— Antiquam exquirite matrem.
Et vera incessa patuit Dea.
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The nation is in too high a ferment for me to expect either fair war, or even so much as fair quarter, from a reader of the opposite party. All men are engaged either on this side or that; and though conscience is the common word, which is given by both, yet if a writer fall among enemies, and cannot give the marks of their conscience, he is knocked down before the reasons of his own are heard. A preface, therefore, which is but a bespeaking of favour, is altogether useless. What I desire the reader should know concerning me, he will find in the body of the poem, if he have but the patience to peruse it. Only this advertisement let him take beforehand, which relates to the merits of the cause. No general characters of parties (call them either Sects or Churches) can be so fully and exactly drawn, as to comprehend all the several members of them; at least all such as are received under that denomination. For example, there are some of the Church by law established, who envy not liberty of conscience to Dissenters, as being well satisfied that, according to their own principles, they ought not to persecute them. Yet these, by reason of their fewness, I could not distinguish from the numbers of the rest, with whom they are embodied in one common name. On the other side, there are many of our sects, and more indeed than I could reasonably have hoped, who have withdrawn themselves from the communion of the Panther, and embraced this gracious indulgence of his Majesty in point of toleration. But neither to the one nor the other of these is this satire any way intended: it is aimed only at the refractory and disobedient on either side. For those who are come over to the royal party are consequently supposed to be out of gun-shot. Our physicians have observed, that, in process of time, some diseases have abated of their virulence, and have in a manner worn out their malignity, so as to be no longer mortal; and why may not I suppose the same concerning some of those who have formerly been enemies to kingly government, as well as Catholic religion? I hope they have now another notion of both, as having found, by comfortable experience, that the doctrine of persecution is far from being an article of our faith.
It is not for any private man to censure the proceedings of a foreign prince; but, without suspicion of flattery, I may praise our own, who has taken contrary measures, and those more suitable to the spirit of Christianity. Some of the Dissenters, in their addresses to his Majesty, have said, “that he has restored God to his empire over conscience.” I confess I dare not stretch the figure to so great a boldness; but I may safely say, that conscience is the royalty and prerogative of every private man. He is absolute in his own breast, and accountable to no earthly power, for that which passes only betwixt God and him. Those who are driven into the fold are, generally speaking, rather made hypocrites than converts.
This indulgence being granted to all the sects, it ought in reason to be expected, that they should both receive it, and receive it thankfully. For, at this time of day, to refuse the benefit, and adhere to those whom they have esteemed their persecutors, what is it else, but publicly to own, that they suffered not before for conscience-sake, but only out of pride and obstinacy, to separate from a church for those impositions, which they now judge may be lawfully obeyed? After they have so long contended for their classical ordination (not to speak of rites and ceremonies) will they at length submit to an episcopal? If they can go so far, out of complaisance to their old enemies, methinks a little reason should persuade them to take another step, and see whither that would lead them.
Of the receiving this toleration thankfully I shall say no more, than that they ought, and I doubt not they will consider from what hand they received it. It is not from a Cyrus, a heathen prince, and a foreigner, but from a Christian king, their native sovereign; who expects a return in specie from them, that the kindness, which he has graciously shown them, may be retaliated on those of his own persuasion.
As for the poem in general, I will only thus far satisfy the reader, that it was neither imposed on me, nor so much as the subject given me by any man. It was written during the last winter, and the beginning of this spring; though with long interruptions of ill health and other hindrances. About a fortnight before I had finished it, his Majesty’s declaration for liberty of conscience came abroad; which, if I had so soon expected, I might have spared myself the labour of writing many things which are contained in the third part of it. But I was always in some hope, that the Church of England might have been persuaded to have taken off the penal laws and the test, which was one design of the poem, when I proposed to myself the writing of it.
It is evident that some part of it was only occasional, and not first intended: I mean that defence of myself, to which every honest man is bound, when he is injuriously attacked in print; and I refer myself to the judgment of those who have read the Answer to the Defence of the late King’s Papers, and that of the Duchess (in which last I was concerned), how charitably I have been represented there. I am now informed both of the author and supervisors of this pamphlet, and will reply, when I think he can affront me; for I am of Socrates’s opinion, that all creatures cannot. In the mean time let him consider whether he deserved not a more severe reprehension than I gave him formerly, for using so little respect to the memory of those whom he pretended to answer; and at his leisure, look out for some original treatise of humility, written by any Protestant in English; I believe I may say in any other tongue: for the magnified piece of Duncomb on that subject, which either he must mean, or none, and with which another of his fellows has upbraided me, was translated from the Spanish of Rodriguez; though with the omission of the seventeenth, the twenty-fourth, the twenty-fifth, and the last chapter, which will be found in comparing of the books.
He would have insinuated to the world, that her late Highness died not a Roman Catholic. He declares himself to be now satisfied to the contrary, in which he has given up the cause; for matter of fact was the principal debate betwixt us. In the mean time, he would dispute the motives of her change; how preposterously, let all men judge, when he seemed to deny the subject of the controversy, the change itself. And because I would not take up this ridiculous challenge, he tells the world I cannot argue: but he may as well infer, that a Catholic cannot fast, because he will not take up the cudgels against Mrs James, to confute the Protestant religion.
I have but one word more to say concerning the poem as such, and abstracting from the matters, either religious or civil, which are handled in it. The first part, consisting most in general characters and narration, I have endeavoured to raise, and give it the majestic turn of heroic poesy. The second being matter of dispute, and chiefly concerning Church authority, I was obliged to make as plain and perspicuous as possibly I could; yet not wholly neglecting the numbers, though I had not frequent occasions for the magnificence of verse. The third, which has more of the nature of domestic conversation, is, or ought to be, more free and familiar than the two former.
There are in it two episodes, or fables, which are interwoven with the main design; so that they are properly parts of it, though they are also distinct stories of themselves. In both of these I have made use of the commonplaces of satire, whether true or false, which are urged by the members of the one Church against the other: at which I hope no reader of either party will be scandalized, because they are not of my invention, but as old, to my knowledge, as the times of Boccace and Chaucer on the one side, and as those of the Reformation on the other.
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.
Dame, said the Panther, times are mended well,
Since late among the Philistines15 you fell.
The toils were pitch’d, a spacious tract of ground
With expert huntsmen was encompass’d round;
The enclosure narrow’d; the sagacious power 5
Of hounds and death drew nearer every hour.
’Tis true, the younger Lion16 ‘scaped the snare,
But all your priestly Calves17 lay struggling there,
As sacrifices on their altar laid;
While you, their careful mother, wisely fled, 10
Not trusting destiny to save your head;
For, whate’er promises you have applied
To your unfailing Church, the surer side
Is four fair legs in danger to provide.
And whate’er tales of Peter’s chair you tell,
Yet, saving reverence of the miracle,
The better luck was yours to ‘scape so well.
As I remember, said the sober Hind,
Those toils were for your own dear self design’d,
As well as me, and with the self-same throw, 20
To catch the quarry and the vermin too.
(Forgive the slanderous tongues that call’d you so.)
Howe’er you take it now, the common cry
Then ran you down for your rank loyalty.
Besides, in Popery they thought you nursed,
As evil tongues will ever speak the worst,
Because some forms, and ceremonies some
You kept, and stood in the main question dumb.
Dumb you were born indeed; but thinking long
The Test18 it seems at last has loosed your tongue. 30
And to explain what your forefathers meant,
By real presence in the sacrament,
After long fencing push’d against the wall.
Your salvo comes, that he’s not there at all:
There changed your faith, and what may change may fall.
Who can believe what varies every day,
Nor ever was, nor will be at a stay?
Tortures may force the tongue untruths to tell,
And I ne’er own’d myself infallible,
Replied the Panther: grant such presence were, 40
Yet in your sense I never own’d it there.
A real virtue we by faith receive,
And that we in the sacrament believe.
Then, said the Hind, as you the matter state,
Not only Jesuits can equivocate;
For real, as you now the word expound,
From solid substance dwindles to a sound.
Methinks an Æsop’s fable you repeat;
You know who took the shadow for the meat:
Your Church’s substance thus you change at will, 50
And yet retain your former figure still.
I freely grant you spoke to save your life;
For then you lay beneath the butcher’s knife.
Long time you fought, redoubled battery bore,
But, after all, against yourself you swore;
Your former self: for every hour your form
Is chopp’d and changed, like winds before a storm.
Thus fear and interest will prevail with some;
For all have not the gift of martyrdom.
The Panther grinn’d at this, and thus replied: 60
That men may err was never yet denied.
But, if that common principle be true,
The canon, dame, is levell’d full at you.
But, shunning long disputes, I fain would see
That wondrous wight Infallibility.
Is he from Heaven, this mighty champion, come;
Or lodged below in subterranean Rome?
First, seat him somewhere, and derive his race,
Or else conclude that nothing has no place.
Suppose (though I disown it), said the Hind, 70
The certain mansion were not yet assign’d;
The doubtful residence no proof can bring
Against the plain existence of the thing.
Because philosophers may disagree
If sight by emission or reception be,
Shall it be thence inferr’d, I do not see?
But you require an answer positive,
Which yet, when I demand, you dare not give;
For fallacies in universals live.
I then affirm that this unfailing guide 80
In Pope and General Councils must reside;
Both lawful, both combined: what one decrees
By numerous votes, the other ratifies:
On this undoubted sense the Church relies.
’Tis true, some doctors in a scantier space,
I mean, in each apart, contract the place.
Some, who to greater length extend the line,
The Church’s after-acceptation join.
This last circumference appears too wide;
The Church diffused is by the Council tied; 90
As members by their representatives
Obliged to laws which Prince and Senate gives.
Thus some contract, and some enlarge the space:
In Pope and Council, who denies the place,
Assisted from above with God’s unfailing grace?
Those canons all the needful points contain;
Their sense so obvious, and their words so plain,
That no disputes about the doubtful text
Have hitherto the labouring world perplex’d.
If any should in after-times appear, 100
New Councils must be call’d, to make the meaning clear:
Because in them the power supreme resides;
And all the promises are to the guides.
This may be taught with sound and safe defence;
But mark how sandy is your own pretence,
Who, setting Councils, Pope, and Church aside,
Are every man his own presuming guide.
The Sacred Books, you say, are full and plain.
And every needful point of truth contain:
All who can read interpreters may be: 110
Thus, though your several Churches disagree,
Yet every saint has to himself alone
The secret of this philosophic stone.
These principles your jarring sects unite,
When differing doctors and disciples fight.
Though Luther, Zuinglius, Calvin, holy chiefs,
Have made a battle royal of beliefs;
Or, like wild horses, several ways have whirl’d
The tortured text about the Christian world;
Each Jehu lashing on with furious force, 120
That Turk or Jew could not have used it worse;
No matter what dissension leaders make,
Where every private man may save a stake:
Ruled by the Scripture and his own advice,
Each has a blind by-path to Paradise;
Where, driving in a circle, slow or fast,
Opposing sects are sure to meet at last.
A wondrous charity you have in store
For all reform’d to pass the narrow door:
So much, that Mahomet had scarcely more. 130
For he, kind prophet, was for damning none;
But Christ and Moses were to save their own:
Himself was to secure his chosen race,
Though reason good for Turks to take the place,
And he allow’d to be the better man,
In virtue of his holier Alcoran.
