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- Tales - 2/52 -


And learn, by feeling, what it is to force On thy unwilling friends the long discourse: What though thy thoughts be just, and these, it seems, Are traitors' projects, idiots' empty schemes; Yet minds, like bodies, cramm'd, reject their food, Nor will be forced and tortured for their good!" At length, a sharp, shrewd, sallow man arose, And begg'd he briefly might his mind disclose; "It was his duty, in these worst of times, T'inform the govern'd of their rulers' crimes:" This pleasant subject to attend, they each Prepare to listen, and forbore to teach. Then voluble and fierce the wordy man Through a long chain of favourite horrors ran: - First of the Church, from whose enslaving power He was deliver'd, and he bless'd the hour; "Bishops and deans, and prebendaries all," He said, "were cattle fatt'ning in the stall; Slothful and pursy, insolent and mean, Were every bishop, prebendary, dean, And wealthy rector: curates, poorly paid, Were only dull;--he would not them upbraid." From priests he turn'd to canons, creeds, and prayers, Rubrics and rules, and all our Church affairs; Churches themselves, desk, pulpit, altar, all The Justice reverenced--and pronounced their fall. Then from religion Hammond turn'd his view To give our Rulers the correction due; Not one wise action had these triflers plann'd; There was, it seem'd, no wisdom in the land, Save in this patriot tribe, who meet at times To show the statesman's errors and his crimes. Now here was Justice Bolt compell'd to sit, To hear the deist's scorn, the rebel's wit; The fact mis-stated, the envenom'd lie, And, staring spell-bound, made not one reply. Then were our Laws abused--and with the laws, All who prepare, defend, or judge a cause: "We have no lawyer whom a man can trust," Proceeded Hammond--"if the laws were just; But they are evil; 'tis the savage state Is only good, and ours sophisticate! See! the free creatures in their woods and plains, Where without laws each happy monarch reigns, King of himself--while we a number dread, By slaves commanded and by dunces led: Oh, let the name with either state agree - Savage our own we'll name, and civil theirs shall be." The silent Justice still astonish'd sat, And wonder'd much whom he was gazing at; Twice he essay'd to speak--but in a cough, The faint, indignant, dying speech went off: "But who is this?" thought he--"a demon vile, With wicked meaning and a vulgar style: Hammond they call him: they can give the name Of man to devils.--Why am I so tame? Why crush I not the viper?"--Fear replied, Watch him awhile, and let his strength be tried: He will be foil'd, if man; but if his aid Be from beneath, 'tis well to be afraid." "We are call'd free!" said Hammond--"doleful times, When rulers add their insult to their crimes; For should our scorn expose each powerful vice, It would be libel, and we pay the price." Thus with licentious words the man went on, Proving that liberty of speech was gone; That all were slaves--nor had we better chance For better times, than as allies to France. Loud groan'd the Stranger--Why, he must relate, And own'd, "In sorrow for his country's fate;" "Nay, she were safe," the ready man replied, "Might patriots rule her, and could reasoners guide; When all to vote, to speak, to teach, are free, Whate'er their creeds or their opinions be; When books of statutes are consumed in flames, And courts and copyholds are empty names: Then will be times of joy--but ere they come, Havock, and war, and blood must be our doom." The man here paused--then loudly for Reform He call'd, and hail'd the prospect of the storm: The wholesome blast, the fertilizing flood - Peace gain'd by tumult, plenty bought with blood: Sharp means, he own'd; but when the land's disease Asks cure complete, no med'cines are like these. Our Justice now, more led by fear than rage, Saw it in vain with madness to engage; With imps of darkness no man seeks to fight, Knaves to instruct, or set deceivers right: Then as the daring speech denounced these woes, Sick at the soul, the grieving Guest arose; Quick on the board his ready cash he threw, And from the demons to his closet flew: There when secured, he pray'd with earnest seal, That all they wish'd these patriot-souls might feel; "Let them to France, their darling country, haste, And all the comforts of a Frenchman taste; Let them his safety, freedom, pleasure know, Feel all their rulers on the land bestow; And be at length dismiss'd by one unerring blow, - Not