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Poem by Richard Savage
The Progress of a Divine
Satire All priests are not the same, be understood! Priests are, like other folks, some bad, some good. What's vice or virtue, sure admits no doubt; Then, clergy, with church mission, or without; When good, or bad, annex we to your name, The greater honour, or the greater shame. Mark how a country Curate once could rise; Tho' neither learn'd, nor witty, good, nor wise! Of innkeeper, or butcher, if begot, At Cam or Isis bred, imports it not. A Servitor he was—Of hall, or college? Ask not—to neither credit is his knowledge. Four years, thro' foggy ale, yet made him see, Just his neck-verse to read, and take degree. A gown, with added sleeves, he now may wear; While his round cap transforms into a square. Him, quite unsconc'd, the butt'ry book shall own; At pray'rs, tho' ne'er devout, so constant known. Let testimonials then his worth disclose! He gains a cassock, beaver and a rose. A Curate now, his furniture review! A few old sermons, and a bottle-screw. A Curate?—Where? His name (cries one) recite! Or tell me this—Is pudding his delight? Why, our's loves pudding—Does he so?—'tis he! A Servitor;—Sure Curl will find a key. His Alma Mater now he quite forsakes; She gave him one degree, and two he takes. He now the hood and sleeve of Master wears; Doctor! (quoth they)—and lo! a scarf he bears! A swelling, russling, glossy scarf! yet he, By peer unqualify'd, as by degree. This Curate learns church-dues, and law to tease, When time shall serve, for tithes, and surplice-fees; When 'scapes some portion'd girl from guardian's pow'r, He the snug licence gets for nuptual hour; And rend'ring vain her parent's prudent cares, To sharper weds her, and with sharper shares. Let babes of poverty convulsive lie; No bottle waits, tho' babes unsprinkled die. Half-office serves the fun'ral, if it bring No hope of scarf, or hatband, gloves, or ring. Does any wealthy fair desponding lie, With scrup'lous conscience, tho' she knows not why? Would cordial counsel make the patient well? Our priest shall raise the vapours, not dispel. His cant some orphan's piteous case shall bring; He bids her give the widow's heart to sing: He pleads for age in want; and while she lingers, Thus snares her charity with bird-lime fingers. Now in the patron's mansion see the wight, Factious for pow'r—a son of Levy right! Servile to 'squires, to vassals proud his mien, As Codex to inferior Clergy seen. He flatters till you blush; but, when withdrawn, 'Tis his to slander, as 'twas his to fawn. He pumps for secrets, pries o'er servants' ways, And, like a meddling priest, can mischief raise; And from such mischief thus can plead desert— 'Tis all my patron's int'rest at my heart. Deep in his mind all wrongs from others live; None more need pardon, and none less forgive. At what does next his erudition aim? To kill the footed and the feather'd game: Then this Apostle, for a daintier dish. With line or net, shall plot the fate of fish. In kitchen, what the cookmaid calls a cot; In cellar, with the butler, brother sot, Here too he corks; in brewhouse hops the beer, Bright in the hall, his parts at whist appear; Dext'rous to pack; yet at all cheats exclaiming: The priest has av'rice, av'rice itch of gaming, And gaming fraud:—But fair he strikes the ball, And at the plain of billiard pockets all. At tables now!—But oh, if gammon'd there, The startling echoes learn, like him, to swear! Tho' ne'er at authors in the study seen, At bowls sagacious master of the green. A connoisseur, as cunning as a fox, To bet on racers, or on battling cocks; To preach o'er beer, in boroughs, to procure Voters, to make the 'squire's election sure: For this, where clowns stare, gape, and grin, and baul, Free to buffoon his function to 'em all. When the clod justice some horse-laugh wou'd raise, Foremost the dullest of dull jokes to praise; To say, or unsay, at his patron's nod; To do the will of all—save that of God. His int'rest the most servile part he deems; Yet much he sways, where much to serve he seems; He sways his patron, rules the Lady most, And, as he rules the Lady, rules the roast. Old tradesmen must give way to new—his aim Extorted poundage, once the steward's claim. Tenants are rais'd; or, as his pow'r increases, Unless they fine to him, renew no leases. Thus tradesmen, servants, tenants, none are free; Their loss and murmur are his gain and glee. Lux'ry he loves; but like a priest of sense, Ev'n lux'ry loves not at his own expence. Tho' harlot passions wanton with his will, Yet av'rice is his wedded passion still. See him with napkin o'er his band tuck'd in, While the rich grease hangs glist'ning on his chin; Or as the dew from Aaron's beard declines, Ev'n to his garment hem soft-trickling shines! He feeds, and feeds, swills soop, and sucks up marrow; Swills, sucks, and feeds, till