True, said the Panther, I shall ne’er deny
My brethren may be saved as well as I:
Though Huguenots condemn our ordination,
Succession, ministerial vocation; 140
And Luther, more mistaking what he read,
Misjoins the sacred body with the bread:
Yet, lady, still remember, I maintain,
The Word in needful points is only plain.
Needless, or needful, I not now contend,
For still you have a loop-hole for a friend;
Rejoin’d the matron: but the rule you lay
Has led whole flocks, and leads them still astray,
In weighty points, and full damnation’s way.
For did not Arius first, Socinus now, 150
The Son’s Eternal Godhead disavow?
And did not these by gospel texts alone
Condemn our doctrine, and maintain their own?
Have not all heretics the same pretence
To plead the Scriptures in their own defence?
How did the Nicene Council then decide
That strong debate? was it by Scripture tried?
No, sure; to that the rebel would not yield;
Squadrons of texts he marshall’d in the field:
That was but civil war, an equal set, 160
Where piles with piles19, and eagles eagles met.
With texts point-blank and plain he faced the foe.
And did not Satan tempt our Saviour so?
The good old bishops took a simpler way;
Each ask’d but what he heard his father say,
Or how he was instructed in his youth,
And by tradition’s force upheld the truth.
The Panther smiled at this; and when, said she,
Were those first Councils disallow’d by me?
Or where did I at sure Tradition strike, 170
Provided still it were apostolic?
Friend, said the Hind, you quit your former ground,
Where all your faith you did on Scripture found:
Now ’tis Tradition join’d with Holy Writ;
But thus your memory betrays your wit.
No, said the Panther, for in that I view,
When your tradition’s forged, and when ’tis true.
I set them by the rule, and, as they square,
Or deviate from, undoubted doctrine there,
This oral fiction, that old faith declare. 180
Hind: The Council steer’d, it seems, a different course;
They tried the Scripture by Tradition’s force:
But you Tradition by the Scripture try;
Pursued by sects, from this to that you fly,
Nor dare on one foundation to rely.
The Word is then deposed, and in this view,
You rule the Scripture, not the Scripture you.
Thus said the dame, and, smiling, thus pursued:
I see Tradition then is disallow’d,
When not evinced by Scripture to be true, 190
And Scripture, as interpreted by you.
But here you tread upon unfaithful ground;
Unless you could infallibly expound:
Which you reject as odious Popery,
And throw that doctrine back with scorn on me.
Suppose we on things traditive divide,
And both appeal to Scripture to decide;
By various texts we both uphold our claim,
Nay, often ground our titles on the same:
After long labour lost, and time’s expense, 200
Both grant the words, and quarrel for the sense.
Thus all disputes for ever must depend;
For no dumb rule can controversies end.
Thus, when you said, Tradition must be tried
By Sacred Writ, whose sense yourselves decide,
You said no more, but that yourselves must be
The judges of the Scripture sense, not we.
Against our Church–Tradition you declare,
And yet your clerks would sit in Moses’ chair;
At least ’tis proved against your argument, 210
The rule is far from plain, where all dissent.
If not by Scriptures, how can we be sure,
Replied the Panther, what Tradition’s pure?
For you may palm upon us new for old:
All, as they say, that glitters, is not gold.
How but by following her, replied the dame,
To whom derived from sire to son they came;
Where every age does on another move,
And trusts no farther than the next above;
Where all the rounds like Jacob’s ladder rise, 220
The lowest hid in earth, the topmost in the skies.
Sternly the savage did her answer mark,
Her glowing eye-balls glittering in the dark,
And said but this: Since lucre was your trade,
Succeeding times such dreadful gaps have made,
’Tis dangerous climbing: to your sons and you
I leave the ladder, and its omen too.
Hind: The Panther’s breath was ever famed for sweet;
But from the Wolf such wishes oft I meet:
You learn’d this language from the Blatant Beast, 230
Or rather did not speak, but were possess’d.
As for your answer, ’tis but barely urged:
You must evince Tradition to be forged;
Produce plain proofs: unblemish’d authors use
As ancient as those ages they accuse;
‘Till when ’tis not sufficient to defame:
An old possession stands, ‘till elder quits the claim.
Then for our interest, which is named alone
To load with envy, we retort your own,
For when Traditions in your faces fly, 240
Resolving not to yield, you must decry.
As when the cause goes hard, the guilty man
Excepts, and thins his jury all he can;
So when you stand of other aid bereft,
You to the Twelve Apostles would be left.
Your friend the Wolf did with more craft provide
To set those toys, Traditions, quite aside;
And Fathers too, unless when, reason spent,
He cites them but sometimes for ornament.
But, madam Panther, you, though more sincere, 250
Are not so wise as your adulterer:
The private spirit is a better blind,
Than all the dodging tricks your authors find.
For they, who left the Scripture to the crowd,
Each for his own peculiar judge allow’d;
The way to please them was to make them proud.
Thus, with full sails, they ran upon the shelf:
Who could suspect a cozenage from himself?
On his own reason safer ’tis to stand,
Than be deceived and damn’d at second-hand. 260
But you, who Fathers and Traditions take,
And garble some, and some you quite forsake,
Pretending Church-authority to fix,
And yet some grains of private spirit mix,
Are like a mule, made up of differing seed,
And that’s the reason why you never breed;
At least not propagate your kind abroad,
For home dissenters are by statutes awed.
And yet they grow upon you every day,
While you, to speak the best, are at a stay, 270
For sects, that are extremes, abhor a middle way.
Like tricks of state, to stop a raging flood,
Or mollify a mad-brain’d senate’s mood:
Of all expedients never one was good.
Well may they argue, nor can you deny,
If we must fix on Church authority,
Best on the best, the fountain, not the flood;
That must be better still, if this be good.
Shall she command who has herself rebell’d?
Is Antichrist by Antichrist expell’d? 280
Did we a lawful tyranny displace,
To set aloft a bastard of the race?
Why all these wars to win the Book, if we
Must not interpret for ourselves, but she?
Either be wholly slaves, or wholly free.
For purging fires Traditions must not fight;
But they must prove Episcopacy’s right.
Thus those led horses are from service freed;
You never mount them but in time of need.
Like mercenaries, hired for home defence, 290
They will not serve against their native prince.
Against domestic foes of hierarchy
These are drawn forth, to make fanatics fly;
But, when they see their countrymen at hand,
Marching against them under Church-command,
Straight they forsake their colours, and disband.
Thus she, nor could the Panther well enlarge
With weak defence against so strong a charge;
But said: For what did Christ his Word provide,
If still his Church must want a living guide? 300
And if all saving doctrines are not there,
Or sacred penmen could not make them clear,
From after ages we should hope in vain
For truths, which men inspired could not explain.
Before the Word was written, said the Hind,
Our Saviour preach’d his faith to human kind:
From his apostles the first age received
Eternal truth, and what they taught believed.
Thus by Tradition faith was planted first;
Succeeding flocks succeeding pastors nursed. 310
This was the way our wise Redeemer chose
(Who sure could all things for the best dispose),
To fence his fold from their encroaching foes.
He could have writ himself, but well foresaw
The event would be like that of Moses’ law;
Some difference would arise, some doubts remain,
Like those which yet the jarring Jews maintain.
No written laws can be so plain, so pure,
But wit may gloss, and malice may obscure;
Not those indited by his first command, 320
A prophet graved the text, an angel held his hand.
Thus faith was ere the written word appear’d,
And men believed not what they read, but heard.
But since the apostles could not be confined
To these, or those, but severally design’d
Their large commission round the world to blow,
To spread their faith, they spread their labours too.
Yet still their absent flock their pains did share;
They hearken’d still, for love produces care,
And, as mistakes arose, or discords fell, 330
Or bold seducers taught them to rebel,
As charity grew cold, or faction hot,
Or long neglect their lessons had forgot,
For all their wants they wisely did provide,
And preaching by epistles was supplied:
So great physicians cannot all attend,
But some they visit, and to some they send.
Yet all those letters were not writ to all;
Nor first intended but occasional,
Their absent sermons; nor if they contain 340
All needful doctrines, are those doctrines plain.
Clearness by frequent preaching must be wrought:
They writ but seldom, but they daily taught.
And what one saint has said of holy Paul,
“He darkly writ,” is true, applied to all.
For this obscurity could Heaven provide
More prudently than by a living guide,
As doubts arose, the difference to decide?
A guide was therefore needful, therefore made;
And, if appointed, sure to be obey’d. 350
Thus, with due reverence to the Apostle’s writ,
By which my sons are taught, to which submit;
I think those truths their sacred works contain,
The Church alone can certainly explain;
That following ages, leaning on the past,
May rest upon the Primitive at last.
Nor would I thence the Word no rule infer,
But none without the Church-interpreter.
Because, as I have urged before, ’tis mute,
And is itself the subject of dispute. 360
But what the Apostles their successors taught,
They to the next, from them to us is brought,
The undoubted sense which is in Scripture sought.
From hence the Church is arm’d, when errors rise,
To stop their entrance, and prevent surprise;
And, safe entrench’d within, her foes without defies.
By these all festering sores her Councils heal,
Which time or has disclosed, or shall reveal;
For discord cannot end without a last appeal.
Nor can a Council national decide, 370
But with subordination to her guide;
(I wish the cause were on that issue tried.)
Much less the Scripture; for suppose debate
Betwixt pretenders to a fair estate,
Bequeath’d by some legator’s last intent;
(Such is our dying Saviour’s Testament:)
The will is proved, is open’d, and is read;
The doubtful heirs their differing titles plead:
All vouch the words their interest to maintain,
And each pretends by those his cause is plain. 380
Shall then the Testament award the right?
No, that’s the Hungary for which they fight;
The field of battle, subject of debate;
The thing contended for, the fair estate.
The sense is intricate, ’tis only clear
What vowels and what consonants are there.
Therefore ’tis plain, its meaning must be tried
Before some judge appointed to decide.
Suppose, the fair apostate said, I grant,
The faithful flock some living guide should want, 390
Your arguments an endless chase pursue;
Produce this vaunted leader to our view,
This mighty Moses of the chosen crew.
The dame, who saw her fainting foe retired,
With force renew’d, to victory aspired;
And, looking upward to her kindred sky,
As once our Saviour own’d his Deity,
Pronounced his words:—“She whom ye seek am I,”
Nor less amazed this voice the Panther heard,
Than were those Jews to hear a God declared. 400
Then thus the matron modestly renew’d:
Let all your prophets and their sects be view’d,
And see to which of them yourselves think fit
The conduct of your conscience to submit:
Each proselyte would vote his doctor best,
With absolute exclusion to the rest:
Thus would your Polish diet disagree,
And end, as it began, in anarchy:
Yourself the fairest for election stand,
Because you seem crown-general of the land: 410
But soon against your superstitious lawn
Some Presbyterian sabre would be drawn:
In your establish’d laws of sovereignty
The rest some fundamental flaw would see,
And call rebellion gospel-liberty.
To Church-decrees your articles require
Submission modified, if not entire.
