Honesty

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Hymn XII. Honesty  (1771) 
by Christopher Smart
From the Hymns for the Amusement of Children (1771).
Hymn12.png

                     HYMN XII.                     

HONESTY.


I have a house, the house of prayer,
      (No spy beneath my eaves)
And purring gratitude is there,[1]
      And he that frights the thieves.

5 If I of honesty suspend
      My judgment, making doubt,
I have a good domestic friend,[2]
      That soon shall point it out.

'Tis to be faithful to my charge,
10      And thankful for my place,
And pray that God my pow'rs enlarge,
      To act with greater grace.

To give my brother more than due,
      In talent or in name;
15Nor e'en mine enemy pursue,
      To hurt, or to defame.

Nay, more to bless him and to pray,
      Mine anger to controul;
And give the wages of the day
20      To him, that hunts my soul.[3]


1771


Notes

  1. 3. In "Jubilate Agno" (B726) Smart describes his Cat Jeoffrey as follows: "For he purrs in thankfulness? when God tells him he's good Cat".
  2. 7. "a good domestic friend" Karina Williamson thinks that this is presumable the conscience. She also notes that Abraham called his wife "my fair domestic friend" (Abimelech i. 64)
  3. 19-20. Karina Williamson notes that "wages of the day" are intended in merciful, not retributive, sense. In line 20 there is an echo of David's words to Saul: "I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it!" (Samuel 1, 24:11)
This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.