’d in faith their well-directed pray’rs, And the true God, the God of truth, was theirs. 240

Their glory faded, and their race dispers’d, The last of nations now, though once the first ; They warn and teach the proudest, would they learn, Keep wisdom, or meet vengeance If we escap'd not, if Heav'n spar'd not us, 245 Peelid, scatter'd, and exterminated thus ! If Vice receiv'd her retribution due, When we were visited, what hope for you? When God arises with an awful frown To punish lust, or pluck presumption dowr; 250

your turn :

When gifts perverted, or not duly priz’d,
Pleasure o'ervalued, and his graco despis’d,

Provoke the vengeance of his righteous hand; : To pour down wrath upon a thankless land; He will be found impartially severe,

255 T'oo just to wink, or speak the guilty clear.

Oh Israel, of all nations most undone! Thy diadem displac'd, thy sceptre gone : Thy temple, once thy glory, fall'n and raz’d, And thou a worshipper e’en where thou may'st'; 260 The services, once only without spot, Mere shadows now, their ancient pomp forgot ; Thy Levites, once a consecrated host, No longer Levites, and their lineage lost, And thou thyself o'er ev'ry country sown,

265 With none on earth that thou canst call thine own; Cry alond, thou, that sittest in the dust, Cry to the proud, the cruel, and unjust; Knock at the gates of nations, rouse their fears ; Say wrath is coming, and the storm appears,

270 But raise the shrillest cry in British ears.

What ails thee, restless as the waves that roar, And fling their foam against thy chalky shore; Mistress, at least while Providence shall please And trident-bearing queen of the wide seas- 275 Why, having kept good faith, and often shown Friendship and truth to others, find'st thou none ? Thou that hast set the persecuted free, None interposes now to succour thee. Countries indebted to thy pow'r, that shine 280 With light deriv'd from thee, would smother thine ; Thy very children watch for thy disgraceA lawless brood, and curse thee to thy face. Thy rulers load thy credit year by year, With sums Peruvian mines could never clear; 285 As if, like arches built with skilful hand, The more 'twere press'd the firmer it would stand,

'The cry in all thy ships is still the same, Speed us away to battle and to fame. Thy mariners explore the wild expanse,

290 Impatient to descry the flags of France : But though they fight as thine have ever fought, Return asham'd without the wreaths they sought. Thy senate is a scene of civil jar, Chaos of contrarieties at war;

295 Where sharp and solid, phlegmatick and light, Discordant atoms meet, ferment, and fight; Where Obstinacy takes his sturdy stand, To disconcert what Policy has plann'd; Where Policy is busied all night long

300 In setting right what Faction has set wrong; Where flails of oratory thresh the floor, That yields them chaff and dust, and nothing more. Thy rack'd inhabitants repine, complain, Tax'd till the brow of Labour sweats in vain; 305 War lays a burden on the reeling state, And peace does nothing to relieve the weight; Successive loads succeeding broils impose, And sighing millions prophesy the close.

Is adverse Providence, when ponder'd well, 310 So dimly writ, or difficult to spell, Thou canst not read with readiness and ease Providence adverse in events like these ? Know, then, that heavenly wisdom on this ball Creates, gives birth to, guides, consummates all; 315 That while laborious and quick-thoughted man Snuffs up the praise of what he seems to plan, He first conceives, then perfects his design, As a mere instrument in hands divine : Blind to the working of that secret pow'r,

320 That balances the wings of ev'ry hour, The busy trifler dreams himself alone, Frames many a purpose, and God works his own. States thrive or wither as moons wax and wane, E'en as his will and his decrees ordain ;

325 VOL. I.


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »