The TRIAL of SELIM the PERSIAN
For divers High Crimes and Misdemeanours.
1 THE court was met; the pris'ner brought;
2 The council with instruction fraught;
3 And evidence prepar'd at large,
4 On oath, to vindicate the charge.
5 But first 'tis meet, where form denies
6 Poetick helps of fancy'd lies,
7 Gay metaphors, and figures fine,
8 And similes to deck the line;
9 'Tis meet (as we before have said)
10 To call description to our aid.
11 Begin we then (as first 'tis fitting)
12 With the three CHIEFS in judgment sitting,
13 Above the rest, and in the chair,
14 Sat FACTION with dissembled air;
15 Her tongue was skill'd in specious lyes,
16 And murmurs, whence dissentions rise:
17 A smiling mask her features veil'd
18 Her form the patriot's robe conceal'd;[Page 243]
19 With study'd blandishments she bow'd,
20 And drew the captivated crowd.
21 The next in place, and on the right,
22 Sat ENVY, hideous to the sight;
23 Her snaky locks, her hollow eyes,
24 And haggard form forbad disguise;
25 Pale discontent, and sullen hate
26 Upon her wrinkled forehead sate:
27 Her left-hand clench'd, her cheek sustain'd,
28 Her right (with many a murder stain'd)
29 A dagger clutch'd, in act to strike,
30 With starts of rage, and aim oblique.
31 Last on the left was CLAMOUR seen,
32 Of stature vast, and horrid mien;
33 With bloated cheeks, and frantick eyes,
34 She sent her yellings to the skies;
35 Prepar'd with trumpet in her hand,
36 To blow sedition o'er the land.
37 With these, four more of lesser fame,
38 And humbler rank, attendant came:
39 HYPOCRISY with smiling grace,
40 And IMPUDENCE with brazen face,
41 CONTENTION bold, with iron lungs,
42 And SLANDER with her hundred tongues.
43 The walls in sculptur'd tale were rich,
44 And statues proud (in many a nich)
45 Of chiefs, who fought in FACTION'S cause,
46 And perish'd for contempt of laws.[Page 244]
47 The roof in vary'd light and shade,
48 The seat of ANARCHY display'd.
49 Triumphant o'er a falling throne
50 (By emblematick figure known)
51 CONFUSION rag'd, and LUST obscene,
52 And RIOT with distemper'd mien,
53 And OUTRAGE bold, and MISCHIEF dire,
54 And DEVASTATION clad in fire.
55 Prone on the ground, a martial maid
56 Expiring lay, and groan'd for aid;
57 Her shield with many a stab was pierc'd,
58 Her laurels torn, her spear revers'd;
59 And near her crouch'd, amidst the spoils,
60 A lion painted in the toils.
61 With look compos'd the pris'ner stood,
62 And modest pride. By turns he view'd
63 The court, the council, and the crowd,
64 And with submissive rev'rence bow'd.
65 Proceed we now, in humbler strains,
66 And lighter rhymes, with what remains.
67 Th' indictment grievously set forth,
68 That SELIM, lost to truth and worth,
69 (In company with one WILL P—T
70 And many more, not taken yet)
71 In FORTY-FIVE, the royal palace
72 Did enter, and to shame grown callous,
73 Did then and there his faith forsake,
74 And did accept, receive and take,[Page 245]
75 With mischievous intent and base,
76 Value unknown, a certain place.
77 He was a second time indicted,
78 For that, by evil zeal excited,
79 With learning more than layman's share,
80 (Which parsons want, and he might spare)
