Treasure Island

Charles Churchill

(February, 1731 - 4 November 1764 / Westminster)

The Duellist - Book II


Deep in the bosom of a wood,
Out of the road, a Temple stood:
Ancient, and much the worse for wear,
It call'd aloud for quick repair,
And, tottering from side to side,
Menaced destruction far and wide;
Nor able seem'd, unless made stronger,
To hold out four or five years longer.
Four hundred pillars, from the ground
Rising in order, most unsound,
Some rotten to the heart, aloof
Seem'd to support the tottering roof,
But, to inspection nearer laid,
Instead of giving, wanted aid.
The structure, rare and curious, made
By men most famous in their trade,
A work of years, admired by all,
Was suffer'd into dust to fall;
Or, just to make it hang together,
And keep off the effects of weather,
Was patch'd and patch'd from time to time
By wretches, whom it were a crime,
A crime, which Art would treason hold
To mention with those names of old.
Builders, who had the pile survey'd,
And those not Flitcrofts in their trade,
Doubted (the wise hand in a doubt
Merely, sometimes, to hand her out)
Whether (like churches in a brief,
Taught wisely to obtain relief
Through Chancery, who gives her fees
To this and other charities)
It must not, in all parts unsound,
Be ripp'd, and pull'd down to the ground;
Whether (though after ages ne'er
Shall raise a building to compare)
Art, if they should their art employ,
Meant to preserve, might not destroy;
As human bodies, worn away,
Batter'd and hasting to decay,
Bidding the power of Art despair,
Cannot those very medicines bear,
Which, and which only, can restore,
And make them healthy as before.
To Liberty, whose gracious smile
Shed peace and plenty o'er the isle,
Our grateful ancestors, her plain
But faithful children, raised this fane.
Full in the front, stretch'd out in length,
Where Nature put forth all her strength
In spring eternal, lay a plain
Where our brave fathers used to train
Their sons to arms, to teach the art
Of war, and steel the infant heart.
Labour, their hardy nurse, when young,
Their joints had knit, their nerves had strung;
Abstinence, foe declared to Death,
Had, from the time they first drew breath,
The best of doctors, with plain food,
Kept pure the channel of their blood;
Health in their cheeks bade colour rise,
And Glory sparkled in their eyes.
The instruments of husbandry,
As in contempt, were all thrown by,
And, flattering a manly pride,
War's keener tools their place supplied.
Their arrows to the head they drew;
Swift to the points their javelins flew;
They grasp'd the sword, they shook the spear;
Their fathers felt a pleasing fear;
And even Courage, standing by,
Scarcely beheld with steady eye.
Each stripling, lesson'd by his sire,
Knew when to close, when to retire,
When near at hand, when from afar
To fight, and was himself a war.
Their wives, their mothers, all around,
Careless of order, on the ground
Breathed forth to Heaven the pious vow,
And for a son's or husband's brow,
With eager fingers, laurel wove;
Laurel, which in the sacred grove,
Planted by Liberty, they find,
The brows of conquerors to bind,
To give them pride and spirit, fit
To make a world in arms submit.
What raptures did the bosom fire
Of the young, rugged, peasant sire,
When, from the toil of mimic fight,
Returning with return of night,
He saw his babe resign the breast,
And, smiling, stroke those arms in jest,
With which hereafter he shall make
The proudest heart in Gallia quake!
Gods! with what joy, what honest pride,
Did each fond, wishing rustic bride
Behold her manly swain return!
How did her love-sick bosom burn,
Though on parades he was not bred,
Nor wore the livery of red,
When, Pleasure heightening all her charms,
She strain'd her warrior in her arms,
And begg'd, whilst love and glory fire,
A son, a son just like his sire!
Such were the men in former times,
Ere luxury had made our crimes
Our bitter punishment, who bore
Their terrors to a foreign shore:
Such were the men, who, free from dread,
By Edwards and by Henries led,
Spread, like a torrent swell'd with rains,
O'er haughty Gallia's trembling plains:
Such were the men, when lust of power,
To work him woe, in evil hour
Debauch'd the tyrant from those ways
On which a king should found his praise;
When stern Oppression, hand in hand
With Pride, stalk'd proudly through the land;
When weeping Justice was misled
From her fair course, and Mercy dead:
Such were the men, in virtue strong,
Who dared not see their country's wrong,
Who left the mattock and the spade,
And, in the robes of War array'd,
In their rough arms, departing, took
Their helpless babes, and with a look
Stern and determined, swore to see
Those babes no more, or see them free:
Such were the men whom tyrant Pride
Could never fasten to his side
By threats or bribes; who, freemen born,
Chains, though of gold, beheld with scorn;
Who, free from every servile awe,
Could never be divorced from Law,
From that broad general law, which Sense
Made for the general defence;
Could never yield to partial ties
Which from dependant stations rise;
Could never be to slavery led,
For Property was at their head:
Such were the men, in days of yore,
Who, call'd by Liberty, before
Her temple on the sacred green,
In martial pastimes oft were seen--
Now seen no longer--in their stead,
