1788 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edmund Burke

J. Day, in "The Return of Justice" Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser (27 March 1788).



Wherever Want and Sickness dwell,
Or Virtue 'neath Oppression pines,
He seeks unknown the wretched cell,
To every tale his ear inclines!
At each distress his heart o'erflows,
His voice consoles, his hand bestows;
Unequall'd on the scroll of Time,
No partial feelings guide his soul sublime;
A friend in every age — a Burke in every clime!

In vain Corruption's shrinking tribe
With gold his conscience would betray,
Indignant he beholds the bribe,
And spurns the venal dirt away!
Like Paul, when fast the viper clung,
And on his holy body hung,
He casts the serpent to the ground;
His virtue shields him from its deadly wound,
While earth beholds with awe, and Heav'n his deeds resound!

What Muse can celebrate his fame,
When pleading India's hapless cause?
Enraptur'd senates caught the flame;
They felt, and shouted with applause.
E'en stern Oppression drop'd a tear,
The dreadful catalogue to hear;
While pale Corruption speechless shook,
(By every friend of rectitude forsook)
Despair in all her steps, and horror in her look!

Immortal BURKE! thy worth supreme
On ages yet unborn, shall shine;
And, like Apollo's heav'nly beam,
Expand its influence divine!
And, in that dread, terrifick hour,
When Death displays his awful pow'r;
Like blest Elijah thou shalt rise,
With glory crown'd, ascend the vaulted skies,
Where Justice sits enthron'd, and virtue never dies!