An EPISTLE from FLORENCE.
To T. A. Esq; Tutor to the Earl of P—. Written in the Year 1740.
1 WHEN flourish'd with their state th' ATHENIAN name,
2 And Learning and Politeness were the same,
3 Philosophy with gentle art refin'd
4 The honest roughness of th' unpractis'd mind:
5 She call'd the latent beams of Nature forth,
6 Guided their ardour, and insur'd their worth.
7 She pois'd th' impetuous Warrior's vengeful steel,
8 Mark'd true Ambition from destructive Zeal,
9 Pointed what lustre on that laurel blows,
10 Which Virtue only on her sons bestows.
11 Hence clement CIMON of unspotted fame,
12 Hence ARISTIDES' ever fav'rite name;
13 Heroes, who knew to wield the righteous spear,
14 And guard their native tow'rs from foreign fear;
15 Or in firm bands of social Peace to bind
16 Their Country's good, and benefit mankind.
17 She trim'd the thoughtful Statesman's nightly oil,
18 Confirm'd his mind beneath an empire's toil,[Page 76]
19 Or with him to his silent villa stole,
20 Gilded his ev'ning hours, and harmoniz'd his soul.
21 To woods and caves she never bade retreat,
22 Nor fix'd in cloyster'd monkeries her seat:
23 No lonely precepts to her sons enjoin'd,
24 Nor taught them to be men, to shun mankind.
25 CYNICS there were, an uncouth selfish race,
26 Of manners foul, and boastful of disgrace:
27 Brutes, whom no Muse has ever lov'd to name,
28 Whose Ignominy is their only fame,
29 No hostile Trophies grace their honour'd urn,
30 Around their tomb no sculptur'd Virtues mourn;
31 Nor tells the marble into emblems grav'd,
32 An Art discover'd, or a City sav'd.
33 Be this the goal to which the Briton-Peer
34 Exalt his hope, and press his young career!
35 Be this the goal to which, my Friend, may you
36 With gentle skill direct his early view!
37 Artful the various studies to dispense,
38 And melt the schoolman's jargon down to sense.
39 See the pedantick Teacher, winking dull,
40 The letter'd Tyrant of a trembling school;
41 Teaching by force, and proving by a frown,
42 His lifted fasces ram the lesson down.
43 From tortur'd strains of eloquence he draws
44 Barbarick precepts and unmeaning laws,
45 By his own sense wou'd TULLY'S word expound,
46 And a new VANDAL tramples classick ground.
47 Perhaps a Bigot to the learned page,
48 No modern custom can his thoughts engage;
49 His little farm by GEORGICK rules he ploughs,
50 And prunes by metre the luxuriant boughs,
51 Still from ARATUS' sphere or MARO'S signs,
52 The future calm or tempest he divines,
53 And fears if the prognostick Raven's found
a Et sola in sicca secum spatiatur arena. VIRG. Expatiating alone along the dreary round.
