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Poem by Charles Mackay
The Three Preachers
There are three preachers, ever preaching, Fill'd with eloquence and power. One is old, with locks of white, Skinny as an anchorite; And he preaches every hour With a shrill fanatic voice, And a Bigot's fiery scorn: Ч "Backward! ye presumptuous nations; Man to misery is born! Born to drudge, and sweat, and suffer Ч Born to labor and to pray; Backward! ye presumptuous nations, Back! Ч be humble and obey!" The second is a milder preacher; Soft he talks, as if he sung; Sleek and slothful is his look, And his words, as from a book, Issue glibly from his tongue. With an air of self-content, High he lifts his fair white hands: "STAND YE STILL! ye restless nations; And be happy, all ye lands! Fate is law, and law is perfect; If ye meddle, ye will mar; Change is rash, and ever was so; We are happy as we are." Mightier is the younger preacher; Genius flashes from his eyes: And the crowds who hear his voice, Give him, while their souls rejoice, Throbbing bosoms for replies. Awed they listen, yet elated, While his stirring accents fall; Ч "FORWARD! ye deluded nations, Progress is the rule of all: Man was made for healthful effort, Tyranny has crush'd him long; He shall march from good to better, And do battle with the wrong. "Standing still is childish folly, Going backward is a crime; None should patiently endure Any ill that he can cure: Ч Onward! keep the march of Time. Onward! while a wrong remains To be conquered by the right; While oppression lifts a finger To affront us by his might: While an error clouds the reason Of the universal heart, Or a slave awaits his freedom, Action is the wise man's part. "Lo! the world is rich in blessings Ч Earth and Ocean, Flame and Wind, Have unnumber'd secrets still, To be ransack'd when you will, For the service of mankind; Science is a child as yet, And her power and scope shall grow, And her triumphs in the future Shall diminish toil and woe; Shall extend the bounds of pleasure With an ever-widening ken, And of woods and wildernesses Make the homes of happy men. "Onward! Ч there are ills to conquer, Daily wickedness is wrought, Tyranny is swoll'n with Pride, Bigotry is deified, Error intertwined with Thought, Vice and Misery ramp and crawl. Root them out, their day has pass'd: Goodness is alone immortal; Evil was not made to last: Ч Onward! and all Earth shall aid us Ere our peaceful flag be furl'd." And the preaching of this preacher Stirs the pulses of the world.
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