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The Progress Of A Divine: Satire

All priests are not the same, be understood!
Priests are, like other folks, some bad, some good.
What's vice or virtue, sure admits no doubt;
Then, clergy, with church mission, or without;
When good, or bad, annex we to your name,
The greater honour, or the greater shame.

Mark how a country Curate once could rise;
Tho' neither learn'd, nor witty, good, nor wise!
Of innkeeper, or butcher, if begot,
At Cam or Isis bred, imports it not.
A Servitor he was-Of hall, or college?
Ask not-to neither credit is his knowledge.

Four years, thro' foggy ale, yet made him see,
Just his neck-verse to read, and take degree.
A gown, with added sleeves, he now may wear;
While his round cap transforms into a square.
Him, quite unsconc'd, the butt'ry book shall own;
At pray'rs, tho' ne'er devout, so constant known.
Let testimonials then his worth disclose!
He gains a cassock, beaver and a rose.
A Curate now, his furniture review!
A few old sermons, and a bottle-screw.
A Curate?-Where? His name (cries one) recite!
Or tell me this-Is pudding his delight?
Why, our's loves pudding-Does he so?-'tis he!
A Servitor;-Sure Curl will find a key.

His Alma Mater now he quite forsakes;
She gave him one degree, and two he takes.
He now the hood and sleeve of Master wears;
Doctor! (quoth they)-and lo! a scarf he bears!
A swelling, russling, glossy scarf! yet he,
By peer unqualify'd, as by degree.

This Curate learns church-dues, and law to tease,
When time shall serve, for tithes, and surplice-fees;
When 'scapes some portion'd girl from guardian's pow'r,
He the snug licence gets for nuptual hour;
And rend'ring vain her parent's prudent cares,
To sharper weds her, and with sharper shares.
Let babes of poverty convulsive lie;
No bottle waits, tho' babes unsprinkled die.
Half-office serves the fun'ral, if it bring
No hope of scarf, or hatband, gloves, or ring.
Does any wealthy fair desponding lie,
With scrup'lous conscience, tho' she knows not why?
Would cordial counsel make the patient well?
Our priest shall raise the vapours, not dispel.
His cant some orphan's piteous case shall bring;
He bids her give the widow's heart to sing:
He pleads for age in want; and while she lingers,
Thus snares her charity with bird-lime fingers.

Now in the patron's mansion see the wight,
Factious for pow'r-a son of Levy right!
Servile to 'squires, to vassals proud his mien,
As Codex to inferior Clergy seen.
He flatters till you blush; but, when withdrawn,
'Tis his to slander, as 'twas his to fawn.
He pumps for secrets, pries o'er servants' ways,
And, like a meddling priest, can mischief raise;
And from such mischief thus can plead desert-
'Tis all my patron's int'rest at my heart.
Deep in his mind all wrongs from others live;
None more need pardon, and none less forgive.

At what does next his erudition aim?
To kill the footed and the feather'd game:
Then this Apostle, for a daintier dish.
With line or net, shall plot the fate of fish.
In kitchen, what the cookmaid calls a cot;
In cellar, with the butler, brother sot,
Here too he corks; in brewhouse hops the beer,
Bright in the hall, his parts at whist appear;
Dext'rous to pack; yet at all cheats exclaiming:
The priest has av'rice, av'rice itch of gaming,
And gaming fraud:-But fair he strikes the ball,
And at the plain of billiard pockets all.
At tables now!-But oh, if gammon'd there,
The startling echoes learn, like him, to swear!
Tho' ne'er at authors in the study seen,
At bowls sagacious master of the green.
A connoisseur, as cunning as a fox,
To bet on racers, or on battling cocks;
To preach o'er beer, in boroughs, to procure
Voters, to make the 'squire's election sure:
For this, where clowns stare, gape, and grin, and baul,
Free to buffoon his function to 'em all.
When the clod justice some horse-laugh wou'd raise,
Foremost the dullest of dull jokes to praise;
To say, or unsay, at his patron's nod;
To do the will of all-save that of God.

His int'rest the most servile part he deems;
Yet much he sways, where much to serve he seems;
He sways his patron, rules the Lady most,
And, as he rules the Lady, rules the roast.

Old tradesmen must give way to new-his aim
Extorted poundage, once the steward's claim.
Tenants are rais'd; or, as his pow'r increases,
Unless they fine to him, renew no leases.
Thus tradesmen, servants, tenants, none are free;
Their loss and murmur are his gain and glee.

Lux'ry he loves; but like a priest of sense,
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Richard Savage

Richard Savage was an English poet. He is best known as the subject of Samuel Johnson's Life of Savage, on which is based one of the most elaborate of Johnson's Lives of the English Poets. more…

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