Poetical Works by Charles Churchill Part 29

Poetical Works by Charles Churchill -

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Think not,--a thought unworthy thy great soul, Which pomps of this world never could control, 30 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 t.i.tle, 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, t.i.tles are oft misplaced; mitres, which s.h.i.+ne So bright in other eyes, are dull in mine, 40 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; 50 '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 s.h.i.+ne-- 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? 60 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 G.o.d, 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: 70 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) 80 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; 90 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, 100 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 a.s.sert their own) Might teach me, like himself, to be content, And let their folly be their punishment; 110 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? 120 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, 130 Not so learn'd Christ. Recall that day, well known, When (to maintain G.o.d'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-- 140 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. 150 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 attorneys.h.i.+p With better purpose, and more n.o.ble aim, And wisely played a more substantial game: 160 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 t.i.tles 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: 170 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. 180

_Caetera desunt_.


These verses appeared with Churchill's name to them in the London Magazine for 1763, and there is no reason to doubt their being genuine.

When Pope to Satire gave its lawful way, And made the Nimrods of Mankind his prey; When haughty Windsor heard through every wood Their shame, who durst be great, yet not be good; Who, drunk with power, and with ambition blind, Slaves to themselves, and monsters to mankind, Sinking the man, to magnify the prince, Were heretofore, what Stuarts have been since: Could he have look'd into the womb of Time, How might his spirit in prophetic rhyme, 10 Inspired by virtue, and for freedom bold, Matters of different import have foretold!

How might his Muse, if any Muse's tongue Could equal such an argument, have sung One William,[337] who makes all mankind his care, And s.h.i.+nes the saviour of his country there!

One William, who to every heart gives law; The son of George, the image of Na.s.sau!


[337] 'William:' Duke of c.u.mberland--the Whig hero.


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