Ah me! what mighty perils wait
The man who meddles with a state,
Whether to strengthen, or oppose!
False are his friends, and firm his foes:
How must his soul, once ventured in,
Plunge blindly on from sin to sin!
What toils he suffers, what disgrace,
To get, and then to keep, a place!
How often, whether wrong or right,
Must he in jest or earnest fight,
Risking for those both life and limb
Who would not risk one groat for him!
Under the Temple lay a Cave,
Made by some guilty, coward slave,
Whose actions fear'd rebuke: a maze
Of intricate and winding ways,
Not to be found without a clue;
One passage only, known to few,
In paths direct led to a cell,
Where Fraud in secret loved to dwell,
With all her tools and slaves about her,
Nor fear'd lest Honesty should rout her.
In a dark corner, shunning sight
Of man, and shrinking from the light,
One dull, dim taper through the cell
Glimmering, to make more horrible
The face of darkness, she prepares,
Working unseen, all kinds of snares,
With curious, but destructive art:
Here, through the eye to catch the heart,
Gay stars their tinsel beams afford,
Neat artifice to trap a lord;
There, fit for all whom Folly bred,
Wave plumes of feathers for the head;
Garters the hag contrives to make,
Which, as it seems, a babe might break,
But which ambitious madmen feel
More firm and sure than chains of steel;
Which, slipp'd just underneath the knee,
Forbid a freeman to be free.
Purses she knew, (did ever curse
Travel more sure than in a purse?)
Which, by some strange and magic bands,
Enslave the soul, and tie the hands.
Here Flattery, eldest-born of Guile,
Weaves with rare skill the silken smile,
The courtly cringe, the supple bow,
The private squeeze, the levee vow,
With which--no strange or recent case--
Fools in, deceive fools out of place.
Corruption, (who, in former times,
Through fear or shame conceal'd her crimes,
And what she did, contrived to do it
So that the public might not view it)
Presumptuous grown, unfit was held
For their dark councils, and expell'd,
Since in the day her business might
Be done as safe as in the night.
Her eye down-bending to the ground,
Planning some dark and deadly wound,
Holding a dagger, on which stood,
All fresh and reeking, drops of blood,
Bearing a lantern, which of yore,
By Treason borrow'd, Guy Fawkes bore,
By which, since they improved in trade,
Excisemen have their lanterns made,
Assassination, her whole mind
Blood-thirsting, on her arm reclined;
Death, grinning, at her elbow stood,
And held forth instruments of blood,--
Vile instruments, which cowards choose,
But men of honour dare not use;
Around, his Lordship and his Grace,
Both qualified for such a place,
With many a Forbes, and many a Dun,
Each a resolved, and pious son,
Wait her high bidding; each prepared,
As she around her orders shared,
Proof 'gainst remorse, to run, to fly,
And bid the destined victim die,
Posting on Villany's black wing,
Whether he patriot is, or king.
Oppression,--willing to appear
An object of our love, not fear,
Or, at the most, a reverend awe
To breed, usurp'd the garb of Law.
A book she held, on which her eyes
Were deeply fix'd, whence seem'd to rise
Joy in her breast; a book, of might
Most wonderful, which black to white
Could turn, and without help of laws,
Could make the worse the better cause.
She read, by flattering hopes deceived;
She wish'd, and what she wish'd, believed,
To make that book for ever stand
The rule of wrong through all the land;
On the back, fair and worthy note,
At large was Magna Charta wrote;
But turn your eye within, and read,
A bitter lesson, Norton's Creed.
Ready, e'en with a look, to run,
Fast as the coursers of the sun,
To worry Virtue, at her hand
Two half-starved greyhounds took their stand.
A curious model, cut in wood,
Of a most ancient castle stood
Full in her view; the gates were barr'd,
And soldiers on the watch kept guard;
In the front, openly, in black
Was wrote, The Tower: but on the back,
Mark'd with a secretary's seal,
In bloody letters, The Bastile.
Around a table, fully bent
On mischief of most black intent,
Deeply determined that their reign
Might longer last, to work the bane
Of one firm patriot, whose heart, tied
To Honour, all their power defied,
And brought those actions into light
They wish'd to have conceal'd in night,
Begot, born, bred to infamy,
A privy-council sat of three:
Great were their names, of high repute
And favour through the land of Bute.
The first (entitled to the place
Of Honour both by gown and grace,
Who never let occasion slip
To take right-hand of fellowship,
And was so proud, that should he meet
The twelve apostles in the street,
He'd turn his nose up at them all,
And shove his Saviour from the wall!
Who was so mean (Meanness and Pride
Still go together side by side)
That he would cringe, and creep, be civil,
And hold a stirrup for the Devil;
If in a journey to his mind,
He'd let him mount and ride behind;
Who basely fawn'd through all his life,
For patrons first, then for a wife:
Wrote Dedications which must make
The heart of every Christian quake;
Made one man equal to, or more
Than God, then left him, as before
His God he left, and, drawn by pride,
Shifted about to t' other side)
Was by his sire a parson made,
Merely to give the boy a trade;
But he himself was thereto drawn
By some faint omens of the lawn,
And on the truly Christian plan
To make himself a gentleman,--
A title in which Form array'd him,
Though Fate ne'er thought on 't when she made him.
The oaths he took, 'tis very true,
But took them as all wise men do,
With an intent, if things should turn,
Rather to temporise, than burn;
Gospel and loyalty were made
To serve the purposes of trade;
Religions are but paper ties,
Which bind the fool, but which the wise,
Such idle notions far above,
Draw on and off, just like a glove;
All gods, all kings (let his great aim
Be answer'd) were to him the same.
A curate first, he read and read,
And laid in, whilst he should have fed
The souls of his neglected flock,
Of reading such a mighty stock,
That he o'ercharged the weary brain
With more than she could well contain;
More than she was with spirits fraught
To turn and methodise to thought,
And which, like ill-digested food,
To humours turn'd, and not to blood.
Brought up to London, from the plough
And pulpit, how to make a bow
He tried to learn; he grew polite,
And was the poet's parasite.
With wits conversing, (and wits then
Were to be found 'mongst noblemen)
He caught, or would have caught, the flame,
And would be nothing, or the same.
He drank with drunkards, lived with sinners,
Herded with infidels for dinners;
With such an emphasis and grace
Blasphemed, that Potter kept not pace:
He, in the highest reign of noon,
Bawled bawdy songs to a psalm tune;
Lived with men infamous and vile,
Truck'd his salvation for a smile;
To catch their humour caught their plan,
And laugh'd at God to laugh with man;
Praised them, when living, in each breath,
And damn'd their memories after death.
To prove his faith, which all admit
Is at least equal to his wit,
And make himself a man of note,
He in defence of Scripture wrote:
So long he wrote, and long about it,
That e'en believers 'gan to doubt it:
He wrote, too, of the inward light,
Though no one knew how he came by 't,
And of that influencing grace
Which in his life ne'er found a place:
He wrote, too, of the Holy Ghost,
Of whom no more than doth a post
He knew; nor, should an angel show him,
Would he, or know, or choose to know him.
Next (for he knew 'twixt every science
There was a natural alliance)
He wrote, to advance his Maker's praise,
Comments on rhymes, and notes on plays,
And with an all-sufficient air
Placed himself in the critic's chair;
Usurp'd o'er Reason full dominion,
And govern'd merely by Opin