George Canning (11 April 1770 – 8 August 1827 / London, England)
From mental mists to purge a nation's eyes;
To animate the weak, unite the wise;
To trace the deep infection, that prevades
The crowded town, and taints the rural shades;
To mark how wide extends the mighty waste
O'er the fair realms of Science, Learning, Taste;
To drive and scatter all the brood of lies,
And chase the varying falsehood as it flies;
The long arrears of ridicule to pay,
To drag reluctant Dulness back to day;
Much yet remains.--To you these themes belong,
Ye favor'd sons of virtue and of song!
Say, is the field too narrow? Are the times
Barren of folly, and devoid of crimes?
Yet, venial vices, in a milder age,
Could rouse the warmth of Pope's satiric rage;
The doting miser, and the lavish heir,
The follies, and the foibles of the fair,
Sir Job, Sir Balaam, and old Euclio's thrift,
And Sappho's diamonds, with her dirty shift,
Blunt, Charteris, Hopkins;--meaner subjects fired
The keen-eyed Poet;--while the Muse inspired
Her ardent child--entwining as he sate,
His laurell'd chaplet with the thorns of hate.
But say,--indignant does the Muse retire,
Her shrine deserted, and extinct its fire?
No pious hand to feed the sacred flame,
No raptured soul a Poet's charge to claim.
Bethink thee (Gifford); when some future age
Shall trace the promise of thy playful page;--
"The hand which brush'd a swarm of fools away,
"Should rouse to grasp a more reluctant prey!"--
Think then, will pleaded indolence excuse
The tame secession of thy languid Muse?
Ah! where is now that promise? Why so long
Sleep the keen shafts of satire and of song?
Oh! come with Taste and Virtue at thy side,
With ardent zeal inflamed, and patriot pride;
With keen poetic glance direct the blow,
And empty all thy quiver on the foe:
No pause--no rest--till weltering on the ground
The poisonous hydra lies, and pierced with many a wound.
Thou too!--the nameless Bard,--whose honest zeal
For law, for morals, for the public weal,
Pours down impetuous on thy country's foes
The stream of verse, and many-languaged prose;
Thou too!--though oft thy ill-advised dislike
The guiltless head with random censure strike,--
Though quaint allusions, vague and undefined,
Play faintly round the ear, but mock the mind;
Through the mix'd mass yet taste and learning shine,
And manly vigour stamps the nervous line;
And patriot warmth the generous rage inspires;
And wakes and points the desultory fires!
Yet more remain unknown: for who can tell
What bashful genius, in some rural cell,
As year to year, and day succeeds to day,
In joyless leisure wastes his life away?
In him the flame of early fancy shone;
His genuine worth his old companions own;
In childhood and in youth their chief confess'd,
His master's pride, his pattern to the rest.
Now far aloof retiring from the strife
Of busy talents and of active life,
As from the loop-holes of retreat, he views
Our stage, verse, pamphlets, politics, and news,
He loathes the world,--or, with reflection sad,
Concludes it irrecoverably mad;
Of taste, of learning, morals, all bereft,
No hope, no prospect to redeem it, left.
Awake! for shame! or ere thy nobler sense
Sink in the oblivious pool of indolence!
Must wit be found alone on falsehood's side,
Unknown to truth, to virtue unallied?
Arise! nor scorn thy country's just alarms;
Wield in her cause thy long neglected arms;
Of lofty satire pour the indignant strain,
Leagued with her friends, and ardent to maintain
'Gainst Learning's, Virtue's, Truth's, Religion's foes,
A kingdom's safety, and the world's repose.
If Vice appal thee,--if thou view with awe
Insults that brave, and crimes that 'scape the law;--
Yet may the specious bastard brood, which claim
A spurious homage under Virtue's name,
Sprung from that parent of ten thousand crimes,
The new Philosophy of modern times,--
Yet, these may rouse thee!--With unsparing hand,
Oh, lash the vile impostors from the land!
First, stern Philanthropy:--not she, who dries
The orphan's tears, and wipes the widow's eyes;
Not she, who sainted Charity her guide,
Of British bounty pours the annual tide:--
But French Philanthropy;--whose boundless mind
Glows with the general love of all mankind;--
Philanthropy,--beneath whose baneful sway
Each patriot passion sinks, and dies away.
