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Her folemn courts! the center of the grove !
The root-built cave, by far-extended rocks
Around embosom’d, how it foothes the soul!
If scoop'd at first by superstitious hands
The rugged cell receiv'd alone the shoals
Of bigot-minds, religion dwells not here,
Yet virtue pleas’d, at intervals, retires :
Yet here may wisdom, as she walks the maze,
Some serious truths collect, the rules of life,
And serious truths of mightier weight than gold!
I ask not wealth ; but let me hoard with care,
With frugal cunning, with a niggard's art,
A few fix'd principles; in early life,
Ere indolence impede the search, explor’d.
Then like old Latimer, when age impairs
My judgment's eye, when quibbling schools attack
My grounded hope, or subtler wits deride,
Will I not bluh to fhun the vain debate,
And this mine answer; “ Thus, 'twas thus I thought.
My mind yet vigorous, and my soul entire ; “ Thus will I think, averse to liften more “ To intricate discussion, prone to stray.
Perhaps my reason may but ill defend
My fettled faith ; my mind, with age impair’d, "Too fure its own infirmities declare.
But I am arm’d by caution, studious youth, " And early foresight; now the winds may rise, " The tempest whistle, and the billows roar; “My pinnace rides in port, despoil'd and worn,
“ Shatter'd by time and storms, but while it shuns
“ Th’inequal conflict, and declines the deep,
“ Sees the strong vessel Auctuate less secure.”
Thus while he strays, a thoufand rural scenes
Suggest instruction, and instructing please.
And see betwixt the grove's extended arms
An abby's rude remains attract thy view,
Gilt by the mid-day sun: with ling’ring step
Produce thine axe, (for, aiming to destroy
Tree, branch, or shade, for never shall thy breast
Too long deliberate) with timorous hand
Remove th' obstructive bough; nor yet refuse,
Tho' sighing, to destroy that fav’rite pine;
Rais'd by thine hand, in its luxuriant prime
Of beauty fair, that screens the vast remains.
Aggriev'd but constant as the Roman fire,
The rigid Manlius, when his conqu’ring fon
Bled by a parent's voice; the cruel meed
Of virtuous ardor, timelessly display'd;
Nor cease till, thro' the gloomy road, the pile
Gleam unobstructed; thither oft thine
Shall sweetly wander ; thence returning, soothe
With pensive scenes thy philofophic mind.
These were thy haunts, thy opulent abodes,
O superstition ! hence the dire disease,
(Ballanc'd with which the fam'd Athenian pest
Were a short head-ach, were the trivial pain
Of transient indigestion) seiz'd mankind.
Long time she rag'd, and scarce a southern gale
Warm'd our chill air, unloaded with the threats
tyrant Rome; but futile all, till she, Rome's abler legate, magnify'd their pow'r, And in a thousand horrid forms attir'd.
Where then was truth, to fanctify the page
Of British annals ? if a foe expir’d,
The perjur'd monk suborn’d infernal shrieks,
And fiends to snatch at the departing soul
With hellish emulation. If a friend,
High o'er his roof exultant angels tune
Their golden lyres, and waft him to the skies.
What then were vows, were oaths, were plighted faith?
The sovereign's just, the subjects loyal pact
To cherish mutual good, annulld and vain,
By Roman magic, grew an idle scroll
Ere the frail fanction of the wax was cold.
With thee, * PLANTAGENET, from civil broils
The land awhile respir’d, and all was peace.
Then Becket rose, and impotent of mind,
From regal courts with lawless fury march'd
The church's blood-stain'd convicts, and forgave;
Bid murd’rous priests the fov’reign frown contemn,
And with unhallowed tcrosier bruis'd the crown.
Yet yielded not supinely tame a prince
Of Henry's virtues ; learn’d, courageous, wise,
Of fair anıbition. Long his regal soul
Firm and erect the peevish priest exil’d,
And brav'd the fury of revengeful Rome.
HENRY II. + R.CHANDI.
In vain ! let one faint malady diffuse
The pensive gloom which superstition loves,
And see him, dwindled to a recreant groom,
Rein the proud palfrey while the priest ascends !
Was Coeur-De-Lion blest with whiter days ?
Hear the cowld zealots with united cries
Urge the crufades and see, of half his stores
Despoild the wretch, whose wiser bosom chose
To bless his friends, his race, his native land.
Of ten fair suns that rolld their annual race,
Not one beheld him on his vacant throne :
While haughty * LONGCHAMP, 'mid his liv'ry'd files
Of wanton vassals, spoild his faithful realm,
Battling in foreign fields ; collecting wide
A laurel harvest for a pillag'd land,
Oh dear-bought trophies ! when a prince deserts His drooping realm, to pluck the barren sprays !
When faithless John usurp'd the fully'd crown What ample tyranny! the groaning land Deem'd earth, deem'd heav'n its foe! six tedious years Our helpless fathers in despair obey'd The papal interdict; and who obey'd, The sovereign plunder’d. O inglorious days ! When the French tyrant by the futile grant Of papal refcript, claim'd BRITANNIA's throne, And durst invade ; be such inglorious days Or hence forgot, or not recall'd in vain ! Scarce had the tortur'd ear dejected heard
ROME's . Bishop of ELY, Lord Chancellor,
Rome's loud anathema, but heartless, dead
To ev'ry purpose, men nor wish'd to live,
Nor dar'd to die. The poor laborious hind
Heard the dire curse, and from his trembling hand
Fell the neglected crook that ruld the plain.
Thence journeying home, in ev'ry cloud he sees
A vengeful angel, in whose waving scroll
He reads damnation ; sees its sable train
Of grim attendants, pencild by despair !
The weary pilgrim from remoter climes
By painful steps arriv'd ; his home, his friends,
His offspring left, to lavish on the shrine
Of some far-honour'd saint his costly stores,
Inverts his footstep; fickens at the sight
Of the barr'd fane, and silent sheds his tear.
The wretch whose hope by stern oppression chas’d
From ev'ry earthly bliss, still as it saw .
Triumphant wrong, took wing and flew to heav'n,
And rested there, now mourn’d his refuge loft
And wonted peace. The sacred fane was barr’d,
And the lone altar, where the mourners throng'd
To supplicate remiffion, smok'd no more;
While the green weed, luxuriant round uprose.
Some from their death-bed, whose delirious faith
Thro' ev'ry stage of life to Rome's decrees
Obsequious, humbly hop'd to die in
Now saw the ghastly king approach, begirt
In tenfold terrors; now expiring heard
The last loud clarion sound, and heav'n's decree