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“ Short was her joy; for soon th'insulting maid They came, and, usual salutations paid,
Though late yet is at last become my care:
Reducid to bounds, by timely providence: That she, whom I so long pursu'd in vain,
This only I require ; invite for me Should suffer from my hands a lingering pain : Honoria, with her father's family, Renewd to life that she might daily die,
Her friends, and mine; the cause I shall display, I daily doom'd to follow, she to fly;
On Friday next; for that's th' appointed day." No more a lover, but a mortal foe,
Well pleas'd were all his friends, the task was light I seek her life (for love is none below ;)
The father, mother, daughter, they invite; As often as my dogs with better speed
Hardly the dame was drawn to this repast; Arrest her fight, is she to death decreed :
But yet resolv'd, because it was the last. Then with this fatal sword, on which I died, The day was come, the guests invited came, I pierce her open back, or tender side,
And, with the rest, th' inexorable dame: And tear that harden'd heart from out her breast, A feast prepard with riotous expense, Which, with her entrails, makes my hungry hounds a Much cost, more care, and most magnificence. feast.
The place ordain'd was in that haunted grove, Nor lies she long, but, as ber Fates ordain, Where the revenging ghost puru'd his love : Springs up to life, and fresh to second pain,
The tables in a proud pavilion spread, Is sav'd to-day, to-morrow to be slain."
With flowers below, and tissue over-head: This, vers'd in death, th' infernal knight relates, The rest in rank, Honoria, chief in place, And then for proof fulfill'd the common fates; Was artfully contriv'd to set her face Her heart and bowels through her back he drew, To front the thicket, and behold the chase. And fed the hounds that help'd him to pursue : The feast was serv'd, the time so well forecast, Stern look'd the fiend, as frustrate of his will, That just when the dessert and fruits were plac'd, Not half suffic'd, and greedy yet to kill.
The fiend's alarm began ; the hollow sound And now the soul, expiring through the wound, Sung in the leaves, the forest shook around, Had left the body breathless on the ground, Air blackend, rolld the thunder, groand the ground. When thus the grisly spectre spoke again :
Nor long before the loud laments arise, " Behold the fruit of ill-rewarded pain :
of one distress'd, and mastiffs' mingled cries; As many months as I sustain'd her hate,
And first the dame came rushing through the wood, So many years is she condemned by Fate
And next the famish'd hounds that sought their food, To daily death; and every several place,
And grip'd her flanks, and oft essay'd their jaws in Conscious of her disdain and my disgrace,
blood. Must witness her just punishment; and be Last came the felon, on his sable steed, (speed. A scene of triumph and revenge to me!
Arm'd with his naked sword, and urg'd his dogs to As in this grove I took my last farewell,
She ran, and cried, her flight directly bent As on this very spot of earth I fell,
(A guest unbidden) to the fatal tent, (ment. As Friday saw me die, so she my prey
The scene of death, and place ordain'd for punish Becomes ev'n here, on this revolving day.”
Loud was the noise, aghast was every guest, Thus while he spoke the virgin from the ground The women shriek'd, the men forsook the feast; Upstarted fresh, already clos'd the wound,
The hounds at nearer distance hoarsely bay'd ; And, unconcern'd for all she felt before,
The hunter close pursu'd the visionary maid, Precipitates her flight along the shore :
She rent the Heaven with loud laments, imploring aid The hell-hounds, as ungorg'd with flesh and blood, | The gallants, to protect the lady's right, Pursue their prey, and seek their wonted food : Their falchions brandish'd at the grisly sprite; The fiend remounts his courser, mends his pace; High on his stirrups he provok'd the fight, And all the vision vanish'd from the place.
Then on the crowd he cast a furious look, Long stood the noble youth, oppress'd with awe And wither'd all their strength before he spoke: And stupid at the wondrous things he saw,
" Back on your lives! let be," said he, “my prey, Surpassing common faith, transgressing Nature's law. And let my vengeance take the destin'd way: He would have been asleep, and wish'd to wake, Vain are your arms, and vainer your defence, But dreams, he knew, no long impression make, Against th'eternal doom of Providence : Though strong at first; if vision, to what end, Mine is th’ungrateful maid by Heaven design'd: But such as must his future state portend?
