Lutrin/Canto 4

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THE Sextons to their early Task repair,
And call the Yawning Priests to Matin Pray'r;
The Bells with silver Sounds the Region shake,
Their Turrets rock, and lazy Chanters wake;
Half rais'd at the sad Din, Each drowsy Head
Sinks down opprest by its own Native Lead.

Their Chief alone with fansy'd Terror struck,
And scar'd by visionary Forms awoke;
At the redoubled Clangor of his Cries
Each Servant quits his Down, and trembling flies.
First Faithful Girot, with undaunted Speed,
Appear'd before the Sweating Chanter's Bed:
Girot his shaking Master's Sense Restor'd;
The worthiest Servant of so good a Lord!
Who, pleas'd Domestic Merit to prefer,
The Choire's proud Gate committed to his Care;
Abroad, a stiff-neck'd haughty Virger, He;
At Home, a supple Slave in Livery.

My Lord, said he, what Trouble heaves your Breast?
What Melancholy breaks your grateful Rest?

Wou'd you unpresidented madly run
To Chapel, and prevent the rising Sun?
Consider, Sir; to vulgar Chanters Leave
The Pride of Meriting what they receive.
Your Genius then indulge without Reserve,
Let Wretches born for Labour toil and starve.

Friend, said the Chanter, still with Horrour pale,
What can these vain Reflections now avail?
Here thy Companionable Passion join,
And mix thy amicable Sighs with mine;
Thy honest Heart will tremble when it hears
The Subject of thy dying Master's Fears:
Twice gracious Morpheus had my Temples bound,
And in forgetful Nightshade Reason drown'd:
Intoxicating Fumes had Fancy warm'd,
And every Sense to sweet Repose was charm'd,

When as I thought i'th' Choire with glorious Grace
I Bless'd the Crowd and fill'd my wonted Place,
Swallow'd the Incense, and unrivall'd bore
The first-Degree in Office and in Pow'r;
A Gloomy Smoke long rowling from afar
Seem'd from the darken'd Vestry to appear;
Forward it shot, and kindling as it came,
The dreadful Cloud burst in a bluish Flame;
And Oh! Dire Object! to my Sight display'd
A Dragon, by th' assisting Prelate led;
His Head Triangular; the frightful Mass
A very Reading-Desk appear'd, or Was.
When, animated by his Guide, the Beast
Darting at me, uprais'd his Monstrous Crest.
In vain I trembling fled, cry'd out in vain,
Till kindly Sleep relax'd his gentle Chain.
I can no more——Possess'd with Panic Dread;
In my pale Eyes the Sequel may be read.

Ah, Sir, said Girot smiling, Noblemen,
Wits, Critics, Ladies, Poets nurse the Spleen;
'Tis a Gentile Disease and ever bred
By Duns, or Affectation, or a Bed.
Without Delay on fam'd [1]Cephatic call,
The Camisar shall cure you with his Sal.

The Master of the Choire, averse to Jest
(With chiding Eyes his ill-tim'd Wit supprest)
Leap'd furious from his Bed, and hasten'd to be drest.
All his rich Vests and sumptuous Robes puts on,
His Mohair Cassock and his Tabby Gown,
His Violet Gloves; that very Rochet wore
Which once the jealous Prelate's Fingers tore:
An Ebon Stick he held, and on his Head,
Snowy with Winter Age, a Sattin Bonnet laid;

Quickning his Pace with fierce impulsive Ire
He runs, he flies, and reaches first the Choire.

[2]Oh Thou who guided by the Delphic God
Sung, On the Margin of a drowsy Flood,
Obstinate Chiefs inur'd to deadly Wars;
'Twixt Hostile Frogs and Mice immortal Jars.
[3]Oh Thou whose Muse's bold Fantastick Flight
Did the Bolonian Bucket's Rape indite;
Vile Cause of War! All Latium to ingage
In Bloody Arms, The Helen of their Rage!
And [4]Thou who painted in a Deathless Strain
The Licens'd Homicides of Warwick Lane!
(Phœbus to Thee his Double Blessing gives;
Thy Musick charms us, and thy Art relieves,)
Give Energy to my Enervate Tongue,
While the fir'd Chanter's flagrant Rage is sung:

What Pencil can his Indignation draw,
When on his Seat th' aspiring Desk he saw!
Mute, Motionless and Pale a while he stood,
Horror, Surprize and Grief benumb'd his Blood;
But his imprison'd Words at Length resound,
And breaking thro' his Sobs a Passage found.

