"With The Persuasive Language Of A Tear"
Context: When The Times was privately printed in pamphlet form in September, 1764, at two-and-six a copy, one critic stated that "Everyone must applaud the poet's indignation, but it would have had a stronger effect had it been less indiscriminate," and another commented, "It may soon be a libel not to be satirized by Mr. Churchill." The poet begins by describing the good old times, "when modesty was scarcely held a crime," and those who served Sin tried to conceal it; before "a great Nation, no less just than free,/ Was made a beggar by Economy." However, conditions have changed: "Our Times, more polish'd, wear a diff'rent face;/ Debts are an Honor; Payment a disgrace." The lords run up bills and ruin the tradesmen. Under the name "Faber," the poet attacks the callous attitude of Lord Halifax, "who feels no Conscience as he fears no Law." Then with a poetic shrug: "But why enlarge I on such petty crimes?" "We begin where our Sires ended and improve on Sin." Perhaps as a result, we shall "leave nothing new in vice and folly for our sons to do." Virtue has disappeared; immorality is rife. Seeking new examples of the demoralizing times, the poet then roams the world, with stanzas to discuss the low state of morality in Holland, France, Spain, Italy, and even the Orient. Having established that man is vile, Churchill next aims his shafts at those who cast aside women as out-of-date and useless, in favor of sodomy. He continues his theme with a long list of offenders, then apologizes for being so frank that he may have wounded the chaste ear. Yet it is man's duty to protect woman, and the poet intends to continue to do so till the modern Sodom is destroyed and until all sinners "pardon of Women with Repentance buy,/ And learn to honor them as much as I." In beginning his apostrophe to women, nearly halfway through his 702 line poem expressed in the rhymed couplets of Pope, Churchill writes:
Woman, the pride and happiness of Man,Without whose soft endearments Nature's planHad been a blank, and Life not worth a thought;Woman, by all the Loves and Graces taught,With softest arts, and sure, tho' hidden skillTo humanize, and mould us to her will;Woman, with more than common grace form'd here,With the persuasive language of a tearTo melt the rugged temper of our Isle,Or win us to her purpose with a smile; . . .