Richard Savage (1697 - 1743 / England)
The Convocation: A Poem
When Vertue's Standard Ecclesiasticks bear,
Their sacred Robe the noblest Minds revere.
All to its Guidance do their Thoughts submit,
But such who triumph in licentious Wit;
And nauseous Mirth as high Desert esteem,
When rais'd by Scorn upon Religion's Theme
As Kings by Right Divine o'er Nations sway,
As the most worthy, their high Pow'rs obey;
Homage by all is to the Priesthood born,
And none but Fools their Heav'nly Pastors scorn.
Yet censure not the Muse's Freedom here:
If urg'd by Errors, she must seem severe!
Tho' keen her Satyr, she no Envy bears;
Tho' Priests she lashes, she their Function spares.
Nor for ill Members such the Clergy calls,
But on their Shame, and not their Glory, falls.
Of all the Plagues with which the World is curst,
Time has still prov'd that Priestcraft is the worst.
By some, what Notions thro' the World are spread?
On Falshoods grounded, and from Int'rest bred;
Errour has still the giddy World perplext,
Whilst Scripture gilds it with some sacred Text.
This wild Opinions Strife and Faction brings,
The Bane of Nations, the Misrule of Kings.
Priests oft profane what they from Heav'n derive;
Some live by Legends, some by Murders thrive,
Some sell their Gods, and Altar-Rites deface,
With Doctrines some the Brain-sick People craze.
The Pagan prey on slaughter'd Wretches Fates,
The Romish fatten on the best Estates,
The British stain what Heav'n has right confest,
And Sectaries the Scriptures falsly wrest.
Amongst the Tribe, how few are, as they ought,
Clear in their Souls, instructive in their Thought!
The Good, like Prophets, shew their Precepts pure;
The Ill with Craft the Heav'nly Light obscure;
False to their Trust, they lead their Flocks astray,
And with their Errors cloud the sacred Way.
Tho' artless Numbers may my Verses throng,
Yet now Religion's Cause inspires my Song:
Undaunted then, my Muse, thy Purpose say,
And for the Church thy warmest Zeal display!
An Erring Prelate let thy Lays proclaim,
And sing the Convocation's sacred Fame.
When dire Confusion bore a dreadful Hand,
And sore Divisions shook the guilty Land;
When Schisms rent the Church, Faction the State,
And Schoolmens Quarrels did new Broils create;
'Midst Crowds of Libels publish'd to enrage,
Writ to corrupt, but not t'improve the Age,
Forth to the World from a Learn'd Author came
Two, which bear Censures equal to their Fame:
By some admired, and by some contemn'd,
Prais'd by the Vulgar, by his Peers condemn'd.
If from Sincerity Faith ought can claim,
Hard Deprivations theirs aloud proclaim.
Next, Ordination to explode he seems,
Orders are Trifles, Church-Commissions Dreams!
The Sense it self these Explanations own,
Which none unbyass'd, can as just disown.
What more can Deists to the Church reply?
They in this wise her Sacraments deny;
Against her Canons and her Forms combine,
And with such Wretches will a Bishop joyn?
The Topmost Sequel next, of his Essays,
The Pulpit trumpets, and the Press displays.
New Doctrines still advanc'd, the World alarm,
And, all his Brethren with Resentment warm.
Ye Pow'rs! If Priests thus their own Craft betray,
If what they should conceal, themselves display,
Atheists may well mysterious Rights deride,
Nor suffer sacred Faith as Reason's Guide.
But whilst th'Infection thro' the Nation flies,
A Rev'rend Author to the Work replies.
Oh SNAPE! what Charms thy Genius here bestows;
Where nervous Sense in candid Smoothness flows.
Sublime thy Thought! with no harsh Stile defil'd,
Bold in thy Charge! yet in Expressions mild:
Reason Divine in each illustrious Page,
Points out those Errors, which you here engage.
So Henry wrote, by Heav'n inspir'd, when he
From Luther's Errors strove the Faith to free:
When that great Title in Return was born,
Which has e're since by British Kings been worn.
The Gospel's Light does here such Clouds dispel,
As Magus's Witchcraft by th'Apostle fell.
