Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DUELLIST, by CHARLES CHURCHILL



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THE DUELLIST, by            
First Line: The clock struck twelve; o'er half the globe
Last Line: The happy choice their dam had made.
Subject(s): England; Freedom; Loyalty; Martin, Samuel; Patriotism; Sin; Warburton, William (1698-1779); English; Liberty


BOOK I.

THE clock struck twelve; o'er half the globe
Darkness had spread her pitchy robe:
Morpheus, his feet with velvet shod,
Treading as if in fear he trod,
Gentle as dews at even-tide,
Distill'd his poppies far and wide.
Ambition, who, when waking, dreams
Of mighty, but fantastic schemes,
Who, when asleep, ne'er knows that rest
With which the humbler soul is blest,
Was building castles in the air,
Goodly to look upon, and fair,
But on a bad foundation laid,
Doom'd at return of morn to fade.
Pale Study, by the taper's light,
Wearing away the watch of night,
Sat reading; but, with o'ercharged head,
Remember'd nothing that he read.
Starving 'midst plenty, with a face
Which might the court of Famine grace,
Ragged, and filthy to behold,
Gray Avarice nodded o'er his gold.
Jealousy, his quick eye half-closed,
With watchings worn, reluctant dozed;
And, mean Distrust not quite forgot,
Slumber'd as if he slumber'd not.
Stretch'd at his length on the bare ground,
His hardy offspring sleeping round,
Snored restless Labour; by his side
Lay Health, a coarse but comely bride.
Virtue, without the doctor's aid,
In the soft arms of Sleep was laid;
Whilst Vice, within the guilty breast,
Could not be physic'd into rest.
Thou bloody man! whose ruffian knife
Is drawn against thy neighbour's life,
And never scruples to descend
Into the bosom of a friend;
A firm, fast friend, by vice allied,
And to thy secret service tied,
In whom ten murders breed no awe,
If properly secured from law:
Thou man of lust! whom passion fires
To foulest deeds, whose hot desires
O'er honest bars with ease make way,
Whilst idiot beauty falls a prey,
And to indulge thy brutal flame
A Lucrece must be brought to shame;
Who dost, a brave, bold sinner, bear
Rank incest to the open air,
And rapes, full blown upon thy crown,
Enough to weigh a nation down:
Thou simular of lust! vain man,
Whose restless thoughts still form the plan
Of guilt, which, wither'd to the root,
Thy lifeless nerves can't execute,
Whilst in thy marrowless, dry bones
Desire without enjoyment groans:
Thou perjured wretch! whom falsehood clothes
E'en like a garment; who with oaths
Dost trifle, as with brokers, meant
To serve thy every vile intent,
In the day's broad and searching eye
Making God witness to a lie,
Blaspheming heaven and earth for pelf,
And hanging friends to save thyself:
Thou son of Chance! whose glorious soul
On the four aces doom'd to roll,
Was never yet with Honour caught,
Nor on poor Virtue lost one thought;
Who dost thy wife, thy children set,
Thy all, upon a single bet,
Risking, the desperate stake to try,
Here and hereafter on a die;
Who, thy own private fortune lost,
Dost game on at thy country's cost,
And, grown expert in sharping rules,
First fool'd thyself, now prey'st on fools:
Thou noble gamester! whose high place
Gives too much credit to disgrace;
Who, with the motion of a die,
Dost make a mighty island fly—
The sums, I mean, of good French gold
For which a mighty island sold;
Who dost betray intelligence,
Abuse the dearest confidence,
And, private fortune to create,
Most falsely play the game of state;
Who dost within the Alley sport
Sums which might beggar a whole court,
And make us bankrupts all, if Care,
With good Earl Talbot, was not there:
Thou daring infidel! whom pride
And sin have drawn from Reason's side;
Who, fearing his avengeful rod,
Dost wish not to believe a God;
Whose hope is founded on a plan
Which should distract the soul of man,
And make him curse his abject birth;
Whose hope is, once return'd to earth,
There to lie down, for worms a feast,
To rot and perish like a beast;
Who dost, of punishment afraid,
And by thy crimes a coward made,
To every generous soul a curse
Than Hell and all her torments worse,
When crawling to thy latter end,
Call on Destruction as a friend,
Choosing to crumble into dust
Rather than rise, though rise you must:
Thou hypocrite! who dost profane,
And take the patriot's name in vain;
Then most thy country's foe, when most
Of love and loyalty you boast;
Who, for the love of filthy gold,
Thy friend, thy king, thy God hast sold,
And, mocking the just claim of Hell,
Were bidders found, thyself wouldst sell:
Ye villains! of whatever name,
Whatever rank, to whom the claim
Of Hell is certain, on whose lids
That worm, which never dies, forbids
Sweet sleep to fall, come, and behold,
Whilst envy makes your blood run cold,
Behold, by pitiless Conscience led,
So Justice wills, that holy bed
Where Peace her full dominion keeps,
And Innocence with Holland sleeps.