Homage denied, to censures you proceed:
But when Curtana20 will not do the deed.
You lay that pointless clergy-weapon by, 420
And to the laws, your sword of justice, fly.
Now this your sects the more unkindly take
(Those prying varlets hit the blots you make),
Because some ancient friends of yours declare,
Your only rule of faith the Scriptures are,
Interpreted by men of judgment sound,
Which every sect will for themselves expound;
Nor think less reverence to their doctors due
For sound interpretation, than to you.
If then, by able heads, are understood 430
Your brother prophets, who reform’d abroad;
Those able heads expound a wiser way,
That their own sheep their shepherd should obey.
But if you mean yourselves are only sound,
That doctrine turns the Reformation round,
And all the rest are false reformers found;
Because in sundry points you stand alone,
Not in communion join’d with any one;
And therefore must be all the Church, or none.
Then, till you have agreed whose judge is best, 440
Against this forced submission they protest:
While sound and sound a different sense explains,
Both play at hardhead till they break their brains;
And from their chairs each other’s force defy,
While unregarded thunders vainly fly.
I pass the rest, because your Church alone
Of all usurpers best could fill the throne.
But neither you, nor any sect beside,
For this high office can be qualified,
With necessary gifts required in such a guide. 450
For that which must direct the whole must be
Bound in one bond of faith and unity:
But all your several Churches disagree.
The consubstantiating Church and priest
Refuse communion to the Calvinist:
The French reform’d from preaching you restrain,
Because you judge their ordination vain;
And so they judge of yours, but donors must ordain.
In short, in doctrine, or in discipline,
Not one reform’d can with another join: 460
But all from each, as from damnation, fly;
No union they pretend, but in Non–Popery.
Nor, should their members in a Synod meet,
Could any Church presume to mount the seat,
Above the rest, their discords to decide;
None would obey, but each would be the guide:
And face to face dissensions would increase;
For only distance now preserves the peace.
All in their turns accusers, and accused:
Babel was never half so much confused: 470
What one can plead, the rest can plead as well;
For amongst equals lies no last appeal,
And all confess themselves are fallible.
Now since you grant some necessary guide,
All who can err are justly laid aside:
Because a trust so sacred to confer 476
Shows want of such a sure interpreter;
And how can he be needful who can err?
Then, granting that unerring guide we want,
That such there is you stand obliged to grant: 480
Our Saviour else were wanting to supply
Our needs, and obviate that necessity.
It then remains, the Church can only be
The guide, which owns unfailing certainty;
Or else you slip your hold, and change your side,
Relapsing from a necessary guide.
But this annex’d condition of the crown,
Immunity from errors, you disown;
Here then you shrink, and lay your weak pretensions down.
For petty royalties you raise debate; 490
But this unfailing universal state
You shun; nor dare succeed to such a glorious weight;
And for that cause those promises detest
With which our Saviour did his Church invest;
But strive to evade, and fear to find them true,
As conscious they were never meant to you:
All which the Mother Church asserts her own,
And with unrivall’d claim ascends the throne.
So, when of old the Almighty Father sate
In council, to redeem our ruin’d state, 500
Millions of millions, at a distance round,
Silent the sacred consistory crown’d,
To hear what mercy, mix’d with justice, could propound:
All prompt, with eager pity, to fulfil
The full extent of their Creator’s will.
But when the stern conditions were declared,
A mournful whisper through the host was heard,
And the whole hierarchy, with heads hung down,
Submissively declined the ponderous proffer’d crown.
Then, not till then, the Eternal Son from high 510
Rose in the strength of all the Deity:
Stood forth to accept the terms, and underwent
A weight which all the frame of heaven had bent.
Nor he himself could bear, but as Omnipotent.
Now, to remove the least remaining doubt,
That even the blear-eyed sects may find her out,
Behold what heavenly rays adorn her brows,
What from his wardrobe her beloved allows
To deck the wedding-day of his unspotted spouse.
Behold what marks of majesty she brings; 520
Richer than ancient heirs of eastern kings!
Her right hand holds the sceptre and the keys,
To show whom she commands, and who obeys:
With these to bind, or set the sinner free,
With that to assert spiritual royalty.
One in herself, not rent by schism,21 but sound,
Entire, one solid shining diamond;
Not sparkles shatter’d into sects like you:
One is the Church, and must be to be true:
One central principle of unity. 530
As undivided, so from errors free,
As one in faith, so one in sanctity.
Thus she, and none but she, the insulting rage
Of heretics opposed from age to age:
Still when the giant-brood invades her throne,
She stoops from heaven, and meets them half way down,
And with paternal thunder vindicates her crown.
But like Egyptian sorcerers you stand,
And vainly lift aloft your magic wand,
To sweep away the swarms of vermin from the land: 540
You could like them, with like infernal force,
Produce the plague, but not arrest the course.
But when the boils and blotches, with disgrace 543
And public scandal, sat upon the face,
Themselves attack’d, the Magi strove no more,
They saw God’s finger, and their fate deplore;
Themselves they could not cure of the dishonest sore.
Thus one, thus pure, behold her largely spread,
Like the fair ocean from her mother-bed;
From east to west triumphantly she rides, 550
All shores are water’d by her wealthy tides.
The Gospel-sound, diffused from pole to pole,
Where winds can carry, and where waves can roll,
The self-same doctrine of the sacred page
Convey’d to every clime, in every age.
Here let my sorrow give my satire place,
To raise new blushes on my British race;
Our sailing-ships like common sewers we use,
And through our distant colonies diffuse
The draught of dungeons, and the stench of stews, 560
Whom, when their home-bred honesty is lost,
We disembogue on some far Indian coast:
Thieves, panders, paillards,22 sins of every sort;
Those are the manufactures we export;
And these the missioners our zeal has made:
For, with my country’s pardon be it said,
Religion is the least of all our trade.
Yet some improve their traffic more than we;
For they on gain, their only god, rely,
And set a public price on piety. 570
Industrious of the needle and the chart,
They run full sail to their Japonian mart;
Prevention fear, and, prodigal of fame,
Sell all of Christian,23 to the very name;
Nor leave enough of that, to hide their naked shame.
Thus, of three marks, which in the Creed we view,
Not one of all can be applied to you: 577
Much less the fourth; in vain, alas! you seek
The ambitious title of Apostolic:
God-like descent! ’tis well your blood can be
Proved noble in the third or fourth degree:
For all of ancient that you had before,
(I mean what is not borrow’d from our store)
Was error fulminated o’er and o’er;
Old heresies condemn’d in ages past,
By care and time recover’d from the blast.
’Tis said with ease, but never can be proved,
The Church her old foundations has removed,
And built new doctrines on unstable sands:
Judge that, ye winds and rains: you proved her, yet she stands. 590
Those ancient doctrines charged on her for new,
Show when and how, and from what hands they grew.
We claim no power, when heresies grow bold,
To coin new faith, but still declare the old.
How else could that obscene disease be purged,
When controverted texts are vainly urged?
To prove tradition new, there’s somewhat more
Required, than saying, ’twas not used before.
Those monumental arms are never stirr’d,
Till schism or heresy call down Goliah’s sword. 600
Thus, what you call corruptions, are, in truth,
The first plantations of the Gospel’s youth;
Old standard faith: but cast your eyes again,
And view those errors which new sects maintain,
Or which of old disturb’d the Church’s peaceful reign;
And we can point each period of the time,
When they began, and who begot the crime;
Can calculate how long the eclipse endured,
Who interposed, what digits were obscured:
Of all which are already pass’d away, 610
We know the rise, the progress, and decay.
Despair at our foundations then to strike,
Till you can prove your faith Apostolic;
A limpid stream drawn from the native source;
Succession lawful in a lineal course.
Prove any Church, opposed to this our head,
So one, so pure, so unconfinedly spread,
Under one chief of the spiritual state,
The members all combined, and all subordinate.
Show such a seamless coat, from schism so free, 620
In no communion join’d with heresy.
If such a one you find, let truth prevail:
Till when your weights will in the balance fail:
A Church unprincipled kicks up the scale.
But if you cannot think (nor sure you can
Suppose in God what were unjust in man)
That He, the fountain of eternal grace,
Should suffer falsehood, for so long a space,
To banish truth, and to usurp her place:
That seven successive ages should be lost, 630
And preach damnation at their proper cost;
That all your erring ancestors should die,
Drown’d in the abyss of deep idolatry:
If piety forbid such thoughts to rise,
Awake, and open your unwilling eyes:
God hath left nothing for each age undone,
From this to that wherein he sent his Son:
Then think but well of him, and half your work is done.
See how his Church, adorn’d with every grace, 639
With open arms, a kind forgiving face,
Stands ready to prevent her long-lost son’s embrace.
Not more did Joseph o’er his brethren weep,
Nor less himself could from discovery keep,
When in the crowd of suppliants they were seen,
And in their crew his best-loved Benjamin.
That pious Joseph in the Church behold,
To feed your famine,24 and refuse your gold:
The Joseph you exiled, the Joseph whom you sold.
Thus, while with heavenly charity she spoke,
A streaming blaze the silent shadows broke; 650
Shot from the skies; a cheerful azure light:
The birds obscene to forests wing’d their flight,
And gaping graves received the wandering guilty sprite.
Such were the pleasing triumphs of the sky,
For James his late nocturnal victory;
The pledge of his Almighty Patron’s love,
The fireworks which his angels made above.
I saw myself the lambent easy light
Gild the brown horror, and dispel the night:
The messenger with speed the tidings bore; 660
News, which three labouring nations did restore;
But Heaven’s own Nuntius was arrived before.
By this, the Hind had reach’d her lonely cell,
And vapours rose, and dews unwholesome fell.
When she, by frequent observation wise,
As one who long on heaven had fix’d her eyes,
Discern’d a change of weather in the skies;
The western borders were with crimson spread,
The moon descending look’d all flaming red;
She thought good manners bound her to invite 670
The stranger dame to be her guest that night.
’Tis true, coarse diet, and a short repast,
(She said) were weak inducements to the taste
Of one so nicely bred, and so unused to fast:
But what plain fare her cottage could afford,
A hearty welcome at a homely board,
Was freely hers; and, to supply the rest,
An honest meaning, and an open breast:
Last, with content of mind, the poor man’s wealth,
A grace-cup to their common patron’s health. 680
This she desired her to accept, and stay
For fear she might be wilder’d in her way,
Because she wanted an unerring guide;
And then the dew-drops on her silken hide
Her tender constitution did declare,
Too lady-like a long fatigue to bear,
And rough inclemencies of raw nocturnal air.
But most she fear’d that, travelling so late,
Some evil-minded beasts might lie in wait,
And, without witness, wreak their hidden hate. 690
The Panther, though she lent a listening ear,
Had more of lion in her than to fear:
Yet, wisely weighing, since she had to deal
With many foes, their numbers might prevail,
Return’d her all the thanks she could afford,
And took her friendly hostess at her word:
Who, entering first her lowly roof, a shed
With hoary moss, and winding ivy spread,
Honest enough to hide an humble hermit’s head,
Thus graciously bespoke her welcome guest: 700
So might these walls, with your fair presence blest,
Become your dwelling-place of everlasting rest;
Not for a night, or quick revolving year;
Welcome an owner, not a sojourner.
