The Hind and the Panther, by John Dryden

Part I.

A milk-white Hind, immortal and unchanged,

Fed on the lawns, and in the forest ranged;

Without unspotted, innocent within,

She fear’d no danger, for she knew no sin.

Yet had she oft been chased with horns and hounds,

And Scythian shafts; and many winged wounds

Aim’d at her heart; was often forced to fly,

And doom’d to death, though fated not to die.

  Not so her young; for their unequal line

Was hero’s make, half human, half divine. 10

Their earthly mould obnoxious was to fate,

The immortal part assumed immortal state.

Of these a slaughter’d army lay in blood,

Extended o’er the Caledonian wood,

Their native walk; whose vocal blood arose,

And cried for pardon on their perjured foes.

Their fate was fruitful, and the sanguine seed,

Endued with souls, increased the sacred breed.

So captive Israel multiplied in chains,

A numerous exile, and enjoy’d her pains. 20

With grief and gladness mix’d, the mother view’d

Her martyr’d offspring, and their race renew’d;

Their corpse to perish, but their kind to last,

So much the deathless plant the dying fruit surpass’d.

  Panting and pensive now she ranged alone,

And wander’d in the kingdoms once her own,

The common hunt, though from their rage restrain’d

By sovereign power, her company disdain’d;

Grinn’d as they pass’d, and with a glaring eye

Gave gloomy signs of secret enmity. 30

’Tis true, she bounded by, and tripp’d so light,

They had not time to take a steady sight;

For truth has such a face and such a mien,

As to be loved needs only to be seen.

  The bloody Bear, an independent beast,

Unlick’d to form, in groans her hate express’d.

Among the timorous kind the quaking Hare1

Profess’d neutrality, but would not swear.

Next her the buffoon Ape2, as Atheists use,

Mimick’d all sects, and had his own to choose: 40

Still when the Lion look’d, his knees he bent,

And paid at church a courtier’s compliment.

The bristled Baptist Boar, impure as he,

But whiten’d with the foam of sanctity,

With fat pollutions fill’d the sacred place,

And mountains levell’d in his furious race;

So first rebellion founded was in grace.

But since the mighty ravage, which he made

In German forests, had his guilt betray’d,

With broken tusks, and with a borrow’d name; 50

He shunn’d the vengeance, and conceal’d the shame:

So lurk’d in sects unseen. With greater guile

False Reynard3 fed on consecrated spoil:

The graceless beast by Athanasius first

Was chased from Nice, then by Socinus nursed:

His impious race their blasphemy renew’d,

And nature’s King through nature’s optics view’d.

Reversed they view’d him lessen’d to their eye,

Nor in an infant could a God descry:

New swarming sects to this obliquely tend, 60

Hence they began, and here they all will end.

  What weight of ancient witness can prevail,

If private reason hold the public scale?

But, gracious God, how well dost thou provide

For erring judgments an unerring guide!

Thy throne is darkness in the abyss of light,

A blaze of glory that forbids the sight.

O teach me to believe thee thus conceal’d,

And search no farther than thyself reveal’d;

But her alone for my director take, 70

Whom thou hast promised never to forsake!

My thoughtless youth was wing’d with vain desires;

My manhood, long misled by wandering fires,

Follow’d false lights; and when their glimpse was gone,

My pride struck out new sparkles of her own.

Such was I, such by nature still I am;

Be thine the glory, and be mine the shame.

Good life be now my task; my doubts are done:

What more could fright my faith, than Three in One?

Can I believe Eternal God could lie 80

Disguised in mortal mould and infancy?

That the great Maker of the world could die?

And after that trust my imperfect sense,

Which calls in question His Omnipotence?

Can I my reason to my faith compel,

And shall my sight, and touch, and taste rebel?

Superior faculties are set aside;

Shall their subservient organs be my guide?

Then let the moon usurp the rule of day,

And winking tapers show the sun his way; 90

For what my senses can themselves perceive,

I need no revelation to believe.

Can they who say the Host should be descried

By sense, define a body glorified?

Impassable, and penetrating parts?