leach'rous as a sparrow. Thy pleasure, Onan, now no more delights, The lone amusement of his chaster nights. He boasts—(let Ladies put him to the test!) Strong back, broad shoulders, and a well-built chest. With stiff'ning nerves, now steals he sly away; Alert, warm, chuckling, ripe for am'rous play; Ripe to caress the lass he once thought meet At church to chide, when penanc'd in a sheet. He pants the titillating joy to prove, The fierce, short sallies of luxurious love. Not fair Cadiere and Confessor than they, In straining transports, more lascivious lay. Conceives her womb, while each so melts and thrills? He plies her now with love, and now with pills. No more falls penance cloath'd in shame upon her; These kill her embryo, and preserve her honour. Riches, love, pow'r, his passions then we own: Can he court pow'r, and pant not for renown? Fool, wise, good, wicked—all desire a name: Than him, young heroes burn not more for fame. While about ways of heav'n the schoolmen jar, (The church re-echoing to the wordy war) The ways of earth, he (on his horse astride) Can with big words contest, with blows decide; He dares some carrier, charg'd with cumb'rous load, Disputes, dismounts, and boxes for the road. Ye hooting boys, Oh, Well-play'd parson, cry! Oh, Well-play'd parson, hooting vales reply! Winds waft it to Cathedral Domes around! Cathedral Domes from inmost choirs resound! The man has many meritorious ways: He'll smoak his pipe, and London's prelate praise. His public pray'rs, his oaths for George declare; Yet mental reservation may forswear; For, safe with friends, he now, in loyal stealth, Hiccups, and, stagg'ring, cries—King Jemmy's health. God's word he preaches now, and now profanes; Now swallows camels, and at gnats now strains. He pities men, who, in unrighteous days, Read, or, what's worse, write poetry and plays. He readeth not what any author saith; The more his merit in implicit faith. Those, who a jot from mother church recede, He damns, like any Athanasian creed. He rails at Hoadley; so can zeal possess him, He's orthodox, as Gibson's self—God bless him. Satan, whom yet, for once, he pays thanksgiving, Sweeps off th' incumbent now of fat-goose living. He seeks his patron's Lady, finds the fair, And for her int'rest first prefers his prayer— You pose me not (said she) tho' hard the task; Tho' husbands seldom give what wives will ask. My dearee does not yet to think incline, How oft your nest you feather, priest, from mine. This pin-money, tho' short, has not betray'd; Nor jewels pawn'd, nor tradesmen's bills unpay'd; Mine is the female, fashionable skill, To win my wants, by cheating at quadrille. You bid me, with prim look, the world delude; Nor sins my priest demurer than his prude. Least thinks my Lord, you plant the secret horn, That yours his hopeful heir, so newly born. 'Tis mine to tease him first with jealous fears, And thunder all my virtue in his ears: My virtue rules unquestion'd—Where's the cue For that which governs him to govern you? I gave you pow'r the family complain; I gave you love; but all your love is gain. My int'rest, wealth—for these alone you burn; With these you leave me, and with these return: Then, as no truant wants excuse for play, 'Twas duty—duty call'd you far away; The sick to visit—some miles off to preach: —You come not, but to suck one like a leach. Thus Lady-like, she wanders from the case, Keeps to no point, but runs a wild-goose chase. She talks, and talks—to him her words are wind: For fat-goose living fills alone his mind. He leaves her, to his patron warm applies:— But parson, mark the terms! (his patron cries) Yon door you held for me, and handmaid Nell: The girl now sickens, and she soon will swell. My spouse has yet no jealous, odd conjecture: Oh, shield my morning rest from curtain-lecture: Parson, take breeding Nelly quick to wife, And fat-goose living then is yours for life! Patron and spouse thus mutually beguil'd, Patron and priest thus own each other's child. Smock simony agreed—Thus Curate rise; Tho' neither learn'd, nor witty, good nor wise. Vicars (poor wights!) for lost impropriation, Rue, tho' good protestants, the reformation. Prefer'd from Curate, see our soul's protector No murm'ring vicar, but rejoicing rector; Not hir'd by laymen, nor by laymen shown, Church-lands now theirs, and tithes no more his own! His patron can't revoke, but may repent: To bully now, not please, our parson's bent. When from dependence freed (such priestly will!) Priests soon treat all, but first their patrons, ill. Vestries he rules—Ye lawyers, hither draw! He snacks—His people deep are plung'd in law! Now these plague those, this parish now sues that, For burying, or maintaining foundling brat. Now with churchwardens cribs the rev'rend thief, From workhouse-pittance, and collection brief; Nay, sacramental alms purloins as sure, And ev'n at altars thus defrauds the