This peaceful seat my poverty secures;
War seldom enters but where wealth allures:
Nor yet despise it; for this poor abode
Has oft received, and yet receives a God;
A God victorious of the Stygian race
Here laid his sacred limbs, and sanctified the place, 710
This mean retreat did mighty Pan contain:
Be emulous of him, and pomp disdain,
And dare not to debase your soul to gain.
The silent stranger stood amazed to see
Contempt of wealth, and wilful poverty:
And, though ill habits are not soon controll’d,
A while suspended her desire of gold.
But civilly drew in her sharpen’d paws,
Not violating hospitable laws;
And pacified her tail, and lick’d her frothy jaws. 720
The Hind did first her country cates provide;
Then couch’d herself securely by her side.
15 ‘Philistines:’ the Cromwellians, &c.]
16 ‘Younger lion:’ Charles II.]
17 ‘Priestly calves,’ &c.: this alludes to the Commons voting in 1641 that all deans, chapters, &c. should be abolished.]
18 ‘The Test:’ the Test Act, passed in 1672, enjoined the abjuration of the real presence in the sacrament.]
19 ‘Piles, &c.:’ the Roman arms —pili and eagles.]
20 ‘Curtana:’ the name of King Edward the Confessor’s sword, without a point, an emblem of mercy, and carried before the king at the coronation.]
21 ‘Not rent by schism:’ marks of the Catholic Church from the Nicene creed.]
22 ‘Paillards:’ a French word for licentious persons.]
23 ‘Sell all of Christian,’ &c.: it is said that the Dutch, in order to secure to themselves the whole trade of Japan, trample on the cross, and deny the name of Jesus.]
24 ‘Feed your famine:’ the renunciation of the Benedictines to the abbey lands.]
Much malice, mingled with a little wit,
Perhaps may censure this mysterious writ:
Because the Muse has peopled Caledon
With Panthers, Bears, and Wolves, and beasts unknown,
As if we were not stock’d with monsters of our own.
Let Æsop answer, who has set to view
Such kinds as Greece and Phrygia never knew;
And mother Hubbard,25 in her homely dress,
Has sharply blamed a British Lioness;
That queen, whose feast the factious rabble keep, 10
Exposed obscenely naked and asleep.
Led by those great examples, may not I
The wanted organs of their words supply?
If men transact like brutes, ’tis equal then
For brutes to claim the privilege of men.
Others our Hind of folly will indite,
To entertain a dangerous guest by night.
Let those remember, that she cannot die
Till rolling time is lost in round eternity;
Nor need she fear the Panther, though untamed, 20
Because the Lion’s peace26 was now proclaim’d:
The wary savage would not give offence,
To forfeit the protection of her prince;
But watch’d the time her vengeance to complete,
When all her furry sons in frequent senate met;
Meanwhile she quench’d her fury at the flood,
And with a lenten salad cool’d her blood.
Their commons, though but coarse, were nothing scant,
Nor did their minds an equal banquet want.
For now the Hind, whose noble nature strove 30
To express her plain simplicity of love,
Did all the honours of her house so well,
No sharp debates disturb’d the friendly meal.
She turn’d the talk, avoiding that extreme,
To common dangers past, a sadly-pleasing theme;
Remembering every storm which toss’d the state,
When both were objects of the public hate,
And dropp’d a tear betwixt for her own children’s fate.
Nor fail’d she then a full review to make
Of what the Panther suffer’d for her sake: 40
Her lost esteem, her truth, her loyal care,
Her faith unshaken to an exiled heir,27
Her strength to endure, her courage to defy;
Her choice of honourable infamy.
On these, prolixly thankful, she enlarged;
Then with acknowledgment herself she charged;
For friendship, of itself an holy tie,
Is made more sacred by adversity.
Now should they part, malicious tongues would say,
They met like chance companions on the way, 50
Whom mutual fear of robbers had possess’d;
While danger lasted, kindness was profess’d;
But that once o’er, the short-lived union ends;
The road divides, and there divide the friends.
The Panther nodded when her speech was done,
And thank’d her coldly in a hollow tone:
But said her gratitude had gone too far
For common offices of Christian care.
If to the lawful heir she had been true,
She paid but Cæsar what was Cæsar’s due. 60
I might, she added, with like praise describe
Your suffering sons, and so return your bribe:
But incense from my hands is poorly prized;
For gifts are scorn’d where givers are despised.
I served a turn, and then was cast away;
You, like the gaudy fly, your wings display,
And sip the sweets, and bask in your great patron’s day.
This heard, the matron was not slow to find
What sort of malady had seized her mind:
Disdain, with gnawing envy, fell despite, 70
And canker’d malice stood in open sight:
Ambition, interest, pride without control,
And jealousy, the jaundice of the soul;
Revenge, the bloody minister of ill,
With all the lean tormentors of the will.
’Twas easy now to guess from whence arose
Her new-made union with her ancient foes,
Her forced civilities, her faint embrace,
Affected kindness with an alter’d face:
Yet durst she not too deeply probe the wound, 80
As hoping still the nobler parts were sound:
But strove with anodynes to assuage the smart,
And mildly thus her medicine did impart.
Complaints of lovers help to ease their pain;
It shows a rest of kindness to complain;
A friendship loath to quit its former hold;
And conscious merit may be justly bold.
But much more just your jealousy would show,
If others’ good were injury to you:
Witness, ye heavens, how I rejoice to see 90
Rewarded worth and rising loyalty!
Your warrior offspring that upheld the crown.
The scarlet honour of your peaceful gown,
Are the most pleasing objects I can find,
Charms to my sight, and cordials to my mind:
When virtue spooms before a prosperous gale,
My heaving wishes help to fill the sail;
And if my prayers for all the brave were heard,
Cæsar should still have such, and such should still reward.
The labour’d earth your pains have sow’d and till’d; 100
’Tis just you reap the product of the field:
Yours be the harvest, ’tis the beggar’s gain
To glean the fallings of the loaded wain.
Such scatter’d ears as are not worth your care,
Your charity, for alms, may safely spare,
For alms are but the vehicles of prayer.
My daily bread is literally implored;
I have no barns nor granaries to hoard.
If Cæsar to his own his hand extends,
Say which of yours his charity offends: 110
You know he largely gives to more than are his friends.
Are you defrauded when he feeds the poor?
Our mite decreases nothing of your store.
I am but few, and by your fare you see
My crying sins are not of luxury.
Some juster motive sure your mind withdraws,
And makes you break our friendship’s holy laws;
For barefaced envy is too base a cause.
Show more occasion for your discontent;
Your love, the Wolf, would help you to invent: 120
Some German quarrel, or, as times go now,
Some French, where force is uppermost, will do.
When at the fountain’s head, as merit ought
To claim the place, you take a swilling draught,
How easy ’tis an envious eye to throw,
And tax the sheep for troubling streams below;
Or call her (when no farther cause you find)
An enemy possess’d of all your kind!
But then, perhaps, the wicked world would think,
The Wolf design’d to eat as well as drink. 130
This last allusion gall’d the Panther more,
Because indeed it rubb’d upon the sore.
Yet seem’d she not to wince, though shrewdly pain’d:
But thus her passive character maintain’d.
I never grudged, whate’er my foes report,
Your flaunting fortune in the Lion’s court.
You have your day, or you are much belied,
But I am always on the suffering side:
You know my doctrine, and I need not say,
I will not, but I cannot disobey. 140
On this firm principle I ever stood;
He of my sons who fails to make it good,
By one rebellious act renounces to my blood.
Ah, said the Hind, how many sons have you,
Who call you mother, whom you never knew!
But most of them who that relation plead,
Are such ungracious youths as wish you dead.
They gape at rich revenues which you hold,
And fain would nibble at your grandame Gold;
Inquire into your years, and laugh to find 150
Your crazy temper shows you much declined.
Were you not dim and doted, you might see
A pack of cheats that claim a pedigree,
No more of kin to you, than you to me.
Do you not know, that for a little coin,
Heralds can foist a name into the line?
They ask you blessing but for what you have;
But once possess’d of what with care you save,
The wanton boys would piss upon your grave.
Your sons of latitude that court your grace, 160
Though most resembling you in form and face.
Are far the worst of your pretended race.
And, but I blush your honesty to blot,
Pray God you prove them lawfully begot:
For in some Popish libels I have read,
The Wolf has been too busy in your bed;
At least her hinder parts, the belly-piece,
The paunch, and all that Scorpio claims, are his.
Their malice too a sore suspicion brings;
For though they dare not bark, they snarl at kings: 170
Nor blame them for intruding in your line;
Fat bishoprics are still of right divine.
Think you your new French proselytes28 are come
To starve abroad, because they starved at home?
Your benefices twinkled from afar;
They found the new Messiah by the star:
Those Swisses fight on any side for pay,
And ’tis the living that conforms, not they.
Mark with what management their tribes divide,
Some stick to you, and some to the other side, 180
That many churches may for many mouths provide.
More vacant pulpits would more converts make;
All would have latitude enough to take:
The rest unbeneficed your sects maintain;
For ordinations without cures are vain,
And chamber practice is a silent gain.
Your sons of breadth at home are much like these;
Their soft and yielding metals run with ease:
They melt, and take the figure of the mould;
But harden and preserve it best in gold. 190
Your Delphic sword, the Panther then replied,
Is double-edged, and cuts on either side.
Some sons of mine, who bear upon their shield
Three steeples argent in a sable field,
Have sharply tax’d your converts, who unfed
Have follow’d you for miracles of bread;
Such who themselves of no religion are,
Allured with gain, for any will declare.
Bare lies with bold assertions they can face;
But dint of argument is out of place. 200
The grim logician puts them in a fright;
’Tis easier far to flourish than to fight.
Thus our eighth Henry’s marriage they defame;
They say the schism of beds began the game,
Divorcing from the Church to wed the dame:
Though largely proved, and by himself profess’d,
That conscience, conscience would not let him rest:
I mean, not till possess’d of her he loved,
And old, uncharming Catherine was removed.
For sundry years before he did complain, 210
And told his ghostly confessor his pain.
With the same impudence without a ground,
They say, that look the Reformation round,
No Treatise of Humility is found.
But if none were, the gospel does not want;
Our Saviour preach’d it, and I hope you grant,
The Sermon on the Mount was Protestant.
No doubt, replied the Hind, as sure as all
The writings of Saint Peter and Saint Paul:
On that decision let it stand or fall. 220
Now for my converts, who, you say, unfed,
Have follow’d me for miracles of bread;
Judge not by hearsay, but observe at least,
If since their change their loaves have been increased.
The Lion buys no converts; if he did,
Beasts would be sold as fast as he could bid.
Tax those of interest who conform for gain,
Or stay the market of another reign:
Your broad-way sons would never be too nice
To close with Calvin, if he paid their price; 230
But, raised three steeples higher, would change their note,
And quit the cassock for the canting-coat.
Now, if you damn this censure, as too bold,
Judge by yourselves, and think not others sold.
Meantime my sons, accused by fame’s report,
Pay small attendance at the Lion’s court,
Nor rise with early crowds, nor flatter late;
For silently they beg who daily wait.
