Imágenes de páginas

To Crows the like impartial grace affords,
And Choughs and Daws, and such republic birds
Secured with ample privilege to feed,

Each has his district, and his bounds decreed;
Combined in common interest with his own,
But not to pass the Pigeons' Rubicon.

Here ends the reign of this pretended Dove;
All prophecies accomplish'd from above,
For Shiloh comes the sceptre to remove.
Reduced from her imperial high abode,
Like Dionysius to a private rod,*

The passive church, that with pretended grace
Did her distinctive mark in duty place,
Now touch'd, reviles her Maker to his face.
What after happen'd is not hard to guess;
The small beginnings had a large increase,
And arts and wealth succeed the secret spoils of


"Tis said, the Doves repented, though too late,
Become the smiths of their own foolish fate :†
Nor did their owner hasten their ill hour,
But, sunk in credit, they decreased in power;
Like snows in warmth that mildly pass away,
Dissolving in the silence of decay.‡

The Buzzard, not content with equal place,
Invites the feather'd Nimrods of his race,
To hide the thinness of their flock from sight,
And all together make a seeming goodly flight:
But each have separate interests of their own;
Two Czars are one too many for a throne.

*The tyrant of Syracuse, who, after being dethroned, taught a school at Corinth.

Quisque sua fortunæ faber. SALLust.


Nor can the usurper long abstain from food;
Already he has tasted Pigeon's blood,

And may be tempted to his former fare,*
When this indulgent lord shall late to heaven repair.
Bare benting times, and moulting months may come,
When, lagging late, they cannot reach their home;
Or rent in schism, (for so their fate decrees,)
Like the tumultuous college of the bees,

They fight their quarrel, by themselves opprest,
The tyrant smiles below, and waits the falling feast.-

Thus did the gentle Hind her fable end, Nor would the Panther blame it, nor commend; But, with affected yawnings at the close, Seem'd to require her natural repose; For now the streaky light began to peep, And setting stars admonish'd both to sleep. The Dame withdrew, and, wishing to her guest The peace of heaven, betook herself to rest: Ten thousand angels on her slumbers wait, With glorious visions of her future state.






Note I.

And mother Hubbard, in her homely dress,
Has sharply blamed a British Lioness;

That queen, whose feast the factious rabble keep,
Exposed obscenely naked, and asleep.-P. 197.

The poet, in the beginning of this canto, anticipates the censure of those who might blame him for introducing into his fa bles animals not natives of Britain, where the scene was laid. He vindicates himself by the example of Æsop and Spenser. The latter, in "Mother Hubbard's Tale," exhibits at length the various arts by which, in his time, obscure and infamous characters rose to eminence in church and state. This is illustrated by the parable of an Ape and a Fox, who insinuate themselves into various situations, and play the knaves in all. At length,

Lo, where they spied, how, in a gloomy glade,
The Lion, sleeping, lay in secret shade;
His crown and sceptre lying him beside,
And having doft for heat his dreadful hide.

The adventurers possess themselves of the royal spoils, with which the Ape is arrayed; who forthwith takes upon himself the dignity of the monarch of the beasts, and, by the counsels of the Fox, commits every species of oppression, until Jove, incensed at

the disorders which his tyranny had introduced, sends Mercury to awaken the Lion from his slumber :

Arise! said Mercury, thou sluggish beast,
That here lies senseless, like the corpse deceast;
The whilst thy kingdom from thy head is rent,
And thy throne royal with dishonour blent.

The Lion rouses himself, hastens to court, and avenges himself of the usurpers.-There is no doubt, that, under this allegory, Spenser meant to represent the exorbitant power of Lord Burleigh; and he afterwards complains, that his verse occasioned his falling into a "mighty peer's displeasure." The Lion, therefore, whose negligence was upbraided by Mercury, was Queen Elizabeth. Dryden calls her,

The queen, whose feast the factious rabble keep;

because the tumultuous pope-burnings of 1680 and 1681 were solemnized on Queen Elizabeth's night. The poet had probably, since his change of religion, laid aside much of the hereditary respect with which most Englishmen regard Queen Bess; for, in the pamphlets of the Romanists, she is branded as "a known bastard, who raised this prelatic protestancy, called the church of England, as a prop to supply the weakness of her title.”*

Spenser's authority is only appealed to by Dryden as justifying the introduction of lions and other foreign animals into a British fable. But I observed in the introduction, that it also furnishes authority, at least example, for those aberrations from the character and attributes of his brute actors, with which the critics taxed Dryden; for nothing in "The Hind and the Panther," can be more inconsistent with the natural quality of such animals, than the circumstance of a lion, or any other creature, going to sleep without his skin, on account of the sultry weather.

Note II.

You know my doctrine, and I need not say
I will not, but I cannot, disobey.

On this firm principle I ever stood;

He of my sons, who fails to make it good,

By one rebellious act renounces to my blood.-P. 202.

The memorable judgment and decree of the university of Oxford, passed in the Convocation 21st July, 1683, condemns, as heretical, all works which teach or infer the lawfulness of resistance

* A New Test of the Church of England's Loyalty.



to lawful governors, even when they become tyrants, or in case of persecution for religion, or infringement on the laws of the country, or in short, in any case whatever; and after the various authorities for these and other tenets have been given and denounced as false, seditious, heretical, and impious, the decree concludes with the following injunctions :

"Lastly, we command and strictly enjoin all and singular readers, tutors, catechists, and others, to whom the care and trust of instruction of youth is committed, that they diligently instruct and ground their scholars in that most necessary doctrine, which in a manner is the badge and character of the church of England, of submitting to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether it be to the king as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him, for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well: Teaching, that this submission and obedience is to be clear, absolute, and without exception of any state or order of men."

Note III.

Your sons of latitude, that court your grace,
Though most resembling you in form and face,
Are far the worst of your pretended race.
And, but I blush your honesty to blot,
Pray God you prove them lawfully begot !
For in some Popish libels I have read,

The Wolf has been too busy in your bed.-P. 202.


During the latter years of the reign of Charles the Second, the dissensions of the state began to creep into the church. By far the greater part of the clergy, influenced by the ancient union of church and king, were steady in their adherence to the court interest. But a party began to appear, who were distinguished from their brethren by the name of Moderate Divines, which they assumed to themselves, and by that of Latitudinarians, which the high churchmen conferred upon them. The chief amongst these were Tillotson, Stillingfleet, and Burnet, They distinguished themselves by a less violent ardour for the ceremonies, and even the government, of the church; for all those particulars, in short, by which she is distinguished from other Protestant congregations. Stillingfleet carried these condescensions so far, as to admit in his tract, called Irenicum, that, although the original church was settled in a constitution of bishops, priests, and deacons, yet as the apostles made no positive law upon this subject, it remained free to every Christian congregation to alter or to retain that form of church government. In conformity with this opinion, he, in conjunction with Tillotson and others, laid a plan for an accommoda

« AnteriorContinuar »