81 In letter to one GILBERT WEST,
82 He, the said SELIM, did attest,
83 Maintain, support, and make assertion
84 Of certain points, from PAUL'S conversion:
85 By means whereof the said apostle
86 Did many an unbeliever jostle,
87 Starting unfashionable fancies,
88 And building truths on known romances.
89 A third charge run, that knowing well
90 Wits only eat, as pamphlets sell,
91 He, the said SELIM, notwithstanding
92 Did fall to answ'ring, shaming, branding
93 Three curious Letters to the Whigs;
94 Making no reader care three figs
95 For any facts contain'd therein;
96 By which uncharitable sin,
97 An author, modest and deserving,
98 Was destin'd to contempt and starving;
99 Against the king, his crown and peace,
100 And all the statutes in that case.
101 The pleader rose with brief full charg'd,
102 And on the pris'ner's crimes enlarg'd —[Page 246]
103 But not to damp the Muse's fire
104 With rhet'rick such as courts require,
105 We'll try to keep the reader warm,
106 And sift the matter from the form.
107 Virtue and social love, he said,
108 And honour from the land were fled;
109 That PATRIOTS now, like other folks,
110 Were made the butt of vulgar jokes;
111 While OPPOSITION dropp'd her crest,
112 And courted pow'r for wealth and rest.
113 Why some folks laugh'd, and some folks rail'd,
114 Why some submitted, some assail'd,
115 Angry or pleas'd — all solv'd the doubt
116 With who were in, and who were out.
117 The sons of CLAMOUR grew so sickly,
118 They look'd for dissolution quickly;
119 Their weekly Journals finely written,
120 Were sunk in privies all besh — n;
121 Old-England and the London-Evening,
122 Hardly a soul was found believing in,
123 And Caleb, once so bold and strong,
124 Was stupid now, and always wrong,
125 Ask ye whence rose this foul disgrace?
126 Why SELIM has receiv'd a place,
127 And thereby brought the cause to shame;
128 Proving that people, void of blame,
129 Might serve their country and their king,
130 By making both the self-same thing.[Page 247]
131 By which the credulous believ'd,
132 And others (by strange arts deceiv'd)
133 That Ministers were sometimes right,
134 And meant not to destroy us quite.
135 That bart'ring thus in state affairs,
136 He next must deal in sacred wares.
137 The clergy's rights divine invade,
138 And smuggle in the gospel-trade.
139 And all this zeal to re-instate
140 Exploded notions, out of date;
141 Sending old rakes to church in shoals,
142 Like children sniv'ling for their souls,
143 And ladies gay, from smut and libels,
144 To learn beliefs, and read their Bibles;
145 Erecting conscience for a tutor,
146 To damn the present by the future.
147 As if to evils known and real
148 'Twas needful to annex ideal;
