FATHERS AND BRETHREN! Clerical and Lay,
A rural bard, your clemency doth pray,
While in an honest strain of artless verse,
His prophet Muse doth some high truths rehearse,
Scourge not the Muse with Apostolic crook,
Such sacrilege her spirit may not brook:
Let mitred Bishops neither scoff nor jeer,
Nor learned Doctors in the Temple sneer,
The Bard will sing nor all your wrath will fear.
Ye now have met in council high to search
The evils sore that agitate the Church:
Upon her altar were your vows all given,
(And all those vows were registered in heaven,)
To build fair Zion's walls both strong and high,
Until her key-stone kiss the arching sky.
Now have ye met to seal the solemn vow,
And fearful curse shall blight each priestly brow
If ye shall seek vile error's form to gild,
Or with untempered truth the walls to build.
Wrap not the robe around each lordly form,
Shake not your council with a holy storm;
The bard defies you with his lowly harp,
And chants his message, though ye all may carp
Fathers and Brethren! while ye have smiled and dozed,
Sad Zion's bleeding wounds remain unclosed:
Unworthy sons with cruel word and deed
Have made our holy Mother's bosom bleed
Until the milk, once poured in gen'rous flood,
Is mixed and curdled with our own dear blood.
Three years ago, within your Council-doors,
With fruitless skill ye plastered o'er those sores,
And though each breeze did waft a funeral knell,
The watchmen shouted still, all, all is well!
Is there no balm in Gilead's forests tall?
Does no Physician heed her plaintive call?
Why then are all the daughter's wounds unhealed?
Her wasting grief no longer is concealed:
Her beauteous form is bowed in sadness meek,
The rose hath faded in her marble cheek,
The eye hath lost its tender beam of love,
And now she moaneth like the stricken dove.
Will ye insult or veil her fearful woes,
Or still refuse her sorrows to disclose?
Can all the nostrums of patristic lore
Anoint with healing balm one running sore?
What though ye can the old Succession trace,
What though ye talk of Apostolic grace;--
Can all your dreams of ancient unity
Restore us now our ancient purity?
Peace! peace! ye cry, but there can be no peace;
Think not your nod can make the discord cease
While sacred truth is held in durance vile,
And our dear Lord is kissed with traitor smile.
See how the Church has to a Babel grown,
Where dining tongues are clamouring o'er each stone.
Is this the home of ancient peace and love,
The resting-place of God's most holy dove?
Alas! the dove on restless wing cloth fly
From town to town, and looks with saddened eye
For some sweet spot, from factious clamour free
Where he may rest in meek security:
But if the ark a resting place deny,
Back must she soar unto her native sky,
And in her Lord's soft, spreading arms caressed,
Smooth down the plumage of her ruffled breast.
Nor can ye win her from that dear retreat,
With sounding brass, or declamation sweet:
For while she sees the eagle on your crest,
Still will she nestle in her downy nest--
The unity ye love, is all external;
Ye seek not for the wounds internal,
But while the head is sick, the heart is faint
Ye smear the sallow cheeks with foreign paint,
And deck the Church with Oxford lace and frills,
Until she seems the harlot of the hills!
The holy truths of Reformation-day,
O'er which brave men did wrestle, bleed and pray,
For which good Bishops of the real line,
Like heroes fought in days of Auld Lang Syne;
These ancient corner-stones are now o'erthrown,
Or with Tradition's weeds and moss o'ergrown.
Could bold Reformers from the tomb awake,
Or sainted Bishops paradise forsake,
How would their manly hearts be pierced with pain.
To find that all their blood and tears were vain
The truth for which they valiantly protested,
By treacherous sons is valiantly detested:
At Jewel's name, to grace and learning dear,
Young Deacons scoff, and beardless students sneer,
For boyish limbs and tender heads can't bear
The arms and helmets giants strong did wear!
The Articles, the honoured Thirty-nine,
We all were taught had plainly drawn the line,
As sun-beam bright, between apostate Rome
And England's Church, of ancient faith the home.
