Address to the Ancient and Honourable Society of Free Masons
At the Anniversary Meeting for the Benefit of the Charity School, April 14th, 1809
If ’tis delight the drooping plant to rear,
Or the soft bud with timely shelter cheer,
’Tis heav’n the balm of bounty to dispense,
And guard the flow’rs of orphan Innocence!
But ever in the firm and spotless breast
Compassion dwells, a mild yet sov’reign guest;
As stedfast rocks ambrosial balm enclose,
And the clear stream the purest pearl bestows.
In Paul’s proud dome, the boast of art divine,
Blest Charity erects her favor’d shrine:
So in the soul with Wisdom’s treasures stor’d,
(The noblest temple of Creation’s Lord)
An infant mourner’s suppliant voice prevails,
And orphan Innocence its Saviour hails!
Protect them still! let those who nobly claim
The ample gifts of Humour, Wealth, and Fame,
Like Heav’n’s own mansion, spread their portals wide,
And still to hope and peace the mourner guide.
Nor let illustrious Beauty’s hand disdain
To strew with flow’rs Compassion’s sacred fane!—
Beauty! thy charms her magic pow’r create,
On thee her first, her warmest blessings wait;
Such as with Moira’s honour’d laurels blend,
Such as the grave of Cumberland attend!
And you, whose temple boasts th’ immortal name
Of him who breath’d Philanthropy’s pure flame;
SHAKESPEAREAN Brothers! who to ev’ry clime
Extend the rays of amity sublime!
Full as the bliss your ready aid bestows,
For you the cup of gratitude(4) o’erflows.
Behold your work!—redeem’d from hopeless gloom
Thrice twenty beauteous flow’rs around you bloom:
Crown, then, the blessings by your cares begun,
Proceed, and emulate the bounteous sun;
Your bright example thro’ the land diffuse,
Draw forth and treasure Pity’s fost’ring dews:
And when, like his, your glorious task is o’er,
Still smile in heav’n, tho’ seen on earth no more!