Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
On Barclay’s Apology for the Quakers
By Matthew Green (1696–1737)
 
  THESE sheets primæval doctrines yield,
Where revelation is reveal’d;
Soul-phlegm from literal feeding bred,
Systems lethargic to the head
They purge, and yield a diet thin,        5
That turns to gospel-chyle within.
Truth sublimate may here be seen
Extracted from the parts terrene.
In these is shewn, how men obtain
What of Prometheus poets feign:        10
To scripture-plainness dress is brought,
And speech, apparel to the thought.
They hiss from instinct at red coats,
And war, whose work is cutting throats,
Forbid, and press the law of love:        15
Breathing the spirit of the dove.
Lucrative doctrines they detest,
As manufactured by the priest;
And throw down turnpikes, where we pay
For stuff, which never mends the way;        20
And tithes, a Jewish tax, reduce,
And frank the gospel for our use.
They sable standing armies break,
But the militia useful make:
Since all unhired may preach and pray,        25
Taught by these rules as well as they;
Rules, which, when truths themselves reveal,
Bid us to follow what we feel.
*        *        *        *        *
  Well-natured, happy shade, forgive!
Like you I think, but cannot live.        30
Thy scheme requires the world’s contempt,
That, from dependence life exempt;
And constitution fram’d so strong,
This world’s worst climate cannot wrong.
Not such my lot; not Fortune’s brat,        35
I live by pulling off the hat;
Compelled by station every hour
To bow to images of power;
And in life’s busy scenes immersed,
See better things, and do the worst.        40
  Eloquent Want, whose reasons sway,
And make ten thousand truths give way,
While I your scheme with pleasure trace,
Draws near, and stares me in the face.
Consider well your state, she cries,        45
Like others kneel, that you may rise;
Hold doctrines, by no scruples vexed,
To which preferment is annexed,
Nor madly prove, where all depends,
Idolatry upon your friends.        50
See, how you like my rueful face,
Such you must wear, if out of place.
Cracked is your brain to turn recluse
Without one farthing out at use.
They, who have lands, and safe bank-stock,        55
With faith so founded on a rock,
May give a rich invention ease,
And construe scripture how they please.
  The honoured prophet, that of old
Used heav’n’s high counsels to unfold,        60
Did, more than courier angels, greet
The crows, that brought him bread and meat.
 
 
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