poor. Poor folks he'll shun; but pray by rich, if ill, And watch, and watch—to slide into their will; Then pop, perchance, in consecrated wine, What speeds the soul, he fits for realms divine. Why cou'd not London this good parson gain? Before him sepulchres had rent in twain. Then had he learn'd with sextons to invade, And strip with sacrilegious hands the dead; To tear off rings, e'er yet the finger rots; To part 'em, for the vesture-shroud cast lots; Had made dead skulls for coin the chymist's share, The female corpse the surgeon's purchas'd ware; And peering view'd, when for dissection laid, That secret place, which love has sacred made. Grudge heroes not your heads in stills inclos'd! Grudge not, ye fair, your parts ripp'd up expos'd! As strikes the choice anatomy our eyes; As here dead skulls in quick'ning cordials rise; From Egypt thus a rival traffic springs: Her vended mummies thus were once her kings; The line of Ninus now in drugs is roll'd, And Ptolemy's himself for balsam sold. Volumes unread his library compose, Gay shine their gilded backs in letter'd rows. Cheap he collects—His friends the dupes are known; They buy, he borrows, and each book's his own. Poor neighbours earn his ale, but earn it dear; His ale he trafficks for a nobler cheer. For mugs of ale some poach—no game they spare; Nor pheasant, partridge, woodcock, snipe, nor hare. Some plunder fishponds; others (ven'son thieves) The forest ravage, and the priest receives. Let plenty at his board then lacquey serve! No—tho' with plenty, penury will starve. He deals with London fishmongers—His books Swell in accompts with poult'rers and with cooks. Wide, and more wide, his swelling fortune flows; Narrower, and narrower still, his spirit grows. His servants—Hard has fate their lot decreed: They toil like horses, like camelions feed. Sunday, no sabbath, is in labour spent, And Christmas renders 'em as lean as Lent. Him long, nor faithful services engage; See 'em dismiss'd in sickness or in age! His wife, poor Nelly, leads a life of dread; Now beat, now pinch'd on arms, and now in bread. If decent powder deck th' adjusted hair; If modish silk, for once, improve her air; Her with past faults, thus shocks his cruel tone; (Faults, tho' from thence her dow'ry, now his own)— Thus shall my purse your carnal joys procure, All dress is nothing, but a harlot's lure. Sackcloth alone your sin shou'd, penanc'd wear; Your locks, uncomb'd, with ashes sprinkled stare. Spare diet thins the blood—if more you crave, 'Tis mine, my viands, and your soul to save. Blood must be drawn, not swell'd—then strip, and dread This waving horsewhip circling o'er my head! Be yours the blubb'ring lip, and whimp'ring eye! Frequent this lash shall righteous stripes supply. What, squall you? Call no kindred to your aid! You wedded when no widow, yet no maid. Did law Mosaic now in force remain, Say to what father durst you then complain? What had your virtue witness'd? Well I know, No bridal sheets could virgin tokens shew; Elders had sought, but miss'd the signing red, And law, then harlot, straight had ston'd you dead. Nor former vice alone her pain insures; Nelly, for present virtue, much endures; For lo, she charms some wealthy, am'rous 'squire! Her spouse would let her, like his mare, for hire. 'Twere thus no sin, shou'd love her limbs employ: Be his the profit, and be hers the joy! This, when her chastity, or pride denies; His words reproach her, and his kicks chastise. At length, in childbed, she, with broken heart, Tips off—poor soul!—Let her in peace depart! He mourns her death, who did her life destroy; He weeps, and weeps—Oh, how he weeps—for joy! Then cries, with seeming grief, Is Nelly dead? No more with woman creak my couch or bed! 'Tis true, he spouse nor doxy more enjoys; Women farewel! He lusts not—but for boys. This priest, ye Clergy, not fictitious call; Think him not form'd to represent ye all. Should satire quirks of vile attornies draw; Say, wou'd that mean to ridicule all law? Describe some murd'ring quack with want of knowledge, Wou'd true physicians cry—You mean the college? Blest be your cloth!—But, if in him, 'tis curst, 'Tis as best things, corrupted, are the worst. But lest with keys the guiltless Curl defame, Be publish'd here—Melchisedeck his name! Of Oxford too; but her strict terms have dropp'd him: And Cambridge, ad eundem, shall adopt him. Of Arts now Master him the hood confirms; 'Scap'd are his exercises, 'scap'd his terms. See the degree of Doctor next excite! The scarf, he once usurp'd, becomes his right. A Doctor! cou'd be disputants refute? Not so—first compromis'd was the dispute. At fat-goose living seldom he resides; A Curate there, small pittance well provides. See him at London, studiously profound, With bags of gold, not books, encompass'd roun! He, from the broker, how to jobb discerns; He, from the scriv'ner, art of usury learns; How to