Preferment is bestow’d, that comes unsought;
Attendance is a bribe, and then ’tis bought. 240
How they should speed, their fortune is untried;
For not to ask, is not to be denied.
For what they have, their God and king they bless,
And hope they should not murmur, had they less.
But if reduced, subsistence to implore,
In common prudence they should pass your door.
Unpitied Hudibras,29 your champion friend,
Has shown how far your charities extend.
This lasting verse shall on his tomb be read,
“He shamed you living, and upbraids you dead.” 250
With odious atheist names30 you load your foes;
Your liberal clergy why did I expose?
It never fails in charities like those.
In climes where true religion is profess’d,
That imputation were no laughing jest.
But imprimatur,31 with a chaplain’s name,
Is here sufficient licence to defame.
What wonder is’t that black detraction thrives?
The homicide of names is less than lives;
And yet the perjured murderer survives. 260
This said, she paused a little, and suppress’d
The boiling indignation of her breast.
She knew the virtue of her blade, nor would
Pollute her satire with ignoble blood:
Her panting foe she saw before her eye,
And back she drew the shining weapon dry.
So when the generous Lion has in sight
His equal match, he rouses for the fight;
But when his foe lies prostrate on the plain,
He sheaths his paws, uncurls his angry mane, 270
And, pleased with bloodless honours of the day,
Walks over and disdains the inglorious prey.
So James, if great with less we may compare,
Arrests his rolling thunderbolts in air!
And grants ungrateful friends a lengthen’d space,
To implore the remnants of long-suffering grace.
This breathing-time the matron took; and then
Resumed the thread of her discourse again.
Be vengeance wholly left to powers divine,
And let Heaven judge betwixt your sons and mine: 280
If joys hereafter must be purchased here
With loss of all that mortals hold so dear,
Then welcome infamy and public shame,
And, last, a long farewell to worldly fame.
’Tis said with ease, but, oh, how hardly tried
By haughty souls to human honour tied!
O sharp convulsive pangs of agonizing pride!
Down then, thou rebel, never more to rise,
And what thou didst, and dost, so dearly prize,
That fame, that darling fame, make that thy sacrifice. 290
’Tis nothing thou hast given, then add thy tears
For a long race of unrepenting years:
’Tis nothing yet, yet all thou hast to give:
Then add those may-be years thou hast to live:
Yet nothing still; then poor, and naked come:
Thy father will receive his unthrift home,
And thy blest Saviour’s blood discharge the mighty sum.
Thus (she pursued) I discipline a son,
Whose uncheck’d fury to revenge would run:
He champs the bit, impatient of his loss, 300
And starts aside, and flounders at the Cross.
Instruct him better, gracious God, to know,
As thine is vengeance, so forgiveness too:
That, suffering from ill tongues, he bears no more
Than what his sovereign bears, and what his Saviour bore.
It now remains for you to school your child,
And ask why God’s anointed he reviled;
A king and princess dead! did Shimei worse?
The cursor’s punishment should fright the curse:
Your son was warn’d, and wisely gave it o’er, 310
But he who counsell’d him has paid the score:
The heavy malice could no higher tend,
But woe to him on whom the weights descend.
So to permitted ills the Demon flies;
His rage is aim’d at him who rules the skies:
Constrain’d to quit his cause, no succour found,
The foe discharges every tire around,
In clouds of smoke abandoning the fight;
But his own thundering peals proclaim his flight.
In Henry’s change his charge as ill succeeds; 320
To that long story little answer needs:
Confront but Henry’s words with Henry’s deeds.
Were space allow’d, with ease it might be proved,
What springs his blessed Reformation moved.
The dire effects appear’d in open sight,
Which from the cause he calls a distant flight,
And yet no larger leap than from the sun to light.
Now let your sons a double pæan sound,
A Treatise of Humility is found.
’Tis found, but better it had ne’er been sought, 330
Than thus in Protestant procession brought.
The famed original through Spain is known,
Rodriguez’ work, my celebrated son,
Which yours, by ill-translating, made his own;
Conceal’d its author, and usurp’d the name,
The basest and ignoblest theft of fame.
My altars kindled first that living coal;
Restore, or practice better, what you stole:
That virtue could this humble verse inspire,
’Tis all the restitution I require. 340
Glad was the Panther that the charge was closed,
And none of all her favourite sons exposed.
For laws of arms permit each injured man,
To make himself a saver where he can.
Perhaps the plunder’d merchant cannot tell
The names of pirates in whose hands he fell;
But at the den of thieves he justly flies,
And every Algerine is lawful prize.
No private person in the foe’s estate
Can plead exemption from the public fate. 350
Yet Christian laws allow not such redress;
Then let the greater supersede the less.
But let the abettors of the Panther’s crime
Learn to make fairer wars another time.
Some characters may sure be found to write
Among her sons; for ’tis no common sight,
A spotted dam, and all her offspring white.
The savage, though she saw her plea controll’d,
Yet would not wholly seem to quit her hold,
But offer’d fairly to compound the strife, 360
And judge conversion by the convert’s life.
’Tis true, she said, I think it somewhat strange,
So few should follow profitable change:
For present joys are more to flesh and blood,
Than a dull prospect of a distant good.
’Twas well alluded by a son of mine
(I hope to quote him is not to purloin),
Two magnets, heaven and earth, allure to bliss;
The larger loadstone that, the nearer this:
The weak attraction of the greater fails; 370
We nod a while, but neighbourhood prevails:
But when the greater proves the nearer too,
I wonder more your converts come so slow.
Methinks in those who firm with me remain,
It shows a nobler principle than gain.
Your inference would be strong, the Hind replied,
If yours were in effect the suffering side:
Your clergy’s sons their own in peace possess,
Nor are their prospects in reversion less.
My proselytes are struck with awful dread; 380
Your bloody comet-laws hang blazing o’er their head;
The respite they enjoy but only lent,
The best they have to hope, protracted punishment.
Be judge yourself, if interest may prevail,
Which motives, yours or mine, will turn the scale.
While pride and pomp allure, and plenteous ease,
That is, till man’s predominant passions cease,
Admire no longer at my slow increase.
By education most have been misled;
So they believe, because they so were bred. 390
The priest continues what the nurse began,
And thus the child imposes on the man.
The rest I named before, nor need repeat:
But interest is the most prevailing cheat,
The sly seducer both of age and youth;
They study that, and think they study truth.
When interest fortifies an argument,
Weak reason serves to gain the will’s assent;
For souls, already warp’d, receive an easy bent.
Add long prescription of establish’d laws, 400
And pique of honour to maintain a cause,
And shame of change, and fear of future ill,
And zeal, the blind conductor of the will;
And chief among the still-mistaking crowd,
The fame of teachers obstinate and proud,
And, more than all, the private judge allow’d;
Disdain of Fathers which the dance began,
And last, uncertain whose the narrower span,
The clown unread, and half-read gentleman.
To this the Panther, with a scornful smile: 410
Yet still you travel with unwearied toil,
And range around the realm without control,
Among my sons for proselytes to prowl,
And here and there you snap some silly soul.
You hinted fears of future change in state;
Pray heaven you did not prophesy your fate!
Perhaps you think your time of triumph near,
But may mistake the season of the year;
The Swallow’s32 fortune gives you cause to fear.
For charity, replied the matron, tell 420
What sad mischance those pretty birds befell.
Nay, no mischance, the savage dame replied,
But want of wit in their unerring guide,
And eager haste, and gaudy hopes, and giddy pride.
Yet, wishing timely warning may prevail,
Make you the moral, and I’ll tell the tale.
The Swallow, privileged above the rest
Of all the birds, as man’s familiar guest,
Pursues the sun in summer, brisk and bold,
But wisely shuns the persecuting cold: 430
Is well to chancels and to chimneys known,
Though ’tis not thought she feeds on smoke alone.
From hence she has been held of heavenly line,
Endued with particles of soul divine.
This merry chorister had long possess’d
Her summer seat, and feather’d well her nest:
Till frowning skies began to change their cheer,
And time turn’d up the wrong side of the year;
The shedding trees began the ground to strow
With yellow leaves, and bitter blasts to blow. 440
Sad auguries of winter thence she drew,
Which by instinct, or prophecy, she knew:
When prudence warn’d her to remove betimes,
And seek a better heaven, and warmer climes.
Her sons were summon’d on a steeple’s height,
And, call’d in common council, vote a flight;
The day was named, the next that should be fair:
All to the general rendezvous repair,
They try their fluttering wings, and trust themselves in air.
But whether upward to the moon they go, 450
Or dream the winter out in caves below,
Or hawk at flies elsewhere, concerns us not to know.
Southwards, you may be sure, they bent their flight,
And harbour’d in a hollow rock at night:
Next morn they rose, and set up every sail;
The wind was fair, but blew a mackerel gale:
The sickly young sat shivering on the shore,
Abhorr’d salt water never seen before,
And pray’d their tender mothers to delay
The passage, and expect a fairer day. 460
With these the Martin readily concurr’d,
A church-begot, and church-believing bird;
Of little body, but of lofty mind,
Round-bellied, for a dignity design’d,
And much a dunce, as Martins are by kind.
Yet often quoted Canon-laws, and Code,
And Fathers which he never understood;
But little learning needs in noble blood.
For, sooth to say, the Swallow brought him in,
Her household chaplain, and her next of kin: 470
In superstition silly to excess,
And casting schemes by planetary guess:
In fine, short-wing’d, unfit himself to fly,
His fears foretold foul weather in the sky.
Besides, a Raven from a wither’d oak,
Left of their lodging, was observed to croak.
That omen liked him not; so his advice
Was present safety, bought at any price;
A seeming pious care, that cover’d cowardice.
To strengthen this, he told a boding dream 480
Of rising waters, and a troubled stream,
Sure signs of anguish, dangers, and distress,
With something more, not lawful to express:
By which he slily seem’d to intimate
Some secret revelation of their fate.
For he concluded, once upon a time,
He found a leaf inscribed with sacred rhyme,
Whose antique characters did well denote
The Sibyl’s hand of the Cumæan grot:
The mad divineress had plainly writ, 490
A time should come (but many ages yet),
In which, sinister destinies ordain,
A dame should drown with all her feather’d train,
And seas from thence be call’d the Chelidonian main.
At this, some shook for fear, the more devout
Arose, and bless’d themselves from head to foot.
’Tis true, some stagers of the wiser sort
Made all these idle wonderments their sport:
They said, their only danger was delay,
And he, who heard what every fool could say, 500
Would never fix his thought, but trim his time away.
The passage yet was good; the wind, ’tis true,
Was somewhat high, but that was nothing new,
No more than usual equinoxes blew.
The sun, already from the Scales declined,
Gave little hopes of better days behind,
But change, from bad to worse, of weather and of wind.
Nor need they fear the dampness of the sky
Should flag their wings, and hinder them to fly
’Twas only water thrown on sails too dry. 510
But, least of all, philosophy presumes
Of truth in dreams, from melancholy fumes:
Perhaps the Martin, housed in holy ground,
Might think of ghosts that walk their midnight round,
Till grosser atoms, tumbling in the stream
Of fancy, madly met, and clubb’d into a dream:
As little weight his vain presages bear,
Of ill effect to such alone who fear:
Most prophecies are of a piece with these,
Each Nostradamus can foretell with ease: 520
Not naming persons, and confounding times,
One casual truth supports a thousand lying rhymes.
