Fables For The Holy Alliance. Fable V. Church And State.

A poem by Thomas Moore

PROEM


"The moment any religion becomes national, or established, its purity must certainly be lost, because it is then impossible to keep it unconnected with men's interests; and, if connected, it must inevitably be perverted by them."
--SOAME JENYNS


Thus did SOAME JENYNS--tho' a Tory,
A Lord of Trade and the Plantations;
Feel how Religion's simple glory
Is stained by State associations.

When CATHARINE, ere she crusht the Poles,
Appealed to the benign Divinity;
Then cut them up in protocols,
Made fractions of their very souls--
All in the name of the blest Trinity;
Or when her grandson, ALEXANDER,
That mighty Northern salamander,[1]
Whose icy touch, felt all about,
Puts every fire of Freedom out--
When he, too, winds up his Ukases
With God and the Panagia's praises--
When he, of royal Saints the type,
In holy water dips the sponge,
With which, at one imperial wipe,
He would all human rights expunge;
When LOUIS (whom as King, and eater,
Some name Dix-huit, and some Deshuitres.)
Calls down "St. Louis's God" to witness
The right, humanity, and fitness
Of sending eighty thousand Solons,
Sages with muskets and laced coats,
To cram instruction, nolens volens,
Down the poor struggling Spaniards' throats--
I can’t help thinking, (tho' to Kings
I must, of course, like other men, bow,)
That when a Christian monarch brings
Religion's name to gloss these things--
Such blasphemy out-Benbows Benbow![2]

Or--not so far for facts to roam,
Having a few much nearer home-
When we see Churchmen, who, if askt,
"Must Ireland's slaves be tithed, and taskt,
"And driven, like Negroes or Croats,
"That you may roll in wealth and bliss?"
Look from beneath their shovel hats
With all due pomp and answer "Yes!"
But then, if questioned, "Shall the brand
"Intolerance flings throughout that land,--
"Shall the fierce strife now taught to grow
'Betwixt her palaces and hovels,
"Be ever quenched?"--from the same shovels
Look grandly forth and answer "No."--
Alas, alas! have these a claim
To merciful Religion's name?
If more you seek, go see a bevy
Of bowing parsons at a levee--
(Choosing your time, when straw's before
Some apoplectic bishop's door,)
Then if thou canst with life escape
That rush of lawn, that press of crape,
Just watch their reverences and graces,
As on each smirking suitor frisks,
And say, if those round shining faces
To heaven or earth most turn their disks?
This, this it is--Religion, made,
Twixt Church and State, a truck, a trade--
This most ill-matched, unholy Co.,
From whence the ills we witness flow;
The war of many creeds with one--
The extremes of too much faith and none--
Till, betwixt ancient trash and new,
'Twixt Cant and Blasphemy--the two
Rank ills with which this age is curst--
We can no more tell which is worst,
Than erst could Egypt, when so rich
In various plagues, determine which
She thought most pestilent and vile,
Her frogs, like Benbow and Carlisle,
Croaking their native mud-notes loud,
Or her fat locusts, like a cloud
Of pluralists, obesely lowering,
At once benighting and devouring!--

This--this it is--and here I pray
Those sapient wits of the Reviews.
Who make us poor, dull authors say,
Not what we mean, but what they choose;
Who to our most abundant shares
Of nonsense add still more of theirs,
And are to poets just such evils
As caterpillars find those flies,[3]
Which, not content to sting like devils,
Lay eggs upon their backs like wise--
To guard against such foul deposits
Of other's meaning in my rhymes,
(A thing more needful here because it's
A subject, ticklish in these times)--
I, here, to all such wits make known,
Monthly and Weekly, Whig and Tory,
'Tis this Religion--this alone--
I aim at in the following story:--

FABLE.

When Royalty was young and bold,
Ere, touched by Time, he had become--
If 'tisn't civil to say old,
At least, a ci-devant jeune homme;

One evening, on some wild pursuit
Driving along, he chanced to see
Religion, passing by on foot,
And took him in his vis-à-vis.

This said Religion was a Friar,
The humblest and the best of men,
Who ne'er had notion or desire
Of riding in a coach till then.

"I say"--quoth Royalty, who rather
Enjoyed a masquerading joke--
"I say, suppose, my good old father,
"You lend me for a while your cloak."

The Friar consented--little knew
What tricks the youth had in his head;
Besides, was rather tempted too
By a laced coat he got instead.

Away ran Royalty, slap-dash,
Scampering like mad about the town;
Broke windows, shivered lamps to smash,
And knockt whole scores of watchmen down.

While naught could they, whose heads were broke,
Learn of the "why" or the "wherefore,"
Except that 'twas Religion's cloak
The gentleman, who crackt them, wore,

Meanwhile, the Friar, whose head was turned
By the laced coat, grew frisky too;
Lookt big--his former habits spurned--
And stormed about, as great men do:

Dealt much in pompous oaths and curses--
Said "Damn you" often, or as bad--
Laid claim to other people's purses--
In short, grew either knaves or mad.

As work like this was unbefitting,
And flesh and blood no longer bore it,
The Court of Common Sense, then sitting,
Summoned the culprits both before it.

Where, after hours in wrangling spent
(As Courts must wrangle to decide well).
Religion to St. Luke's was sent,
And Royalty packt off to Bridewell.

With this proviso--should they be
Restored, in due time, to their senses,
They both must give security,
In future, against such offences--
Religion ne'er to lend his cloak,
Seeing what dreadful work it leads to;
And Royalty to crack his joke,--
But not to crack poor people's heads too.

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