The Farewell Poem by Charles Churchill
_P_. Farewell to Europe, and at once farewell
To all the follies which in Europe dwell;
To Eastern India now, a richer clime,
Richer, alas! in everything but rhyme,
The Muses steer their course; and, fond of change,
At large, in other worlds, desire to range;
Resolved, at least, since they the fool must play,
To do it in a different place, and way.
_F_. What whim is this, what error of the brain,
What madness worse than in the dog-star's reign?
Why into foreign countries would you roam,
Are there not knaves and fools enough at home?
If satire be thy object--and thy lays
As yet have shown no talents fit for praise--
If satire be thy object, search all round,
Nor to thy purpose can one spot be found
Like England, where, to rampant vigour grown,
Vice chokes up every virtue; where, self-sown,
The seeds of folly shoot forth rank and bold,
And every seed brings forth a hundredfold.
_P_. No more of this--though Truth, (the more our shame,
The more our guilt) though Truth perhaps may claim,
And justify her part in this, yet here,
For the first time, e'en Truth offends my ear;
Declaim from morn to night, from night to morn,
Take up the theme anew, when day's new-born,
I hear, and hate--be England what she will,
With all her faults, she is my country still.
_F_. Thy country! and what then? Is that mere word
Against the voice of Reason to be heard?
Are prejudices, deep imbibed in youth,
To counteract, and make thee hate the truth?
'Tis sure the symptom of a narrow soul
To draw its grand attachment from the whole,
And take up with a part; men, not confined
Within such paltry limits, men design'd
Their nature to exalt, where'er they go,
Wherever waves can roll, and winds can blow,
Where'er the blessed sun, placed in the sky
To watch this subject world, can dart his eye,
Are still the same, and, prejudice outgrown,
Consider every country as their own;
At one grand view they take in Nature's plan,
Not more at home in England than Japan.
_P_. My good, grave Sir of Theory, whose wit,
Grasping at shadows, ne'er caught substance yet,
'Tis mighty easy o'er a glass of wine
On vain refinements vainly to refine,
To laugh at poverty in plenty's reign,
To boast of apathy when out of pain,
And in each sentence, worthy of the schools,
Varnish'd with sophistry, to deal out rules
Most fit for practice, but for one poor fault
That into practice they can ne'er be brought.
At home, and sitting in your elbow-chair,
You praise Japan, though you was never there:
But was the ship this moment under sail,
Would not your mind be changed, your spirits fail?
Would you not cast one longing eye to shore,
And vow to deal in such wild schemes no more?
Howe'er our pride may tempt us to conceal
Those passions which we cannot choose but feel,
There's a strange something, which, without a brain,
Fools feel, and which e'en wise men can't explain,
Planted in man to bind him to that earth,
In dearest ties, from whence he drew his birth.
If Honour calls, where'er she points the way
The sons of Honour follow, and obey;
If need compels, wherever we are sent
'Tis want of courage not to be content;
But, if we have the liberty of choice,
And all depends on our own single voice,
To deem of every country as the same
Is rank rebellion 'gainst the lawful claim
Of Nature, and such dull indifference
May be philosophy, but can't be sense.
_F_. Weak and unjust distinction, strange design,
Most peevish, most perverse, to undermine
Philosophy, and throw her empire down
By means of Sense, from whom she holds her crown,
Divine Philosophy! to thee we owe
All that is worth possessing here below;
Virtue and wisdom consecrate thy reign,
Doubled each joy, and pain no longer pain.
When, like a garden, where, for want of toil
And wholesome discipline, the rich, rank soil
Teems with incumbrances; where all around,
Herbs, noxious in their nature, make the ground,
Like the good mother of a thankless son,
Curse her own womb, by fruitfulness undone;
Like such a garden, when the human soul,
Uncultured, wild, impatient of control,
Brings forth those passions of luxuriant race,
Which spread, and stifle every herb of grace;
Whilst Virtue, check'd by the cold hand of Scorn,
Seems withering on the bed where she was born,
Philosophy steps in; with steady hand,
She brings her aid, she clears the encumber'd land;
Too virtuous to spare Vice one stroke, too wise
One moment to attend to Pity's cries--
See with what godlike, what relentless power
She roots up every weed!