let int'rest run on int'rest knows, And how to draw the mortgage, how foreclose; Tenants and boroughs bought with monstrous treasure, Elections turn obedient to his pleasure. Like St'bb'ng, let him country mobs support, And then, like St'bb'ng, crave a grace at court! He sues, he teases, and he perseveres: Not blushless Henley less abash'd appears. His impudence, of proof in ev'ry trial, Kens no polite, and heeds no plain denial. A spy, he aims by others' fall to rise; Vile as Iscariot U—-n, betrays, belies; And say, what better recommends than this? Lo, Codex greets him with a holy kiss; Him thus instructs in controversial stuff; Him, who ne'er argu'd, but with kick and cuff! My Weekly Miscellany be your lore; Then rise, at once, the champion of church-pow'r! The trick of jumbling contradictions know; In church be high, in politics seem low: Seek some antagonist, then wound his name; The better still his life, the more defame; Quote him unfair; and, in expression quaint, Force him to father meanings never meant! Learn but mere names, resistless is your page; For these enchant the vulgar, those enrage. Name Church, that mystic spell shall mobs command, Let Heretic each reas'ning Christian brand; Cry Schismatic, let men of conscience shrink! Cry Infidel, and who shall dare to think? Invoke the Civil Pow'r, not Sense, for aid; Assert, not argue; menace, not persuade; Shew discord and her fiends would save the nation; But her call Peace, her fiends a Convocation! By me, and Webster, finish'd thus at school, Last for the pulpit, learn this golden rule! Detach the sense, and pother o'er the text, And puzzle first yourself, your audience next: Ne'er let your doctrine ethic truth impart; Be that as free from morals as your heart! Say faith, without one virtue, shall do well; But, without faith, all virtues doom to hell! What is this faith? Not what (as Scripture shows) Appeals to reason, when 'twou'd truth disclose; This, against reason, dare we recommend; Faith may be true; yet not on truth depend. 'Tis mystic light—a light which shall conceal; A Revelation, which shall not reveal. If faith is faith, 'tis orthodox—in brief, Belief, not orthodox, is not belief; And who has not belief, pronounce him plain No Christian—Codex bids you this maintain. Thus with much wealth, some jargon, and no grace, To seat episcopal our Doctor trace! Codex, deceiving the superior ear, Procures the Congè(much miscall'd) D'Elire. (Let this the force of our fine precept tell, That faith, without one virtue, shall do well.) The Dean and Chapter, daring not t' enquire, Elect him—Why?—to shun a Premunire. Within, without, be tidings roll'd around; Organs within, and bells without resound. Lawn-sleev'd, and mitred, stand he now confest: See Codex consecrate!—A solemn jest! The wicked's pray'rs prevail not—pardon me, Who, for your Lordship's blessing, bend—no knee. Like other priests, when to small sees you send 'em, Let ours hold fat-goose living in commendam! An officer, who ne'er his King rever'd; For trait'rous toasts, and cowardice cashier'd; A broken 'pothecary, once renown'd For drugs, that poison'd half the country round; From whom warm girls, if pregnant ere they marry, Take physic, and for honour's sake miscarry: A lawyer, fam'd for length'ning bills of cost, While much he plagu'd mankind, his clients most, To lick up ev'ry neighbour's fortune known, And then let lux'ry lick up all his own; A Cambridge Soph, who once for wit was held Esteem'd; but vicious, and for vice expell'd; With parts, his Lordship's lame ones to support, In well-tim'd sermons fit to cant at court; Or accurately pen (a talent better!) His Lordship's senate-speech, and past'ral letter: These four, to purify from sinful stains This Bishop first absolves, and then ordains. His chaplains these? and each of rising knows Those righteous arts, by which their patron rose. See him Lord Spiritual, dead-voting seated! He soon (tho' ne'er to heav'n) shall be translated. Wou'd now the mitre circle Rundle's crest? See him, with Codex, ready to protest! Thus holy, holy, holy Bishop rise; Tho' neither learn'd, nor witty, good, nor wise! Think not these lays, ye Clergy, would abuse; Thus, when these lays commenc'd, premis'd the muse— All priests are not the same, be understood! Priests are, like other folks, some bad, some good. The good no sanction give the wicked's fame; Nor, with the wicked, share the good in shame. Then wise free-thinkers cry not smartly thus— Is the priest work'd?—The poet's one of us. Free-thinkers, Bigots are alike to me; For these misdeem half-thinking, thinking free; Those, speculative without speculation, Call myst'ry and credulity salvation. Let us believe with reason, and in chief, Let our good works demonstrate our belief; Faith, without virtue, never shall do well; And never virtue, without faith, excel.
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