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To threats the stubborn sinner oft is hard,
God saw his image lively was express'd ; Wrapt in his crimes, against the storm prepard ; And his own work, as in creation, bless'd. But when the milder beams of Mercy play,
The tempter saw him too with envious eye ; He melts, and throws his cumbrous cloak away. And, as on Job, demanded leave to try. Lightning and thunder (Heaven's artillery)
He took the time when Richard was depos'd, As harbingers before th' Almighty fly:
And high and low with happy Harry clos'd. Those but proclaim his siyle, and disappear;
This prince, though great in arms, the priest with. The stiller sound succeeds, and God is there.
stood : The tishes, bis parish freely paid, he took ; Near though he was, yet not the next of blood. But never sued, or curs’d with bell and book. Had Richard, unconstrain'd, resign'd the throne, With patience bearing wrong ; but offering none : A king can give no more than is his own : Since every man is free to lose his own.
The title stood entail'd, had Richard had a son. The country churls, according to their kind,
Conquest, an odious name, was laid aside, (Who grudge their dues, and love to be behind,) Where all submitted, none the battle tried. The less he sought his offerings, pinch'd the more, The senseless plea of right by Providence And prais'd a priest contented to be poor.
Was, by a flattering priest, invented since; Yet of his little he had some to spare,
And lasts no longer than the present sway; To feed the famish'd, and to clothe the bare : But justifies the next who comes in play. For mortified he was to that degree,
The people's right remains ; let those who dare A poorer than himself he would not see.
Dispute their power, when they the judges are. True priests, he said, and preachers of the word, He join'd not in their choice, because he knew Were only stewards of their sovereign lord; Worse might, and often did, from change ensue. Nothing was theirs ; but all the public store : Much to himself he thought; but little spoke; Intrusted riches, to relieve the poor.
And, undepriv'd, his benefice forsook. Who, should they steal, for want of his relief, Now, through the land, his cure of souls he stretch'd He judg'd himself accomplice with the thief. And like a primitive apostle preach'd.
Wide was his parish ; not contracted close Still cheerful ; ever constant to his call; In streets, but here and there a straggling house ; By many follow'd; lov'd by most, admir'd by all. Yet still he was at hand, without request,
With what he begg’d, his brethren he reliev'd; To serve the sick; to succor the distress'd : And gave the charities himself receiv'd: Tempting, on foot, alone, without affright,
Gave, while he taught ; and edified the more, The dangers of a dark tempestuous night.
Because he show'd, by proof, 'twas easy to be poor. All this, the good old man perform'd alone,
He went not with the crowd to see a shrine;
In deference to his virtues, I forbear
This brilliant is so spotless, and so bright,
He needs no foil, but shines by his own proper light. But duly watch'd his flock, by night and day ; And from the prowling wolf redeem'd the prey : And hungry sent the wily fox away.
The proud he tam'd, the penitent he cheer'd : Nor to rebuke the rich oflender fear'd.
THEODORE AND HONORIA. His preaching much, but more his practice wrought, (A living sermon of the truths he taught,)
Of all the cities in Romanian lands, For this by rules severe his life he squard:
The chief, and most renown'd, Ravenna stands, That all might see the doctrine which they heard. Adorn'd in ancient times with arms and arts, For priests, he said, are patterns for the rest And rich inhabitants, with generous hearts. (The gold of Heaven, who bear the God impressid :) But Theodore the brave, above the rest, But when the precious coin is kept unclean,
With gifts of Fortune and of Nature bless'd, The sovereign's image is no longer seen.
The foremost place for wealth and honor held, If they be foul on whom the people trust,
And all in feats of chivalry excell'd. Well may the baser brass contract a rust.
This noble youth to madness lov'd a dame The prelate, for his holy life he priz'd;
of high degree, Honoria was her name; The worldly pomp of prelacy despis’d.
Fair as the fairest, but of haughty mind, His Savior came not with a gaudy show;
And fiercer than became so soft a kind. Nor was his kingdom of the world below.
Proud of her birth (for equal she had none ;) Patience in want, and poverty of mind,
The rest she scorn'd, but hated him alone; These marks of church and churchmen he design'd, His gifts, his constant courtship, nothing gain'd; And living taught, and dying left behind.
For she, the more he lov'd, the more disdain'd.
