Part 5 out of 7
The few by nature form'd, with learning fraught,
Born to instruct, as others to be taught,
Must study well the sacred page; and see
Which doctrine, this or that, does best agree
With the whole tenor of the work divine: 330
And plainliest points to Heaven's reveal'd design:
Which exposition flows from genuine sense;
And which is forced by wit and eloquence.
Not that tradition's parts are useless here,
When general, old, disinteress'd, and clear:
That ancient Fathers thus expound the page,
Gives Truth the reverend majesty of age:
Confirms its force, by biding every test;
For best authority's next rules are best.
And still the nearer to the spring we go, 340
More limpid, more unsoil'd, the waters flow.
Thus first traditions were a proof alone,
Could we be certain such they were, so known:
But since some flaws in long descent may be,
They make not truth but probability.
Even Arius and Pelagius durst provoke
To what the centuries preceding spoke.
Such difference is there in an oft-told tale:
But Truth by its own sinews will prevail.
Tradition written, therefore, more commends 350
Authority, than what from voice descends:
And this, as perfect as its kind can be,
Rolls down to us the sacred history:
Which from the Universal Church received,
Is tried, and after for itself believed.
The partial Papists would infer from hence,
Their Church, in last resort, should judge the sense.
But first they would assume, with wondrous art,
Themselves to be the whole, who are but part,
Of that vast frame the Church; yet grant they were 360
The handers down, can they from thence infer
A right to interpret? or would they alone
Who brought the present, claim it for their own?
The Book's a common largess to mankind;
Not more for them than every man design'd:
The welcome news is in the letter found;
The carrier's not commissioned to expound;
It speaks itself, and what it does contain
In all things needful to be known is plain.
In times o'ergrown with rust and ignorance, 370
A gainful trade their clergy did advance:
When want of learning kept the laymen low,
And none but priests were authorised to know:
When what small knowledge was, in them did dwell;
And he a god, who could but read and spell:
Then Mother Church did mightily prevail;
She parcell'd out the Bible by retail:
But still expounded what she sold or gave;
To keep it in her power to damn and save.
Scripture was scarce, and as the market went, 380
Poor laymen took salvation on content;
As needy men take money, good or bad:
God's Word they had not, but th' priest's they had.
Yet, whate'er false conveyances they made,
The lawyer still was certain to be paid.
In those dark times they learn'd their knack so well,
That by long use they grew infallible.
At last a knowing age began to inquire
If they the Book, or that did them inspire:
And making narrower search, they found, though late, 390
That what they thought the priest's, was their estate;
Taught by the will produced, the written Word,
How long they had been cheated on record.
Then every man who saw the title fair,
Claim'd a child's part, and put in for a share:
Consulted soberly his private good,
And saved himself as cheap as e'er he could.
'Tis true, my friend, (and far be flattery hence),
This good had full as bad a consequence:
The Book thus put in every vulgar hand, 400
Which each presumed he best could understand,
The common rule was made the common prey;
And at the mercy of the rabble lay.
The tender page with horny fists was gall'd;
And he was gifted most that loudest bawl'd.
The spirit gave the doctoral degree:
And every member of a company
Was of his trade, and of the Bible free.
Plain truths enough for needful use they found;
But men would still be itching to expound: 410
Each was ambitious of the obscurest place,
No measure ta'en from knowledge, all from grace.
Study and pains were now no more their care;
Texts were explain'd by fasting and by prayer:
This was the fruit the private spirit brought;
Occasion'd by great zeal and little thought.
While crowds unlearn'd, with rude devotion warm,
About the sacred viands buzz and swarm.
The fly-blown text creates a crawling brood,
And turns to maggots what was meant for food. 420
A thousand daily sects rise up and die;
A thousand more the perish'd race supply;
So all we make of Heaven's discover'd will,
Is, not to have it, or to use it ill.
The danger's much the same; on several shelves
If others wreck us, or we wreck ourselves.
What then remains, but, waiving each extreme,
The tides of ignorance and pride to stem?
