Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
The Hind and the Panther
The Second Part
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 pow’r        5
Of Hounds, and Death drew nearer, ev’ry Hour.
’Tis true, the younger Lyon scap’d the snare,
But all your priestly Calves lay strugling there;
As sacrifices on their Altars laid;
While you their careful mother wisely fled        10
Not trusting destiny to save your head.
For, whate’er Promises you have apply’d
To your unfailing Church, the surer side
Is four fair Leggs in danger to provide.
And whate’er tales of Peter’s Chair you tell,        15
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 sland’rous 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 nurst,        25
(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 loos’d your tongue.        30
And, to explain what your forefathers meant,
By real presence in the Sacrament,
(After long fencing push’d against a wall,)
Your salvo comes, that he’s not there at all:
There chang’d your faith, and what may change may fall.        35
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 my self infallible,
Reply’d the Panther; grant such Presence were,        40
Yet in your sense I never own’d it there.
A real vertue 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;        45
For real, as you now the Word expound,
From Solid Substance dwindles to a Sound.
Methinks an Esop’s fable you repeat;
You know who took the Shadow for the Meat;
Your Churchs 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 Butchers Knife.
Long time you fought, redoubl’d Batt’ry bore,
But, after all, against your self you swore;        55
Your former self, for ev’ry Hour your form
Is chop’d and chang’d, like Winds before a Storm.
Thus Fear and Int’rest will prevail with some,
For all have not the Gift of Martyrdom.
  The Panther grin’d at this, and thus reply’d;        60
That men may err was never yet deny’d.
But, if that common principle be true,
The Cannon, 1 Dame, is level’d full at you.
But, shunning long disputes, I fain wou’d see
That wond’rous Wight, infallibility.        65
Is he from Heav’n this mighty Champion come
Or lodg’d 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 b’ emission or reception be,        75
Shall it be thence infer’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 gen’ral Councils must reside;
Both lawful, both combin’d; what one decrees
By numerous Votes, the other Ratifies:
On this undoubted Sense the Church relies.
’Tis true some Doctors in a scantier space,        85
I mean in each apart contract the Place.
Some, who to greater length extend the Line,
The Churches after acceptation join.
This last Circumference appears too wide,
The Church diffus’d is by the Council ty’d;        90
As members by their Representatives
Oblig’d 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?        95
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 lab’ring world perplex’d:
If any shou’d in after times appear,        100
New Councils must be call’d, to make the meaning clear.
Because in them the pow’r 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,        105
Who, setting Councils, Pope, and Church aside,
Are ev’ry Man his own presuming Guide.
The sacred Books, you say, are full and plain,
And ev’ry needful point of Truth contain;
All who can read, Interpreters may be:        110
Thus though your several Churches disagree,
Yet ev’ry Saint has to himself alone
The Secret of this Philosophick Stone.
These Principles your jarring Sects unite,
When diff’ring Doctors and Disciples fight.        115
Though Luther, Zuinglius, Calvin, holy Chiefs,
Have made a Battel Royal of Beliefs;
Or like wild Horses sev’ral ways have whirl’d
The tortur’d Text about the Christian World;
Each Jehu lashing on with furious force,        120
That Turk or Jew cou’d not have us’d it worse.
No matter what dissension leaders make
Where ev’ry private man may save a stake:
Rul’d by the Scripture and his own advice,
Each has a blind by-path to Paradise;        125
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 Moyses 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        135
In virtue of his holier Alcoran.
  True, said the Panther, I shall ne’er deny
My Breth’ren may be sav’d as well as I:
Though Huguenots contemn 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 needfull points is only plain.
  Needless or needful I not now contend,        145
For still you have a loophole for a friend,
(Rejoyn’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 god-head disavow,
And did not these by Gospel Texts alone
Condemn our doctrine, and maintain their own?
Have not all hereticks the same pretence,
To plead the Scriptures in their own defence?        155
How did the Nicene council then decide
That strong debate, was it by Scripture try’d?
No sure to those 2 the Rebel would not yield,
Squadrons of Texts he marshal’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 fac’d the Foe:
And did not Sathan tempt our Saviour so?
The good old Bishops took a simpler way,
Each ask’d but what he heard his Father say,        165
Or how he was instructed in his youth,
And by tradition’s force upheld the truth.
  The Panther smil’d 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 Apostolick?
Friend, said the Hind, you quit your former ground,
Where all your faith you did on Scripture found,
Now, ’tis tradition joined with holy writ;
But thus your memory betrays your wit.        175
No, said the Panther, for in that I view
When your tradition’s forg’d, and when ’tis true.
I set ’em by the rule, and as they square
Or deviate from undoubted doctrine there,
This Oral fiction, that old Faith declare.        180
(Hind.) The Council steered, it seems, a diff’rent course,
They try’d the Scripture by tradition’s force;
But you tradition by the Scripture try;
Pursu’d, by sects, from this to that you fly,
Nor dare on one foundation to rely.        185
The Word is then depos’d, and in this view
You rule the Scripture, not the Scripture you.
Thus said the Dame, and, smiling, thus pursu’d,
I see tradition then is disallow’d,
When not evinc’d by Scripture to be true,        190
And Scripture, as interpreted by you.
But here you tread upon unfaithfull ground;
Unless you cou’d infallibly expound.
Which you reject as odious Popery,
And throw that doctrine back with scorn on me.        195
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 times expence,        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 try’d
By Sacred Writ, whose sense your selves decide,        205
You said no more, but that your selves must be
The judges of the Scripture sense, not we.
Against our church tradition you declare,
And yet your Clerks would sit in Moyses chair:
At least ’tis prov’d 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.        215
  How but by following her, reply’d the dame,
To whom deriv’d from sire to son they came;
Where ev’ry age do’s 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 skyes?
  Sternly the salvage did her answer mark,
Her glowing eye-balls glitt’ring in the dark,
And said but this, since lucre was your trade,
Succeeding times such dreadfull gaps have made        225
’Tis dangerous climbing: to your sons and you
I leave the ladder, and its omen too.
  (Hind.) The Panther’s breath was ever fam’d 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 urg’d;
You must evince tradition to be forg’d;
Produce plain proofs; unblemished authors use
As ancient as those ages they accuse;        235
Till when ’tis not sufficient to defame:
An old possession stands, till Elder quitts the claim.
Then for our int’rest, which is nam’d 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.        245
Your friend the Wolfe did with more craft provide
To set those toys traditions quite aside:
And Fathers too, unless when reason spent
He cites ’em 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 authours find.
For they who left the Scripture to the crowd,
Each for his own peculiar judge allow’d;        255
The way to please ’em was to make ’em proud.
Thus with full sails they ran upon the shelf;
Who cou’d suspect a couzenage from himself?
On his own reason safer ’tis to stand,
Than be deceiv’d and damn’d at second hand.        260
But you who Fathers and traditions take
And garble some, and some you quite forsake,
Pretending church auctority to fix,
And yet some grains of private spirit mix,
Are like a Mule made up of diff’ring seed,        265
And that’s the reason why you never breed;
At least not propagate your kind abroad,
For home-dissenters are by statutes aw’d.
And yet they grow upon you ev’ry 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,)        275
If we must fix on church auctority,
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 lawfull tyranny displace,
To set aloft a bastard of the race?
Why all these wars to win the Book, if we
Must not interpret for our selves, but she?
Either be wholly slaves or wholly free.        285
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 ’em but in time of need.
Like mercenary’s, hir’d for home defence,        290
They will not serve against their native Prince.
Against domestick foes of Hierarchy
These are drawn forth, to make fanaticks fly;
But, when they see their country-men at hand.
Marching against ’em under church-command,        295
Streight they forsake their colours and disband.
  Thus she, nor cou’d 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 Pen-men could not make ’em clear,
From after-ages we should hope in vain
For truths, which men inspir’d, cou’d not explain.
  Before the Word was written, said the Hind,        305
Our Saviour preached his Faith to humane kind;
From his Apostles the first age receiv’d
Eternal truth, and what they taught, believ’d.
Thus by tradition faith was planted first;
Succeeding flocks succeeding Pastours nurs’d.        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 cou’d have writ himself, but well foresaw
Th’ event would be like that of Moyses law;        315
Some difference wou’d 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 grav’d the text, an Angel held his hand.
Thus faith was e’er the written word appear’d,
And men believ’d, not what they read, but heard,
But since the Apostles cou’d not be confin’d
To these, or those, but severally design’d        325
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 ’em 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 supply’d:        335
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 needfull 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 apply’d to all.        345
For this obscurity cou’d heav’n provide
More prudently than by a living guide,
As doubts arose, the difference to decide?
A guide was therefore needfull, therefore made;
And, if appointed, sure to be obey’d.        350
Thus, with due reverence to th’ Apostles 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,        355
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 urg’d before, ’tis mute,
And is it self the subject of dispute.        360
But what th’ Apostles their successors taught,
They to the next, from them to us is brought,
Th’ undoubted sense which is in Scripture sought.
From hence the Church is arm’d, when errours rise,
To stop their entrance, and prevent surprise;        365
And safe entrench’d within, her foes without defies.
By these all festring sores her counsels heal,
Which time or has discloas’d 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 try’d.)
Much less the scripture; for suppose debate
Betwixt pretenders to a fair estate,
Bequeath’d by some Legator’s last intent;        375
(Such is our dying Saviour’s Testament:)
The will is prov’d, is open’d, and is read;
The doubtfull heirs their diff’ring titles plead:
All vouch the words their int’rest 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 battel, subject of debate;
The thing contended for, the fair estate.
The sense is intricate, ’tis onely clear        385
What vowels and what consonants are there.
Therefore ’tis plain, its meaning must be try’d
Before some judge appointed to decide.
  Suppose, (the fair Apostate said,) I grant,
The faithfull flock some living guide should want,        390
Your arguments an endless chase persue:
Produce this vaunted Leader to our view,
This mighty Moyses of the chosen crew.
  The Dame, who saw her fainting foe retir’d,
With force renew’d, to victory aspired;        395
(And looking upward to her kindred sky,
As once our Saviour own’d his Deity,
Pronounc’d his words—she whom ye seek am I.)
Nor less amazed this voice the Panther heard
Than were those Jews to hear a god declar’d.        400
Then thus the matron modestly renew’d;
Let all your prophets and their sects be view’d,
And see to which of ’em your selves think fit
The conduct of your conscience to submit:
Each Proselyte would vote his Doctor best,        405
With absolute exclusion to the rest:
Thus wou’d your Polish Diet disagree,
And end, as it began, in Anarchy;
Your self the fairest for election stand,
Because you seem crown-gen’ral of the land;        410
But soon against your superstitious lawn
Some Presbyterian Sabre wou’d be drawn:
In your establish’d laws of sov’raignty
The rest some fundamental flaw wou’d see,
And call Rebellion gospel-liberty.        415
To church-decrees your articles require
Submission modify’d, if not entire;
Homage deny’d, to censures you proceed;
But when Curtana will not doe the deed,
You lay that pointless clergy-weapon by,        420
And to the laws, your sword of justice fly.
Now this your sects the more unkindly take,
(Those prying varlets hit the blots you make)
Because some ancient friends of yours declare,
Your onely rule of faith the Scriptures are,        425
Interpreted, by men of judgment sound,
Which ev’ry sect will for themselves expound:
Nor think less rev’rence to their doctours due
For sound interpretation, than to you.
If then, by able heads, are understood        430
Your brother prophets, who reform’d abroad;
Those able heads expound a wiser way,
That their own sheep their shepherd shou’d obey.
But if you mean your selves are onely sound,
That doctrine turns the reformation round,        435
And all the rest are false reformers found.
Because in sundry Points you stand alone,
Not in Communion join’d with any one;
And therefore must be all the Church, or none.
Then, till you have agreed whose judge is best,        440
Against this forc’d submission they protest:
While sound and sound a different sense explains,
Both play at hard-head till they break their brains:
And from their Chairs each other’s force defy,
While unregarded thunders vainly fly.        445
I pass the rest, because your Church alone
Of all Usurpers best cou’d fill the Throne.
