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But what if One, through grove or flowery mead,
Indulging thus at will the creeping feet
Of a voluptuous indolence, should meet
Thy hovering Shade, O venerable Bede:
The saint, the scholar, from a circle freed
Of toil stupendous, in a hallowed seat
Of learning, where thou heard'st the billows beat
On a wild coast, rough monitors to feed
Perpetual industry. Sublime Recluse!
The recreant soul, that dares to shun the debt
Imposed on human kind, must first forget
Thy diligence, thy unrelaxing use
Of a long lise; and, in the hour of death,
The last dear service of thy passing breath?"
SAxON MONASTERIES, AND LIGHTS AND Shai) ES OF THE RELIGION.
By such examples moved to unbought pains,
The people work like congregated bees; *
Eager to build the quiet Fortresses
Where Piety, as they believe, obtains
From Heaven a general blessing; timely rains
Or needful sunshine; prosperous enterprise,
And peace, and equity.—Bold faith yet rise
The sacred Structures for less doubtful gains.
The Sensual think with reverence of the palms
which the chaste Votaries seek, beyond the grave;
If penance be redeemable, thence alms
Flow to the Poor, and freedom to the Slave;
And, if full of the sanctuary save
Lives black with guilt, ferocity it calms.
MISSIONS AND TRAVELS. Not sedentary all: there are who roam To scatter seeds of Life on barbarous shores; Or quit with zealous step their knee-worn floors To seek the general Mart of Christendom; Whence they, like richly-laden Merchants, come To their beloved Cells:–or shall we say That, like the Red-cross Knight, they urge their way, To lead in memorable triumph home Truth—their immortal Unai Babylon, Learned and wise, hath perished utterly, Nor leaves her Speech one word to aid the sigh That would lament her;-Memphis, Tyre, are gone With all their Arts, but classic Lore glides on By these Religious saved for all posterity.
Brnold a Pupil of the Monkish gown, The pious Alfred, King to Justice dear; Lord of the harp and liberating spear; Mirror of Princes! Indigent Renown
" He expired dictating the last words of a translation of St.John's Gospel.
* See in Turner's History, vol. iii, p. 528, the account of the erection of Ramsey Monastery. Penances were removable by the performances of acts of charity and benevolence.
Might range the starry ether for a crown
Equal to his deserts, who, like the year,
Pours forth his bounty, like the day doth cheer.
And awes like night with mercy-tempered frown.
Ease from this noble Miser of his time
No moment steals; pain narrows not his cares."
Though small his kingdom as a spark or genu,
Of Alfred boasts remote Jerusalem,
And Christian India, through her wide-spread clime.
In sacred converse gifts with Alfred shares.
CAN aught survive to linger in the veins
Of kindred bodies—an essential power
That may not vanish in one fatal hour,
And wholly cast away terrestrial chains:
The race of Alfred covets glorious pains
When dangers threaten, dangers ever new :
Black tempests bursting, blacker still in view!
But manly sovereignty its hold retains;
The root sincere, the branches bold to strive
With the fierce tempest, while, within the round
Of their protection, gentle virtues thrive;
As oft, 'mid some green plot of open ground,
Wide as the oak extends its dewy gloom,
The fostered hyacinths spread their purple bloom.
INFLUENCE AbuSEd. Urged by Ambition, who with subtlest skill Changes her means, the Enthusiast as a dupe Shall soar, and as a hypocrite can stoop, And turn the instruments of good to ill, Moulding the credulous People to his will. Such DunsrAN :-from its Benedictine coop Issues the master Mind, at whose fell swoop The chaste affections tremble to fulfil Their purposes. Behold, pre-signified, The Might of spiritual sway' his thoughts, his dreams, Do in the supernatural world abide: So vaunt a throng of Followers, filled with pride In shows of virtue pushed to its extremes, And sorceries of talent misapplied.
Woe to the Crown that doth the Cowl obey: *
Dissension checks the arms that would restrain
The incessant Rovers of the Northern Main;
And widely spreads once more a Pagan sway:
But Gospel-truth is potent to allay
Fierceness and rage; and soon the cruel Dane
Feels, through the influence of her gentle reign,
His native superstitions melt away.
Thus, often, when thick gloom the east o'ershrouds,
The full-orbed Moon, slow-climbing, doth appear
Silently to consume the heavy clouds;
How no one can resolve, but every eye
' Through the whole of Lis life, Alfred was subject to grewmaladies.
* The violent measures, carried on under the influence era.-for strengthening the Benedictine order, were a lear-e--the second series of Danish Invasions.-See Israer.
Around her sees, while air is hushed, a clear And widening circuit of ethereal sky.
