An Epistle to the Right Honourable the Lord Viscount CORNBURY.
1 WHILE you, my Lord, alas! amidst a few,
2 With generous warmth your country's good pursue;
3 While to the center all your wishes tend,
4 Accept the zeal that prompts a willing friend.
5 Others like you heaven's hallow'd spark inspir'd,
6 Whom soon the blaze of selfish passion fir'd,
7 Soon ruder flames extinguish'd reason's light,
8 While prejudices foul'd their jaundic'd sight.
9 Such thro' false opticks every object prove,
10 And try the good and bad, by hate and love.[Page 167]
11 All-powerful means each virtue to supply,
12 All-powerful means each virtue to deny;
13 To Wyndham strength, and grace, and fire, and weight;
14 To Granville parts, to save a sinking state,
15 Hence various judgments form the madden'd throng,
16 Only in this alike, they all are wrong.
17 Hence to false praise shall blame unjust succeed,
18 And cherubs fall, and gods unpity'd bleed.
19 Wou'd you, my friend, not mix the purer flame,
20 Nor lose the patriot in a baser name;
21 Nor factious rage mistake for publick zeal,
22 Nor private int'rest for the gen'ral weal?
23 By truth's sure test let ev'ry deed be try'd,
24 And justice ever be th' unerring guide.
25 Her rules are plain, and easy is her way,
26 And yet how hard to find if once we stray!
27 All lost alike the maze perplex'd we tread,
28 However prompted, whether drove or led;
29 Whether false honour or ambition goad,
30 Or sneaking av'rice wind the miry road,
31 Or whether sway'd by passions not our own,
32 And the weak fear of being right alone.
33 Alone in such a cause is base to fear,
34 Tho' fools suspect, and knaves designing sneer.
35 Sneer, villains, sneer! th' avenging time is nigh,
36 When Balbo scourg'd shall weep the taunting lie;
37 When Stopus foul with each imputed crime,
38 Shall dread false prose repaid with honest rhyme.
39 'Tis not enough you scorn a private claim,
40 And to your country's good direct your aim.
41 Wrong is still wrong, however great the end,
42 Tho' all the realm were brother, father, friend;
43 Justice regards not these — where right prevails,
44 A nation is an atom in her scales.
45 Heaven means not all the good which man can gain,
46 But that which truth can earn, and right maintain.
47 However fair the tempting prize may be,
48 If guilt the price, it is not meant for thee.
49 Succeeding times may claim the just design,
50 Or other means, or other powers than thine.
51 Each part's connected with the gen'ral plan,
52 The weal of Britain with the weal of man.
53 Justice the scale of interest for the whole,
54 The same in Indies as beneath the pole;
55 Sure rule by which heaven's blessings to dispense,
56 Unerring light of guiding providence.
57 Others may fail. — If wrongly understood,
58 How fatal is the thirst of publick good!
59 No heavier curse almighty vengeance brings,
60 Nor plagues, nor famine, nor the lust of kings.
61 Fir'd by this rage the frantick sons of Rome,
62 The suff'ring world to death and bondage doom;
63 Nations must sink to raise her cumb'rous frame,
64 And millions bleed to eternize her name.
65 But lo! her glories fade, her empire's past,
66 She madly conquer'd but to fall the last.
67 Nor would I here the patriot's views reprove,
68 Or damp the sacred flame of social love.
69 Still may that portion of th' eternal ray
70 Sublime our sense, and animate our clay;
71 Above low self exalt th' immortal frame,
72 And emulate that heaven from whence it came.
73 Oh! would it never be confin'd to place,
74 But beam extensive as the human race:
75 Be, as it was design'd, the world's great soul,
76 Connect its parts, and actuate the whole,
77 So each should think himself a part alone,
78 And for a nation's welfare stake his own!
79 Yet farther still, tho' dearest to the breast,
80 That nation think but part of all the rest.
81 For this let equal justice poise the ball,
82 Her swaying force unites us all to all;
83 Of manners, worship, form, no diff'rence knows,
84 Condemns our friends, and saves our better foes.
85 Confess the heavenly power! nor need you fear
86 Let Britain suffer, while you follow her.
87 Tho' prosp'rous crimes some daring villains raise,
88 Nor life's short date my halting vengeance seize;
89 A nation cannot 'scape — the destin'd rage
90 Pursues her ceaseless to some future age;
91 Speeds the sure ruin from the conqueror's hand,
92 Or spreads corruption o'er a pining land.
93 Ask hoary time, what nation is most blest?
94 For sage experience shall this truth attest:[Page 170]
95 "Where freedom sleeps secure from lawless wrath,
96 "Where commerce shelter'd flows thro' publick faith,
97 "Where fell ambition lights no foreign wars,
98 "Nor discord rages with intestine wars;