55 What scanty precepts! studies how confin'd!
56 Too mean to fill your comprehensive mind:
57 Unsatisfy'd with knowing when or where
58 Some Roman Bigot rais'd a Fane to FEAR;
59 On what green medal VIRTUE stands express'd,
60 How CONCORD'S pictur'd, LIBERTY how dress'd;
61 Or with wise KEN judiciously define,
62 When Pius marks the honorary coin
63 Of CARACALLA, or of ANTONINE.
64 Thirsting for knowledge, but to know the right,
65 Thro' judgment's optick guide th' illusive sight,
66 To let in rays on Reason's darkling cell,
67 And Prejudice's lagging mists dispel;
68 For this you turn the Greek and Roman page,
69 Weigh the contemplative and active Sage,
70 And cull some useful flow'r from each heroick Age.
71 Thence teach the Youth the necessary art,
72 To know the Judge's from the Critick's part;[Page 78]
73 Show how ignoble is the passion, FEAR,
74 And place some patriot Roman's model near;
75 Their bright examples to his soul instil,
76 Who knew no Fear, but that of doing ill.
77 Tell him, 'tis all a cant, a trifle all,
78 To know the folds that from the TOGA fall,
79 The CLAVUS' breadth, the BULLA'S golden round,
80 And ev'ry leaf that ev'ry VIRTUE crown'd;
81 But shew how brighter in each honest breast
82 Than in her shrine, the Goddess stood confess'd.
83 Tell him, it is not the fantastick Boy,
84 Elate with pow'r and swell'd with frantick joy,
85 'Tis not a slavish Senate, fawning, base,
86 Can stamp with honest fame a worthless race;
87 Tho' the false Coin proclaim him great and wise,
88 The tyrant's life shall tell that Coin, it lies.
89 But when your early Care shall have design'd
90 To plan the Soul and mould the waxen Mind;
91 When you shall pour upon his tender Breast
92 Ideas that must stand an Age's test,
93 Oh! there imprint with strongest deepest dye
94 The lovely form of Goddess LIBERTY!
95 For her in Senates be he train'd to plead,
96 For her in Battles be he taught to bleed.
97 Lead him where Dover's rugged cliff resounds
98 With dashing seas, fair Freedom's honest bounds,
99 Point to yon azure Carr bedropp'd with gold,
100 Whose weight the necks of Gallia's sons uphold;[Page 79]
101 Where proudly sits an iron-scepter'd Queen,
102 And fondly triumphs o'er the prostrate scene,
103 Cry, That is Empire! shun her baleful path,
104 Her Words are Slavery, and her Touch is Death!
105 Thro' wounds and blood the Fury drives her way,
106 And murthers half, to make the rest her prey.
107 Thus spoke each Spartan matron, as she dress'd
108 With the bright cuirass the young soldier's breast;
109 On the new warrior's tender-sinew'd thigh,
110 Girt Fear of Shame and Love of Liberty.
111 Steel'd with such precepts, for a cause so good,
112 What scanty bands the Persian host withstood!
113 Before the sons of Greece let Asia tell
114 How fled herb
b Xerxes. Monarch, how her Millions fell!
