Nicholas Amhurst Poems >>
A Congratulatory Epistle From His Holiness The Pope To The Reverend Dr. Snape

To Thee, my Snape, in these Reforming Times,
Grateful, we send our Blessing and our Rimes.
Odd it may seem for Us, the Guide of Kings,
To sport and flutter on Poetic Wings;
Odd it may seem for your unerring Sire
To rave, like School--boys, with Romantic Fire;
Whilst Conscience--liberty disturbs our Peace,
And stubborn, miter'd Heretics increase;
While the declining See expects her Doom,
And Europe plots the second Fall of Rome;
Whilst o'er the World the impious Scheme prevails
Of English Bangor, and of French Noailles.
Licentious Miscreants! with Gigantic Pride,
Our Apostolic Censures they deride;
We ply each Engine with successless Pain,
And with Damnation threaten 'em in vain:
Our Bulls the Hangman to the Flame commands,
Fated to perish by unhallow'd Hands;
The faithless Gaul augments our sacred Woes,
And Brunswick smiles, disdainful, on his Foes.

Nor yet, my Son, these ghostly Lays refuse,
The Labours of a Sacerdotal Muse;
Think not that Rimeing is beneath our Care,
Or that a Poet ill becomes the Chair:
My Soul to such an Extasy is wrought,
Verse can alone unload my swelling Thought;
Verse can alone with proper Force impart
The fervent Breathings of a grateful Heart.

When first We heard, confirm'd by ev'ry Mail,
What Labours you attempt, what Foes assail;
How, fir'd with vengeful Zeal, and pious Rage,
You durst with Hoadly in the Lists engage:
On ev'ry Brow a sudden Smile appear'd,
On ev'ry Tongue a sudden Joy was heard:
My self am ravish'd with the pleasing Tale,
And in my Breast reviving Hopes prevail.
Thro' Albion's Isle, I seem once more to Reign,
And sanguine Triumphs beat in ev'ry Vein.
With silent Joy thy Labours I peruse,
And bless thro' every Page thy glorious Views:
I scan each Doctrine, sift each doubtful Line,
And prove thy darling Principles by mine;
Thy stable Fundamentals are the same,
And bear, like Sterling--Gold, the purging Flame:
Unmix'd with gross, Heretical Allay,
Thy Works the Dictates of the Church display;
And, after the severest Test, are found
Pure, Catholick, and Orthodoxly sound.

But most those learned Pages we admire,
(For so our Int'rest and our Cause inspire)
Where, with consummate, controversial Strength,
You treat of Church Authority at length.
In that main Point exactly We agree,
And Bellarmine himself might yield to Thee.
Well do'st thou plead for undisputed Pow'r;
The Church, if once that ceases, is no more:
Power is the Cement of Religious Truth,
And from Division awes the roving Youth:
Power can old Modes restore, or new ones make,
And claim Submission for Submission's sake;
Power can alone uphold th'implicit Cause,
And gain Belief to unexamin'd Laws;
Power can alone our Unity increase,
And sooth the stubborn Schismatic to Peace;
Power can enforce that Faith, which first it made,
And Conscience from its strongest Bent dissuade.
(From wild to wild unguided Conscience strays,
And wanders on in her erroneous Maze.)
Your true, staunch Churchman disbelieves his Mind,
And trusts to the Decisions of Mankind;
He, blindly, Faith at second hand receives,
And not in Jesus, but the Priest believes.
He piques not of himself with haughty Pride,
Nor boasts the Dictates of an inward Guide;
Nor in his Heart erects a Conscience--Throne,
But models, by the Standard Faith, his own:
Since Conscience is at best a doubtful Light;
But Priests are, by their Office, in the Right.

What tho' the Bishop's Arguments excel,
Since Railing and Reproach will do as well?
Thy Sacred Scandals, and Religious Lies
Conceal the latent Truth from vulgar Eyes.
Our common Cause on Artifice depends,
The gravest Villains are its surest Friends:
Whose venal Faith on worldly Sanctions moves,
And such my dearest Snape himself approves.

With fervent Soul I bless'd the great Design,
When Defamation flow'd thro' ev'ry Line;
When you unravel'd, with no vulgar Art,
The mazy Folds and Doublings of the Heart;
The Prelate--Foe by Hear--say you abus'd,
And Hoadly stood of Perjury accus'd:
You broke into the Secrets of his Breast,
And to your Eyes his Meanings were confess'd;
You call'd him Atheist, unbelieving Sot,
Free--Thinker, Jesuit, and in short, what not?
Names ill conjoin'd!--but what can Priests contrive,
That an implicit Rabble won't believe?
They glean the straggling Rumours of the Town,
And swallow each luxurious Scandal down.

