Printer-friendly versionSend by email
Thoughts in Prison, Edited by Charles J. Rzepka
TEI

THOUGHTS in PRISON.
WEEK THE FOURTH.
The Trial.


Dread'st thou an earthly bar? Thou, who so oft
1
In contemplation serious hast employ'd
2
Thy dearest meditations on a Bar
3
Tremendously decisive! who so oft
4
That Bar's important terrors hast display'd
5
To crowds attentive; with the solemn theme
6
Rapt into thought profound?--And beats thy heart
7
With throbs tumultuous;--fail thy trembling knees,
8
Now that in Judgment thou must stand before
9
Weak mortals, like thyself! and soon, like thee,
10
Shivering with guilt and apprehensions dire,
11
To answer in dread Judgment 'fore their God?
12
What gives that Judgment terror? Guilt, pale Guilt;
13
Conscience accusing stern; the fiery Law,
14
The terrible hand-writing on the wall!
15
But vanish these,--that mighty Day's-Man found,
16
Who, smiling on Confession's genuine tear,
17
The meek repentant aspect, and the hand
18
With ready, perfect retribution fraught,
19
Urges complete his ransom, and sets free
20
Th' immortal prisoner.--But, ah me! on earth
21
Such golden mercy reigns not: here is found
22
No potent Day's-Man; here no ransom full,
23
No clement Mediator. Here stern Law,
24
With visage all-unbending, eyes alone
25
The rigorous Act. Confession here is Guilt,
26
And Restitution perfect, perfect loss!
27
Ah me the while, here men the Judges are;
28
And there, th' Omnificent, Mercy's source and stream!
29
Triumphant consolation! Firm in Faith,
30
And justify'd by Him whose precious blood
31
For Man flow'd liberal, the Soul, secure
32
Of future acceptation at that Bar
33
Of trial most momentous, soars above
34
The World's severest trials,  [1] and can view
35
Serene the horrors of an earthly Bar,
36
Tho' far than death more horrid. Yes, kind Death,
37
How preferable far thy sight to me!
38
Oh that, without this tedious, dread detail
39
Of awful circumstance,--this long, sad pomp
40
Of ministering wretchedness, thy friendly shaft
41
Had instant reach'd, and pierc'd my tortur'd Heart:
42
How had I blest the stroke, and been at peace!
43
But, thro' a dreary avenue of woe,
44
A lengthen'd vault of black distress and shame,
45
With mournful melancholy sable hung,
46
Must I be led,  [2]  --or ere I can receive
47
Thine icy comforts to my chill'd Life's Blood!
48
Welcome, thrice welcome were they! But the call
49
Of Heaven's dread Arbiter we wait: His Will
50
Is rectitude consummate. 'Tis the Will
51
Parental of high Wisdom and pure Love!
52
Then to that Will submissive bend, my Soul:
53
And, while meek Resignation to the Rod
54
Corrective of his Justice and his Love
55
Obedient bows,--Oh for impartial search!
56
Oh for a Trial strict, to trace the Cause,
57
The fatal Cause, whence sprung the ill deplor'd!
58
And why--sad spectacle of Woe--we stand
59
Thus, Sin and Sorrow-sunk, at this Dread Bar!
60
Return, blest Hours! ye peaceful Days, return!
61
When thro' each office of celestial Love
62
Ennobling Piety my glad Feet led
63
Continual, and my Head each Night to rest
64
Lull'd on the downy pillow of Content!
65
Dear were thy shades, O Ham! and dear the Hours
66
In manly musing 'midst' thy Forests pass'd,
67
And antique Woods of sober Solitude,
68
Oh Epping! witness to my lonely walks
69
By Heaven-directed Contemplation led!
70
Ye Days of Duty, tranquil Nights, return!
71
How ill exchang'd for those, which busier scenes
72
To the World's Follies dedicate, engross'd,
73
In specious trifling; all important deem'd,
74
While gilt, O Chesterfield! with seeming gold
75
Of prime refinement, thro' thy fostering smile,
76
And patronage auspicious!
77
Sought by Thee,
78
And singled out, unpatroniz'd, unknown;
79
By Thee, whose taste consummate was applause,
80
Whose approbation merit; forth I came,
81
And with me to the task, delighted, brought
82
The upright purpose, the intention firm
83
To fill the charge, to justify the choice,
84
Perchance too flattering to my Heart; a Heart
85
Frank, inexpert, unhackney'd in the World,
86
And yet estrang'd to guile! But ye, more skill'd
87
In that World's artful style, Judges severe;
88
Say, in the zenith of bright Stanhope's Sun
89
(Though set that Sun, alas! in misty clouds);
90
Say 'midst his lustre, whom would not that choice
91
Have flatter'd?--And still more, when urg'd, approv'd,
92
And bless'd by Thee, St. David's! Honour'd Friend;