So wrote that Tribe in sacred Annals past,
When Nations yielded, and the Faith embrac'd.
The Clergy now in Convocation meet,
And in Debate on these new Doctrines sit.
No Contest in th'inferiour House arose;
But one Consent these dang'rous Errors shews.
None cou'd oppose! So plain did they appear:
Nor Doubts could rise their Innocence to clear.
He, who a Priest, a Prelate's Doctrine blam'd,
Is, now a Prelate, here himself arraign'd.
He, who did once a worthy Doctor gall,
Finds now just Judgment on his Errors fall.
The first is Moss appointed in this Cause;
Who the sharp Charge against this Church-man draws.
On his sweet Tongue learn'd Elocution dwells,
Which in loud Strains the World their Duty tells.
His smooth Persuasions Men from Ills entice,
Reveal the Gospel, and dipel their Vice.
Next, Learned Sprat in this Performance joins,
Who sprung from a late Pious Prelate's Loins:
His Father's Goodness did his Function grace,
And the Son's Vertues do his Footsteps trace.
Next, Florid Biss the glorious Cause maintains,
Who vast Applause from just Attention gains.
Vert'ous his Soul, his Mind does Wisdom shew,
And wholsome Doctrines from his Learning flow.
Sherlock's a Name that ever will survive:
For the dead Sire does in the Son revive.
Amidst the Clan, the Son is nam'd t'oppose
The Ill that from such Innovations grows.
Next in the List, but not the least, is Friend,
Worthy the Cause now chosen to defend!
Let tutour'd Youth his wondrous Learning prove,
As to the Church his Actions do his Love.
Cannon and Davies, Barrel, Dawson, stand,
And act in Concert with this sacred Band.
These, to the Upper House are nam'd to give
The Charge, which there they with Consent receive.
But e're the Aim of all this Zeal was done,
It here was vanquish'd when 'twas scarce begun.
As Jove on high Olympus feign'd to sway,
With Thunder parted an immortal Fray:
To end the Jarrs that in Religion fall,
GEORGE from the Throne at once prorogues 'em all.
But thus the Parties, more incens'd with Rage,
Cease not the Contest; but new Conflicts wage.
In Print their Quarrels still confuse the World,
And Libels now promiscuously are hurl'd!
Their Trumpet Scandal loud Detraction sounds,
Diffuses Lies, and Reputations wounds.
Thus Paper-Squibs wing'd from the Presses fly!
Alarm! inflame! and loud for Answers cry!
Answers pursue th'Attack! Both Parties write!
Pens are their Swords, and Papers urge the Fight!
The Chiefs with Conduct both maintain the Day;
Others confound; but none decide the Fray.
Those best succeed, whose Works the Curious buy,
Whilst Scrawls neglected, on the Compter lie.
But still the Press supplies each empty Brain,
No Cyclop Authors form the Bolts in vain,
Thence they rush forth, and do the War sustain.
As thus they 'ngage amidst this Clash of Arms,
Quills, I shou'd say, that thus the Town alarms!
A Minor Phillips, now Romance is scarce,
Seizes Religion, as a Plot for Farce.
His Muse grown weary of the Northern Climes,
Strives here to raise dull Satyr from the Times.
The High Church now with double Rage he wounds,
Faith serves for Mirth, the Clergy for Buffoons.
Yet the wise Work to aid a Churchman means,
The aptest Hero for such low-stil'd Scenes.
Demetrius aims to copy his Design;
Jo's ridicul'd, that Ben again may shine,
The worthiest all, the Spleens of Wretches raise,
And Farce to deck the Lawn bestows the Bays.
Libels the Convocation now abuse,
Which not worth Notice, wou'd but pall the Muse:
Answers to Snape the World's Attention claim;
But pass unheeded, like each Author's Fame.
B--r's chief Letter bears the great Applause;
For Learning varnishes the vilest Cause;
Oft casts false Beauties, and obscures each Taint,
Makes Right look wrong, th'Offender seem the Saint;
Howe'er thro' Eloquence there still are view'd,
The Charge evaded, but the Guilt pursu'd.