Mercy she would not give, nor mercy shall she find." His love the damsel, and himself the fiend. At this the former tale again he told But yet, reflecting that it could not be
With thundering tone, and dreadful to behold: From Heaven, which cannot impious acts decree, Sunk were their hearts with horror of the crime, Resolv'd within himself to shun the snare,
Nor needed to be warnd a second time, Which Hell for his destruction did prepare ;
But bore each other back : some knew the face, And, as his better genius should direct,
And all had heard the much-lamented case From an ill cause to draw a good effect.
of him who fell for love, and this the fatal place Inspir'd from Heaven he homeward took his way, And now th' infernal minister advanc'd, Nor pallid his new design with long delay : Seiz'd the due victim, and with fury lanc'd But of his train a trusty servant sent,
Her back, and, piercing through her inmost heart To call his friends together at his tent.
Drew backward as before th' offending part;
('he reeking entrails next he tore away,
Darkling and desperate, with a staggering pace, And to his meagre mastiffs made a prey.
Of death afraid, and conscious of disgrace ; The pale assistants on each other star'd,
Fear, Pride, Remorse, at once her heart assail'd, With gaping mouths for issuing words prepar'd; Pride put Remorse to flight, but Fear prevailid. The still-born sounds upon the palate hung, Friday, the fatal day, when next it came, And died imperfect on the faltering tongue. Her soul forethought the fiend would change his game, The fright was general; but the female band And her pursue, or Theodore be slain, (plain. A helpless train) in more confusion stand :
And two ghosts join their packs to hunt her o'er the With horror shuddering, on a heap they run, This dreadful image so possess'd her mind, Sick at the sight of hateful justice done ; [own. That, desperate any succor else to find, For conscience rung th'alarm, and made the case their She ceas'd all farther hope; and now began
So, spread upon a lake, with upward eye, To make reflection on th’unhappy man, A plump of fowl behold their foe on high; Rich, brave, and young, who past expression lov'd, They close their trembling troop; and all attend Proof to disdain, and not to be remov'd : On whom the sowsing eagle will descend.
Of all the men respected and admir'd, But most the proud Honoria fear'd th' event, Of all the dames, except herself, desir'd: And thought to her alone the vision sent.
Why not of her? preferr'd above the rest Her guilt presents to her distracted mind
By him with knightly deeds and open love profess'd ? Heaven's justice, Theodore's revengeful kind, So had another been, where he his vows address d. And the same fate to the same sin assign'd.
This quell'd her pride, yet other doubts remain'd. Already sees herself the monster's prey,
That, once disdaining, she might be disdain'd. And feels her heart and entrails torn away.
The fear was just, but greater fear prevailid, Twas a mute scene of sorrow, mix'd with fear; Fear of her life by hellish hounds assail'd : Suill on the table lay th' unfinish'd cheer:
He took a lowering leave; but who can tell, The knight and hungry mastiffs stood around, What outward hate might inward love conceal ? The mangled dame lay breathless on the ground; Her sex's arts she knew; and why not, then, When on a sudden, reinspir'd with breath,
Might deep dissembling have a place in men ? Again she rose, again to suffer death;
Here hope began to dawn; resolv'd to try,
Death was behind, but hard it was to die.
One maid she had, belov'd above the rest; But fear, the last of ills, remain'd behind,
Secure of her, the secret she confess'd; And horror heavy sat on every mind.
And now the cheerful light her fears dispellid, Nor Theodore encourag'd more the feast,
She with no winding turns the truth conceal'd, But sternly look'd, as hatching in his breast
But put the woman off, and stood reveal'd: Some deep designs; which when Honoria view'd, With faults confess'd commission'd her to go, The fresh impulse her former fright renew'd; If pity yet had place, and reconcile her foe. She thought herself the trembling dame who fled, The welcome message made, was soon receiv'd; And him the grisly ghost that spurr'd th' infernal "Twas to be wishod, and hop'd, but scarce believ'd ; steed :
Fate seem'd a fair occasion to present; The more dismay'd, for when the guests withdrew, He knew the sex, and fear'd she might repent, Their courteous host, saluting all the crew,
Should he delay de moment of consent. Regardless pass'd her o'er, nor grac'd with kind adieu; There yet remain'd to gain her friends (a care That sting infix'd within her haughty mind, The modesty of maidens well might spare ;) The downfall of her empire she divin'd;
But she with such a zeal the cause embrac'd, And her proud heart with secret sorrow pin'd. (As women, where they will, are all in haste) Home as they went, the sad discourse renew'd The father, mother, and the kin beside, Of the relentless dame to death pursu'd,
Were overborne by fury of the tide ; And of the sight obscene so lately view'd.
