Thou Sov’reign of mercy! thou Sire of all pow’r!
Who feedest the hungry, with-hold not our food
From us, who forgiveness repentant implore;
Tho’ long in a shameful rebellion we’ve stood.
For sake of thy mercy, and might most immense,
For sake of thy Son, O, abate thy fierce rage!
Give ear to each prayer, forgive each offence,
Our woes and adversities kindly assuage.
Against thee we’ve sinn’d, at so shocking a rate,
And brought on ourselves this affliction severe,
With all those great griefs which our bosoms now greate:
But, O, how unable the burden to bear!
Thy laws, so complete and so just, we have broke
A thousand times o’er, ere we stirr’d from the place;
As if we imagin’d thy threats, but a joke,
And thou hadst no eye to perceive our bad case.
Thy name we’ve blasphem’d, and we’ve hated thy word,
And under our feet thy sweet gospel have trod —
Thy sabbaths we’ve broke, and thy temple, O Lord!
Deserted — thy faith we’ve corrupted, my God!
Thy laws we’ve transgress’d, just as if we did right,
And thought that no vengeance wou’d fall on our pate,
Or, as if we fansy’d, that thou hadst no might
To plague us, for sinning, at such a sad rate.
Thou sentest thy prophets, thy will to declare,
And by gentle usage to shew us the way:
But we stopp’d our ears, and their voice wou’d not hear;
Like th’ adder, that wou’d not the charmer obey.
Thou sentest thy servants, to summon the blind,
That they to thy feast and thy court should repair:
To come they deny’d, and, with covetous mind,
They each of them went to his farm, or to fair.
Our delicate stomachs, e’en manna refuse,
And that blessed bread, which for ever will last;
Yet garlick and onions and cucumbers chuse
Before them, like infidels, void of all taste.
The gospel, because it gives conscience a bite,
We will not admit, but turn from it averse;
It neither shall teach, or reprove us aright,
Because it resists all our passions perverse.
The scripture shall not our vile natures correct,
The law their obliquities ne’er shall redress,
But ev’ry one lives, as his passions direct,
Nor tries his vain follies and lusts to suppress.
Because on thy law we have trampled, alas!
Because from thy statutes we widely have swerv’d,
Like sheep that break into the corn from their grass,
Tho’ they in the pound for their feast are half starv’d:
Our riot and pride, like Gomorrah’s excess,
Cry out for some trouble to lower each crest,
And ne’er will be silent, ’till woeful distress,
And famine our gluttonous lusts have supprest.
Of ev’ry degree, be they little or great,
Men strongly endeavour to anger the Lord;
As if from the skies each, to pull his own pate,
Attempted dire vengeance to pull with a cord.
The priest, he permits them to plunge into vice,
And headlong to leap to the yawning abyss,
Or shou’d he endeavour to give them advice,
They at his instructions contemptuously hiss.
Our indolent rulers their duties neglect,
And suffer transgressors the country to fill,
And use not the sword, those dull fools to correct,
Who trample thy laws under foot at their will.
The vulgar around (like to Israel of old,
Without either monarch, or prophet, or priest)
All live vicious lives, by no sanctions control’d,
Since they nor of law, faith, or hope, are possest.
The guileless, our bailiffs oppress without dread,
And pillage them, worse e’en than thieves on the whole;
Our usurers eat up the needy, like bread,
Or as the huge whale swallows up a small sole.
Our servants and hirelings do nothing but play,
Our labourers sit on the ground without heed,
Or lie at their ease on the grass all the day,
Not chusing to work, ’till compell’d to’t by need.
Our common mechanics, of ev’ry employ
Must all leave the callings, whereat they have been;
Nay, they that good farms, and large tenures enjoy,
Wou’d fain do the like, and be keeping an inn.
Their spinning and carding our matrons give o’er,
To brew, they their knitting and sowing lay by:
They sell all their wheels and their reels, and such store,
Casks, bottles, and such sort of lumber, to buy.
The murd’rer, the stroller, the pimp, and the knave,
The robber, the thief, and the clerk, we are told,
Nay, women are suff’red a licence to have;
Beer, ale, and tobacco, to vend uncontrol’d.