93
Alike in Wisdom's and in Learning's School
94
Advanc'd and sage!---Short pause, my Muse, and sad
95
Allow, while leaning on Affection's arm
96
Deep-sighing Gratitude, with Tears of Truth,
97
Bedews the Urn, the happy Urn, where rest
98
Mingled thy Ashes, oh my Friend! and Her's
99
Whose Life bound up with thine in amity
100
Indissolubly firm, felt thy last pang
101
Disrupting as her own; gently sigh'd forth
102
The precious Boon: while sprung her faithful Soul,
103
Indignant without Thee to rest below,
104
On Wings of Love, to meet Thee in the Skies!
105
Blest pair! and envied! Envied and embalm'd
106
In our recording memory, my Wife,
107
My Friend, my lov'd Maria! Be our lot
108
Like theirs!--But soft,--ah my foreboding thoughts!
109
Repress the gushing Tear;--return, my Song.
110
Plac'd thus, and shelter'd underneath a Tree,
111
Which seem'd like that in Visions of the Night
112
To Babylonia's haughty Prince pourtray'd,
113
Whose height reach'd Heaven, and whose verdant boughs
114
Extended wide their succour and their shade;
115
How did I trust, too confident! How dream
116
That Fortune's smiles were mine! and how deceiv'd,
117
By gradual declension yield my trust,
118
My humble happy trust on Thee, my God!
119
How ill exchang'd for confidence in Man,
120
In Chesterfields, in Princes!--Wider scenes,
121
Alps still on Alps were open'd to my view;
122
And, as the circle in the Flood enlarg'd,
123
Enlarg'd expences call. Fed to the full
124
With Flattery's light food,  [3]  and the puff'd wind
125
Of promises delusive----"Onward still!
126
"Press onward!" cried the World's alluring voice;
127
"The time of retribution is at hand:
128
"See the ripe Vintage waits thee!" Fool, and blind,
129
Still credulous I heard, and still pursued
130
The airy meteor glittering, thro' the mire,
131
Thro' brake and bog, till more and more ingulph'd
132
In the deceitful quag, floundering I lay.
133
Nor heard was then the World's alluring voice,
134
Or promises delusive: Then not seen
135
The Tree umbrageous, with its ample shade:
136
For me, alas, that Tree had shade no more!
137
But, struggling in the gulph, my languid Eye
138
Saw only round the barren rushy Moor,
139
The flat, wide, dreary Desert:--Till a Hope,
140
Dress'd by the Tempter in an Angel's form,
141
Presenting its fair hand,--imagin'd fair,
142
Though foul as murkiest Hell,--to drag me forth,
143
Down to the centre plung'd me, dark and dire
144
Of howling Ruin;--bottomless Abyss
145
Of desolating Shame, and nameless Woe!
146
But, witness Heaven and Earth, 'midst this brief stage,
147
This blasting period of my chequer'd Life,
148
Tho' by the World's gay vanities allur'd,
149
I danc'd, too oft, alas! with the wild rout
150
Of thoughtless Fellow-Mortals, to the sound
151
Of Folly's tinkling Bells; tho' oft, too oft,
152
Those pastimes shar'd enervating, which ill
153
--Howe'er by some judg'd innocent,--become
154
Religion's sober character and garb:
155
Tho' oft, too oft, by weak compliance led,
156
External seemings, and the ruinous bait
157
Of smooth politeness, what my heart condemn'd
158
Unwise it practis'd;--never without pang!
159
Tho' too much influenc'd by the pleasing force
160
Of native generosity, uncurb'd
161
And unchastis'd (as Reason, Duty taught),
162
Prudent Economy, in thy sober School
163
Of parsimonious Lecture; useful lore,
164
And of prime moment to our worldly weal;
165
--Yet, witness Heaven and Earth, amidst this Dream,
166
This transient Vision, ne'er so slept my Soul,
167
Or sacrific'd my Hands at Folly's Shrine,
168
As to forget Religion's publick Toil,
169
Study's improvement, or the pleading cause
170
Of suffering Humanity!--Gracious God,
171
How wonderful a compound, mixture strange,
172
Incongruous, inconsistent, is frail Man!
173
Yes, my lov'd Charlotte, whose Top-stone with joy
174
My careful Hands brought forth, what time expell'd
175
From Ham's lost Paradise, and driv'n to seek
176
Another place of Rest! Yes, beauteous Fane!
177
To bright Religion dedicate, Thou well
178
My happy public Labours canst attest,
179
Unwearied and successful in the Cause,
180
The glorious, honour'd Cause of Him, whose Love
181
Bled for the human Race! Thou canst attest
182
The Sabbath-days delightful, when the throng
183
Crowded thy hallow'd Walls with eager joy,
184
To hear Truth evangelical; the sound
185
