1 GRACE said in form, which Sceptics must agree,
2 When they are told that Grace was said by Me;
3 The Servants gone, to break the scurvy jest
4 On the proud Landlord, and his thread-bare guest;
5 The King gone round, my Lady too withdrawn,
6 My Lord, in usual taste, began to yawn,
7 And lolling backward in his Elbow-chair,
8 With an insipid kind of stupid stare,
[Page 2]
9 Picking his teeth, twirling his seals about
10 CHURCHILL, You have a Poem coming out.
11 You've my best wishes; but I really fear
12 Your Muse in general is too severe,
13 Her Spirit seems her int'rest to oppose,
14 And, where She makes one friend, makes twenty foes.
15 Your Lordship's fears are just, I feel their force,
16 But only feel it as [a] thing of course.
17 The Man, whose hardy Spirit shall engage
18 To lash the vices of a guilty age,
19 At his first setting forward ought to know,
20 That ev'ry rogue he meets must be his foe,
21 That the rude breath of Satire will provoke
22 Many who feel, and more who fear the stroke.
23 But shall the partial rage of selfish men
24 From stubborn Justice wrench the righteous pen,
25 Or shall I not my settled course pursue,
26 Because my foes, are foes to Virtue too?
27 What is this boasted Virtue, taught in Schools,
28 And idly drawn from antiquated rules?
29 What is her Use? point out one wholesome end?
30 Will She hurt foes, or can She make a Friend?
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31 When from long fasts fierce appetites arise,
32 Can this same Virtue stifle Nature's cries?
33 Can She the pittance of a meal afford,
34 Or bid thee welcome to one great Man's board?
35 When Northern winds the rough December arm
36 With frost and snow, can Virtue keep thee warm?
37 Canst Thou dismiss the hard unfeeling Dun
38 Barely by saying, Thou art Virtue's Son?
39 Or by base blund'ring Statesmen sent to jail,
40 Will MANSFIELD take this Virtue for thy bail?
41 Believe it not, the Name is in disgrace,
42 Virtue and TEMPLE now are out of place.
43 Quit then this Meteor, whose delusive ray
44 From wealth and honour leads thee far astray.
45 True Virtue means, let Reason use her eyes,
46 Nothing with Fools, and Int'rest with the Wise.
47 Would'st Thou be great, her patronage disclaim,
48 Nor madly triumph in so mean a name:
49 Let nobler wreaths thy happy brows adorn,
50 And leave to Virtue poverty and scorn.
51 Let Prudence be thy guide; who doth not know
52 How seldom Prudence can with Virtue go?
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53 To be Successful try thy utmost force,
54 And Virtue follows as a thing of course.
55 HIRCO, who knows not HIRCO, stains the bed
56 Of that kind Master who first gave him bread,
57 Scatters the seeds of discord thro' the land,
58 Breaks ev'ry public, ev'ry private band,
59 Beholds with joy a trusting friend undone,
60 Betrays a Brother, and would cheat a Son:
61 What mortal in his senses can endure
62 The name of HIRCO, for the wretch is poor?
63 "Let him hang, drown, starve, on a dunghill rot,
64 "By all detested live, and die forgot;
65 "Let him, a poor return, in ev'ry breath
66 "Feel all death's pains, yet be whole years in death, "
67 Is now the gen'ral cry we all pursue;
68 Let FORTUNE change, and PRUDENCE changes too,
69 Supple and pliant a new system feels,
70 Throws up her Cap, and spaniels at his heels,
71 Long live Great HIRCO, cries, by int'rest taught,
72 And let his foes, tho' I prove one, be nought.
73 Peace to such Men, if such Men can have peace,
74 Let their Possessions, let their State increase,
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75 Let their base services in Courts strike root,
