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A rare example! but some souls we see
Grow hard, and stiffen with adversity ;
Yet these by Fortune's favours are undone ;
Resolv'd 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,
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, e'en that's as plain
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
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 Father's or Tradition's train ;
Those ancient guides she taught us to disdain,
And by that Scripture which she once abus'd,
To reformation stands herself accus'd.
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.
How an she censure, or what crime pretend,
But Scripture may be construed to defend ?
E'en those whom for rebellion she transmits
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 absolv'd she sends to punishment.
Suppose the magistrate revenge her cause,
'Tis only for transgressing human laws.
How answering to its end a church is made,
Whose power is but to counsel and persuade?
O solid rock, on which secure she stands !
Eternal house, not built with mortal hands!
O sure defence against the’ infernal gate,
A patent during pleasure of the state !
Thus is the Panther neither lov'd 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 : 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,
Rul'd while she rules, and losing every hour
Her wretched remnants of precarious power.
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 silvan subjects made their court,
Levées and couchées pass’d without resort :
So hardly can usurpers manage well
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, filld 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 'em 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
The sovereign Lion bade her fear no more.
Encourag'd thus, she brought her younglings nigh,
Watching the motions of her patron's eye,
And drank a sober draught; the rest, amaz’d,
Stood mutely still, and on the stranger gaz'd;
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,
Their guide in faith; but nearer when they drew,
And had the faultless object still in view,
Lord, how they all admir'd her heavenly hue!
Some, who before her fellowship disdain'd,
Scarce, and but scarce, from in-born rage re-
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;
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, suffic'd, did late repair To ferny heaths, and to their forest lair, She made a mannerly excuse to stay, Profering 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 embracid, To chat awhile 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 estrang'd, Her forehead cloudy, and her count'nance chang'd, She thought this hour the occasion would present To learn her secret cause of discontent, Which well she hop'd might be with ease reConsidering her a well-bred civil beast, (dress’d, And more a gentlewoman than the rest. After some common talk what rumours ran, The lady of the Spotted Muff began.
“ DAME, (said the Panther) times are mended well Since late
the Philistines you
The toils were pitch'd, a spacious track of ground
With expert huntsmen was encompass'd round;
T'he’ inclosure narrow'd, the sagacious pow'r
Of hounds and death drew nearer every hour:
'Tis true the younger Lion* 'scap'd the snare,
But all your priestly calves lay struggling there,
As sacrifices on their altars laid,
While you their careful mother wisely fled,
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, To catch the quarry and the vermin too; Forgive the slanderous tongues that call'd you so. Howe'er
take it now, the common cry Then ran you down for your rank loyalty. Besides, in Popery they thought you nurst, (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.
* James the Second, then Duke of York.