« PreviousContinue »
Two fables of exquisite beauty, close this noble poem. The first, is founded on an historical anec. dote; the fact it relates, if true, now seems to be forgotten.—The hind, warmed with the prospect of the near accomplishment of her hopes, indulges herself in some lines of decent exultation. To check it, the panther recounts to her, with a sneer, the disastrous tale of the swallows, who long had possessed
“ Their summer seat, and feather'd well their nest ;when yellow leaves and bitter blasts admonished them,
“ To remove betimes, “ And seek a better heaven and warmer climes." A council was held; and a speedy removal to a more genial clime appeared to be the wish of the majority of the tribe; but the marten, their household chaplain, moved for a delay and carried his motion. On the very following night a bitter frost came on,
" And Boreas got the skies, and pour'd amain
“ The joyless morning late arose, - and found
These lines, we are informed by sir Walter Scott, refer to a secret consultation, held in 1686, by the principal roman-catholics at the Savoy. Perceiving the general temper of the nation, the catholics had taken alarm; and the meeting was called "to con“sult how the favourable crisis might be most im“proved to the advantage of their cause. Father “ Petre had the chair; and at the very opening of “ the debate, it appeared that the majority were “ more inclined to provide for their own security, " than to come to extremities with protestants. “ Notwithstanding the king's real power and suc“cess, they were afraid to push the experiment any “ further. The people were already alarmed, the “soldiers could not be depended upon, and the
very courtiers melted out of their grasp.-Upon “ these considerations, some were for a petition to “ the king, that he would only so far interpose in “their favour, that their estates might be secured to “ them by the parliament, with exemption from all
employments, and liberty to worship God in their own way in their own houses. Others were for obtaining the king's leave to sell their estates, and transport themselves and their effects into France:
-all, but father Petre, were for a compromise of some sort or other; but he disclaimed what“ever had a tendency to moderation, and was for
making the most of the voyage, while the sea “ was smooth and the wind prosperous. All these
several opinions, we are further told, were laid “ before the king, who was pleased to answer, “That “ before their desires were made known to him, he " had procured a sure retreat and sanctuary for “ them in Ireland, in case all those endeavours, “ which he was making for their security in
England, should be blasted, and which as yet gave him no reason to despair.'”
To the monitory tale of the panther respecting the swallows, the hind opposes the tale of the poultry, or the catholic priests, whom, for his own immediate service, the king kept in a private farm, but whom the pampered pigeons, - or the clergy of the established church, beheld with malignant eyes, and,
“ Though hard their fare at evening and at morn, “ A cruse of water or an ear of corn, “ Yet still they grudg'd that modicum, and thought “ A sheaf in every single grain was brought; “ And much they griev'd to see so nigh their hall, “ The bird that warn'd St. Peter of his fall; “ That he should raise his mitred crest so high, “ And clap his wings, and call his family " To sacred rites, and vex th' ethereal powers “ With midnight matins at uncivil hours." Dryden proceeds to mention the achievements of the buzzard, or bishop Burnet, who put himself at the head of the pigeons, and made a furious attack on the poultry: -Still, however, were they protected by the sovereign.—But the buzzard anticipated his future triumph,- (an anticipation too well and too often realized), over the miserable pigeons,
" When, rent in schism;-(for so their fate decrees,)
• The cock,-emblem of the regular clergy of Rome, on account of their nocturnal attendance at matins."
+ We feel that the extracts, which we have made from these
C H A P. LXVII.
WILLIAM THE THIRD.
THE reign of William the third, so far as it particularly affected his roman-catholic subjects, is
admirable poems, are too long ;-one more, however, we cannot refuse to ourselves the pleasure of transcribing ; we are confident that our readers will peruse it with delight.-Alluding to the slanders of his character, by bishop Stillingsleet, the bard thus expresses himself in strains,
“ Be vengeance wholly left to powers divine,
If joys hereafter must be purchas'd here, “ With loss of all that mortals hold most dear, “ Then, welcome infamy and public shame! “ And last,—a long farewell to worldly fame!“ 'Tis said with ease ;-but O! how hardly tried “By haughty souls, to human honour tied ! “O! sharp convulsive pangs of agonizing pride! “ Down then thou rebel! never more to rise ! “ And what thou didst and dost so warmly prize, “ That fame,—that darling fame,-make that thy sacrifice.
“ 'Tis nothing thou hast given :-then add thy tears “ For a long race of unrepenting years :“ 'Tis nothing yet :-yet, all thou hast to give : “ Then add, those may be years thou hast to live : “ Yet nothing still !-then, poor and naked come,
Thy Father will receive his unthrift home, " And thy blest Saviour's blood discharge the mighty sum.".
remarkable on this account, that, while the attachment, which they were supposed to entertain for the exiled family, rendered their allegiance to his majesty suspected, and thus furnished anew pretence for the persecution of them, the spirit of religious liberty, which had for some time been gaining ground in several parts of Europe, began to operate in their favour, and thus rendered the reign of this monarch, though some new laws were enacted in it against them, the æra from which the commencement of their enjoyment of religious toleration may be dated.-As leading to this subject, we shall now endeavour to present our readers, with
Happy is the man who receives calumny with these sentiments ! “ Did a person,” the celebrated abbot de Rancé used to observe, “but know the value of an enemy, he would “purchase him with gold, that he might pardon him, and “ thus entitle himself to the pardon, which the eternal truth “has promised to those, who pardon their enemies.”—Life of the abbot de Rancé, c. xiii.
We have made every exetion in our power to procure for our readers further information, on the interesting, if real, consultations mentioned in the preceding annotation. The authorities which sir Walter Scott adduces to support his account of them, are, “ Ralph's History," and a work cited in it, under the title of “ Catholic Consults.” For the last, the writer has made the most diligent inquiries, without success. The
passage cited in the text from Dryden's “ Tale of the Poultry,” contains such an exact account of the consequences of the resolution in respect to the catholics, that the writer suspects it was written after that event. If this conjecture be just, the tale will be found only in those editions of the poem, which were printed after the revolution.