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Thus fell the best instructed in her day,
Their glory faded, and their race dispers'd,
When God arises with an awful frown
To punish lust, or pluck presumption down;
When gifts perverted, or not duly priz'd,
Pleasure o'ervalued, and his grace despis'd,
Provoke the vengeance of his righteous hand,
To pour down wrath upon a thankless land;
He will be found impartially severe,
Too 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 ras'd, And thou a worshipper e'en where thou mayst; Thy 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, With none on Earth that thou canst call thine own; Cry aloud, 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; 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 I Mistress, at least while Providence shall please, And trident-bearing queen of the wide seas— 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 With light deriv'd from thee, would smother thine: Thy very children watch for thy disgrace— A lawless brood, and curse thee to thy face. Thy rulers load thy credit, year by year, With sums Peruvian mines could never clear; 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, 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;
Where sharp and solid, phlegmatic 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
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;
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,
Blind to the working of that secret pow'r,