The Hind and the Panther: Part I

Original Text: 
John Dryden, The Hind and the Panther (London: Jacob Tonson, 1687). Wing 2281. PR 3418 .H5 SMR
2Fed on the lawns, and in the forest rang'd;
3Without unspotted, innocent within,
4She fear'd no danger, for she knew no sin.
5Yet had she oft been chas'd with horns and hounds
7Aim'd at her heart; was often forc'd to fly,
8And doom'd to death, though fated not to die.
9      Not so her young; for their unequal line
10Was hero's make, half human, half divine.
11Their earthly mold obnoxious was to fate,
12Th' immortal part assum'd immortal state.
13Of these a slaughter'd army lay in blood,
15Their native walk; whose vocal blood arose,
16And cried for pardon on their perjur'd foes.
17Their fate was fruitful, and the sanguine seed,
18Endued with souls, increas'd the sacred breed.
19So captive Israel multiplied in chains,
20A numerous exile, and enjoy'd her pains.
21With grief and gladness mix'd, their mother view'd
22Her martyr'd offspring, and their race renew'd;
23Their corps to perish, but their kind to last,
24So much the deathless plant the dying fruit surpass'd.
25      Panting and pensive now she rang'd alone,
26And wander'd in the kingdoms, once her own.
27The common hunt, tho' from their rage restrain'd
28By sov'reign pow'r, her company disdain'd;
29Grinn'd as they pass'd, and with a glaring eye
30Gave gloomy signs of secret enmity.
31'T is true, she bounded by, and tripp'd so light,
32They had not time to take a steady sight,
33For Truth has such a face and such a mien,
34As to be lov'd needs only to be seen.
36Unlick'd to form, in groans her hate express'd.
38Profess'd neutrality, but would not swear.
40Mimick'd all sects, and had his own to choose:
42And paid at church a courtier's compliment.
44(But whiten'd with the foam of sanctity,)
45With fat pollutions fill'd the sacred place,
46And mountains levell'd in his furious race:
47So first rebellion founded was in grace.
48But since the mighty ravage which he made
50With broken tusks, and with a borrow'd name,
51He shunn'd the vengeance, and conceal'd the shame;
52So lurk'd in sects unseen. With greater guile
55Was chas'd from Nice; then, by Socinus nurs'd,
56His impious race their blasphemy renew'd,
57And nature's King through nature's optics view'd.
58Revers'd, they view'd him lessen'd to their eye,
59Nor in an infant could a God descry:
60New swarming sects to this obliquely tend,
61Hence they began, and here they all will end.
62      What weight of ancient witness can prevail,
63If private reason hold the public scale?
64But, gracious God, how well dost thou provide
65For erring judgments an unerring guide!
66Thy throne is darkness in th' abyss of light,
67A blaze of glory that forbids the sight.
68O teach me to believe Thee thus conceal'd,
69And search no farther than Thyself reveal'd;
70But her alone for my director take,
71Whom Thou hast promis'd never to forsake!
72My thoughtless youth was wing'd with vain desires,
73My manhood, long misled by wand'ring fires,
74Follow'd false lights; and when their glimpse was gone,
75My pride struck out new sparkles of her own.
76Such was I, such by nature still I am,
77Be thine the glory, and be mine the shame.
78Good life be now my task: my doubts are done:
79(What more could fright my faith, than Three in One?)
80Can I believe eternal God could lie
81Disguis'd in mortal mould and infancy?
82That the great Maker of the world could die?
83And after that trust my imperfect sense
84Which calls in question his omnipotence?
85Can I my reason to my faith compel,
86And shall my sight, and touch, and taste rebel?
87Superior faculties are set aside,
88Shall their subservient organs be my guide?
89Then let the moon usurp the rule of day,
90And winking tapers show the sun his way;
91For what my senses can themselves perceive,
92I need no revelation to believe.
328And fairest creature of the spotted kind;
329Oh, could her inborn stains be wash'd away,
330She were too good to be a beast of prey!
331How can I praise, or blame, and not offend,
332Or how divide the frailty from the friend!
333Her faults and virtues lie so mix'd that she
334Nor wholly stands condemn'd, nor wholly free.
335Then, like her injur'd Lion, let me speak;
336He cannot bend her, and he would not break.
337Unkind already, and estrang'd in part,
339Though' unpolluted yet with actual ill,
340She half commits, who sins but in her will.
342There could be spirits of a middle sort,
343Too black for heav'n, and yet too white for hell,
344Who just dropp'd halfway down, nor lower fell;
345So pois'd, so gently she descends from high,
346It seems a soft dismission from the sky.


1] First published in 1687, being licensed for the press on April 11th. The poem is a defense of the Roman Catholic faith, which Dryden had embraced shortly after the accession of the Catholic James II to the throne on February 6, 1685. In spite of an early policy of intolerance towards Dissenters, James was forced (in order to benefit Catholics) to issue, on April 4, 1687, a Declaration of Indulgence, suspending by royal prerogative the Test Act and all penal laws against both Catholics and Dissenters. The Declaration of Indulgence was issued just one week before The Hind and the Panther was licensed for the press, and it is apparent in the poem that Dryden was unprepared for such a change of policy. His prose Preface praises toleration and adopts a much less hostile tone to the dissenting sects, and is clearly an attempt to adapt himself to James' more tolerant policy. (For a discussion of Dryden's conversion to Catholicism see Bredvold, The Best of Dryden, 552-3). The poem is divided into three parts; the first describes, under the guise of different beasts, the various religious sects, particularly the Church of Rome and the Church of England; the second part is occupied with the arguments between these two churches; and the third contains a satirical discussion of temporal and political matters. The beast fable as an instrument of satire had already been used in England by Chaucer and Spenser.
Hind. The Roman Catholic Church. Back to Line
6] Scythian shafts. The ancient Scythians used poisoned arrows. Back to Line
14] Caledonian. Usually applied to Scotland, but here probably refers to the whole of Great Britain. Back to Line
35] bloody Bear.
The Independents, who rejected the authority of the Papacy, the Church of England, and the Presbyterian church. Back to Line
37] Quaking Hare. The Quakers, who refused to take oaths of any kind. Back to Line
39] buffoon Ape. The Free-thinkers, or atheists. Back to Line
41] Lion. The King of England. Back to Line
43] Baptist Boar. The Anabaptists. Back to Line
49] German. The Anabaptists originated in Germany. Back to Line
53] false Reynard. The Unitarians. Back to Line
54] The Arian heresy, which denied the equality of the three persons of the Trinity, was opposed by Athanasius and condemned at the Council of Nice (Nicaea, Asia Minor) in 325; in the 16th century the heresy was again taken up by Socinus. Dryden here names the Unitarians direct descendants of the Arians. Back to Line
327] Panther. The Church of England. Back to Line
338] Wolf. The Presbyterians. Back to Line
341] Cf. Paradise Lost, III, 460-2, and Augustine's City of God, VIII, xiv-xxii, where Augustine refutes the opinion of the Platonist Apuleius that there are intelligent spirits inhabiting the air, more powerful than men, but neither definitely angelic nor demonic. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP 1.500.