To Mr. Harley - Wounded By Guiscard

A poem by Matthew Prior

In one great now, superior to an age,
The full extremes of nature's force we find:
How heavenly virtue can exalt, or rage
Infernal how degrade the human mind.

While the fierce monk does at his trial stand,
He chews revenge, abjuring his offence:
Guile in his tongue, and murder in his hand,
He stabs his judge, to prove his innocence.

The guilty stroke and torture of the steel
Infix'd, our dauntless Briton scarce perceives:
The wounds his country from his death must feel,
The patriot views; for those alone he grieves.

The barbarous rage that durst attempt thy life,
Harley, great counsellor, extends thy fame;
And the sharp point of cruel Guiscard's knife,
In brass and marble carves thy deathless name.

Faithful assertor of thy country's cause,
Britain with tears shall bathe thy glorious wound;
She for thy safety shall enlarge her laws,
And in her statutes shall thy worth be found.

Yet 'midst her sighs she triumphs on the hand
Reflecting, that diffused the public wo;
A stranger to her altars, and her land;
No son of hers could meditate this bow,

Meantime thy pain is gracious Anna's are:
Our queen, our saint, with sacrificing breath,
Softens thy anguish: in her powerful prayer
She pleads thy service, and forbids thy death.

Great as thou art, thou canst demand no more,
O breast bewail'd by earth, preserved by Heaven?
No higher can aspiring virtue soar:
Enough to thee of grief and fame is given.

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