Table-talk "Suspend Your Mad Career"

"Suspend Your Mad Career"

Context: After discussing kings, good and bad, with special reference to George III of England, the two who are conversing over the breakfast table, indicated only as A. and B., talk about the liberty-loving qualities of an Englishman, whom they name Nature's "favorite man of all mankind." A typical Frenchman cannot compare with him. But those who love liberty can sometimes carry this love to excess through the violence of their attempts to achieve it. This idea brings a discussion of the need for a magistrate who can keep this love of liberty under control, and so, naturally, they pause for a panegyric of the late William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, who had died in 1778. They wonder who will take his place in controlling England. When A. mentions an essay by the Reverend John Brown (1715–1766) on An Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times (1757), B. brings into the conversation a country, "One that I could name" (probably France on the eve of its revolution), and goes on to describe its present godless condition and warn of what will follow.

B. When profanation of the sacred cause
In all its parts, times, ministry, and laws,
Bespeaks a land, once Christian, fallen and lost
In all that wars against that title most;
What follows next let cities of great name
And regions long since desolate proclaim:
Nineveh, Babylon, and ancient Rome
Speak to the present times and times to come;
They cry aloud in every careless ear,
"Stop, while ye may, suspend your mad career!
O learn from our example and our fate,
Learn wisdom and repentance ere too late!"