In heav'n-renouncing exile, he endures—
What does he not? from lusts oppos’d in vain,
And self-reproaching conscience. He foresees
The fatal issue to his health, fame, peace,
Fortune, and dignity; the loss of all
That can ennoble man, and make frail life,
Short as it is, supportable. Still worse,
Far worse than all the plagues with which his sins
Infect his happiest moments, he forebodes
Ages of hopeless mis’ry. Future death,
And death still future. Not an hasty stroke,
Like that which sends him to the dusty grave;
But unrepealable enduring death!
Scripture is still a trumpet to his fears:
What none can prove a forg’ry, may be true;
What none but bad men wish exploded, must.
That scruple checks him. Riot is not loud,
Nor drunk enough to drown it. In the midst
Of laughter his compunctions are sincere;
And he abhors the jest by which he shines.


[ocr errors]

Remorse begets reform. His master-lust
Falls first before his resolute rebuke,
And seems dethron’dand vanquish’d. Peace ensues,
But spurious and short-liv’d; the puny child
Of self-congratulating pride, begot
On fancied innocence. Again he falls,
And fights again; but finds his best essay
A presage ominous, portending still
Its own dishonour by a worse relapse.
Till Nature, unavailing nature, foild
So oft, and wearied in the vain attempt,
Scoffs at her own performance. Reason now
Takes part with appetite, and pleads the cause,
Perversely, which of late she so condemn’d;
With shallow shifts and old devices, worn
And tatter'd in the service of debauch,
Cov'ring his shame from his offended sight.


“ Hath God indeed giv'n appetites to man, “ And stor’d 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 So strict, that less than perfect must despair? “ 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. “ 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.”

[ocr errors]

Such reas’nings (if that name must need belong



T' excuses in which reason has no part) Serve to compose a spirit well inclin'd To live on terms of amity with vice, And sin without disturbance. Often urg'd, (As often as libidinous discourse Exhausted, he resorts to solemn themes Of theological and grave import) They gain at last his unreserv'd assent; Till, harden'd his heart's temper in the forge Of lust, and on the anvil of despair, Heslights the strokes of conscience. Nothing moves, Or nothing much, his constancy in ill; Vain tamp’ring has but foster’d his disease; 'Tis desp’rate, and he sleeps the sleep of death! Haste now, philosopher, and set him free. Charm the deaf serpent wisely. Make him hear Of rectitude and fitness, moral truth How lovely, and the moral sense how sure, . Consulted and obey'd, to guide his steps Directly to the first AND ONLY FAIR.


Spare not in such a cause. Spend all the pow'rs
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
Th’eclipse that intercepts truth's heav'nly beam,
And chills and darkens a wide-wand'ring soul.
The still SMALL Voice is wanted. He must speak,
Whose word leaps forth at once to its effect;
Who calls for things that are not, and they come.


[ocr errors]

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:

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsett »