ADVICE; OR THE ’SQUIRE AND THE PRIEST.
His hours fill’d up with riots, banquets, sports
And never noted in him any study,
Any retirement, any sequestration.
Shakespeare, Henry V.
I will converse with iron-witted fools,
With unrespective boys: none are for me,
Who look into me with considerate eyes.
You cram these words into mine ears, against
The stomach of my sense.
A wealthy Lord of far-extended land
Had all that pleased him placed at his command;
Widow’d of late, but finding much relief
In the world’s comforts, he dismiss’d his grief;
He was by marriage of his daughters eased,
And knew his sons could marry if they pleased;
Meantime in travel he indulged the boys,
And kept no spy nor partner of his joys.
These joys, indeed, were of the grosser kind,
That fed the cravings of an earthly mind;
A mind that, conscious of its own excess,
Felt the reproach his neighbours would express.
Long at th’ indulgent board he loved to sit,
Where joy was laughter, and profaneness wit;
And such the guest and manners of the hall,
No wedded lady on the ’Squire would call:
Here reign’d a Favourite, and her triumph gain’d
O’er other favourites who before had reign’d;
Reserved and modest seemed the nymph to be,
Knowing her lord was charm’d with modesty;
For he, a sportsman keen, the more enjoy’d,
The greater value had the thing destroyed.
Our ’Squire declared, that from a wife released,
He would no more give trouble to a Priest;
Seem’d it not, then, ungrateful and unkind
That he should trouble from the priesthood find?
The Church he honour’d, and he gave the due
And full respect to every son he knew;
But envied those who had the luck to meet
A gentle pastor, civil and discreet;
Who never bold and hostile sermon penned,
To wound a sinner, or to shame a friend;
One whom no being either shunn’d or fear’d:
Such must be loved wherever they appear’d.
Not such the stern old Rector of the time,
Who soothed no culprit, and who spared no crime;
Who would his fears and his contempt express
For irreligion and licentiousness;
Of him our Village Lord, his guests among,
By speech vindictive proved his feelings stung.
“Were he a bigot,” said the ’Squire, “whose zeal
Condemn’d us all, I should disdain to feel:
But when a man of parts, in college train’d,
Prates of our conduct, who would not be pain’d?
While he declaims (where no one dares reply)
On men abandon’d, grov’ling in the sty
(Like beasts in human shape) of shameless luxury.
Yet with a patriot’s zeal I stand the shock