Wha aiblins gang a parliamentin’,
For Britain’s gude their souls indentin’.”
—“Hath, lady ! ye little ken about it.
For Britain’s gude ? I greatly doubt it ;
Say, rather, gaun as Premiers lead them,
And saying aye or no’s they bid them.”
No more, alas ! I rhyme of fancied pains,1
Hope’s false delights and Love’s ideal chains2
For life’s cold paths I quit poetic bow’rs,3
And leave to younger bards—my stock of flow’rs.4
Rude times like these no mild-toned Muse require5
To bend enamour’d o’er the sounding lyre,6
But plain strong Sense, whose rough but honest part7
Is not to soothe the ear, but wake the heart.8
Gods ! is it thus that England’s Muse is fled9
In voiceless grief to hide her peaceful head,10
To rest with Southey in his Cumbrian glades,11
Or mourn with Bowles in Bremhill’s cloister’d shades ?12
Too true the tale ;— and now a motley throng,13
With flames and doctrine fill their piebald song,14
Earth jars with heaven, a cherub’s holiest smiles15
Flaunt in the borrow’d dimples of St Giles ;16
Vauxhall’s dread splendours gild the courts above,17
And Drury’s language speaks the seraph’s love ;18
Scott, Wilson, Croly,—all we loved of yore,19
Strike the proud music of their harps no more ;20
And Campell’s self, who once sung well, sings dumb,21
Or sinks from Tom of Lincoln to Tom Thumb ;22
Thus, to dull ranters ample space is given,23
To play fantastic tricks before high heaven,24
And make the angels weep !”
Oh, happier time,25
Ere God was sounded in each schoolboy rhyme,26
Ere Worship simper’d with self-pleasing air,27
And bungling Metaphor broke forth in pray’er,28
Ere Hell’s red fires supplanted Venus’ smile,29
And Calvary usurp’d the Paphian isle ;30
Ere for Parnassus Sinai’s heights were trod,31
And Jove’s cast ornaments bestow’d on God !32
Long, long ago, Religion, heavenly maid !33
With vestal meekness sought the silent glade ;34
Serenely calm she bore each earthly care,35
While Faith, Hope, Charity, adorn’d her prayer !36
But now, where’er we turn, a nymph we see,37
In streets and markets bend the ready knee,38
With tinsel robe, half tawdry, half unclean,39
And breast fast heaving with quick sighs between ;40
Anxious alike, while round her eye she rolls,41
To pick our pockets and to save our souls.42
With thundering voice she strives to heaven to raise43
Prayer without love, and dares to call it praise.44
Where is the heart ? you ask. Alas ! ’tis set45
Not on its God, but on an epithet.46
And see ! she stops, in ecstasy sublime,47
Dumb from excess of awe, and want of rhyme !48
But who shall wonder that the infection spreads,49
And snivelling Cant uprears her thousand heads,50
Since those who ought to crush, embrace her knees,51
And even the Mitre owns its Pharisees ?52
Hark ! how with tragic pomp, and gesture proud,53
Thy prelate,———, awes the listening crowd,54
And talks in ill-cloak’d pride’s most humble tone,55
Of lights and graces to him only known,—56
How warm he prayed for heaven’s directing nod ;57
How at his Maker’s word he left his God ;58
How to a life of mean subservience just,59
The ———’s protegé betray’d his trust !60
Oh ! while his watering eyes are turn’d above,61
How thrills his breast with more than mortal love !62
All round the circle holy fervour goes,63
And every heart with like devotion glows ;64
While literate —— shews his dandy limb,65
And prays some other —— may favour him.66
What ! are his youth’s employments cast aside,67
The crack’d guitar across his shoulder tied,68
The Spaniard’s cloak, the whisker’s curl of jet,69
To win the glance of each impure grisette,70
Or has he wisely hush’d his borrow’d lay,71
Left the loose ballad and begun to pray,72
Or does he merely show his Protean art,73
And for the minstrel’s, fill the preacher’s part,74
Actor alike in both, with equal grace75
To shew the exile’s charms, the saint’s grimace ?76
Changes more sad, our wondering eyes engage,77
And life’s true scenes exceed the mimic stage.78
Nine years are past, since, gentle-voiced and meek,79
The well-bred Tutor scarcely dared to speak,80
A bland convenient priest politely blind81
To fleshly sins (peer or peeress) kind,82
Quick at my lady’s nod to cringe and bow,83
In heart as abject and as false as now,84
With fulsome speeches working day by day,85
As snails with slime, his still ascending way,86
Till, quite a Friend, he holds his head more high,87
Whines over sin with more lugubrious sigh,88
To unrepenting Magdalen pours his moan,89
More fit for Fletcher’s tub than ——’s throne !90
What deeds were his that call’d for such reward,91
Fit meed of learning deep and Jabours hard ?92
His learning ?— let him nurse and guard it well,93
For though no Porson, he at least can spell ;94
His labours ?— he no doubt reclaim’d the stray,95
Allured to brighter worlds and led the way,”96
Bade Faith and Charity around him spread,97
And led such life as sainted Heber led !98
Can troubled springs a hallow’d stream afford ?99