Of Gospel Comfort! When attentive sate,
186
Or at the Holy Altar humbly knelt,
187
Persuasive, pleasing Patterns--Athol's Duke,
188
The polish'd Hervey, Kingston the humane,
189
Aylesbury and Marchmont, Romney all-rever'd;
190
With Numbers more--by splendid Titles less
191
Than Piety distinguish'd and pure Zeal.
192
Nor, 'midst this public Duty's blest-discharge,
193
Pass'd idle, unimproving, unemploy'd,
194
My other Days;--as if the Sabbath's task
195
Fulfill'd, the business of the Week was done,
196
Or self-allow'd. Witness, thrice holy Book!
197
Pure transcript of the Eternal's Will to Man:
198
Witness with what assiduous care I turn'd
199
Daily the hallow'd page; with what deep search
200
Explor'd thy sacred meaning; thro' the round
201
Of learn'd Expositors and grave trod slow,
202
And painfully deliberating; the while
203
My labours unremitting to the World
204
Convey'd instruction large;--and shall convey,
205
When moulders in the Grave the feeble Hand,
206
The Head, the Heart, that gave those Labours  [4] Birth.
207
Oh happy Toil! oh Labours well employ'd!
208
Oh sweet remembrance to my sickening Soul!
209
Blest Volumes! Nor, tho' levell'd in the Dust
210
Of Self-annihilation, shall my Soul
211
Cease to rejoice, or thy preventive grace
212
Adoring laud, Fountain of every good!
213
For that no letter'd poison ever stain'd
214
My page, how weak soe'er; for that my pen,
215
However humble, ne'er has trac'd a line
216
Of tendency immoral, whose black Guilt
217
It well might wish to blot with Tears of Blood!
218
Dear to the Christian shall my little works,
219
--Effusions of a Heart sincere, devote
220
To God and Duty,--happily survive
221
Their wretched Master; and thro' lengthen'd Years
222
To Souls opprest Comfort's sweet balm impart;
223
And teach the pensive Mourner how to die.  [5] 
224
Thou too, blest Charity! whose golden Key
225
So liberal unlocks the Prison's Gate
226
At the poor Debtor's call; oh, witness Thou,
227
To cruel taxers of my Time and Thought,
228
All was not lost, all were not misemploy'd,
229
Nor all Humanity's fair rights forgot:
230
Since thou, spontaneous effort of the last,
231
My pity's child, and by the first matur'd,
232
Amidst this flattering, fatal Era rose;
233
Rose into being, to perfection rose,
234
Beneath my humble fostering! And, at length
235
Grown into publick favour, thou shalt live;
236
And endless good diffuse, when sleeps in dust
237
Thy hapless Founder; now, by direst fate,
238
Locked in a Prison, whence thy bounty sets,
239
And shall,--oh Comfort!--long set thousands free.
240
Happy, thrice happy, had my active zeal,--
241
Already deemed too active 'chance, by some,
242
Whose frozen Hearts, in icy fetters bound
243
Of sordid selfishness, ne'er felt the warmth,
244
The genial warmth of pure Benevolence,
245
Love's ardent flame aspiring;--had that Flame
246
Kindled my glowing zeal into effect,
247
And to thy Counterpart  [6]  existence giv'n,
248
Lov'd Institution; with its guardian aid
249
Protecting from the Prison's ruinous doors,
250
Those whom thy kindly mercy rescues thence!
251
Or, had that zeal, on firm foundation fix'd
252
Like thine, my favourite Magdalen,--the Plan,
253
Preservative of tender Female Fame,  [7] 
254
Fair Innocence and Virtue, from those ills
255
Destructive, complicate, which only find
256
Relief beneath thy hospitable roof;
257
How had I died exulting!--But, oh raise,
258
Inspire some godlike Spirit, some great Soul,
259
Father of Mercies! of all Love, all Good
260
Author and Finisher;--these, and every work
261
Beneficent, with Courage to pursue,
262
With Wisdom to complete! Oh crown his zeal;
263
While sorrowing Human Nature, by his Hand
264
Cherish'd and sooth'd, to latest times shall tell,
265
And bless with tears of gratitude his Name!
266
Mine is a different fate!--confess'd, just Judge,
267
The meed of human mixture in my works
268
Imperfect, frail; and needing, even the best,
269
Thy pardon, and the cleansing of thy blood!
270
Else, whence the frequent retributions base,
271
Calumnious and ungrateful, for the deeds
272
Of private Pity? Whence, for public Acts,
273
The stab opprobrious, and the slanders vile?
274
Or whence, at this dread moment,--from the sight
275
Shrowd me in tenfold darkness!--Mercy, Heaven!
276
And is it He--th' ingenuous Youth, so oft
277
Of all my being, fortune, comfort deem'd
278
