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The Hind And The Panther, A Poem In Three Parts : Part II.

John Dryden 1631 (Aldwincle) – 1631 (London)



“Dame,” said the Panther, “times are mended well,
Since late among the Philistines you fell.
The toils were pitched, a spacious tract of ground
With expert huntsmen was encompassed round;
The inclosure narrowed; the sagacious power
Of hounds and death drew nearer every hour.
'Tis true, the younger lion 'scaped the snare,
But all your priestly calves lay struggling there,
As sacrifices on their altars laid;
While you, their careful mother, wisely fled,
Not trusting destiny to save your head.
For, whate'er promises you have applied
To your unfailing Church, the surer side
Is four fair legs in danger to provide;
And whate'er tales of Peter's chair you tell,
Yet, saving reverence of the miracle,
The better luck was yours to 'scape so well.”
“As I remember,” said the sober Hind,
“Those toils were for your own dear self designed,
As well as me; and with the selfsame throw,
To catch the quarry and the vermin too,—
Forgive the slanderous tongues that called you so.
Howe'er you take it now, the common cry
Then ran you down for your rank loyalty.
Besides, in Popery they thought you nurst,
As evil tongues will ever speak the worst,
Because some forms, and ceremonies some
You kept, and stood in the main question dumb.
Dumb you were born indeed; but, thinking long,
The test, it seems, at last has loosed your tongue:
And to explain what your forefathers meant,
By real presence in the sacrament,
After long fencing pushed against a wall,
Your salvo comes, that he's not there at all:
There changed your faith, and what may change may fall.
Who can believe what varies every day,
Nor ever was, nor will be at a stay?”
“Tortures may force the tongue untruths to tell,
And I ne'er owned myself infallible,”
Replied the Panther: “grant such presence were,
Yet in your sense I never owned it there.
A real virtue we by faith receive,
And that we in the sacrament believe.”
“Then,” said the Hind, “as you the matter state,
Not only Jesuits can equivocate;
For real, as you now the word expound,
From solid substance dwindles to a sound.
Methinks, an Æsop's fable you repeat;
You know who took the shadow for the meat:
Your Church's substance thus you change at will,
And yet retain your former figure still.
I freely grant you spoke to save your life;
For then you lay beneath the butcher's knife.
Long time you fought, redoubled battery bore,
But, after all, against yourself you swore,
Your former self; for every hour your form
Is chopped and changed, like winds before a storm.
Thus fear and interest will prevail with some;
For all have not the gift of martyrdom.”
The Panther grinned at this, and thus replied:
“That men may err was never yet denied;
But, if that common principle be true,
The canon, dame, is levelled full at you.
But, shunning long disputes, I fain would see
That wondrous wight, Infallibility.
Is he from heaven, this mighty champion, come?
Or lodged below in subterranean Rome?
First, seat him somewhere, and derive his race,
Or else conclude that nothing has no place.”
“Suppose, though I disown it,” said the Hind,
“The certain mansion were not yet assigned;
The doubtful residence no proof can bring
Against the plain existence of the thing.
Because philosophers may disagree,
If sight by emission, or reception be,
Shall it be thence inferred, I do not see?
But you require an answer positive,
Which yet, when I demand, you dare not give;
For fallacies in universals live.
I then affirm, that this unfailing guide
In Pope and General Councils must reside;
Both lawful, both combined; what one decrees
By numerous votes, the other ratifies:
On this undoubted sense the Church relies.
'Tis true, some doctors in a scantier space,
I mean, in each apart, contract the place.
Some, who to greater length extend the line,
The Church's after-acceptation join.
This last circumference appears too wide;
The Church diffused is by the Council tied,
As members by their representatives
Obliged to laws, which prince and senate gives.
Thus, some contract, and some enlarge the space;
In Pope and Council, who denies the place,
Assisted from above with God's unfailing grace?
Those canons all the needful points contain;
Their sense so obvious, and their words so plain,
That no disputes about the doubtful text
Have hitherto the labouring world perplext.
If any should in after-times appear,
New Councils must be called, to make the meaning clear;
Because in them the power
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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John Dryden

John Dryden was an English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright who was made Poet Laureate in 1668. more…

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    "The Hind And The Panther, A Poem In Three Parts : Part II." Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 16 Oct. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/22716/the-hind-and-the-panther,-a-poem-in-three-parts-:-part-ii.>.

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