Bid Terror, posting on the wind,
Affray the spirits of mankind;
Bid Earthquakes, heaving for a vent,
Rive their concealing continent,
And, forcing an untimely birth
Through the vast bowels of the earth,
Endeavour, in her monstrous womb,
At once all Nature to entomb;
Bid all that's horrible and dire,
All that man hates and fears, conspire
To make night hideous as they can,
Still is thy sleep, thou virtuous man!
Pure as the thoughts which in thy breast
Inhabit, and insure thy rest;
Still shall thy Ayliffe, taught, though late,
Thy friendly justice in his fate,
Turn'd to a guardian angel, spread
Sweet dreams of comfort round thy head.
Dark was the night, by Fate decreed
For the contrivance of a deed
More black than common, which might make
This land from her foundations shake,
Might tear up Freedom by the root,
Destroy a Wilkes, and fix a Bute.
Deep Horror held her wide domain;
The sky in sullen drops of rain
Forewept the morn, and through the air,
Which, opening, laid its bosom bare,
Loud thunders roll'd, and lighting stream'd;
The owl at Freedom's window scream'd,
The screech-owl, prophet dire, whose breath
Brings sickness, and whose note is death;
The churchyard teem'd, and from the tomb,
All sad and silent, through the gloom
The ghosts of men, in former times,
Whose public virtues were their crimes,
Indignant stalk'd; sorrow and rage
Blank'd their pale cheeks; in his own age
The prop of Freedom, Hampden there
Felt after death the generous care;
Sidney by grief from heaven was kept,
And for his brother patriot wept:
All friends of Liberty, when Fate
Prepared to shorten Wilkes's date,
Heaved, deeply hurt, the heartfelt groan,
And knew that wound to be their own.
Hail, Liberty! a glorious word,
In other countries scarcely heard,
Or heard but as a thing of course,
Without, or energy, or force:
Here felt, enjoy'd, adored, she springs,
Far, far beyond the reach of kings,
Fresh blooming from our mother Earth:
With pride and joy she owns her birth
Derived from us, and in return
Bids in our breasts her genius burn;
Bids us with all those blessings live
Which Liberty alone can give,
Or nobly with that spirit die
Which makes death more than victory.
Hail, those old patriots! on whose tongue
Persuasion in the senate hung,
Whilst they the sacred cause maintain'd.
Hail, those old chiefs! to honour train'd,
Who spread, when other methods fail'd,
War's bloody banner, and prevail'd.
Shall men like these unmention'd sleep
Promiscuous with the common heap,
And (Gratitude forbid the crime!)
Be carried down the stream of time
In shoals, unnoticed and forgot,
On Lethe's stream, like flags, to rot?
No—they shall live, and each fair name,
Recorded in the book of Fame,
Founded on Honour's basis, fast
As the round earth to ages last.
Some virtues vanish with our breath;
Virtue like this lives after death.
Old Time himself, his scythe thrown by,
Himself lost in eternity,
An everlasting crown shall twine
To make a Wilkes and Sidney join.