115 When arm'd for LIBERTY, a Few how brave!
116 How weak a Multitude, where each a Slave!
117 No welcome Faulchion fill'd their fainting hand,
118 No Voice inspir'd of favourite Command:
119 No Peasant fought for wealthy lands possess'd,
120 No fond remembrance warm'd the Parent's breast:
121 They saw their lands for royal riot groan,
122 And toil in vain for banquets, not their own;
123 They saw their infant Race to bondage rise,
124 And frequent heard the ravish'd Virgin's cries,
125 Dishonour'd but to cool a transient gust
126 Of some luxurious Satrap's barb'rous lust.
127 The greatest curses any Age has known,
128 Have issued from the Temple or the Throne;
129 Extent of ill from Kings at first begins,
130 But Priests must aid, and consecrate their sins.
131 The tortur'd Subject might be heard complain,
132 When sinking under a new weight of chain,
133 Or more rebellious might perhaps repine,
134 When tax'd to dow'r a titled Concubine,
135 But the Priest christens all a Right Divine.
136 When at the altar a new Monarch kneels,
137 What conjur'd awe upon the people steals!
138 The chosen HE adores the precious oil,
139 Meekly receives the solemn charm, and while
140 The Priest some blessed nothings mutters o'er,
141 Sucks in the sacred grease at ev'ry pore:
142 He seems at once to shed his mortal skin,
143 And feels Divinity transfus'd within.
144 The trembling Vulgar dread the royal Nod,
145 And worship God's anointed more than God.
146 Such Sanction gives the Prelate to such Kings!
147 So Mischief from those hallow'd fountains springs.
148 But bend your eye to yonder harrass'd plains,
149 Where King and Priest in one united reigns;
150 See fair Italia mourn her holy state,
151 And droop oppress'd beneath a papal weight:
152 Where fat Celibacy usurps the soil,
153 And sacred Sloth consumes the peasant's toil:[Page 81]
154 The holy Drones monopolize the sky,
155 And plunder by a vow of Poverty.
156 The Christian Cause their lewd profession taints,
157 Unlearn'd, unchaste, uncharitable Saints.
158 Oppression takes Religion's hallow'd name,
159 And Priest-craft knows to play the specious game.
160 Behold how each enthusiastic fool
161 Of ductile piety, becomes their tool:
162 Observe with how much art, what fine pretence,
163 They hallow Foppery and combat Sense.
164 Some hoary Hypocrite, grown old in sin,
165 Whose thoughts of heav'n with his last hours begin,
166 Counting a chaplet with a bigot care,
167 And mumbling somewhat 'twixt a charm and pray'r,
168 Hugs a dawb'd image of his injur'd Lord,
169 And squeezes out on the dull idol-board
170 A sore-ey'd gum of tears; the flannel Crew
171 With cunning joy the fond repentance view,
172 Pronounce Him bless'd, his miracles proclaim,
173 Teach the slight crow'd t' adore his hallow'd name,
174 Exalt his praise above the Saints of old,
175 And coin his sinking conscience into Gold.
176 Or when some Pontiff with imperious hand
177 Sends forth his edict to excise the land,
178 The tortur'd Hind unwillingly obeys,
179 And mutters curses as his mite he pays!
180 The subtle Priest th' invidious name forbears,
181 Asks it for holy use or venal pray'rs;[Page 82]
182 Exhibits all their trumpery to sale,
183 A bone, a mouldy morsel, or a nail:
184 Th' indolatrous Devout adore the show,
185 And in full streams the molten off'rings flow.
186 No pagan object, nothing too profane,
187 To aid the Romish zeal for Christian gain.
188 Each Temple with new weight of idols nods,
189 And borrow'd Altars smoke to other Gods.
190 PROMETHEUS' Vultur MATTHEW'S Eagle proves;
191 And heav'nly Cherubs sprout from heathen Loves;
192 Young GANYMEDE a winged Angel stands
193 By holy LUKE, and dictates God's commands:
c St. Apollos. APOLLO, tho' degraded, still can bless,
195 Rewarded with a Sainthood, and an S.
196 Each convert Godhead is apostoliz'd,
197 And JOVE himself byd
d At St. Peter's an old statue of Jupiter is turned into one of St. Peter. PETER'S name baptiz'd.
198 ASTARTE shines in Jewish MARY'S fame,
199 Still Queen of heav'n, another and the same.
200 While the proud Priest the sacred Tyrant reigns
201 Of empty cities and dispeopled plains,
202 Where fetter'd Nature is forbid to rove
203 In the free commerce of productive Love:
204 Behold imprison'd with her barren kind,
205 In gloomy cells the votive Maid confin'd;[Page 83]
206 Faint streams of blood, by long stagnation weak,
207 Scarce tinge the fading damask of her cheek;
208 In vain she pines, the holy Faith withstands,
209 What Nature dictates and what God commands:
210 But if some sanguine He, some lusty Priest
211 Of jollier morals taste the tempting feast,
212 From the strong grasp if some poor babe arise,
213 Unwelcome, unindear'd, it instant dies;
214 Or poisons blasting soon the hasty joy,
215 Th' imperfect seeds of infant life destroy,
216 Fair Modesty, thou virgin tender-ey'd,
217 From thee the Muse the grosser acts must hide,
218 Nor the dark cloister's mystick rites display,
219 Whence num'rous brawny Monkhoods waste away,
220 And unprolifick, tho' forsworn, decay.
221 BRITANNIA smiling, views her golding plains
222 From mitred bondage free and papal chains;
223 Her jocund Sons pass each unburthen'd day
224 Securely quiet, innocently gay:
225 Lords of themselves the happy Rusticks sing,
226 Each of his little tenement the King.
227 Twice did usurping Rome extend her hand,
228 To reinslave the new-deliver'd land;
229 Twice were her sable bands to battle warm'd,
230 With pardons, bulls, and texts, and murthers arm'd;
With PETER'S sword and MICHAEL'S lance were sent,
Addit & Herculeos Arcus Hastamque Minervae,
Quicquid habent telorum armamentaria Coeli.JUV.