With full consent of all, she chang'd her state; None darst arraign the righteous doom she bore, Resistless in her love, as in her hate. Ev'n they who pitied most, yet blam'd her more: By her example warn'd, the rest beware : The parallel they needed not to name,
More easy, less imperious, were the fair;
For one fair female, lost him half the kind.
AN EPISTLE But in short slumbers dreamt the funeral feast Awak’d, she turn'd her side, and slept again; Dim as the borrow'd beams of Moon and stars The same black vapors mounted in her brain, To lonely, weary, wandering travellers, And the same dreams return'd with double pain. Is Reason to the soul : and as on high,
Now forc'd to wake, because afraid to sleep, Those rolling fires discover but the sky, Her blood all fever'd, with a furious leap
Not light us here; so Reason's glimmering ray She sprang from bed, distracted in her mind, Was lent, not to assure our doubtful way, And fear'd, at every step, a twitching sprite behind. But guide us upward to a better day.
And as those nightly tapers disappear
Canst thou by reason more of godhead know
| Those giant wits in happier ages born,
Nor did remorse to expiate sin prescribe : Whether some soul encompassing this ball
But slew their fellow-creatures for a bribe : Unmade, unmov'd; yet making, moving all ; The guiltless victim groan'd for their offence; Or various atoms, interfering dance,
And cruelty and blood was penitence. Leap'd into form, the noble work of chance; If sheep and oxen could atone for men, Or this great all was from eternity;
Ah! at how cheap a rate the rich might sin! Not ev'n the Stagirite himself could see;
And great oppressors might Heaven's wrath begune And Epicurus guess'd as well as he ;
By offering his own creatures for a spoil ! As blindly grop'd they for a future state ;
Darst thou, poor worm, offend Infinity! As rashly judg'd of providence and fate :
And must the terms of peace be given by thee? But least of all could their endeavors find
Then thou art Justice in the last appeal; What most concern'd the good of human-kind : Thy easy God instructs thee to rebel : For happiness was never to be found;
And, like a king remote and weak, must take But vanish'd from them like enchanted ground. What satisfaction thou art pleas'd to make. One thought content the good to be enjoy'd ;
But if there be a power too just and strong. This every little accident destroy'd :
To wink at crimes, and bear unpunish'd wrong. The wiser madmen did for virtue toil ;
Look humbly upward, see his will disclose A thorny, or at best a barren soil :
The forfeit first, and then the fine impose : In pleasure some their glutton souls would steep; A mulct thy poverty could never pay, But found their line too short, the well too deep; Had not Eternal Wisdom found the way; And leaky vessels which no bliss could keep. And with celestial wealth supplied thy store : Thus anxious thoughts in endless circles roll, His justice makes the fine, his mercy quits the score Without a centre where to fix the soul :
See God descending in thy human frame; In this wild maze their vain endeavors end : Th' offended suffering in th' offender's name: How can the less the greater comprehend ? | All thy misdeeds to him imputed see, Or finite reason reach Infinity?
And all his righteousness devolv'd on thee. For what could fathom God were more than He. | For, granting we have sinn'd, and that th' offence
The deist thinks he stands on firmer ground; Of man is made against Omnipotence, Cries supera, the mighty secret's found :
Some price that bears proportion must be paid , God is that spring of good; supreme, and best ; And infinite with infinite be weigh'd. We made to serve, and in that service blest. See then the deist lost: remorse for vice, If so, some rules of worship must be given, Not paid ; or, paid, inadequate in price: Distributed alike to all by Heaven:
What farther means can reason now direct,
Or what relief from human wit expect?
If then Heaven's will must needs be understood, And when frail Nature slides into offence, Which must, if we want cure, and Heaven be good, The sacrifice for crimes is penitence.
Let all records of will reveal'd be shown; Yet, since the effects of providence, we find, With Scripture all in equal balance thrown, Are variously dispens'd to human-kind;
And our one sacred book will be that one. That Vice triumphs, and Virtue suffers here,
Proof needs not here ; for whether we compare A brand that sovereign justice cannot bear; That impious, idle, superstitious ware Our reason prompts us to a future state ;
Of rites, lustrations, offerings, which before, The last appeal from fortune and from fate : In various ages, various countries bore, Where God's all-righteous ways will be declar'd; With Christian faith and virtues, we shall find The bad meet punishment, the good reward. None answering the great ends of human-kind
Thus man by his own strength to Heaven would soar, But this one rule of life, that shows us best And would not be oblig'd to God for more. How God may be appeas'd, and mortals blest. Vain wretched creature, how art thou misled Whether from length of time its worth we draw, To think thy wit these godlike notions bred! The word is scarce more ancient than the law: These truths are not the product of thy mind, Heaven's early care prescrib'd for every age; But dropt from Heaven, and of a nobler kind. First, in the soul, and after, in the page. Reveal'd religion first inform’d thy sight,
Or, whether more abstractedly we look, And reason saw not till faith sprung to light. Or on the writers, or the written book, Hence all thy natural worship takes the source : Whence, but from Heaven,could men unskill'd in arts. "Tis revelation what thou think'st discourse. In several ages born, in several parts, Else how com'st thou to see these truths so clear, Weave such agreeing truths? or how, or why, Which so obscure to heathens did appear?