Neither so rich a treasure to forego;
Nor proudly seek beyond our power to know: 430
Faith is not built on disquisitions vain;
The things we must believe are few and plain:
But since men will believe more than they need,
And every man will make himself a creed;
In doubtful questions 'tis the safest way
To learn what unsuspected ancients say:
For 'tis not likely we should higher soar
In search of heaven, than all the Church before:
Nor can we be deceived, unless we see
The Scripture and the Fathers disagree. 440
If, after all, they stand suspected still,
(For no man's faith depends upon his will):
'Tis some relief, that points not clearly known,
Without much hazard may be let alone:
And after hearing what our Church can say,
If still our reason runs another way,
That private reason 'tis more just to curb,
Than by disputes the public peace disturb.
For points obscure are of small use to learn:
But common quiet is mankind's concern. 450
Thus have I made my own opinions clear;
Yet neither praise expect, nor censure fear:
And this unpolish'd, rugged verse I chose,
As fittest for discourse, and nearest prose:
For while from sacred truth I do not swerve,
Tom Sternhold's or Tom Shadwell's rhymes will serve.
* * * * *
[Footnote 85: 'Not to name Mariana, Bellarmine,' &c.: all Jesuits and
controversial writers in the Roman Catholic Church.]
[Footnote 86: Hacket was a man of learning; he had much of the
Scriptures by heart, and made himself remarkable by preaching in an
enthusiastic strain. In 1591, he made a great parade of sanctity,
pretended to divine inspiration, and visions from God.]
[Footnote 87: The son of the celebrated John Hampden. He was in the
Ryehouse Plot, and fined L15,000, which was remitted at the Revolution.]
[Footnote 88: 'Bishop:' Athanasius.]
[Footnote 89: 'Junius and Tremellius:' Francis Junius and Emanuel
Tremellius, two Calvinist ministers, who, in the sixteenth century,
joined in translating the Bible from Hebrew into Latin.]
* * * * *
A FUNERAL PINDARIC POEM, SACRED TO THE HAPPY MEMORY OF KING CHARLES
Thus long my grief has kept me dumb:
Sure there's a lethargy in mighty woe,
Tears stand congeal'd, and cannot flow;
And the sad soul retires into her inmost room:
Tears, for a stroke foreseen, afford relief;
But, unprovided for a sudden blow,
Like Niobe we marble grow;
And petrify with grief.
Our British heaven was all serene,
No threatening cloud was nigh,
Not the least wrinkle to deform the sky;
We lived as unconcern'd and happily
As the first age in Nature's golden scene;
Supine amidst our flowing store,
We slept securely, and we dreamt of more:
When suddenly the thunder-clap was heard,
It took us unprepared and out of guard,
Already lost before we fear'd.
The amazing news of Charles at once were spread,
At once the general voice declared,
"Our gracious prince was dead."
No sickness known before, no slow disease,
To soften grief by just degrees:
But like a hurricane on Indian seas,
The tempest rose;
An unexpected burst of woes;
With scarce a breathing space betwixt--
This now becalm'd, and perishing the next.
As if great Atlas from his height
Should sink beneath his heavenly weight,
And with a mighty flaw, the flaming wall
(At once it shall),
Should gape immense, and rushing down, o'erwhelm this nether ball;
So swift and so surprising was our fear:
Our Atlas fell indeed, but Hercules was near.
His pious brother, sure the best
Who ever bore that name!
Was newly risen from his rest,
And, with a fervent flame,
His usual morning vows had just address'd
For his dear sovereign's health;
And hoped to have them heard,
In long increase of years,
In honour, fame, and wealth:
Guiltless of greatness thus he always pray'd,
Nor knew nor wish'd those vows he made,
On his own head should be repaid.
Soon as the ill-omen'd rumour reach'd his ear,
(Ill news is wing'd with fate, and flies apace,)
Who can describe the amazement of his face!
Horror in all his pomp was there,
Mute and magnificent without a tear:
And then the hero first was seen to fear.
