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Full text of "The times, a poem"

THE 



TIMES 



POEM 



BY 
BENJAMIN CHURCH, M.D. 



BOSTON 
1765 

TARRYTOWN, N. Y. 

REPRINTED 

WILLIAM ABBATT, 

1922 

BEING EXTRA NUMBER 84 OF THE MAGAZINE OF HISTORY 
WITH NOTES AND QUERIES 



To - 

SIR: 

Seeing thou art the undoubted assertor, supporter and protector 
of all our religious and social liberties, neither the world nor you will, 
I presume, think the following Poem unaptly address d to so dis- 
tinguish d a character. Is it not you who have always boldly 
stood in defence of the liberties of this people against the encroach 
ments of the prerogative, or the evil designs of wicked and corrupt 
men to destroy them? Is it not you who have council d again and 
again a prudent acquiesence to that greatest of blessings the S(tamp) 
A(cf) rather than a bold and noble opposition, like an uncommon 
patriot not preferring your own interest to the loss of your country s 
love? Is it not you who with a patriotism unparalleled, propos d 
and supported the bold and manly word Privilege, against the pusil 
lanimous one Rights, in a certain spirited address? Is it not you 
who contrived, fram d and got pass d into a law the W-rd-n A-t 
by which agreeable to the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, 
we are not pharisaically deny d the free use of the air and our limbs, 
or the free enjoyment of the benign influence of the Sun which shines 
as bright on that day which is set apart for social worship and re 
ligious converse as on any other? 

Is it not you who in a populous assembly asserted in support of 
the same Act, that the Sabbath was nowhere so remissly kept as in 
this town; an assertion as remarkable for its truth as for the un- 
hypocritical gravity with which it was delivered? 

In short, you are so continually exerting your abilities in defence 
of our rights, liberties and immunities, both religious and civil, in 
this way, that it would be endless to enumerate them. I shall there 
fore take my leave of you with wishing that the just reward of such 
unfeign d regard for religion and your native country, without one 
interested view to popularity or Honor, which you have experienced 
in this life may prepare you for the smiles of Him who abhors hypoc 
risy, slavery and tyranny. 

I am your humble Servant, 

THE AUTHOR. 

147 



THE PREFACE 

/T was observed by Sir William Temple, that none can be said to 
know things well, who do not know them in their beginnings. There 
are many very noisy about liberty, but are aiming at nothing more 
than personal grandeur and power. Are not many, under the delusive 
character of Guardians of their country, collecting influence and honour 
only for oppression? Behold Caesar! at first a patriot, a consul, and 
commander of the Roman army. How apparently noble his intentions, 
and how specious his conduct! but unbounded in his ambition, by these 
means he became at length a perpetual dictator, and an unlimited 
commander. 

GOD gave mankind freedom by nature, made every man equal to his 
neighbor, and has virtually enjoined them to govern themselves by their 
own laws. The government which he introduced among his people, the 
Jews, abundantly proves it, and they might have continued in that state 
of liberty, had they not desired a King. The people best know their own 
wants and necessities, and therefore are best able to rule themselves. Tent 
makers, cobblers and common tradesmen composed the legislature at 
Athens. "Is not the body (said Socrates) of the Athenian people com 
posed of men like these?." 

THAT / might help, in some measure, to eradicate the notion of arbi 
trary power, heretofore drank in; and to establish the liberties of the 
people of this country upon a more generous footing, is the design of the 
following impartial work, now dedicated by the Author to the honest 
farmer and citizen. 



THE TIMES 

A 
POEM 

BY AN AMERICAN 

Omnes profecto liber i libentius 

Sumus, quam Serv mus 

Plaut. in Captivis 

POLLIO be kind! nor chide an early crime, 
Spawn of chagrine, and labour d waste of time; 
This heart misguides me with a bent so strong 
It mocks restraint, and boldly errs in song: 
Thus crimes indulged such vigorous growth obtain, 
Your friendly caution frowns rebuke in vain. 

Tis not great Churchill s ghost that claims your ear, 

For even ghosts of wit are strangers here, 

That patriot-soul to other climes remov d, 

Well pleased enjoys that liberty he lov d; 

No pang resents for W - to Exile driven, 

Exults that worth and Pratt are dear to Heaven: 

Young sure it is not, from whose honey d lays 

Streams a rank surfeit of redundant praise; 

For guilt like his what genius shall atone? 

D n the foul verse that daubs a Stuart s throne. 