76 And in the season bring forth golden fruit,
77 I envy not; let those who have the will,
78 And, with so little Spirit, so much skill,
79 With such vile instruments their fortunes carve;
80 Rogues may grow fat, an Honest man dares starve.
81 These stale conceits thrown off, let us advance
82 For once to real life, and quit Romance.
83 Starve! pretty talking! but I fain would view
84 That man, that honest man would do it too.
85 Hence to Yon Mountain which outbraves the sky,
86 And dart from pole to pole thy strengthen'd eye,
87 Thro' all that space You shall not view one man,
88 Not one, who dares to act on such a plan.
89 Cowards in calms will say, what in a storm
90 The Brave will tremble at, and not perform.
91 Thine be the Proof, and, spite of all You've said,
92 You'd give Your Honour for a crust of bread.
93 What Proof might do, what Hunger might effect,
94 What famish'd Nature, looking with neglect
95 On all She once held dear, what Fear, at strife
96 With fainting Virtue for the means of life,
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97 Might make this coward flesh, in love with breath,
98 Shudd'ring at pain, and shrinking back from death,
99 In treason to my soul, descend to bear,
100 Trusting to Fate, I neither know, nor care,
101 Once, at this hour those wounds afresh I feel,
102 Which nor Prosperity nor Time can heal,
103 Those wounds, which Fate severely hath decreed,
104 Mention'd or thought of, must for ever bleed,
105 Those wounds, which humbled all that pride of Man,
106 Which brings such mighty aid to Virtue's plan;
107 Once, aw'd by Fortune's most oppressive frown,
108 By legal rapine to the earth bow'd down,
109 My Credit at last gasp, my State undone,
110 Trembling to meet the shock I could not shun,
111 Virtue gave ground, and blank despair prevail'd;
112 Sinking beneath the storm, my Spirits fail'd,
113 Like PETER's Faith, 'till One, a Friend indeed,
114 May all distress find such in time of need,
115 One kind good Man, in act, in word, in thought,
116 By Virtue guided, and by Wisdom taught,
117 Image of him whom Christians should adore,
118 Stretch'd forth his hand, and brought me safe to shore.
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119 Since, by good fortune into notice rais'd,
120 And for some little merit largely prais'd,
121 Indulg'd in swerving from Prudential rules,
122 Hated by Rogues, and not belov'd by Fools,
123 Plac'd above want, shall abject thirst of wealth
124 So fiercely war 'gainst my Soul's dearest health,
125 That, as a boon, I should base shackles crave,
126 And, born to Freedom, make myself a slave;
127 That I should in the train of those appear,
128 Whom Honour cannot love, nor Manhood fear?
129 That I no longer skulk from street to street,
130 Afraid least Duns assail, and Bailiffs meet;
131 That I from place to place this carcase bear,
132 Walk forth at large, and wander free as air;
133 That I no longer dread the aukward friend,
134 Whose very obligations must offend,
135 Nor, all too froward, with impatience burn
136 At suff'ring favours which I can't return;
137 That, from dependance and from pride secure,
138 I am not plac'd so high to scorn the poor,
139 Nor yet so low, that I my Lord should fear,
140 Or hesitate to give him sneer for sneer;
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141 That, whilst sage Prudence my pursuits confirms,