The generous, ample source?--And is it He,
279
In whom, thro' drear Misfortune's darkest night,
280
I saw Hope's day-star rising?--Angel of Peace,
281
Amidst his future hours, my life's sad loss
282
Let not accusing Conscience to his charge
283
Impute, distracting!--to my crimson'd guilt
284
Oh let him lay it, as the forfeit due,
285
And justly paid!--Would Heaven that it were paid!
286
Oh, that with Rome's first Caesar, in my robe
287
From sight so killing, mantled up mine eyes,
288
I might receive the welcome stab; sigh forth,
289
"My Philip, my lov'd Stanhope,--Is it Thou!
290
"--Then let me die!"-----
291
Yet, tho' thus wounded at this Bar I stand
292
In pangs unutterable, witness Heaven,
293
With deep commiseration do I view
294
Their sedulous anxiety to prove
295
A guilt, my heart--too wounded to deny,
296
Wounded by that Guilt's sense, its bitterest part,--
297
Instant avow'd. What need then all this toil?
298
The deed is done! Wound not the fall'n Hart,--
299
'Tis cruel--that lies bleeding at your feet!
300
"I own the whole; I urge no legal plea!
301
"On dire Necessity's imperious call,
302
"(Sons of the Robe, of Commerce, Sons of Men,
303
"That call imperious have you never heard?)
304
"On full Intention to repay the whole.
305
"And on that full Intention's perfect work,
306
"Free Restoration and complete: on wrong
307
"Or injury to none design'd or wrought,
308
"I rest my claim;--I found my sole defence."
309
"Groundless,--'tis thunder'd in my ears--and weak!
310
"For, in the rigid Courts of human Law,
311
"No Restitution wipes away th' offence,
312
"Nor does Intention justify." So spoke
313
(And who shall argue?) Judgment's awful voice!
314
Haste then, ye weeping Jurymen, and pass
315
Th' awarded sentence! To the World, to Fame,
316
To Honour, Fortune, Peace, and Stanhope lost,
317
What have I more to lose? or can I think
318
Death were an Evil to a Wretch like me!
319
Yet, oh ye sons of Justice!--ere we quit
320
This awful Court, Expostulation's voice
321
One moment hear impartial. Give awhile
322
Your honest hearts to Nature's touches true,
323
Her fine resentments faithful! Draw aside
324
That veil from Reason's clear reflecting view,
325
Which Practice long, and Rectitude suppos'd
326
Of Laws establish'd, hath obstructive hung!
327
But, pleads or time, or long prescription aught
328
In favour or abatement of the wrong
329
By Folly wrought, or Error? Hoary grown,
330
And sanctify'd by Custom's habit grey,
331
Absurdity stalks forth, still more absurd,
332
And double shame reflects upon an age
333
Wise and enlighten'd. Should not equal laws
334
Their punishments proportionate to crimes;  [8] 
335
Nor, all Draconick, ev'n to blood pursue
336
Vindictive, where the venial poor offence
337
Cries loud for mercy? Death's the last demand
338
Law can exact: The penalty extreme
339
Of human crime! And shall the petty thief
340
Succumb beneath its terrors, when no more
341
Pays the bold murderer, crimson'd o'er with guilt?
342
Few are the crimes against or God or Man,
343
--Consult th' Eternal Code of Right or Wrong,--
344
Which e'er can justify this last extreme,  [9] 
345
This wanton sporting with the human life,
346
This trade in blood! Ye Sages, then, review,
347
Speedy and diligent, the Penal Code,
348
Humanity's disgrace; our Nation's first
349
And just reproach, amidst its vaunted boasts,
350
Of Equity and Mercy!--Shiver not
351
Full oft your inmost souls, when from the Bench
352
Ye deal out death tremendous; and proclaim
353
Th' irrevocable sentence on a wretch
354
Pluck'd early from the paths of social life,
355
And, immature, to the low grave consign'd
356
For misdemeanors trivial? Runs not back,
357
Affrighted, to its fountain your chill'd blood,
358
When, deck'd in all the horrid pomp of death,
359
And Gothic rage surpassing, to the flames
360
The weaker sex,--incredible--you doom;
361
Denouncing punishments the more severe,
362
As less of strength is found to bear their force?
363
Shame on the savage practice! Oh stand forth
364
In the great cause,--Compassion's, Equity's,
365
Your Nation's, Truth's, Religion's, Honour's Cause,
366
--Stand forth, reflecting Eden!  [10]  Well thou'st toil'd
367
Already in the honourable field:
368
Might thy young labours animate! The hour
369
Auspicious is arriv'd. Sages esteem'd,
370
And venerably learn'd, as in the School
371
Of legal Science, so in that of Worth