_P_. And every flower.
Philosophy, a name of meek degree,
Embraced, in token of humility,
By the proud sage, who, whilst he strove to hide,
In that vain artifice reveal'd his pride;
Philosophy, whom Nature had design'd
To purge all errors from the human mind,
Herself misled by the philosopher,
At once her priest and master, made us err:
Pride, pride, like leaven in a mass of flour,
Tainted her laws, and made e'en Virtue sour.
Had she, content within her proper sphere,
Taught lessons suited to the human ear,
Which might fair Virtue's genuine fruits produce,
Made not for ornament, but real use,
The heart of man, unrivall'd, she had sway'd,
Praised by the good, and by the bad obey'd;
But when she, overturning Reason's throne,
Strove proudly in its place to plant her own;
When she with apathy the breast would steel,
And teach us, deeply feeling, not to feel;
When she would wildly all her force employ,
Not to correct our passions, but destroy;
When, not content our nature to restore,
As made by God, she made it all new o'er;
When, with a strange and criminal excess,
To make us more than men, she made us less;
The good her dwindled power with pity saw,
The bad with joy, and none but fools with awe.
Truth, with a simple and unvarnish'd tale,
E'en from the mouth of Norton might prevail,
Could she get there; but Falsehood's sugar'd strain
Should pour her fatal blandishments in vain,
Nor make one convert, though the Siren hung,
Where she too often hangs, on Mansfield's tongue.
Should all the Sophs, whom in his course the sun
Hath seen, or past, or present, rise in one;
Should he, whilst pleasure in each sentence flows,
Like Plato, give us poetry in prose;
Should he, full orator, at once impart
The Athenian's genius with the Roman's art;
Genius and Art should in this instance fail,
Nor Rome, though join'd with Athens, here prevail.
'Tis not in man, 'tis not in more than man,
To make me find one fault in Nature's plan.
Placed low ourselves, we censure those above,
And, wanting judgment, think that she wants love;
Blame, where we ought in reason to commend,
And think her most a foe when most a friend.
Such be philosophers--their specious art,
Though Friendship pleads, shall never warp my heart,
Ne'er make me from this breast one passion tear,
Which Nature, my best friend, hath planted there.
_F_. Forgiving as a friend, what, whilst I live,
As a philosopher I can't forgive,
In this one point at last I join with you,
To Nature pay all that is Nature's due;
But let not clouded Reason sink so low,
To fancy debts she does not, cannot owe:
Bear, to full manhood grown, those shackles bear,
Which Nature meant us for a time to wear,
As we wear leading-strings, which, useless grown,
Are laid aside, when we can walk alone;
But on thyself, by peevish humour sway'd,
Wilt thou lay burdens Nature never laid?
Wilt thou make faults, whilst Judgment weakly errs,
And then defend, mistaking them for hers?
Darest thou to say, in our enlighten'd age,
That this grand master passion, this brave rage,
Which flames out for thy country, was impress'd
And fix'd by Nature in the human breast?
If you prefer the place where you were born,
And hold all others in contempt and scorn,
On fair comparison; if on that land
With liberal, and a more than equal hand,
Her gifts, as in profusion, Plenty sends;
If Virtue meets with more and better friends;
If Science finds a patron 'mongst the great;
If Honesty is minister of state;
If Power, the guardian of our rights design'd,
Is to that great, that only end, confined;
If riches are employ'd to bless the poor;
If Law is sacred, Liberty secure;
Let but these facts depend on proofs of weight,
Reason declares thy love can't be too great,
And, in this light could he our country view,
A very Hottentot must love it too.
But if, by Fate's decrees, you owe your birth
To some most barren and penurious earth,
Where, every comfort of this life denied,
Her real wants are scantily supplied;
Where Power is Reason, Liberty a joke,
Laws never made, or made but to be broke;
To fix thy love on such a wretched spot,
Because in Lust's wild fever there begot;
Because, thy weight no longer fit to bear,
By chance, not choice, thy mother dropp'd thee there,
Is folly, which admits not of defence;
It can't be Nature, for it is not sense.
