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Those but proclaim his style, and disappear;
The stiller sound succeeds, and God is there.
The tithes, his parish freely paid, he took;
But never sued, or cursed with bell and book,
With patience bearing wrong; but offering none:
Since every man is free to lose his own.
The country churls, according to their kind
(Who grudge their dues, and love to be behind),
The less he sought his offerings, pinched the more,
And praised a priest contented to be poor.
Yet of his little he had some to spare, To feed the famished, and to clothe the bare: For mortified he was to that degree, A poorer than himself he would not see. True priests, he said, and preachers of the word, Were only stewards of their sovereign Lord; Nothing was theirs; but all the public storeIntrusted riches to relieve the poor. Who, should they steal for want of his relief, He judged himself accomplice with the thief.
Wide was his parish; not contracted close
In streets, but here and there a straggling house;
Yet still he was at hand, without request,
To serve the sick; to succour the distressed :
Tempting, on foot, alone, without affright,
The dangers of a dark tempestuous night.
All this the good old man performed alone,
Nor spared his pains; for curate he had none.
Nor durst he trust another with his care;
Nor rode himself to Paul's, the public fair,
To chaffer for preferment with his gold,
Where bishoprics and sinecures are sold,
But duly watched his flock, by night and day;
And from the prowling wolf redeemed the prey:
And hungry sent the wily fox away.
The proud he tamed, the penitent he cheered:
Nor to rebuke the rich offender feared.
His preaching much, but more his practice wrougat
(A living sermon of the truths he taught);
For this by rules severe his life he squared:
That all might see the doctrine which they heard.
For priests, he said, are patterns for the rest
(The gold of heaven, who bear the God impressed):
But when the precious coin is kept unclean,
The sovereign's image is no longer seen;
If they be foul on whom the people trust,
the baser brass contract a rust.
The prelate, for his holy life he prized ;
The worldly pomp of prelacy despised,
His Saviour came not with a gaudy show;
Nor was his kingdom of the world below.
Patience in want, and poverty of mind,
These marks of church and churchmen he designed,
And living taught, and dying left behind.
The crown he wore was of the pointed thorn:
In purple he was crucified, not born.
They who contend for place and high degree,
Are not his sons, but those of Zebedee.
Not but he knew the signs of earthly power
Might well become Saint Peter's successor :
The holy father holds a double reign,
The prince may keep his pomp, the fisher must be plain.
Such was the saint; who shone with every grace,
Reflecting, Moses like, his Maker's face.
God saw his image lively was expressed ,
And his own work, as in creation, blessed.
Still cheerful ; ever constant to his call;
By many followed; loved by most; admired by all.
With what he begged his brethren he relieved ;
And gave the charities himself received.
Gave, while he taught; and edified the more,
Because he showed by proof, 't was easy to be poor.
He went not with the crowd to see a shrine;
But fed us, by the way, with food divine.
In deference to his virtues, I forbear
To show you what the rest in orders were:
This brilliant is so spotless, and so bright,
He needs no foil, but shines by his own proper light.
CHARACTER OF VILLIERS, DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM.
(From Absalom and Achitophel.)
A man so various that he seemed to be
Not one, but all mankind's epitome:
Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong,
Was everything by starts, and nothing long;
But, in the course of one revolving moon,
Was chemist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon ;
Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking,
Besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking.
Blest madman! who could every hour employ
With something new to wish or to enjoy.
Railing and praising were his usual themes;
And both, to show his judgment, in extremes ;
So over violent, or over civil,
That every man with him was god or devil.
In squandering wealth was his peculiar art;
Nothing went unrewarded but desert:
Beggared by fools, whom still he found too late,
He had his jest, and they had his estate;
He laughed himself from court, then sought relief
By forming parties, but could ne'er be chief;
For, spite of him, the weight of business fell
On Absalom and wise Achitophel ;
Thus, wicked but in will, of means bereft,
He left not faction, but of that was left.
(From All for Love.) Men are but children of a larger growth; Our appetites as apt to change as theirs, And full as craving too, and full as vain; And yet the soul shut up in her dark room, Viewing so clear abroad, at home sees nothing. But like a mole in earth, busy and blind, Works all her folly up, and casts it outward To the world's open view.
Three poets, in three distant ages born,
Greece, Italy, and England did adorn.
The first in loftiness of thought surpassed,
The next in majesty; in both the last.
The force of nature could no further go;
To make a third, she joined the other two.
The reign of Queen Anne was at one time styled the Augustan age of English literature. It was adorned with the names of Pope, Addison, Swift, and a host of writers of scarcely inferior renown, who introduced into the language a degree of correctness and polish which it had not before received. The writers of that day, however, are not held in as high estimation as they were half a century since. The most distinguished critics of the present century have given a decided preference to the authors preceding the Restoration, as possessing greater boldness, originality, and force. Still, the early part of the eighteenth century must be regarded as the time when the language reached its maturity; and although the authors just named may not stand on the same platform with Shakspeare, Milton, or Spenser, they will ever be considered among the safest models of style, as well as the great storehouse of correct diction.
Matthew Prior, the earliest of the poets usually named as belonging to the era under consideration, was born in 1664, and after a life of much distinction and a great variety of fortune, died in 1721. The most elaborate of his works is a poem entitled “ Soloinon," from which the following extract is made: