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Gotham. Book III

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

Can the fond mother from herself depart?[22]
Can she forget the darling of her heart,
The little darling whom she bore and bred,
Nursed on her knees, and at her bosom fed;
To whom she seem'd her every thought to give,
And in whose life alone she seem'd to live?
Yes, from herself the mother may depart,
She may forget the darling of her heart,
The little darling whom she bore and bred,
Nursed on her knees, and at her bosom fed,
To whom she seem'd her every thought to give,
And in whose life alone she seem'd to live;
But I cannot forget, whilst life remains,
And pours her current through these swelling veins,
Whilst Memory offers up at Reason's shrine;
But I cannot forget that Gotham's mine.
Can the stern mother, than the brutes more wild,
From her disnatured breast tear her young child,
Flesh of her flesh, and of her bone the bone,
And dash the smiling babe against a stone?
Yes, the stern mother, than the brutes more wild,
From her disnatured breast may tear her child,
Flesh of her flesh, and of her bone the bone,
And dash the smiling babe against a stone;
But I, (forbid it, Heaven!) but I can ne'er
The love of Gotham from this bosom tear;
Can ne'er so far true royalty pervert
From its fair course, to do my people hurt.
With how much ease, with how much confidence--
As if, superior to each grosser sense,
Reason had only, in full power array'd,
To manifest her will, and be obey'd--
Men make resolves, and pass into decrees
The motions of the mind! with how much ease,
In such resolves, doth passion make a flaw,
And bring to nothing what was raised to law!
In empire young, scarce warm on Gotham's throne,
The dangers and the sweets of power unknown,
Pleased, though I scarce know why, like some young child,
Whose little senses each new toy turns wild,
How do I hold sweet dalliance with my crown,
And wanton with dominion, how lay down,
Without the sanction of a precedent,
Rules of most large and absolute extent;
Rules, which from sense of public virtue spring,
And all at once commence a Patriot King!
But, for the day of trial is at hand,
And the whole fortunes of a mighty land
Are staked on me, and all their weal or woe
Must from my good or evil conduct flow,
Will I, or can I, on a fair review,
As I assume that name, deserve it too?
Have I well weigh'd the great, the noble part
I'm now to play? have I explored my heart,
That labyrinth of fraud, that deep dark cell,
Where, unsuspected e'en by me, may dwell
Ten thousand follies? have I found out there
What I am fit to do, and what to bear?
Have I traced every passion to its rise,
Nor spared one lurking seed of treacherous vice?
Have I familiar with my nature grown?
And am I fairly to myself made known?
A Patriot King!--why, 'tis a name which bears
The more immediate stamp of Heaven; which wears
The nearest, best resemblance we can show
Of God above, through all his works below.
To still the voice of Discord in the land;
To make weak Faction's discontented band,
Detected, weak, and crumbling to decay,
With hunger pinch'd, on their own vitals prey;
Like brethren, in the self-same interests warm'd,
Like different bodies, with one soul inform'd;
To make a nation, nobly raised above
All meaner thought, grow up in common love;
To give the laws due vigour, and to hold
That secret balance, temperate, yet bold,
With such an equal hand, that those who fear
May yet approve, and own my justice clear;
To be a common father, to secure
The weak from violence, from pride the poor;
Vice and her sons to banish in disgrace,
To make Corruption dread to show her face;
To bid afflicted Virtue take new state,
And be at last acquainted with the great;
Of all religions to elect the best,
Nor let her priests be made a standing jest;
Rewards for worth with liberal hand to carve,
To love the arts, nor let the artists starve;
To make fair Plenty through the realm increase,
Give fame in war, and happiness in peace;
To see my people virtuous, great, and free,
And know that all those blessings flow from me;
Oh! 'tis a joy too exquisite, a thought
Which flatters Nature more than flattery ought;
'Tis a great, glorious task, for man too hard;
But no less great, less glorious the reward,
The best reward which here to man is given,
'Tis more than earth, and little short of heaven;
A task (if such comparison may be)
The same in Nature, differing in degree,
Like that which God, on whom for aid I call,
Performs with ease, and yet performs to all.