But should some slave-got villain dare
Chains for his country to prepare,
And, by his birth to slavery broke,
Make her, too, feel the galling yoke,
May he be evermore accursed,
Amongst bad men be rank'd the worst;
May he be still himself, and still
Go on in vice, and perfect ill;
May his broad crimes each day increase,
Till he can't live, nor die in peace;
May he be plunged so deep in shame,
That Satan mayn't endure his name,
And hear, scarce crawling on the earth,
His children curse him for their birth;
May Liberty, beyond the grave,
Ordain him to be still a slave,
Grant him what here he most requires,
And damn him with his own desires!
But should some villain, in support
And zeal for a despairing court,
Placing in craft his confidence,
And making honour a pretence
To do a deed of deepest shame,
Whilst filthy lucre is his aim;
Should such a wretch, with sword or knife,
Contrive to practise 'gainst the life
Of one who, honour'd through the land,
For Freedom made a glorious stand;
Whose chief, perhaps his only crime,
Is (if plain Truth at such a time
May dare her sentiments to tell)
That he his country loves too well:
May he—but words are all too weak
The feelings of my heart to speak—
May he—oh for a noble curse,
Which might his very marrow pierce!—
The general contempt engage,
And be the Martin of his age!

BOOK II.

Deep in the bosom of a wood,
Out of the road, a Temple stood:
Ancient, and much the worse for wear,
It call'd aloud for quick repair,
And, tottering from side to side,
Menaced destruction far and wide;
Nor able seem'd unless made stronger,
To hold out four or five years longer.
Four hundred pillars, from the ground
Rising in order, most unsound,
Some rotten to the heart, aloof
Seem'd to support the tottering roof,
But, to inspection nearer laid,
Instead of giving, wanted aid.
The structure, rare and curious, made
By men most famous in their trade,
A work of years, admired by all,
Was suffer'd into dust to fall;
Or, just to make it hang together,
And keep off the effects of weather,
Was patch'd and patch'd from time to time
By wretches, whom it were a crime,
A crime, which Art would treason hold
To mention with those names of old.
Builders, who had the pile survey'd,
And those not Flitcrofts in their trade,
Doubted (the wise hand in a doubt
Merely, sometimes, to hand her out)
Whether (like churches in a brief,
Taught wisely to obtain relief
Through Chancery, who gives her fees
To this and other charities)
It must not, in all parts unsound,
Be ripp'd, and pull'd down to the ground;
Whether (though after ages ne'er
Shall raise a building to compare)
Art, if they should their art employ,
Meant to preserve, might not destroy;
As human bodies, worn away,
Batter'd and hasting to decay,
Bidding the power of Art despair,
Cannot those very medicines bear,
Which, and which only, can restore,
And make them healthy as before.
To Liberty, whose gracious smile
Shed peace and plenty o'er the isle,
Our grateful ancestors, her plain
But faithful children, raised this fane.
Full in the front, stretch'd out in length,
Where Nature put forth all her strength
In spring eternal, lay a plain
Where our brave fathers used to train
Their sons to arms, to teach the art
Of war, and steel the infant heart.
Labour, their hardy nurse, when young,
Their joints had knit, their nerves had strung;
Abstinence, foe declared to Death,
Had, from the time they first drew breath,
The best of doctors, with plain food,
Kept pure the channel of their blood;
Health in their cheeks bade colour rise,
And Glory sparkled in their eyes.
The instruments of husbandry,
As in contempt, were all thrown by,
And, flattering a manly pride,
War's keener tools their place supplied.
Their arrows to the head they drew;
Swift to the points their javelins flew;
They grasp'd the sword, they shook the spear;
Their fathers felt a pleasing fear;
And even Courage, standing by,
Scarcely behold with steady eye.
Each stripling, lesson'd by his sire,
Knew when to close, when to retire,
When near at hand, when from afar
To fight, and was himself a war.