Should all conspire to cheat us with a lie? Not Plato these, nor Aristotle found :
Unask'd their pains, ungrateful their advice, Nor he whose wisdom oracles renown'd.
Starving their gain, and martyrdom their price, Hast thou a wit so deep, or so sublime,
If on the book itself we cast our view, Or canst thou lower dive, or higher climb!
Concurrent heathens prove the story true.
The doctrine, miracles; which must convince, Then let us either think he meant to say
Flew high; and as his Christian fury rose,
Damn'd all for heretics who durst oppose. Commanding words; whose force is still the same Thus far my charity this path has tried; As the first fiat that produc'd our frana.
A much unskilful, but well-meaning guide : All faiths beside, or did by arms ascend ,
Yet what they are, ev'n these crude thoughts were bred Or sense indulg'd has made mankind their friend. By reading that which better thou hact read. This only doctrine does our lusts oppose :
Thy matchless author's work: which thou, my friend, Unfed by Nature's soil, in which it grows;
By well translating better dost commend : Cross to our interests, curbing sense and sin; Those youthful hours which, of thy equals most Oppress'd without, and undermind within,
In toys have squander'd, or in vice have lost, It thrives through pain; its own tormentors tires; Those hours hast thou to nobler use employ'd; And with a stubborn patience still aspires.
And the severe delights of truth enjoy'd. To what can reason such effects assign
Witness this weighty book, in which appears Transcending nature, but to laws divine;
The crabbed toil of many thoughtful years, Which in that sacred volume are contain'd; Spent by the author, in the sifting care Sufficient, clear, and for that use ordain'd ?
of rabbins' old sophisticated ware But stay: the deist here will urge anew, From gold divine; which he who well can sort No supernatural worship can be true;
May afterwards make algebra a sport.
A treasure, which if coun'ry-curates buy,
Save pains in various readings, and translations ; Vor aught that bears reveal'd religion's name. And without Hebrew make most learn'd quotations. "Tis said the sound of a Messiah's birth
A work so full with various learning fraught, Is gone through all the habitable Earth :
So nicely ponder'd, yet so strongly wrought, But still that text must be confin'd alone
As Nature's height and Art's last hand requir'd To what was then inhabited and known:
As much as man could compass, uninspir'd. And what provision could from thence accrue Where we may see what errors have been made To Indian souls, and worlds discover'd new ? Both in the copier's and translator's trade : In other parts it helps, that, ages past,
How Jewish, popish, interests have prevailid, The Scriptures there were known, and were embrac'd, And where infallibility has fail'd. Till sin spread once again the shades of night: For some, who have his secret meaning guess J, What's that to these, who never saw the light? Have found our author not too much a priest. Of all objections, this indeed is chief
For fashion-sake he seems to have recourse
To pope, and councils, and tradition's force :
Could not but find the weakness of the new :
If God's own people, who of God before Much more may strangers who ne'er heard his name. Knew what we know, and had been promis'd more, And though no name be for salvation known, In fuller terms, of Heaven's assisting care, But that of his eternal Son's alone;
And who did neither time nor study spare Who knows how far transcending goodness can To keep this book untainted, unperplext, Extend the merits of that Son to man?
Let in gross errors to corrupt the text, Who knows what reasons may his mercy lead; Omitted paragraphs, embroil'd the sense, Or ignorance invincible may plead ?
With vain traditions stopt the gaping fence, Not only charity bids hope the best,
Which every common hand pull'd up with ease. But more the great apostle has exprest :
What safety from such brushwood-helps as these? That if the Gentiles, whom no law inspir'd, If written words from time are not secur'd, By nature did what was by law requir'd;
How can we think have oral sounds endur'd ?