But neither you, nor any sect beside
For this high office can be qualify’d
With necessary Gifts requir’d in such a Guide.        450
For that which must direct the whole must be
Bound in one Bond of Faith and Unity:
But all your sev’ral Churches disagree.
The Consubstantiating Church and Priest
Refuse Communion to the Calvinist;        455
The French reform’d, from Preaching you restrain,
Because you judge their Ordination vain;
And so they judge of yours, but Donors must ordain.
In short, in Doctrine, or in Discipline
Not one reform’d, can with another join:        460
But all from each, as from Damnation fly;
No Union they pretend, but in Non-Popery.
Nor, should their Members in a Synod meet,
Cou’d any Church presume to mount the Seat
Above the rest, their discords to decide;        465
None wou’d obey, but each would be the Guide:
And face to face dissensions would encrease;
For only distance now preserves the Peace.
All in their Turns accusers and accus’d,
Babel was never half so much confus’d.        470
What one can plead, the rest can plead as well;
For amongst equals lies no last appeal,
And all confess themselves are fallible.
Now, since you grant some necessary Guide,
All who can err are justly laid aside:        475
Because a trust so sacred to confer
Shows want of such a sure Interpreter,
And how can he be needful who can err?
Then granting that unerring guide we want,
That such there is you stand obliged to grant:        480
Our Saviour else were wanting to supply
Our needs and obviate that Necessity.
It then remains that Church can only be
The guide which owns unfailing certainty;
Or else you slip your hold, and change your side,        485
Relapsing from a necessary Guide.
But this annex’d Condition of the Crown,
Immunity from Errours, you disown,
Here then you shrink, and lay your weak pretensions down.
For petty Royalties you raise debate;        490
But this unfailing Universal State
You shun: nor dare succeed to such a glorious weight.
And for that cause those Promises detest
With which our Saviour did his Church invest:
But strive t’ evade, and fear to find ’em true,        495
As conscious they were never meant to you:
All which the mother church asserts her own,
And with unrivall’d claim ascends the throne.
So when of old th’ Almighty Father sate
In Council, to redeem our ruin’d state,        500
Millions of millions, at a distance round,
Silent the sacred Consistory crown’d,
To hear what mercy mixt with Justice cou’d propound.
All prompt with eager pity, to fulfil
The full extent of their Creatour’s will:        505
But when the stern conditions were declar’d,
A mournful whisper through the host was heard,
And the whole hierarchy, with heads hung down,
Submissively declin’d the pondrous proffer’d crown.
Then, not till then, th’ eternal Son from high        510
Rose in the strength of all the Deity;
Stood forth t’ accept the terms, and underwent
A weight which all the frame of heav’n had bent,
Nor he Himself cou’d bear, but as omnipotent.
Now, to remove the least remaining doubt,        515
That even the blear-ey’d sects may find her out,
Behold what heavenly rays adorn her brows,
What from his Wardrobe her belov’d allows
To deck the wedding-day of his unspotted spouse.
Behold what marks of Majesty she brings;        520
Richer than antient heirs of Eastern kings:
Her right hand holds the sceptre and the keys,
To show whom she commands, and who obeys:
With these to bind or set the sinner free,
With that t’ assert spiritual Royalty.        525
  One in herself, not rent by Schism, but sound, 3
Entire, one solid shining Diamond,
Not Sparkles shattered into Sects like you,
One is the Church, and must be to be true:
One central principle of unity.        530
As undivided, so from errours free,
As one in faith, so one in sanctity.
Thus she, and none but she, th’ insulting Rage
Of Hereticks oppos’d from Age to Age:
Still when the Giant-brood invades her Throne,        535
She stoops from Heav’n and meets ’em half way down,
And with paternal Thunder vindicates her Crown.
But like Egyptian Sorcerers you stand,
And vainly lift aloft your Magick Wand
To sweep away the Swarms of Vermin from the Land.        540
You cou’d like them, with like infernal Force
Produce the Plague, but not arrest the Course.
But when the Boils and Botches, 4 with disgrace
And publick Scandal sat upon the Face,
Themselves attack’d, the Magi strove no more,        545
They saw God’s Finger, and their Fate deplore;
Themselves they cou’d not Cure of the dishonest sore.