See Girot! See the Hydra that opprest
My troubl'd Soul, and broke my pleasing Rest!
Behold the Dragon! There he rears his Head,
And buries Me in an Eternal Shade!
Prelate, what have I done? What hellish Rage
Makes thee Ingenious to torment my Age?
What! Can thy waking Malice know no Rest,
Nor Sleep, nor Night lull thy tempestuous Breast?
Oh Fate! must this opprobrious Desk appear,
And cloud me in my proper Hemisphere?

Into a Dungeon thus convert my Pew,
Eclipse my Glories from the Public View!
Unseen, Unknown to all but God, my Face
Must there be bid incog' in my own Place!
What! Must I sit Ingloriously Obscur'd!——
It is too much; It cannot be endur'd,
No, let us first the sacred Altar fly,
Abandon Heav'n, Renounce the Ministry;
Yes, let us cease our inharmonious Pray'rs,
No longer offer Music to the Spheres,
Nor deafen, with rude Sounds, Immortal Ears:
Let us from this ungrateful Church retire,
Nor see, where we're not seen, a thankless Choire;
But then my Rival Triumphs on his Seat,
And smiles insultingly at my Defeat,
While on my Pew this Desk will still be born,
And riding on its creaking Hinges turn,

Forbid it Heav'n, Or give me Instant Death,
And Stifle foul Dishonour with my Breath!
Yes, faithful Girot, let us bravely Die,
If we're too weak to move this Infamy;
But this Right Hand shall tear the Tyrant down;
'Tis lawful an Usurper to Dethrone:
Yes, e're we die, if noble Death must come,
The Rival Desk shall, falling, share Our Doom.

Strengthen'd with Rage, at these Determin'd Words
The Furious Chanter seiz'd the trembling Boards;
When, guided thither by Auspicious Chance,
Roger and John, two well known Chiefs, Advance;
Renowned Normans both, Equally Skill'd
I'th' Law, with Knowledge and Experience fill'd;
They hear his Anger's Source, his Cause they Own;
Yet Counsel, Nothing rashly shou'd be done:

Yes, they Agree The Monster must not stand,
Nor must it fall by any Private Hand:
But let th' Assembled Chapter View the Sight,
And in full Synod do the Chanter Right.

This Sage Advice repriev'd the threatn'd Mass,
And Smooth'd the ruffl'd Sire's distorted Face:
Then be it so, said he, Let them appear,
Summon, without Delay, the Chapter Here;
Fly, and with holy Yell the Dotards Wake;
So shall they of our Early Grief partake.

At this Discourse Surpriz'd and Froze they Stand,
Regardless of their Soveraign's rash Command.

Foolish and bold, Says Roger, To enjoyn
A Morning's work I fear we must decline!
Betimes we ought to Quit this Party Fray,
Where 'tis Impossible we shou'd Obey;

Tho' from the distant Street the piercing Sound
Shou'd wake the Snoring Footmen, stretch'd around,
And penetrate without the least Regard
That sacred Calm, where Noise is never heard,
Can you Conceive, my Lord, when peaceful Shades
Have bound 'em fast co their Inchanting Beds,
We shou'd the Sluggard's Iron-slumbers break,
Whom Six Bells thirty Years cou'd never Wake?
Can two weak Chanters Voices e'er perform
What is a Work for Thunder or a Storm?

The Warm Old Man Replies, I see what Ends
You Wish, and whither this Oration tends.
I see, your Dastard Souls the Prelate dread;
Yes, of the haughty Prelate You're afraid;
Ye Servile Wretches; I have seen you stand
Bending your Necks beneath his Blessing Hand.

Go Still be Slaves, still Fawn, and Lick, and Bow;
I will the Canons raise without ye Now.
Approach then, Honest Girot, thou true Friend!
Whom neither Bribes can Shake, nor Prelates Bend:
Do thou the Maundy Thursday's [5]Rattle Take;
Soon shall this Engine make 'em Hear and Shake;
The Sun a Sight intirely new shall see,
The Droneing Chapter Up as foon as He.

