1778 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edmund Burke

J. S., "To the Earl of Abingdon, on reading his Thoughts on the Letter of Edmund Burke to the Sheriffs of Bristol" General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer (28 March 1778).



When venal senators for dirty pay,
Base and despotic Ministers obey;
Prove faithless to the solemn vows they made,
And those insult whose rights they have betray'd;
Some hireling scriblers will such men applaud,
In hopes to share with them a large reward;
But all the various arts which they devise,
Will not the treach'rous part they act diguise.
Tho' Johnson, Wesley, and Shebbeare commend
The men who thousands kill, and millions spend;
And others, who the Gospel ought to preach,
Neglect their duty, and these precepts teach—
"To Kings entire obedience must be paid;
Nor should a Monarch's will be disobey'd."
Precepts which tend our reason to disgrace,
And prove those slaves who can such thoughts embrace.
Tho' Tories such vile doctrines may declare,
Their folly and their falsehood shall appear;
Thy labours, Abingdon, such truths impart,
As must convince and warm each honest heart.
Those labours which from better motives spring,
Than the command or pension of a King;
The public weal, the first, the noblest cause,
Is the great end which thine attention draws;
Thy country's good claims thy peculiar care,
As all thy speeches and thy Thoughts declare;
Those Thoughts, which in the scale of reason try'd,
Bear down the beam, and well the test abide.
Reason, the only rule whereby to know
From whence the rights and claims of Rules flow,
And what the duty which the govern'd owe.

When future writers shall these times relate,
In their descriptions of the British state;
When they, unprejudic'd, mankind survey,
And in their proper colours things display;
Such scenes of baseness shall be then reveal'd,
As in the present day lie much conceal'd.
The world will wonder, but with truth shall find,
That Britain was to her best int'rests blind;
Her real friends were slighted and misus'd
By Tories frown'd on, and by Scots abus'd;
Her Council's form'd from B—e's and M—nsf—d's plan,
Whose chief endeavours were to serve their clan;
Lost to all justice, to all feeling dead,
The Tories govern'd, and the people bled;
Millions were squander'd, and vast numbers dy'd
Victims to pow'r, injustice, and to pride.
Not all the means the Patriots could devise,
Convinc'd the — or made the Sov'reign wise
By Scots deluded, yet on Scots rely'd,
And in no other councils would confide.
But though the world of such like men shall hear,
Some worthy characters shall also then appear;
Thy works, great Abingdon, shall then proclaim,
Amidst their number, thine illustrious name.
Yes, worthy Peer, thy fame the world shall know,
And to thy merit every praise bestow;
Each patriot shall thy name with rapture hear,
And such important Thoughts as thine revere.
St—d, March 18, 1778.