Official Piety





Suggested by reading a state paper, wherein the higher law is invoked to

sustain the lower one.



A Pious magistrate! sound his praise throughout

The wondering churches. Who shall henceforth doubt

That the long-wished millennium draweth nigh?

Sin in high places has become devout,

Tithes mint, goes painful-faced, and prays its lie

Straight up to Heaven, and calls it piety!

The pirate, watching from his bloody deck

The weltering galleon, heavy with the gold

Of Acapulco, holding death in check

While prayers are said, brows crossed, and beads are told;

The robber, kneeling where the wayside cross

On dark Abruzzo tells of life's dread loss

From his own carbine, glancing still abroad

For some new victim, offering thanks to God!

Rome, listening at her altars to the cry

Of midnight Murder, while her hounds of hell

Scour France, from baptized cannon and holy bell

And thousand-throated priesthood, loud and high,

Pealing Te Deums to the shuddering sky,

"Thanks to the Lord, who giveth victory!"

What prove these, but that crime was ne'er so black

As ghostly cheer and pious thanks to lack?

Satan is modest. At Heaven's door he lays

His evil offspring, and, in Scriptural phrase

And saintly posture, gives to God the praise

And honor of the monstrous progeny.

What marvel, then, in our own time to see

His old devices, smoothly acted o'er,--

Official piety, locking fast the door

Of Hope against three million soups of men,--

Brothers, God's children, Christ's redeemed,--and then,

With uprolled eyeballs and on bended knee,

Whining a prayer for help to hide the key!

1853.





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