O but, says one, tradition set aside,
Or Christian faith can have no certain ground,
Such an omniscient church we wish indeed; Th' Egyptian bishop of another mind :
"Twere worth both Testaments ; cast in the creed For though his creed eternal truth contains,
But if this mother be a guide so sure, Tis hard for man to doom to endless pains
As can all doubts resolve, all truth secure,
Then her infallibility, as well
Restore lost canon with as little pains,
But first they would assume, with wondrous art, As truly explicate what still remains :
Themselves to be the whole, who are but part Which yet no council dare pretend to do;
Of that vast frame the church; yet grant they were Unless like Esdras they could write it new : The handers-down, can they from thence infer Strange confidence still to interpret true,
A right t'interpret? or would they alone, Yet not be sure that all they have explain'd
Who brought the present, claim it for their own? Is in the blest original contain'd.
The book's a common largess to mankind; More safe, and much more modest 'tis, to say Not more for them than every man design'd: God would not leave mankind without a way: The welcome news is in the letter found; And that the Scriptures, though not everywhere The carrier's not commission'd to expound. Free from corruption, or entire, or clear,
It speaks itself, and what it does contain, Are uncorrupt, sufficient, clear, entire,
In all things needful to be known is plain. In all things which our needful faith require.
In times o'ergrown with rust and ignorance, If others in the same glass better see,
A gainful trade their clergy did advance : "Tis for themselves they look, but not for me : When want of learning kept the laymen low, For my salvation must its doom receive,
And none but priests were authoriz'd to know: Not from what others, but what I believe.
When what small knowledge was, in them did dwell, Must all tradition then be set aside ?
And he a god who could but read and spell ;
Then mother-church did mightily prevail :
Scripture was scarce, and, as the market went,
As needy men take money good or bad : From the same Scripture urges he's but man. God's word they had not, but the priest's they had. Now what appeal can end th' important suit? Yet whate'er false conveyances they made, Both parts talk loudly, but the rule is mute. The lawyer still was certain to be paid. Shall I speak plain, and in a nation free
In those dark times they learn'd their knack so well, Assume an honest layman's liberty?
That by long use they grew infallible : I think, according to my little skill,
At last a knowing age began t'inquire To my own mother-church submitting still,
If they the book, or that did them inspire : That many have been sav'd, and many may, And, making narrower search, they found, though Who never heard this question brought in play
Then every man who saw the title fair,
Consulted soberly his private good;
And say'd himself as cheap as e'er he could. Which doctrine, this, or that does best agree
"Tis true, my friend, and far be flattery hence, With the whole tenor of the work divine :
This good had full as bad a consequence : And plainliest points to Heaven's reveal'd design; The book thus put in every vulgar hand, Which exposition flows from genuine sense,
Which each presum'd he best could understand, And which is forc'd hy wit and eloquence.
The common rule was made the common prey ; Not that tradition's parts are useless here:
And at the mercy of the rabble lay. When general, old, disinterested, clear :
The tender page with horny fists was gallid; That ancient fathers thus expound the page, And he was gifted most that loudest bawlid : Gives truth the reverend majesty of age :
The spirit gave the doctoral degree: Confirms its force by biding every test;
And every member of a company For best authorities, next rules, are best.
Was of his trade, and of the Bible free. And still the nearer to the spring we go
Plain truths enough for needful use they found; More limpid, more unsoil'd, the waters flow, But men would still be itching to expound: Thus first traditions were a proof alone;
Each was ambitious of th' obscurest place, Could we be certain such they were, so known: No measure ta'en from knowledge, all from grace. But since some flaws in long descent may be, Study and pains were now no more their care ; They make not truth, but probability.
Texts were explain'd by fasting and by prayer: Ev'n Arius and Pelagius durst provoke
This was the fruit the private spirit brought; To what the centuries preceding spoke.
Occasion'd by great zeal and little thought. Such difference is there in an oft-told tale :
While crowds unlearn'd, with rude devotion warm, But truth by its own sinews will prevail.
About the sacred viands buzz and swarm. Tradition written therefore more commends
The fly-blown text creates a crawling brood; Authority, than what from voice descends :
And turns to maggots what was meant for food And this, as perfect as its kind can be,
A thousand daily sects rise up and die; Rolls down to us the sacred history:
A thousand more the perish'd race supply: Which, from the universal church receiv'd,
So all we make of Heaven's discover'd will, Is tried, and after, for itself believ'd.
Is, not to have it, or to use it ill. The partial papists would infer from hence The danger's much the same; on several shelves Their church, in last resort, should judge the sense. If others wreck us, or we wreck ourselves.