Upon that line were raised the bulwarks strong,
And through the ranks the watch-word passed along,
While breast to breast the foe was met and driven,
Like frost-seared leaves before the gales of heaven--
When the young daughter raised her tender form
In Western wilds, like reed beneath the storm,
The same old banner in her hands unfurled,
Waved o'er her conquests in a virgin world.
But now that banner droops before the foe,
Its folds no more in rustling triumph flow,
Upon the ramparts humbly doth it fall,
And stealthy treason paces on the wall!
The Oxford-tracts were fired as signal-guns
Beseeching Rome to treat with faithless sons;
Responsive guns she fired in return,
On all her hills the signals bright did burn,
Her mitred legates called for meek concession,
And kindly bade us come unto Confession.
Gownsmen and Fellows, with their caps in hand,
With reverence deep before the Priests did stand,
In conference soft and dutiful communion,
To settle all the terms of ancient union,
Till Number 90 bade them all fall down
To kiss the toe, and hail the triple crown.
Old-fashioned ways and practises are bent
To suit the era of development.
The Pulpit once was held in veneration,
"Unpreaching Prelates" were a detestation;
Paul's Cross in olden days was holy ground
From whence the Gospel Trump did sweetly sound
Until the echoes met the vaulted sky,
And England's heart in rapture sweet beat high!
But now the Pulpit, with its honours hoary,
Yields to the Lectern in its dwarfish glory,
And tow'ring altars grace the chancel-wall,
In majesty sublime, and fair proportions tall,
Detected by this wondrous Oxford prism
To preach the word is ranting Methodism,
To wear no surplice damning sin and schism!
When honest men with gushing tears and cries
Proclaim the simple faith which justifies,
The priestly noses straitly do upturn,
And in His Truth the blessed Saviour spurn,
Fathers and Brethren! if you will truly search,
Two Gospels shall you find within the Church:
And all your Charges dressed in lordly style
These varied Gospels ne'er can reconcile.
The one makes Christ beginning and the end,
The other to the Font doth always tend;
The one exalteth Christ, the glorious Head,
The other makes the Church a Christ instead;
The one in Christ doth all transgression cancel,
The other finds atonement in the Chancel:
If one be gold, the other sure is dross,
Now which is gold, the altar, or the Cross?
From these two points the Gospels now diverge,
And meet they can't though ye may charge and scourge,
Ye cannot weld in one, opposing poles,
Nor can ye make two Gospels for our souls!
And who bring in, and in the work ne'er cease,
The novelties which now disturb our peace?
The men who dabble in patristic lore,
Who wear long cassocks buttoned down before,
With curious hats of ancient form and taste,
And belts and crosses dangling down the waist;
The imitation monks who pace the street;
And puzzle all the Irishmen they meet;
The dream-land men who all their wits forsake,
And look as if 'twere sin to be awake,
Who blind their eyes with monkish hoods and cowls,
Until they stare and wink like solemn owls;
The dream-land Virgins who with varied flowers
Convert the chancels into fairy bowers
Where dream-land Deacons on soft cushions rest,
And cross their snow-white hands upon the breast,
While dream-land Priests with faith progressional,
Are fitting up the snug Confessional:
The smirking candidates for holy orders,
Who love to dance around the Romish borders,
And fain would plunge into the holy see
But for the cold bath of celibacy!
The dream-land poets whose most gentle lay
Can only breathe when surpliced priests do pray,
Who with stained glass dissect each sun-beam bright
Ere it can suit their dim religious light,
There is an ancient Book called Common Prayer,
Which all do cherish with a pious care;
But e'en the men who in this book most glory,
In its pure leaves have found a Purgatory;
And in a double sense, it hints, 'tis said
Penance, Confession, Praying for the dead,
Invoking Saints of every hue and number,
A mystic Mass and other Popish lumber.
Now can your wit and wisdom all combined
Instruct us where the simple truth to find?
We fear we do this book a grievous wrong,
This double-sense looks like a double-tongue,
And if the oracle be so obscure
We must some anxious thoughts and doubts endure,
Or in reforming find our only cure!