Shou’d the De’il, or his Dam, ever have a desire
A temple, near that of our Maker’s, to raise,
They, for a mere trifle, a temple might hire,
Expressly devoted to Bacchus’s praise.
As thou art accustom’d, Lord! lend us thy hand,
And pull down all those that our principles spoil,
Ere they eat up each other, and ruin the land,
And thy pure and spotless religion defile.
So nice and so dainty, our servants are grown,
That they quite as well as their masters must eat,
And many are pregnant, ’tis very well known,
Because they were fed on too delicate meat.
All callings amongst us make light of thy name,
They all are so selfish and covetous now,
They seek not thy glory, O Lord! to proclaim,
To whom ev’ry favour and blessing they owe.
Because thou perceivedst we all did transgress,
And lead such bad lives — thou didst try as a friend,
By a gentle correction, and transient distress,
To goad us our morals and ways to amend.
By tender compassion and mercy, O God!
And by all fair means, thou to win us didst strive:
By a series of blessings into the right road
The sheep, that had wander’d, thou soughtest to drive.
But when kindness fail’d to amend us, O Lord!
Thou threatendst to plague us by ways more severe,
Thy arrows thou pointed’st, thou whetted’st thy sword,
And thy dreadful arms didst for battle prepare.
When ready, thou warn’dst us, before thou didst wound,
Thy threatnings preceded the terrible stroke —
Thou saidst, if we turn’d, grace was still to be found;
But we, even then, at thy threats did but joke.
But when thou perceivedst, threats not to avail,
Thy arrows flew fast, our rebellion to quell —
With manifold woes thou our hearts didst assail —
Nor cou’d we evade thy keen shafts, or repel.
Thou thy servants didst call, and didst muster thy host,
With thy furious steeds — the red, black, and white,
And drivedst them on (as we found to our cost)
Until we poor wretches! were vanquished quite.
A hard winter’s frost, and a hot summer’s sun,
With boisterous tempests that scatter’d our grain,
High floods and high tides, that our lands over-run,
And various misfortunes besides, gave us pain.
A dangerous fever, a famine severe,
A fatal mortality to sev’ral parts,
Thou sentest, to force a repentance sincere,
And spur us, entirely to give thee our hearts.
But when thou didst see, that all these wou’d not do,
To turn us from sin, and our manners to mend,
A dearth and a plague (thy displeasure to shew)
And the horrors of war thou didst afterwards send.
The plague with scarce credible fury, mow’d down
More thousands than I can in numbers well name;
Each church-yard was fill’d up, and empty’d each town,
Where-ever the raging infection once came.
A war, unsuccessful, has beggar’d our coasts,
The merciless sword has unpeopled the land —
Our substance and wealth are consum’d, and our host
Reduc’d to a weak and dispirited band.
Our ships thou didst sink, and our projects defeat,
The edge of our swords thou didst blunt in the field,
Thou our sages didst blind, mad’st our heroes retreat,
And to our inveterate enemies yield.
The plague and the sword fill’d us all with dismay,
And we did repent, for a morning, or two;
Then begg’d thee, aside those destroyers to lay,
Until thou wert pleas’d, all we ask’d for, to do.
But when thou the pest and the war didst remove,
Again to our sins we did eagerly go,
Like dogs to their vomit, to forfeit thy love,
And force thee no favour or mercy to show.
Thy tempests and storms thou didst order abroad,
And plaguedst us, for all our excesses, with rain,
‘Till thou hast our harvests quite ruin’d, O God!
And damag’d the far greatest part of our grain.
So heavy, so thick, thou thy curses didst shed
On our corn, and our victuals of every kind,
That even the dogs wou’d not taste the bad bread,
Which was eat every day by each labouring hind.
The horse and the hog both refus’d the repast,
When once it began to be mouldy, and grow ;
So loathsome and bad is the grain to the taste,
That comes from each damag’d, and far-yielding mow.
O Lord, we the curse have most justly deserv’d,
Which thou on our ricks and our staddles didst send:
From death and diseases we were not preserv’d,
Because thou our coasts didst not deign to defend.
