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Tantane, tam patiens, nullo certamine tolli
Dona sines? Virg.
Why weeps the muse for England ? What appears
In England's case, to move the muse to tears?
From side to side of her delightful isle
Is she not cloth'd with a perpetual smile ?
Can Nature add a charm, or Art confer
A new-found luxury not seen in her?
Where under Heav'n is pleasure more pursued,
Or where does cold reflection less intrude?
Her fields a rich expanse of wavy corn,
Pour’d out from Plenty's overflowing horn;
Ambrosial gardens, in which art supplies
The fervour and the force of Indian skies;
Her peaceful shores, where busy Commerce waits
To pour his golden tide through all her gates;
Whom fiery suns, that scorch the russet spice
Of eastern groves, and oceans floor’d with ice
Forbid in vain to push his daring way
To darker climes, or climes of brighter day;
Whom the winds waft where'er the billows roll,
From the World's girdle to the frozen pole;
The chariots bounding in her wheel-worn streets,
Her vaults below, where ev'ry vintage meets;
Her theatres, her revels, and her sports;
The scenes, to which not youth alone resorts,
But age, in spite of weakness and of pain,
Still haunts, in hope to dream of youth again;
All speak her happy: let the muse look round
From East to West, no sorrow can be found:
Or only what, in cottages confin'd,
Sighs unregarded to the passing wind.
Then wherefore weep for England ? What appears
In England's case, to move the muse to tears?
The prophet wept for Israel; wish'd his eyes
Were fountains fed with infinite supplies:
For Israel dealt in robbery and wrong;
There were the scorner's and the sland'rer's tongue;
Oaths, us'd as playthings or convenient tools,
As intrest biass'd knaves, or fashion fools;
Adultry, neighing at his neighbour's door;
Oppression, lab’ring hard to grind the poor;
The partial balance, and deceitful weight;
The treach'rous smile, a mask for secret hate;
Hypocrisy, formality in pray’r,
And the dull service of the lip were there.
Her women, insolent and self-caress’d,
By Vanity's unwearied finger dress’d,
Forgot the blush, that virgin fears impart
To modest cheeks, and borrow'd one from art;
Were just such trifles, without worth or use,
As silly pride and idleness produce;
Curld, scented, furbelow'd, and flounc'd around,
With feet too delicate to touch the ground,
They stretch'd the neck, and rolld the wanton eye,
And sigh’d for ev'ry fool that Autter'd by.
He saw his people slaves to ev'ry lust,
Lewd, avaricious, arrogant, unjust;
He heard the wheels of an avenging God
Groan heavily along the distant road;
Saw Babylon set wide her two-leav'd brass
To let the military deluge pass ;
Jerusalem a prey, her glory soild,
Her princes captive, and her treasures spoil'd;
Wept till all Israel heard his bitter cry,
Stamp'd with his foot, and smote upon his thigh:
But wept, and stamp'd, and smote his thigh in
Pleasure is deaf when teld of future pain,
And sounds prophetic are too rough to suit
Ears long accustom’d to the pleasing lute:
They scorn'd his inspiration and his theme,
Pronounc'd him frantic, and his fears a dream;
With self-indulgence wing'd the fleeting hours,
Till the fue found them, and down fell the tow'rs.
Long time Assyria bound them in her chain, Till penitence had purg'd the public stain, And Cyrus, with relenting pity mov’d, Return'd them happy to the land they lov’d; There, proof against prosperity, awhilę They stood the test of her ensnaring smile, And had the grace in scenes of peace to show The virtue, they had learn'd in scenes of wo. But man is frail, and can but ill sustai A long immunity from grief and pain
And after all the joys that Plenty leads, .
With tiptoe step Vice silently succeeds.
When he that ruld them with a shepherd's rod,
In form a man, in dignity a God,
Came, not expected in that humble guise,
To sift and search them with unerring eyes,
He found, conceal'd beneath a fair outside,
The filth of rottenness, and worm of pride;
Their piety a system of deceit,
* Scripture employ’d to sanctify the cheat;
The pharisee the dupe of his own art,
Self-idoliz'd, and yet a knave at heart.
When nations are to perish in their sins,
Tis in the church the leprosy begins;
The priest, whose office is with zeal sincere
To watch the fountain and preserve it clear,
Carelessly nods and sleeps upon the brink,
While others poison what the flock must drink;
Or, waking at the call of lust alone,
Infuses lies and errours of his own;
His unsuspecting sheep believe it pure:
And, tainted by the very means of cure,
Catch from each other a contagious spot, · The foul fore-runner of a gen'ral rot.