Loud storming foes do not our courage damp,
A martial spirit agitates the camp
The walls are bristling o'er with canons new,
And e'en some old ones on the works we view.
'Tis true we spiked the old guns long ago,
And cast them off into the moat below,
But modern cannoniers have drawn them out,
And raised them up again with hearty shout;
For though their vollies may no longer crash,
Yet they can make some extra powder flash
To singe the eyes of priests and laymen rash!
But it is said some skilful engineers
Are softly whispering to the cannoniers,
That they must soon those olden guns unspike,
And for their ancient ammunition strike.
The tinkling hammer and the rasping file
Are surely toiling at this work the while,
And if these ancient guns dont prove defective
We soon may wish for "metal more attractive."
We now may hear resounding near and far,
The ringing armor of these men of war.
While Eastern skies are flashing with array,
"Westward the star of Empire takes its way:"
For while the East dost drill Artillery,
Missouri leads the smiling infantry;
And Junior Fathers soon will stretch the line,
Until they bring it up to Forty-nine;
They learn their tactics in an iron school,
And form platoons by Hildebrandic rule:
With ranks all clothed in priestly uniform,
Our fathers' breastworks they resolve to storm,
And valiant laymen of a knightly stamp
Will soon be drummed and driven from the camp.
Laymen! prepare to ground and stack your arms,
And march like Cincinnatti to your farms,
Wave all your rights, support the right divine,
And keep the Clergy--in Cigars and Wine.
Fathers and Brethren! in these our ancient quarrels,
We fear w're loosing all our ancient morals.
A learned Editor, whose grey goose-quill
Hath oft reduced proud Bishops to his will;
Whose weighty columns oft have labored sore
With unknown tongues and legendary lore;
Whose canvass sheet, outspread like gallant sail,
Hath filled with every wind and noisy gale;
Whose fruitful wit hath oft perplexed our view,
With shifting shades and each chameleon hue;
This wondrous man hath taken another tack,
And throwing knightly armor on his back,
Booted and spurred, he reins his gallant steed,
With lance in hand he looks the knight indeed.
But this proud knight in his bright errantry,
Reverses all thy rules, O Chivalry!
With coward lance he seeks to win a name,
Not fighting for, but 'gainst sweet woman's fame:
Oh shame to knighthood; pluck his visor off,
From out the lists the dastard recreant scoff;
Take off his spurs, shiver his traitor lance,
Beneath his stride let no proud charger prance,
And when from off his thighs ye tear the greaves,
Write on his shield, the knight of fig-tree leaves!
A warning lay shall from his harp-strings fall,
Ere yet the bard doth leave your council hall.
We all remember when the Patriarch WHITE,
With snow-white locks, at solemn hour of night,
Upon our towers the Mission flag unfurled,
And pledged the church to wave it o'er the world.
While gentle peace upon our bulwarks beamed,
Right nobly was the awful pledge redeemed:
In serried ranks, with armor bright and strong,
We marched to conquer, and victorious song
Pealed our old anthems through the listning land,
And distant realms acknowledged our command.
But now the march is staid; the banner trails,
Each valiant soldier in his column quails;
No conquests more, and scarce can we retain
The hard-earned ground our valiant arms did gain;
Confussion reigneth through the troubled host,
And while they halt, the victory is lost.
Chide not the hosts, for they are valiant all!
Upon the leaders let your censure fall,
Who make the trumpet give uncertain sound,
And lead the warriors on forbidden ground,
Whose foreign tactics vex the murmuring ranks,
Till lurking treason break the proud phalanx.
Chide not because the people will not bring
Into the store-house their full offering;
Their gold shall rust within the iron coffers
Ere they will give it to the youthful scoffers
Who catch contagion in the leprous East,
And then are sent to spread it through the West:
Nor will they cherish, though ye deem it crime,
A fancy mission at the Porte Sublime.
My task is o'er, and yours is just begun
Do well your work, that God may say Well done!