Go ask my lady ; ask her Courtier Lord100
(Whose meek forgiveness fills us with surprise,101
While Rome’s first Cato stalks before our eyes.)102
Ask if acquaintance with such scenes polite,103
Gives to the sacred lawn a purer white,104
If lengthen’d prayers can hide Apostate shame,105
Or Pride can flourish ’neath Religion’s name !106
Scorn’d by the good and pitied by the wise,107
He soothes his spleen with Pomp’s poor vanities,108
Flies for relief to wands and gilded state,109
While on each nod a dingy rabble wait,110
An oily, lank, and methodistic train,111
As Crookshanks’ self could paint or fancy feign,112
All Christian brothers, by his kindness gain’d,113
Self-righteous, self-sufficient, self-ordain’d.114
Hark ! to the long-drawn hymn !  The nasal drawl115
Sounds from the zealous crowd in yonder hall,116
Breathing not less of piety than gin,117
And not more wash’d from filthiness than sin.118
The enraptured prayer comes next—a long half hour119
Proves both the teacher’s wind, and spirit’s pow’r ;120
Oh grudge him not his stamp, his sigh, his roar,121
No English Bishop heard the like before122
The righteous Reverend friend concludes, and then,123
Their meek Right Reverend brother sighs—Amen !124
The mob grows calm ;— the few vile parsons there125
Gather in holy awe around his chair,126
While Independents bend their list’ning ear127
To catch those sounds to true seceders dear,128
And strut in their high calling’s sacred pride,129
(Thieves, weavers, paupers, all the week beside)130
Pleas’d on that vionn’s elevated board131
To shew how little now they fear “ My Lord.”132
Oh for a Mawworm’s tongue and Judas’ heart133
To deal full justice to his glorying part,134
To tell the force with which his Lordship prays,135
The trait’rous kiss which points where he betrays !136
Deserting thus the cause he vow’d to guard,137
Admitting foes by his own oath debarr’d,138
False to his God, he joins the ranks of those139
To England’s faith, to Christ’s own Cross the foes,140
Yet wears the robe he desecrates,—and then,141
Gives thanks to God “ he’s not as other men.”142
Well may the Church to watch and arm begin,143
Not less ’gainst knaves without than fools within.144
When Brougham and Connel gather round her wall,145
Anxious to burn, and spoil, and plunder all,146
Their open malice from their arts defends ;147
But who shall guard her from pretended friends ?148
Lo ! at a wink from Minister or peer149
Bishops themselves desert their posts in fear,150
Break down her barriers to assist the foe,151
And, having once disgrac’d her, overthrow.152
Oh, wise and apron’d, wigg’d and sinless tribe !153
Good all your aim, and heav’n your only bribe :154
No hopes were yours, methinks ye all exclaim,155
That change of vote might lead to change of name.156
But on that instant that the Premier spoke,157
Light broke on you, as once on Paul it broke,158
Fill’d the dull soul of ——’s fatted calf,159
And gilt the brazen forehead of ——.160
Hard is the fate that girdles thousands in,161
Believing God, yet fetter’d slaves to sin,162
Whose clouded Faith, which nought can quite destroy,163
Robs life of bliss, and sin of all its joy164
Whose mastering sins obscure each brighter hour,165
Rob Heav’n of hope, and Faith of all her power.166
But not more hard than ——’s ruthless fate,167
Whose soaring pride would urge him to be great ;168
But (oh !  Ambition, what a woful fall)169
Whose empty dulness dooms him to be small !170
Fit brother he for ——’s brainless Lord,171
With equal honour, equal wisdom stored,172
Raised by the same chaste Dame to equal height,173
And all three— “ darken’d through excess of light.”174
Woe on the logic that can teach the quill175
To fence and foil with dialectic skill,176
That proves a Jesuit black, then, quick as light,177
Turns round again, and proves a Jesuit white ;178
But freed from sin like this, if sin it be,179
Guiltless of logic as of wit is he,180
A weak, dull man, exceeding Dogb’ery’s rule,181
Who shews his love and “ writes himself a fool.”182
Oft ’mongst our friends, one sillier than the rest,183
Whose want of sense provokes the sneering jest,184
Strives from such jeers his character to save,185
And just to hide the fool assumes the knave :186
Oft too the practised rogue, inured to sin,187
To shield his crimes affects the idiot’s grin ;188
And though his murderous hand in blood be red,189
Trusts for full safety to his fatuous head.190
This latter plea might ——’s Judas plead,191
Such want of brains would sanction any deed ;192
But pride remains, and party’s abject tool193
Proses, to prove himself more knave than fool.194
Poised thus between, to bend to either loth,195
Impartial Justice deems the Traitor both.196
But let not fools alone usurp the scene ;197
Let ——’s Bishop yield to ——’s Dean.198
For virtue loved, for vigorous mind admired,199
Which solid learning graced, and genius fired,200
