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The Spirit of the Nation/Portrait from the Peerage

< The Spirit of the Nation

A PORTRAIT FROM THE PEERAGE.

Mentitur, qui te vitiosum, Zoile dixit—
Non vitiosus homo es, Zoile, sed vitium.

Martial.

In birth, a wanton mother's worthy child,
The offspring of her nuptial faith defil'd;
The graceless spawn of lewd intrigue confess'd,
When keen remorse her dying hour oppress'd;
A jackdaw-noble, glittering in the plumes
Of the old race, whose honours he assumes,
In youth, a profligate, devour'd by debt,
With crowds of starving creditors beset.
At home, for ever in a savage mood,
His temper venom'd as his pois'nous blood.
In politics a brazen renegade,
With bigots leagu'd, his country to degrade;
First, in a foreign senate, to demand
The Saxon sword, to crush his native land;
Which ev'n their satrap with contempt denied,
Spurning the baseness of the parricide.
Again behold him impotent as vile,
Libelling our chief—the guardian of our isle,
A toothless viper mumbling at a file.


Next 'mid his tenants, see the Despot stand,
The grinding Shylock of a shuddering land—
Still on the watch, with law's deceitful mesh,
To extort his bond, and get his pound of flesh—
Even at the time that gave his Saviour birth,
Quenching the fire upon the poor man's hearth!


Ye, who would know his person and his life,
Look at his skin, and listen to his wife!—
His hapless wife, by brutal tyranny,
Driv'n to the pension-list and infamy—
His tainted skin, so loathsome to the eye,
That starv'd hyænas from its touch would fly—
Disgusting object! yet, does this impart
A feeble emblem of his fouler heart!