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Can make one body in more places dwell.
Let Reason then at her own quarry fly,
But how can finite grasp Infinity?
Too boastful Britain, please thyself no more
That beasts of prey are banished from thy shore;
The Bear, the Boar, and every salvage name,
Wild in effect, though in appearance tame,
Lay waste thy woods, destroy thy blissful bow'r,
And, muzzled though they seem, the mutes devour.
More haughty than the rest, the wolfish race
Appear with belly gaunt and famished face;
Never was so deformed a beast of grace.
His ragged tail betwixt his legs he wears,
Close clapped for shame; but his rough crest he rears,
And pricks up his predestinating ears.
His wild disordered walk, his haggard eyes,
Did all the bestial citizens surprise:
Though feared and hated, yet he ruled awhile,
As captain or companion of the spoil.
The Panther, sure the noblest next the Hind,
And fairest creature of the spotted kind,
Oh, could her in-born stains be washed away,
She were too good to be beast of prey!
How can I praise or blame and not offend,
Or how divide the frailty from the friend?
Her faults and virtues lie so mixed that she
Nor wholly stands condemned nor wholly free.
Then, like her injured Lion, let me speak;
He cannot bend her, and he would not break.
Unkind already, and estranged in part,
The Wolf begins to share her wand'ring heart;
Though unpolluted yet with actual ill,
She half commits who sins but in her will.
If, as our dreaming Platonists report,
There could be spirits of a middle sort,
Too black for heav'n and yet too white for hell,
Who just dropped half-way down, nor lower fell,
So poised, so gently she descends from high,
It seems a soft dismission from the sky.
Her house not ancient, whatsoe'er pretence
Her clergy heralds make in her defence;
A second century not half-way run,
Since the new honours of her blood begun.
"Before the Word was written," said the Hind,
"Our Saviour preached His faith to human kind;
From His Apostles the first age received
Eternal truth, and what they taught believed.
Thus by tradition faith was planted first;
Succeeding flocks succeeding pastors nursed.
This was the way our wise Redeemer chose,
Who sure could all things for the best dispose,
To fence His fold from their encroaching foes.
He could have writ Himself, but well foresaw
Th' event would be like that of Moses' law;
Some difference would arise, some doubts remain,
Like those which yet the jarring Jews maintain.
No written laws can be so plain, so pure,
But wit may gloss and malice may obscure—
Not those indited by His first command;
A prophet graved the text, an angel held his hand.
Thus faith was ere the written Word appeared,
And men believed, not what they read, but heard.
But since th' Apostles could not be confined
To these or those, but severally designed
Their large commission round the world to blow,
To spread their faith they spread their labours too.
Yet still their absent flock their pains did share;
They hearkened still, for love produces care.
And as mistakes arose or discords fell,
Or bold seducers taught 'em to rebel,
As charity grew cold or faction hot,
Or long neglect their lessons had forgot,
For all their wants they wisely did provide,
And preaching by epistles was supplied:
So great physicians cannot all attend,
But some they visit and to some they send.
Yet all those letters were not writ to all;
Nor first intended but occasional,
Their absent sermons; nor, if they contain
All needful doctrines, are those doctrines plain:
Clearness by frequent preaching must be wrought;
They writ but seldom, but they daily taught;
And what one saint has said of holy Paul,
'He darkly writ,' is true applied to all.
For this obscurity could Heav'n provide
More prudently than by a living guide,
As doubts arose the difference to decide?
A guide was therefore needful, therefore made;
And, if appointed, sure to be obeyed.
Thus, with due rev'rence to th' Apostles' writ,
By which my sons are taught, to which submit,
I think those truths their sacred works contain
The Church alone can certainly explain,
That following ages, leaning on the past,
May rest upon the primitive at last.
Nor would I thence the Word no rule infer,
But none without the Church-interpreter;
Because, as I have urged before, 't is mute,
And is itself the subject of dispute.