Let them declare by what mysterious arts

He shot that body through the opposing might

Of bolts and bars impervious to the light,

And stood before his train confess’d in open sight.

For since thus wondrously he pass’d, ’tis plain, 100

One single place two bodies did contain.

And sure the same Omnipotence as well

Can make one body in more places dwell.

Let reason, then, at her own quarry fly,

But how can finite grasp infinity?

   ’Tis urged again, that faith did first commence

By miracles, which are appeals to sense,

And thence concluded, that our sense must be

The motive still of credibility.

For latter ages must on former wait, 110

And what began belief must propagate.

   But winnow well this thought, and you shall find

’Tis light as chaff that flies before the wind.

Were all those wonders wrought by power divine,

As means or ends of some more deep design?

Most sure as means, whose end was this alone,

To prove the Godhead of the Eternal Son.

God thus asserted, man is to believe

Beyond what sense and reason can conceive,

And for mysterious things of faith rely 120

On the proponent, Heaven’s authority.

If, then, our faith we for our guide admit,

Vain is the farther search of human wit;

As when the building gains a surer stay,

We take the unuseful scaffolding away.

Reason by sense no more can understand;

The game is play’d into another hand.

Why choose we, then, like bilanders,4 to creep

Along the coast, and land in view to keep,

When safely we may launch into the deep? 130

In the same vessel which our Saviour bore,

Himself the pilot, let us leave the shore,

And with a better guide a better world explore.

Could he his Godhead veil with flesh and blood,

And not veil these again to be our food?

His grace in both is equal in extent,

The first affords us life, the second nourishment.

And if he can, why all this frantic pain

To construe what his clearest words contain,

And make a riddle what he made so plain? 140

To take up half on trust, and half to try,

Name it not faith, but bungling bigotry.

Both knave and fool the merchant we may call,

To pay great sums, and to compound the small:

For who would break with Heaven, and would not break for all?

Rest, then, my soul, from endless anguish freed:

Nor sciences thy guide, nor sense thy creed.

Faith is the best insurer of thy bliss;

The bank above must fail before the venture miss.

  But heaven and heaven-born faith are far from thee, 150

Thou first apostate5 to divinity.

Unkennell’d range in thy Polonian plains;

A fiercer foe the insatiate Wolf6 remains.

Too boastful Britain, please thyself no more,

That beasts of prey are banish’d from thy shore:

The Bear, the Boar, and every savage name,

Wild in effect, though in appearance tame,

Lay waste thy woods, destroy thy blissful bower,

And, muzzled though they seem, the mutes devour.

More haughty than the rest, the wolfish race 160

Appear with belly gaunt and famish’d face:

Never was so deform’d a beast of grace.

His ragged tail betwixt his legs he wears,

Close clapp’d for shame; but his rough crest he rears,

And pricks up his predestinating ears.

His wild disorder’d walk, his haggard eyes,

Did all the bestial citizens surprise.

Though fear’d and hated, yet he ruled awhile,

As captain or companion of the spoil.

Full many a year7 his hateful head had been 170

For tribute paid, nor since in Cambria seen:

The last of all the litter ‘scaped by chance,

And from Geneva first infested France.

Some authors thus his pedigree will trace,

But others write him of an upstart race:

Because of Wickliff’s brood no mark he brings,

But his innate antipathy to kings.

These last deduce him from th’ Helvetian kind,

Who near the Leman lake his consort lined:

That fiery Zuinglius first th’ affection bred, 180

And meagre Calvin bless’d the nuptial bed.

In Israel some believe him whelp’d long since,

When the proud Sanhedrim oppress’d the prince;

Or, since he will be Jew, derive him higher,

When Corah with his brethren did conspire

From Moses’ hand the sovereign sway to wrest,

And Aaron of his ephod to divest:

Till opening earth made way for all to pass,

And could not bear the burden of a class.

The Fox and he came shuffled in the dark, 190

If ever they were stow’d in Noah’s ark:

Perhaps not made; for all their barking train

The Dog (a common species) will contain.