372
And Sentiment exalted, fill the Bench:
373
And lo! the Imperial Muscovite, intent
374
On Public-weal, a bright example shines
375
Of civilizing Justice. Sages, rise:
376
The Cause, the animating Pattern calls!
377
Oh, I adjure you, with my parting breath,
378
By all your hopes of Mercy and of Peace,
379
By all the Blood henceforth unjustly spilt,
380
Or wantonly! by all the Sorrows deep,
381
And scalding Tears shed for that blood so spilt!
382
In God's tremendous Name, lo, I adjure,
383
Without procrastination to the task
384
Important that you haste! With equal hand
385
In scales of temperate Justice balance well
386
The claims of pleading Mercy! Unto crimes
387
Inflictions just and adequate assign;
388
On Reformation or Example sole,
389
And all impartial, constantly intent!
390
Banish the Rage for Blood! for Tortures fell,
391
Savage, reproachful: Study to restore
392
Its young, its useful members to the State,
393
Well disciplin'd, corrected, moraliz'd;
394
Preserv'd at once from Shame, from Death, from Hell,
395
Men, Rationals, Immortals,--Sons of God.
396
Oh prosperous be your labours, crown'd your zeal!
397
So shall the annals of our Sovereign's Reign
398
Distinguish'd by your Virtue,--noble fruit
399
Of that high independence He bestow'd  [11] 
400
So freely from the Treasury of his Love
401
To genuine Justice--down to future Times
402
Transmitting the rich blessing, shine renowned
403
With truest glory; not by Hers surpass'd,
404
Th' immortal Legislator of the North!
405
Ah me, unhappy! to that Sovereign's Ear
406
Resolv'd to bring those Truths, which labouring long,
407
Have lain, and tost upon my anxious thoughts:  [12] 
408
Thence too am I excluded! Fatal Stroke,
409
And wounding to my peace! Rigour extreme
410
Of angry vengeance! "Nay, it recks not now,"
411
Oft, 'midst the tempest of my grief, I cried,
412
"It recks not now what falls me! From the House
413
"Of Him I honour'd, shut! Him, whose lov'd Sire
414
"My Muse in strains elegiac weeping sung,  [13] 
415
"Mixing her tribute with a Nation's Tears!
416
"Him to whose high-born Race,--of Liberty
417
"Firm Friends and Fautors--from my earliest Youth,
418
"My Heart, devoted, willing homage paid,
419
"And sacred reverence: So paternal Love
420
"And so my College taught, delightful Clare!"
421
Dear ever to my Memory for Hours
422
In innocence and peaceful study past;
423
Nor less for Thee, my Friend, my Lancaster!
424
Blest Youth, in early Hour from this Life's woes
425
In richest Mercy borne! Had I but died,
426
Oh had I died for Thee, how had I shunn'd
427
This harsh severity,--exclusion sad
428
From my lov'd Royal Master! how escap'd
429
Its ills attendant!--Reputation dies,
430
The darling of my Soul, beneath the stroke!
431
Wild, wanton curses tear my mangled Fame!
432
My sphere of usefulness contracted shrinks;
433
And Infamy herself with "ghastly smiles"
434
My ruin ridicules! Turn, turn, my Brain!
435
Distracted! madden'd, turn! of Reason more,
436
Religion, Duty, Eminence, dream not:
437
The door of Mercy's clos'd. Thee--oft from Thee
438
Mercy, sweet Heaven! have I sought and found;
439
From Fellow-Mortals seldom could I find,
440
How humbled e'er, or penitent, for faults;
441
--And who of erring Mortals faultless breathes?
442
Mercy; that gift of Thine, which most adorns
443
The Judge's Vestment, and the Monarch's Crown.
444
Adieu, then, to its hope; its earthly hope!
445
Elsewhere we'll seek it. Forth--oh forth, my Friends;
446
My generous, supporting, weeping Friends!
447
Forth from the Bar conduct me. It is past.
448
Justice has done her office! Mercy's fled:
449
And smiling, lo! she sits upon a cloud
450
Of fleecy whiteness, ting'd with azur'd gold,
451
And beams ineffable composure on me!
452
Light sits my bosom'd Master on his throne;
453
Airy and disencumber'd feels my Soul;
454
And, panting, wishes to spring instant up
455
To that white cloud,--the golden vehicle
456
To Realms of Rest immortal! In my Eyes,
457
So languid late, and all suffus'd with Tears,
458
Methinks I see Hope's lamp rekindle bright;
459
A living lustre; shedding, like the Sun,
460
After thick mists, Illumination's smile
461
O'er all my countenance, marr'd, dimm'd, and wan.
462
Cheerly, my Friends, oh cheerly! Look not thus
463
With Pity's melting softness! That alone
464
Can shake my Fortitude. All is not lost.
465