At tilts and tournaments obtain'd the prize;
Relentless as a rock, the lotty maid
Wearied at length, and wanting remedy, Reflecting, Moses-like, his Maker's face.
He doubted oft, and oft resolv'd to die.
But Pride stood ready to prevent the blow, Unus'd to fear, he summon'd all his soul,
And stood collected in himself, and whole ;
And from afar he heard a screaming sound, But vainer that relief than all the rest,
As of a dame distress'd, who cried for aid, The less he hop'd, with more desire possess'd; And fill'd with loud laments the secret shade. Love stood the siege, and would not yield his breast. A thicket close beside the grove there stood, Change was the next, but change deceiv’d his care; With briers and brambles chok’d, and dwarfish He sought a fairer, but found none so fair.
wood; He would have worn her out by slow degrees, From thence the noise, which now, approaching near As men by fasting starve th’uniam'd disease : With more distinguish'd notes invades his ear; But present love requir'd a present ease.
He rais'd his head, and saw a beauteous maid, Looking he feeds alone his famish'd eyes,
With hair dishevell’d, issuing through the shade ; Feeds lingering Death, but looking not he dies. Stripp'd of her clothes, and ev’n those parts reveal'd Yet still he chose the longest way to Fate, Which modest Nature keeps from sight conceal'd. Wasting at once his life and his estate.
Her face, her hands, her naked limbs were torn, His friends beheld, and pitied him in vain, With passing through the brakes, and prickly thorn For what advice can ease a lover's pain!
Two mastiffs gaunt and grim her flight pursu'd, Absence, the best expedient they could find, And oft their fasten'd fangs in blood embru'd ; Might save the fortune, if not cure the mind : Oft they came up, and pinch'd her tender side, This means they long propos’d, but little gain'd “Mercy, 0 mercy, Heaven!" she ran, and cried. Yet, after much pursuit, at length obtain'd.
When Heaven was nam'd, they loos’d their hold Hard you may think it was to give consent,
again, But struggling with his own desires he went, Then sprang she forth, they follow'd her amain. With large expense. and with a pompous train, Not far behind, a knight of swarthy face, Provided as to visit France and Spain,
High on a coal-black steed pursu'd the chase : Or for some distant voyage o'er the main.
With flashing flames his ardent eyes were fillid, But Love had clipp'd his wings, and cut him short, And in his hand a naked sword he held : Confind within the purlieus of the court.
He cheer'd the dogs to follow her who fled,
As Theodore was born of noble kind,
A sapling pine he wrench'd from out the ground,
Thus furnish'd for offence, he cross'd the way To morning walks, and lulld his cares by night: Betwixt the graceless villain and his prey. There he discharg'd his friends : but not th' expense The knight came thundering on, but, from afar, Of frequent treats, and proud magnificence. Thus in imperious tone forbade the war: He liv'd as kings retire, though more at large “ Cease, Theodore, to proffer vain relief, From public business, yet with equal charge; Nor stop the vengeance of so just a grief; With house and heart still open to receive :
But give me leave to seize my destin'd prey, As well content as Love would give him leave: And let Eternal Justice take the way: He would have liv'd more free; but many a guest, I but revenge my fate, disdain'd, betray'd, Who could forsake the friend, pursued the feast. And suffering death for this ungrateful maid." It hapt one morning, as his fancy led,
He said, at once dismounting from the steed; Before his usual hour he left his bed ;
For now the hell-hounds with superior speed To walk within a lonely lawn, that stood
Had reach'd the dame, and, fastening on her side, On every side surrounded by a wood:
The ground with issuing streams of purple dyed. Alone he walk'd, to please his pensive mind, Stood Theodore surpris'd in deadly fright, And sought the deepest solitude to find ;
With chattering teeth, and bristling hair upright; 'Twas in a grove of spreading pines he stray'd ; Yet arm'd with inborn worth, “Whate'er," said he, The winds within the quivering branches play'd, “Thou art, who know'st me better than I thee; And dancing trees a mournful music made. Or prove thy rightful cause, or be defied;" The place itself was suiting to his care,
The spectre, fiercely staring, thus replied: l'ncouth and savage, as the cruel fair.