How much do they mistake, how little know
Of kings, of kingdoms, and the pains which flow
From royalty, who fancy that a crown,
Because it glistens, must be lined with down!
With outside show, and vain appearance caught,
They look no further, and, by Folly taught,
Prize high the toys of thrones, but never find
One of the many cares which lurk behind.
The gem they worship which a crown adorns,
Nor once suspect that crown is lined with thorns.
Oh, might Reflection Folly's place supply,
Would we one moment use her piercing eye,
Then should we find what woe from grandeur springs,
And learn to pity, not to envy kings!
The villager, born humbly and bred hard,
Content his wealth, and Poverty his guard,
In action simply just, in conscience clear,
By guilt untainted, undisturb'd by fear,
His means but scanty, and his wants but few,
Labour his business, and his pleasure too,
Enjoys more comforts in a single hour
Than ages give the wretch condemn'd to power.
Call'd up by health, he rises with the day,
And goes to work, as if he went to play,
Whistling off toils, one half of which might make
The stoutest Atlas of a palace quake;
'Gainst heat and cold, which make us cowards faint,
Harden'd by constant use, without complaint
He bears what we should think it death to bear;
Short are his meals, and homely is his fare;
His thirst he slakes at some pure neighbouring brook,
Nor asks for sauce where appetite stands cook.
When the dews fall, and when the sun retires
Behind the mountains, when the village fires,
Which, waken'd all at once, speak supper nigh,
At distance catch, and fix his longing eye,
Homeward he hies, and with his manly brood
Of raw-boned cubs enjoys that clean, coarse food,
Which, season'd with good-humour, his fond bride
'Gainst his return is happy to provide;
Then, free from care, and free from thought, he creeps
Into his straw, and till the morning sleeps.
Not so the king--with anxious cares oppress'd
His bosom labours, and admits not rest:
A glorious wretch, he sweats beneath the weight
Of majesty, and gives up ease for state.
E'en when his smiles, which, by the fools of pride,
Are treasured and preserved from side to side,
Fly round the court, e'en when, compell'd by form,
He seems most calm, his soul is in a storm.
Care, like a spectre, seen by him alone,
With all her nest of vipers, round his throne
By day crawls full in view; when Night bids sleep,
Sweet nurse of Nature! o'er the senses creep;
When Misery herself no more complains,
And slaves, if possible, forget their chains;
Though his sense weakens, though his eyes grow dim,
That rest which comes to all, comes not to him.
E'en at that hour, Care, tyrant Care, forbids
The dew of sleep to fall upon his lids;
From night to night she watches at his bed;
Now, as one moped, sits brooding o'er his head;
Anon she starts, and, borne on raven's wings,
Croaks forth aloud--'Sleep was not made for kings!'
Thrice hath the moon, who governs this vast ball,
Who rules most absolute o'er me and all;
To whom, by full conviction taught to bow,
At new, at full, I pay the duteous vow;
Thrice hath the moon her wonted course pursued,
Thrice hath she lost her form, and thrice renew'd,
Since, (bless'd be that season, for before
I was a mere, mere mortal, and no more,
One of the herd, a lump of common clay,
Inform'd with life, to die and pass away)
Since I became a king, and Gotham's throne,
With full and ample power, became my own;
Thrice hath the moon her wonted course pursued,
Thrice hath she lost her form, and thrice renew'd,
Since sleep, kind sleep! who like a friend supplies
New vigour for new toil, hath closed these eyes.
Nor, if my toils are answer'd with success,
And I am made an instrument to bless
The people whom I love, shall I repine;
Theirs be the benefit, the labour mine.
Mindful of that high rank in which I stand,
Of millions lord, sole ruler in the land,
Let me,--and Reason shall her aid afford,--
Rule my own spirit, of myself be lord.
With an ill grace that monarch wears his crown,
Who, stern and hard of nature, wears a frown
'Gainst faults in other men, yet all the while
Meets his own vices with a partial smile.