Taught in her school t'imbibe thy mawkish strain
Condorcet filter'd through the dregs of Paine,
Each pert adept disowns a Briton's part,
And plucks the name of England from his heart.
What, shall, a name, a word, a sound controul
The aspiring thought, and cramp the expansive soul?
Shall one half-peopled Island's rocky round
A love, that glows for all Creation, bound?
And social charities contract the plan
Framed for thy Freedom, universal man?
--No--through the extended globe his feelings run
As broad and general as the unbounded sun!
No narrow bigot he;--his reason'd view
Thy interests, England, rank with thine, Peru!
France at our doors, he sees no danger nigh,
But heaves for Turkey's woes the impartial sigh;
A steady Patriot of the World alone,
The Friend of every Country--but his own.
Next comes a gentler Virtue.--Ah! beware
Lest the harsh verse her shrinking softness scare,
Visit her not too roughly;--the warm sigh
Breathes on her lips;--the tear-drop gems her eye.
Sweet Sensibility, who dwells enshrined
In the fine foldings of the feeling mind;
With delicate Mimosa's sense endued,
Who shrinks instinctive from a hand too rude;
Or, like the Anagallis, prescient flower,
Shuts her soft petals at the approaching shower.
Sweet child of sickly Fancy!--her of yore
From her loved France Rousseau to exile bore;
And while midst lakes and mountains wild he ran,
Full of himself, and shunn'd the haunts of man,
Taught her o'er each lone vale and alpine steep
To lisp the story of his wrongs, and weep;
Taught her to cherish still in either eye,
Of tender tears a plentiful supply,
And pour them in her brooks that babbled by;--
--Taught by nice scale to meet her feelings strong,
False by degrees, and exquisitely wrong;--
--For the crush'd beetle first,--the widow'd dove,
And all the warbled sorrows of the grove;--
Next for poor suffering guilt;--and last of all,
For Parents, Friends, a king and Country's fall.
Mark her fair votaries, prodigal of grief,
With cureless pangs, and woes that mock relief,
Droop in soft sorrow o'er a faded flower
O'er a dead jack-ass pour the pearly shower;--
But hear, unmoved, of Loire's ensanguined flood,
Choked up with slain;--of Lyons drench'd in blood;
Of crimes that blot the age, the world with shame,
Foul crimes, but sicklied o'er with Freedom's name;
Altars and thrones subverted, social life
Trampled to earth,--the husband from the wife,
Parent from child, with ruthless fury torn;--
Of talents, honour, virtue, wit, forlorn,
In friendless exile,--of the wise and good
Staining the daily scaffold with their blood.--
Of savage cruelties, that scare the mind,
The rage of madness with hell's lust combin'd--
Of hearts torn reeking from the mangled breast,--
They hear--and hope, that all is for the best.
Fond hope!--but Justice sanctifies the prayer--
Justice!--here, Satire, strike! 'twere sin to spare!
Not she in British Courts that takes her stand,
The dawdling balance dangling in her hand,
Adjusting punishments to fraud and vice,
With srupulous quirks, and disquisition nice--
But firm, erect, with keen reverted glance,
The avenging angel of regenerate France,
Who visits ancient sins on modern times,
And punishes the Pope for Cæsar's crimes.
Such is the liberal Justice which presides
In these our days, and modern patriot's guides;
Justice, whose blood-stain'd book one sole decree,
One statute fills--"The People shall be free."
Free by what means?--by folly, madness, guilt,
By bounteous rapines, blood in oceans spilt;
By confiscation, in whose sweeping toils
The poor man's pittance with the rich man's spoils,
Mix'd in one common mass, are swept away,
To glut the short liv'd tyrant of the day:--
By laws, religion, morals, all o'erthrown;
Rouse then, ye sovereign people, claim your own:
The licence that enthrals, the truth that blinds,
The wealth that starves you, and the power that grinds.
So Justice bids.--'Twas her enlighten'd doom,
Louis, thy holy head devoted to the tomb!
'Twas Justice claim'd, in that accursed hour,
The fatal forfeit of too lenient power.
Mourn for the Man we may; but for the King,--
Freedom, oh! Freedom's such a charming thing!
"Much may be said on both sides."--Hark! I hear
A well known voice that murmurs in my ear,--
The voice of Candour.--Hail! most solemn sage,
Thou drivelling virtue of this moral age,
Candour, which softens party's headlong rage.
