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How many deeds, with which the world has rung,
From Pride, in league with Ignorance, have sprung!
But God o'errules all human follies still,
And bends the tough materials to his will.
A conflagration, or a wintry flood,
Has left some hundreds without home or food;
Extravagance and Av'rice shall subscribe,
While fame and self-complacence are the bribe.
The brief proclaim'd, it visits ev'ry pew,
But first the squire's, a compliment but due:
With slow deliberation he unties
His glitt'ring purse, that envy of all eyes,
And, while the clerk just puzzles out the psalm,
Slides guinea behind guinea in his palm;
Till finding, what he might have found before,
A smaller piece amidst the precious store,
Pinch'd close between his finger and his thumb,
He half exhibits, and then drops the sum.
Gold to be sure!--Throughout the town 'tis told,
How the good squire gives never less than gold.
From motives such as his, though not the best,
Springs in due time supply for the distress'd;
Not less effectual than what love bestows,
Except that office clips it as it goes.
But lest I seem to sin against a friend, And wound the grace I mean to recommend, (Though vice derided with a just design Implies no trespass against love divine,) Once more I would adopt the graver style, A teacher should be sparing of his smile. Unless a love of virtue light the flame, Satire is, more than those he brands, to blame; He hides behind a magisterial air His own offences, and strips others bare; Affects indeed a most humane concern, That men, if gently tutor’d, will not learn; That mulish Folly, not to be reclaim'd By softer methods, must be made asham'd; But (I might instance in St. Patrick's dean) Too often rails to gratify his spleen. Most sat’rists are indeed a public scourge; Their mildest physic is a farrier's purge; Their acrid temper turns, as soon as stirr'd, The milk of their good purpose all to curd. Their zeal begotten, as their works rehearse, By lean despair upon an empty purse, The wild assassins start into the street, Prepar'd to poniard whomsoe'er they meet.
No skill in swordmanship, however just,
Can be secure against a madman's thrust;
And even Virtue so unfairly match'd,
Although immortal, may be prick'd or scratch'd.
When Scandal has new minted an old lie,
Or tax'd invention for a fresh supply,
'Tis call'd a satire, and the world
Gath’ring around it with erected ears:
A thousand names are toss'd into the crowd;
Some whisper'd softly, and some twang'd aloud;
Just as the sapience of an author's brain
Suggests it safe or dang'rous to be plain.
Strange! how the frequent interjected dash
Quickens a market, and helps off the trash;
Th' important letters, that include the rest,
Serve as a key to those that are suppress'd;
Conjecture gripes the victims in his paw,
The world is charm’d, and Scrib escapes the law.
So, when the cold damp shades of night prevail,
Worms may be caught by either head or tail;
Forcibly drawn from many a close recess,
They meet with little pity, no redress;
Plung'd in the stream they lodge upon the mud,
Food for the famish'd rovers of the flood.
All zeal for a reform, that gives offence
To peace and charity, is mere pretence:
A bold remark, but which, if well applied,
Would humble many a tow'ring poet's pride.
Perhaps the man was in a sportive fit,
And had no other play-place for his wit;
Perhaps enchanted with the love of fame,
He sought the jewel in his neighbour's shame;
Perhaps—whatever end he might pursue,
The cause of virtue could not be his view.
At ev'ry stroke wit flashes in our eyes;
The turns are quick, the polish'd points surprise,
But shine with cruel and tremendous charms,
That, while they please, possess us with alarms:
So have I seen, (and hasten’d to the sight
On all the wings of holiday delight)
Where stands that monument of ancient pow'r,
Nam'd with emphatic dignity, the Tow'r,
Guns, halberts, swords, and pistols, great and small,
In starry forms dispos'd upon the wall;
We wonder, as we gazing stand below,
That brass and steel should make so fine a show;
But though we praise th' exact designer's skill,
Account them implements of mischief still.
No works shall find acceptance in that day, When all disguises shall be rent away, That square not truly with the Scripture plan, Nor spring from love to God, or love to man. As he ordains things sordid in their birth To be resolv'd into their parent earth; And, though the soul shall seek superior orbs, Whate'er this world produces, it absorbs; So self starts nothing, but what tends apace Home to the goal, where it began the race. Such as our motive is, our aim must be; If this be servile, that can ne'er be free: If self employ us, whatsoe'er is wrought, We glorify that self, not him we ought; Such virtues had need prove their own reward, The judge of all men owes them no regard. True Charity, a plant divinely nurs’d, Fed by the love, from which it rose at first, Thrives against hope, and in the rudest scene, Storms but enliven it's unfading green; Exub'rant is the shadow it supplies, It's fruit on earth, it's growth above the skies. To look at Him, who form'd us and redeemid, So glorious now, though once so disesteemid,