How can a king (yet on record we find
Such kings have been, such curses of mankind)
Enforce that law 'gainst some poor subject elf
Which conscience tells him he hath broke himself?
Can he some petty rogue to justice call
For robbing one, when he himself robs all?
Must not, unless extinguish'd, Conscience fly
Into his cheek, and blast his fading eye,
To scourge the oppressor, when the State, distress'd
And sunk to ruin, is by him oppress'd?
Against himself doth he not sentence give;
If one must die, t' other's not fit to live.
Weak is that throne, and in itself unsound,
Which takes not solid virtue for its ground.
All envy power in others, and complain
Of that which they would perish to obtain.
Nor can those spirits, turbulent and bold,
Not to be awed by threats, nor bought with gold,
Be hush'd to peace, but when fair legal sway
Makes it their real interest to obey;
When kings, and none but fools can then rebel,
Not less in virtue, than in power, excel.
Be that my object, that my constant care,
And may my soul's best wishes centre there;
Be it my task to seek, nor seek in vain,
Not only how to live, but how to reign;
And to those virtues which from Reason spring,
And grace the man, join those which grace the king.
First, (for strict duty bids my care extend
And reach to all who on that care depend,
Bids me with servants keep a steady hand,
And watch o'er all my proxies in the land)
First, (and that method Reason shall support)
Before I look into, and purge my court,
Before I cleanse the stable of the State,
Let me fix things which to myself relate.
That done, and all accounts well settled here,
In resolution firm, in honour clear,
Tremble, ye slaves! who dare abuse your trust,
Who dare be villains, when your king is just.
Are there, amongst those officers of state,
To whom our sacred power we delegate,
Who hold our place and office in the realm,
Who, in our name commission'd, guide the helm;
Are there, who, trusting to our love of ease,
Oppress our subjects, wrest our just decrees,
And make the laws, warp'd from their fair intent,
To speak a language which they never meant;
Are there such men, and can the fools depend
On holding out in safety to their end?
Can they so much, from thoughts of danger free,
Deceive themselves, so much misdeem of me,
To think that I will prove a statesman's tool,
And live a stranger where I ought to rule?
What! to myself and to my state unjust,
Shall I from ministers take things on trust,
And, sinking low the credit of my throne,
Depend upon dependants of my own?
Shall I,--most certain source of future cares,--
Not use my judgment, but depend on theirs?
Shall I, true puppet-like, be mock'd with state,
Have nothing but the name of being great;
Attend at councils which I must not weigh;
Do what they bid, and what they dictate, say;
Enrobed, and hoisted up into my chair,
Only to be a royal cipher there?
Perish the thought--'tis treason to my throne--
And who but thinks it, could his thoughts be known
Insults me more than he, who, leagued with Hell,
Shall rise in arms, and 'gainst my crown rebel.
The wicked statesman, whose false heart pursues
A train of guilt; who acts with double views,
And wears a double face; whose base designs
Strike at his monarch's throne; who undermines
E'en whilst he seems his wishes to support;
Who seizes all departments; packs a court;
Maintains an agent on the judgment-seat,
To screen his crimes, and make his frauds complete;
New-models armies, and around the throne
Will suffer none but creatures of his own,
Conscious of such his baseness, well may try,
Against the light to shut his master's eye,
To keep him coop'd, and far removed from those
Who, brave and honest, dare his crimes disclose,
Nor ever let him in one place appear,
Where truth, unwelcome truth, may wound his ear.
Attempts like these, well weigh'd, themselves proclaim,
And, whilst they publish, balk their author's aim.
Kings must be blind into such snares to run,
Or, worse, with open eyes must be undone.
The minister of honesty and worth
Demands the day to bring his actions forth;
Calls on the sun to shine with fiercer rays,
And braves that trial which must end in praise.
None fly the day, and seek the shades of night,
But those whose actions cannot bear the light;
None wish their king in ignorance to hold
But those who feel that knowledge must unfold
Their hidden guilt; and, that dark mist dispell'd
By which their places and their lives are held,
Confusion wait them, and, by Justice led,
In vengeance fall on every traitor's head.