By the same argument which here you hold,
(When Falsehood's insolent, let Truth be told)
If Propagation can in torments dwell,
A devil must, if born there, love his Hell.
_P_. Had Fate, to whose decrees I lowly bend,
And e'en in punishment confess a friend,
Ordain'd my birth in some place yet untried,
On purpose made to mortify my pride,
Where the sun never gave one glimpse of day,
Where Science never yet could dart one ray,
Had I been born on some bleak, blasted plain
Of barren Scotland, in a Stuart's reign,
Or in some kingdom, where men, weak, or worse,
Turn'd Nature's every blessing to a curse;
Where crowns of freedom, by the fathers won,
Dropp'd leaf by leaf from each degenerate son;
In spite of all the wisdom you display,
All you have said, and yet may have to say,
My weakness here, if weakness I confess,
I, as my country, had not loved her less.
Whether strict Reason bears me out in this,
Let those who, always seeking, always miss
The ways of Reason, doubt with precious zeal;
Theirs be the praise to argue, mine to feel.
Wish we to trace this passion to the root,
We, like a tree, may know it by its fruit;
From its rich stem ten thousand virtues spring,
Ten thousand blessings on its branches cling;
Yet in the circle of revolving years
Not one misfortune, not one vice, appears.
Hence, then, and what you Reason call, adore;
This, if not Reason, must be something more.
But (for I wish not others to confine;
Be their opinions unrestrain'd as mine)
Whether this love's of good or evil growth,
A vice, a virtue, or a spice of both,
Let men of nicer argument decide;
If it is virtuous, soothe an honest pride
With liberal praise; if vicious, be content,
It is a vice I never can repent;
A vice which, weigh'd in Heaven, shall more avail
Than ten cold virtues in the other scale.
_F_. This wild, untemper'd zeal (which, after all,
We, candour unimpeach'd, might madness call)
Is it a virtue? That you scarce pretend;
Or can it be a vice, like Virtue's friend,
Which draws us off from and dissolves the force
Of private ties, nay, stops us in our course
To that grand object of the human soul,
That nobler love which comprehends the whole?
Coop'd in the limits of this petty isle,
This nook, which scarce deserves a frown or smile,
Weigh'd with Creation, you, by whim undone,
Give all your thoughts to what is scarce worth one.
The generous soul, by Nature taught to soar,
Her strength confirm'd in philosophic lore,
At one grand view takes in a world with ease,
And, seeing all mankind, loves all she sees.
_P_. Was it most sure, which yet a doubt endures,
Not found in Reason's creed, though found in yours,
That these two services, like what we're told,
And know, of God's and Mammon's, cannot hold
And draw together; that, however both,
We neither serve, attempting to serve both,
I could not doubt a moment which to choose,
And which in common reason to refuse.
Invented oft for purposes of art,
Born of the head, though father'd on the heart,
This grand love of the world must be confess'd
A barren speculation at the best.
Not one man in a thousand, should he live
Beyond the usual term of life, could give,
So rare occasion comes, and to so few,
Proof whether his regards are feign'd, or true.
The love we bear our country is a root
Which never fails to bring forth golden fruit;
'Tis in the mind an everlasting spring
Of glorious actions, which become a king,
Nor less become a subject; 'tis a debt
Which bad men, though they pay not, can't forget;
A duty, which the good delight to pay,
And every man can practise every day.
Nor, for my life (so very dim my eye,
Or dull your argument) can I descry
What you with faith assert, how that dear love,
Which binds me to my country, can remove,
And make me of necessity forego,
That general love which to the world I owe.
Those ties of private nature, small extent,
In which the mind of narrow cast is pent,
Are only steps on which the generous soul
Mounts by degrees till she includes the whole.
That spring of love, which, in the human mind,
Founded on self, flows narrow and confined,
Enlarges as it rolls, and comprehends
The social charities of blood and friends,
Till, smaller streams included, not o'erpast,
It rises to our country's love at last;
And he, with liberal and enlarged mind,
Who loves his country, cannot hate mankind.