  Thus one, thus pure, behold her largely spread
Like the fair Ocean from her Mother-Bed;
From East to West triumphantly she rides,        550
All Shoars are water’d by her wealthy Tides.
The Gospel-sound, diffus’d from Pole to Pole,
Where winds can carry and where waves can roll.
The self same doctrin of the Sacred Page
Convey’d to ev’ry clime, in ev’ry age.        555
  Here let my sorrow give my satyr place,
To raise new blushes on my British race;
Our sayling Ships like common shoars we use,
And through our distant Colonies diffuse
The draughts of Dungeons and the stench of stews,        560
Whom, when their home-bred honesty is lost,
We disembogue on some far Indian coast;
Thieves Pandars, Palliards, sins of ev’ry sort;
Those are the manufactures we export;
And these the Missioners our zeal has made:        565
For, with my Countrey’s pardon be it said,
Religion is the least of all our trade.
  Yet some improve their traffick more than we,
For they on gain, their only God, rely:
And set a publick price on piety.        570
Industrious of the needle and the chart,
They run full sail to their Japponian Mart;
Prevention fear, and prodigal of fame
Sell all of Christian to the very name;
Nor leave enough of that to hide their naked shame.        575
  Thus of three marks, which in the Creed we view,
Not one of all can be apply’d to you:
Much less the fourth; in vain alas you seek
Th’ ambitious title of Apostolick:
God-like descent! ’tis well your bloud can be        580
Prov’d noble in the third or fourth degree:
For all of ancient that you had before,
(I mean what is not borrow’d from our store)
Was Errour fulminated o’er and o’er.
Old Heresies condemned in ages past,        585
By care and time recover’d from the blast.
  ’Tis said with ease, but never can be prov’d,
The church her old foundations has remov’d,
And built new doctrines on unstable sands:
Judge that, ye winds and rains; you prov’d her, yet she stands.        590
Those ancient doctrines charg’d on her for new,
Shew when, and how, and from what hands they grew.
We claim no pow’r, when Heresies grow bold,
To coin new faith, but still declare the old.
How else cou’d that obscene disease be purg’d        595
When controverted texts are vainly urg’d?
To prove tradition new, there’s somewhat more
Requir’d, than saying, ’twas not us’d before.
Those monumental arms are never stirr’d,
Till Schism or Heresie call down Goliah’s sword.        600
  Thus, what you call corruptions, are in truth,
The first plantations of the gospel’s youth,
Old standard faith: but cast your eyes again,
And view those errours which new sects maintain,
Or which of old disturb’d the churches peaceful reign;        605
And we can point each period of the time,
When they began, and who begot the crime;
Can calculate how long the eclipse endur’d,
Who interpos’d, what digits were obscur’d:
Of all which are already pass’d away,        610
We know the rise, the progress and decay.
  Despair at our foundations then to strike,
Till you can prove your faith Apostolick;
A limpid stream drawn from the native source;
Succession lawfull in a lineal course.        615
Prove any Church, oppos’d to this our head,
So one, so pure, so unconfin’dly spread,
Under one chief of the spiritual state,
The members all combin’d, and all subordinate.
Show such a seamless coat, from schism so free,        620
In no communion joined with heresie:
If such a one you find, let truth prevail:
Till when, your weights will in the balance fail:
A church unprincipl’d kicks up the scale.
  But if you cannot think (nor sure you can        625
Suppose in God what were unjust in man,)
That he, the fountain of eternal grace,
Should suffer falsehood for so long a space
To banish truth and to usurp her place;
That seav’n 5 successive ages should be lost        630
And preach damnation at their proper cost;
That all your erring ancestours should die
Drown’d in the Abyss of deep Idolatry;
If piety forbid such thoughts to rise,
Awake, and open your unwilling eyes:        635
God has left nothing for each age undone,
From this to that wherein he sent his Son:
Then think but well of him, and half your work is done.
  See how his Church, adorn’d with ev’ry grace,
With open arms, a kind forgiving face,        640
Stands ready to prevent her long-lost sons embrace.