And some wild curs, who from their masters ran,

Abhorring the supremacy of man,

In woods and caves the rebel race began.

  O happy pair, how well have you increased!

What ills in Church and State have you redress’d!

With teeth untried, and rudiments of claws,

Your first essay was on your native laws: 200

Those having torn with ease, and trampled down,

Your fangs you fasten’d on the mitred crown,

And freed from God and monarchy your town.

What though your native kennel8 still be small,

Bounded betwixt a puddle9 and a wall;

Yet your victorious colonies are sent

Where the north ocean girds the continent.

Quicken’d with fire below, your monsters breed

In fenny Holland, and in fruitful Tweed:

And, like the first, the last affects to be 210

Drawn to the dregs of a democracy.

As, where in fields the fairy rounds are seen,

A rank, sour herbage rises on the green;

So, springing where those midnight elves advance,

Rebellion prints the footsteps of the dance.

Such are their doctrines, such contempt they show

To Heaven above and to their prince below,

As none but traitors and blasphemers know.

God, like the tyrant of the skies, is placed,

And kings, like slaves, beneath the crowd debased. 220

So fulsome is their food, that flocks refuse

To bite, and only dogs for physic use.

As, where the lightning runs along the ground,

No husbandry can heal the blasting wound;

Nor bladed grass, nor bearded corn succeeds,

But scales of scurf and putrefaction breeds:

Such wars, such waste, such fiery tracks of dearth

Their zeal has left, and such a teemless earth,

But, as the poisons of the deadliest kind

Are to their own unhappy coasts confined; 230

As only Indian shades of sight deprive,

And magic plants will but in Colchos thrive;

So Presbytery and pestilential zeal

Can only nourish in a commonweal.

  From Celtic woods is chased the wolfish crew;

But ah! some pity even to brutes is due:

Their native walks methinks they might enjoy,

Curb’d of their native malice to destroy.

Of all the tyrannies on human kind,

The worst is that which persecutes the mind. 240

Let us but weigh at what offence we strike;

’Tis but because we cannot think alike.

In punishing of this, we overthrow

The laws of nations and of nature too.

Beasts are the subjects of tyrannic sway,

Where still the stronger on the weaker prey.

Man only of a softer mould is made,

Not for his fellows’ ruin, but their aid:

Created kind, beneficent, and free,

The noble image of the Deity. 250

  One portion of informing fire was given

To brutes, the inferior family of heaven:

The Smith Divine, as with a careless beat, 253

Struck out the mute creation at a heat:

But when arrived at last to human race,

The Godhead took a deep-considering space;

And to distinguish man from all the rest,

Unlock’d the sacred treasures of his breast;

And mercy mix’d with reason did impart,

One to his head, the other to his heart: 260

Reason to rule, and mercy to forgive;

The first is law, the last prerogative.

And like his mind his outward form appear’d,

When, issuing naked, to the wondering herd,

He charm’d their eyes; and, for they loved, they fear’d:

Not arm’d with horns of arbitrary might,

Or claws to seize their furry spoils in fight,

Or with increase of feet to o’ertake them in their flight:

Of easy shape, and pliant every way;

Confessing still the softness of his clay, 270

And kind as kings upon their coronation day:

With open hands, and with extended space

Of arms, to satisfy a large embrace.

Thus kneaded up with milk, the new-made man

His kingdom o’er his kindred world began:

Till knowledge misapplied, misunderstood,

And pride of empire, sour’d his balmy blood.

Then, first rebelling, his own stamp he coins;

The murderer Cain was latent in his loins:

And blood began its first and loudest cry, 280

For differing worship of the Deity.

Thus persecution rose, and further space

Produced the mighty hunter of his race10.

Not so the blessed Pan his flock increased,

Content to fold them from the famish’d beast:

Mild were his laws; the Sheep and harmless Hind 286

Were never of the persecuting kind.

Such pity now the pious pastor shows,

Such mercy from the British Lion flows,

That both provide protection from their foes.

   O happy regions, Italy and Spain,

Which never did those monsters entertain!