_F_. Friend, as you would appear, to Common Sense,
Tell me, or think no more of a defence,
Is it a proof of love by choice to run
A vagrant from your country?
_P_. Can the son
(Shame, shame on all such sons!) with ruthless eye,
And heart more patient than the flint, stand by,
And by some ruffian, from all shame divorced,
All virtue, see his honour'd mother forced?
Then--no, by Him that made me! not e'en then,
Could I with patience, by the worst of men,
Behold my country plunder'd, beggar'd, lost
Beyond redemption, all her glories cross'd,
E'en when occasion made them ripe, her fame
Fled like a dream, while she awakes to shame.
_F_. Is it not more the office of a friend,
The office of a patron, to defend
Her sinking state, than basely to decline
So great a cause, and in despair resign?
_P_. Beyond my reach, alas! the grievance lies,
And, whilst more able patriots doubt, she dies.
From a foul source, more deep than we suppose,
Fatally deep and dark, this grievance flows.
'Tis not that peace our glorious hopes defeats:
'Tis not the voice of Faction in the streets;
'Tis not a gross attack on Freedom made;
Tis not the arm of Privilege display'd,
Against the subject, whilst she wears no sting
To disappoint the purpose of a king;
These are no ills, or trifles, if compared
With those which are contrived, though not declared.
Tell me, Philosopher, is it a crime
To pry into the secret womb of Time;
Or, born in ignorance, must we despair
To reach events, and read the future there?
Why, be it so--still 'tis the right of man,
Imparted by his Maker, where he can,
To former times and men his eye to cast,
And judge of what's to come, by what is past.
Should there be found, in some not distant year,
(Oh, how I wish to be no prophet here!)
Amongst our British Lords should there be found
Some great in power, in principles unsound,
Who look on Freedom with an evil eye,
In whom the springs of Loyalty are dry;
Who wish to soar on wild Ambition's wings,
Who hate the Commons, and who love not Kings;
Who would divide the people and the throne,
To set up separate interests of their own;
Who hate whatever aids their wholesome growth,
And only join with, to destroy them both;
Should there be found such men in after-times,
May Heaven, in mercy to our grievous crimes,
Allot some milder vengeance, nor to them,
And to their rage, this wretched land condemn,
Thou God above, on whom all states depend,
Who knowest from the first their rise, and end,
If there's a day mark'd in the book of Fate,
When ruin must involve our equal state;
When law, alas! must be no more, and we,
To freedom born, must be no longer free;
Let not a mob of tyrants seize the helm,
Nor titled upstarts league to rob the realm;
Let not, whatever other ills assail,
A damned aristocracy prevail.
If, all too short, our course of freedom run,
'Tis thy good pleasure we should be undone,
Let us, some comfort in our griefs to bring,
Be slaves to one, and be that one a king.
_F_. Poets, accustom'd by their trade to feign,
Oft substitute creations of the brain
For real substance, and, themselves deceived,
Would have the fiction by mankind believed.
Such is your case--but grant, to soothe your pride,
That you know more than all the world beside,
Why deal in hints, why make a moment's doubt?
Resolved, and like a man, at once speak out;
Show us our danger, tell us where it lies,
And, to ensure our safety, make us wise.
_P_. Rather than bear the pain of thought, fools stray;
The proud will rather lose than ask their way:
To men of sense what needs it to unfold,
And tell a tale which they must know untold?
In the bad, interest warps the canker'd heart,
The good are hoodwink'd by the tricks of art;
And, whilst arch, subtle hypocrites contrive
To keep the flames of discontent alive;
Whilst they, with arts to honest men unknown,
Breed doubts between the people and the throne,
Making us fear, where Reason never yet
Allow'd one fear, or could one doubt admit,
Themselves pass unsuspected in disguise,
And 'gainst our real danger seal our eyes.
_F_. Mark them, and let their names recorded stand
On Shame's black roll, and stink through all the land.
