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Nothing was theirs, but all the public store;
Wide was his parish ; not contracted close In streets, but here and there a straggling house ; Yet still he was at hand, without request, To serve the sick, to succour the distress'd ; Tempting on foot, alone, without affright, The dangers of a dark tempestuous night.
All this, the good old man perform'd alone, Nor spared his pains; for curate he had none. Nor durst he trust another with his care; Nor rode himself to Paul's, the public fair, To chaffer for preferment with his gold, Where bishoprics and sinecures are sold ; But duly watch'd his flock by night and day, And from the prowling wolf redeem'd the prey, And hungry sent the wily fox away.
The proud he tamed, the penitent he cheerd; Nor to rebuke the rich offender fear'd. His preaching much, but more his practice wrought; (A living sermon of the truths he taught ;) For this by rules severe his life he squared, That all might see the doctrine which they heard. For priests, he said, are patterns for the rest; (The gold of heaven, who bear the God impressid ;) But when the precious coin is kept unclean, The Sovereign's image is no longer seen. If they be foul on whom the people trust, Well may the baser brass contract a rust.
The prelate, for his holy life he prized ; The worldly pomp of prelacy despised ; His Saviour came not with a gaudy show, Nor was his kingdom of the world below.
Patience in want, and poverty of mind,
Not but he knew the signs of earthly power
plain.* Such was the saint, who shone with every grace, Reflecting, Moses-like, his Maker's face. God saw his image lively was expressid ; And his own work, as in creation, bless'd.
The tempter saw him too with envious eye, And, as on Job, demanded leave to try. He took the time when Richard was deposed, And high and low with happy Harry closed. This prince, though great in arms, the priest with
stood : Near though he was, yet not the next of blood. Had Richard, unconstrain'd, resign'd the throne, A king can give no more than is his own: The title stood entail'd, had Richard had a son.
Conquest, an odious name, was laid aside; Where all submitted, none the battle tried. The senseless plea of right by Providence Was, by a flattering priest, invented since ;
* This passage is obviously introduced by the author, to apologize for the splendid establishment of the clergy of his own community. What follows, applies, as has been noticed, to the non-juring clergy, who lost their benefices for refusing the oath of allegiance to King William.
And lasts no longer than the present sway,
The people's right remains ; let those who dare Dispute their power, when they the judges are.
He join'd not in their choice, because he knew Worse might, and often did, from change ensue. Much to himself he thought, but little spoke; And, undeprived, his benefice forsook. Now, through the land, his cure of souls he
stretch’d, And like a primitive apostle preach’d. Still cheerful ; ever constant to his call; By many follow'd; loved by most, admired by all. With what he beggd, his brethren he relieved, And gave the charities himself received ; Gave, while he taught; and edified the more, Because he shew'd, by proof, 'twas easy to be poor.
He went not, with the crowd, to see a shrine ; But fed us, by the way, with food divine.
In deference to his virtues, I forbear To shew you what the rest in orders were: This brilliant is so spotless, and so bright, He needs no foil, but shines by his own proper light.