149 When all of human life we know
150 Is care, and bitterness, and woe,
151 With short transitions of delight,
152 To set the shatter'd spirits right.
153 Then why such mighty pains and care,
154 To make us humbler than we are?
155 Forbidding short liv'd mirth and laughter
156 By fears of what may come hereafter?
157 Better in ignorance to dwell;
158 None fear, but who believe an hell:[Page 248]
159 And if there should be one, no doubt
160 Men of themselves would find it out.
161 But SELIM'S crimes, he said, went further,
162 And barely stopp'd on this side murther;
163 One yet remain'd to close the charge,
164 To which (with leave) he'd speak at large.
165 And first 'twas needful to premise,
166 That tho' so long (for reasons wise)
167 The press inviolate had stood,
168 Productive of the publick good;
169 Yet still, too modest to abuse,
170 It rail'd at vice, but told not whose.
171 That great improvements, of late days
172 Were made, to many an author's praise,
173 Who, not so scrupulously nice,
174 Proclaim'd the person with the vice,
175 Or gave, where vices might he wanted,
176 The name, and took the rest for granted.
177 Upon this plan, a Championb
b Author of the Letters to the Whigs. rose,
178 Unrighteous greatness to oppose,
179 Proving the man inventus non est,
180 Who trades in pow'r, and still is honest;
181 And (God be prais'd) he did it roundly,
182 Flogging a certain junto soundly;
183 But chief his anger was directed
184 Where people least of all suspected;[Page 249]
185 And SELIM, not so strong as tall,
186 Beneath his grasp appear'd to fall.
187 But INNOCENCE (as people say)
188 Stood by, and sav'd him in the fray.
189 By her assisted, and one TRUTH,
190 A busy, prating, forward youth,
191 He rally'd all his strength anew,
192 And at the foe a letter threw,
193 His weakest part the weapon found,
194 And brought him senseless to the ground.
195 Hence OPPOSITION fled the field,
196 And IGN'RANCE with her sev'n-fold shield;
197 And well they might, for (things weigh'd fully)
198 The pris'ner, with his Whore and Bully,
199 Must prove for ev'ry foe too hard,
200 Who never fought with such a guard.
201 But TRUTH and INNOCENCE, he said,
202 Would stand him here in little stead,
203 For they had evidence on oath,
204 That would appear too hard for both.
205 Of witnesses a fearful train
206 Came next th' indictments to sustain;
207 DETRACTION, HATRED, and DISTRUST,
208 And PARTY, of all foes the worst,
209 MALICE, REVENGE, and UNBELIEF,
210 And DISAPPOINTMENT, worn with grief,
211 DISHONOUR foul, unaw'd by shame,
212 And every fiend that vice can name.[Page 250]
213 All these in ample form depos'd
214 Each fact the triple charge disclos'd,
215 With taunts and gibes of bitter sort,
216 And asking vengeance from the court.
217 The pris'ner said in his defence,
218 That he indeed had small pretence
219 To soften facts so deeply sworn,
220 But would for his offences mourn;
221 Yet more he hop'd than bare repentance
222 Might still be urg'd to ward the sentence;
223 That he had held a place some years,
224 He own'd with penitence and tears,
225 But took it not from motives base,
226 Th' indictment there mistook the case;
227 And tho' he had betray'd his trust,
228 In being to his country just,
229 Neglecting FACTION and her friends,
230 He did it not for wicked ends,
231 But that complaints and feuds might cease,
232 And jarring parties mix in peace.
233 That what he wrote to GILBERT WEST
234 Bore hard against him, he confess'd;
235 Yet there they wrong'd him; for the fact is,
236 He reason'd for Belief, not Practice;
237 And people might believe, he thought,
238 Tho' Practice might be deem'd a fault.
239 He either dreamt it, or was told,
240 Religion was rever'd of old,[Page 251]
241 That it gave breeding no offence,
242 And was no foe to wit and sense;
243 But whether this was truth or whim,
244 He would not say; the doubt with him
245 (And no great harm he hop'd) was how
246 Th' enlighten'd world would take it now;
247 If they admitted it, 'twas well,
248 If not, he never talk'd of hell,
249 Nor even hop'd to change men's measures,
250 Or frighten ladies from their pleasures.
251 One accusation, he confess'd,
252 Had touch'd him more than all the rest;
253 Three Patriot-Letters, high in fame,
254 By him o'erthrown, and brought to shame.
255 And though it was a rule in vogue,
256 If one man call'd another rogue,
257 The party injur'd might reply,
258 And on his foe retort the lye;
259 Yet what accru'd from all his labour,
260 But foul dishonour to his neighbour?
261 And he's a most unchristian elf,
262 Who others damns to save himself.
263 Besides, as all men knew, he said,
264 These Letters only rail'd for bread;
265 And hunger was a known excuse
266 For prostitution and abuse;
267 A guinea, properly apply'd,
268 Had made the writer change his side;[Page 252]
269 He wish'd he had not cut and carv'd him,
270 And own'd, he should have bought, not starv'd him.
271 The court, he said, knew all the rest,
272 And must proceed as they thought best;
273 Only he hop'd such resignation
274 Would plead some little mitigation;
275 And if his character was clear
276 From other faults (and friends were near,
277 Who would, when call'd upon, attest it)
278 He did in hamblest form request it,
279 To be from punishment exempt,
280 And only suffer their contempt.
281 The pris'ner's friends their claim preferr'd,
282 In turn demanding to be heard.
283 INTEGRITY and HONOUR swore,
284 BENEVOLENCE and twenty more,
285 That he was always of their party,
286 And that they knew him firm and hearty,
287 RELIGION, sober dame, attended,
288 And, as she could, his cause befriended;
289 She said, 'twas since she came from college
290 She knew him introduc'd by KNOWLEDGE;
291 The man was modest and sincere,
292 Nor farther could she interfere.
293 The MUSES begg'd to interpose,
294 But ENVY with loud hissings rose,
295 And call'd them women of ill fame;
296 Liars, and prostitutes to shame;[Page 253]
297 And said, to all the world 'twas known,
298 SELIM had had them ev'ry one.
299 The pris'ner blush'd, the MUSES frown'd,
300 When silence was proclaim'd around,
301 And FACTION, rising with the rest,
302 In form the pris'ner thus address'd.
303 You, SELIM, thrice have been indicted,
304 First, that by wicked pride excited,
305 And bent your country to disgrace,
306 You have receiv'd, and held a PLACE,
307 Next, INFIDELITY to wound,
308 You've dar'd, with arguments profound,
309 To drive FREETHINKING to a stand,
310 And with RELIGION vex the land,
311 And lastly, in contempt of right,
312 With horrid and unnat'ral spite,
313 You have an AUTHOR'S same o'erthrown,
314 Thereby to build and fence your own.
315 These crimes successive, on your trial,
316 Have met with proofs beyond denial;
317 To which yourself, with shame, conceded,
318 And but in mitigation pleaded.
319 Yet that the justice of the court
320 May suffer not in men's report,
321 Judgment a moment I suspend,
322 To reason as from friend to friend.
323 And first, that you, of all mankind,
324 With KINGS and COURTS should stain your mind![Page 254]
325 You! who were OPPOSITION'S lord!
326 Her nerves, her sinews, and her sword!
327 That you at last, for servile ends,
328 Should wound the bowels of her friends! —
329 Is aggravation of offence,
330 That leaves for mercy no pretence.
331 Yet more — for you to urge your hate,
332 And back the church to aid the state!
333 For you to publish such a letter!
334 You! who have known RELIGION better!
335 For you, I say, to introduce
336 The fraud again! — There's no excuse.
337 And last of all, to crown your shame,
338 Was it for you to load with blame
339 The writings of a Patriot-Youth,
340 And summon INNOCENCE and TRUTH
341 To prop your cause? — Was this for you? —
342 But justice does your crimes pursue;
343 And sentence now alone remains,
344 Which thus, by me, the court ordains.
345 "That you return from whence you came,
346 "There to be stripp'd of all your fame
347 "By vulgar hands, that once a week
348 "Old-England pinch you till you squeak;
349 "That ribbald pamphlets do pursue you,
350 "And lyes, and murmurs, to undo you,
351 "With ev'ry foe that WORTH procures,
352 "And only VIRTUE'S friends be YOURS. "