142 I can enjoy the world on equal terms;
143 That, kind to others, to myself most true,
144 Feeling no want, I comfort those who do,
145 And with the will have pow'r to aid distress;
146 These, and what other blessings I possess,
147 From the indulgence of the PUBLIC rise;
148 All private Patronage my Soul defies.
149 By Candour more inclin'd to save, than damn,
150 A gen'rous PUBLIC made me what I Am.
151 All that I have, They gave; just Mem'ry bears,
152 The grateful stamp, and what I am is Theirs.
153 To feign a red-hot zeal for freedom's cause,
154 To mouthe aloud for liberties and laws,
155 For Public good to bellow all abroad,
156 Serves well the purposes of private fraud.
157 Prudence, by Public good intends her own;
158 If You mean otherwise, You stand alone.
159 What do we mean by Country and by Court,
160 What is it to Oppose, what to Support?
161 Mere words of course, and what is more absurd
162 Than to pay homage to an empty word!
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163 MAJORS and MINORS differ but in name,
164 Patriots and Ministers are much the same;
165 The only diff'rence, after all their rout,
166 Is that the One is in, the Other out.
167 Explore the dark recesses of the mind,
168 In the Soul's honest volume read mankind,
169 And own, in wise and simple, great and small,
170 The same grand leading Principle in All.
171 Whate'er we talk of wisdom to the wise,
172 Of goodness to the good, of public ties
173 Which to our country link, of private bands
174 Which claim most dear attention at our hands,
175 For Parent and for Child, for Wife and Friend,
176 Our first great Mover, and our last great End,
177 Is One, and, by whatever name we call
178 The ruling Tyrant, SELF is All in All.
179 This, which unwilling Faction shall admit,
180 Guided in diff'rent ways a BUTE and PITT,
181 Made Tyrants break, made Kings observe the law,
182 And gave the world a STUART and NASSAU.
183 Hath Nature (strange and wild conceit of Pride)
184 Distinguish'd thee from all her sons beside?
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185 Doth Virtue in thy bosom brighter glow,
186 Or from a Spring more pure doth Action flow?
187 Is not thy Soul bound with those very chains
188 Which shackle us, or is that SELF, which reigns
189 O'er Kings and Beggars, which in all we see
190 Most strong and sov'reign, only weak in Thee?
191 Fond man, believe it not; Experience tells
192 'Tis not thy Virtue, but thy Pride rebels.
193 Think, and for once lay by thy lawless pen;
194 Think, and confess thyself like other men;
195 Think but one hour, and, to thy Conscience led
196 By Reason's hand, bow down and hang thy head;
197 Think on thy private life, recal thy Youth,
198 View thyself now, and own with strictest truth,
199 That SELF hath drawn Thee from fair Virtue's way
200 Farther than Folly would have dar'd to stray,
201 And that the talents lib'ral Nature gave
202 To make thee free, have made thee more a slave.
203 Quit then, in prudence quit, that idle train
204 Of toys, which have so long abus'd thy brain,
205 And captive led thy pow'rs; with boundless will
206 Let SELF maintain her state and empire still,
[Page 11]
207 But let her, with more worthy objects caught,
208 Strain all the faculties and force of thought
209 To things of higher daring; let her range
210 Thro' better pastures, and learn how to change;
211 Let her, no longer to weak faction tied,
212 Wisely revolt, and join our stronger side.
213 Ah! what, my Lord, hath private life to do
214 With things of public Nature? why to view
215 Would You thus cruelly those scenes unfold,
216 Which, without pain and horror to behold,
217 Must speak me something more, or less than man;
218 Which Friends may pardon, but I never can?
219 Look back! a Thought which borders on despair,
220 Which human Nature must, yet cannot bear.
221 'Tis not the babbling of a busy world,
222 Where Praise and Censure are at random hurl'd,
223 Which can the meanest of my thoughts controul,
224 Or shake one settled purpose of my Soul.
225 Free and at large might their wild curses roam,
226 If All, if All alas! were well at home.
227 No 'tis the tale which angry Conscience tells,
228 When She with more than tragic horror swells
[Page 12]
