"Ye states! and empires! nor of empires least,
Though least in size, hear, Britain! thou whose lot,
Whose final lot, is in the balance laid,
Irresolutely play the doubtful scales,
Nor know'st thou which will win.--Know then from me,
As govern'd well or ill, states sink or rise:
State ministers, as upright or corrupt,
Are balm or poison in a nation's veins!
Health or distemper, hasten or retard
The period of her pride, her day of doom:
And though, for reasons obvious to the wise,
Just Providence deals otherwise with men,
Yet believe, Britons! nor too late believe,
'Tis fix'd! by fate irrevocably fix'd!
Virtue and vice are empire's life and death."

Thus it is written--Heard you not a groan?
Is Britain on her death-bed?--No, that groan
Was utter'd by her foes--but soon the scale,
If this divine monition is despis'd,
May turn against us. Read it, ye who rule!
With reverence read; with steadfastness believe;
With courage act as such belief inspires;
Then shall your glory stand like fate's decree;
Then shall your name in adamant be writ,
In records that defy the tooth of time,
By nations sav'd, resounding your applause.
While deep beyond your monument's proud base,
In black oblivion's kennel, shall be trod
Their execrable names, who, high in power,
And deep in guilt, most ominously shine,
(The meteors of the state!) give vice her head,
To license lewd let loose the public rein;
Quench every spark of conscience in the land,
And triumph in the profligate's applause:
Or who to the first bidder sell their souls,
Their country sell, sell all their fathers bought
With funds exhausted and exhausted veins,
To demons, by his holiness ordain'd
To propagate the gospel--penn'd at Rome;
Hawk'd through the world by consecrated bulls;
And how illustrated?--by Smithfleld flames:
Who plunge (but not like Curtius) down the gulf,
Down narrow-minded self's voracious gulf,
Which gapes and swallows all they swore to save:
Hate all that lifted heroes into gods,
And hug the horrors of a victor's chain:
Of bodies politic that destin'd hell,
Inflicted here, since here their beings end;
And fall from foes detested and despis'd,
On disbelievers--of the statesman's creed.
Note, here, my lord, (unnoted yet it lies
By most, or all,) these truths political
Serve more than public ends: this creed of states
Seconds, and irresistibly supports,
The Christian creed. Are you surpris'd?--Attend
And on the statesman's build a nobler name.
This punctual justice exercis'd on states,
With which authentic chronicle abounds,
As all men know, and therefore must believe;
This vengeance pour'd on nations ripe in guilt,
Pour'd on them here, where only they exist,
What is it but an argument of sense,
Or rather demonstration, to support
Our feeble faith--"That they who states compose,
That men who stand not bounded by the grave,
Shall meet like measure at their proper hour?"
For God is equal, similarly deals
With states and persons, or he were not God!
What means a rectitude immutable?
A pattern here of universal right.
What, then, shall rescue an abandon'd man?
Nothing, it is replied. Replied, by whom?
Replied by politicians well as priests:
Writ sacred set aside, mankind's own writ,
The whole world's annals; these pronounce his doom.
Thus (what might seem a daring paradox)
E'en politics advance divinity:
True masters there are better scholars here,
Who travel history in quest of schemes
To govern nations, or perhaps oppress,
May there start truths that other aims inspire,
And, like Candace's eunuch, as they read,
By Providence turn Christians on their road:
Digging for silver, they may strike on gold;
May be surpris'd with better than they sought,
And entertain an angel unawares.
Nor is divinity ungrateful found.
As politics advance divinity,
Thus, in return, divinity promotes
True politics, and crowns the statesman's praise.
All wisdoms are but branches of the chief,
And statesmen found but shoots of honest men.
Are this world's witchcrafts pleaded in excuse
For deviations in our moral line?
This, and the next world, view'd with such an eye
As suits a statesman, such as keeps in view
His own exalted science, both conspire
To recommend and fix us in the right.
If we reward the politics of Heaven,
The grand administration of the whole,
What's the next world? A supplement of this:
Without it, justice is defective here;
Just as to states, defective as to men:
If so, what is this world? As sure as right
Sits in Heaven's throne, a prophet of the next.
Prize you the prophet? then believe him too:
His prophecy more precious than his smile.
How comes it then to pass, with most on earth,
That this should charm us, that should discompose?
Long as the statesman finds this case his own,
So long his politics are uncomplete;
In danger he; nor is the nation safe,
But soon must rue his inauspicious power.
What hence results? a truth that should resound
For ever awful in Britannia's ear:
"Religion crowns the statesman and the man,
Sole source of public and of private peace."
This truth all men must own, and therefore will,
And praise and preach it too:--and when that's done,
Their compliment is paid, and 'tis forgot.
What highland pole-axe half so deep can wound?
But how dare I, so mean, presume so far?
Assume my seat in the dictator's chair?
Pronounce, predict (as if indeed inspir'd),
Promulge my censures, lay out all my throat,
Till hoarse in clamour on enormous crimes?
Two mighty columns rise in my support;
In their more awful and authentic voice,
Record profane and sacred, drown the muse,
Tho' loud, and far out-thread her threatening song.
Still further, Holles! suffer me to plead
That I speak freely, as I speak to thee:
Guilt only startles at the name of guilt;
And truth, plain truth, is welcome to the wise.
Thus what seem'd my presumption is thy praise.
Praise, and immortal praise, is virtue's claim;
And virtue's sphere is action: yet we grant
Some merit to the trumpet's loud alarm,
Whose clangour kindles cowards into men.
Nor shall the verse, perhaps, be quite forgot,
Which talks of immortality, and bids,
In every British breast, true glory rise,
As now the warbling lark awakes the morn.
To close, my lord! with that which all should close
And all begin, and strike us every hour,
Though no war wak'd us, no black tempest frown'd.
The morning rises gay; yet gayest morn
Less glorious after night's incumbent shades;
Less glorious far bright nature, rich array'd
With golden robes, in all the pomp of noon,
Than the first feeble dawn of moral day?
Sole day, (let those whom statesmen serve attend,)
Though the sun ripens diamonds for their crowns;
Sole day worth his regard whom Heaven ordains,
Undarken'd, to behold noon dark, and date,
From the sun's death, and every planet's fall,
His all-illustrious and eternal year;
Where statesmen and their monarchs, (names of awe
And distance here,) shall rank with common men,
Yet own their glory never dawn'd before.