The advice was true; but fear had seized the most,
And all good counsel is on cowards lost.
The question crudely put to shun delay,
’Twas carried by the major part to stay.
His point thus gain’d, Sir Martin dated thence
His power, and from a priest became a prince.
He order’d all things with a busy care,
And cells and refectories did prepare, 530
And large provisions laid of winter fare:
But now and then let fall a word or two
Of hope, that Heaven some miracle might show,
And for their sakes the sun should backward go;
Against the laws of nature upward climb, 535
And, mounted on the Ram, renew the prime:
For which two proofs in sacred story lay,
Of Ahaz’ dial, and of Joshua’s day.
In expectation of such times as these,
A chapel housed them, truly call’d of ease: 540
For Martin much devotion did not ask:
They pray’d sometimes, and that was all their task.
It happen’d, as beyond the reach of wit
Blind prophecies may have a lucky hit,
That this accomplish’d, or at least in part,
Gave great repute to their new Merlin’s art.
Some Swifts, the giants of the Swallow kind,
Large-limb’d, stout-hearted, but of stupid mind
(For Swisses, or for Gibeonites design’d),
These lubbers, peeping through a broken pane, 550
To suck fresh air, survey’d the neighbouring plain;
And saw (but scarcely could believe their eyes)
New blossoms flourish, and new flowers arise;
As God had been abroad, and, walking there,
Had left his footsteps, and reform’d the year:
The sunny hills from far were seen to glow
With glittering beams, and in the meads below
The burnish’d brooks appear’d with liquid gold to flow.
At last they heard the foolish Cuckoo sing,
Whose note proclaim’d the holiday of spring. 560
No longer doubting, all prepare to fly,
And repossess their patrimonial sky.
The priest before them did his wings display;
And that good omens might attend their way,
As luck would have it, ’twas St Martin’s day.
Who but the Swallow triumphs now alone?
The canopy of heaven is all her own:
Her youthful offspring to their haunts repair,
And glide along in glades, and skim in air,
And dip for insects in the purling springs, 570
And stoop on rivers to refresh their wings.
Their mothers think a fair provision made,
That every son can live upon his trade:
And, now the careful charge is off their hands,
Look out for husbands, and new nuptial bands:
The youthful widow longs to be supplied;
But first the lover is by lawyers tied
To settle jointure-chimneys on the bride.
So thick they couple, in so short a space,
That Martin’s marriage-offerings rise apace.
Their ancient houses running to decay,
Are furbish’d up, and cemented with clay; 580
They teem already; store of eggs are laid,
And brooding mothers call Lucina’s aid.
Fame spreads the news, and foreign fowls appear
In flocks to greet the new returning year,
To bless the founder, and partake the cheer.
And now ’twas time (so fast their numbers rise)
To plant abroad, and people colonies.
The youth drawn forth, as Martin had desired 590
(For so their cruel destiny required),
Were sent far off on an ill-fated day;
The rest would needs conduct them on their way,
And Martin went, because he fear’d alone to stay.
So long they flew with inconsiderate haste,
That now their afternoon began to waste;
And, what was ominous, that very morn
The sun was enter’d into Capricorn;
Which, by their bad astronomer’s account,
That week the Virgin balance should remount. 600
An infant moon eclipsed him in his way,
And hid the small remainders of his day.
The crowd, amazed, pursued no certain mark;
But birds met birds, and jostled in the dark:
Few mind the public in a panic fright;
And fear increased the horror of the night.
Night came, but unattended with repose;
Alone she came, no sleep their eyes to close:
Alone, and black she came; no friendly stars arose.
What should they do, beset with dangers round, 610
No neighbouring dorp,33 no lodging to be found,
But bleaky plains, and bare unhospitable ground.
The latter brood, who just began to fly,
Sick-feather’d, and unpractised in the sky,
For succour to their helpless mother call:
She spread her wings; some few beneath them crawl;
She spread them wider yet, but could not cover all.
To augment their woes, the winds began to move,
Debate in air, for empty fields above,
Till Boreas got the skies, and pour’d amain 620
His rattling hailstones mix’d with snow and rain.
The joyless morning late arose, and found
A dreadful desolation reign around —
Some buried in the snow, some frozen to the ground.
The rest were struggling still with death, and lay
The Crows’ and Ravens’ rights, an undefended prey:
Excepting Martin’s race; for they and he
Had gain’d the shelter of a hollow tree:
But soon discover’d by a sturdy clown,
He headed all the rabble of a town, 630
And finish’d them with bats, or poll’d them down.
Martin himself was caught alive, and tried
For treasonous crimes, because the laws provide
No Martin there in winter shall abide.
High on an oak, which never leaf shall bear,
He breathed his last, exposed to open air;
And there his corpse, unbless’d, is hanging still,
To show the change of winds with his prophetic bill.
The patience of the Hind did almost fail;
For well she mark’d the malice of the tale;34 640
Which ribald art their Church to Luther owes;
In malice it began, by malice grows;
He sow’d the Serpent’s teeth, an iron-harvest rose.
But most in Martin’s character and fate,
She saw her slander’d sons, the Panther’s hate,
The people’s rage, the persecuting state:
Then said, I take the advice in friendly part;
You clear your conscience, or at least your heart:
Perhaps you fail’d in your foreseeing skill,
For Swallows are unlucky birds to kill: 650
As for my sons, the family is bless’d,
Whose every child is equal to the rest;
No Church reform’d can boast a blameless line;
Such Martins build in yours, and more than mine:
Or else an old fanatic35 author lies,
Who summ’d their scandals up by centuries.
But through your parable I plainly see
The bloody laws, the crowd’s barbarity;
The sunshine that offends the purblind sight:
Had some their wishes, it would soon be night. 660
Mistake me not; the charge concerns not you:
Your sons are malcontents, but yet are true,
As far as non-resistance makes them so;
But that’s a word of neutral sense, you know,
A passive term, which no relief will bring,
But trims betwixt a rebel and a king.
Rest well assured, the Pardelis replied,
My sons would all support the regal side,
Though Heaven forbid the cause by battle should be tried.
The matron answer’d with a loud Amen, 670
And thus pursued her argument again.
If, as you say, and as I hope no less,
Your sons will practise what yourselves profess,
What angry power prevents our present peace?
The Lion, studious of our common good,
Desires (and kings’ desires are ill withstood)
To join our nations in a lasting love;
The bars betwixt are easy to remove;
For sanguinary laws were never made above.
If you condemn that prince of tyranny, 680
Whose mandate forced your Gallic friends to fly,
Make not a worse example of your own;
Or cease to rail at causeless rigour shown,
And let the guiltless person throw the stone.
His blunted sword your suffering brotherhood
Have seldom felt; he stops it short of blood:
But you have ground the persecuting knife,
And set it to a razor edge on life.
Cursed be the wit, which cruelty refines,
Or to his father’s rod the scorpion’s joins! 690
Your finger is more gross than the great monarch’s loins.
But you, perhaps, remove that bloody note,
And stick it on the first reformer’s coat.
Oh, let their crime in long oblivion sleep!
’Twas theirs indeed to make, ’tis yours to keep.
Unjust, or just, is all the question now;
’Tis plain, that not repealing you allow.
To name the Test would put you in a rage;
You charge not that on any former age,
But smile to think how innocent you stand, 700
Arm’d by a weapon put into your hand,
Yet still remember that you wield a sword
Forged by your foes against your sovereign lord;
Design’d to hew the imperial cedar down,
Defraud succession, and dis-heir the crown.
To abhor the makers, and their laws approve,
Is to hate traitors, and the treason love.
What means it else, which now your children say,
We made it not, nor will we take away?
Suppose some great oppressor had by slight 710
Of law, disseised your brother of his right,
Your common sire surrendering in a fright;
Would you to that unrighteous title stand,
Left by the villain’s will to heir the land?
More just was Judas, who his Saviour sold;
The sacrilegious bribe he could not hold,
Nor hang in peace, before he render’d back the gold.
What more could you have done, than now you do,
Had Oates and Bedlow, and their plot been true?
Some specious reasons for those wrongs were found; 720
Their dire magicians threw their mists around,
And wise men walk’d as on enchanted ground.
But now when time has made the imposture plain
(Late though he follow’d truth, and limping held her train),
What new delusion charms your cheated eyes again?
The painted harlot might a while bewitch,
But why the hag uncased, and all obscene with itch?
The first Reformers were a modest race;
Our peers possess’d in peace their native place;
And when rebellious arms o’erturn’d the state, 730
They suffer’d only in the common fate:
But now the Sovereign mounts the regal chair,
And mitred seats are full, yet David’s bench is bare.
Your answer is, they were not dispossess’d;
They need but rub their metal on the test
To prove their ore: ’twere well if gold alone
Were touch’d and tried on your discerning stone;
But that unfaithful Test unsound will pass
The dross of atheists, and sectarian brass:
As if the experiment were made to hold 740
For base production, and reject the gold.
Thus men ungodded may to places rise,
And sects may be preferr’d without disguise:
No danger to the Church or State from these;
The Papist only has his writ of ease.
No gainful office gives him the pretence
To grind the subject, or defraud the prince.
Wrong conscience, or no conscience, may deserve
To thrive, but ours alone is privileged to starve.
Still thank yourselves, you cry; your noble race 750
We banish not, but they forsake the place;
Our doors are open: true, but ere they come,
You toss your ‘censing Test, and fume the room;
As if ’twere Toby’s36 rival to expel,
And fright the fiend who could not bear the smell.
To this the Panther sharply had replied;
But having gain’d a verdict on her side,
She wisely gave the loser leave to chide;
Well satisfied to have the But and Peace,
And for the plaintiff’s cause she cared the less, 760
Because she sued in forma pauperis;
Yet thought it decent something should be said;
For secret guilt by silence is betray’d.
So neither granted all, nor much denied,
But answer’d with a yawning kind of pride:
Methinks such terms of proffer’d peace you bring,
As once Æneas to the Italian king:
By long possession all the land is mine;
You strangers come with your intruding line,
To share my sceptre, which you call to join. 770
You plead, like him, an ancient pedigree,
And claim a peaceful seat by fate’s decree.
In ready pomp your sacrificer stands,
To unite the Trojan and the Latin bands,
And, that the league more firmly may be tied,
Demand the fair Lavinia for your bride.
Thus plausibly you veil the intended wrong,
But still you bring your exiled gods along;
And will endeavour, in succeeding space,
Those household puppets on our hearths to place. 780
Perhaps some barbarous laws have been preferr’d;
I spake against the Test, but was not heard;
These to rescind, and peerage to restore,
My gracious Sovereign would my vote implore:
I owe him much, but owe my conscience more.
Conscience is then your plea, replied the dame,
Which, well inform’d, will ever be the same.
But yours is much of the chameleon hue,
To change the dye with every distant view.