This heartning Speech made Trusty Girot fly,
And rake the dust of Holy Armory.
Now the Lugubrous Instrument Resounds,
And every Ear with hideous Clangor Wounds.
Infernal Discord, pleas'd, Prepares to head
Her Willing Champions, and afford them Aid;
Then from the [6]Clam'rous Hall, t'improve the Fright,
She Calls the God of Noise thro' Shades of Night:

And now Sweet Sleep forsakes each wondring Eye;
The Street, astonish'd, rises at the Cry:
At length the Canons their strong Fetters break,
Unseal their Lids, and in Confusion Wake:
Monstrous and wild Ideas Each Conceives,
And what his Fancy breeds, his Fear believes:
One Thinks loud Thunder Splits the Sacred Choire;
The Chapel burning with a [7]Second Fire:
Others more Sad and Phlegmatick than He
Guess't it the Toning of the [8]Tenebræ:
A Third, still Dozing with the Fumes of Wine,
Believes it Noon[errata 1], Vows 'tis a laid Design,
And Grumbles that he was not Call'd to Dine.

So when Returning Phœbus gilds the Year,
And Chears with Genial Warmth our Hemisphere;

When Zephyrs blow, And Birds difus'd to sing
Essay their Notes, to welcome in the Spring;
Albion's bright Goddess, mov'd with Europe's Tears,
Sends forth her Heroes to dissolve their Fears;
With Insulary Thunder to Prevent
The tow'ring Giants of the Continent.
The L'ouvre shakes, Pale Louis tastes again
The terrors of a New Ramillia Plain.
Th' Escurial dreads ANNA's recruited Might,
And Anjou Saddles for a Second Flight:
Parisian Walls shall prove a weak Defence
For [9]Quixot Kings,and each [10]Knight Errant Prince.

In vain do's Terror urge; Supine they lie,
And wait between the Sheets their Destiny.
Girot resolves to rouse 'em, and prepares
A Story, Which he Knew wou'd take their Ears,
Restore their Senses, and Expell their Fears.

I'm sent, said he, t' inform you from my Lord,
A warm Collation smoaks upon the Board;
With Art collected, It no Dainty wants
Which Luxury can wish, Or the rich Season grants.

He spoke; All catch at once the welcome Sound,
Shake of dull Sleep, and from their Pillows bound;
Headlong they press, as rapid Lightning, fleet;
Yet swifter Appetite out-strips their Feet.
Ready to break their Necks, to break their Fast;
Each flatters, as he flies, his Eager Taste
With entertaining Thoughts of Sweet Repast.
But, ah Vain Hope! Fond Man's delusive Bait!
Regardful of the Cover'd Hook too late!
The disappointed Chapter View their Chief,
And find they come not there to Eat, but Grieve.

The Chanter in the most Pathetic Words
(The best his interrupting Grief affords)
Reveals the sad Misfortune To his Friends,
And his just Cause to Them and God Commends.

Plump Ev'rard only durst propose to Eat;
Ev'rard's keen Stomach did his Zeal abate;
The Canons fill'd with other Thoughts, His Vote
Vanish'd unseconded and soon forgot.
When Allen rose; Collected and Prepar'd,
He regularly Hem'd, then Strok'd his Beard,
And Claim'd, as Prolocutor, to be Heard.
The Learned Seer Attention might demand;
The Only Scholar in this Reverend Band!
The Learned Seer had Copious Baxter read,
And with Old Bunyan cram'd his Muddy Head.
Thus Oft, Sublime, Contiguous to the Skies,
Sacred to Dust, an Empty Garret lies;

'Till hir'd by some vile Quack, The Furniture
Do's All the happy lightsome Space Obscure;
And What th' Unlucky Owner meant to Grace,
Converted to an Indigested Mass.
Yes, Great a-Kempis he cou'd Construe too,
And all his knotty Passages Undo.
Whence cou'd this Stroke, said He, but from the Womb,
Some Younger Sprig of Old Socinus, Come?
It must be so; We're in the Prelate's Snare;
These Eyes Saw Deist T—— visit there;
Satan Endeavours, by that subtle Fiend,
The Prelate to his Purposes to Bend.
Sirs, he most certainly has somewhere heard
That this Litigious Desk St. Louis rear'd;
Thus, grown Polemical, He'll-proudly think
To Drown us All with Deluges of Ink;

Vast Subsidies of Paper-Force he'll raise,
And make his Partizans find Means and Ways.
Now 'tis Our Duty timely to prepare,
And stand a resolute Defensive War;
Consult Antiquity, The Scholiasts scan,
Let every Text be bolted to the Bran;
Consider; Do's Aquinas nothing say
Of Desks? None of the Fathers lean that Way?
I find this Argument will ask much Oil,
Close Reading, Indefatigable Toil.
Then when Aurora kindles up the Day,
And lights her Lamp, extinguish'd in the Sea;
Let every Man by Lots his Portion take,
And what our learned Doctors dictate, Speak.