229 Each circumstance of guilt; when stern, but true,
230 She brings bad actions forth into review;
231 And, like the dread hand-writing on the wall,
232 Bids late Remorse awake at Reason's call,
233 Arm'd at all points bids Scorpion Vengeance pass,
234 And to the mind holds up Reflexion's glass,
235 The mind, which starting, heaves the heart-felt groan,
236 And hates that form She knows to be her own.
237 Enough of this let private sorrows rest
238 As to the Public I dare stand the test;
239 Dare proudly boast, I feel no wish above
240 The good of ENGLAND, and my Country's love.
241 Stranger to Party-rage, by Reason's voice,
242 Unerring guide, directed in my choice,
243 Not all the tyrant pow'rs of earth combin'd,
244 No, nor of hell, shall make me change my mind.
245 What! herd with men my honest soul disdains,
246 Men who, with servile zeal, are forging chains
247 For Freedom's neck, and lend a helping hand,
248 To spread destruction o'er my native land.
249 What! shall I not, e'en to my latest breath,
250 In the full face of danger and of death,
[Page 13]
251 Exert that little strength which Nature gave,
252 And boldy stem, or perish in the wave?
253 When I look backward for some fifty years,
254 And see Protesting Patriots turn'd to Peers;
255 Hear men, most loose, for decency declaim,
256 And talk of Character, without a name;
257 See Infidels assert the cause of God,
258 And meek Divines wield persecution's rod;
259 See men transform'd to brutes, and brutes to men,
260 See WHITEHEAD take a place, RALPH change his pen,
261 I mock the zeal, and deem the Men in sport,
262 Who rail at Ministers, and curse a Court.
263 Thee, haughty as Thou art, and proud in rime,
264 Shall some Preferment, offer'd at a time
265 When Virtue sleeps, some Sacrifice to Pride,
266 Or some fair Victim, move to change thy side.
267 Thee shall these eyes behold, to health restor'd,
268 Using, as Prudence bids, bold Satire's sword,
269 Galling thy present friends, and praising those,
270 Whom now thy frenzy holds thy greatest foes.
271 May I, (can worse disgrace on manhood fall?)
272 Be born a WHITEHEAD, and baptiz'd a PAUL;
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273 May I (tho' to his service deeply tied
274 By sacred oaths, and now by will allied)
275 With false feign'd zeal an injur'd God defend,
276 And use his name for some base private end;
277 May I (that thought bids double horrors roll
278 O'er my sick Spirits, and unmans my soul)
279 Ruin the Virtue which I held most dear,
280 And still must hold; may I, thro' abject fear,
281 Betray my Friend; may to succeeding times,
282 Engrav'd on plates of Adamant, my crimes
283 Stand blazing forth, whilst mark'd with envious blot,
284 Each little act of Virtue is forgot;
285 Of all those evils which, to stamp men curs'd,
286 Hell keeps in store for vengeance, may the worst
287 Light on my head, and in my day of woe,
288 To make the cup of bitterness o'erflow,
289 May I be scorn'd by ev'ry man of worth,
290 Wander, like Cain, a vagabond on earth,
291 Bearing about a Hell in my own mind,
292 Or be to SCOTLAND for my life confin'd,
293 If I am one amongst the many known,
294 Whom SHELBURNE fled, and CALCRAFT blush'd to own.
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295 Do you reflect what men you make your foes?
296 I do, and that's the reason I oppose.
297 Friends I have made, whom Envy must commend,
298 But not one foe, whom I would wish a friend.
299 What if ten thousand BUTES and FOXES bawl,
300 One WILKES hath made a large amends for all.
301 'Tis not the Title, whether handed down
302 From age to age, or flowing from the crown
303 In copious streams on recent men, who came
304 From stems unknown, and sires without a name;
305 'Tis not the STAR, which our great EDWARD gave
306 To mark the virtuous, and reward the brave,
307 Blazing without, whilst a base heart within
308 Is rotten to the core with filth and sin;
309 'Tis not the tinsel grandeur, taught to wait,
310 At custom's call, to mark a fool of State
311 From fools of lesser note, that Soul can awe
312 Whose Pride is Reason, whose Defence is Law.
313 Suppose (a Thing scarce possible in Art,
314 Were it thy Cue to play a common Part;)
[Page 16]