A Ple as ANr music floats along the Mere, From Monks in Ely chanting service high, whilcas Canute the King is rowing by : • My Oursmen,” quoth the mighty King, a draw near, * That we the sweet song of the Monks may hear!” He listens, (all past conquests and all schemes of future vanishing like empty dreams) Heart-touched, and haply not without a tear. The Royal Minstrel, ere the choir is still, While his free Barge skims the smooth flood along, Gives to that rapture an accordant Rhyme. ' 0 suffering Earth! be thankful; sternest clime And rudest age are subject to the thrill Of heaven-descended Piety and Song.
Tar woman-hearted Confessor prepares
The evanescence of the Saxon line.
Hark!'t is the tolling Curfew the stars shine,
but of the lights that cherish household cares
And festive gladness, burns not one that dares
To twinkle after that dull stroke of thine,
Emblem and instrument, from Thames to Tyne,
of force that daunts, and cunning that ensnares!
Yet as the terrors of the lordly bell,
Titat quench, from hut to palace, lamps and fires,
Touch not the tapers of the sacred quires,
Even so a thraldom studious to expel
Old laws and ancient customs to derange,
Brings to Religion no injurious change.
• And shall,” the Pontisf asks, a profaneness flow - From Nazareth—source of Christian Piety, • From Bethlehem, from the Mounts of Agony • And glorified Ascension? Warriors too, - with prayers and blessings we your path will sow; • Like Moses hold our hands erect, till ye • Have chased far off by righteous victory • I bese sons of Amalec, or laid them low !” • God willern it,” the whole assembly cry; Shout which the enraptured multitude astounds! The Council-roof and Clermont's towers reply;• God willeth it,” from hill to hill rebounds, And in awc-stricken Countries far and nigli Through a Nature's hollow arch,” the voice resounds. *
The Turbaned Race are poured in thickening swarms
Along the West; though driven from Aquitaine,
The Crescent glitters on the towers of Spain,
And soft Italia feels renewed alarms;
* which is still extant. * The decision of this council was believed to be instantly known in remote paris of Europe.
The scimitar, that yields not to the charms
Of ease, the narrow Bosphorus will disdain;
Nor long (that crossed) would Grecian hills detain
Their tents, and check the current of their arms.
Then blame not those who, by the mightiest lever
Upheave (so seems it) from her matural station
So huge a host!)—to tear from the Unbeliever The precious Tomb, their haven of salvation.
I watch thee sailing o'er the midland brine;
Her blushing cheek, love-vows upon her lip, And see love-emblems streaming from thy ship,
My Song (a fearless liomager) would attend
Thy thundering battle-axe as it cleaves the press
Realms quake by turns: proud Arbitress of grace,
Straight from the sun and tainted air's embrace
Grows sad as night—no seemly garb is worn,
And in the Church-yard he must take his Bride Who dares be wedded! Fancies thickly come
And comfortless despairs the soul benumb.
(As might be deemed) to disciplined intent
Saw we not llenry scourged at Becket's shrine? Lo! John self-stripped of his insignia;-crown, Sceptre and mantle, sword and ring, laid down At a proud Legate's feet! The spears that line
From outraged Nature; but the sense of most In abject sympathy with power is lost.
Or smooth his front, our world is in his hand!
Black Demons hovering o'er his mitred head,
To Caesar's Successor the Pontiff spake;
* Ere I absolve thee, stoop! that on thy neck
Levelled with Earth this foot of mine may tread.”
Then, he who to the Altar had been led,
He, whose strong arm the Orient could not check,
He, who had held the Soldan at his beck,
Stooped, of all glory disinherited,
And even the common dignity of man!
Amazement strikes the crowd;—while many turn
Their eyes away in sorrow, others burn
With scorn, invoking a vindictive ban
Unless to Peter's Chair the viewless wind
Must come and ask permission when to blow,
What further empire would it have: for now
A ghostly Domination, unconfined
As that by dreaming Bards to Love assigned,
Sits there in sober truth—to raise the low,
Perplex the wise, the strong to overthrow- -
through earth and heaven to bind and to unbind'
Resist—the thunder quails thee!—crouch-rebuff
shall be thy recompense: from land to land
The ancient thrones of Christendom are stuff
For occupation of a magic wand,
And it is the Pope that wields it.-whether rough
TO THE CLOSE OF THE TROUBLES IN THE REIGN OF CHARLES I.