When first the Lion sat with awful sway, 790
Your conscience taught your duty to obey:
He might have had your Statutes and your Test;
No conscience but of subjects was profess’d.
He found your temper, and no farther tried,
But on that broken reed, your Church, relied.
In vain the sects assay’d their utmost art,
With offer’d treasure to espouse their part;
Their treasures were a bribe too mean to move his heart.
But when, by long experience, you had proved,
How far he could forgive, how well he loved; 800
A goodness that excell’d his godlike race,
And only short of Heaven’s unbounded grace;
A flood of mercy that o’erflow’d our isle,
Calm in the rise, and fruitful as the Nile;
Forgetting whence our Egypt was supplied,
You thought your sovereign bound to send the tide:
Nor upward look’d on that immortal spring,
But vainly deem’d, he durst not be a king:
Then Conscience, unrestrain’d by fear, began
To stretch her limits, and extend the span; 810
Did his indulgence as her gift dispose,
And made a wise alliance with her foes.
Can Conscience own the associating name,
And raise no blushes to conceal her shame?
For sure she has been thought a bashful dame.
But if the cause by battle should be tried,
You grant she must espouse the regal side:
O Proteous Conscience, never to be tied!
What Phoebus from the Tripod shall disclose,
Which are, in last resort, your friends or foes? 820
Homer, who learn’d the language of the sky,
The seeming Gordian knot would soon untie;
Immortal powers the term of Conscience know,
But Interest is her name with men below.
Conscience or Interest be ‘t, or both in one,
The Panther answer’d in a surly tone,
The first commands me to maintain the crown,
The last forbids to throw my barriers down.
Our penal laws no sons of yours admit,
Our Test excludes your tribe from benefit. 830
These are my banks your ocean to withstand,
Which, proudly rising, overlooks the land;
And, once let in, with unresisted sway,
Would sweep the pastors and their flocks away.
Think not my judgment leads me to comply
With laws unjust, but hard necessity;
Imperious need, which cannot be withstood,
Makes ill authentic, for a greater good.
Possess your soul with patience, and attend:
A more auspicious planet may ascend; 840
Good fortune may present some happier time,
With means to cancel my unwilling crime;
(Unwilling, witness all ye Powers above!)
To mend my errors, and redeem your love:
That little space you safely may allow;
Your all-dispensing power protects you now.
Hold, said the Hind, ’tis needless to explain;
You would postpone me to another reign;
Till when you are content to be unjust:
Your part is to possess, and mine to trust. 850
A fair exchange proposed of future chance,
For present profit and inheritance.
Few words will serve to finish our dispute;
Who will not now repeal, would persecute.
To ripen green revenge your hopes attend,
Wishing that happier planet would ascend.
For shame let Conscience be your plea no more:
To will hereafter, proves she might before;
But she’s a bawd to gain, and holds the door.
Your care about your banks infers a fear 860
Of threatening floods and inundations near;
If so, a just reprise would only be
Of what the land usurp’d upon the sea;
And all your jealousies but serve to show
Your ground is, like your neighbour-nation, low.
To intrench in what you grant unrighteous laws,
Is to distrust the justice of your cause;
And argues that the true religion lies
In those weak adversaries you despise.
Tyrannic force is that which least you fear; 700
The sound is frightful in a Christian’s ear:
Avert it, Heaven! nor let that plague be sent
To us from the dispeopled continent.
But piety commands me to refrain;
Those prayers are needless in this monarch’s reign.
Behold! how he protects your friends oppress’d,
Receives the banish’d, succours the distress’d:
Behold, for you may read an honest open breast.
He stands in day-light, and disdains to hide
An act, to which by honour he is tied, 880
A generous, laudable, and kingly pride.
Your Test he would repeal, his peers restore;
This when he says he means, he means no more.
Well, said the Panther, I believe him just,
And yet ——
And yet, ’tis but because you must;
You would be trusted, but you would not trust.
The Hind thus briefly; and disdain’d to enlarge
On power of kings, and their superior charge,
As Heaven’s trustees before the people’s choice: 890
Though sure the Panther did not much rejoice
To hear those echoes given of her once loyal voice.
The matron woo’d her kindness to the last,
But could not win; her hour of grace was past.
Whom, thus persisting, when she could not bring
To leave the Wolf, and to believe her king,
She gave her up, and fairly wish’d her joy
Of her late treaty with her new ally:
Which well she hoped would more successful prove,
Than was the Pigeon’s and the Buzzard’s love. 900
The Panther ask’d what concord there could be
Betwixt two kinds whose natures disagree?
The dame replied: ’Tis sung in every street,
The common chat of gossips when they meet;
But, since unheard by you, ’tis worth your while
To take a wholesome tale, though told in homely style.
A plain good man,37 whose name is understood
(So few deserve the name of plain and good),
Of three fair lineal lordships stood possess’d,
And lived, as reason was, upon the best. 910
Inured to hardships from his early youth,
Much had he done, and suffer’d for his truth:
At land and sea, in many a doubtful fight,
Was never known a more adventurous knight,
Who oftener drew his sword, and always for the right.
As fortune would (his fortune came, though late)
He took possession of his just estate:
Nor rack’d his tenants with increase of rent;
Nor lived too sparing, nor too largely spent;
But overlook’d his hinds; their pay was just, 920
And ready, for he scorn’d to go on trust:
Slow to resolve, but in performance quick;
So true, that he was awkward at a trick.
For little souls on little shifts rely,
And coward arts of mean expedients try;
The noble mind will dare do anything but lie.
False friends, his deadliest foes, could find no way
But shows of honest bluntness, to betray:
That unsuspected plainness he believed;
He looked into himself, and was deceived. 930
Some lucky planet sure attends his birth,
Or Heaven would make a miracle on earth;
For prosperous honesty is seldom seen
To bear so dead a weight, and yet to win.
It looks as fate with nature’s law would strive,
To show plain-dealing once an age may thrive:
And, when so tough a frame she could not bend,
Exceeded her commission to befriend.
This grateful man, as Heaven increased his store.
Gave God again, and daily fed his poor. 940
His house with all convenience was purvey’d;
The rest he found, but raised the fabric where he pray’d;
And in that sacred place his beauteous wife
Employ’d her happiest hours of holy life.
Nor did their alms extend to those alone,
Whom common faith more strictly made their own;
A sort of Doves38 were housed too near their hall,
Who cross the proverb, and abound with gall.
Though some, ’tis true, are passively inclined,
The greater part degenerate from their kind; 950
Voracious birds, that hotly bill and breed,
And largely drink, because on salt they feed.
Small gain from them their bounteous owner draws;
Yet, bound by promise, he supports their cause,
As corporations privileged by laws.
That house which harbour to their kind affords,
Was built, long since, God knows for better birds;
But fluttering there, they nestle near the throne,
And lodge in habitations not their own,
By their high crops and corny gizzards known. 960
Like Harpies, they could scent a plenteous board,
Then to be sure they never fail’d their lord:
The rest was form, and bare attendance paid;
They drank, and ate, and grudgingly obey’d.
The more they fed, they raven’d still for more;
They drain’d from Dan, and left Beersheba poor.
All this they had by law, and none repined;
The preference was but due to Levi’s kind;
But when some lay-preferment fell by chance,
The gourmands made it their inheritance. 970
When once possess’d, they never quit their claim;
For then ’tis sanctified to Heaven’s high name;
And, hallow’d thus, they cannot give consent,
The gift should be profaned by worldly management.
Their flesh was never to the table served;
Though ’tis not thence inferr’d the birds were starved;
But that their master did not like the food,
As rank, and breeding melancholy blood.
Nor did it with his gracious nature suit,
Even though they were not Doves, to persecute: 980
Yet he refused (nor could they take offence)
Their glutton kind should teach him abstinence.
Nor consecrated grain their wheat he thought,
Which, new from treading, in their bills they brought:
But left his hinds each in his private power,
That those who like the bran might leave the flour.
He for himself, and not for others, chose,
Nor would he be imposed on, nor impose;
But in their faces his devotion paid,
And sacrifice with solemn rites was made, 990
And sacred incense on his altars laid.
Besides these jolly birds, whose corpse impure
Repaid their commons with their salt-manure;
Another farm39 he had behind his house,
Not overstock’d, but barely for his use:
Wherein his poor domestic poultry fed,
And from his pious hands received their bread.
Our pamper’d Pigeons, with malignant eyes,
Beheld these inmates, and their nurseries:
Though hard their fare, at evening, and at morn, 1000
A cruise of water and an ear of corn;
Yet still they grudged that modicum, and thought
A sheaf in every single grain was brought.
Fain would they filch that little food away,
While unrestrain’d those happy gluttons prey.
And much they grieved to see so nigh their hall,
The bird that warn’d St Peter of his fall;
That he should raise his mitred crest on high,
And clap his wings, and call his family
To sacred rites; and vex the ethereal powers 1010
With midnight matins at uncivil hours:
Nay more, his quiet neighbours should molest,
Just in the sweetness of their morning rest.
Beast of a bird, supinely when he might
Lie snug and sleep, to rise before the light!
What if his dull forefathers used that cry,
Could he not let a bad example die?
The world was fallen into an easier way;
This age knew better than to fast and pray.
Good sense in sacred worship would appear 1020
So to begin, as they might end the year.
Such feats in former times had wrought the falls
Of crowing Chanticleers40 in cloister’d walls.
Expell’d for this, and for their lands, they fled;
And sister Partlet,41 with her hooded head,
Was hooted hence, because she would not pray a-bed.
The way to win the restive world to God,
Was to lay by the disciplining rod,
Unnatural fasts, and foreign forms of prayer:
Religion frights us with a mien severe. 1030
’Tis prudence to reform her into ease,
And put her in undress to make her please;
A lively faith will bear aloft the mind,
And leave the luggage of good works behind.
Such doctrines in the Pigeon-house were taught:
You need not ask how wondrously they wrought:
But sure the common cry was all for these,
Whose life and precepts both encouraged ease.
Yet fearing those alluring baits might fail,
And holy deeds o’er all their arts prevail; 1040
(For vice, though frontless, and of harden’d face,
Is daunted at the sight of awful grace;)
An hideous figure of their foes they drew,
Nor lines, nor looks, nor shades, nor colours true;
And this grotesque design exposed to public view.
One would have thought it some Egyptian piece,
With garden-gods, and barking deities,
More thick than Ptolemy has stuck the skies.
All so perverse a draught, so far unlike,
It was no libel where it meant to strike. 1050
Yet still the daubing pleased, and great and small,
To view the monster, crowded Pigeon Hall.
There Chanticleer was drawn upon his knees
Adoring shrines, and stocks of sainted trees:
And by him, a misshapen, ugly race;
The curse of God was seen on every face:
No Holland emblem could that malice mend,
But still the worse the look, the fitter for a fiend.
The master of the farm, displeased to find
So much of rancour in so mild a kind, 1060
Enquired into the cause, and came to know,
The passive Church had struck the foremost blow;
With groundless fears and jealousies possess’d,
As if this troublesome intruding guest
Would drive the birds of Venus from their nest;
A deed his inborn equity abhorr’d;
But Interest will not trust, though God should plight his word.
