1793 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edmund Burke

Anonymous, "Lines, addressed to the Right Hon. Edmund Burke" Diary, or Woodfall's Register (11 July 1793).



Edmund, thy well wrote book is all divine,
The Graces tune each smooth, melodious line;
The language built on beauty's happiest plan,
Is soft as woman, and as strong as man;
Philanthropy adorns each shining part,
'Tis easy nature, void of labour'd art,
It is the effusion of an honest heart:
It is the oracle of truth sincere,
'Tis manly sense, sound law, and judgment clear:
'Tis lucid reason in her brightest vest,
Of polish'd words, and glowing diction dress'd,
Here, Britons, here, and in a mirrour true,
The Gospel of your Constitution view;
Here fix your faith, hence take your public creed,
The truths are plain, no commentators need;
No casuists to set the doctrines right,
'Tis all broad sunshine, clear as orient light.
With blasphemy and sophistry perplext,
No Lindsay to contaminate the text;
No Priestleys to pollute the sacred page,
It meets the eye, and must the heart engage:
It is the music of a well-tun'd soul,
Where harmoniz'd the passions lenient roll.
Thou dost the Constitution well define,
And make it plain, as Geometry's straight line:
How well thou didst displume the preaching jay,
Pluck off his feathers, and the cheat display:
How well thou didst the canting Fox unfold,
And separate the dross from stirling gold.
Thou didst unmask the man, Old Tartuffe show,
To Church and State a most determin'd foe.
Old Tartuffe dress'd in Cato's borrow'd mien,
The curtain drawn, lo! Cataline is seen!
With ceaseless toil, and talents most profound,
This mole of politics work'd under ground;
And round him flung, malignantly alert,
O'er Church, and State, and King his mass of dirt.
Smote by thy pen, behold the Preacher stand,
Like Satan touch'd by young Ithuriel's wand:
Behold him start to shape, full length pourtray'd,
And all the Devil in his mien display'd;
Stripp'd of his stolen dress and Angels' light,
He grins all Devil, is as black as night.
Hark! from the isgal of his pulpit hear
Such doctrines as must wound an honest ear:
Such doctrines as Hugh Peters preach'd before,
When Church and State were phantoms, and no more.
Thus Peters look'd, and thus his Reverence rear'd,
Thus smooth'd his band, thus strok'd his sapient beard:
—Kings are but men, and men not often blest
With Heaven's bright image beaming on their breast:
Kings are the creatures of the People, still
The People's slaves, removeable at will;
Kings are but Curates at the Rector's nod,
The People's voice is still the voice of God,
The People still must hold the avenging rod,
Hail! Revolution! hail! to thee we bend,
Come and once more stand forth Britannia's friend.
Hail Revolution! hail! with pomp advance,
Erect thy standard here, as now in France!
How well thou dost thy patriot task perform?
Bestride the whirlwind and direct the storm.
How well thou dost the splendid havock guide,
Convulse the State, and o'er the wreck preside?
How well thou dost the desolation wield,
Lo! at thy feet all pow'rs spontaneous yield;
See! Nobles to thy car triumphal bound,
See! Kings and Bishops prostrate on the ground;
See! Property to thee her claims resign,
The people's right is still the right Divine!
See! old establishments torne down and burst,
See! long prescription grov'ling in the dust.
See! crush'd Religion from her temple hurl'd,
Stripp'd naked, and a vagrant in the world:
See! murder, rapine, desolation meet,
And hand in hand at night patrole the street.
See! order die — see! decency expire—
See! one vast madness all the mass inspire:
Lo! this is Revolution — this they call
A "happy change;" for this the Patriots bawl.

Curse on their creed, 'tis diabolick quite,
The rancid quintessence of sectic spite;
The sublimate of fell fanatic hate,
A boundless lust for cavil and debate;
A passion for confusion, and a lust
The cement 'twixt the Church and State to burst:
Know, Casuist, Church and State together go;
Wound but the one, the other feels the blow:
Like man and wife they both must trudge together,
Thro' storms and calms, thro' ev'ry gale of weather.
No Bishop and no King, the point's agreed,
It is the Constitution's standard creed:
Britons will hold this creed with head and heart,
And never from their GOD or KING depart.