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With loss of life, if any should be found
To crow or peck on this forbidden ground.
That bloody statute chiefly was designed
For Chanticleer the white, of clergy kind; *
But after-malice did not long forget
The lay that wore the robe and coronet. †
For them, for their inferiors and allies,
Their foes a deadly Shibboleth devise;
By which unrighteously it was decreed,
That none to trust, or profit, should succeed,
Who would not swallow first a poisonous wicked(
Or that, to which old Socrates was cursed,
Or henbane juice to swell them till they burst.
The patron, as in reason, thought it hard
To see this inquisition in his yard,
By which the sovereign was of subjects'use debarred.
All gentle means he tried, which might withdraw
The effects of so unnatural a law;
But still the dove-house obstinately stood
Deaf to their own, and to their neighbours' good;
And which was worse, if any worse could be,
Repented of their boasted loyalty;
Now made the champions of a cruel cause,
And drunk with fumes of popular applause:
For those whom God to ruin has designed,
He fits for fate, and first destroys their mind. §
New doubts indeed they daily strove to raise,
Suggested dangers, interposed delays,
* The laws imposing the penalty of high treason on priests saying mass in England.
The Roman Catholic nobility, excluded from the House of Peers by the imposition of the test.
§ Quos Jupiter vult perdere, prius dementat.
And emissary Pigeons had in store,
Such as the Meccan prophet used of yore,
To whisper counsels in their patron's ear,
And veiled their false advice with zealous fear.
The master smiled to see them work in vain,
To wear him out, and make an idle reign:
He saw, but suffered their protractive arts,
And strove by mildness to reduce their hearts;
But they abused that grace to make allies,
And fondly closed with former enemies;
For fools are doubly fools, endeavouring to be wise.
After a grave consult what course were best,
One, more mature in folly than the rest,
Stood up, and told them, with his head aside,
That desperate cures must be to desperate ills applied:
And therefore, since their main impending fear
Was from the increasing race of Chanticleer,
Some potent bird of prey they ought to find,
A foe professed to him, and all his kind:
Some hagard Hawk, who had her eyry nigh,
Well pounced to fasten, and well winged to fly;
One they might trust, their common wrongs to wreak.
The Musquet and the Coystrel were too weak,
Too fierce the Falcon; but, above the rest,
The noble Buzzard† ever pleased me best :
Of small renown, 'tis true; for, not to lie,
We call him but a Hawk by courtesy.
I know he hates the Pigeon-house and Farm,
And more, in time of war, has done us harm:
But all his hate on trivial points depends;
Give up our forms, and we shall soon be friends.
The foolish fable of Mahomet accustoming a pigeon to pick peas from his ear, to found his pretensions to inspiration, is well known.
+ Gilbert Burnet, D. D. afterwards Bishop of Salisbury. See Note XXVII.
For Pigeons' flesh he seems not much to care;
Cram'd Chickens are a more delicious fare.
On this high potentate, without delay,
I wish you would confer the sovereign sway;
Petition him to accept the government,
And let a splendid embassy be sent.
This pithy speech prevailed, and all agreed,
Old enmities forgot, the Buzzard should succeed.
Their welcome suit was granted, soon as heard,
His lodgings furnished, and a train prepared,
With B's upon their breast, appointed for his guard.
He came, and, crowned with great solemnity,
God save king Buzzard! was the general cry.
A portly prince, and goodly to the sight,
He seemed a son of Anach for his height:
Like those whom stature did to crowns prefer,
Black-browed, and bluff, like Homer's Jupiter;
Broad-backed, and brawny-built for love's delight,
A prophet formed to make a female proselyte; *
A theologue more by need than genial bent,
By breeding sharp, by nature confident.
Interest in all his actions was discerned;
More learned than honest, more a wit than learned;
Or forced by fear, or by his profit led,
Or both conjoined, his native clime he fled;
But brought the virtues of his heaven along,
A fair behaviour, and a fluent tongue.
And yet with all his arts he could not thrive,
The most unlucky parasite alive;
Loud praises to prepare his paths he sent,
And then himself pursued his compliment;
But by reverse of fortune chased away,
His gifts no longer than their author stay;
He shakes the dust against the ungrateful race,
And leaves the stench of ordures in the place.
Oft has he flattered and blasphemed the same;
For in his rage he spares no sovereign's name :
The hero and the tyrant change their style,
By the same measure that they frown or smile.
When well received by hospitable foes,
The kindness he returns, is to expose;
For courtesies, though undeserved and great,
No gratitude in felon-minds beget;
As tribute to his wit, the churl receives the treat.
His praise of foes is venomously nice ;
So touched, it turns a virtue to a vice; †
"A Greek, and bountiful, forewarns us twice." +
Seven sacraments he wisely does disown,
Because he knows confession stands for one;
Where sins to sacred silence are conveyed,
And not for fear, or love, to be betrayed :
But he, uncalled, his patron to controul,
Divulged the secret whispers of his soul;
Stood forth the accusing Satan of his crimes,
And offered to the Moloch of the times.
Prompt to assail, and careless of defence,
Invulnerable in his impudence,
He dares the world; and, eager of a name,
He thrusts about, and jostles into fame.
Frontless, and satire-proof, he scowers the streets,
And runs an Indian-muck at all he meets. ||
So fond of loud report, that, not to miss
Of being known, (his last and utmost bliss,)
He rather would be known for what he is.
timeo Danaos et dona ferentes. Eneid, II. lib. Note XXXII.
Such was, and is, the Captain of the Test,*
Though half his virtues are not here expressed;
The modesty of fame conceals the rest.
The spleenful Pigeons never could create
A prince more proper to revenge their hate;
Indeed, more proper to revenge, than save;
A king, whom in his wrath the Almighty gave:
For all the grace the landlord had allowed,
But made the Buzzard and the Pigeons proud;
Gave time to fix their friends, and to seduce the
They long their fellow-subjects to inthral,
Their patron's promise into question call, †
And vainly think he meant to make them lords of all.
False fears their leaders failed not to suggest,
As if the Doves were to be dispossessed;
Nor sighs, nor groans, nor goggling eyes did want,
For now the Pigeons too had learned to cant.
The house of prayer is stocked with large increase ;
Nor doors, nor windows, can contain the press,
For birds of every feather fill the abode ;
E'en atheists out of envy own a God,
And, reeking from the stews, adulterers come,
Like Goths and Vandals to demolish Rome.
That conscience, which to all their crimes was mute,
Now calls aloud, and cries to persecute :
No rigour of the laws to be released,
And much the less, because it was their Lord's request;
The promise to maintain the church of England, made in James's first proclamation after his accession; and which the church party alleged he had now broken. Note XXXIV.