Lo! I have gain'd, on this important Day,
466
A Victory consummate--o'er myself,
467
And o'er this Life a Victory: On this Day,--
468
My Birth-day to Eternity--I've gain'd
469
Dismission from a World, where for a while,
470
Like You, like All, a Pilgrim passing poor,
471
A Traveller, a Stranger, I have met
472
But Stranger Treatment, rude and harsh! So much
473
The dearer, more desir'd, the Home I seek
474
Eternal of my Father and my God!
475
Ah, little thought ye, Prosecutors prompt,
476
To do me good like this! little intend
477
For earthly poverty to give th' exchange
478
Of wealth eternal! Cheronea's sage,
479
Thy Dogmas here, so paradoxal deem'd
480
By weak Half-thinkers  [14]  --see, how amply prov'd,
481
How verified by Men I judg'd my Foes;--
482
Friends in disguise, Heaven's Instruments of good!
483
Freely, triumphantly, my Soul forgives
484
Each injury, each evil they have wrought,
485
Each tear they've drawn, each groan they've cost my Heart,
486
Guiltless tow'rds Them, uninjur'd. Hapless Men!
487
Down do I look, with pity: fervent beg,
488
And unremitting from all-gracious Heaven
489
Eternal blessings on you! Be your lives,
490
Like mine, true convertites to Grace, to God!
491
And be your deaths--ah, there all difference ends--
492
Then be Our Deaths like his, th' atoning Just;
493
Like His, the Only Righteous, our last End!
494
But oh, oblivious Memory! baneful Woe,
495
Which thus in dull forgetfulness can steep
496
My Faculties;--forgetfulness of Her
497
My better self; for whom alone I wish,
498
Thus fallen, to remember that I am!
499
My Wife, my Soul's dear Partner in distress,
500
Where sits she? lives she? Ah not lives, but drags
501
The tedious, torturing, horrid, anxious Hours
502
Of this dire day!--In solemn silence wrapt,
503
--Expressive silence, motionless, compos'd,
504
The melancholy Mourner meekly waits
505
The awful issue! From her lovely Eyes
506
Drops not a tear! not ev'n a sigh is heard
507
From her deep-wounded Heart: Nor thro' her Lips,
508
Unsever'd from the luckless morn till night,
509
Mute Sufferer, steals a murmur!  [15] Gentle Dove,
510
So, in the mournful absence of thy Mate,
511
Perhaps or levell'd by the Fowler's art,
512
Or lur'd in net insidious, sitt'st thou alone
513
Upon the bared bough; thy little Head
514
Nestling beneath thy silvery wings; while hang
515
Thy pennons, late so glossy, shivering down
516
Unplum'd, neglected, drooping! Thro' the Day
517
So tried, my tender Friends,--another task,
518
And heavier yet, remains to be perform'd.
519
Oh, with the balm of Comfort, with the Voice
520
Of soothing Softness, the sad truth unfold!
521
Approach the beauteous Mourner, all-rever'd;
522
And tell her, "that her Husband triumphs, lives;--
523
"Lives, tho' condemn'd; lives to a nobler life!
524
"Nor, in the gladsome view of that high life,
525
"Feels he to Death Reluctance: Blest with her,
526
"Indifferent in his choice to live or die!"
527
Be the decision Thine, Father of Life!
528
Thou gavest, Thou hast right to take away;
529
In each alike beneficent! If Thou
530
Hast pleasure in me, once more shall I share
531
Thy hallow'd Services, my Heart's chief Joy;
532
If not, with happy David--oh like his
533
Could my Song flow repentant--every thought
534
Uniting, cries with Resignation's voice,
535
"Do with me, Lord, as it shall seem Thee Good!"  [16] 
536
Thus supplicating, down my weary Head
537
To slumber on its wretched pillow sunk,
538
O'erpower'd, oppress'd. Nor on the main-mast high
539
Rock'd by the bellowing tempest, and the dash
540
Of furious surges, the poor ship-boy sleeps
541
More soundly, than my powers o'erwrought, amidst
542
The din of desperate Felons, and the roar
543
Of harden'd Guilt's mad midnight orgies loud!
544
But Fancy free, the busy Soul was wake;
545
Anticipation pleasing of its state,
546
When sleeps its clayey Prison in the Grave,
547
And forth it bursts to Liberty! Methought
548
--Such was the vision--in a lowly vale
549
Myself I found, whose living green was deck'd
550
With all the beauteous family of Spring;
551
Pale Primrose, modest Violet, Hare-bell blue,
552
Sweet-scented Eglantine of fragrance rich,
553
And permanent the Rose: Golden Jonquil,
554
And Polyanthus variegate of hue,
555
With Lilies dale delighting. Thro' the midst
556
Meandering of pure crystal flow'd a Stream
557
The flowery banks reflecting: On each side,
558
With homely Cots adorn'd, whose Habitants
559
When sorrow-sunk, my voice of comfort sooth'd;
560
When sickness worn, my hand of care reliev'd,
561
Tended, and, ministring to all their wants,
562
Instructed in the language of the Skies!
563
Dear was the Office, cheering was the Toil,
564
And something like angelic felt my Soul!
565
When lur'd, methought, by one of glittering hue,
566
(Bright gleam'd the coronet upon his Brow,
567
Rich glow'd his robe of crimson, ermine deck'd)
568
I toil'd to gain a neighbouring mountain's top,
569
Where blaz'd Preferment's Temple. So my Guide
570
With smile complacent taught, and led me on,
571
Softening with artful speech the tedious way,
572
And arduous ever. As I rose, the view
573
Still gloomier seem'd, and dreary; the strait path
574
Still straiter; and more sharp the pointed briars
575
Entangling! With insulting sneers the croud,
576
Pressing the same bad road, justled me by;
577
Or threw me prostrate: Till fatigu'd, and faint,
578
With feeble voice, exhausted quite, I cried,
579
"Oh to my Vale restore me! to my Cots,
580
"Illustrious Guide! my ministrations blest,
581
"Angelical and blessing!"--With a look
582
Of killing scorn he eyed me: Instant down,
583
Precipitate dash'd o'er me craggy rocks,
584
Tumbling tumultuous; and in dungeon dark,
585
Illumin'd only by the furious glare
586
Of Lynx and Tigers' eyes, thro' hunger fierce,
587
And eager to devour, trembling I lay!
588
When, in a moment, thro' the dungeon's gloom
589
Burst Light resplendent as the mid-day Sun,
590
From adamantine shield of Heavenly proof,
591
Held high by One,  [17]  of more than human port,
592
Advancing slow; while on his tow'ring crest
593
Sat Fortitude unshaken: At his feet
594
Crouch'd the half-famish'd Savages! From earth
595
He rais'd me, weeping, and with look of Peace
596
Benignant, pointed to a crimson Cross
597
On his bright Shield poutray'd. A milder form,
598
Yet of celestial sweetness,--such as oft
599
My raptur'd eyes have in the tablet trac'd
600
Of unaffected Penitence; of her
601
Pleasing similitude--the weeping Fair
602
Early from royal, but unhallow'd love,
603
To God's sole service flying  [18]  --Fam'd Le Brun,
604
Thy glowing pencil's Master-piece!--Such seem'd
605
Repentence, meek approaching. From the den,
606
Illumin'd and defended by Faith's shield,
607
My trembling feet she led; and having borne
608
Thro' perils infinite, and terrors wild
609
And various,--fainting almost my sick soul--
610
She left me at a gate of glittering gold,
611
Which open'd instantaneous at the touch
612
Of homely Porter,  [19]  clad in wolsey gray;
613
And ever bending lowly to the ground
614
His modest countenance! But what a scene,
615
--Admitted thro' the portal--on my sight
616
Transported rush'd! High on sapphire Throne,
617
Amidst a flame like carbuncle, sat Love,
618
Beaming forth living rays of Light and Joy
619
On choral crowds of Spirits infinite,
620
In Immortality and Glory cloth'd;
621
And hymning lofty Strains to Minstrelsy
622
Of golden Harps accorded, in His praise,
623
Love, uncreate, essential; Love, which bled;
624
Which bleeding blanch'd to purest white their robes,
625
And with eternal gold adorn'd their brows!
626
Dissolv'd, methought, and all my senses rapt
627
In vision beatific, to a bank
628
Of purple Amaranthus was I borne
629
By a superior Genius. His white wings
630
Distilling Panacea, dove-like spread
631
Refreshing fragrance o'er me: Firm of brow
632
And masculine he seem'd--th' ennobling Power
633
Angelic, destin'd in the human heart
634
To nourish Friendship's flame! Uprais'd my eyes
635
As from a Trance returning--"Spirit belov'd,
636
"And honour'd ever!" anxious strait I cried,
637
"Thrice welcome to my wishes! Oh impart--
638
"For you can tell--in these delightful Realms
639
"Of happiness supernal, shall we know,--
640
"Say, shall we meet and know those dearest Friends,
641
"Those tender Relatives, to whose concerns
642
"You minister appointed? Shall we meet
643
" In mutual amity? mutual converse hold,
644
" And live in Love immortal?--Oh relieve
645
"My aching heart's solicitude; and say,
646
"Here shall I meet, here know, in boundless bliss,
647
"Here view transported, Her, my Life's best Friend,
648
"My Sorrows' faithful Soother?"--Gushing tears
649
Impetuous stopp't my voice; and I awoke
650
To Earth, to Night, to Darkness, and a Jail!
651