The Wolf, the Bear, the Boar, can there advance

No native claim of just inheritance.

And self-preserving laws, severe in show,

May guard their fences from the invading foe.

Where birth has placed them, let them safely share

The common benefit of vital air.

Themselves unharmful, let them live unharm’d;

Their jaws disabled, and their claws disarm’d: 300

Here, only in nocturnal howlings bold,

They dare not seize the hind, nor leap the fold.

More powerful, and as vigilant as they,

The Lion awfully forbids the prey.

Their rage repress’d, though pinch’d with famine sore,

They stand aloof, and tremble at his roar:

Much is their hunger, but their fear is more.

These are the chief: to number o’er the rest,

And stand, like Adam, naming every beast,

Were weary work; nor will the muse describe 310

A slimy-born and sun-begotten tribe;

Who far from steeples and their sacred sound,

In fields their sullen conventicles found.

These gross, half-animated lumps I leave;

Nor can I think what thoughts they can conceive.

But if they think at all, ’tis sure no higher

Than matter, put in motion, may aspire:

Souls that can scarce ferment their mass of clay;

So drossy, so divisible are they,

As would but serve pure bodies for allay: 320

Such souls as shards produce, such beetle things

As only buzz to heaven with evening wings;

Strike in the dark, offending but by chance,

Such are the blindfold blows of ignorance.

They know not beings, and but hate a name;

To them the Hind and Panther are the same.

  The Panther11 sure the noblest, next the Hind,

And fairest creature of the spotted kind;

Oh, could her inborn stains be wash’d away,

She were too good to be a beast of prey! 330

How can I praise, or blame, and not offend,

Or how divide the frailty from the friend?

Her faults and virtues lie so mix’d, that she

Nor wholly stands condemn’d, nor wholly free.

Then, like her injured Lion, let me speak;

He cannot bend her, and he would not break.

Unkind already, and estranged in part,

The Wolf begins to share her wandering heart.

Though unpolluted yet with actual ill,

She half commits, who sins but in her will. 340

If, as our dreaming Platonists report,

There could be spirits of a middle sort,

Too black for heaven, and yet too white for hell,

Who just dropt half way down, nor lower fell;

So poised, so gently she descends from high,

It seems a soft dismission from the sky.

Her house not ancient, whatsoe’er pretence

Her clergy heralds make in her defence.

A second century not half-way run,

Since the new honours of her blood begun. 350

A Lion12 old, obscene, and furious made

By lust, compress’d her mother in a shade;

Then, by a left-hand marriage, weds the dame,

Covering adultery with a specious name:

So Schism begot; and Sacrilege and she,

A well match’d pair, got graceless Heresy.

God’s and king’s rebels have the same good cause,

To trample down divine and human laws:

Both would be call’d reformers, and their hate

Alike destructive both to Church and State: 360

The fruit proclaims the plant; a lawless prince

By luxury reform’d incontinence;

By ruins, charity; by riots, abstinence.

Confessions, fasts, and penance set aside,

Oh, with what ease we follow such a guide,

Where souls are starved, and senses gratified!

Where marriage pleasures midnight prayers supply,

And matin bells, a melancholy cry,

Are tuned to merrier notes, Increase and multiply.

Religion shows a rosy-colour’d face; 370

Not batter’d out with drudging works of grace:

A down-hill reformation rolls apace.

What flesh and blood would crowd the narrow gate,

Or, till they waste their pamper’d paunches, wait?

All would be happy at the cheapest rate.

  Though our lean faith these rigid laws has given,

The full-fed Mussulman goes fat to heaven;

For his Arabian prophet with delights

Of sense allured his eastern proselytes.

The jolly Luther, reading him, began 380

To interpret Scriptures by his Alcoran;

To grub the thorns beneath our tender feet,

And make the paths of Paradise more sweet;

Bethought him of a wife ere half way gone,

For ’twas uneasy travelling alone;

And, in this masquerade of mirth and love,

Mistook the bliss of heaven for Bacchanals above.