99 "Where justice reigns." — Immortal were that state,
100 If aught immortal here were giv'n by Fate.
101 Such, lost Iberia! were those happy reigns,
102 When liberty sat brooding o'er thy plains.
103 The rich in plenteous peace their stores enjoy'd,
104 By cares unvex'd, by luxury uncloy'd.
105 Hope sooth'd the poor with promises of gain,
106 And paid with future joys their present pain;
107 Shew'd the full bowl amidst their sultry toil,
108 While those who prun'd the olive drank the oil;
109 By night of all the fruits of day possess'd,
110 Labour soft-clos'd the eye, and sweeten'd rest.
111 Such was thy state all gay in nature's smiles!
112 And such is now the state of Britain's isles.
113 Hence o'er the ocean's waste her sail unfurl'd,
114 Wide wafts the tribute of a willing world.
115 Hence trusting nations treasure here their wealth,
116 Safe from tyrannick force or legal stealth:
117 And hence the injur'd exile doom'd to roam,
118 Shall find his country here and dearer home.
119 Still be this truth, this saving truth confess'd,
120 Britain is great, because with freedom blest;
121 Her prince is great, because her people free,
122 And power here springs from publick liberty.[Page 171]
123 Hail mighty monarch of the free and great!
124 Firm on the basis of a prosp'rous state.
125 The wealth, the strength of happy millions thine,
126 United rise, united shall decline.
127 For time will come, sad period of the brave,
128 When Britain's humble prince shall rule the slave;
129 When traffick vile shall stain the guilty throne,
130 And kings shall buy our ruin and their own.
131 But long, O long th' inglorious doom suspend!
132 What virtue gain'd may virtue still defend!
133 Thrice sacred spirit, never may you cease,
134 But as you blaz'd in war, shine forth in peace!
135 Dauntless with all the force of truth engage
136 The headlong tide of each corrupted age.
137 O ever wake around one favour'd throne,
138 Nor let our guardian monarch wake alone!
139 Tho' oft defeated and tho' oft betray'd,
140 Numbers shall rise in sacred freedom's aid.
141 Far as her all-enlivening influence reigns,
142 Heroic ardour beats in gen'rous veins.
143 Now bids learn'd Greece barbarian might defy,
144 Now the soft arts of polish'd tyranny;
145 Now to no stock, or sect, or place confin'd,
146 She takes adopted sons from human kind;
147 While denizen'd by her eternal laws,
148 They all are Britons who shall serve her cause.
149 Lo! to the banner crowds a youthful band;
150 Form'd for the glorious task by nature's hand;[Page 172]
151 Wisdom unclogg'd by years, with toil unbought,
152 A zeal by vigour kindled, rul'd by thought.
153 Such gifts she to the happy few imparts,
154 To judging heads and to determin'd hearts;
155 To heads unfir'd by youth's tumultuous rage,
156 To hearts unnumb'd by the chill ice of age;
157 And while they both preserve a sep'rate claim,
158 Their passions reason, and their reasons flame.
159 Proceed brave youths! Let others court renown
160 In hostile fields, be yours the olive crown:
161 And trust to fame, those heroes brighter shone
162 Who sav'd a nation, than who nations won.
163 Nor let assuming age restrain your flight,
164 Fearful to tempt the yet unpractis'd height;
165 Deceitful counsel lurks in hoary hairs,
166 And the last dregs of life are sordid cares.
167 Objects are clear proportion'd in degree,
168 To gen'ral use, or strong necessity,
169 Nor are two things so plainly understood,
170 As the worst evil and the greatest good;
171 If rescu'd from the misty breath of schools;
172 Men will but feel without the help of rules.
173 So unbewilder'd in the crooked maze,
174 Where guilt low sculks, and reptile cunning strays,
175 A nation's interest, and a people's rights,
176 Distinctly shine in nature's simple rights,
177 And claim in him who fairly acts his part,
178 Before a Lonsdale's head, a Lonsdale's heart.[Page 173]
179 But chief when snatch'd by heaven's preserving hand,