1.         April 14, 1777


2.        END OF THE FOURTH WEEK.

Notes

(see also Works Cited)

[1] The verses subjoined were written by the King of Prussia, after a defeat, when one of his General Officers had proposed to set him the example of self-destruction:

Dan ces jours, pleins d'alarmes,
La constance et la fermete
Sont les boucliers et les armes
Que j'oppose a l'adversite:
Que le Destin me persecute,
Qu'il prepare ou hate ma chute,
Le danger ne peut m ebranler:
Quand le vulgaire est plein de crainte,
Que l'esperance semble, eteinte,
L'homme fort doit se signaler.
A friend having given Dr. Dodd in prison a copy of these Lines, he was much pleased with them, and immediately paraphrased them as follows:
In these sad moments of severe distress,
When dangers threaten, and when sorrows press,
For my defence behold what arms are given
--Firmness of soul, and Confidence in Heaven!
With these, tho' Fortune hunt me thro' the land,
Tho' instant, utter ruin seem at hand!
Compos'd and self-collected I remain,
Nor start at perils, nor of ills complain:
To mean Despair the low, the servile fly,
When Hope's bright star seems darken'd in their sky:
Then shines the Christian, and delights to prove
His faith unshaken, and unchang'd his Love!
BACK

[2]

Segnius irritant animos demissa per aurem,
Quam quae sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus, et quae
Ipse sibi tradit Spectator!
Hor.
BACK

[3]

So praysen Babes the Peacock's starry traine,
And wondren at bright Argus' blazing eye;
But who rewards him e'er the more for-thy?
Or feeds him once the fuller by a graine?
--Sike praise is smoke, that sheddeth in the skie,
Sike words been winde, and wasten soon in vaine.
Spenser.
BACK

[4] Alluding to "Commentary on the Bible," in three Volumes, Folio. BACK

[5] Referring to "Comfort for the Afflicted," and "Reflections on Death." BACK

[6] He intended to have established a "Charity for the Loan of Money, without interest, to industrious Tradesmen." Necessary Papers for that end were collected from Dublin, &c; and the following Address, which he wrote and inserted in the Publick Ledger of the 1st January 1776, will, in some measure, explain his purpose:

To the Wealthy in the Commercial World
I have often wished most sincerely to see a charitable Fund established in this great and trading City, for the beneficent purpose of "lending to honest and industrious Tradesmen small sums without interest, and on a reasonable Security." The benefits which would arise from such an establishment are too obvious to need enumeration. Almost every News-paper tends more and more to convince me of the necessity of such a plan; for in almost every News-paper we read Advertisements from Tradesmen, soliciting little sums in their distress; and offering--poor unhappy men! even premiums for those little sums. It is not possible but that persons occupied in trade and commerce must feel for the difficulties of their brethren, and be ready to promote the undertaking I would wish to recommend, although on no interested motives;--for I am no Tradesman, nor can any way be benefitted by the plan. Pure good will, and a compassionate respect to the hardships and distresses of my fellow-creatures actuate my heart: And from these motives, I shall be happy to proceed upon, and prosecute this plan, with all the efforts and assiduity I am able, if it shall be approved by the benevolent, and they will testfy that approbation, and desire of concurrence, by a line directed to D. at Anderton's Coffee-house, Fleet-street. In consequence of which, should a probability of success appear, a meeting shall speedily be advertised in the Papers, and all measures pursued, to put the good design into immediate execution, which on such a meeting may be judged advisable. It may be proper just to observe, that in many cities abroad,--at Rome in particular,--there are institutions of this sort: and there has been one established for many years at Dublin, which is found productive of the happiest consequences. It is made in Scripture one characteristic of the good man, "that he is merciful and lendeth"; and a very small sum, thus given to a permanent establishment, may enable a man to lend for perpetuity! How can we better begin the New Year, my worthy and humane countrymen! than by entering on a work, which may draw down upon us God's blessing, by our charitable relief to many sons and daughters of honest and laborious industry?--,
Humanity.
BACK

[7] "A plan for a National Female Seminary"--since found amongst the Author's papers; and which appears to have undergone the inspection, and received the approbation, of some very distinguished names. BACK

[8] Horace's precept must for ever stand forth as irrefragably just:

---------------------"AdsitRegula! peccatis quae poenas irroget aequas:
Ne Scutica dignum horribili sectere flagello."
Sat. 3. Lib. I.
BACK

[9] "He had sometimes expressed his thoughts about our Penal Laws, that they were too sanguinary;--that they were against not only the laws of God, but of Nature;--that his own case was hard, that he should die for an Act, which he always declared to be wrong, but by which he never intended to injure any one individual; and that, as the Public had forgiven him, he thought he might have been pardoned. But now (the day before his execution) he laid all these thoughts touching himself aside; though he continued to think in the same manner of the Penal Laws to his end." See Ordinary's Account, p. 14. BACK

[10] See Mr. Eden's admirable book on Penal Laws. BACK

[11] Referring to the Independence of the Judges, settled by the King, as almost one of the first Acts of his Reign. BACK

[12] See my Sermon on the Injustice, &c. of Capital Punishments. BACK

[13] See my "Elegy on the Death of Frederick Prince of Wales." Poems, p. 63. BACK

[14] See Plutarch "On the Benefits deducible from Enemies." Morals, Vol. I. BACK

[15]

"I speechless sate;--nor plaintive word,
"Nor murmur, from my Lips was heard."
Merrick's Psalms, p. 39.
BACK

[16] 2 Sam. xv. 25, 26. BACK

[17] Faith. BACK

[18] Madame de la Valiere. This fine Picture is in the Chapel of the Carmelite Nuns at Paris. BACK

[19] Humility BACK

About this Page

Published @ RC

October 2010

NaturalFeature