Sure he presumed of praise, who came to stock

The ethereal pastures with so fair a flock,

Burnish’d, and battening on their food, to show 390

Their diligence of careful herds below.

  Our Panther, though like these she changed her head,

Yet, as the mistress of a monarch’s bed,

Her front erect with majesty she bore,

The crosier wielded, and the mitre wore.

Her upper part of decent discipline

Show’d affectation of an ancient line;

And Fathers, Councils, Church, and Church’s head,

Were on her reverend phylacteries read.

But what disgraced and disavow’d the rest, 400

Was Calvin’s brand, that stigmatized the beast.

Thus, like a creature of a double kind,

In her own labyrinth she lives confined.

To foreign lands no sound of her is come,

Humbly content to be despised at home.

Such is her faith, where good cannot be had,

At least she leaves the refuse of the bad:

Nice in her choice of ill, though not of best,

And least deform’d, because reform’d the least.

In doubtful points betwixt her differing friends, 410

Where one for substance, one for sign contends,

Their contradicting terms she strives to join;

Sign shall be substance, substance shall be sign.

A real presence all her sons allow,

And yet ’tis flat idolatry to bow,

Because the Godhead’s there they know not how.

Her novices are taught that bread and wine

Are but the visible and outward sign,

Received by those who in communion join.

But the inward grace, or the thing signified, 420

His blood and body, who to save us died;

The faithful this thing signified receive:

What is’t those faithful then partake or leave?

For what is signified and understood,

Is, by her own confession, flesh and blood.

Then, by the same acknowledgment, we know

They take the sign, and take the substance too.

The literal sense is hard to flesh and blood,

But nonsense never can be understood.

  Her wild belief on every wave is toss’d; 430

But sure no Church can better morals boast:

True to her king her principles are found;

O that her practice were but half so sound!

Steadfast in various turns of state she stood,

And seal’d her vow’d affection with her blood:

Nor will I meanly tax her constancy,

That interest or obligement made the tie

Bound to the fate of murder’d monarchy.

Before the sounding axe so falls the vine,

Whose tender branches round the poplar twine. 440

She chose her ruin, and resign’d her life,

In death undaunted as an Indian wife:

A rare example! but some souls we see

Grow hard, and stiffen with adversity:

Yet these by fortune’s favours are undone;

Resolved into a baser form they run,

And bore the wind, but cannot bear the sun.

Let this be nature’s frailty, or her fate,

Or Isgrim’s13 counsel, her new-chosen mate;

Still she’s the fairest of the fallen crew, 450

No mother more indulgent, but the true.

 Fierce to her foes, yet fears her force to try,

Because she wants innate authority;

For how can she constrain them to obey,

Who has herself cast off the lawful sway?

Rebellion equals all, and those who toil

In common theft, will share the common spoil.

Let her produce the title and the right

Against her old superiors first to fight;

If she reform by text, even that’s as plain 460

For her own rebels to reform again.

As long as words a different sense will bear,

And each may be his own interpreter,

Our airy faith will no foundation find:

The word’s a weathercock for every wind:

The Bear, the Fox, the Wolf, by turns prevail;

The most in power supplies the present gale.

The wretched Panther cries aloud for aid

To Church and Councils, whom she first betray’d;

No help from Fathers or Tradition’s train: 470

Those ancient guides she taught us to disdain,

And, by that Scripture, which she once abused

To reformation, stands herself accused.

What bills for breach of laws can she prefer,

Expounding which she owns herself may err?

And, after all her winding ways are tried,

If doubts arise, she slips herself aside,

And leaves the private conscience for the guide.

If then that conscience set the offender free,

It bars her claim to Church authority. 480

How can she censure, or what crime pretend,

But Scripture may be construed to defend?

Even those, whom for rebellion she transmits 483

To civil power, her doctrine first acquits;

Because no disobedience can ensue,

Where no submission to a judge is due;

Each judging for himself, by her consent,

Whom thus absolved she sends to punishment.

Suppose the magistrate revenge her cause,

’Tis only for transgressing human laws. 490

How answering to its end a Church is made,

Whose power is but to counsel and persuade?