Aware of this, and caution'd 'gainst the pit
Where kings have oft been lost, shall I submit,
And rust in chains like these? shall I give way,
And whilst my helpless subjects fall a prey
To power abused, in ignorance sit down,
Nor dare assert the honour of my crown?
When stern Rebellion, (if that odious name
Justly belongs to those whose only aim,
Is to preserve their country; who oppose,
In honour leagued, none but their country's foes;
Who only seek their own, and found their cause
In due regard for violated laws)
When stern Rebellion, who no longer feels
Nor fears rebuke, a nation at her heels,
A nation up in arms, though strong not proud,
Knocks at the palace gate, and, calling loud
For due redress, presents, from Truth's fair pen,
A list of wrongs, not to be borne by men:
How must that king be humbled, how disgrace
All that is royal in his name and place,
Who, thus call'd forth to answer, can advance
No other plea but that of ignorance!
A vile defence, which, was his all at stake,
The meanest subject well might blush to make;
A filthy source, from whence shame ever springs;
A stain to all, but most a stain to kings.
The soul with great and manly feelings warm'd,
Panting for knowledge, rests not till inform'd;
And shall not I, fired with the glorious zeal,
Feel those brave passions which my subjects feel?
Or can a just excuse from ignorance flow
To me, whose first great duty is--to know?
Hence, Ignorance!--thy settled, dull, blank eye
Would hurt me, though I knew no reason why.
Hence, Ignorance!--thy slavish shackles bind
The free-born soul, and lethargise the mind.
Of thee, begot by Pride, who look'd with scorn
On every meaner match, of thee was born
That grave inflexibility of soul,
Which Reason can't convince, nor Fear control;
Which neither arguments nor prayers can reach,
And nothing less than utter ruin teach.
Hence, Ignorance!--hence to that depth of night
Where thou wast born, where not one gleam of light
May wound thine eye--hence to some dreary cell
Where monks with superstition love to dwell;
Or in some college soothe thy lazy pride,
And with the heads of colleges reside;
Fit mate for Royalty thou canst not be,
And if no mate for kings, no mate for me.
Come, Study! like a torrent swell'd with rains,
Which, rushing down the mountains, o'er the plains
Spreads horror wide, and yet, in horror kind,
Leaves seeds of future fruitfulness behind;
Come, Study!--painful though thy course, and slow,
Thy real worth by thy effects we know--
Parent of Knowledge, come!--Not thee I call,
Who, grave and dull, in college or in hall
Dost sit, all solemn sad, and moping weigh
Things which, when found, thy labours can't repay--
Nor, in one hand, fit emblem of thy trade,
A rod; in t' other, gaudily array'd,
A hornbook gilt and letter'd, call I thee,
Who dost in form preside o'er A, B, C:
Nor (siren though thou art, and thy strange charms,
As 'twere by magic, lure men to thine arms)
Do I call thee, who, through a winding maze,
A labyrinth of puzzling, pleasing ways,
Dost lead us at the last to those rich plains,
Where, in full glory, real Science reigns;
Fair though thou art, and lovely to mine eye,
Though full rewards in thy possession lie
To crown man's wish, and do thy favourites grace;
Though (was I station'd in an humbler place)
I could be ever happy in thy sight,
Toil with thee all the day, and through the night,
Toil on from watch to watch, bidding my eye,
Fast rivetted on Science, sleep defy;
Yet (such the hardships which from empire flow)
Must I thy sweet society forego,
And to some happy rival's arms resign
Those charms which can, alas! no more be mine!
No more from hour to hour, from day to day,
Shall I pursue thy steps, and urge my way
Where eager love of science calls; no more
Attempt those paths which man ne'er trod before;
No more, the mountain scaled, the desert cross'd,
Losing myself, nor knowing I was lost,
Travel through woods, through wilds, from morn to night,
From night to morn, yet travel with delight,
And having found thee, lay me down content,
Own all my toil well paid, my time well spent.
Farewell, ye Muses too!--for such mean things
Must not presume to dwell with mighty kings--
 
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Submitted on August 03, 2020

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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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