Nor less I joy'd, when in the self--same Page,
Th'Apostate fell a Victim to thy Rage:
He, Pillonniere, who from our Altars fled,
(Damnation light upon his impious Head.)
You strive, indeed, to blacken him in vain;
His late Behaviour is alas! too plain:
A most outragious Heretick in Grain!--
Full well thou know'st it--come we Two are Friends;
To me thou mayst confess thy Covert Ends:
Because no Jesuit, therefore you defame;
And if it please the Party, 'tis the same.
Thy famous Letter to the College feign'd
Of Wit and Gall no common Marks contain'd:
For in the shrewdest Ironies express'd,
The keenest Satire lurk'd in ev'ry Jest.
'Twas subtly finish'd, subtly 'twas design'd,
To wake the Passions, and inflame the Mind.
No Ranks and Orders can escape thy Pen,
Ev'n Brunswick fares with Thee like other Men.
With smart Lampoon you gall'd the Victor--King;
My Heart exulted when I 'spy'd the Sting.
The Innuendo was exceeding smart,
And couch'd in poignant Words with wond'rous Art.
Methinks I saw the old Usurper Rage,
And rend with conscious Wrath the biting Page:
The shocking Charge so artfully imply'd,
Tickled his rising Spleen, and check'd his Pride.

A certain learned Wight, not long ago
Our Correspondent was, nor Friend nor Foe:
He entertain'd Us with diverting Chat;
One Richard Steele--a smoaky Fellow that!
He told us frankly, in the Christian Creed,
That Rome and England were almost agreed.
Ah! little did I deem, what since I find,
Your Hearts so strongly to my Cause inclin'd:
A thousand silly Scruples fill'd my Breast;
I thought the merry Knight dispos'd to Jest.

Nor shalt Thou labour in our Cause in vain,
The Hat and Purple shall reward thy Pain:
Henceforth no more we wage religious Wars;
Henceforth our Quarrels cease, and mutual Jars.
My Snape the Charm of Heresy has broke,
And Albion scorns no more the Romish Yoke:
My Snape has recogniz'd our sacred Reign;
And Reformation shall roll back again.
The Beadsman oft, with Rapture in his Face,
And Eyes up--lifted, blesses all thy Race:
And oft, as thoughtful o'er the Meads he strays,
Repeats in Transport thy establish'd Praise:
The publick Voice of Rome applauds thy Deeds,
And a full Conclave has receiv'd thy Creeds.

But oh! one fatal Ill remains behind;
One painful Doubt disturbs my Anxious Mind:
Still, still, I fear, our tow'ring Hopes are crost,
And all this flatt'ring, gaudy Vision lost.
For oh! distracting Thought! our dreadful Foes,
Brunswick and Hoadly Thy Designs oppose,
And propagate to late succeeding Time,
Contagious Heresy thro' ev'ry Clime.
Wherefore dispatch Them to the Shades below;
Shoot, stab, or poison; 'tis no Matter how.
In lavish Reams, no more your Pamphlets spread;
You'll never argue a Fanatic dead:
Fire, Sword and Faggot will alone convince,
And bring the stupid Heretic to Sense;
At once the Tyrant from his Throne displace,
And quite extirpate his usurping Race:
Nor think that Vengeance on such Crimes will fall,
A Dispensation shall reverse it all.

To Thee, and all his unsuccessful Friends,
Most grateful Thanks your hapless Monarch sends,
Beneath our Eye, so partial Heav'n ordains,
The pensive Youth with mimic Splendor reigns;
From Land to Land the Royal Out--Law fled,
Nor had a Place to rest his weary Head;
'Till Rome at length, by strong Compassion sway'd,
With friendly Arm reach'd out the timely Aid.
His long disputed Titles he lays down,
And to his Rival quits the British Throne:
Forc'd to resign to Brunswick's pow'rful Might,
And boasts in vain his Patriarchal Right.
Henceforth he studies to oblige the Fair,
And dedicates his Life to Love and Pray'r:
In Love and Pray'r, like Thee, all rapt in Flame,
His Crucifix addresses, and his Dame.
You've heard how, with persuasive Pow'rs endu'd,
The exil'd Ormond for his Monarch su'd:
In vain he su'd; relentless to his Sighs,
The scornful Princess his Espousals flies;
And Russia's Monarch in his Pride disdains
To mix his Royal Blood in doubtful Veins.

Unhappy Prince! on Ills, new Ills arise,
Disastrous News! His Bigot--Mother dies:
She dies; and (oh! how shocking to relate?)
She dies forgetful of Her James's Fate.
Her hoarded Wealth, alas! the fatal Day,
She from her darling James bequeaths away;
A Stranger seizes on the lawless store,
As on his Kingdoms Brunswick seiz'd before.
How will the Tyrant triumph, when he hears,
That not one Livre is the Chevalier's?
Will not the Whigs affirm, with cruel Joy,
That by this Deed she has disown'd the Boy?
And won't the World have Reason to believe
What only Whigs before could ev'n conceive?