To laziness and vermin bred,
A race who, strangers to the cause
Of Freedom, live by other laws,
On other motives fight, a prey
To interest, and slaves for pay.
Valour--how glorious, on a plan
Of honour founded!--leads their van;
Discretion, free from taint of fear,
Cool, but resolved, brings up their rear--
Discretion, Valour's better half;
Dependence holds the general's staff.
In plain and home-spun garb array'd,
Not for vain show, but service made,
In a green flourishing old age,
Not damn'd yet with an equipage,
In rules of Porterage untaught,
Simplicity, not worth a groat,
For years had kept the Temple-door;
Full on his breast a glass he wore,
Through which his bosom open lay
To every one who pass'd that way:
Now turn'd adrift, with humbler face,
But prouder heart, his vacant place
Corruption fills, and bears the key;
No entrance now without a fee.
With belly round, and full fat face,
Which on the house reflected grace,
Full of good fare, and honest glee,
The steward Hospitality,
Old Welcome smiling by his side,
A good old servant, often tried,
And faithful found, who kept in view
His lady's fame and interest too,
Who made each heart with joy rebound,
Yet never ran her state aground,
Was turn'd off, or (which word I find
Is more in modern use) resign'd.
Half-starved, half-starving others, bred
In beggary, with carrion fed,
Detested, and detesting all,
Made up of avarice and gall,
Boasting great thrift, yet wasting more
Than ever steward did before,
Succeeded one, who, to engage
The praise of an exhausted age,
Assumed a name of high degree,
And call'd himself Economy.
Within the Temple, full in sight,
Where, without ceasing, day and night
The workmen toiled; where Labour bared
His brawny arm; where Art prepared,
In regular and even rows,
Her types, a printing-press arose;
Each workman knew his task, and each
Was honest and expert as Leach.
Hence Learning struck a deeper root,
And Science brought forth riper fruit;
Hence Loyalty received support,
Even when banish'd from the court;
Hence Government gain'd strength, and hence
Religion sought and found defence;
Hence England's fairest fame arose,
And Liberty subdued her foes.
On a low, simple, turf-made throne,
Raised by Allegiance, scarcely known
From her attendants, glad to be
Pattern of that equality
She wish'd to all, so far as could
Safely consist with social good,
The goddess sat; around her head
A cheerful radiance Glory spread:
Courage, a youth of royal race,
Lovelily stern, possess'd a place
On her left hand, and on her right
Sat Honour, clothed with robes of light;
Before her Magna Charta lay,
Which some great lawyer, of his day
The Pratt, was officed to explain,
And make the basis of her reign:
Peace, crown'd with olive, to her breast
Two smiling twin-born infants press'd;
At her feet, couching, War was laid,
And with a brindled lion play'd:
Justice and Mercy, hand in hand,
Joint guardians of the happy land,
Together held their mighty charge,
And Truth walk'd all about at large;
Health for the royal troop the feast
Prepared, and Virtue was high-priest.
Such was the fame our Goddess bore
Her Temple such, in days of yore.
What changes ruthless Time presents!
Behold her ruin'd battlements,
Her walls decay'd, her nodding spires,
Her altars broke, her dying fires,
Her name despised, her priests destroy'd,
Her friends disgraced, her foes employ'd,
Herself (by ministerial arts
Deprived e'en of the people's hearts,
Whilst they, to work her surer woe,
Feign her to Monarchy a foe)
Exiled by grief, self-doom'd to dwell
With some poor hermit in a cell;
Or, that retirement tedious grown,
If she walks forth, she walks unknown,
Hooted, and pointed at with scorn,
As one in some strange country born.
Behold a rude and ruffian race,
A band of spoilers, seize her place;
With looks which might the heart disseat,
And make life sound a quick retreat!
To rapine from the cradle bred,
A staunch old blood-hound at their head,
Who, free from virtue and from awe,
Knew none but the bad part of law,
They roved at large; each on his breast
Mark'd with a greyhound stood confess'd:
Controlment waited on their nod,
High-wielding Persecution's rod;
Confusion follow'd at their heels,
And a cast statesman held the seals;
Those seals, for which he dear shall pay,
When awful Justice takes her day.
The printers saw--they saw and fled--
Science, declining, hung her head.
Property in despair appear'd,
And for herself destruction fear'd;
Whilst underfoot the rude slaves trod
The works of men, and word of God;
Whilst, close behind, on many a book,
In which he never deigns to look,
Which he did not, nay, could not read,
A bold, bad man (by power decreed
For that bad end, who in the dark
Scorn'd to do mischief) set his mark
In the full day, the mark of Hell,
And on the Gospel stamp'd an L.
Liberty fled, her friends withdrew--
Her friends, a faithful, chosen few;
Honour in grief threw up; and Shame,
Clothing herself with Honour's name,
Usurp'd his station; on the throne
Which Liberty once call'd her own,
(Gods! that such mighty ills should spring
Under so great, so good a king,
So loved, so loving, through the arts
Of statesmen, cursed with wicked hearts!)
For every darker purpose fit,
Behold in triumph State-craft sit!

Submitted: Monday, April 19, 2010

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