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The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 7/The New Vicar of Bray



Do you know Doctor Nott?[1]
With "a crook in his lot,"
Who seven years since tried to dish up
A neat Codicil
To the Princess's Will,[2]
Which made Dr. Nott not a bishop.


So the Doctor being found
A little unsound
In his doctrine, at least as a teacher,
And kicked from one stool
As a knave or a fool,
He mounted another as preacher.


In that Gown (like the Skin
With no Lion within)
He still for the Bench would be driving;
And roareth away,
A new Vicar of Bray,
Except that his bray lost his living.


"Gainst Freethinkers," he roars,
"You should all block your doors
Or be named in the Devil's indentures:"
And here I agree,
For who e'er would be
A Guest where old Simony enters?


Let the Priest, who beguiled
His own Sovereign's child
To his own dirty views of promotion,
Wear his Sheep's cloathing still
Among flocks to his will,
And dishonour the Cause of devotion.


The Altar and Throne
Are in danger alone
From such as himself, who would render
The Altar itself
But a step up to Pelf,
And pray God to pay his defender.


But, Doctor, one word
Which perhaps you have heard
"He should never throw stones who has windows
Of Glass to be broken,
And by this same token
As a sinner, you can't care what Sin does.


But perhaps you do well:
Your own windows, they tell,
Have long ago sufferéd censure;
Not a fragment remains
Of your character's panes,
Since the Regent refused you a glazier.


Though your visions of lawn
Have all been withdrawn,
And you missed your bold stroke for a mitre;
In a very snug way
You may still preach and pray,
And from bishop sink into backbiter!"

[First published, Works (Galignani), 1831, p. 116.]

  1. [George Frederick Nott (1767-1841), critic and divine, was Rector of Harrietsham and Woodchurch, a Prebendary of Winchester and of Salisbury. He was Bampton Lecturer in 1802, and, soon afterwards, was appointed sub-preceptor to the Princess Charlotte of Wales. He was a connoisseur of architecture and painting, and passed much of his time in Italy and at Rome. When he was at Pisa he preached in a private room in the basement story of the house in Pisa where Shelley was living, and fell under Byron's displeasure for attacking the Satanic school, and denouncing Cain as a blasphemous production. "The parsons," he told Moore (letter, February 20, 1820), "preached at it [Cain] from Kentish Town to Pisa." Hence the apostrophe to Dr. Nott. (See Records of Shelley, Byron, and the Author, by E. T. Trelawny, 1887, pp. 302, 303.)]
  2. [According to Lady Anne Hamilton (Secret History of the Court of England, 1832, i. 198-207), the Princess Charlotte incurred the suspicion and displeasure of her uncles and her grandmother, the Queen, by displaying an ardent and undue interest in her sub-preceptor. On being reproved by the Queen for "condescending to favour persons in low life with confidence or particular respect, persons likely to take advantage of your simplicity and innocence," and having learnt that "persons" meant Mr. Nott, she replied by threatening to sign a will in favour of her sub-preceptor, and by actually making over to him by a deed her library, jewels, and all other private property. Lady Anne Hamilton is not an accurate or trustworthy authority, but her extremely circumstantial narrative was, no doubt, an expansion of the contemporary scandal to which Byron's lampoon gave currency.]