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That grace was Cowper's—his, confess'd by all—
Though placed in golden Durham's second stall.
Not all the plenty of a Bishop's board,
His palace, and his lackeys, and “My Lord,”
More nourish pride, that condescending vice,
Than abstinence, and beggary, and lice;
It thrives in misery, and abundant grows
In misery fools upon themselves impose.
But why before us, protestants, produce
An Indian mystic or a French recluse?
Their sin is plain; but what have we to fear,
Reform'd and well instructed? You shall hear.
Yonancient prude,whose wither'd features show
She might be young some forty years ago,
Her elbows pinion'd close upon her hips,
Her head erect, her fan upon her lips,
Her eyebrows arch'd, her eyes both gone astray,
To watch yon amorous couple in their play,
With bony and unkerchief'd neck defies
The rude inclemency of wintry skies,
And sails with lappet-head, and mincing airs,
Duly at clink of bell to morning prayers.
To thrift and parsimony much inclined,
She yet allows herself that boy behind;
The shivering urchin, bending as he goes,
With slipshod heels, and dewdrop at his nose;
His predecessor's coat advanced to wear,
Which future pages yet are doom'd to share,
Carries her Bible tuck'd beneath his arm,
And hides his hands to keep his fingers warm.
She, half an angel in her own account,
Doubts not hereafter with the saints to mount,
Though not a grace appears, on strictest search,
But that she fasts and, item, goes to church.
Conscious of age she recollects her youth,
And tells, not always with an eye to truth,
Who spann’d her waist,and who,where'er hecame,
Scrawl’d upon glass Miss Bridget's lovely name;
Who stole her slipper, fill'd it with tokay,
And drank the little bumper every day.
Of temper as envenom'd as an asp,
Censorious, and her every word a wasp;
In faithful memory she records the crimes,
Or real or fictitious, of the times;
Laughs at the reputations she has torn,
And holds them dangling at arm's length in scorn.
Such are the fruits of sanctimonious pride,
Of malice fed while flesh is mortified;
Take, Madam, the reward of all your prayers,
Where hermits and where bramins meet with
Your portion is with them—Nay, never frown,
But, if you please, some fathoms lower down.
Artist, attend – your brushes and your paint—
Produce them—take a chair—now draw a saint.
Oh sorrowful and sad the streaming tears
Channel her cheeks—a Niobe appears!
Is this a saint? Throw tints and all away—
True Piety is cheerful as the day, ,
Will weep indeed, and heave a pitying groan
For others' woes, but smiles upon her own.
What purpose has the King of saints in view?
Why falls the Gospel like a gracious dew!
To call up plenty from the teeming earth,
Or curse the desert with a tenfold dearth?
Is it that Adam's offspring may be saved
From servile fear, or be the more enslaved 7
To loose the links that gall'd mankind before,
Or bind them faster on, and add still more?
The freeborn Christian has no chains to prove,
Or, if a chain, the golden one of love:
No fear attends to quench his glowing fires,
What fear he feels his gratitude inspires.
Shall he for such deliverance freely wrought,
Recompense ill? He trembles at the thought.
His master's interest and his own combined
Prompt every movement of his heart and mind;
Thought, word, and deed his liberty evince,
His freedom is the freedom of a prince.
Man's obligations infinite, of course
His life should prove, that he perceives their force:
His utmost he can render is but small—
The principle and motive all in all.
You have two servants—Tom, an arch sly rogue,
From top to toe the Geta now in vogue;
Genteel in figure, easy in address,
Moves without noise, and swift as an express;
Reports a message with a pleasing grace;
Expert in all the duties of his place;
Say, on what hinge does his obedience move?
Has he a world of gratitude and love?
No, not a spark—'tis all mere sharper's play;
Helikes your house,yourhousemaid,and your pay;
Reduce his wages, or get rid of her,
Tom quits you, with—your most obedient, Sir.
The dinnerserved,Charles takes his usual stand,
Watches your eye, anticipates command;
Sighs if perhaps your appetite should fail!
And, if he but suspects a frown, turns pale;
Consults all day your interest and your ease,
Richly rewarded if he can but please;
And, proud to make his firm attachment known,
To save your life, would nobly risk his own.
Now which stands highest in your serious thought? Charles, without doubt, say you—and so he ought; One act, that from a thankful heart proceeds, Excels ten thousand mercenary deeds. Thus Heaven approves as honest and sincere The work of generous love and filial fear; But with averted eyes the omniscient Judge Scorns the base hireling, and the slavish drudge. Where dwell these matchless saints? old Curio cries. E’en at your side, Sir, and before your eyes, The favour’d few—the enthusiasts you despise; And pleased at heart, because on holy ground Sometimes a canting hypocrite is found, Reproach a people with a single fall, And cast his filthy raiment at them all. Attend!—an apt similitude shall show, Whence springs the conduct that offends you so. See where it smokes along the sounding plain, Blown all aslant, a driving, dashing rain, Peal upon peal redoubling all around, Shakes it again and faster to the ground; Now flashing wide, now glancing as in play, Swift beyond thought the lightnings dart away. Ere yet it came, the traveller urged his steed, And hurried, but with unsuccessful speed; Now,drench'd throughout and hopeless of his case, He drops the rein, and leaves him to his pace. Suppose, unlook’d for in a scene so rude, Long hid by interposing hill or wood, Some mansion, neat and elegantly dress'd, By some kind hospitable heart possess'd, Offer him warmth, security, and rest;
Think with what pleasure, safe and at his ease,
He hears the tempest howling in the trees;
What glowing thanks his lips and heart employ,
While danger past is turn'd to present joy.
So fares it with the sinner, when he feels
A growing dread of vengeance at his heels:
His conscience, like a glassy lake before,
Lash'd into foaming waves begins to roar;
The law grown clamorous, though silent long,
Arraigns him—charges him with every wrong—
Asserts the rights of his offended Lord,
And death or restitution is the word:
The last impossible, he fears the first,
And, having well deserved, expects the worst.
Then welcome refuge, and a peaceful home;
O, for a shelter from the wrath to come!
Crush me, ye rocks; ye falling mountains, hide;
Or bury me in ocean's angry tide.— -
The scrutiny of those all seeing eyes
I dare not—and you need not, God replies;
The remedy you want I freely give:
The bookshall teach you—read, believe, and live!
'Tis done—the raging storm is heard no more,
Mercy receives him on her peaceful shore:
And Justice, guardian of the dread command,
Drops the red vengeance from his willing hand.
A soul redeem'd demands a life of praise;
Hence the complexion of his future days,
Hence a demeanour holy and unspeck'd,
And the world's hatred, as its sure effect.
Some lead a life unblamable and just,
Their own dear virtue their unshaken trust:
They never sin—or if (as all offend)
Some trivial slips their daily walk attend,