« Here Man more purely lives, less oft doth fall,
More promptly rises, walks with nicer heed,
More safely rests, dies happier, is freed
Earlier from cleansing fires, and gains withal
A brighter crown.”—on von Cistertian wall
That confident assurance may be read :
And, to like shelter, from the world have fled
The potent call
Doubtless shall cheat full oft the heart's desires;
Yet, while the rugged age on pliant knee
Vows to rapt Fancy humble fealty,
A gentler life spreads round the holy spires;
Where'er they rise, the sylvan waste retires,
And aery harvests crown the fertile lea.
It econd we too, with just and faithful pen, That many hooded Cenobites there are,
* - Bonum est noshic esse, quin homo vivil purius, cadit rarins, surgit velocius, incedit cautius, quiescit securius, inoritur felicius, purgatar citius, praemiatur copiosius." Bernard. - This sentence, says Dr Whitaker, - is usually inscribed on some conspicuous part of the Cistertian houses.
And not in vain embodied to the sight
Religion finds even in the stern Retreat
Of feudal Sway her own appropriate Scat:
From the Collegiate pomps on Windsor's height,
Down to the humble altar, which the Knight
And his Retainers of the embattled hall
Seek in domestic oratory small,
For prayer in stillness, or the chanted rite;
Then chiefly dear, when foes are planted round.
Who teach the intrepid guardians of the place,
Hourly exposed to death, with famine worn.
And suffering under many a perilous wound,
How sad would be their durance, if forlorn
Of offices dispensing heavenly grace'
Nor can Imagination quit the shores
Of these bright scenes without a farewell giance
Given to those dream-like Issues—that Romance
Of many-coloured life which Fortune pours
Round the Crusaders, till on distant shores
Their labours end ; or they return to lie,
The vow performed, in cross-legged effigy,
Devoutly stretched upon their chancel floors.
Am I deceived Or is their requieu, chanted
By voices never mute when lieaven unties
ller inmost, softest, tenderest harmonies:
Requiem which Earth takes up with voice undaunted,
When she would tell how Good, and Brave, and wise,
For their high guerdon not in vain have panted
Exough ' for see, with dim association
The tapers burn; the odorous incense feeds
A greedy flame; the pompous mass proceeds:
The Priest bestows the appointed consecration;
And, while the Host is raised, its elevation
An awe and supernatural horror breeds,
And all the People bow their heads, like reeds
To a soft breeze, in lowly adoration.
This Waldo brooked not. On the banks of Rhone
tie taught, till persecution chased him thence,
to adore the Invisible, and Ilinn alone.
Nor were his Followers loth to seek defence,
Mid woods and wilds, on Nature's craggy throue,
From rites that trample upon soul and sense.
Tarse who gave earliest notice, as the Lark Springs from the ground the morn to tratulate; who rather rose the day to antedate, ity striking out a solitary spark, when all the world with midnight gloom was darkThese llarbingers of good, whom bitter liate In vain endeavoured to exterminate, fell obloquy pursues with hideous bark," But they desist not ; and the sacred fire, Rekindled thus, from dens and savage woods woves, handed on with never-ceasing care, Through courts, through camps, o'er limitary floods; Nor lacks this sea-girt Isle a timely share of the new Flame, uot suffered to expire.
WARS OF YORK AND LAN CASTER.
Thus is the storm abated by the craft
Of a shrewd Counsellor, eager to protect
The Church, whose power hath recently been checked,
Whose monstrous riches threatened. So the shaft
of victory mounts high, and blood is quaffed
In fields that rival Cressy and Poictiers—
Pride to be washed away by bitter tears;
For deep as hell itself, the avenging draught
Of civil slaughter! Yet, while Temporal power
Is by these shocks exhausted, Spiritual truth
Maintains the else endangered gift of life;
Proceeds from infancy to lusty youth;
And, under cover of this woeful strife,
Gathers unblighted strength from hour to hour.
Once more the Church is seized with sudden fear, And at her call is Wicliffe disinhumed : Yea his dry bones to ashes are consumed, And slung into the brook that travels near; forthwith, that ancient Voice which Streams can hear, Thus speaks, (that Voice which walks upon the willd, Though seldom heard by busy human kind,) « As thou these ashes, little Brook' wilt bear Into the Avon, Avon to the tide Of Severn, Severu to the narrow seas, Into main Ocean they, this Deed accurst An emblem yields to friends and enemics llow the bold Teacher's Doctrine, sanctified y Truth, shall spread throughout the world dispersed.»
CORRUPTIONS OF THE HIGHER CLERGY.
a woe to you, Prelates! rioting in ease And cumbrous wealth—the shame of your estate; You on whose progress dazzling trains await of pompous horses; whom vain titles please, who will be served by others on their knees, Yet will yourselves to God no service pay; Pastors who neither take nor point the way To Ileaven; for either lost in vanities Ye have no skill to teach, or if ye know And speak the word——" Alas! of fearful things 'T is the most fearful when the People's eye Abuse hath cleared from vain imaginings; And taught the general voice to prophesy of Justice armed, and Pride to be laid low.
