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Fable 5 – Church And State
by [?]


When Royalty was young and bold,
Ere, touched by Time, he had become–
If ’tisn’t civil to say old,
At least, a ci-devant jeune homme;

One evening, on some wild pursuit
Driving along, he chanced to see
Religion, passing by on foot,
And took him in his vis-a-vis.

This said Religion was a Friar,
The humblest and the best of men,
Who ne’er had notion or desire
Of riding in a coach till then.

“I say”–quoth Royalty, who rather
Enjoyed a masquerading joke–
“I say, suppose, my good old father,
“You lend me for a while your cloak.”

The Friar consented–little knew
What tricks the youth had in his head;
Besides, was rather tempted too
By a laced coat he got instead.

Away ran Royalty, slap-dash,
Scampering like mad about the town;
Broke windows, shivered lamps to smash,
And knockt whole scores of watchmen down.

While naught could they, whose heads were broke,
Learn of the “why” or the “wherefore,”
Except that ’twas Religion’s cloak
The gentleman, who crackt them, wore,

Meanwhile, the Friar, whose head was turned
By the laced coat, grew frisky too;
Lookt big–his former habits spurned–
And stormed about, as great men do:

Dealt much in pompous oaths and curses–
Said “Damn you” often, or as bad–
Laid claim to other people’s purses–
In short, grew either knaves or mad.

As work like this was unbefitting,
And flesh and blood no longer bore it,
The Court of Common Sense, then sitting,
Summoned the culprits both before it.

Where, after hours in wrangling spent
(As Courts must wrangle to decide well).
Religion to St. Luke’s was sent,
And Royalty packt off to Bridewell.

With this proviso–should they be
Restored, in due time, to their senses,
They both must give security,
In future, against such offences–
Religion ne’er to lend his cloak,
Seeing what dreadful work it leads to;
And Royalty to crack his joke,–
But not to crack poor people’s heads too.

[1] The salamander is supposed to have the power of extinguishing fire by its natural coldness and moisture.

[2] A well-known publisher of irreligious books.

[3] “The greatest number of the ichneumon tribe are seen settling upon the back of the caterpillar, and darting at different intervals their stings into its body–at every dart they deposit an egg”–GOLDSMITH.