Their wives, their mothers, all around,
Careless of order, on the ground
Breathed forth to Heaven the pious vow,
And for a son's or husband's brow,
With eager fingers, laurel wove;
Laurel, which in the sacred grove,
Planted by Liberty, they find,
The brows of conquerors to bind,
To give them pride and spirit, fit
To make a world in arms submit.
What raptures did the bosom fire
Of the young, rugged, peasant sire,
When, from the toil of mimic fight,
Returning with return of night,
He saw his babe resign the breast,
And, smiling, stroke those arms in jest,
With which hereafter he shall make
The proudest heart in Gallia quake!
Gods! with what joy, what honest pride,
Did each fond, wishing rustic bride
Behold her manly swain return!
How did her love-sick bosom burn,
Though on parades he was not bred,
Nor wore the livery of red,
When, Pleasure heightening all her charms,
She strain'd her warrior in her arms,
And begg'd, whilst love and glory fire,
A son, a son just like his sire!
Such were the men in former times,
Ere luxury had made our crimes
Our bitter punishment, who bore
Their terrors to a foreign shore:
Such were the men, who, free from dread,
By Edwards and by Henries led,
Spread, like a torrent swell'd with rains,
O'er haughty Gallia's trembling plains:
Such were the men, when lust of power,
To work him woe, in evil hour
Debauch'd the tyrant from those ways
On which a king should found his praise;
When stern Oppression, hand in hand
With Pride, stalk'd proudly through the land;
When weeping Justice was misled
From her fair course, and Mercy dead:
Such were the men, in virtue strong,
Who dared not see their country's wrong,
Who left the mattock and the spade,
And, in the robes of War array'd,
In their rough arms, departing, took
Their helpless babes, and with a look
Stern and determined, swore to see
Those babes no more, or see them free:
Such were the men whom tyrant Pride
Could never fasten to his side
By threats or bribes; who, freemen born,
Chains, though of gold, beheld with scorn;
Who, free from every servile awe,
Could never be divorced from Law,
From that broad general law, which Sense
Made for the general defence;
Could never yield to partial ties
Which from dependant stations rise;
Could never be to slavery led,
For Property was at their head:
Such were the men, in days of yore,
Who, call'd by Liberty, before
Her temple on the sacred green,
In martial pastimes oft were seen—
Now seen no longer—in their stead,
To laziness and vermin bred,
A race who, strangers to the cause
Of Freedom, live by other laws,
On other motives fight, a prey
To interest, and slaves for pay.
Valour—how glorious, on a plan
Of honour founded!—leads their van;
Discretion, free from taint of fear,
Cool, but resolved, brings up their rear—
Discretion, Valour's better half;
Dependence holds the general's staff.
In plain and home-spun garb array'd,
Not for vain show, but service made,
In a green flourishing old age,
Not damn'd yet with an equipage,
In rules of Porterage untaught,
Simplicity, not worth a groat,
For years had kept the Temple-door;
Full on his breast a glass he wore,
Through which his bosom open lay
To every on who pass'd that way:
Now turn'd adrift, with humbler face,
But prouder heart, his vacant place
Corruption fills, and bears the key;
No entrance now without a fee.
With belly round, and full fat face,
Which on the house reflected grace,
Full of good fare, and honest glee,
The steward Hospitality,
Old Welcome smiling by his side,
A good old servant, often tried,
And faithful found, who kept in view
His lady's fame and interest too,
Who made each heart with joy rebound,
Yet never ran her state aground,
Was turn'd off, or (which word I find
Is more in modern use) resign'd.
Half-starved, half-starving others, bred
In beggary, with carrion fed,
Detested, and detesting all,
Made up of avarice and gall,
Boasting great thrift, yet wasting more
Than ever steward did before,
Succeeded one, who, to engage
The praise of an exhausted age,
Assumed a name of high degree,
And call'd himself Economy.
Within the Temple, full in sight,
Where, without ceasing, day and night
The workmen toiled; where Labour bared
His brawny arm; where Art prepared,
In regular and even rows,
Her types, a printing-press arose;
Each workman knew his task, and each
Was honest and expert as Leach.
