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Fleckno an English Priest at Rome

 Oblig'd by frequent visits of this man,
Whom as Priest, Poet, and Musician,
I for some branch of Melchizedeck took,
(Though he derives himself from my Lord Brooke)
I sought his Lodging; which is at the Sign
Of the sad Pelican; Subject divine
For Poetry: There three Stair Cases high,
Which signifies his triple property,
I found at last a Chamber, as 'twas said,
But seem'd a Coffin set on the Stairs head.
Not higher then Seav'n, nor larger then three feet; Only there was nor Seeling, nor a Sheet, Save that th' ingenious Door did as you come Turn in, and shew to Wainscot half the Room.
Yet of his State no man could have complain'd; There being no Bed where he entertain'd: And though within one Cell so narrow pent, He'd Stanza's for a whole Appartement.
Straight without further information, In hideous verse, he, and a dismal tone, Begins to exercise; as if I were Possest; and sure the Devil brought me there.
But I, who now imagin'd my selfbrought To my last Tryal, in a serious thought Calm'd the disorders of my youthful Breast, And to my Martyrdom prepared Rest.
Only this frail Ambition did remain, The last distemper of the sober Brain, That there had been some present to assure The future Ages how I did indure: And how I, silent, turn'd my burning Ear Towards the Verse; and when that could n Held him the other; and unchanged yet, Ask'd still for more, and pray'd him to repeat: Till the Tyrant, weary to persecute, Left off, and try'd t'allure me with his Lute.
Now as two Instruments, to the same key Being tun'd by Art, if the one touched be The other opposite as soon replies, Mov'd by the Air and hidden Sympathies; So while he with his gouty Fingers craules Over the Lute, his murmuring Belly calls, Whose hungry Guts to the same streightness twin'd In Echo to the trembling Strings repin'd.
I, that perceiv'd now what his Musick ment, Ask'd civilly if he had eat this Lent.
He answered yes; with such, and such an one.
For he has this of gen'rous, that alone He never feeds; save only when he tryes With gristly Tongue to dart the passing Flyes.
I ask'd if he eat flesh.
And he, that was So hungry that though ready to say Mass Would break his fast before, said he was Sick, And th' Ordinance was only Politick.
Nor was I longer to invite him: Scant Happy at once to make him Protestant, And Silent.
Nothing now Dinner stay'd But till he had himself a Body made.
I mean till he were drest: for else so thin He stands, as if he only fed had been With consecrated Wafers: and the Host Hath sure more flesh and blood then he can boast.
This Basso Relievo of a Man, Who as a Camel tall, yet easly can The Needles Eye thread without any stich, (His only impossible is to be rich) Lest his too suttle Body, growing rare, Should leave his Soul to wander in the Air, He therefore circumscribes himself in rimes; And swaddled in's own papers seaven times, Wears a close Jacket of poetick Buff, With which he doth his third Dimension Stuff.
Thus armed underneath, he over all Does make a primitive Sotana fall; And above that yet casts an antick Cloak, Worn at the first Counsel of Antioch; Which by the Jews long hid, and Disesteem'd, He heard of by Tradition, and redeem'd.
But were he not in this black habit deck't, This half transparent Man would soon reflect Each colour that he past by; and be seen, As the Chamelion, yellow, blew, or green.
He drest, and ready to disfurnish now His Chamber, whose compactness did allow No empty place for complementing doubt, But who came last is forc'd first to go out; I meet one on the Stairs who made me stand, Stopping the passage, and did him demand: I answer'd he is here Sir; but you see You cannot pass to him but thorow me.
He thought himself affronted; and reply'd, I whom the Pallace never has deny'd Will make the way here; I said Sir you'l do Me a great favour, for I seek to go.
He gathring fury still made sign to draw; But himself there clos'd in a Scabbard saw As narrow as his Sword's; and I, that was Delightful, said there can no Body pass Except by penetration hither, where Two make a crowd, nor can three Persons here Consist but in one substance.
Then, to fit Our peace, the Priest said I too had some wit: To prov't, I said, the place doth us invite But its own narrowness, Sir, to unite.
He ask'd me pardon; and to make me way Went down, as I him follow'd to obey.
But the propitiatory Priest had straight Oblig'd us, when below, to celebrate Together our attonement: so increas'd Betwixt us two the Dinner to a Feast.
Let it suffice that we could eat in peace; And that both Poems did and Quarrels cease During the Table; though my new made Friend Did, as he threatned, ere 'twere long intend To be both witty and valiant: I loth, Said 'twas too late, he was already both.
But now, Alas, my first Tormentor came, Who satisfy'd with eating, but not tame Turns to recite; though Judges most severe After th'Assizes dinner mild appear, And on full stomach do condemn but few: Yet he more strict my sentence doth renew; And draws out of the black box of his Breast Ten quire of paper in which he was drest.
Yet that which was a greater cruelty Then Nero's Poem he calls charity: And so the Pelican at his door hung Picks out the tender bosome to its young.
Of all his Poems there he stands ungirt Save only two foul copies for his shirt: Yet these he promises as soon as clean.
But how I loath'd to see my Neighbour glean Those papers, which he pilled from within Like white fleaks rising from a Leaper's skin! More odious then those raggs which the French youth At ordinaries after dinner show'th, When they compare their Chancres and Poulains.
Yet he first kist them, and after takes pains To read; and then, because he understood good.
Not one Word, thought and swore that they were But all his praises could not now appease The provok't Author, whom it did displease To hear his Verses, by so just a curse, That were ill made condemn'd to be read worse: And how (impossible) he made yet more Absurdityes in them then were before.
For he his untun'd voice did fall or raise As a deaf Man upon a Viol playes, Making the half points and the periods run Confus'der then the atomes in the Sun.
Thereat the Poet swell'd, with anger full, And roar'd out, like Perillus in's own Bull; Sir you read false.
That any one but you Should know the contrary.
Whereat, I, now Made Mediator, in my room, said, Why? To say that you read false Sir is no Lye.
Thereat the waxen Youth relented straight; But saw with sad dispair that was too late.
For the disdainful Poet was retir'd Home, his most furious Satyr to have fir'd Against the Rebel; who, at this struck dead Wept bitterly as disinherited.
Who should commend his Mistress now? Or who Praise him? both difficult indeed to do With truth.
I counsell'd him to go in time, Ere the fierce Poets anger turn'd to rime.
He hasted; and I, finding my self free, Did, as he threatned, ere 'twere long intend As one scap't strangely from Captivity, Have made the Chance be painted; and go now To hang it in Saint Peter's for a Vow.

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