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A shadow to amuse mankind,
But never frights the wise or well-fixed mind:
Virtue despises human scorn,
And scandals innocence adorn.
Sometimes, the air of scandal to maintain,
Villains look from thy lofty loops in vain;
But who can judge of crimes by punishment
Where parties rule and L[ord]s subservient?
Justice with change of interest learns to bow,
And what was merit once is murder now:
Actions receive their tincture from the times,
And as they change, are virtues made or crimes.
Thou art the state-trap of the law,
But neither can keep knaves nor honest men in awe;
These are too hardened in offence,
And those upheld by innocence.
Thou art no shame to truth and honesty,
Nor is the character of such defaced by thee
Who suffer by oppressive injury.
Shame, like the exhalations of the sun,
Falls back where first the motion was begun; And he who for no crime shall on thy brows appear Bears less reproach than they who placed him there.
But if contempt is on thy face entailed,
Disgrace itself shall be ashamed;
Scandal shall blush that it has not prevailed
To blast the man it has defamed.
Let all that merit equal punishment
Stand there with him, and we are all content.
Thou bugbear of the law, stand up and speak,
Thy long misconstrued silence break;
Tell us who 'tis upon thy ridge stands there,
So full of fault and yet so void of fear;
And from the paper in his hat,
Let all mankind be told for what.
Tell them it was because he was too bold,
And told those truths which should not ha' been told,
Extol the justice of the land,
Who punish what they will not understand.
Tell them he stands exalted there
For speaking what we would not hear;
And yet he might have been secure
Had he said less or would he ha' said more.
Tell them that this is his reward
And worse is yet for him prepared,
Because his foolish virtue was so nice
As not to sell his friends, according to his friends' advice.
And thus he's an example made,
To make men of their honesty afraid,
That for the time to come they may
More willingly their friends betray;
Tell them the m[en] who placed him here
Are sc[anda]ls to the times;
But at a loss to find his guilt,
They can't commit his crimes.
FROM THE CAMPAIGN
Behold in awful march and dread array
The long-extended squadrons shape their way!
Death, in approaching terrible, imparts
An anxious horror to the bravest hearts;
Yet do their beating breasts demand the strife,
And thirst of glory quells the love of life.
No vulgar fears can British minds control:
Heat of revenge and noble pride of soul
O'er look the foe, advantaged by his post,
Lessen his numbers, and contract his host;
Though fens and floods possessed the middle space,
That unprovoked they would have feared to pass,
Nor fens nor floods can stop Britannia's bands
When her proud foe ranged on their borders stands.
But, O my Muse, what numbers wilt thou find
To sing the furious troops in battle joined!
Methinks I hear the drum's tumultuous sound
The victor's shouts and dying groans confound,
The dreadful burst of cannon rend the skies,
And all the thunder of the battle rise!
'Twas then great Marlborough's mighty soul was proved,
That, in the shock of charging hosts unmoved,
Amidst confusion, horror, and despair,
Examined all the dreadful scenes of war:
In peaceful thought the field of death surveyed,
To fainting squadrons sent the timely aid,
Inspired repulsed battalions to engage,
And taught the doubtful battle where to rage.
So when an angel by divine command
With rising tempests shakes a guilty land,
Such as of late o'er pale Britannia passed,
Calm and serene he drives the furious blast,
And, pleased th' Almighty's orders to perform,
Rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm.
The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
Their great Original proclaim.
Th' unwearied sun from day to day
Does his Creator's power display;
And publishes to every land
The work of an almighty hand.
Soon as the evening shades prevail,
The moon takes up the wondrous tale;
And nightly to the listening earth
Repeats the story of her birth:
Whilst all the stars that round her burn,
And all the planets in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.
What though in solemn silence all
Move round the dark terrestrial ball;
What though nor real voice nor sound
Amidst their radiant orbs be found?
In reason's ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice:
Forever singing as they shine,
"The hand that made us is divine.'
TO A CHILD OF QUALITY FIVE YEARS OLD
THE AUTHOR FORTY
Lords, knights, and squires, the numerous band
That wear the fair Miss Mary's fetters,
Were summoned, by her high command,
To show their passions by their letters.
My pen amongst the rest I took,
Lest those bright eyes that cannot read
Should dart their kindling fires, and look
The power they have to be obeyed.
Nor quality nor reputation
Forbid me yet my flame to tell;
Dear five years old befriends my passion,
And I may write till she can spell.
For while she makes her silk-worms beds
With all the tender things I swear,
Whilst all the house my passion reads
In papers round her baby's hair,
She may receive and own my flame;
For though the strictest prudes should know it,
She'll pass for a most virtuous dame,
And I for an unhappy poet.
Then, too, alas! when she shall tear
The lines some younger rival sends,
She'll give me leave to write, I fear,
And we shall still continue friends;
For, as our different ages move,
'Tis so ordained (would fate but mend it!)
That I shall be past making love
When she begins to comprehend it.
TO A LADY
SHE REFUSING TO CONTINUE A DISPUTE WITH ME, AND LEAVING ME IN THE ARGUMENT
Spare, generous victor, spare the slave
Who did unequal war pursue,
That more than triumph he might have
In being overcome by you.
In the dispute whate'er I said,
My heart was by my tongue belied,
And in my looks you might have read
How much I argued on your side.
You, far from danger as from fear,
Might have sustained an open fight:
For seldom your opinions err;
Your eyes are always in the right.
Why, fair one, would you not rely
On reason's force with beauty's joined?
Could I their prevalence deny,
I must at once be deaf and blind.
Alas! not hoping to subdue,
I only to the fight aspired;
To keep the beauteous foe in view
Was all the glory I desired.