Hence Learning struck a deeper root,
And Science brought forth riper fruit;
Hence Loyalty received support,
Even when banish'd from the court;
Hence Government gain'd strength, and hence
Religion sought and found defence;
Hence England's fairest fame arose,
And Liberty subdued her foes.
On a low, simple, turf-made throne,
Raised by Allegiance, scarcely known
From her attendants, glad to be
Pattern of that equality
She wish'd to all, so far as could
Safely consist with social good,
The goddess sat; around her head
A cheerful radiance Glory spread:
Courage, a youth of royal race,
Lovelily stern, possess'd a place
On her left hand, and on her right
Sat Honour, clothed with robes of light;
Before her Magna Charta lay,
Which some great lawyer, of his day
The Pratt, was officed to explain,
And make the basis of her reign:
Peace, crown'd with olive, to her breast
Two smiling twin-born infants press'd;
At her feet, couching, War was laid,
And with a brindled lion play'd:
Justice and Mercy, hand in hand,
Joint guardians of the happy land,
Together held their mighty charge,
And Truth walk'd all about at large;
Health for the royal troop the feast
Prepared, and Virtue was high-priest.
Such was the fame our Goddess bore
Her Temple such, in days of yore.
What changes ruthless Time presents!
Behold her ruin'd battlements,
Her walls decay'd, her nodding spires,
Her altars broke, her dying fires,
Her name despised, her priests destroy'd,
Her friends disgraced, her foes employ'd,
Herself (by ministerial arts
Deprived e'en of the people's hearts,
Whilst they, to work her surer woe,
Feign her to Monarchy a foe)
Exiled by grief, self-doom'd to dwell
With some poor hermit in a cell;
Or, that retirement tedious grown,
If she walks forth, she walks unknown,
Hooted, and pointed at with scorn,
As one in some strange country born.
Behold a rude and ruffian race,
A band of spoilers, seize her place;
With looks which might the heart disseat,
And make life sound a quick retreat!
To rapine from the cradle bred,
A staunch old blood-hound at their head,
Who, free from virtue and from awe,
Knew none but the bad part of law,
They roved at large; each on his breast
Mark'd with a greyhound stood confess'd:
Controlment waited on their nod,
High-wielding Persecution's rod;
Confusion follow'd at their heels,
And a cast statesman held the seals;
Those seals, for which he dear shall pay,
When awful Justice takes her day.
The printers saw—they saw and fled—
Science, declining, hung her head.
Property in despair appear'd,
And for herself destruction fear'd;
Whilst underfoot the rude slaves trod
The works of men, and word of God;
Whilst, close behind, on many a book,
In which he never deigns to look,
Which he did not, nay, could not read,
A bold, bad man (by power decreed
For that bad end, who in the dark
Scorn'd to do mischief) set his mark
In the full day, the mark of Hell,
And on the Gospel stamp'd an L.
Liberty fled, her friends withdrew—
Her friends, a faithful, chosen few;
Honour in grief threw up; and Shame,
Clothing herself with Honour's name,
Usurp'd his station; on the throne
Which Liberty once call'd her own,
(Gods! that such mighty ills should spring
Under so great, so good a king,
So loved, so loving, through the arts
Of statesmen, cursed with wicked hearts!)
For every darker purpose fit,
Behold in triumph State-craft sit!

BOOK III.

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 Opinion.
At length dethroned, and kept in awe
By one plain simple man of law,
He arm'd dead friends, to vengeance true,
To abuse the man they never knew.
Examine strictly all mankind,
Most characters are mix'd, we find;
And Vice and Virtue take their turn
In the same breast to beat and burn.
Our priest was an exception here,
Nor did one spark of grace appear,
Not one dull, dim spark in his soul;
Vice, glorious Vice, possess'd the whole,
And, in her service truly warm,
He was in sin most uniform.
Injurious Satire! own at least
One snivelling virtue in the priest,
One snivelling virtue, which is placed,
They say, in or about the waist,
Call'd Chastity; the prudish dame
Knows it at large by Virtue's name.