Oh, solid rock, on which secure she stands!

Eternal house, not built with mortal hands!

Oh, sure defence against the infernal gate —

A patent during pleasure of the state!

  Thus is the Panther neither loved nor fear’d,

A mere mock queen of a divided herd;

Whom soon by lawful power she might control,

Herself a part submitted to the whole. 500

Then, as the moon who first receives the light

By which she makes our nether regions bright,

So might she shine, reflecting from afar

The rays she borrow’d from a better star;

Big with the beams which from her mother flow,

And reigning o’er the rising tides below:

Now, mixing with a savage crowd, she goes,

And meanly flatters her inveterate foes;

Ruled while she rules, and losing every hour

Her wretched remnants of precarious power. 510

  One evening, while the cooler shade she sought,

Revolving many a melancholy thought,

Alone she walk’d, and look’d around in vain,

With rueful visage, for her vanish’d train:

None of her sylvan subjects made their court;

Levées and couchées pass’d without resort.

So hardly can usurpers manage well 517

Those whom they first instructed to rebel.

More liberty begets desire of more;

The hunger still increases with the store.

Without respect they brush’d along the wood,

Each in his clan, and, fill’d with loathsome food,

Ask’d no permission to the neighbouring flood.

The Panther, full of inward discontent,

Since they would go, before them wisely went;

Supplying want of power by drinking first,

As if she gave them leave to quench their thirst.

Among the rest, the Hind, with fearful face,

Beheld from far the common watering place,

Nor durst approach; till, with an awful roar, 530

The sovereign Lion14 bade her fear no more.

Encouraged thus she brought her younglings nigh,

Watching the motions of her patron’s eye,

And drank a sober draught; the rest amazed

Stood mutely still, and on the stranger gazed;

Survey’d her part by part, and sought to find

The ten-horn’d monster in the harmless Hind,

Such as the Wolf and Panther had design’d.

They thought at first they dream’d; for ’twas offence

With them to question certitude of sense, 540

Their guide in faith: but nearer when they drew,

And had the faultless object full in view,

Lord, how they all admired her heavenly hue!

Some, who before her fellowship disdain’d,

Scarce, and but scarce, from in-born rage restrain’d,

Now frisk’d about her, and old kindred feign’d.

Whether for love or interest, every sect

Of all the savage nation show’d respect.

The viceroy Panther could not awe the herd; 549

The more the company, the less they fear’d.

The surly Wolf with secret envy burst,

Yet could not howl; (the Hind had seen him first:)

But what he durst not speak the Panther durst.

  For when the herd, sufficed, did late repair,

To ferny heaths, and to their forest lair,

She made a mannerly excuse to stay,

Proffering the Hind to wait her half the way:

That, since the sky was clear, an hour of talk

Might help her to beguile the tedious walk.

With much good-will the motion was embraced, 560

To chat a while on their adventures pass’d:

Nor had the grateful Hind so soon forgot

Her friend and fellow-sufferer in the Plot.

Yet, wondering how of late she grew estranged,

Her forehead cloudy, and her countenance changed,

She thought this hour the occasion would present

To learn her secret cause of discontent,

Which well she hoped might be with ease redress’d,

Considering her a well-bred civil beast,

And more a gentlewoman than the rest. 570

After some common talk what rumours ran,

The lady of the spotted muff began.

1 ‘Hare:’ the Quakers.

2 ‘Ape:’ latitudinarians in general.

3 ‘Reynard:’ the Arians.

4 ‘Bilanders:’ an old word for a coasting boat.

5 ‘First Apostate:’ Arius.

6 ‘Wolf:’ Presbytery.

7 ‘Many a year:’ referring to the price put on the head of wolves in Wales.

8 ‘Kennel:’ Geneva.

9 ‘Puddle:’ its lake.

10 ‘Mighty hunter of his race:’ Nimrod.

11 ‘Panther:’ Church of England.

12 ‘Lion:’ Henry VIII.

13 ‘Isgrim:’ the wolf.

14 ‘Lion:’ James II.

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Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:37