The Dance Of Bishops; Or, The Episcopal Quadrille. A Dream.

A poem by Thomas Moore

"Solemn dances were, on great festivals and celebrations, admitted among the primitive Christians, in which even the Bishops and dignified Clergy were performers. Scaliger says, that the first Bishops were called praesules[2] for other reason than that they led off these dances."--"Cyclopaedia," art. Dances.

I've had such a dream--a frightful dream--
Tho' funny mayhap to wags 'twill seem,
By all who regard the Church, like us,
'Twill be thought exceedingly ominous!

As reading in bed I lay last night--
Which (being insured) is my delight--
I happened to doze off just as I got to
The singular fact which forms my motto.
Only think, thought I, as I dozed away,
Of a party of Churchmen dancing the hay!
Clerks, curates and rectors capering all
With a neat-legged Bishop to open the ball!
Scarce had my eyelids time to close,
When the scene I had fancied before me rose--
An Episcopal Hop on a scale so grand
As my dazzled eyes could hardly stand.
For Britain and Erin clubbed their Sees
To make it a Dance of Dignities,
And I saw--oh brightest of Church events!
A quadrille of the two Establishments,
Bishop to Bishop vis-à-vis,
Footing away prodigiously.

There was Bristol capering up to Derry,
And Cork with London making merry;
While huge Llandaff, with a See, so so,
Was to dear old Dublin pointing his toe.
There was Chester, hatched by woman's smile,
Performing a chaine des Dames in style;
While he who, whene'er the Lords' House dozes,
Can waken them up by citing Moses,[3]
The portly Tuam, was all in a hurry
To set, en avant, to Canterbury.

Meantime, while pamphlets stuft his pockets,
(All out of date like spent skyrockets,)
Our Exeter stood forth to caper,
As high on the floor as he doth on paper--
like a dapper Dancing Dervise,
Who pirouettes his whole church-service--
Performing, midst those reverend souls,
Such entrechats, such cabrioles,
Such balonnés, such--rigmaroles,
Now high, now low, now this, that,
That none could guess what the devil he'd be at;
Tho', watching his various steps, some thought
That a step in the Church was all he sought.

But alas, alas! while thus so gay.
These reverend dancers friskt away,
Nor Paul himself (not the saint, but he
Of the Opera-house) could brisker be,
There gathered a gloom around their glee--
A shadow which came and went so fast,
That ere one could say "'Tis there," 'twas past--
And, lo! when the scene again was cleared,
Ten of the dancers had disappeared!
Ten able-bodied quadrillers swept
From the hallowed floor where late they stept,
While twelve was all that footed it still,
On the Irish side of that grand Quadrille!

Nor this the worst:--still danced they on,
But the pomp was saddened, the smile was gone;
And again from time to time the same
Ill-omened darkness round them came--
While still as the light broke out anew,
Their ranks lookt less by a dozen or two;
Till ah! at last there were only found
Just Bishops enough for a four-hands-round;
And when I awoke, impatient getting,
I left the last holy pair poussetting!

N.B.--As ladies in years, it seems,
Have the happiest knack at solving dreams,
I shall leave to my ancient feminine friends
Of the Standard to say what this portends.

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