Not more did Joseph o’er his brethren weep,
Nor less himself cou’d from discovery keep,
When in the crowd of suppliants they were seen,
And in their crew his best-beloved Benjamin.        645
That pious Joseph in the church behold, 6
To feed your famine, and refuse your gold;
The Joseph you exil’d, the Joseph whom you sold.
  Thus, while with heav’nly charity she spoke,
A streaming blaze the silent shadows broke;        650
Shot from the skyes; 7 a cheerful azure light;
The birds obscene to forests wing’d their flight,
And gaping graves receiv’d the wand’ring guilty spright.
  Such were the pleasing triumphs of the sky
For James his late nocturnal victory;        655
The pledge of his Almighty patron’s love,
The fire-works which his angel made above.
I saw myself the lambent easie light 8
Gild the brown horrour and dispell the night;
The messenger with speed the tidings bore;        660
News which three lab’ring nations did restore;
But heav’ns own Nuntius was arrived before.
  By this the Hind had reached her lonely cell,
And vapours rose, and dews unwholesome fell,
When she, by frequent observation wise,        665
As one who long on heav’n had fix’d her eyes.
Discern’d a change of weather in the skyes.
The Western borders were with crimson spread,
The moon descending look’d all flaming red;
She thought good manners bound her to invite        670
The stranger Dame to be her guest that night.
’Tis true, coarse dyet and a short repast,
(She said) were weak inducements to the tast
Of one so nicely bred, and so unus’d to fast;
But what plain fare her cottage cou’d afford,        675
A hearty welcome at a homely board
Was freely hers; and to supply the rest,
An honest meaning, and an open breast.
Last, with content of mind, the poor man’s Wealth;
A grace-cup to their common Patron’s health.        680
This she desired her to accept, and stay,
For fear she might be wilder’d in her way,
Because she wanted an unerring guide,
And then the dew-drops on her silken hide
Her tender constitution did declare,        685
Too Lady-like a long fatigue to bear,
And rough inclemencies of raw nocturnal air.
But most she fear’d that, travelling so late,
Some evil-minded beasts might lye in wait,
And without witness wreak their hidden hate.        690
  The Panther, though she lent a listening ear,
Had more of Lyon in her than to fear:
Yet wisely weighing, since she had to deal
With many foes, their numbers might prevail,
Returned her all the thanks she could afford;        695
And took her friendly hostess at her word,
Who ent’ring first her lowly roof, (a shed
With hoary moss and winding Ivy spread,
Honest enough to hide an humble Hermit’s head,)
Thus graciously bespoke her welcome guest:        700
So might these walls, with your fair presence blest,
Become your dwelling-place of everlasting rest,
Not for a night, or quick revolving year,
Welcome an owner, not a sojourner.
This peaceful Seat my poverty secures,        705
War seldom enters but where wealth allures
Nor yet dispise it, for this poor aboad
Has oft receiv’d and yet receives a god;
A god, victorious of the stygian race,
Here laid his sacred limbs, and sanctified the place.        710
This mean retreat did mighty Pan contain;
Be emulous of him, and pomp disdain,
And dare not to debase your soul to gain.
  The silent stranger stood amaz’d to see
Contempt of wealth, and wilfull poverty:        715
And, though ill habits are not soon controll’d,
A while suspended her desire of gold.
But civilly drew in her sharpn’d paws,
Not violating hospitable laws,
And pacify’d her tail and lick’d her frothy jaws.        720
  The Hind did first her country Cates provide;
Then couch’d her self securely by her side.
Note 1. Cannon] Warton, Scott, and others give Canon. [back]
Note 2. those] Broughton, Scott, and others give that. [back]
Note 3. Marks of the Catholick Church from the Nicene Creed. [back]
Note 4. Botches] Editors till Christie wrongly give Blotches. [back]
Note 5. seav’n] nine ed. 2. [back]
Note 6. The renunciation of the Benedictines to the Abby Lands. [back]
Note 7. skyes;] the edd. omit the semi-colon, giving a false construction. [back]
Note 8. Poeta loquitur. [back]

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.