Now H--dly's Text Trap's Genius does convey;
Its Beauties here the Errors there display.
Sherlock, and He, who for the Church appear,
Snape's just Remarks from each Evasion clear.
Next, Law, whose Writing does his Worth proclaim,
Answers the Doctrines which the World inflame.
His Strength of Judgment their weak Force repels;
Their Errors lashes, their Defence reveals.
Hilliard, like Trap, the Soul's true Guidance shews,
All see the Poyson, and its Cure disclose.
Cockbourn's Remarks have by Church-Canons prov'd,
How from its Bounds such Heresy's remov'd,
That their own Words against such Guides prevail,
Where Errors drive 'em from its sacred Pale.
Now from the Tories Pamphlets rush apace,
Answers to Answers thus the Contest trace.
In vain with Slander Whigs the Truth wou'd soil:
For Scandals back upon themselves recoil!
The Tories now their former Pleas enlarge,
And in Replies they thus renew their Charge.
By Quæry first they urge this strange Mistake:
Can Ben's Resistance passive Bangor make?
What Hoadly preach'd, thus Bangor does evince,
'Twas lawful to resist a Tyrant-Prince!
Here he reviles a King expell'd his Throne,
Who for his Conscience sacrific'd his Crown.
Swoln with Preferment thus the Wretch prophanes
The Sacred Reliques with unhallow'd Strains.
Cou'd He no other dark Evasions bring,
But to asperse a poor departed King?
As Conscience-Freedom thus he grants to Slaves.
By Nature thoughtless,-he a King's enslaves.
The Rights of Kingdoms, as he here proclaims,
He those of Christian Faith at once disclaims.
What Charity can suit the Rules he owns?
Or Loyalty the Love he bears to Crowns?
Such partial Treatment Sov'reign Rulers braves!
Of Slaves makes Princes, and of Princes Slaves.
All Earthly Pow'rs he in Christ's Church disowns,
Regardless of his Function, or of Crowns.
Why is the King its great Supreme no more?
Why is the Pow'r from God's Vicegerent tore?
In vain false Logic thus at Truth wou'd aim,
To prove Christ's Kingdom and his Church the same;
Heathens and Devils then Church-Members are,
'Cause they Subjection to his Kingdom bear.
VVhy a cold, lifeless Motion is Pray'r made?
The VVorld's great Saviour sweated as he pray'd.
An eager Zeal we in the Garden find,
Which on the Cross possess'd his anxious Mind;
Exerted Transports in his Accents hung,
And flow'd with Fervour from his Heav'nly Tongue.
When on our Knees to Heav'n's high Throne we bow,
Love, as inspir'd, shou'd purest Raptures shew.
The Soul exerted, shou'd each Wish impart,
And for its Off'ring throw a contrite Heart.
Whilst thus these Errors Churchmen all explode,
And clear the Vapours which the Faith wou'd cloud;
Snape, who to head the Van did first appear,
With equal Conduct now commands the Rear!
His second Answer's for th'Engagement chose,
Which does the Prelate's weak Defence expose.
This, which his Plea does of its Force despoil,
No Pen can answer, nor Resistance foil.
When Truth thus sallies forth, Evasions all
Start from the Conflict, and confuted fall.
In vain new Pamphlets to their Rescue run,
Their Chief retreats, the Vict'ry is begun:
Those, who the Church against its Foes maintain,
Beneath its Banners thus the Glory gain.
But still their Pride will not the Conquest yield,
Like Wasps disarm'd, they buz around the the Field;
Or, from the Press, whilst envious Nonsence springs,
They hiss, like Serpents that have lost their Stings.
Behold! They drop the Theme they can't oppose,
And Advertisements their Retreat disclose.
With Aims evasive seem to swell the News,
And what shou'd Glorious be, to Farce reduce.
Now the Courant for War is made the Plain,
Where B--g--r pours forth all his Force again,
Howe'er ill posted, yet more desp'rate grown,
To guard this Breach, his Reputation's thrown!
His Pen with Fury does Snape's Strength assail,
He charges!-True: But does that Charge avail?
Carlisle here seconds Snape! The Plea maintains!
Whilst baneful Discord 'twixt each Prelate reigns.
