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What uproar and what strife may now be stirring This way or that way

o'er these silent hillsInvasion, and the thunder and the shout, And all the crash of onset; fear and rage, And undetermined conflict—even now, Even now, perchance, and in his native isle : Carnage and groans* beneath this blessed sun ! We have offended, O, my countrymen ! We have offended very grievously, And been most tyrannous.† From east to west A groan of accusation pierces Heaven ! The wretched plead against us; multitudes Countless and vehement, the sons of God, Our brethren! Like a cloud that travels on, Steam'd up from Cairo's swamps of pestilence, Even so, my countrymen ! have we gone forth And borne to distant tribes slavery and pangs, And, deadlier far, our vices, whose deep taint With slow perdition murders the whole man, His body and his soul ! Meanwhile, at home, All individual dignity and power Engulf'd in courts, committees, institutions, Associations and societies, A vain, speech-mouthing, speech-reporting guild, One benefit-club for mutual flattery, We have drunk up, demure as at a grace,

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*

Carnage and screams.-1798. t And have been tyrannous.-10.

The above five lines are not in the original quarto.—ED. § We have been drinking with a riotous thirst.—1798.

Pollutions from the brimming cup of wealth;
[A selfish, lewd, effeminated race,
Contemptuous of all honourable rule,
Yet bartering freedom and the poor man's life
For gold, as at a market! The sweet words
Of Christian promise, words that even yet
Might stem destruction, were they wisely preach'd,
Are mutter'd o'er by men, whose tones proclaim
How flat and wearisome they feel their trade :
Rank scoffers some, but most too indolent
To deem them falsehoods or to know their truth.
Oh! blasphemous ! the book of life is made
A superstitious instrument, on which
We gabble o'er the oaths we mean to break;
For all must swear—all and in every place,
College and wharf, council and justice-court ;
All, all must swear, the briber and the bribed,
Merchant and lawyer, senator and priest,
The rich, the poor, the old man and the young;
All, all make up one scheme of perjury,
That faith doth reel; the very name of God
Sounds like a juggler's charm; and, bold with joy,
Forth from his dark and lonely hiding-place,
(Portentous sight!) the owlet Atheism,
Sailing on obscene wings athwart the noon,
Drops his blue-fringed lids, and holds them close,
And hooting at the glorious sun in Heaven,
Cries out, “Where is it?"

Thankless too for peace, (Peace long preserved by fleets and perilous seas)

Secure from actual warfare, we have loved
To swell the war-whoop, passionate for war!
Alas! for ages ignorant of all
Its ghastlier workings, (famine or blue plague, .
Battle, or siege, or flight through wintry snows,)
We, this whole people, have been clamorous
For war and bloodshed; animating sports,
The which we pay for as a thing to talk of,
Spectators and not combatants ! No guess
Anticipative of a wrong unfelt,
No speculation on contingency,
However dim and vague, too vague and dim
To yield a justifying cause; and forth,
(Stuff'd out with big preamble, holy names,
And adjurations of the God in Heaven,)
We send our mandates for the certain death
Of thousands and ten thousands ! Boys and girls,
And women, that would groan to see a child
Pull off an insect's leg, all read of war,
The best amusement for our morning meal !
The poor wretch, who has learnt his only prayers
From curses, who knows scarcely words enough
To ask a blessing from his Heavenly Father,
Becomes a fluent phraseman, absolute
And technical in victories and defeats,
And all our dainty terms for fratricide;
Terms which we trundle smoothly o'er our tongues
Like mere abstractions, empty sounds to which
We join no feeling and attach no form!
As if the soldier died without a wound ;
As if the fibres of this godlike frame

Were gored without a pang ; as if the wretch,
Who fell in battle, doing bloody deeds,
Pass'd off to Heaven, translated and not kill'd;
As though he had no wife to pine for him,
No God to judge him !—Therefore, evil days
Are coming on us, O my countrymen !
And what if all-avenging Providence,
Strong and retributive, should make us know
The meaning of our words, force us to feel
The desolation and the

agony Of our fierce doings ?—

Which grew up

Spare us yet awhile,
Father and God ! O spare us yet awhile !
O let not English women drag their flight
Fainting beneath the burthen of their babes,
Of the sweet infants, that but yesterday
Laugh'd at the breast ! Sons, brothers, husbands, all
Who ever gazed with fondness on the forms

with
you

round the same fire-side,
And all who ever heard the sabbath-bells
Without the infidel's scorn, make yourselves pure !
Stand forth ! be men ! repel an impious foe,
Impious and false, a light yet cruel race,
Who laugh away all virtue, mingling mirth
With deeds of murder; and still promising
Freedom, themselves too sensual to be free,
Poison life's amities, and cheat the heart
Of faith and quiet hope, and all that soothes
And all that lifts the spirit ! Stand we forth ;
Render them back upon the insulted ocean,

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And let them toss as idly on its waves
As the vile sea-weed, which some mountain-blast
Swept from our shores ! And oh! may we return
Not with a drunken triumph, but with fear,
Repenting of the wrongs with which we stung
So fierce a foe to frenzy !

I have told,
O Britons ! O my brethren ! I have told
Most bitter truth, but without bitterness.
Nor deem my zeal or factious or mis-timed;
For never can true courage dwell with them,
Who, playing tricks with conscience, dare not look
At their own vices. We have been too long
Dupes of a deep delusion ! Some, belike,
Groaning with restless enmity, expect
All change from change of constituted power;
As if a Government had been a robe,
On which our vice and wretchedness were taggd
Like fancy-points and fringes, with the robe
Pullid off at pleasure. Fondly these attach
A radical causation to a few
Poor drudges of chastising Providence,
Who borrow all their hues and qualities
From our own folly and rank wickedness,
Which gave them birth and nurse them. Others,

meanwhile,
Dote with a mad idolatry; and all
Who will not fall before their images,
And yield them worship, they are enemies
Even of their country!

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