Struck with this unexpected Speech, they Stare,
And each pale Face betray'd Uncommon Care;

Squab Everard with most Concern appear'd,
He Shov'd, and Prest, and Swore he wou'd be Heard.

If at my Years, said he, I turn One Page,
Or hurt with Books These Eyes too weak with Age,
May I, like Thee, on Musty Paper feed,
Turn Bookworm, and be Bury'd 'ere I'm Dead;
Let us, who know the Use of Living, live;
Thy Meagre Body do's thy Soul Survive:
Go, Macerate what Flesh remains with Books,
We are not fond of such mean haggard Looks;
What Others do shall ne'er disturb My Head;
I neither Alcoran, nor Bible read.
I know tight well the price of College Hay,
Or what Our Farmers every Quarter Pay,
On which good Vineyard there's a Mortgage made,
And what and how the Int'rest must be paid;

Twenty Large Hogsheads fill'd by my Command,
Rang'd Orthodoxly in my Cellar stand:
These are my Authors, There my Study's plac'd;
By Them Inform'd, Substantial Bliss I Taste;
And since All Knowledge in Opinion lies,
Can, when I please, from thence be Warm and Wise.
As for this Desk; D'ye Think your Books will Charm
The Monster down? Believe me, this Right Arm
More expeditiously your Work shall Do;
The Gorgon without Latin Overthrow.
What ever does offend me I'll Remove,
Tho' All the Fathers shou'd the Desk approve:
Let us to Breakfast, and our Sorrows drown;
So Fortify'd We'll Knock the Monster down.

This Speech; Supported by his Jolly plight,
(Plump as if Fed at Both Ends, Day and Night,)
Revives their Courage and their Appetite.
The Chanter, now recover'd from his Fear,
Rallies his Senses, and Declares for War;
Too long (He cry'd) has that foul Cerb'rus Head
Obscur'd us with his [11]treble-crested Shade.
Let's instantly our sully'd Fame Restore,
And show at once our Courage and our Pow'r:
Yes, let us for this Work some Minutes Fast;
This Done; Messieurs, We'll make a long Repast;
A Breakfast which the Morn to Noon shall join,
And Then but to a nobler Feast Resign.

Up rose the Chief. The faithful Cohort Charm'd
With these attracting Words, his Zeal Confirm'd.
Then to the Choir with fearless Steps they go,
And there Behold the bold usurping Foe:

At this, To Arms tumultuously they Cry,
And pour upon the Common Enemy;
The Axis now defends it self in vain;
What Force cou'd such Confed'rate Pow'rs sustain!
Each honours with a Blow his gallant Hand;
The Desk as bravely strove their Rage to stand:
Firmly a while the Hydra kept his Ground,
Till some dire Hero gave a fatal Wound;
Deep was the Cut, he stagger'd with the Blow,
And bow'd beneath his unexpected Foe.
Act Length for Want of his great Master's Aid,
The tott'ring Lump with Odds is Overlaid.

So batter'd by the North, A Ruffian Oak
Succumbs, Unequal to the violent Shock:

Or So, Abandon'd by its Girding Wood,
Sinks an old Roof, which had for Ages stood.

The Captive Boards in Triumph are convey'd,
And in the Victor Chanter's Mansion laid.

  1. A Doctor in Paris famous for Sal Volatile and Enthusiasm.
  2. Homer's Batrachomyomachia.
  3. Alessandro Tassoni Author of La Secchia rapita. An Italian Poem.
  4. Dr. Garth.
  5. La Cresselle, in French; an Instrument us'd on Maundy Thursday instead of Bells.
  6. Parallel to our Westminster Hall. The Reader will please to apply it so as oft as he meets with it.
  7. Once burnt down, In 1618.
  8. The Service in the Romish Church the Week before Easter.
  9. Don Philip.
  10. Chevalier St. George.
  11. The Desk was of a triangular form.


  1. Original: Believes it Three was amended to Believes it Noon: detail