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“An almes, sir priest!" the droppynge pilgrim sayde, “For sweete Seyncte Marie and your order sake!” The Limitoure then loosened his pouche threade, And did thereoute a groate of silver take: The mister pilgrim dyd for halline shake. “Here, take this silver; it maie eathe thie care: We are Goddes stewards all, nete of oure owne we bare.
“But ah, unhailie pilgrim, lerne of me
Scathe anie give a rentrolle to their Lorde.
Here, take my semecope—thou arte bare, I see;
'T is thyne; the Seynctes will give me mie rewarde."
He left the pilgrim, and his waie aborde.
Virgynne and hallie Seyncte, who sitte yn gloure,
Or give the mittee will or give the gode man power!
Happy! when we but seek to endure
A little pain, then find a cure,
By double joy requited;
For friendship, like a severed bone,
Improves and joins a stronger tone
When aptly reunited.
When Cromwell fought for pow'r, and while he
The proud protector of the pow'r he gained,
Religion, harsh, intolerant, austere,
Parent of manners like herself severe,
Drew a rough copy of the Christian face,
Without the smile, the sweetness, or the grace;
The dark and sullen humour of the time
Judged ev'ry effort of the Muse a crime;
Verse in the finest mould of fancy cast
Was lumber in an age so void of taste.
But when the second Charles assumed the sway,
And arts revived beneath a softer day,
Then, like a bow long forced into a curve,
The mind, released from too constrained a nerve,
Flew to its first position with a spring
That made the vaulted roofs of Pleasure ring.
His court, the dissolute and hateful school
Of Wantonness, where vice was taught by rule,
Swarmed with a scribbling herd, as deep inlaid
With brutal lust as ever Circe made.
From these a long succession in the rage
Of rank obscenity debauched their age,
Nor ceased, till, ever anxious to redress
Th’ abuses of her sacred charge the press,
The Muse instructed a well-nurtured train
Of abler votaries to cleanse the stain,
And claim the palm for purity of song,
That Lewdness had usurped and worn so long.
Then decent Pleasantry and sterling Sense,
That neither gave nor would endure offence,
Whipped out of sight, with satire just and keen,
The puppy pack that had defiled the scene.
In front of these came Addison. In him
Humour in holiday and sightly trim,
Sublimity and Attic taste, combined
To polish, furnish, and delight the mind.
Then Pope, as harmony itself exact,
In verse well disciplined, complete, compact,
Gave virtue and morality a grace
That, quite eclipsing Pleasure's painted face,
Levied a tax of wonder and applause,
Ev'n on the fools that trampled on their laws.
But he (his musical finesse was such-
So nice his ear, so delicate his touch)
Made poetry a mere mechanic art,
And ev'ry warbler has his tune by heart. 1780.
Yon ancient prude, whose withered features show
She might be young some forty years ago,
Her elbows pinioned close upon her hips,
Her head erect, her fan upon her lips,
Her eyebrows arched, her eyes both gone astray
To watch yon am'rous couple in their play,
With bony and unkerchiefed neck defies
The rude inclemency of wintry skies,
And sails with lappet-head and mincing airs,
Duly at clink of bell, to morning pray'rs.
To thrift and parsimony much inclined,
She yet allows herself that boy behind;
The shiv'ring urchin, bending as he goes,
With slipshod heels, and dewdrop at his nose,
His predecessor's coat advanced to wear,
Which future pages are yet doomed to share,
Carries her Bible tucked beneath his arm,
And hides his hands to keep his fingers warm.
She, half an angel in her own account,
Doubts not hereafter with the saints to mount,
Though not a grace appears, on strictest search,
But that she fasts and, item, goes to church.
Conscious of age, she recollects her youth,
And tells, not always with an eye to truth,
Who spanned her waist, and who, where'er he came,
Scrawled upon glass Miss Bridget's lovely name;
Who stole her slipper, filled it with tokay,
And drank the little bumper ev'ry day.
Of temper as envenomed as an asp,
Censorious, and her ev'ry word a wasp,
In faithful mem'ry she records the crimes,
Or real or fictitious, of the times,
Laughs at the reputations she has torn,
And holds them dangling at arm's length in scorn.
Such are the fruits of sanctimonious pride,
Of malice fed while flesh is mortified.
Take, madam, the reward of all your pray’rs,
Where hermits and where Brahmins meet with theirs;
Your portion is with them: nay, never frown,
But, if you please, some fathoms lower down.
How oft upon yon eminence our pace
Has slackened to a pause, and we have borne
The ruffling wind scarce conscious that it blew,
While Admiration, feeding at the eye
And still unsated, dwelt upon the scene !