Of all the Stuart--Race but One is left,
And he, alas! of every Hope bereft:
The potent Nations, aw'd by Brunswick's Fame,
His proffer'd Friendship and his Cause disclaim.
Malignant Stars in social Leagues combine,
And Heav'n and Earth in his Destruction join.
Each distant View of Restoration's crost,
And Britain's Empire is for ever lost.

What else remains, but that in grateful Part,
Our warmest Thanks and Blessings we impart:
First, to the Synod; for Supreme are They,
And first, in Duty, pav'd the rugged Way:
Bid Them go on; Their Damning Pow'rs resume,
And to the Heretic denounce his Doom.
Assert their Independent, Priestly Crown,
And crush the stupid, upstart Layman down:
Bid them assert their boasted Claims divine;
Nor tamely to a Civil Pow'r resign.

To fiery Trap in strongest Ties I'm bound,
And Marsden, both for Impudence renown'd:
All humane Bars, regardless, They o'erthrow,
And with uncommon Warmth attack the Foe:
Each zealous Chief with lawless Fury writes,
And in the grossest Insolence delights.

Law, with unwearied, and unanswer'd Pains,
The Priest's unbroken Pedigree maintains.
Thro' each dark Century's perplexing Maze,
The long successive Priesthood he displays:
While Rival Pow'rs dispute th'Unerring Chair,
And each declares himself the Apostles Heir:
While Ignorance the Christian World defac'd,
And Wars and Famines laid the Nations waste:
From Age to Age the sacred Clue descends,
Till in Himself the lengthen'd Lineage ends.
On this Foundation stands our Common Cause,
And Rome from hence Her grand Conclusions draws.
Hence We confute our contumacious Foes,
Because from Us Their own Succession flows:
From hence our strongest Arguments We bring,
And of Salvation boast our selves the Spring.

With equal Learning He condemns the Pride
Of Private Judgment, and a Bosom Guide.
'Tis Arrogance, which nothing can atone,
To trust to no Man's Judgment, but one's own:
'Tis to subvert all Decency and Rules;
And, in Effect, to call a Synod, Fools.
In vain our Cardinals in Conclave sit,
If each Man must Believe--as He thinks fit.
No, let Mankind in our Decisions rest,
And check the squeamish Scruples in their Breast:
Or let 'em blindly follow, as we lead,
Or chuse their own Damnation in the stead.

Amongst the rest, one strange ambiguous Elf,
Seems ever to be wrangling with Himself:
Whose Principles are all of monstrous Growth,
Nor Orthodox, nor Heterodox, but Both.
With equal Skill on each Side He disputes,
And his own Blunders learnedly confutes,
So aukwardly unhappy at a Lye,
He still confesses what he would deny:
And often gravely, when the Spirit moves,
Condemns the self--same Doctrines and approves:
Self--inconsistent, not an Hour the same;
And Contradictions his Religion frame:
His restless Thoughts are ever on the Change,
And from Opinion to Opinion range.
Some evil Genius guides his Proteus--Mind;
Still in a Flux, and fickle as the Wind.
What 'tis he means, the Truth I must confess,
Puzzles Infallibility to guess.
Strange, doubtful Creature! Prithee let him know,
That if He's not my Friend, He is my Foe:
Bid him forthwith each quibbling Gloss recall;
Bid Him speak plain, or else not speak at all.

To Howell, whilom our undaunted Chief;
Oh! how shall I relate my painful Grief?
Unhappy Friend! great Agent in my Cause,
Tears from my Eyes thy sad Affliction draws:
My Heart bled for Thee, when oh! fatal Sound!
Fame told Thee first in ruthless Durance bound.
But, Thou, despise each Insult on thy Fame,
And learn by Patience to o'ercome the Shame.
Learn to endure what, on the self--same Score,
The bold Sacheverell has endur'd before.
With wonted Scorn, as freshest Mails advise,
Sacheverell still the Whiggish Power defies:
He seems forgetful of the former Ill,
And, fearless, from the Pulpit Thunders still.

To Brett and Johnson, each our faithful Friend,
Our Apostolic--Blessing we commend.
Let Orme, with our sincerest Thanks, be told
That Jemmy Shepheard is a Saint enroll'd:
He was, we hear, a very wond'rous Youth,
And swung Triumphant in the Cause of Truth.
With noble Pride He spurn'd the proffer'd Grace,
And sign'd the pious Murder to their Face.
Unmov'd with Fear the dreadful Shock withstood,
And seal'd the God--like Purpose with his Blood.
Deathless, as Garnet, shall descend his Fame,
And future Jacobites invoke his Name.

Thus to my Snape my inmost Griefs I send,
My faithful Nuncio, and sincerest Friend.
Thro' ev'ry Realm the Holy Empire fails,
And universal Heresy prevails:
Ev'n Miter'd Heads our sacred Powers withstand;
Fleetwoods and Hoadlys rise in ev'ry Land.
France Her Allegiance from the See withdraws,
And half the Northern World disputes our Cause.
My Sorrows scarce an hundred Tongues can tell;
And Rage and Shame suppress my Words--Farewel.