The amplest share of heavenly favour gives;
That to a Monk allots, in the esteem
Of God and Man, place higher than to him
Who on the good of others builds his own!
Yer more, round many a Convent's blazing sire
Unhallowed threads of revelry are spun:
There Venus sits disguised like a Nun,
While Bacchus, clothed in semblance of a Friar,
Pours out his choicest beverage high and higher
Sparkling, until it cannot chuse but run
Over the bowl, whose silver lip hath won
Au instant kiss of masterful desire—
To stay the precious waste. In every brain
Spreads the dominion of the sprightly juice,
Through the wide world, to madding Fancy dear,
Till the arched roof, with resolute abuse
Of its grave echoes, swells a choral strain,
Whose votive burthen is—w Oua kingdom 's HERE!»
DISSOLUTION OF THE MONASTERIES.
Threats come which no submission may assuage;
No sacrifice avert, no power dispute;
The tapers shall be quenched, the belfries mute,
And, mid their choirs unroofed by sclfish rage,
The warbling wren shall find a leafy cage;
The gadding bramble hang her purple fruit;
And the green lizard and the gilded newt
Lead unmolested lives, and die of age."
The Owl of evening and the woodland Fox
For their abode the shrines of Waltham chuse:
Proud Glastonbury can no more refuse
To stoop her head before these desperate shocks—
She whose high pomp displaced, as story tells,
Arimathean Joseph's wattled cells.
The lovely Nun (submissive but more meek
Through saintly habit, than from effort due
To unrelenting mandates that pursue
With equal wrath the steps of strong and weak)
Goes forth—unveiling timidly her cheek
Suffused with blushes of celestial hue,
While through the Convent tate to open view
Softly she glides, another home to seek.
Not Iris, issuing from her cloudy shrine,
An Apparition more divinely bright !
Not more attractive to the dazzled sight
Those watery glorics, on the stormy brine
Poured forth, while summer suns at distance shine,
And the green vales lie hushed in sober light!
Yer some, Noviciates of the cloistral shade, or chained by vows, with undissembled glee
' Those two lines are adopted from a MS. written about the year 1770, which accidentally fell into my possession. The close of the preceding Sonnet on monastic voluptuousness is taken from the same source, as is the verse. - Where Venus sits," etc.
The warrant hail—exulting to be free;
Like ships before whose keels, full long embayed
In polar ice, propitious winds have made
Unlooked-for outlet to an open sea,
Their liquid world, for bold discovery,
In all her quarters temptingly displayed
Hope guides the young; but when the old must poss
The threshold, whither shall they turn to find
The hospitality—the alms (alas !
Alms may be needed) which that House bestowed:
Can they, in faith and worship, train the mind
To keep this new and questionable road 2
Ye, too, must fly before a chasing hand,
Angels and Saints, in every hamlet mourned'
Ah! if the old idolatry be spurned,
Let not your radiant Shapes desert the Land:
Her adoration was not your demand,
The fond heart proffered it—the servile heart;
And therefore are ye summoned to depart.
Michael, and thou St George, whose flaming brand
The Dragon quelled; and valiant Margaret
Whose rival sword a like Opponent slew :
And rapt Cecilia, seraph-haunted Queen
Of harmony; and weeping Magdalene,
Who in the penitential desert met
Gales sweet as those that over Eden blew'
Mother whose virgin bosom was uncrost
With the least shade of thought to sin allied;
Woman above all women glorified,
Our tainted nature's solitary boast;
Purer than foam on central Ocean tost ;
Brighter than eastern skies at daybreak strewn
With fancied roses, than the unblemished noon
Before her wane begins on heaven's blue coast;
Thy Image falls to earth. Yet some, 1 ween.
Not unforgiven the suppliant knee might bend.
As to a visible Power, in which did blend
All that was mixed and reconciled in Thee
Of mother's love with maiden purity,
Of high with low, celestial with terrene :
Nor utterly unworthy to endure
Was the supremacy of crafty Roune;
Age after age to the arch of Christendom
Aerial keystone haughtily secure ;
Supremacy from Heaven transmitted pure
As many hold; and, therefore, to the tomb
Pass, some through fire—and by the scaffold some—
Like saintly Fisher, and unbanding More.
• Lightly for both the bosom's lord did sit
Upon his throne;” unsoftened, undisinayed
By aught that mingled with the tragic scene
Of pity or fear; and More's gay genius played
With the inoffensive sword of native wit,
Than the bare axe inore luminous and keeu.