Candour,--which spares its foes;--nor e'er descends
With bigot zeal to combat for its friends.
Candour,--which loves in see-saw strain to tell
Of acting foolishly, but meaning well;
Too nice to praise by wholesale, or to blame,
Convinced that all men's motives are the same;
And finds, with keen discriminating sight,
Black's not so black; nor white so very white.
"Fox, to be sure, was vehement and wrong;
But then Pitt's words you'll own were rather strong
Both must be blamed, both pardon'd;--'twas just so
With Fox and Pitt full forty years ago;
So Walpole, Pulteney;--factions in all times,
Have had their follies, ministers their crimes."
Give me the avow'd, the erect, the manly foe,
Bold I can meet--perhaps may turn his blow;
But of all plagues, good heaven, thy wrath can send,
Save, save, oh! save me from the Candid Friend!
"Barras loves plunder,--Merlin takes a bride,--
What then?--shall Candour these good men proscribe.
No! ere we join the loud-accusing throng,
Prove--not the facts--but that they thought them wrong.
"Why hang O'Quigley?--he, misguided man,
In sober thought his country's weal might plan.
And, while his deep-wrought treason sapp'd the throne,
Might act from taste in morals all his own."
Peace to such Reasoners!--let them have their way
Shut their dull eyes against the blaze of day.
Priestley's a Saint, and Stone a patriot still!
And La Fayette a Hero, if they will.
I love the bold uncompromising mind,
Whose principles are fix'd, whose views defined:
Who scouts and scorns, in canting Candour's spite,
All taste in morals, innate sense of right,
And Nature's impulse, all uncheck'd by art,
And feelings fine, that float about the heart;
Content, for good men's guidance, bad men's awe,
On moral truth to rest, and Gospel law.
Who owns, when Traitor's feel the avenging rod,
Just retribution, and the hand of God;
Who hears the groans through Olmutz' roofs that ring,
Of him who mock'd, misled, betray'd his King--
Hears unappall'd:--though Faction's zealots preach--
Unmov'd, unsoften'd by Ftzptrck's speech.
--That speech on which the melting Commons hung,
"While truths divine came mended from his tongue."
How loving husband clings to duteous wife,--
How pure religion soothes the ills of life,--
How Popish ladies trust their pious fears
And naughty actions in their chaplain's ears.
Half novel and half sermon on it flow'd;
With pious zeal the Opposition glow'd;
And as o'er each the soft infection crept,
Sigh'd as he whined, and as he whisper'd wept;
E'en Cwn dropt a sentimental tear,
And stout St. Adrw yelp'd a softer "Hear!"
O! nurse of crimes and fashions! which in vain
Our colder servile spirits would attain,
How do we ape thee, France! but blundering still
Disgrace the pattern by our want of skill.
The borrow'd step our awkward gait reveals:
(As clumsy Crtny mars the verse he steals
How do we ape thee, France!--nor claim alone
Thy arts, thy tastes, thy morals for our own,
But to thy Worthies render homage due,
Their "hair-breadth 'scapes" with anxious interest view;
Statesmen and heroines whom this age adores,
Tho' plainer terms would call them rogues and ws.
See Louvet, patriot, pamphleteer, and sage,
Tempering with amorous fire his virtuous rage,
Form'd for all tasks, his various talents see,--
The luscious novel, the severe decree.
Then mark him weltering in his nasty stye,
Bare his lewd transports to the public eye.
Not his the love in silent groves that strays,
Quits the rude world, and shuns the vulgar gaze.
In Lodoiska's full possession blest,
One craving void still aches within his breast;
Plunged in the filth and fondness of her arms,
Not to himself alone he stints her charms;
Clasp'd in each other's fond embrace they lie,
But know no joy, unless the world stands by.
--The fool of vanity, for her alone
He lives, loves, writes, and dies but to be known.
His widow'd mourner flies to poison's aid
Eager to join her Louvet's parted shade
In those bright realms where sainted lovers stray,
But harsh emetics tear that hope away.
--Yet hapless Louvet! where thy bones are laid,
The easy nymphs shall consecrate the shade.