Has ——— left the cause that raised his name,201
And for Court favour barter’d honest fame ?202
Like mean deserters, is his influence borne,203
From friends who trusted once, to foes who scorn ?204
No powerful aids from may they seek,—205
The act that proved him faithless, made him weak.206
Unnerved to hurt or help, his alter’d state207
Awakes our pity. ’Twere unkind to hate.208
Thus may some chief, by bribes and promise gain’d,209
Desert the friends whose power he once sustain’d,210
Whose warlike stores with arms his wisdom fill’d,211
Whose bold example taught those arms to wield ;—212
He gains the traitor’s meed,—dissembled praise,—213
While the curl’d lip the deep contempt betrays ;214
From his own stores a thousand spears are found,215
Which goad his venal heart with ceaseless wound.216
When paltry ——bridge racks his brain of lead,217
Looks wondrous wise, and shakes his ponderous head,218
Both sides disdain his twaddling speech to note,219
And scorn alike the blockhead—and his vote,220
Thus may the meaner of the mitred crowd,221
Proclaim their folly or their guilt aloud ;222
The ——, or, more ignoble still,223
The ——s and ——s, give what vote they will.224
No shout from foes their worthless change attends,225
No soft regret invades deserted friends,226
One truth restrains the joy, the grief controls,—227
They sold their honour, and would sell their souls.228
Yet vain such bargain ; it is seen too well,229
Such recreant drones have scarce a soul to sell.230
But high alike in talents and in place,231
If learned —— shews a Janus face,—232
One, fair with smiles, and one with frowning black,—233
And then by faint resistance courts attack,234
Such dubious conduct fails his name to save235
By some a Traitor deem’d,—by all a Slave.236
Has deep research no better aim than this ?237
Oh blest are we,—for Ignorance is bliss.238
Can learning’s toils no worthier pow’r bestow,239
Than after arguing Aye, to answer, No ?240
Does Grecian lore no higher object seek,241
Than thus to teach us, what’s a Rat in Greek ?242
O that a wish that evening could revoke243
And leave that shame unknown, that speech unspoke ;244
When fear and duty weigh’d the opposing scale,245
And conscience trembled ’twixt his God and Baal,246
Till soothing both, a middle path he trod,247
And gave his knee to Baal,—his tongue to God !248
In good old times, when England’s Church uprear’d249
Her matron form, to England’s heart endear’d ;250
When sober priests were at her altars found251
In action honest, and in doctrine sound,252
Whose blameless lives in one calm current ran253
Of love to God, and charity to man,—254
While yet the Bible was the preacher’s guide,255
And Faith and Works walk’d humbly side by side,256
Her chasten’d worship, simple yet severe,257
Awed while it sooth’d, and mingled love with fear.258
No frantic crew ran slavering through the land,259
Denouncing wrath with sacrilegious hand ;260
No self-dubb’d saints God’s mercy dared to hide,261
No tracts, the spawn of ignorance and pride,—262
No deep damnation lurk’d in simple mirth,263
To no red sins” the modest dance gave birth,—264
No darken’d creed deceived the unletter’d mind,—265
No blinded leaders led astray the blind266
Truth, undefiled, stretch’d forth the blest control,267
And Hope and Gladness cheer’d the poor man’s soul.268
How changed that joyous scene ! The “ unco good269
Preach to be wonder’d at, not understood.270
On points of faith with wondrous depth they dwell,271
Of which to doubt awakes the fires of hell,—272
Which to believe eternal safety brings,273
And rapes, thefts, robberies are trivial things ;274
Faith—faith alone—will bear them to the skies !275
And Zeal increases while Religion dies.276
Is no way left to bring those days again,277
Ere heaven’s pure light was hid by impious men ;278
When each was pleas’d, without the zealot’s aid,279
To pray devoutly, as his fathers pray’d280
To worship God, and love his neighbour too,281
And as he would be done by, that to do282
To think no ill—no untried paths to try ;283
But humbly trusting in his God—to die ?284
Some still remain our Church’s best defence,285
Blest with that truest wisdom, Common Sense ;286
Howley, in virtue firm, in worth approv’d287
For sinless life admired—for meekness lov’d ;—288
And learned Burgess, whose just, honest mind,289
True to his God—to erring man is kind.290
These are our hopes. To them and Lords like them291
We look, the current of our woes to stem292
To cleanses the Church, and raise her once again293
A guide to heaven, and not a curse to men294
To plant Religion in her courts once more,295
And bid men’s hearts not question, but adore.296
Then Peace shall cheer the souls which Cant beguil’d297
God’s word no more be twisted and defil’d298
Apostate Prelates be with scorn displaced,299
Nor rule the Church their truckling tongues disgraced ;300
Dismitred knaves to build a barn shall club,301
And either ——— snuffle in a tub.302