_P_. That might some courage, but no prudence be;
No hurt to them, and jeopardy to me.
_F_. Leave out their names.
_P_. For that kind caution, thanks;
But may not judges sometimes fill up blanks?
_F_. Your country's laws in doubt then you reject?
_P_. The laws I love, the lawyers I suspect.
Amongst twelve judges may not one be found
(On bare, bare possibility I ground
This wholesome doubt) who may enlarge, retrench,
Create, and uncreate, and from the bench,
With winks, smiles, nods, and such like paltry arts,
May work and worm into a jury's hearts?
Or, baffled there, may, turbulent of soul,
Cramp their high office, and their rights control;
Who may, though judge, turn advocate at large,
And deal replies out by the way of charge,
Making Interpretation all the way,
In spite of facts, his wicked will obey,
And, leaving Law without the least defence,
May damn his conscience to approve his sense?
_F_. Whilst, the true guardians of this charter'd land,
In full and perfect vigour, juries stand,
A judge in vain shall awe, cajole, perplex.
_P_. Suppose I should be tried in Middlesex?
_F_. To pack a jury they will never dare.
_P_. There's no occasion to pack juries there.
_F_. 'Gainst prejudice all arguments are weak;
Reason herself without effect must speak.
Fly then thy country, like a coward fly,
Renounce her interest, and her laws defy.
But why, bewitch'd, to India turn thine eyes?
Cannot our Europe thy vast wrath suffice?
Cannot thy misbegotten Muse lay bare
Her brawny arm, and play the butcher there?
_P_. Thy counsel taken, what should Satire do?
Where could she find an object that is new?
Those travell'd youths, whom tender mothers wean,
And send abroad to see, and to be seen;
With whom, lest they should fornicate, or worse,
A tutor's sent by way of a dry nurse;
Each of whom just enough of spirit bears
To show our follies, and to bring home theirs,
Have made all Europe's vices so well known,
They seem almost as natural as our own.
_F_. Will India for thy purpose better do?
_P_. In one respect, at least--there's something new.
_F_. A harmless people, in whom Nature speaks
Free and untainted,'mongst whom Satire seeks,
But vainly seeks, so simply plain their hearts,
One bosom where to lodge her poison'd darts.
_P_. From knowledge speak you this? or, doubt on doubt
Weigh'd and resolved, hath Reason found it out?
Neither from knowledge, nor by Reason taught,
You have faith every where, but where you ought.
India or Europe--what's there in a name?
Propensity to vice in both the same,
Nature alike in both works for man's good,
Alike in both by man himself withstood.
Nabobs, as well as those who hunt them down,
Deserve a cord much better than a crown,
And a Mogul can thrones as much debase
As any polish'd prince of Christian race.
_F_. Could you,--a task more hard than you suppose,--
Could you, in ridicule whilst Satire glows,
Make all their follies to the life appear,
'Tis ten to one you gain no credit here;
Howe'er well drawn, the picture, after all,
Because we know not the original,
Would not find favour in the public eye.
_P_. That, having your good leave, I mean to try:
And if your observations sterling hold,
If the piece should be heavy, tame, and cold,
To make it to the side of Nature lean,
And meaning nothing, something seem to mean:
To make the whole in lively colours glow,
To bring before us something that we know,
And from all honest men applause to win,
I'll group the Company, and put them in.
_F_. Be that ungenerous thought by shame suppress'd,
Add not distress to those too much distress'd;
Have they not, by blind zeal misled, laid bare
Those sores which never might endure the air?
Have they not brought their mysteries so low,
That what the wise suspected not, fools know?
From their first rise e'en to the present hour,
Have they not proved their own abuse of power,
Made it impossible, if fairly view'd,
Ever to have that dangerous power renew'd,
Whilst, unseduced by ministers, the throne
Regards our interests, and knows its own?
_P_. Should every other subject chance to fail,
Those who have sail'd, and those who wish'd to sail
In the last fleet, afford an ample field,
Which must beyond my hopes a harvest yield.
_F_. On such vile food Satire can never thrive.
_P_. She cannot starve, if there was only Clive.
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