180 From the fell contests of each hostile land,
181 A happy island to th' incircling main
182 Trusts for a sure report and honest gain.
183 The just are heaven's, earth is for heaven ordain'd,
184 Form'd by its laws, and by its laws maintain'd.
185 These one true int'rest, one great system frame,
186 Political and moral are the same.
187 Guilt toils for gain at honour's vast expence,
188 Heaven throws the trifle in to innocence;
189 And fixes happiness in hell's despite,
190 The necessary consequence of right.
191 Proceed, ye deists! blindfold rage employ,
192 And prove the sacred truths ye would destroy.
193 Prove christian faith the wisest scheme to bind,
194 In chains of cordial love, our jarring kind;
195 And thence conclude it human, if you can,
196 The perfect produce of imperfect man!
197 While prostrate we adore that pow'r divine,
198 Whose simple rule connects each great design;
199 Bids social earth a type of heaven appear,
200 Where justice tastes those joys which wait her there.
201 But tho' self-int'rest follow virtue's train!
202 Yet selfish think not virtue's end is gain!
203 Older than time, ere int'rest had a name,
204 Justice existed, and is still the same;
205 Alike the creature's and creator's guide,
206 His rule to form, the law by which we're ty'd:[Page 174]
207 In reason's light, eternal word, express'd,
208 Stamp'd with his image in the creature's breast.
209 Thus speaks the sage, who skill'd in nature's laws,
210 Deep from effects high-trac'd th' all-ruling cause.
211 "Before creation was, th' almighty mind
212 "In time's abyss the future world design'd;
213 "Did the great system in its parts survey,
214 "And fit the springs, and regulate their play;
215 "In meet gradations plan'd th' harmonious round,
216 "These links by which depending parts are bound.
217 "All these he knew, ere yet the things he made,
218 "In types which well the mimick world display'd.
219 "The types are real, since from them he drew
220 "The real forms of whatsoe'er we view.
221 "Made to their 'semblance, heaven and earth exist,
222 "But they unmade eternally subsist.
223 "For if created, we must sure suppose
224 "Some other types whence their resemblance flows;
225 "While these on others equally depend,
226 "Nor ever shall the long progression end.
227 "God ere it was, the future being saw,
228 "Or blindfold made his world, and gave his law.
229 "But chance cou'd never frame the vast design,
230 "Where countless parts in justest order join.
231 "The types eternal just proportions teach,
232 "Greater or less, more or less perfect each.
233 "These ever present power omniscient sees,
234 "On them he forms his ever-made decrees;[Page 175]
235 "Nor can he better love what merits least,
236 "Man than an angel, or than man a beast.
237 "Hence Reason, hence immortal Order springs,
238 "Knowledge and Love adapted to the things,
239 "And thence th' unerring rule of justice flows,
240 "To act what Order prompts, and Reason shows.
241 "What man in nature's purity remain'd,
242 "By pain untroubled, and by sin unstain'd;
243 "Fair image of the God, and close conjoin'd,
244 "By innate union with the heavenly mind;
245 "In the pure splendor of substantial light,
246 "The beam divine of Reason bless'd his sight;
247 "Seraphick Order in its fount he view'd,
248 "Seeing he lov'd, and loving he pursu'd;
249 "Nor dar'd the body, passive slave, controul
250 "The sovereign mandates of the ruling soul.
251 "But soon by sin the sacred union broke,
252 "Man bows to earth beneath the heavy yoke.
253 "The darkling soul scarce feels a glimm'ring ray,
254 "Shrouded in sense from her immortal day.
255 "Vengeance divine offended Order arms,
256 "And cloaths in terrors her celestial charms.
257 "Now grosser objects heav'n-born souls possess,
258 "Passions enslave, and servile cares oppress.
259 "Fraud, rapine, murder, guilt's long horrid train,
260 "Distracted nature's anarchy maintain.