Know, Theodore, thy ancestry I claim,
One common sire our fathers did beget,
My name and story some remember yet: And summond him to due repast at noon,
Thee, then a boy, within my arms I laid, But Love could feel no hunger but his own. When for my sins I lov'd this haughty maid ;
Whilst listening to the murmuring leaves he stood, Not less ador'd in life, nor serv'd by me, More than a mile immers'd within the wood, Than proud Honoria now is loved by thee. At once the wind was laid ; the whispering sound What did I not her stubborn heart to gain ? Was dumb; a rising earthquake rock'd the ground; But all my vows were answer'd with disdain : With deeper brown the grove was overspread; She scorn'd my sorrows, and despis’d my pain A sudden horror seiz'd his giddy head,
Long time I dragg‘d my days in fruitless care ; And his ears tinkled, and his color fled.
Then, lothing life, and plung'd in deep despair, Nature was in alarm ; some danger nigh
To finish my unhappy life, I fell Seem'd threaten'd, though unseen to mortal eye. On this sharp sword, and now am damn'd in Hell.
“ Short was her joy; for soon th’insulting maid They came, and, usual salutations paid,
Though late yet is at last become my care:
Reduc'd to bounds, by timely providence:
Her friends, and mine; the cause I shall display, I daily doom'd to follow, she to fly;
On Friday next; for that's th’appointed day." No more a lover, but a mortal foe,
Well pleas'd were all his friends, the task was light, I seek her life (for love is none below ;)
The father, mother, daughter, they invite ; As often as my dogs with better speed
Hardly the dame was drawn to this repast; Arrest her flight, is she to death decreed :
But yet resolv'd, because it was the last.
And, with the rest, th' inexorable dame:
The place ordain'd was in that haunted grove,
With flowers below, and tissue over-head:
The fiend's alarm began ; the hollow sound And now the soul, expiring through the wound, Sung in the leaves, the forest shook around, Had left the body breathless on the ground, Air blacken'd, roll’d the thunder, groand the ground. When thus the grisly spectre spoke again:
Nor long before the loud laments arise, “ Behold the fruit of ill-rewarded pain :
Of one distress'd, and mastifss' mingled cries; As many months as I sustain'd her hate,
And first the dame came rushing through the wood, So many years is she condemned by Fate
And next the famish'd hounds that sought their food, To daily death; and every several place, And grip'd her sanks, and oft essay'd their jaws in Conscious of her disdain and my disgrace,
blood. Must witness her just punishment; and be Last came the felon, on his sable steed, [speed. A scene of triumph and revenge to me!
Arm'd with his naked sword, and urg'd his dogs to As in this grove I took my last farewell,
She ran, and cried, her flight directly bent As on this very spot of earth I fell,
(A guest unbidden) to the fatal tent,
(ment. As Friday saw me die, so she my prey
The scene of death, and place ordain'd' for punish Becomes ev'n here, on this revolving day."
Loud was the noise, aghast was every guest, Thus while he spoke the virgin from the ground The women shriek d, the men forsook the feast ; Upstarted fresh, already clos'd the wound,
The hounds at nearer distance hoarsely bay'd ; And, unconcern'd for all she felt before,
The hunter close pursu'd the visionary maid, Precipitates her flight along the shore :
She rent the Heaven with loud laments, imploring aid The hell-hounds, as ungorg'd with fresh and blood, The gallants, to protect the lady's right, Pursue their prey, and seek their wonted food : Their falchions brandish'd at the grisly sprite; The fiend remounts his courser, mends his pace; High on his stirrups he provok'd the fight, And all the vision vanish'd from the place. Then on the crowd he cast a furious look,
Long stood the noble youth, oppress'd with awe And wither'd all their strength before he spoke: And stupid at the wondrous things he saw,
Back on your lives! let be," said he, “ my prey, Surpassing common faith, transgressing Nature's law. And let my vengeance take the destin'd way: He would have been asleep, and wish'd 10 wake, Vain are your arms, and vainer your defence, But dreams, he knew, no long impression make, Against th' eternal doom of Providence : Though strong at first; if vision, to what end, Mine is th' ungrateful maid by Heaven design'd: But such as must his future state portend ? Mercy she would not give, nor mercy shall she find." His love the damsel, and himself the fiend. At this the former tale again he told But yet, reflecting that it could not be
With thundering tone, and dreadful to behold: From Heaven, which cannot impious acts decree, Sunk were their hearts with horror of the crime, Resolv'd within himself to shun the snare, Nor needed to be warn’d a second time, Which Hell for his destruction did prepare; But bore each other back : some knew the face, And, as his better genius should direct,
And all had heard the much-lamented case From an ill cause to draw a good effect.