There, in the laughing morn of genial spring,
Unwedded pairs shall tender couplets sing;
Eringoes, o'er the hallow'd spot shall bloom,
And flies of Spain buzz softly round the tomb.
But hold, severer virtue claims the Muse--
Roland the just, with ribbands in his shoes--
And Roland's spouse who paints with chaste delight
The doubtful conflict of her nuptial night;--
Her virgin charms what fierce attacks assail'd,
And how the rigid Minister prevail'd.
And ah! what verse can grace thy stately mien,
Guide of the world, preferment's golden queen,
Neckar's fair daughter,--Stael, the Epicene!
Bright o'er whose flaming cheek and purple nose
The bloom of young desire unceasing glows!
Fain would the Muse--but ah! she dares no more,
A mournful voice from lone Guyana's shore.
--Sad Quatremer--the bold presumption checks,
Forbid to question thy ambitious sex.
To thee, proud Barras bows;--thy charms controul
Rewbell's brute rage, and Merlin's subtle soul;
Raised by thy hands, and fashion'd to thy will,
Thy power, thy guiding influence, governs still,
Where at the blood-stain'd board expert he plies,
The lame artificer of fraud and lies
He with the mitred head and cloven heel;
Doom'd the coarse edge of Rewbell's jests to feel;
To stand the playful buffet, and to hear
The frequent ink-stand whizzing past his ear;
While all the five directors laugh to see
"The limping priest so deft at his new ministry."
Last of the Anointed five behold, and least,
The Directorial Lama, Sovereign Priest,--
Lepaux: whom athiests worship; at whose nod
Bow their meek heads the men without a God.
Ere long, perhaps, to this astonish'd Isle,
Fresh from the shores of subjugated Nile,
Shall Buonaparte's victor fleet protect
The genuine Theo-philanthropic sect,--
The sect of Marat, Mirabeau, Voltaire,--
Led by their pontiff, good La Reveillere.
--Rejoiced our Clubs shall greet him, and install
The holy Hunch-back in thy dome, St. Paul!
While countless votaries thronging in his train
Wave their Red Caps, and hymn this jocund strain:
"Courier's and Stars, Sedition's Evening Host,
"Thou Morning Chronicle, and Morning Post,
"Whether ye make the Rights of man your theme,
"Your Country Libel, and your God blaspheme,
"Or dirt on private worth and virtue throw,
"Still blasphemous or blackguard, praise Lepaux!
"And ye five other wandering Birds, that move
"In sweet accord of harmony and love,
"C---dge and S---th---y, L---d, and L---be and Co.
"Tune all your mystic harps to praise Lepaux!
"Pr---tl---y and W---f---ld, humble holy men,
"Give praises to his name with tongue and pen!
"T---lw---l, and ye that lecture as ye go,
"And for your pains get pelted, praise Lepaux!
"Praise him each Jacobin, or fool, or knave,
"And your cropp'd heads in sign of worship wave!
"All creeping creatures, venomous and low,
"Paine, Wllms, Gdwn, Hlcrft, praise Lepaux!
"------ and ------ with ------ join'd,
"And every other beast after his kind.
"And thou, Leviathan! on ocean's brim
"Hugest of living things that sleep and swim;
"Thou, in whose nose by Burke's gigantic hand
"The hook was fix'd to drag thee to the land
"With, ------, and ------ in thy train,
"And ------ wallowing in the yeasty main,
"Still as ye snort, and puff, and spout, and blow,
"In puffing, and in spouting, praise Lepaux!'
Britain, beware; nor let the insidious foe,
Of force despairing, aim a deadlier blow.
Thy peace, thy strength, with devilish wiles assail,
And when her arms are vain, by arts prevail.
True, thou art rich, art powerful! through thine Isle
Industrious skill, contented labour smile;
Far seas are studded with thy countless sails;
What wind but wafts them, and what shore but hails!
True, thou art brave!--o'er all the busy land
In patriot ranks embattled myriads stand;
Thy foes behold with impotent amaze,
And drop the lifted weapon as they gaze!
But what avails to guard each outward part,
If subtlest poison, circling at thy heart,
Spite of thy courage, of thy power, and wealth
Mine the sound fabric of thy vital health?
So thine own Oak, by some fair streamlet's side
Waves its broad arms, and spreads its leafy pride,
Towers from the earth, and rearing to the skies
Its conscious strength, the tempest's wrath defies:
Its ample branches shield the fowls of air,
To its cool shades the panting herds repair.