Half unarray'd he ran to his relief,
So hasty and so artless was his grief:
Approaching greatness met him with her charms
Of power and future state;
But look'd so ghastly in a brother's fate,
He shook her from his arms.
Arrived within the mournful room, he saw
A wild distraction, void of awe,
And arbitrary grief unbounded by a law.
God's image, God's anointed lay
Without motion, pulse, or breath,
A senseless lump of sacred clay,
An image now of death.
Amidst his sad attendants' groans and cries,
The lines of that adored, forgiving face,
Distorted from their native grace;
An iron slumber sat on his majestic eyes.
The pious duke--Forbear, audacious Muse!
No terms thy feeble art can use
Are able to adorn so vast a woe:
The grief of all the rest like subject-grief did show,
His like a sovereign did transcend;
No wife, no brother, such a grief could know,
Nor any name but friend.
O wondrous changes of a fatal scene,
Still varying to the last!
Heaven, though its hard decree was past,
Seem'd pointing to a gracious turn again:
And death's uplifted arm arrested in its haste.
Heaven half repented of the doom,
And almost grieved it had foreseen,
What by foresight it will'd eternally to come.
Mercy above did hourly plead
For her resemblance here below;
And mild forgiveness intercede
To stop the coming blow.
New miracles approach'd the ethereal throne,
Such as his wondrous life had oft and lately known,
And urged that still they might be shown.
On earth his pious brother pray'd and vow'd,
Renouncing greatness at so dear a rate,
Himself defending what he could,
From all the glories of his future fate.
With him the innumerable crowd
Of armed prayers
Knock'd at the gates of Heaven, and knock'd aloud;
The first well-meaning rude petitioners,
All for his life assail'd the throne,
All would have bribed the skies by offering up their own.
So great a throng not Heaven itself could bar;
'Twas almost borne by force as in the giants' war.
The prayers, at least, for his reprieve were heard;
His death, like Hezekiah's, was deferr'd:
Against the sun the shadow went;
Five days, those five degrees, were lent
To form our patience and prepare the event.
The second causes took the swift command,
The medicinal head, the ready hand,
All eager to perform their part;
All but eternal doom was conquer'd by their art:
Once more the fleeting soul came back
To inspire the mortal frame;
And in the body took a doubtful stand,
Doubtful and hovering like expiring flame,
That mounts and falls by turns, and trembles o'er the brand.
The joyful short-lived news soon spread around,
Took the same train, the same impetuous bound:
The drooping town in smiles again was dress'd,
Gladness in every face express'd,
Their eyes before their tongues confess'd.
Men met each other with erected look,
The steps were higher that they took;
Friends to congratulate their friends made haste;
And long inveterate foes saluted as they pass'd:
Above the rest heroic James appear'd--
Exalted more, because he more had fear'd:
His manly heart, whose noble pride
Was still above
Dissembled hate or varnish'd love,
Its more than common transport could not hide;
But like an eagre rode in triumph o'er the tide.
Thus, in alternate course,
The tyrant passions, hope and fear,
Did in extremes appear,
And flash'd upon the soul with equal force.
Thus, at half ebb, a rolling sea
Returns and wins upon the shore;
The watery herd, affrighted at the roar,
Rest on their fins awhile, and stay,
Then backward take their wondering way:
The prophet wonders more than they,
At prodigies but rarely seen before,
And cries, A king must fall, or kingdoms change their sway.
Such were our counter-tides at land, and so
Presaging of the fatal blow,
In their prodigious ebb and flow.
The royal soul, that, like the labouring moon,
By charms of art was hurried down,
Forced with regret to leave her native sphere,
Came but awhile on liking here:
Soon weary of the painful strife,
And made but faint essays of life:
An evening light
Soon shut in night;
A strong distemper, and a weak relief,
Short intervals of joy, and long returns of grief.
The sons of art all medicines tried,
And every noble remedy applied;
With emulation each essay'd
His utmost skill, nay more, they pray'd:
Never was losing game with better conduct play'd.
