A Characterless

A poem by Thomas Moore

Half Whig, half Tory, like those mid-way things,
'Twixt bird and beast, that by mistake have wings;
A mongrel Stateman, 'twixt two factions nurst,
Who, of the faults of each, combines the worst--
The Tory's loftiness, the Whigling's sneer,
The leveller's rashness, and the bigot's fear:
The thirst for meddling, restless still to show
How Freedom's clock, repaired by Whigs, will go;
The alarm when others, more sincere than they,
Advance the hands to the true time of day.

By Mother Church, high-fed and haughty dame,
The boy was dandled, in his dawn of fame;
Listening, she smiled, and blest the flippant tongue
On which the fate of unborn tithe-pigs hung.
Ah! who shall paint the grandam's grim dismay,
When loose Reform enticed her boy away;
When shockt she heard him ape the rabble's tone,
And in Old Sarum's fate foredoom her own!
Groaning she cried, while tears rolled down her cheeks,
"Poor, glib-tongued youth, he means not what he speaks.
"Like oil at top, these Whig professions flow,
"But, pure as lymph, runs Toryism below.
"Alas! that tongue should start thus, in the race,
"Ere mind can reach and regulate its pace!--
"For, once outstript by tongue, poor, lagging mind,
"At every step, still further limps behind.
"But, bless the boy!--whate'er his wandering be,
"Still turns his heart to Toryism and me.
"Like those odd shapes, portrayed in Dante's lay.
"With heads fixt on, the wrong and backward way,
"His feet and eyes pursue a diverse track,
"While those march onward, these look fondly back."
And well she knew him--well foresaw the day,
Which now hath come, when snatched from Whigs away
The self-same changeling drops the mask he wore,
And rests, restored, in granny's arms once more.

But whither now, mixt brood of modern light
And ancient darkness, canst thou bend thy flight?
Tried by both factions and to neither true,
Feared by the old school, laught at by the new;
For this too feeble and for that too rash,
This wanting more of fire, that less of flash,
Lone shalt thou stand, in isolation cold,
Betwixt two worlds, the new one and the old,
A small and "vext Bermoothes," which the eye
Of venturous seaman sees--and passes by.

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