To this his wife (and in these days
Wives seldom without reason praise)
Bears evidence—then calls her child,
And swears that Tom was vastly wild.
Ripen'd by a long course of years,
He great and perfect now appears.
In shape scarce of the human kind,
A man, without a manly mind;
No husband, though he's truly wed;
Though on his knees a child is bred,
No father; injured, without end
A foe; and though obliged, no friend;
A heart, which virtue ne'er disgraced;
A head, where learning runs to waste;
A gentleman well-bred, if breeding
Rests in the article of reading;
A man of this world, for the next
Was ne'er included in his text;
A judge of genius, though confess'd
With not one spark of genius bless'd;
Amongst the first of critics placed,
Though free from every taint of taste;
A Christian without faith or works,
As he would be a Turk 'mongst Turks;
A great divine, as lords agree,
Without the least divinity;
To crown all, in declining age,
Inflamed with church and party rage,
Behold him, full and perfect quite,
A false saint, and true hypocrite.
Next sat a lawyer, often tried
In perilous extremes; when Pride
And Power, all wild and trembling, stood,
Nor dared to tempt the raging flood;
This bold, bad man arose to view,
And gave his hand to help them through:
Steel'd 'gainst compassion, as they pass'd
He saw poor Freedom breathe her last;
He saw her struggle, heard her groan;
He saw her helpless and alone,
Whelm'd in that storm, which, fear'd and praised
By slaves less bold, himself had raised.
Bred to the law, he from the first
Of all bad lawyers was the worst.
Perfection (for bad men maintain
In ill we may perfection gain)
In others is a work of time,
And they creep on from crime to crime;
He, for a prodigy design'd,
To spread amazement o'er mankind,
Started full ripen'd all at once
A perfect knave, and perfect dunce.
Who will, for him, may boast of sense,
His better guard is impudence;
His front, with tenfold plates of brass
Secured, Shame never yet could pass,
Nor on the surface of his skin
Blush for that guilt which dwelt within.
How often, in contempt of laws,
To sound the bottom of a cause,
To search out every rotten part,
And worm into its very heart,
Hath he ta'en briefs on false pretence,
And undertaken the defence
Of trusting fools, whom in the end
He meant to ruin, not defend!
How often, e'en in open court,
Hath the wretch made his shame his sport,
And laugh'd off, with a villain's ease,
Throwing up briefs, and keeping fees!
Such things as, though to roguery bred,
Had struck a little villain dead!
Causes, whatever their import,
He undertakes, to serve a court;
For he by art this rule had got,
Power can effect what Law cannot.
Fools he forgives, but rogues he fears;
If Genius, yoked with Worth, appears,
His weak souls sickens at the sight,
And strives to plunge them down in night.
So loud he talks, so very loud,
He is an angel with the crowd;
Whilst he makes Justice hang her head,
And judges turn from pale to red.
Bid all that Nature, on a plan
Most intimate, makes dear to man,
All that with grand and general ties
Binds good and bad, the fool and wise,
Knock at his heart; they knock in vain;
No entrance there such suitors gain;
Bid kneeling kings forsake the throne,
Bid at his feet his country groan;
Bid Liberty stretch out her hands,
Religion plead her stronger bands;
Bid parents, children, wife, and friends,
If they come 'thwart his private ends—
Unmoved he hears the general call,
And bravely tramples on them all.
Who will, for him, may cant and whine,
And let weak Conscience with her line
Chalk out their ways; such starving rules
Are only fit for coward fools;
Fellows who credit what priests tell,
And tremble at the thoughts of Hell;
His spirit dares contend with Grace,
And meets Damnation face to face.
Such was our lawyer; by his side,
In all bad qualities allied,
In all bad counsels, sat a third,
By birth a lord. Oh, sacred word!
Oh, word most sacred! whence men get
A privilege to run in debt;
Whence they at large exemption claim
From Satire, and her servant Shame;
Whence they, deprived of all her force,
Forbid bold Truth to hold her course.