Death never won a stake with greater toil,
Nor e'er was fate so near a foil:
But like a fortress on a rock,
The impregnable disease their vain attempts did mock;
They mined it near, they batter'd from afar
With, all the cannon of the medicinal war;
No gentle means could be essay'd,
'Twas beyond parley when the siege was laid:
The extremest ways they first ordain,
Prescribing such intolerable pain,
As none but Caesar could sustain:
Undaunted Csesar underwent
The malice of their art, nor bent
Beneath whate'er their pious rigour could invent:
In five such days he suffer'd more
Than any suffer'd in his reign before;
More, infinitely more, than he,
Against the worst of rebels, could decree,
A traitor, or twice pardon'd enemy.
Now art was tried without success,
No racks could make the stubborn malady confess.
The vain insurancers of life,
And they who most perform'd and promised less,
Even Short and Hobbes forsook the unequal strife.
Death and despair were in their looks,
No longer they consult their memories or books;
Like helpless friends, who view from shore
The labouring ship, and hear the tempest roar;
So stood they with their arms across;
Not to assist, but to deplore
The inevitable loss.
Death was denounced; that frightful sound
Which even the best can hardly bear,
He took the summons void of fear;
And unconcern'dly cast his eyes around;
As if to find and dare the grisly challenger.
What death could do he lately tried,
When in four days he more than died.
The same assurance all his words did grace;
The same majestic mildness held its place:
Nor lost the monarch in his dying face.
Intrepid, pious, merciful, and brave,
He look'd as when he conquer'd and forgave.
As if some angel had been sent
To lengthen out his government,
And to foretell as many years again,
As he had number'd in his happy reign,
So cheerfully he took the doom
Of his departing breath;
Nor shrunk nor stepp'd aside for death;
But with unalter'd pace kept on,
Providing for events to come,
When he resign'd the throne.
Still he maintain'd his kingly state;
And grew familiar with his fate.
Kind, good, and gracious to the last,
On all he loved before his dying beams he cast:
Oh, truly good, and truly great,
For glorious as he rose, benignly so he set!
All that on earth he held most dear,
He recommended to his care,
To whom both Heaven,
The right had given
And his own love bequeathed supreme command:
He took and press'd that ever loyal hand
Which could in peace secure his reign,
Which could in wars his power maintain,
That hand on which no plighted vows were ever vain.
Well for so great a trust he chose
A prince who never disobey'd:
Not when the most severe commands were laid;
Nor want, nor exile with his duty weigh'd:
A prince on whom, if Heaven its eyes could close,
The welfare of the world it safely might repose.
That king who lived to God's own heart,
Yet less serenely died than he:
Charles left behind no harsh decree
For schoolmen with laborious art
To salve from cruelty:
Those for whom love could no excuses frame,
He graciously forgot to name.
Thus far my Muse, though rudely, has design'd
Some faint resemblance of his godlike mind:
But neither pen nor pencil can express
The parting brothers' tenderness:
Though that's a term too mean and low;
The blest above a kinder word may know.
But what they did, and what they said,
The monarch who triumphant went,
The militant who staid,
Like painters, when their heightening arts are spent,
I cast into a shade.
That all-forgiving king,
The type of Him above,
That inexhausted spring
Of clemency and love;
Himself to his next self accused,
And asked that pardon--which he ne'er refused:
For faults not his, for guilt and crimes
Of godless men, and of rebellious times:
For an hard exile, kindly meant,
When his ungrateful country sent
Their best Camillus into banishment:
And forced their sovereign's act--they could not his consent.
Oh, how much rather had that injured chief
Repeated all his sufferings past,
Than hear a pardon begg'd at last,
Which, given, could give the dying no relief!
He bent, he sunk beneath his grief:
His dauntless heart would fain have held
From weeping, but his eyes rebell'd.
Perhaps the godlike hero in his breast
Disdain'd, or was ashamed to show,
So weak, so womanish a woe,
Which yet the brother and the friend so plenteously confess'd.
Amidst that silent shower, the royal mind
An easy passage found,
And left its sacred earth behind:
Nor murmuring groan express'd, nor labouring sound,
Nor any least tumultuous breath;
Calm was his life, and quiet was his death.