hack'd and hew'd by one afraid to strike, But shorn by that which shears all men alike; Nor, as in Britain, let them curse delay Of law, but borne without a form away - Suspected, tried, condemn'd, and carted in a day; Oh! let them taste what they so much approve, These strong fierce freedoms of the land they love." {2} Home came our hero, to forget no more The fear he felt and ever must deplore: For though he quickly join'd his friends again, And could with decent force his themes maintain, Still it occurr'd that, in a luckless time, He fail'd to fight with heresy and crime; It was observed his words were not so strong, His tones so powerful, his harangues so long, As in old times--for he would often drop The lofty look, and of a sudden stop; When conscience whisper'd, that he once was still, And let the wicked triumph at their will; And therefore now, when not a foe was near, He had no right so valiant to appear. Some years had pass'd, and he perceived his fears Yield to the spirit of his earlier years - When at a meeting, with his friends beside, He saw an object that awaked his pride; His shame, wrath, vengeance, indignation--all Man's harsher feelings did that sight recall. For, lo! beneath him fix'd, our Man of Law That lawless man the Foe of Order saw; Once fear'd, now scorn'd; once dreaded, now abhorrd: A wordy man, and evil every word: Again he gazed--"It is," said he "the same Caught and secure: his master owes him shame;" So thought our hero, who each instant found His courage rising, from the numbers round. As when a felon has escaped and fled, So long, that law conceives the culprit dead; And back recall'd her myrmidons, intent On some new game, and with a stronger scent; Till she beholds him in a place, where none Could have conceived the culprit would have gone; There he sits upright in his seat, secure, As one whose conscience is correct and pure; This rouses anger for the old offence, And scorn for all such seeming and pretence: So on this Hammond look'd our hero bold, Rememb'ring well that vile offence of old; And now he saw the rebel dar'd t'intrude Among the pure, the loyal, and the good; The crime provok'd his wrath, the folly stirr'd his blood: Nor wonder was it, if so strange a sight Caused joy with vengeance, terror with delight; Terror like this a tiger might create, A joy like that to see his captive state, At once to know his force and then decree his fate. Hammond, much praised by numerous friends, was come To read his lectures, so admired at home; Historic lectures, where he loved to mix His free plain hints on modern politics: Here, he had heard, that numbers had design, Their business finish'd, to sit down and dine; This gave him pleasure, for he judged it right To show by day that he could speak at night. Rash the design--for he perceived, too late, Not one approving friend beside him sate; The greater number, whom he traced around, Were men in black, and he conceived they frown'd. "I will not speak," he thought; "no pearls of mine Shall be presented to this herd of swine;" Not this avail'd him, when he cast his eye On Justice Bolt; he could not fight, nor fly: He saw a man to whom he gave the pain, Which now he felt must be return'd again; His conscience told him with what keen delight He, at that time, enjoy'd a stranger's fright; That stranger now befriended--he alone, For all his insult, friendless, to atone; Now he could feel it cruel that a heart Should be distress'd, and none to take its part; "Though one by one," said Pride, "I would defy Much greater men, yet meeting every eye, I do confess a fear--but he will pass me by." Vain hope! the Justice saw the foe's distress, With exultation he could not suppress; He felt the fish was hook'd--and so forbore, In playful spite to draw it to the shore. Hammond look'd round again; but none were near, With friendly smile to still his growing fear; But all above him seem'd a solemn row Of priests and deacons, so they seem'd below; He wonder'd who his right-hand man might be - Vicar of Holt cum Uppingham was he; And who the man of that dark frown possess'd - Rector of Bradley and of Barton-west; "A pluralist," he growl'd--but check'd the word, That warfare might not, by his zeal, be stirr'd. But now began the man above to show Fierce looks and threat'nings to the man below; Who had some thoughts his peace by flight to seek - But how then lecture, if he dar'd not speak! - Now as the Justice for the war prepared,


Tales - 2/52

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