If, as Church-Pillars we the Mitres stile,
Tott'ring by Jarrs they shake the sacred Pile!
Errors start up! whilst weak the Structure stands,
And Factions rage, as in divided Lands!
Altars 'gainst Altars rise! Confusions spring!
And a long Train of endless Horrors bring.
Fierce Advertisements now i'th' News are seen
From these two B--s and a trifling D--
With zealous Warmth each in the Contest burns,
Whilst from the Truth the D--n Deserter turns.
Carlisle then quits the Plain, whilst neither yield,
And urges Bangor to a nobler Field:
Nor for his Standard Advertisements rears!
But in a Stile more Glorious now appears.
Still in Retreat Bangor his Flag displays,
And fiercer Vollies from the News conveys.
By Kennet strengthen'd, in Opinion high,
He does the Foe with future Deeds defie!
When in his Hand he shall the Pencil bear,
The Victor's Honours in the Draught he'll wear.
How can true Colours then the Work assure,
If Him they flatter, Them in Shades obscure?
What can these prove, but mere Evasions all?
Which quit the Contest, and on Trifles fall?
Snape's heavy Charge as yet unanswer'd stands,
And either Vict'ry or Defence demands!
Now from a Party Clamours rise in vain
Against Carlisle, who does his Plea maintain,
Spite of the D--n, who in Desertion flies,
And Peter like, what once he own'd, denies.
Truth is the Bulwark thus keen Envy storms!
The Dæmon rages deck'd in various Forms.
Here, like a Churchman, dress'd in sacred Stile,
With smooth Corruptions she'd the World beguile.
And seems t'advance the Church, whilst she'd ensnare
Its Rites, its Orders, and Foundation, Pray'r.
Next Politician like, she'd raise Debate,
To bring the Faith subservient to the State;
Like a false Light, their black Designs to gild,
Or Ground, on which vile Policies she'd build.
Lastly, In Slander cloath'd, she sallies forth
To blast those Fames that bear the noblest Worth!
In this black Form the Fiend each Libel shews,
Which fiercely arm'd 'gainst Snape or Carlisle goes!
Here against Trap! From Sykes 'gainst Sherlock there,
Where Bangor's Postscript does its Aid declare.
'Gainst thee, O Sherlock! Such Efforts are vain:
They but asperse what they can never stain.
Thy Foes augment by Scandal, Crimes they'd clear,
As their black Charge thy Vertue scorns to bear!
Thy Strength of Reason stems the rapid Course,
And rowls it backwards with resistless Force.
Next Whitby seems (as he'd Snape's Worth oppose)
Weak as the Cause in which Defence he rose.
As Frantick Dunton with the Tribe combines,
Th'Ecclesiastick with the Madman joins.
Pardon the Muse that on such Trifles dwells,
One shews his Weakness, one his Phrenzy tells!
As These, so Others, such Essays have made,
Who, like their Chief, not answer,-but evade.
How can Divines here seem to give Applause,
Where Heresies support the impious Cause?
A Cause, which on the Church's Triumph frowns,
And levels Mitres as Resistance crowns.
Enthusiasts, Sect'ries, here with Aid supply,
And wing'd like Serpents, at our Altars fly!
But o'er these Fiends the Faith at length shall reign,
Which Worthies thus with bright Essays sustain!
Hear then, ye Pow'rs; on your own Works look down!
VVhere are your Rites, when Supplication's gone?
VVho shall your Altar's Sacraments prepare,
If Pious Zeal's depriv'd of Fervent Pray'r?
VVho at the Throne of Grace shall Homage pay,
If your own Priests their sacred Trust betray?
Assist! inspire! and with a Light Divine,
Now let the Faith from Clouds in Glory shine!
Oh Snape! Assert! Pursue the sacred Cause!
Improve the Soul! Defend the Church's Laws!
Still to thy Aid the sacred Scriptures bring,
Whilst Brightest Youths from thy Tuition spring!
They, as Examples, shall thy Worth proclaim,
And to Time's End shall consecrate thy Fame!
The Convocation may to joyn thee meet;
And what's so well begun, as well compleat.
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