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To what the centuries preceding spoke.
The partial Papists would infer from hence*
In times o’ergrown with rust and ignorance, A gainful trade their clergy did advance : When want of learning kept the laymen low, And none but priests were authoriz'd to know :
* The second objection. M. N. Orig. ed.
When what small knowledge was, in them did
dwell; And he a god who could but read or spell : Then mother church did mightily prevail : She parcell'd out the Bible by retail : But still expounded what she sold or gave; To keep it in her power to damn and save: Scripture was scarce, and as the market went, Poor laymen took salvation on content ; As needy men take money good or bad : God's word they had not, but the priest's they had. Yet, whate'er false conveyances they made, The lawyer still was certain to be paid. In those dark times they learn’d their knack so well, That by long use they grew infallible : At last, a knowing age began to inquire If they the book, or that did them inspire: And, making narrower search, they found, tho' late, That what they thought the priest's was their estate; Taught by the will produc'd, (the written word) How long they had been cheated on record. Then every man, who saw the title fair, Claim'd a child's part, and put in for a share: Consulted soberly his private good, And sav'd himself as cheap as e'er he could.
'Tis true, my friend, (and far be flattery hence) This good had full as bad a consequence : The book thus put in every vulgar hand, Which each presum'd he best could understand, The common rule was made the common prey,
And at the mercy of the rabble lay.
What then remains, but, waving each extreme,
But since men will believe more than they need,
Thus have I made my own opinions clear :
A FUNERAL PINDARIC POEM.
SACRED TO THE HAPPY MEMORY OF KING CHARLES II.
Thus long my grief has kept me dumb:
Sure there's a lethargy in mighty woe,
Tears stand congeald, and cannot flow; And the sad soul retires into her inmost room : Tears, for a stroke foreseen, afford relief;
But, unprovided for a sudden blow,
And petrify with grief.
· Thus long my grief ] The following just, though severe sentence, has been passed on this Threnodia, by one who was always willing, if possible, to extenuate the blemishes of our poet. Its first and obvious defect is the irregularity of its metre, to which the ears of that age, however, were accustomed. What is worse, it has neither tenderness nor dignity; it is neither magnificent nor pathetic. He seems to look round him for images which he cannot find, and what he has he distorts by endeavouring to enlarge them. He is, he says, petrified with grief, but the marble relents, and trickles in a joke. There is throughout the composition a desire of splendour without wealth. In the conclusion, he seems too much pleased with the prospect of the new reign, to have lamented his old master with much sincerity.' Dr. Johnson. Dr. J. W.