261 "No more pure Reason earthly minds can move,
262 "No more can Order's charms persuasive prove.[Page 176]
263 "But as the moon reflecting borrowed day,
264 "Sheds on our shadow'd world a feeble ray;
265 "Some scatter'd beams of Reason law contains,
266 "While Order's rule must be inforc'd by pains.
267 "Hence death's black scroll, dire tortures hence are giv'n;
268 "Hence kings, the necessary curse of heaven.
269 "And just the doom of an avenging God,
270 "Who spurn'd his scepter, feel the tyrant's rod.
271 "Blind by our fears we meet the ills we fly,
272 "In rule oppression, want in property. "
273 So spoke the sage, and if not learn'd in vain,
274 If spotless truth in sacred books remain;
275 Dearly the child hath paid the parent's pride,
276 And ill hath Law the heavenly rule supply'd.
277 Thus boasts some leech with unavailing art,
278 To mend the tainted lungs and wasting heart;
279 Bids the loose springs with wonted vigour play,
280 And sprightly juices warm in cold decay.
281 Or wou'd imperious reason deign to own,
282 The world not made for sovereign man alone;
283 Some things there are for human use design'd,
284 And these in common dealt to human kind.
285 To mortal wants is giv'n a power to use,
286 What to th' immortal part just heaven might well refuse.
287 This faithful instinct in each breast implants,
288 All know their rights, for all must feel their wants.
289 But soon began the rage of wild desire,
290 To thirst for more than use could o'er require.[Page 177]
291 Ere stung by luxury's unsated call,
292 And ere ambition madly grasp'd the ball,
293 Vain restless man in busy search employ'd,
294 Saw somewhat still beyond the bliss enjoy'd,
295 Press'd eager on; the lowly and the great,
296 Alike their wish beyond their destin'd state;
297 Alike condemn'd, whatever Fortune grant,
298 To real poorness in phantastic want.
299 And now some sages high by others deem'd,
300 For virtue honour'd, and for parts esteem'd;
301 Call'd forth to judge where dubious claims are try'd,
302 Convince with reason, and with counsel guide;
303 Fix'd rules devise to sway th' assenting throng,
304 And marks distinct impress on right and wrong.
305 The simple precept subtle wiles invade,
306 And statutes as our crimes increas'd were made,
307 These were at first unwritten, plain and few,
308 'Till swell'd by time the law's vast volume grew;