Of him who fell for love, and this the fatal place Inspir'd from Heaven he homeward took his way, And now th' infernal minister advanc'd, Nor pall'd his new design with long delay : Seiz'd the due victim, and with fury lanc'd But of his train a trusty servant sent,
Her back, and, piercing through her inmost heart, To call his friends together at his tent.
Drew backward as before th' offending part;
Che reeking entrails next he tore away,
Darkling and desperate, with a staggering pace, And to his meagre mastiffs made a prey.
Of death afraid, and conscious of disgrace ; The pale assistants on each other star'd,
Fear, Pride, Remorse, at once her heart assail'd, With gaping mouths for issuing words prepar'd; Pride put Remorse to flight, but Fear prevail'd. The still-born sounds upon the palate hung, Friday, the fatal day, when next it came, And died imperfect on the faltering tongue. Her soul forethought the fiend would change his game, The fright was general; but the female band And her pursue, or Theodore be slain, (plain. A helpless train) in more confusion stand : And two ghosts join their packs to hunt her o'er the With horror shuddering, on a heap they run, This dreadful image so possess'd her mind, Sick at the sight of hateful justice done ; [own. That, desperate any succor else to find, For conscience rung th'alarm, and made the case their She ceas'd all farther hope ; and now began
So, spread upon a lake, with upward eye, To make reflection on th' unhappy man, A plump of fowl behold their foe on high ; Rich, brave, and young, who past expression lov'd, They close their trembling troop; and all attend Proof to disdain, and not to be remov'd : On whom the sowsing eagle will descend. Of all the men respected and admir'd,
But most the proud Honoria fear'd th' event, of all the dames, except herself, desir’d: And thought to her alone the vision sent.
Why not of her ? preferr'd above the rest Her guilt presents to her distracted mind
By him with knightly deeds and open love profess'd ? Heaven's justice, Theodore’s revengeful kind, So had another been, where he his vows address’d. And the same fate to the same sin assign'd. This quell'd her pride, yet other doubts remain'd. Already sees herself the monster's prey,
That, once disdaining, she might be disdain'd.
Here hope began to dawn; resolv'd to try,
Death was behind, but hard it was to die.
One maid she had, belov'd above the rest; But fear, the last of ills, remain'd behind,
Secure of her, the secret she confess'd ; And horror heavy sat on every mind.
And now the cheerful light her fears dispellid, Nor Theodore encourag’d more the feast,
She with no winding turns the truth conceal’d, But sternly look’d, as hatching in his breast But put the woman off, and stood reveald: Some deep designs; which when Honoria view'd, With faults confess'd commission'd her to go, The fresh impulse her former fright renew'd ; If pity yet had place, and reconcile her foe. She thought herself the trembling dame who fled, The welcome message made, was soon receivid; And him the grisly ghost that spurr’d th' infernal 'Twas to be wish'd, and hop'd, but scarce believ'd ; steed :
Fate seem'd a fair occasion to present; The more dismay'd, for when the guests withdrew, He knew the sex, and fear'd she might repent, Their courteous host, saluting all the crew, Should he delay the moment of consent. Regardless pass'd her o'er, nor grac'd with kind adieu; There yet remain’d to gain her friends (a care That sting infix'd within her haughty mind, The modesty of maidens well might spare ;) The downfall of her empire she divin'd;
But she with such a zeal the cause embrac'd, And her proud heart with secret sorrow pin'd. |(As women, where they will, are all in haste) Home as they went, the sad discourse renewid The father, mother, and the kin beside, or the relentless dame to death pursu'd,
Were overborne by fury of the tide ; And of the sight obscene so lately view'd. With full consent of all, she chang'd her state; None durst arraign the righteous doom she bore, Resistless in her love, as in her hate. Ev'n they who pitied most, yet blam'd her more: By her example warn'd, the rest beware : The parallel they needed not to name,
More easy, less imperious, were the fair;
For one fair female, lost him half the kind.
Now fored to wake, because afraid to sleep, Those rolling fires discover but the sky, Her blood all fever’d, with a furious leap
Not light us here; so Reason's glimmering ray She sprang from bed, distracted in her mind, Was lent, not to assure our doubtful way, And fear'd, at every step, a twitching sprite behind. Bui guide us upward to a better day.