Curs d lack of genius, or thou soon should st know 
This humble cot conceals a tyrant s foe; 
By nature artless, unimprov d by pains, 
No favour courts me and no fear restrains. 
Wild as the soil, and as the heav ns severe, 
All rudely rough, and wretchedly sincere; 

151 



12 THE TIMES 

Whose frowning stars have thrown me God knows where, 

A wild exotic neighbor to the bear; 

One globe supports us, brethren cubs we run, 

Shoot into form, as foster d by the sun; 

No tutoring hand the tender sapling train d 

Thro walks of science, nor his growth sustained; 

Such fruit he yields, luxuriant wildings bear, 

Coarse as the earth, and unconfin d as air. 

No Muse I court, an alien to the Nine, 

Thou chaste instructress, NATURE! thou art mine. 

Come, blessed parent, mistress, muse and guide, 

With thee permit me wander side by side; 

Smit with thy charms, my earliest joy I trace, 

Fondly enarnor d of thy angel face; 

Succeeding labours smother not the flame, 

Still, still the dear attachment lives the same. 

No idle task the earliest MUSE began, 

But mark d the morals, e er she prais d the man. 

To struggling worth supply d no feeble aid; 

And wove the honest wreath for virtue s head. 

Uncourtly grave, or thro the lessen d page 

Shed wisdom s lore, and humaniz d the age; 

Pour d wholesome treasures from her magic tongue, 

Instructed, rul d, corrected, blest by song; 

How chang d! how lost! in these degenerate days, 

She stuns me with the clamour of her praise: 

Is there a villain eminent in state 

Without one gleam of merit? she ll create; 

Is there a scoundrel, has that scoundrel gold? 

There the full tide of panegyrick s roll d; 

From venal quills shall stream the sugar d shower, 

And bronze the wretched Lordling if in power. 

Stamp me that blockhead, which (kind heav n be blest) 

152 



THE TIMES 13 

My Maker form d my temper to detest, 
If sacred numbers I again desert, 
The native bias of an honest heart; 
Basely to truckle to a wretch in rule, 
Or spread a feast for Gods, to cram a fool. 

Not for a Monarch would I forge a lie, 

To nestle in the sunshine of his eye. 

The paths of Error if in youth I trod, 

Dress d a gay idol in the garb of God, 

The pageant shrinks, I weep my folly past, 

Heav n frown me dead, but there I ve sinn d my last. 

G(eorge) scarce one lustrum numbers out its days 

Since every tongue was busy in thy praise; 

(O make it nameless in the tale of time, 

Nor consecrate to ages such a crime; 

We lov d him, love him still, by heav ns do more, 

But make us B(ritish) subjects, we ll adore) 

Successful WAR had added wide domain 

And crouded oceans scarce his fleets sustain. 

United Gaul and Spain his easy prey, 

And but compact to give their realms away. 

Where er he bids, consenting B (riton) s fly, 
For G(eorge) they conquer or for G(eorge) they die. 
Bless the glad hour, the glorious strife approve, 
That sounds his glory and proclaims their love. 
Ah, sad reverse! with doubling sighs I speak, 
A flood of sorrow coursing down my cheek, 
The salient heart for G(eorge) forgets to bound, 
Dark disaffection sheds her gloom around. 

Fair LIBERTY, our soul s most darling prize, 
A bleeding victim flits before our eyes. 
Was it for this our great forefathers rode 

153 



14 THE TIMES 

O er a vast ocean to this bleak abode? 

When Liberty was into contest brought 

And loss of life was but a second thought; 

By pious violence rejected thence 

To try the utmost stretch of Providence. 

The DEEP, unconscious of the furrowing keel, 

Essay d the tempest to rebuke their zeal. 

The tawny natives and inclement sky 

Put on their terrors, and command to fly. 

They mock at danger: what can those appal 

To whom fair LIBERTY is all in all? 

See the new world their purchase, blest domain. 

Where lordly tyrants never forg d the chain; 

The prize of valour and the gift of prayer, 

Hear this and redden, each degenerate heir! 

Is it for you their honour to betray 

And give the harvest of their blood away? 

Look back with rev rence, aw d to just esteem, 

Preserve the blessings, handed down from them; 

If not, look forward, look with deep despair, 

And dread the curses of your beggar d heir. 

What bosom beats not when such themes excite? 

Be men, be gods, be stubborn in the right. 

Where am I hurry d? POLLIO, I forbear, 
Again I m calm, and claim thy sober ear. 
To independence bend the filial knee 
And kiss her sister sage, economy. 
Economy you frown! "O hide our shame! 
Tis vile profusion s ministerial name 
To pinch the farmer groaning at the press, 
Commission leeches to adopt the peace; 
That peace obtain d, S(cotch) armies to augment 
And sink the nation s credit two per cent; 
With barren S(cottish) bards the lists to load, 

154 



THE TIMES 15 

Both place and pension partially bestow d. 

