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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.


The Vicar of Bray

By Anonymous

IN good King Charles’s golden days,

When loyalty no harm meant,

A zealous high-churchman was I,

And so I got preferment.

To teach my flock I never missed:

Kings were by God appointed.

And lost are those who dare resist

Or touch the Lord’s anointed.

And this is the law that I ’ll maintain

Until my dying day, sir,

That whatsoever king shall reign,

Still I ’ll be the Vicar of Bray, sir.

When royal James possessed the crown,

And popery grew in fashion,

The penal laws I hooted down,

And read the declaration;

The Church of Rome I found would fit

Full well my constitution;

And I had been a Jesuit

But for the revolution.

And this is the law that I ’ll maintain, etc.

When William was our king declared,

To ease the nation’s grievance;

With this new wind about I steered,

And swore to him allegiance;

Old principles I did revoke,

Set conscience at a distance;

Passive obedience a joke,

A jest was non-resistance.

And this is the law that I ’ll maintain, etc.

When royal Anne became our queen,

The Church of England’s glory,

Another face of things was seen,

And I became a Tory;

Occasional conformists base,

I blamed their moderation,

And thought the church in danger was,

By such prevarication.

And this is the law that I ’ll maintain, etc.

When George in pudding-time came o’er,

And moderate men looked big, sir,

My principles I changed once more,

And so became a Whig, sir;

And thus preferment I procured

From our new faith’s defender;

And almost every day abjured

The Pope and the Pretender.

And this is the law that I ’ll maintain, etc.

The illustrious house of Hanover,

And Protestant succession,

To these I do allegiance swear,

While they can keep possession:

For in my faith and loyalty,

I nevermore will falter;

And George my lawful king shall be,

Until the times do alter.

And this is the law that I ’ll maintain, etc.