232 And whate'er stores supply'd the Church's armament.[Page 84]
233 Twice did the gallant Albion race repell
234 The Jesuit legions to the gates of hell;
235 Or whate'er Angel, friend to Britain, took
236 Or WILLIAM'S or ELIZA'S guardian look.
237 Arise, young Peer! shine forth in such a cause!
238 Who draws the sword for Freedom, justly draws.
239 Reflect how dearly was that Freedom bought;
240 For that, how oft your ancestors have fought;
241 Thro' the long series of our princes down,
242 How wrench'd some right from each too potent Crown.
243 See abject JOHN, that vassal-Monarch, see!
244 Bow down the royal neck, and crouch the supple knee!
245 Oh! prostitution of imperial State!
246 To a vile Romish Priest's vilee
e The Pope's Nuncio. Delegate.
247 Him the bold Barons scorning to obey,
248 And be the subjects of a subject sway;
249 Heroes whose names to latest fame shall shine,
250 Aw'd by no visions of a Right Divine,
251 That bond by eastern Politicians wrought,
252 Which ours have learnt, and Rabbi Doctors taught,
253 To straiter banks restrain'd the Royal Will,
254 That great prerogative of doing ill.
255 To late example and experience dead,
f Henry III. HENRY in his Father's footsteps tread.
257 Too young to govern, immature to pow'r,
258 His early follies haunt his latest hour.[Page 85]
259 His nobles injur'd, and his realms oppress'd,
260 No violated Senate's wrongs redress'd,
261 His hoary age sinks in the feeble wane
262 Of an inglorious, slighted, tedious reign.
263 The Muse too long with idle glories fed,
264 And train'd to trumpet o'er the warlike dead,
265 The wanton fain on giddy plumes would soar,
266 To Gallic Loire and Jordan's humbled shore;
267 Again would teach the Saracen and Gaul,
g Edward I. and II. EDWARD'S and ath
h Henry V. HENRY'S name to fall;
269 Romantick heroes! prodigal of blood;
270 What numbers stain'd each ill-disputed flood!
271 Tools to a Clergy! warring but to feast
272 With spoils of provinces each pamper'd Priest.
273 Be dumb, fond Maid; thy sacred ink nor spill
274 On specious Tyrants, popularly ill;
275 Nor be thy comely locks with Roses dight
276 Of either victor colour, Red or White.
277 Foil'd the assassini
i Richard III. King, in union blow
278 The blended flow'rs on seventh HENRY'S brow.
279 Peace lights again on the forsaken strand,
280 And banish'd Plenty re-assumes the land.
281 No nodding crest the crouching infant frights,
282 No clarion rudely breaks the bride's delights;[Page 86]
283 Reposing sabres seek their ancient place
284 To bristle round a gapingk
k Medusa's head in the armory at the Tower. GORGON'S face.
285 The wearied arms grotesquely deck the wall,
286 And tatter'd trophies fret the Royall
l Westminster-Hall. hall.