Nay more, the cave of famine to translate 

Within the purlieus of the R(oya)l gate. 

While brats from northern hills, full, bat ning lie, 

Their meagre southern masters pining by." 

Peace, peace, my POLLIO! sluice thy sorrows here; 

Thy country s ghost now points thee to its bier; 

Of foreign wrongs, and unfelt woes no more, 

While dogs cry havock on thy natal shore. 

Yon funeral torch that dimly gilds my cell 

Comes fraught with mischiefs terrible to tell. 

It dawns in sables too-officious ray! 

Yet, yet compassionately roll away. 

All, all is o er but anguish, slavery, fear, 

The chains already clanking in my ear 

O Death! tho awful, but prevent this blow, 

No more thou rt censur d for the human foe. 

O er life s last ebbs thy dregs of sorrow fling, 

Point all my pangs and stab with every sting. 

I ll bless th alternative, if not a slave, 

And scorn the wretch who trembles at the grave. 

Art thou persuaded, for a moment cool, 
That nature made thee slave and mark d thee fool? 
That what we won by hardy war was given, 
That non-resistance is secure of Heaven; 
That persecution in our infant state 
Was nursing kind compassion in the GREAT? 
That emigration was not to secure 
Our liberties, but to enslave the more; 
That charters, privileges, patents, powers 
Were ours till now, and now no longer ours? 
To claim exemption by the charter-seal 
Will rashly violate the Commonweal? 
Juries are nuisances and Traffick worse, 

155 



16 THE TIMES 

And to be blind, sagacity of course. 

The STAMP and LAND TAX are as blessings meant, 

And opposition is our free consent 

That where we are not, we most surely are, 

That wrong is right, black white, and foul is fair, 

That M(ansfiel)d s honest and that Pitt s a knave, 

That Pratt s a villain, and that Wilkes a slave. 

That godlike Temple is not greatly good 

Nor B(ute) a rigid Jacobite by blood. 

That sordid Gr(envil)le lately is become 

The patron of our liberties at home, 

(For whom, now hear me, gods! be hell inflamed 

And murderers of their country doubly d d) 

Now stretch thy pliant faith, adopt this creed 

And be a J(ared) Ing(erso)!* indeed.) 

If not, thou rt wretched, crawling in the dust, 

Condemn d, despis d and herded with the just. 

Frown, honest SATYRE! menace what you will 

Rogues rise luxuriant and defeat you still. 

Fatigu d with numbers, and oppress d with gall, 

One general curse must overwhelm them all. 

But O ye vilest vile, detested FEW! 

Eager, intent, and potent to undo; 

Come out ye parricides! here take your stand, 

Your solemn condemnation is at hand. 

Behold your crimes, and tremblingly await 

The grumbling thunder of your country s hate, 

Accursed as ye are! how durst ye bring 

An injur d people to distrust their K(ing)? 

Accursed as ye are, how could ye dare 

To lisp delusion in your M(onarc)h s ear? 

How do I laugh when such vain coxcombs lour, 

*An ingenious Stamp Distributor who modestly asserted in the public papers that the Stamp 
Act wasdesign d to make America happy by her indulgent Mother, and that it would certainly 
prove so, if his country would suffer him to continue in office. 

156 



THE TIMES 17 

Some grave pretence of dread from lawless power. 

To hear a scribbling fry, beneath my hate, 

Adopt the fraud, and sanctify deceit. 

With mean importance point regardless stings, 

To aid injustice menace mighty things. 

Nay to such heights of insolence they ve flown 

The knaves crave shelter underneath a throne; 

A throne all-gracious, such is GEORGE S praise, 

Nor shall oppression blast his sacred bays. 

Witness ye Fathers! whose protracted time, 

Fruitful of story, chronicles the clime; 

These howling Deserts, hospitably tame, 

Erst snatched ye, martyrs, from the hungry flame; 

Twas heavn s own cause beneath whose shelt ring pow r 

Ye grew the wonder of the present hour. 

With anxious ear we ve drank your piteous tale, 

Where woes unnumber d long and loud prevail. 

Here savage demons sporting with your pains, 

There boding mischief in a Stuart reigns, 

Mark the glad sera when prevailing foes, 

The state s fell harpies, doubling woes on woes, 

Had wing d destruction VENGEANCE slept no more, 

But flung the tyrant from the British shore. 

Learn hence, ye minions! rev rence to the law, 

Salvation died not with the great NASSAU. 