And as those nightly tapers disappear
Canst thou by reason more of godhead know
Those giant wits in happier ages born,
Nor did remorse to expiate sin prescribe : Whether some soul encompassing this ball But slew their fellow-creatures for a bribe : Unmade, unmov'd; yet making, moving all; The guiltless victim groan'd for their offence; Or various atoms, interfering dance,
And cruelty and blood was penitence. Leap'd into form, the noble work of chance ; If sheep and oxen could atone for men, Or this great all was from eternity;
Ah! at how cheap a rate the rich might sin! Not ev’n the Stagirite himself could see ;
And great oppressors might Heaven's wrath beguile And Epicurus guess'd as well as he;
By offering his own creatures for a spoil ! As blindly grop'd they for a future state ;
Dar’st thou, poor worm, offend Infinity? As rashly judg'd of providence and fate :
And must the terms of peace be given by thee? But least of all could their endeavors find Then thou art Justice in the last appeal; What most concern'd the good of human-kind : Thy easy God instructs thee to rebel : For happiness was never to be found;
And, like a king remote and weak, must take But vanish'd from them like enchanted ground. What satisfaction thou art pleas'd to make. One thought content the good to be enjoy'd;
But if there be a power too just and strong, This every little accident destroy'd :
To wink at crimes, and bear unpunish'd wrong. The wiser madmen did for virtue toil;
Look humbly upward, see his will disclose A thorny, or at best a barren soil :
The forfeit first, and then the fine impose :
See God descending in thy human frame;
And all his righteousness devolv'd on thee.
The deist thinks he stands on firmer ground; Of man is made against Omnipotence, Cries evpera, the mighty secret's found :
Some price that bears proportion must be paid , God is that spring of good ; supreme, and best ; And infinite with infinite be weigh'd. We made to serve, and in that service blest. See then the deist lost: remorse for vice, If so, some rules of worship must be given, Not paid ; or, paid, inadequate in price : Distributed alike to all by Heaven:
What farther means can reason now direct, Else God were partial, and to some denied Or what relief from human wit expect? The means his justice should for all provide. That shows us sick ; and sadly are we sure This general worship is to praise and pray: Still to be sick, till Heaven reveal the cure: One part to borrow blessings, one to pay : If then Heaven's will must needs be understood, And when frail Nature slides into offence, Which must, if we want cure, and Heaven be good, The sacrifice for crimes is penitence.
Let all records of will reveal'd be shown; Yet, since the effects of providence, we find, With Scripture all in equal balance thrown, Are variously dispens'd to human-kind;
And our one sacred book will be that one. That Vice triumphs, and Virtue suffers here, Proof needs not here ; for whether we compare A brand that sovereign justice cannot bear; That impious, idle, superstitious ware Our reason prompts us to a future state ;
Of rites, lustrations, offerings, which before, The last appeal from fortune and from fate : In various ages, various countries bore, Where God's all-righteous ways will be declar'd; With Christian faith and virtues, we shall find The bad meet punishment, the good reward. None answering the great ends of human-kind
Thus man by his own strength to Heaven would soar, But this one rule of life, that shows us best And would not be oblig'd to God for more. How God may be appeas’d, and mortals blest. Vain wretched creature, how art thou misled Whether from length of time its worth we draw, To think thy wit these godlike notions bred! The word is scarce more ancient than the law: These truths are not the product of thy mind, Heaven's early care prescrib'd for every age; But dropt from Heaven, and of a nobler kind. First, in the soul, and after, in the page. Reveal'd religion first inform'd thy sight,
Or, whether more abstractedly we look, And reason saw not till faith sprung to light. Or on the writers, or the written book, Hence all thy natural worship takes the source: Whence, but from Heaven, could men unskill'd in arts, "Tis revelation what thou think'st discourse. In several ages born, in several parts, Else how com'st thou to see these truths so clear, Weave such agreeing truths ? or how, or why, Which so obscure to heathens did appear ? Should all conspire to cheat us with a lie? Not Plato these, nor Aristotle found :
Unask'd their pains, ungrateful their advice, Nor he whose wisdom oracles renown'd.
Starving their gain, and martyrdom their price. llast thou a wit so deep, or so sublime,
If on the book itself we cast our view, Or canst thou lower dive, or higher climb? Concurrent heathens prove the story true :