Soft as those gentle whispers were,
In which the Almighty did appear;
By the still voice the prophet knew him there.
That peace which made thy prosperous reign to shine,
That peace thou leavest to thy imperial line,
That peace, oh, happy shade, be ever thine!
For all those joys thy restoration brought,
For all the miracles it wrought,
For all the healing balm thy mercy pour'd
Into the nation's bleeding wound,
And care that after kept it sound,
For numerous blessings yearly shower'd,
And property with plenty crown'd;
For freedom, still maintain'd alive--
Freedom! which in no other land will thrive--
Freedom! an English subject's sole prerogative,
Without whose charms even peace would be
But a dull, quiet slavery:
For these and more, accept our pious praise;
'Tis all the subsidy
The present age can raise,
The rest is charged on late posterity:
Posterity is charged the more,
Because the large abounding store
To them and to their heirs, is still entail'd by thee.
Succession of a long descent
Which chastely in the channels ran,
And from our demi-gods began,
Equal almost to time in its extent,
Through hazards numberless and great,
Thou hast derived this mighty blessing down,
And fix'd the fairest gem that decks the imperial crown
Not faction, when it shook thy regal seat,
Not senates, insolently loud,
Those echoes of a thoughtless crowd,
Not foreign or domestic treachery,
Gould warp thy soul to their unjust decree.
So much thy foes thy manly mind mistook,
Who judged it by the mildness of thy look:
Like a well-temper'd sword it bent at will;
But kept the native toughness of the steel.
Be true, O Clio, to thy hero's name!
But draw him strictly so,
That all who view the piece may know.
He needs no trappings of fictitious fame:
The load's too weighty: thou mayest choose
Some parts of praise, and some refuse:
Write, that his annals may be thought more lavish than the Muse.
In scanty truth thou hast confined
The virtues of a royal mind,
Forgiving, bounteous, humble, just, and kind:
His conversation, wit, and parts,
His knowledge in the noblest useful arts,
Were such, dead authors could not give;
But habitudes of those who live;
Who, lighting him, did greater lights receive:
He drain'd from all, and all they knew;
His apprehension quick, his judgment true:
That the most learn'd, with shame, confess
His knowledge more, his reading only less.
Amidst the peaceful triumphs of his reign,
What wonder if the kindly beams he shed
Revived the drooping Arts again;
If Science raised her head,
And soft Humanity, that from rebellion fled!
Our isle, indeed, too fruitful was before;
But all uncultivated lay
Out of the solar walk and Heaven's highway;
With rank Geneva weeds run o'er,
And cockle, at the best, amidst the corn it bore.
The royal husbandman appear'd,
And plough'd, and sow'd, and till'd;
The thorns he rooted out, the rubbish clear'd,
And bless'd the obedient field:
When straight a double harvest rose;
Such as the swarthy Indian mows;
Or happier climates near the line,
Or Paradise manured and dress'd by hands divine.
As when the new-born Phoenix takes his way,
His rich paternal regions to survey,
Of airy choristers a numerous train
Attends his wondrous progress o'er the plain;
So, rising from his father's urn,
So glorious did our Charles return;
The officious Muses came along--
A gay harmonious quire, like angels ever young:
The Muse that mourns him now, his happy triumph sung,
Even they could thrive in his auspicious reign;
And such a plenteous crop they bore
Of purest and well-winnow'd grain,
As Britain never knew before.
Though little was their hire, and light their gain,
Yet somewhat to their share he threw;
Fed from his hand, they sung and flew,
Like birds of Paradise that lived on morning dew.
Oh, never let their lays his name forget!
The pension of a prince's praise is great.
Live, then, thou great encourager of arts!
Live ever in our thankful hearts;
Live blest above, almost invoked below;
Live and receive this pious vow,
Our patron once, our guardian angel now!