The treacherous current work its noiseless way,
The fibres loosen and the roots decay;
Prostrate the beauteous ruin lies; and all
That shared its shelter, perish in its fall.
O thou!--lamented Sage!--whose prescient scan
Pierced through foul Anarchy's gigantic plan,
Prompt to incredulous hearers to disclose
The guilt of France, and Europe's world of woes:
The mighty sea-mark of these troubled days!
Thou, on whose name each distant age shall gaze,
O large of soul, of genius unconfined,
Born to delight, instruct, and mend mankind;
Burke! in whose breast a Roman ardour glow'd;
Whose copious tone with Grecian richness flow'd;
Well hast thou found (if such thy Country's doom)
A timely refuge in the sheltering tomb!
As far as realms, where Eastern kings are laid,
In pomp of death, beneath the cypress shade,
The perfumed lamp with unextinguish'd light
Flames thro' the vault, and cheers the gloom of night.
So, mighty Burke! in thy sepulchral urn,
To fancy's view, the lamp of Truth shall burn.
Thither late times shall turn their reverent eyes,
Led by thy light, and by thy wisdom wise.
There are, to whom (their taste such pleasures cloy)
No light thy wisdom yields, thy wit no joy.
Peace to their heavy heads, and callous hearts,
Peace--such as sloth, as ignorance imparts!--
Pleased may they live to plan their Country's good,
And crop, with calm content, their flow'ry food!
What though thy venturous spirit loved to urge
The labouring theme to Reason's utmost verge,
Kindling and mounting from the enraptured sight;--
Still anxious wonder watch'd thy darling flight!
While vulgar minds, with mean malignant stare,
Gazed up, the triumph of thy fall to share!
Poor triumph! price of that extorted praise,
Which still to daring Genius Envy pays.
Oh! for thy playful smile,--thy potent frown,--
To abash bold Vice, and laugh pert folly down!
So should the Muse in Humour's happiest vein,
With verse that flow'd in metaphoric strain,
And apt allusions to the rural trade,
Tell of what wood young Jacobins are made;
How the skill'd Gardener grafts with nicest rule
The slip of Coxcomb, on the stock of fool;
Forth in bright blossom bursts the tender sprig,
A thing to wonder at, perhaps a Whig,
Should tell, how wise each half-fledged pedant prates
Of weightiest matter, grave distinctions, states--
That rules of policy, and public good,
In Saxon times were rightly understood;
That Kings are proper, may be useful things,
But then some Gentlemen object to Kings;
That in all times the Minister's to blame;
That British Liberty's an empty name,
Till each fair burgh, numerically free,
Shall choose its Members by the Rule of Three.
So should the Muse, with verse in thunder clothed,
Proclaim the crimes by God and Nature loathed.
Which--(when fell poison revels in the veins--
That poison fell, which frantic Gallia drains
From the crude fruit of Freedom's blasted tree)
Blots the fair records of Humanity.
To feebler nations let proud France afford
Her damning choice,--the chalice or the sword,--
To drink or die; oh fraud! oh specious lie!
Delusive choice! for if they drink, they die.
The sword we dread not: of ourselves secure,
Firm were our strength, our Peace and Freedom sure,
Let all the world confederate all its powers,
"Be they not back'd by those that should be ours,"
High on his rock shall Britain's Genius stand,
Scatter the crowded hosts, and vindicate the land.
Guard we but our own hearts: with constant view
To ancient morals, ancient manners true,
True to their manlier virtues, such as nerved
Our father's breasts, and this proud Isle preserved
For many a rugged age:--and scorn the while,--
Each philosophic atheist's specious guile--
The soft seductions, the refinements nice,
Of gay morality, and easy vice:
So shall we brave the storm: our 'stablish'd power
Thy refuge, Europe, in some happier hour.
But, French in heart--tho' victory crowns our brow,
Low at our feet though prostrate nations bow,
Wealth gild our cities, commerce crown our shore
London may shine, but England is no more.
Comments about this poem (New Morality by George Canning )
People who read George Canning also read
Top 500 Poems
The Road Not Taken
If You Forget Me
Still I Rise
Edgar Allan Poe
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
William Ernest Henley