315 Suppose thy Writings so well fenc'd in Law,
316 That N—— cannot find, nor make a Flaw,
317 Hast thou not heard, that 'mongst our antient Tribes
318 By Party warpt, or lull'd asleep by Bribes,
319 Or trembling at the Ruffian Hand of Force,
320 Law hath suspended stood, or chang'd its Course?
321 Art Thou assur'd, that, for Destruction ripe,
322 Thou mayst not smart beneath the self-same Gripe?
323 What Sanction hast Thou, frantic in thy Rimes,
324 Thy Life, thy Freedom to secure?
324 The Times.
325 'Tis not on Law, a System great and good,
326 By Wisdom penn'd, and bought by noblest Blood,
327 My Faith relies: By wicked Men and vain,
328 Law, once abus'd, may be abus'd again.
329 No, on our great Law-giver I depend,
330 Who knows and guides them to their proper End;
331 Whose Royalty of Nature blazes out
332 So fierce, 'twere Sin to entertain a doubt
333 Did Tyrant STUARTS now the Laws dispense
334 (Blest be the hour and hand which sent them hence)
335 For something, or for nothing, for a Word,
336 Or Thought, I might be doom'd to Death, unheard.
[Page 17]
337 Life we might all resign to lawless Pow'r,
338 Nor think it worth the purchase of an hour;
339 But Envy ne'er shall fix so foul a stain
340 On the fair annals of a BRUNSWICK's reign.
341 If, Slave to Party, to Revenge, or Pride,
342 If, by frail human Error drawn aside,
343 I break the Law, strict rigour let Her wear;
344 'Tis Her's to punish, and 'tis mine to bear,
345 Nor, by the voice of Justice doom'd to death,
346 Would I ask mercy with my latest breath.
347 But, anxious only for my Country's good,
348 In which my King's, of course, is understood;
349 Form'd on a plan with some few Patriot friends,
350 Whilst by just means I aim at noblest ends,
351 My Spirits cannot sink; tho' from the tomb
352 Stern JEFFRIES should be plac'd in MANSFIELD's room,
353 Tho' he should bring, his base designs to aid,
354 Some black Attorney, for his purpose made,
355 And shove, whilst Decency and Law retreat,
356 The modest NORTON from his Maiden seat,
357 Tho' Both, in ill Confed'rates, should agree,
358 In damned league, to torture Law and Me,
[Page 18]
359 Whilst GEORGE is King, I cannot fear endure;
360 Not to be guilty, is to be secure.
361 But when in after-times (be far remov'd
362 That day) our Monarch, glorious and belov'd,
363 Sleeps with his Fathers, should imperious Fate
364 In vengeance with fresh STUARTS curse our state;
365 Should They, o'erleaping ev'ry fence of Law,
366 Butcher the brave to keep tame fools in awe;
367 Should They, by brutal and oppressive force,
368 Divert sweet Justice from her even course;
369 Should They, of ev'ry other means bereft,
370 Make my right-hand a witness 'gainst my left;
371 Should They, abroad by Inquisitions taught,
372 Search out my Soul, and damn me for a thought,
373 Still would I keep my course, still speak, still write,
374 Till Death had plung'd me in the shades of Night.
375 Thou GOD of Truth, Thou great, all-searching Eye,
376 To whom our Thoughts, our Spirits open lie,
377 Grant me thy strength, and in that needful hour,
378 (Should it e'er come) when Law submits to Pow'r,
379 With firm resolves my steady bosom steel,
380 Bravely to suffer, tho' I deeply feel.
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381 Let Me, as hitherto, still draw my breath,
382 In love with life, but not in fear of death,
383 And, if Oppression brings me to the grave,
384 And marks him dead, She ne'er shall mark a slave,
385 Let no unworthy marks of grief be heard,
386 No wild laments, not one unseemly word;
387 Let sober triumphs wait upon my bier,
388 I won't forgive that Friend who drops one tear.
389 Whether He's ravish'd in life's early morn,
390 Or, in old age, drops like an ear of corn,
391 Full ripe He falls, on Nature's noblest plan,
392 Who lives to Reason, and who dies a Man.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): THE CONFERENCE.
Themes: politics
Genres: heroic couplet; dialogue

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Source edition

Churchill, Charles, 1731-1764. The conference: A poem. By C. Churchill. London: printed for G. Kearsly; J. Coote; W. Flexney; C. Henderson; J. Gardiner; and J. Almon, 1763, pp. []-19. [4],19,[1]p. ; 4⁰. (ESTC T1702; OTA K020954.000)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.