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As when two pilgrims in a forest stray, Both may be lost, yet each in his own way, So fares it with the multitudes beguiled In vain opinion's waste and dangerous wild; Ten thousand rove the brakes and thorns among, Some eastward, and some westward, and all wrong. But here, alas! the fatal difference lies, Each man's belief is right in his own eyes; And he that blames what they have blindly chose, Incurs resentment for the love he shows.
Say botanist! within whose province fall The cedar and the hyssop on the wall, Of all that deck the lanes, the fields, the bowers, What parts the kindred tribes of weeds and flowers? Sweet scent, or lovely form, or both combined, Distinguish every cultivated kind; The want of both denotes a meaner breed, And Chloe from her garland picks the weed. Thus hopes of every sort, whatever sect Esteem them, sow them, rear them, and protect, If wild in nature, and not duly found, Gethsemane! in thy dear hallowed ground, That cannot bear the blaze of Scripture light, Nor cheer the spirit, nor refresh the sight, Nor animate the soul to Christian deeds, (Oh, cast them from thee !) are weeds, arrant weeds.
Ethelred's house, the centre of six ways,
Yet half mankind maintain a churlish strife
And sure it is as kind to smile and give,
As with a frown to say, Do this, and live.
Love is not pedlar's trumpery bought and sold,
He will give freely, or he ivill withhold;
His soul abhors a mercenary thought,
And him as deeply who abhors it not.
He stipulates indeed, but merely this,
That man will freely take an unbought bliss,
Will trust him for a faithful generous part,
Nor set a price upon a willing heart.
Of all the ways that seem to promise fair
To place you where his saints his presence share,
This only can ; for this plain cause, expressed
In terms as plain,. Himself has shut the rest.
But oh, the strife, the bickering, and debate
The tidings of unpurchased heaven create!
The flirted fan, the bridle, and the toss,
All speakers, yet all language at a loss.
From stuccoed walls smart arguments rebound;
And beaus, adepts in everything profound,
Die of disdain, or whistle off the sound.
Such is the clamour of rooks, daws, and kites,
The explosion of the levelled tube excites,
Where mouldering abbey walls o'erhang the glade,
And oaks coeval spread a mournful shade;
The screaming nations, hovering in mid air,
Loudly resent the stranger's freedom there,
And seem to warn him never to repeat
His bold intrusion on their dark retreat.
Adieu, Vinoso cries, ere yet he sips The purple bumper trembling at his lips, Adieu to all morality ! if grace Make works a vain ingrediant in the case. The Christian hope is—Waiter, draw the cork— If I mistake not—Blockhead! with a fork! Without good works, whatever some may boast, Mere folly and delusion—Sir, your toast. My firm persuasion is, at least sometimes, That heaven will weigh man's virtues and his crimes With nice attention in a righteous scale, And save or damn as these or those prevail. I plant my foot upon this ground of trust, And silence every fear with—God is just. But if perchance on some dull drizzling day A thought intrude, that says, or seems to say, If thus the important cause is to be tried, Suppose the beam should dip on the wrong side? I soon recover from these needless frights, And God is merciful—sets all to rights. Thus, between justice as my prime support, And mercy, fled to as the last resort, I glide and steal along with heaven in view,
And,—pardon me, the bottle stands with you.
I never will believe, the colonel cries, The sanguinary schemes that some devise, Who make the good Creator on their plan A being of less equity than man. If appetite, or what divines call lust, Which men comply with even because they must, Be punished with perdition, who is pure? Then theirs, no doubt, as well as mine is sure? If sentence of eternal pain belong To every sudden slip and transient wrong, Then heaven enjoins the fallible and frail A hopeless task, and damns them if they fail. My creed (whatever some creed-makers mean By Athanasian nonsense, or Nicene,) My creed is, he is safe that does his best, And death's a doom sufficient for the rest.
Right, says an ensign; and, for aught I see, Your faith and mine substantially agree: The best of every man's performance here Is to discharge the duties of his sphere. A lawyer's dealing should be just and fair, Honesty shines with great advantage there. Fasting and prayer sit well upon a priest, A decent caution and reserve at least. A soldier's best is courage in the field, With nothing here that wants to be concealed; Manly deportment, gallant, easy, gay; A hand as liberal as the light of day; The soldier thus endowed, who never shrinks, Nor closets up his thought whate'er he thinks, Who scorns to do an injury by stealth, Must go to heaven—and I must drink his health. Sir Smug! he cries, (for lowest at the board, Just made fifth chaplain of his patron lord, His shoulders witnessing by many a shrug How much his feelings suffered, sat Sir Smug,) Your office is to winnow false from true; Come, prophet, drink, and tell us what think you!
Sighing and smiling as he takes his glass, Which they that woo preferment rarely pass, Fallible man, the church-bred youth replies, Is still found fallible, however wise; And differing judgments serve but to declare That truth lies somewhere, if we knew but where. Of all it ever was my lot to read Of critics, now alive or long since dead, The book of all the world that charmed me most Was,—well-a-day, the title-page was lost. The writer well remarks, a heart that knows To take with gratitude what heaven bestows, With prudence always ready at our call,
To guide our use of it, is all in all.
Doubtless it is.—To which, of my own store,
I superadd a few essentials more;
But these, excuse the liberty I take,
I waive just now, for conversation sake.—
Spoke like an oracle, they all exclaim,
And add Right Reverend to Smug's honoured name.
And yet our lot is given us in a land
But above all, in her own light arrayed,
Oh blessed within the enclosure of your rocks, Nor herds have ye to boast, nor bleating flocks, No fertilizing streams your fields divide, That show reversed the villas on their side; No groves have ye ; no cheerful sound of bird, Or voice of turtle in your land is heard; Nor grateful eglantine regales the smell Of those that walk at evening where ye dwell; But winter, armed with terrors here unknown, Sits absolute on his unshaken throne, Piles up his stores amid the frozen waste, And bids the mountains he has built, stand fast; Beckons the legions of his storms away From happier scenes, to make your land a prey. Proclaims the soil a conquest he has won, And scorns to share it with the distant sun. —Yet truth is yours, remote unenvied isle! And peace, the genuine offspring of her smile; 1 The Moravian missionaries in Greenland. Vide Ki antz. —C.
The pride of lettered ignorance, that binds
Here see the encouragement grace gives to vice,
What are they now ?—Morality may spare Her grave concern, her kind suspicions there. The wretch that once sang wildly, danced, and laughed, And sucked in dizzy madness with his draught, Has wept a silent flood, reversed his ways, Is sober, meek, benevolent, and prays; Feeds sparingly, communicates his store, Abhors the craft he boasted of before, And he that stole has learned to steal no more, Well spake the prophet, Let the desert sing, Where sprang the thorn the spiry fir shall spring, And where unsightly and rank thistles grew, Shall grow the myrtle and luxuriant yew.
Go now, and with important tone demand On what foundation virtue is to stand, If self-exalting claims be turned adrift, And grace be grace indeed, and life a gift: The poor reclaimed inhabitant, his eyes Glistening at once with pity and surprise, 1 Grateful vicissitude, like day and night.—Paradise Lost, vi P.