Consult his person, dress, and air,
He seems, which strangers well might swear,
The master, or, by courtesy,
The captain of a colliery.
Look at his visage, and agree
Half-hang'd he seems, just from the tree
Escaped; a rope may sometimes break,
Or men be cut down by mistake.
He hath not virtue (in the school
Of Vice bred up) to live by rule,
Nor hath he sense (which none can doubt
Who know the man) to live without.
His life is a continued scene
Of all that's infamous and mean;
He knows not change, unless, grown nice
And delicate, from vice to vice;
Nature design'd him, in a rage,
To be the Wharton of his age;
But, having given all the sin,
Forgot to put the virtues in.
To run a horse, to make a match,
To revel deep, to roar a catch,
To knock a tottering watchman down,
To sweat a woman of the town;
By fits to keep the peace, or break it,
In turn to give a pox, or take it;
He is, in faith, most excellent,
And, in the word's most full intent,
A true choice spirit, we admit;
With wits a fool, with fools a wit:
Hear him but talk, and you would swear
Obscenity herself was there,
And that Profaneness had made choice,
By way of trump, to use his voice;
That, in all mean and low things great,
He had been bred at Billingsgate;
And that, ascending to the earth
Before the season of his birth,
Blasphemy, making way and room,
Had mark'd him in his mother's womb.
Too honest (for the worst of men
In forms are honest, now and then)
Not to have, in the usual way,
His bills sent in; too great to pay:
Too proud to speak to, if he meets
The honest tradesman whom he cheats:
Too infamous to have a friend;
Too bad for bad men to commend,
Or good to name; beneath whose weight
Earth groans; who hath been spared by Fate
Only to show, on Mercy's plan,
How far and long God bears with man.
Such were the three, who, mocking sleep,
At midnight sat, in counsel deep,
Plotting destruction 'gainst a head
Whose wisdom could not be misled;
Plotting destruction 'gainst a heart
Which ne'er from honour would depart.
'Is he not rank'd amongst our foes?
Hath not his spirit dared oppose
Our dearest measures, made our name
Stand forward on the roll of Shame?
Hath he not won the vulgar tribes,
By scorning menaces and bribes,
And proving that his darling cause
Is, of their liberties and laws
To stand the champion? In a word,
Nor need one argument be heard
Beyond this to awake our zeal,
To quicken our resolves, and steel
Our steady souls to bloody bent,
(Sure ruin to each dear intent,
Each flattering hope) he, without fear,
Hath dared to make the truth appear.'
They said, and, by resentment taught,
Each on revenge employ'd his thought;
Each, bent on mischief, rack'd his brain
To her full stretch, but rack'd in vain;
Scheme after scheme they brought to view;
All were examined; none would do:
When Fraud, with pleasure in her face,
Forth issued from her hiding-place,
And at the table where they meet,
First having bless'd them, took her seat.
'No trifling cause, my darling boys,
Your present thoughts and cares employs;
No common snare, no random blow,
Can work the bane of such a foe:
By nature cautious as he's brave,
To Honour only he's a slave;
In that weak part without defence,
We must to honour make pretence;
That lure shall to his ruin draw
The wretch, who stands secure in law.
Nor think that I have idly plann'd
This full-ripe scheme; behold at hand,
With three months' training on his head,
An instrument, whom I have bred,
Born of these bowels, far from sight
Of Virtue's false but glaring light,
My youngest-born, my dearest joy,
Most like myself, my darling boy!
He, never touch'd with vile remorse,
Resolved and crafty in his course,
Shall work our ends, complete our schemes,
Most mine, when most he Honour's seems;
Nor can be found, at home, abroad,
So firm and full a slave of Fraud.'
She said, and from each envious son
A discontented murmur run
Around the table; all in place
Thought his full praise their own disgrace,
Wondering what stranger she had got,
Who had one vice that they had not;
When straight the portals open flew,
And, clad in armour, to their view
Martin, the Duellist, came forth.
All knew, and all confess'd his worth;
All justified, with smiles array'd,
The happy choice their dam had made.





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