Thou Fabius of a sinking state,
Who didst by wise delays divert our fate,
When faction like a tempest rose,
In death's most hideous form,
Then art to rage thou didst oppose,
To weather-out the storm:
Not quitting thy supreme command,
Thou held'st the rudder with a steady hand,
Till safely on the shore the bark did land:
The bark that all our blessings brought,
Charged with thyself and James, a doubly royal fraught.
Oh, frail estate of human things,
And slippery hopes below!
Now to our cost your emptiness we know,
For 'tis a lesson dearly bought,
Assurance here is never to be sought.
The best, and best beloved of kings,
And best deserving to be so,
When scarce he had escaped the fatal blow
Of faction and conspiracy,
Death did his promised hopes destroy:
He toil'd, he gain'd, but lived not to enjoy.
What mists of Providence are these,
Through which we cannot see!
So saints, by supernatural power set free,
Are left at last in martyrdom to die;
Such is the end of oft-repeated miracles.
Forgive me, Heaven, that impious thought!
'Twas grief for Charles, to madness wrought,
That question'd thy supreme decree.
Thou didst his gracious reign prolong,
Even in thy saints' and angels' wrong,
His fellow-citizens of immortality:
For twelve long years of exile borne,
Twice twelve we number'd since his blest return:
So strictly wert thou just to pay,
Even to the driblet of a day.
Yet still we murmur and complain,
The quails and manna should no longer rain;
Those miracles 'twas needless to renew;
The chosen stock has now the promised land in view.
A warlike prince ascends the regal state,
A prince long exercised by fate:
Long may he keep, though he obtains it late!
Heroes in Heaven's peculiar mould are cast,
They and their poets are not form'd in haste;
Man was the first in God's design, and man was made the last.
False heroes, made by flattery so,
Heaven can strike out, like sparkles, at a blow;
But ere a prince is to perfection brought,
He costs Omnipotence a second thought.
With toil and sweat,
With hardening cold, and forming heat,
The Cyclops did their strokes repeat,
Before the impenetrable shield was wrought.
It looks as if the Maker would not own
The noble work for His,
Before 'twas tried and found a masterpiece.
View, then, a monarch ripen'd for a throne!
Alcides thus his race began,
O'er infancy he swiftly ran;
The future god at first was more than man:
Dangers and toils, and Juno's hate,
Even o'er his cradle lay in wait;
And there he grappled first with fate:
In his young hands the hissing snakes he press'd,
So early was the deity confess'd.
Thus by degrees he rose to Jove's imperial seat;
Thus difficulties prove a soul legitimately great.
Like his, our hero's infancy was tried;
Betimes the Furies did their snakes provide;
And to his infant arms oppose
His father's rebels, and his brother's foes;
The more oppress'd, the higher still he rose:
Those were the preludes of his fate,
That form'd his manhood, to subdue
The Hydra of the many-headed hissing crew.
As after Numa's peaceful reign,
The martial Ancus did the sceptre wield,
Furbish'd the rusty sword again,
Resumed the long-forgotten shield,
And led the Latins to the dusty field;
So James the drowsy genius wakes
Of Britain, long entranced in charms,
Restive and slumbering on its arms:
'Tis roused, and with a new-strung nerve, the spear already shakes,
No neighing of the warrior steeds,
No drum, or louder trumpet, needs
To inspire the coward, warm the cold--
His voice, his sole appearance makes them bold.
Gaul and Batavia dread the impending blow;
Too well the vigour of that arm they know;
They lick the dust, and crouch beneath their fatal foe.
Long may they fear this awful prince,
And not provoke his lingering sword;
Peace is their only sure defence,
Their best security his word:
In all the changes of his doubtful state,
His truth, like Heaven's, was kept inviolate,
For him to promise is to make it fate.
His valour can triumph o'er land and main;
With broken oaths his fame he will not stain;
With conquest basely bought, and with inglorious gain.
For once, O Heaven! unfold thy adamantine book;
And let his wondering senate see,
If not thy firm immutable decree,
At least the second page of strong contingency;
Such as consists with wills originally free:
Let them with glad amazement look
On what their happiness may be:
Let them not still be obstinately blind,
Still to divert the good thou hast design'd,
Or with malignant penury,
To starve the royal virtues of his mind.