A law,42 the source of many future harms,
Had banish’d all the poultry from the farms;
With loss of life, if any should be found 1070
To crow or peck on this forbidden ground.
That bloody statute chiefly was design’d
For Chanticleer the white, of clergy kind;
But after-malice did not long forget
The lay that wore the robe and coronet.
For them, for their inferiors and allies,
Their foes a deadly Shibboleth devise:
By which unrighteously it was decreed,
That none to trust or profit should succeed,
Who would not swallow first a poisonous wicked weed:43 1080
Or that, to which old Socrates was cursed,
Or henbane juice to swell them till they burst.
The patron (as in reason) thought it hard
To see this inquisition in his yard,
By which the Sovereign was of subjects’ use debarr’d.
All gentle means he tried, which might withdraw
The effects of so unnatural a law:
But still the Dove-house obstinately stood
Deaf to their own and to their neighbours’ good;
And which was worse, if any worse could be, 1090
Repented of their boasted loyalty:
Now made the champions of a cruel cause.
And drunk with fumes of popular applause;
For those whom God to ruin has design’d,
He fits for fate, and first destroys their mind.
New doubts indeed they daily strove to raise,
Suggested dangers, interposed delays;
And emissary Pigeons had in store,
Such as the Meccan prophet used of yore,
To whisper counsels in their patron’s ear; 1100
And veil’d their false advice with zealous fear.
The master smiled to see them work in vain,
To wear him out, and make an idle reign:
He saw, but suffer’d their protractive arts,
And strove by mildness to reduce their hearts:
But they abused that grace to make allies,
And fondly closed with former enemies;
For fools are doubly fools, endeavouring to be wise.
After a grave consult what course were best,
One, more mature in folly than the rest, 1110
Stood up, and told them, with his head aside,
That desperate cures must be to desperate ills applied:
And therefore, since their main impending fear
Was from the increasing race of Chanticleer,
Some potent bird of prey they ought to find,
A foe profess’d to him, and all his kind:
Some haggard Hawk, who had her eyrie nigh,
Well pounced to fasten, and well wing’d to fly;
One they might trust, their common wrongs to wreak:
The Musquet and the Coystrel were too weak, 1120
Too fierce the Falcon; but, above the rest,
The noble Buzzard44 ever pleased me best;
Of small renown, ’tis true; for, not to lie,
We call him but a Hawk by courtesy.
I know he hates the Pigeon-house and Farm,
And more, in time of war has done us harm:
But all his hate on trivial points depends;
Give up our forms, and we shall soon be friends.
For Pigeons’ flesh he seems not much to care;
Cramm’d chickens are a more delicious fare. 1130
On this high potentate, without delay,
I wish you would confer the sovereign sway:
Petition him to accept the government,
And let a splendid embassy be sent.
This pithy speech prevail’d, and all agreed,
Old enmities forgot, the Buzzard should succeed.
Their welcome suit was granted soon as heard,
His lodgings furnish’d, and a train prepared,
With B’s upon their breast, appointed for his guard.
He came, and crown’d with great solemnity; 1140
God save king Buzzard, was the general cry.
A portly prince, and goodly to the sight,
He seem’d a son of Anak for his height:
Like those whom stature did to crowns prefer:
Black-brow’d, and bluff, like Homer’s Jupiter:
Broad-back’d, and brawny-built for love’s delight;
A prophet form’d to make a female proselyte.
A theologue more by need than genial bent;
By breeding sharp, by nature confident.
Interest in all his actions was discern’d; 1150
More learn’d than honest, more a wit than learn’d:
Or forced by fear, or by his profit led,
Or both conjoin’d, his native clime he fled:
But brought the virtues of his heaven along;
A fair behaviour, and a fluent tongue.
And yet with all his arts he could not thrive;
The most unlucky parasite alive.
Loud praises to prepare his paths he sent,
And then himself pursued his compliment;
But by reverse of fortune chased away, 1160
His gifts no longer than their author stay:
He shakes the dust against the ungrateful race,
And leaves the stench of ordures in the place.
Oft has he flatter’d and blasphemed the same;
For in his rage he spares no sovereign’s name:
The hero and the tyrant change their style
By the same measure that they frown or smile.
When well received by hospitable foes,
The kindness he returns, is to expose:
For courtesies, though undeserved and great, 1170
No gratitude in felon-minds beget;
As tribute to his wit, the churl receives the treat.
His praise of foes is venomously nice;
So touch’d, it turns a virtue to a vice:
“A Greek, and bountiful, forewarns us twice.”
Seven sacraments he wisely does disown,
Because he knows Confession stands for one;
Where sins to sacred silence are convey’d,
And not for fear, or love, to be betray’d:
But he, uncall’d, his patron to control, 1180
Divulged the secret whispers of his soul;
Stood forth the accusing Satan of his crimes,
And offer’d to the Moloch of the times.
Prompt to assail, and careless of defence,
Invulnerable in his impudence,
He dares the world; and, eager of a name,
He thrusts about, and jostles into fame.
Frontless, and satire-proof, he scours the streets,
And runs an Indian-muck at all he meets.
So fond of loud report, that not to miss 1190
Of being known (his last and utmost bliss)
He rather would be known for what he is.
Such was, and is, the Captain of the Test,
Though half his virtues are not here express’d;
The modesty of fame conceals the rest.
The spleenful Pigeons never could create
A prince more proper to revenge their hate:
Indeed, more proper to revenge, than save;
A king, whom in his wrath the Almighty gave:
For all the grace the landlord had allow’d, 1200
But made the Buzzard and the Pigeons proud;
Gave time to fix their friends, and to seduce the crowd.
They long their fellow-subjects to enthral,
Their patron’s promise into question call,
And vainly think he meant to make them lords of all.
False fears their leaders fail’d not to suggest,
As if the Doves were to be dispossess’d;
Nor sighs, nor groans, nor goggling eyes did want;
For now the Pigeons too had learn’d to cant.
The house of prayer is stock’d with large increase; 1210
Nor doors nor windows can contain the press:
For birds of every feather fill the abode;
Even Atheists out of envy own a God:
And, reeking from the stews, adulterers come,
Like Goths and Vandals to demolish Rome.
That Conscience, which to all their crimes was mute,
Now calls aloud, and cries to persecute:
No rigour of the laws to be released,
And much the less, because it was their Lord’s request:
They thought it great their Sovereign to control, 1220
And named their pride, nobility of soul.
’Tis true, the Pigeons, and their prince elect,
Were short of power, their purpose to effect:
But with their quills did all the hurt they could,
And cuff’d the tender Chickens from their food:
And much the Buzzard in their cause did stir,
Though naming not the patron, to infer,
With all respect, he was a gross idolater.
But when the imperial owner did espy,
That thus they turn’d his grace to villany, 1230
Not suffering wrath to discompose his mind,
He strove a temper for the extremes to find,
So to be just, as he might still be kind;
Then, all maturely weigh’d, pronounced a doom
Of sacred strength for every age to come.
By this the Doves their wealth and state possess,
No rights infringed, but licence to oppress:
Such power have they as factious lawyers long
To crowns ascribed, that Kings can do no wrong.
But since his own domestic birds have tried 1240
The dire effects of their destructive pride,
He deems that proof a measure to the rest,
Concluding well within his kingly breast,
His fowls of nature too unjustly were oppress’d.
He therefore makes all birds of every sect
Free of his farm, with promise to respect
Their several kinds alike, and equally protect.
His gracious edict the same franchise yields
To all the wild increase of woods and fields,
And who in rocks aloof, and who in steeples builds: 1250
To Crows the like impartial grace affords,
And Choughs and Daws, and such republic birds:
Secured with ample privilege to feed,
Each has his district, and his bounds decreed;
Combined in common interest with his own,
But not to pass the Pigeon’s Rubicon.
Here ends the reign of this pretended Dove;
All prophecies accomplish’d from above,
From Shiloh comes the sceptre to remove.
Reduced from her imperial high abode, 1260
Like Dionysius to a private rod,
The Passive Church, that with pretended grace
Did her distinctive mark in duty place,
Now touch’d, reviles her Maker to his face.
What after happen’d is not hard to guess:
The small beginnings had a large increase,
And arts and wealth succeed, the secret spoils of peace.
’Tis said, the Doves repented, though too late,
Become the smiths of their own foolish fate:
Nor did their owner hasten their ill hour; 1270
But, sunk in credit, they decreased in power:
Like snows in warmth that mildly pass away,
Dissolving in the silence of decay.
The Buzzard, not content with equal place,
Invites the feather’d Nimrods of his race;
To hide the thinness of their flock from sight,
And all together make a seeming goodly flight:
But each have separate interests of their own;
Two Czars are one too many for a throne.
Nor can the usurper long abstain from food; 1280
Already he has tasted Pigeons’ blood:
And may be tempted to his former fare,
When this indulgent lord shall late to heaven repair.
Bare benting times, and moulting months may come,
When, lagging late, they cannot reach their home;
Or, rent in schism (for so their fate decrees),
Like the tumultuous college of the bees,45
They fight their quarrel, by themselves oppress’d;
The tyrant smiles below, and waits the falling feast.
Thus did the gentle Hind her fable end, 1290
Nor would the Panther blame it, nor commend;
But, with affected yawnings at the close,
Seem’d to require her natural repose:
For now the streaky light began to peep;
And setting stars admonish’d both to sleep.
The dame withdrew, and, wishing to her guest
The peace of heaven, betook herself to rest.
Ten thousand angels on her slumbers wait,
With glorious visions of her future state.
25 ‘Mother Hubbard:’ Mother Hubbard’s tale, written by Spenser.
26 ‘Lion’s peace:’ liberty of conscience, and toleration of all religions.
27 ‘Exiled heir:’ the Duke of York, while opposed by the favourers and abettors of the Bill of Exclusion, was obliged to retire from London.
28 ‘French proselytes:’ the French refugees that came into England after the revocation of the edict of Nantes.
29 ‘Hudibras:’ Butler.
30 ‘Atheist names:’ alluding here and afterwards to Stillingfleet’s attacks on Dryden.
31 ‘Imprimatur:’ the Bishop of London and his chaplains had formerly the examination of all books, and none could be printed without their imprimatur, or licence.
32 ‘Swallow:’ this story is supposed to refer to a meeting of Roman Catholics held in the Savoy to deliberate on King James’ measures, when Father Petre (M. Martin) induced them to join the king’s side, and to remain in England.
33 ‘Dorp:’ hamlet.
34 ‘The tale:’ a parable of the fate of the Papists, soon fulfilled.
35 ‘Old fanatic:’ Century White, a vehement writer on the Puritan side.
36 ‘Toby’s:’ Tobit; see Apocrypha.
37 ‘A plain good man:’ a character of King James II.
38 ‘Doves:’ the clergy of the Church of England, and other religions dissenting from that of Rome.
39 ‘Another farm,’ &c.: this alludes to the Popish priests, whom the king particularly favoured.
40 ‘Chanticleers:’ friars.
41 ‘Partlet:’ nuns.
42 ‘A law:’ penal laws against Popish recusants.
43 ‘Wicked weed:’ the Test Act.
44 ‘Buzzard:’ Bishop Burnet.
45 ‘College of the bees:’ College of Physicians.
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University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005