To Churchill's Sermons.
The manuscript of this unfinished poem was found among the few papers
Churchill left behind him.
Health to great Glo'ster!--from a man unknown,
Who holds thy health as dearly as his own,
Accept this greeting--nor let modest fear
Call up one maiden blush--I mean not here
To wound with flattery; 'tis a villain's art,
And suits not with the frankness of my heart.
Truth best becomes an orthodox divine,
And, spite of Hell, that character is mine:
To speak e'en bitter truths I cannot fear;
But truth, my lord, is panegyric here.
Health to great Glo'ster!--nor, through love of ease,
Which all priests love, let this address displease.
I ask no favour, not one _note_ I crave,
And when this busy brain rests in the grave,
(For till that time it never can have rest)
I will not trouble you with one bequest.
Some humbler friend, my mortal journey done,
More near in blood, a nephew or a son,
In that dread hour executor I'll leave,
For I, alas! have many to receive;
To give, but little.--To great Glo'ster health!
Nor let thy true and proper love of wealth
Here take a false alarm--in purse though poor,
In spirit I'm right proud, nor can endure
The mention of a bribe--thy pocket's free:
I, though a dedicator, scorn a fee.
Let thy own offspring all thy fortunes share;
I would not Allen rob, nor Allen's heir.
Think not,--a thought unworthy thy great soul,
Which pomps of this world never could control,
Which never offer'd up at Power's vain shrine,--
Think not that pomp and power can work on mine.
'Tis not thy name, though that indeed is great,
'Tis not the tinsel trumpery of state,
'Tis not thy title, Doctor though thou art,
'Tis not thy mitre, which hath won my heart.
State is a farce; names are but empty things,
Degrees are bought, and, by mistaken kings,
Titles are oft misplaced; mitres, which shine
So bright in other eyes, are dull in mine,
Unless set off by virtue; who deceives
Under the sacred sanction of lawn sleeves
Enhances guilt, commits a double sin;
So fair without, and yet so foul within.
'Tis not thy outward form, thy easy mien,
Thy sweet complacency, thy brow serene,
Thy open front, thy love-commanding eye,
Where fifty Cupids, as in ambush, lie,
Which can from sixty to sixteen impart
The force of Love, and point his blunted dart;
'Tis not thy face, though that by Nature's made
An index to thy soul; though there display'd
We see thy mind at large, and through thy skin
Peeps out that courtesy which dwells within;
'Tis not thy birth, for that is low as mine,
Around our heads no lineal glories shine--
But what is birth,--when, to delight mankind,
Heralds can make those arms they cannot find,
When thou art to thyself, thy sire unknown,
A whole Welsh genealogy alone?
No; 'tis thy inward man, thy proper worth,
Thy right just estimation here on earth,
Thy life and doctrine uniformly join'd,
And flowing from that wholesome source, thy mind;
Thy known contempt of Persecution's rod,
Thy charity for man, thy love of God,
Thy faith in Christ, so well approved 'mongst men,
Which now give life and utterance to my pen.
Thy virtue, not thy rank, demands my lays;
'Tis not the Bishop, but the Saint, I praise:
Raised by that theme, I soar on wings more strong,
And burst forth into praise withheld too long.
Much did I wish, e'en whilst I kept those sheep
Which, for my curse, I was ordain'd to keep,--
Ordain'd, alas! to keep, through need, not choice,
Those sheep which never heard their shepherd's voice,
Which did not know, yet would not learn their way,
Which stray'd themselves, yet grieved that I should stray;
Those sheep which my good father (on his bier
Let filial duty drop the pious tear)
Kept well, yet starved himself, e'en at that time
Whilst I was pure and innocent of rhyme,
Whilst, sacred Dulness ever in my view,
Sleep at my bidding crept from pew to pew,--
Much did I wish, though little could I hope,
A friend in him who was the friend of Pope.
His hand, said I, my youthful steps shall guide,
And lead me safe where thousands fall beside;
His temper, his experience, shall control,
And hush to peace the tempest of my soul;
His judgment teach me, from the critic school,
How not to err, and how to err by rule;
Instruct me, mingle profit with delight,
Where Pope was wrong, where Shakspeare was not right;
Where they are justly praised, and where, through whim,
How little's due to them, how much to him.
Raised 'bove the slavery of common rules,
Of common-sense, of modern, ancient schools,
Those feelings banish'd which mislead us all,
Fools as we are, and which we Nature call,
He by his great example might impart
A better something, and baptize it Art;
He, all the feelings of my youth forgot,
Might show me what is taste by what is not;
By him supported, with a proper pride,
I might hold all mankind as fools beside;
He (should a world, perverse and peevish grown,
Explode his maxims and assert their own)
Might teach me, like himself, to be content,
And let their folly be their punishment;
Might, like himself, teach his adopted son,
'Gainst all the world, to quote a Warburton.
Fool that I was! could I so much deceive
My soul with lying hopes? could I believe
That he, the servant of his Maker sworn,
The servant of his Saviour, would be torn
From their embrace, and leave that dear employ,
The cure of souls, his duty and his joy,
For toys like mine, and waste his precious time,
On which so much depended, for a rhyme?
Should he forsake the task he undertook,
Desert his flock, and break his pastoral crook?
Should he (forbid it, Heaven!) so high in place,
So rich in knowledge, quit the work of grace,
And, idly wandering o'er the Muses' hill,
Let the salvation of mankind stand still?
Far, far be that from thee--yes, far from thee
Be such revolt from grace, and far from me
The will to think it--guilt is in the thought--
Not so, not so, hath Warburton been taught,
Not so learn'd Christ. Recall that day, well known,
When (to maintain God's honour, and his own)
He call'd blasphemers forth; methinks I now
See stern Rebuke enthroned on his brow,
And arm'd with tenfold terrors--from his tongue,
Where fiery zeal and Christian fury hung,
Methinks I hear the deep-toned thunders roll,
And chill with horror every sinner's soul,
In vain they strive to fly--flight cannot save.
And Potter trembles even in his grave--
With all the conscious pride of innocence,
Methinks I hear him, in his own defence,
Bear witness to himself, whilst all men knew,
By gospel rules his witness to be true.
O glorious man! thy zeal I must commend,
Though it deprived me of my dearest friend;
The real motives of thy anger known,
Wilkes must the justice of that anger own;
And, could thy bosom have been bared to view,
Pitied himself, in turn had pitied you.
Bred to the law, you wisely took the gown,
Which I, like Demas, foolishly laid down;
Hence double strength our Holy Mother drew,
Me she got rid of, and made prize of you.
I, like an idle truant fond of play,
Doting on toys, and throwing gems away,
Grasping at shadows, let the substance slip;
But you, my lord, renounced attorneyship
With better purpose, and more noble aim,
And wisely played a more substantial game:
Nor did Law mourn, bless'd in her younger son,
For Mansfield does what Glo'ster would have done.
Doctor! Dean! Bishop! Glo'ster! and My Lord!
If haply these high titles may accord
With thy meek spirit; if the barren sound
Of pride delights thee, to the topmost round
Of Fortune's ladder got, despise not one
For want of smooth hypocrisy undone,
Who, far below, turns up his wondering eye,
And, without envy, sees thee placed so high:
Let not thy brain (as brains less potent might)
Dizzy, confounded, giddy with the height,
Turn round, and lose distinction, lose her skill
And wonted powers of knowing good from ill,
Of sifting truth from falsehood, friends from foes;
Let Glo'ster well remember how he rose,
Nor turn his back on men who made him great;
Let him not, gorged with power, and drunk with state,
Forget what once he was, though now so high,
How low, how mean, and full as poor as I.