287 But Peace in vain on the blood-fatten'd plains
288 From her exuberant horn her treasures rains:
289 She deals her gifts; but in an useless hour,
290 To glut the iron hand of griping Pow'r:
291 Such LANCASTER, whom harrass'd Britain saw,
292 Mask'd in the garb of antiquated Law:
293 More politick than wise, more wise than great:
294 A legislator to enslave the state;
295 Coolly malicious; by design a knave;
296 More mean than false, ambitious more than brave;
297 Attach'd to Interest's more than Honour's call;
298 More strict than just, more covetous than all.
299 Not so the Reveller profuse, hism
m Henry VIII. Son,
300 His contrast course of tyranny begun;
301 Robust of limb, and flush'd with florid grace,
302 Strength nerv'd his youth, and squar'd his jovial face.
303 To feats of arms and carpet-combats prone,
304 In either field the vig'rous monarch shone:
305 Mark'd out for riot each luxurious day
306 In tournaments and banquets danc'd away.
307 But shift the scene, and view what slaughters stain
308 Each frantick period of his barb'rous reign:[Page 87]
309 A Tyrant to the people whom he rul'd,
310 By ev'y potentate he dealt with, fool'd:
311 Sold by onen
n Cardinal Woolsey, minister, to all unjust;
312 Sway'd by each dictate of distemper'd lust;
313 Changing each worship that controul'd the bent
314 Of his adult'rous will, and lewd intent;
315 Big in unwieldy majesty and pride,
316 And smear'd with Queens and Martyrs blood, He dy'd.
317 Pass we the piouso
o Edward VI. Youth too slightly seen;
318 The murd'rous zeal of a weak Romishp
p Mary. Queen:
319 Nor with faint pencil, impotently vain,
320 Shadow the glories of ELIZA'S reign,
321 Who's still too great, tho' some few faults she had,
322 To catalogue with all those Royal bad.
323 Arise, great JAMES! thy course of wisdom run!
324 Image of David's philosophick Son!
325 He comes! on either hand in seemly state,
326 Knowledge and Peace, his fondled handmaids wait:
327 Obscurely learn'd, elaborately dull,
328 Of quibbling cant and grace fanatick full,
329 Thron'd in full senate, on his pedant tongue,
330 These for six hours each weighty morning hung;
331 For these each string of royal pow'r he strain'd,
332 For these he sold whate'er ELIZA gain'd;
333 For these he squander'd ev'ry prudent store
334 The frugal Princess had reserv'd before,[Page 88]
335 On pension'd sycophants and garter'd boys,
336 Tools of his will, and minions of his joys.
337 For these he let his beggar'dq
q Queen of Bohemia. daughter roam;
338 Bubbled, for these, by Spanish art at home;
339 For these, to sum the blessings of his reign,
340 Poison'd one Sonr
r Prince Henry, and Charles I. and t' other sent to Spain.
341 Retire, strict Muse, and thy impartial verse
342 In pity spare on CHARLES'S bleeding herse;
343 Or all his faults in blackest notes translate
344 To tombs where rot the authors of his fate;
345 To lustful HENRIETTA'S Romish shade,
346 Let all his acts of lawless pow'r be laid;
347 Or to thes
s Archbishop Laud. Priest, more Romish still than her;
348 And whoe'er made his gentle virtues err.
[Page 89] 349 On the nextt
t Charles II. Prince, expell'd his native land,
350 In vain Affliction laid her iron hand;
351 Fortune, or fair or frowning, on his soul
352 Cou'd stamp no virtue, and no vice controul:
353 Honour, or morals, gratitude, or truth,
354 Nor learn'd his ripen'd age, nor knew his youth;
355 The care of Nations left to whores or chance,
356 Plund'rer of Britain, pensioner of France;
357 Free to buffoons, to ministers deny'd,
358 He liv'd an atheist, and a bigot dy'd.
359 The reins of Empire, or resign'd or stole,
360 Are trusted next to JAMES'S weak controul;
361 Him, meditating to subvert the laws,
362 His Herou
u William III. Son in Freedom's beauteous cause
363 Rose to chastise:w
w Infelix utcumque ferent ea facta minores! VIRG. unhappy still! howe'er
364 Posterity the gallant action bear.
365 Thus have I try'd of Kings and Priests to sing,
366 And all the ills that from their vices spring;
367 While victor GEORGE thunders o'er either Spain,
368 Revenges Britain and asserts the Main;
willing Indians deals our equal laws,
Per populos dat jura viamque affectat Olympo.VIRG.
370 And from his Country's voice affects applause;
What time fair Florence on her peaceful shore,
Illo Virgilium me tempore dulcis alebat
Parthenope, studiis florentem ignobilis otî.
372 Free from the din of war and battle's roar,
373 Has lap'd me trifler in inglorious ease,
374 Modelling precepts that may serve and please;
375 Yours is the task — and glorious is the plan,
376 To build the Free, the Sensible, Good Man.