Faith is a Christian's and a subject's test,
O give them to believe, and they are surely blest!
They do; and with a distant view I see
The amended vows of English loyalty.
And all beyond that object, there appears
The long retinue of a prosperous reign,
A series of successful years,
In orderly array, a martial, manly train.
Behold even the remoter shores,
A conquering navy proudly spread;
The British cannon formidably roars,
While starting from his oozy bed,
The asserted Ocean rears his reverend head;
To view and recognise his ancient lord again:
And with a willing hand, restores
The fasces of the main.
* * * * *
[Footnote 90: 'An eagre:' a tide swelling above another tide--observed
on the River Trent.]
[Footnote 91: 'Short and Hobbes:' two physicians who attended on the
[Footnote 92: 'King:' King David.]
[Footnote 93: 'The prophet:' Elijah.]
* * * * *
VENI CREATOR SPIRITUS, PARAPHRASED.
CREATOR SPIRIT, by whose aid
The world's foundations first were laid,
Come, visit every pious mind;
Come, pour thy joys on human kind;
From sin and sorrow set us free,
And make thy temples worthy thee.
O source of uncreated light,
The Father's promised Paraclete!
Thrice holy fount, thrice holy fire,
Our hearts with heavenly love inspire;
Come, and thy sacred unction bring
To sanctify us, while we sing!
Plenteous of grace, descend from high,
Rich in thy sevenfold energy!
Thou strength of his Almighty hand,
Whose power does heaven and earth command:
Proceeding Spirit, our defence,
Who dost the gifts of tongues dispense,
And crown'st thy gift with eloquence!
Refine and purge our earthly parts;
But, oh, inflame and fire our hearts!
Our frailties help, our vice control,
Submit the senses to the soul;
And when rebellious they are grown,
Then lay thy hand, and hold them down!
Chase from our minds the infernal foe,
And peace, the fruit of love, bestow;
And, lest our feet should step astray,
Protect and guide us in the way.
Make us eternal truths receive,
And practise all that we believe:
Give us thyself, that we may see
The Father, and the Son, by thee.
Immortal honour, endless fame,
Attend the Almighty Father's name
The Saviour Son be glorified,
Who for lost man's redemption died:
And equal adoration be,
Eternal Paraclete, to thee!
* * * * *
THE HIND AND THE PANTHER.
A POEM, IN THREE PARTS.
--Antiquam exquirite matrem.
Et vera incessa patuit Dea.
* * * * *
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
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
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
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 Hare
Profess'd neutrality, but would not swear.
Next her the buffoon Ape, 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 Reynard 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, 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 apostate to divinity.
Unkennell'd range in thy Polonian plains;
A fiercer foe the insatiate Wolf 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 year 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 kennel still be small,
Bounded betwixt a puddle 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 race.
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 Panther 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 Lion 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's 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;
Levees and couchees 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 Lion 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.
* * * * *
[Footnote 94: 'Hare:' the Quakers.]
[Footnote 95: 'Ape:' latitudinarians in general.]
[Footnote 96: 'Reynard:' the Arians.]
[Footnote 97: 'Bilanders:' an old word for a coasting boat.]
[Footnote 98: 'First Apostate:' Arius.]
[Footnote 99: 'Wolf:' Presbytery.]
[Footnote 100: 'Many a year:' referring to the price put on the head of
wolves in Wales.]
[Footnote 101: 'Kennel:' Geneva.]
[Footnote 102: 'Puddle:' its lake.]
[Footnote 103: 'Mighty hunter of his race:' Nimrod.]
[Footnote 104: 'Panther:' Church of England.]
[Footnote 105: 'Lion:' Henry VIII.]
'Isgrim:' the wolf.]
[Footnote 107: 'Lion:' James II.]
Dame, said the Panther, times are mended well,
Since late among the Philistines 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 Lion 'scaped the snare,
But all your priestly Calves 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 Test 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 AEsop'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 piles, 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,