And shall such sons, from such distinguish d sires, 

Nurtured to hardships, heirs of all their fires, 

Shall they, O pang of heart! thus tamely bear 

Who stalk erect, and toss their heads in air? 

Let beasts of burden meanly woo the chain, 

WE talk of masters with a proud disdain. 

"Prythee forbear, rash youth! conceal thy fears, 
A modest silence best becomes thy years. 

157 



18 THE TIMES 

Submit, be prudent, in some future hour 

You ll feel the iron gripe of ruthless power." 

Truce, spawn of phlegm! thy frozen heart conceal. 

Benumb d, unerring, and unapt to feel. 

No deed of glory can that soul entice, 

Involv d in adamantine walls of ice. 

Within that bosom is a nook so warm 

That vice or virtue kindles to a storm? 

Could nature ever lure thee into sin, 

Or bursts of passion thaw the frost within? 

Thou happy Cynick! still thy senses lull, 

Profoundly cautious and supinely dull. 

And should some hero start his rash career 

Eccentric to thy lazy, drowsy sphere; 

Be wondrous wise, thy frigid temper bless 

That never wrought thee to a bold excess. 

Call truth a libel, treason, honest zeal, 

So strange is virtue, and so few can feel. 

Call Churchill blockhead, Freedom madness, rage. 

Call injur d Wilkes a monster of the age. 

To make me blest, unite this lay with those, 

And then, then kindly rate yourselves my foes. 

Fop, witling, fav rite, st(am)p m(a)n, tyrant, tool, 
Or all those mighty names in one, thou fool! 
Let mean ambition, sordid lust of pride, 
League thee, vile Pander! to a tyrant s side; 
Sport with thy country s groans, and be the first 
To stab the bosom which a traitor nurs d. 
Rifle the womb and on those bowels prey, 
To plague mankind that spawn d thee into day. 
Be eminent, thy little soul exert, 
And call forth all the rancour of thy heart 

158 



THE TIMES 19 

But should the eye of merit on thee lour, 

(Tho* lowly crush d beneath the wheel of power) 

Thou art my pity, monster! I forgive, 

And beg one only curse that thou may st live! 

Where lies our remedy in humble prayer? 

Our lordly butchers have forgot to hear. 

Tis rank rebellion, rashness to complain, 

And all submission tighter tugs the chain. 

Go, ask your heart, your honest heart regard, 

And manumission is your sure reward. 

Would st then be blest, thy sovereign pride lay by, 

To tyrant custom give the hardy lie. 

Your shag will warm thee, in thy country fleece 

Sleeps independence lin d with balmy peace. 

Would st then be blest? be diligent, be wise! 

And make a chaste sufficiency suffice. 

Ye lovely fair! whom heaven s best charms array, 

The proud Sultanas of some future day, 

Sweet as ye are, compleat in every grace 

That spreads angelic softness o er the face; 

Go ply the loom there lies the happy art 

By new avenues to attack the heart 

With labours of your own; but deck those charms, 

We ll rush with transport to your blissful arms. 

Amid this wreck from all aspersions clear, 

Nay blush not, Peter*, honest truths to hear; 

Base adulation never stain d my lay, 

But modest merit must be brought today. 

What though thy great DESERT mounts far above 
The mean expression of thy country s love. 
In praise like thine the rustic muse will soar, 
Then damn d to endless silence sing no more. 

"Oliver? 

159 



20 THE TIMES 

"With great contempt of power, alone to stand. 
Thy life and spotless honours in thine hand. 
To wage unequal wars, and dare the worst, 
And if thy country perish, perish first; 
With pious vigilance the state to guard, 
And eminent in virtue, shun reward. 
No force of avarice warps thy steady heart 
To meanness, falsehood or dishonest art. 
A tyrant s mandate thy supreme disdain, 
Our last, best bulwark in a Sc(ottish) r(eign)." 
These are the honours we to fame consign, 
Nay, blush not, Peter, these are surely thine. 

To close dread Sovereign at whose sacred seat 

Justice and Mercy, spotless maidens, meet, 

GEORGE! Parent! King! our Guardian, Glory, Pride, 

And thou, fair REGENT! blooming by his side! 

Thy offspring pleads a parent s fostering care. 

Reject not, frown not, but in mercy spare; 

Besprent with dust the lowly suppliant lies, 

A helpless, guiltless, injured sacrifice. 

If e er our infant efforts could delight, 

Or growing worth found favour in thy sight, 

If warm affection due returns may plead 

Or faith unshaken ever intercede 

With modest boldness we thy smiles demand, 

Nor wish salvation from another hand. 

Deprest, not helpless, while a Brunswick reigns, 

Whose righteous sceptre no injustice stains. 



FINIS 



160 



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