309 And grown with these, to sway th' unwieldy trust,
310 Thousands we chose to keep the millions just,
311 Some plac'd o'er others, others plac'd o'er these,
312 Thus government grew up by slow degrees;
313 Higher the pile arose, and still more high,
314 When lo! the summit ends in monarchy.
315 There plac'd, a man in gorgeous pomp appears,
316 And far o'er earth his tow'ring aspect rears;
317 While prostrate crowds his sacred smile implore,
318 And what their crimes had form'd, their fears adore.[Page 178]
319 Low from beneath they lift their servile eyes,
320 And see the proud colossus touch the skies.
321 So at some mountain's foot have children gaz'd,
322 While close to heaven they view the summit rais'd,
323 Eager they mount, new regions to explore,
324 But heaven is now as distant as before.
325 Thus views the crowd a throne, while those who rise
326 Claim not a nearer kindred to the skies;
327 Earth is their parent, thither kings should bend,
328 From thence they rise, and not from heaven descend.
329 Happy, had all the royal sons of earth
330 Thus sprung, nor guilt had claim'd the monstrous birth.
331 Where from the fire descending thro' the line,
332 Rapine and fraud confer a right divine.
333 Ye mortal gods, how vainly are ye proud?
334 If just your title, servants to the crowd;
335 If wide your sway, if large your treasur'd store,
336 These but increase your servitude the more;
337 A part is only yours, the rest is theirs,
338 And nothing all your own, except your cares.
339 Shall man, by nature free, by nature made
340 To share the feast her bounteous hand display'd,
341 Transfer these rights? as well he may dispense
342 The beam of reason, or the nerve of sense;
343 With all his strength the monarch's limbs invest,
344 Or pour his valour in the royal breast.
345 Take the starv'd peasant's taste, devouring lord!
346 Ere you deprive him of the genial board.[Page 179]
347 And if you wou'd his liberty controul,
348 Assume the various actings of his soul!
349 So shall one man a people's powers enjoy,
350 Thus Indians deem of wretches they destroy.
351 Thus in old tales the fabled monster stands,
352 Proud of a thousand eyes, a thousand hands.
353 Thus dreams the sophist, who with subtle art
354 Wou'd prove the whole included in a part,
355 A people in their king; and from the throng,
356 Transfer to him their rights in nature's wrong;
357 Those sacred rights in nature's charter plain,
358 By wants that claim them, and by powers that gain.
359 Tho' sophists err, yet stand confess'd thy claim,
360 And be the king and multitude the same,
361 Whose deeds benevolent his title prove,
362 And royal selfishness, in publick love;
363 Nor, draining wasted realms for sordid pelf,
364 O scepter'd suicide! destroy thy self.
365 Where fails this proof, in vain would we unite
366 The ruler's int'rest with the people's right.
367 Frantick ambition has her sep'rate claim,
368 The dropsy'd thirst of empire, wealth, or fame;
369 Pride's boundless hope, valour's enthusiast rant,
370 With the long nameless train of fancy'd want.
371 Urg'd on by these, all view the magick prize,
372 The prospect widening as they higher rise;
373 For him who seeks a limited command,
374 To him whose wish devours air, sea, and land.[Page 180]
375 Alike all foes to freedom's holy cause,
376 For freedom ties unbounded will with laws,
377 Alike all foes to ev'ry publick gain,
378 For publick blessings loose the bond-man's chain.
379 Ill-fated slaves of arbitrary sway!
380 Where trusted power seduces to betray;
381 Makes private failings rage a gen'ral pest,
382 And taints even virtue in the social breast;
383 Bids friendship plunder, charity undo
384 The blameless MANY, for the favour'd FEW.
385 'Till guilt high rear'd on crimes protecting crime,
386 Fills the heap'd measure of predestin'd time.
387 Far others, ye, O wealthy, wise, and brave!
388 Tho' subject, free; more freedom wou'd enslave.
389 Bless'd with a rule by long experience try'd,
390 Unwarp'd by faction's rage, or kingly pride;
391 Bless'd with the means, whene'er this rule shall bend,
392 Again to trace it to its glorious end;
393 And bless'd with proofs, the proofs are seal'd with blood,
394 Whate'er the form, the end is publick good.
395 But yet admit the sire his right fore-goes!
396 Can he his children's separate claim dispose?
397 Whate'er the parent gave, whate'er he give,
398 They who have right to life, have right to live.
399 And spite of man's consent, or man's decree,
400 A right to life, is right to liberty.
401 Tho' for convenience fram'd the laws should shine,
402 Pure emanation from the source divine;[Page 181]
403 Such as can pierce the gloom of pagan night,
404 And untaught savages in woods enlight;
405 Such as on scaffolds can the guiltless save,
406 And torture on his throne the scepter'd slave;
407 Such as th' offending wretch reluctant owns,
408 And hails its beauty with his dying groans:
409 In such fair laws the will of heaven impress'd,
410 Shines to all eyes, and rules the conscious breast.
411 Tho' tortures cease, tho' night's thick-mantling vail
412 From mortal ken the secret deed conceal;
413 Reason and conscience shall awake within,
414 And light the shade, and loud proclaim the sin.
415 "But should the universal voice combine,
416 "To cloath injustice in a robe divine? "