Our scandalous waste, and abuse of our food,
Will force us to eat, what we give to our hogs —
Hips, haws, or the fruits of the hedge or the wood,
Or the crusts we us’d lately to fling to our dogs.
Was any bad taste on the meal we employ’d,
The bread we wou’d spit from our mouths with disdain:
E’en beggars on common provisions were cloy’d,
And nothing wou’d taste but the best of all grain.
We lately both eat, and we drank to excess,
And, like the Gomorrites, thy gifts did abuse;
At dinner and supper their meat none did bless,
Till they had incens’d thee beyond all excuse.
We fill’d, ’till our stomachs were so much enlarg’d,
That we cou’d scarce stir from the riotous scene,
Until on the spot we the burden discharg’d,
Than dogs, or the vilest of brutes, more unclean.
More guests in each alehouse on Sundays remain’d,
Who their guts and the Devil devoutly ador’d,
Than were in our churches, when fullest, contain’d,
And met there on purpose to worship the Lord.
Our bellies we cramm’d both with meat and with drink
Three times ev’ry day, howe’er short, at the least ;
But scarce, once a week, of our God can we think,
Who filleth his servants with food of the best.
At church we grow tir’d in a piece of a day,
Tho’ our wants are so great, and our pride is so strong;
Yet a week at a stretch in some inn we can stay,
Tho’ the nights are, in winter, so cold and so long.
In the morn, e’er they dine, some will smoke, and will drink
As much at a time as wou’d surfeit a score,
Then vomit the load back again, and ne’er think,
That poverty ever will knock at the door.
Our drunkenness calls for a dearth on the land,
A scarcity needs must ensue from such waste,
Our wilful excesses a famine demand —
Our gluttonous feasts must produce a long fast.
It is then but just, thou shou’dst plague us, O Lord!
For rejecting thy grace, with a scarceness of meat,
And thy full allowance refuse to afford,
But force us, for want, our own bodies to eat.
But, merciful God — for the sake of our Lord,
No famine dispatch, this our land to annoy —
No illness to pain us — no plague, war, or sword,
Thy servants entirely to kill and destroy.
Our monstrous perverseness be pleas’d to forgive,
Nor make us a warning to all human kind;
But spare us, that we may more piously live,
Recover’d from sin, and renew’d in our mind.
Do not the transgressions, just Father! inspect,
Which murder our souls — they’re so vile and so great;
But, on thy son’s passion, with pleasure reflect,
Who di’d to divert thy displeasure’s fierce heat :
For the sake of his life, and the death that He di’d,
His merits, obedience, and blood that was spilt,
Direct to thy fold, thy stray’d penitents guide,
And pardon our former offences and guilt —
In the blood of his wounds wash our sins quite away,
And nail to his cross our misdeeds and our stains,
O cancel our bond, and thy mercy display,
For the sake of Christ’s passion, and long-during pains!
O call us not, Lord! for our sins to account,
Nor punish us for the vain works we have done;
But pardon them all — howe’er great their amount,
For sake of our Saviour, thy best belov’d Son.
To mend our bad lives, send the Spirit above,
That we may to virtue return safe again —
Assist us, to serve thee — to fear, and to love —
And from any further offences restrain.
With-hold thou thy rod, and thy drawn bow unbend,
This famine repress, and with aspect benign
Forgive our transgressions, our morals amend,
And make our chang’d hearts all resistance resign.
Lord, alter the weather, and bless ev’ry field,
Our grief turn to joy, and remove this dire dearth,
Make our stacks swell with corn and our markets be fill’d
And crown thou, with fatness and plenty, the earth.
Give food to each Christian, give grass to each beast,
Give thy Gospel to all, that love truly thy word,
Give peace to the realm, and above all the rest,
Give honour and health to our Sovereign Lord!
One thousand, six hundred, and twenty, and nine,
Was the date of the year (since our Saviour was born)
When those vast rains happ’ned, which made us repine,
And glutted our markets with damnify’d corn!
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Based on Keywords: bailiffs, scarcity, enlarg, reduc, penitents, gomorrah, incens, alehouse, gluttonous, expressly, happ