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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Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:50