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William Wordsworth
Complete Poetical Works

ECCLESIASTICAL SONNETS

XLV

LAUD

PREJUDGED by foes determined not to spare,
An old weak Man for vengeance thrown aside,
Laud, "in the painful art of dying" tried,
(Like a poor bird entangled in a snare
Whose heart still flutters, though his wings forbear
To stir in useless struggle) hath relied
On hope that conscious innocence supplied,
And in his prison breathes celestial air.
Why tarries then thy chariot? Wherefore stay,
O Death! the ensanguined yet triumphant wheels,
Which thou prepar'st, full often, to convey
(What time a State with madding faction reels)
The Saint or Patriot to the world that heals
All wounds, all perturbations doth allay?

NOTE

Title: 'Laud.'

In this age a word cannot be said in praise of Laud, or even in
compassion for his fate, without incurring a charge of bigotry;
but fearless of such imputation, I concur with Hume, "that it is
sufficient for his vindication to observe that his errors were the
most excusable of all those which prevailed during that zealous
period." A key to the right understanding of those parts of his
conduct that brought the most odium upon him in his own time, may
be found in the following passage of his speech before the bar of
the House of Peers:--"Ever since I came in place, I have laboured
nothing more than that the external publick worship of God, so
much slighted in divers parts of this kingdom, might be preserved,
and that with as much decency and uniformity as might be. For I
evidently saw that the public neglect of God's service in the
outward face of it, and the nasty lying of many places dedicated
to that service, 'had almost cast a damp upon the true and inward
worship of God, which while we live in the body, needs external
helps, and all little enough to keep it in any vigour'."