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The Duellist - Book I

Charles Churchill 1731 (Westminster) – 1764 (Boulogne-sur-Mer)



The clock struck twelve; o'er half the globe
Darkness had spread her pitchy robe:
Morpheus, his feet with velvet shod,
Treading as if in fear he trod,
Gentle as dews at even-tide,
Distill'd his poppies far and wide.
Ambition, who, when waking, dreams
Of mighty, but fantastic schemes,
Who, when asleep, ne'er knows that rest
With which the humbler soul is blest,
Was building castles in the air,
Goodly to look upon, and fair,
But on a bad foundation laid,
Doom'd at return of morn to fade.
Pale Study, by the taper's light,
Wearing away the watch of night,
Sat reading; but, with o'ercharged head,
Remember'd nothing that he read.
Starving 'midst plenty, with a face
Which might the court of Famine grace,
Ragged, and filthy to behold,
Gray Avarice nodded o'er his gold.
Jealousy, his quick eye half-closed,
With watchings worn, reluctant dozed;
And, mean Distrust not quite forgot,
Slumber'd as if he slumber'd not.
Stretch'd at his length on the bare ground,
His hardy offspring sleeping round,
Snored restless Labour; by his side
Lay Health, a coarse but comely bride.
Virtue, without the doctor's aid,
In the soft arms of Sleep was laid;
Whilst Vice, within the guilty breast,
Could not be physic'd into rest.
Thou bloody man! whose ruffian knife
Is drawn against thy neighbour's life,
And never scruples to descend
Into the bosom of a friend;
A firm, fast friend, by vice allied,
And to thy secret service tied,
In whom ten murders breed no awe,
If properly secured from law:
Thou man of lust! whom passion fires
To foulest deeds, whose hot desires
O'er honest bars with ease make way,
Whilst idiot beauty falls a prey,
And to indulge thy brutal flame
A Lucrece must be brought to shame;
Who dost, a brave, bold sinner, bear
Rank incest to the open air,
And rapes, full blown upon thy crown,
Enough to weigh a nation down:
Thou simular of lust! vain man,
Whose restless thoughts still form the plan
Of guilt, which, wither'd to the root,
Thy lifeless nerves can't execute,
Whilst in thy marrowless, dry bones
Desire without enjoyment groans:
Thou perjured wretch! whom falsehood clothes
E'en like a garment; who with oaths
Dost trifle, as with brokers, meant
To serve thy every vile intent,
In the day's broad and searching eye
Making God witness to a lie,
Blaspheming heaven and earth for pelf,
And hanging friends to save thyself:
Thou son of Chance! whose glorious soul
On the four aces doom'd to roll,
Was never yet with Honour caught,
Nor on poor Virtue lost one thought;
Who dost thy wife, thy children set,
Thy all, upon a single bet,
Risking, the desperate stake to try,
Here and hereafter on a die;
Who, thy own private fortune lost,
Dost game on at thy country's cost,
And, grown expert in sharping rules,
First fool'd thyself, now prey'st on fools:
Thou noble gamester! whose high place
Gives too much credit to disgrace;
Who, with the motion of a die,
Dost make a mighty island fly--
The sums, I mean, of good French gold
For which a mighty island sold;
Who dost betray intelligence,
Abuse the dearest confidence,
And, private fortune to create,
Most falsely play the game of state;
Who dost within the Alley sport
Sums which might beggar a whole court,
And make us bankrupts all, if Care,
With good Earl Talbot, was not there:
Thou daring infidel! whom pride
And sin have drawn from Reason's side;
Who, fearing his avengeful rod,
Dost wish not to believe a God;
Whose hope is founded on a plan
Which should distract the soul of man,
And make him curse his abject birth;
Whose hope is, once return'd to earth,
There to lie down, for worms a feast,
To rot and perish like a beast;
Who dost, of punishment afraid,
And by thy crimes a coward made,
To every generous soul a curse
Than Hell and all her torments worse,
When crawling to thy latter end,
Call on Destruction as a friend,
Choosing to crumble into dust
Rather than rise, though rise you must:
Thou hypocrite! who dost profane,
And take the patriot's name in vain;
Then most thy country's foe, when most
Of love and loyalty you boast;
Who, for the love of filthy gold,
Thy friend, thy king, thy God hast sold,
And, mocking the just claim of Hell,
Were bidders found, thyself wouldst sell:
Ye villains! of whatever name,
Whatever rank, to whom the claim
Of Hell is certain, on whose lids
That worm, which never dies, forbids
Sweet sleep to fall, come, and behold,
Whilst envy makes your blood run col
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Charles Churchill

Lieutenant General Charles Churchill was a British Army General and a Member of Parliament. more…

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    "The Duellist - Book I" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 28 Jan. 2022. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/5065/the-duellist---book-i>.

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