But what th' Apostles their successors taught,
They to the next, from them to us is brought-
Th' undoubted sense which is in Scripture sought.
From hence the Church is armed, when errors rise,
To stop their entrance and prevent surprise;
And, safe entrenched within, her foes without defies.
By these, all fest'ring sores her Councils heal,
Which time or has disclosed or shall reveal;
For discord cannot end without a last appeal.
Nor can a Council national decide
But with subordination to her guide
(I wish the cause were on that issue tried);
Much less the Scripture:-for suppose debate
Betwixt pretenders to a fair estate,
Bequeathed by some legator's last intent
(Such is our dying Saviour's Testament);
The will is proved, is opened, and is read;
The doubtful heirs their diff'ring titles plead;
All vouch the words their int'rest to maintain,
And each pretends by those his cause is plain:
Shall then the testament award the right?
No, that's the Hungary for which they fight,
The field of battle, subject of debate,
The thing contended for, the fair estate.
The sense is intricate; 't is only clear
What vowels and what consonants are there;
Therefore 't is plain its meaning must be tried
Before some judge appointed to decide."
"Suppose," the fair apostate said, "I grant
The faithful flock some living guide should want,
Your arguments an endless chase pursue:
Produce this vaunted leader to our view,
This mighty Moses of the chosen crew."
The dame, who saw her fainting foe retired,
With force renewed, to victory aspired;
And, looking upward to her kindred sky,
As once our Saviour owned His Deity,
Pronounced His words-"She whom ye seek am I."
NO, NO, POOR SUFF'RING HEART
No, no, poor suff'ring heart, no change endeavour;
Choose to sustain the smart, rather than leave her:
My ravished eyes behold such charms about her,
I can die with her but not live without her;
One tender sigh of hers to see me languish,
Will more than pay the price of my past anguish.
Beware, O cruel fair, how you smile on me;
'T was a kind look of yours that has undone me.
Love has in store for me one happy minute,
And she will end my pain who did begin it:
Then no day void of bliss or pleasure leaving,
Ages shall slide away without perceiving;
Cupid shall guard the door, the more to please us,
And keep out Time and Death, when they would seize us;
Time and Death shall depart, and say in flying,
Love has found out a way to live by dying.
TO MY DEAR FRIEND, MR. CONGREVE
ON HIS COMEDY CALLED "THE DOUBLE DEALER"
Well, then, the promised hour is come at last;
The present age of wit obscures the past.
Strong were our sires; and as they fought they writ,
Conqu'ring with force of arms and dint of wit:
Theirs was the giant race before the Flood;
And thus, when Charles returned, our empire stood.
Like Janus, he the stubborn soil manured,
With rules of husbandry the rankness cured;
Tamed us to manners, when the stage was rude,
And boisterous English wit with art endued.
Our age was cultivated thus, at length,
But what we gained in skill we lost in strength.
Our builders were with want of genius curst;
The second temple was not like the first:
Till you, the best Vitruvius, come at length,
Our beauties equal, but excel our strength.
Firm Doric pillars found your solid base,
The fair Corinthian crowns the higher space:
Thus all below is strength, and all above is grace.
In easy dialogue is Fletcher's praise;
He moved the mind, but had not power to raise.
Great Jonson did by strength of judgment please;
Yet, doubling Fletcher's force, he wants his ease.
In differing talents both adorned their age,
One for the study, t' other for the stage.
But both to Congreve justly shall submit,
One matched in judgment, both o'ermatched in wit.
In him all beauties of this age we see:
Etherege his courtship, Southerne's purity,
The satire, wit, and strength of manly Wycherley.
All this in blooming youth you have achieved;
Nor are your foiled contemporaries grieved:
So much the sweetness of your manners move,
We cannot envy you, because we love.
Fabius might joy in Scipio, when he saw
A beardless Consul made against the law,
And join his suffrage to the votes of Rome,
Though he with Hannibal was overcome.