417 Let the same breath divest the day of light,
418 To blazon forth the dusky face of night.
419 Then shall the laws of sainted evil bind,
420 And human will subvert th' all-ruling mind;
421 That sacred fount whence lawful rule must spring,
422 And diff'rent from the robber marks the king.
423 Yet vainly wou'd despotick will conclude,
424 That force may sway the erring multitude,
425 Justice, 'tis own'd, should ever guide the free,
426 But pow'r of wrong, in all, is liberty;
427 And for whatever purposes restrain'd,
428 A nation is enslav'd that may be chain'd.
429 Heaven gives to all a liberty of choice,
430 A people's good requires a people's voice;[Page 182]
431 Man's surest guide, where diff'rent views agree,
432 From private hate, and private int'rest free.
433 Fatal their change from such who rashly fly,
434 To the hard grasp of guiding tyranny;
435 Soon shall they find, when will is arm'd with might,
436 Injustice wield the sword, tho' drawn for right.
437 Blind to these truths who fond of boundless sway,
438 Bids trembling slaves implicitly obey;
439 Tho' by a long descent from Adam down
440 Thro' scepter'd heirs, he boasts his ancient crown,
441 Great nature's rebel forfeits ev'ry claim,
442 And loads the tyrant with th' usurper's name;
443 While with each lawless act of proud command,
444 He stands proscrib'd by his own guilty hand.
445 Bow, Filmer, bow! to hell's tremendous throne,
446 And bid thy fellow-damn'd suppress each groan!
447 There sits a king whom pow'r divine hath giv'n,
448 Nor earth boasts one so surely sent from heav'n.
449 And thou, blest martyr in fair freedom's cause,
450 Thou great asserter of thy country's laws;
451 Vainly oppression stopp'd thy potent breath;
452 Truth shone more powerful thro' the vail of death;
453 Example mov'd whom precept cou'd not save,
454 And lifted axes wak'd each drowsy slave.
455 Yet magistrates must rule, they're useful things,
456 Our guilt the vengeance, and avenger brings.
457 Whate'er more perfect heaven might first create,
458 A state well-governed, now, is nature's state;[Page 183]
459 For law from reason springs, spontaneous fruit,
460 And reason sure is man's first attribute.
461 Let visionary schoolmen toil in vain,
462 Who seek in anarchy for nature's reign;
463 Wretched alike the slaves of lawless will,
464 Whether the savage, or the tyrant kill;
465 Unjust alike all rule, where publick choice
466 Speaks not thro' laws a willing people's voice.
467 Nor freedom suffers when the guilty fall,
468 'Tis nature's doom, 'tis self-defence in all.
469 Such now is man deprav'd that fear must sway,
470 To tread the paths where duty points the way;
471 The wretch must suffer to forewarn the rest,
472 And some must fall to stop the spreading pest.
473 Alone the gen'ral welfare can demand
474 The bleeding victim from th' unwilling hand.
475 Hence publick pains — what to the crime is due,
476 O Judge supreme! must be reserv'd for you.
477 To you alone, whose all-pervading eye
478 Deep in the breast can latent thought espy;
479 Try ev'ry action by the known intent,
480 And to each crime adapt its punishment;
481 While men, misled by erring lights, dispense
482 The doom of guilt to injur'd innocence;
483 Or tho' repentance cleanse the moral stain,
484 Inflict on crimes atton'd avenging pain.
485 Yet blameless they who act sincere their part,
486 Faultless he errs who cannot read the heart.
487 Not such fierce flames the mad enthusiast's zeal,
488 On errors harmless to the gen'ral weal,
489 Whether false notions wander far from truth,
490 Or age retain'd the trace impress'd in youth.
491 While int'rest prompts the holy murd'rer's hand,
492 In sacred fires to light th' unhallow'd brand;
493 To draw destruction from heaven's saving page,
494 And bid sweet mercy breathe relentless rage.
495 Accurs'd all such! and he with joy elate,
496 Whose baleful breath embitters certain fate;
497 Who on th' imploring face malignant smiles,
498 And sentenc'd wretches wantonly reviles.
499 Better, far better in the savage den,
500 Let the robb'd lion judge o'er prostrate men:
501 Better let pow'r the lawless faulchion draw,
502 Than coward cruelty disgrace the law.
503 This well you know, O—! whose righteous seat
504 Gives to the innocent a sure retreat;
505 Severely just, and piously humane,
506 The wretch you punish, while you share his pain.
507 Tears with the dreadful words of sentence flow,
508 Nor does the rigid judge the man forego.
509 So feels the breast humane, ye truly brave!
510 And such is thine, my friend, intent to save!
511 Whether thy bounty pining want relieve,
512 Or lenient pity sooth the hearts that grieve;
513 Whether thy pious hand due bounds prescribe
514 To little tyrants, o'er the lesser tribe;[Page 185]
515 Or whether noble warmth expand thy soul,
516 And huge leviathan unaw'd controul.
517 Nor Britain only claims thy gen'rous plan,
518 Thy rule is justice, and thy care is man.
519 And may this truth thy fair example prove,
520 Justice shall fan the flame of social love.