A Catholic Story
There once was a painter in Catholic days,
Like Job, who eschewed all evil;
Still on his madonnas the curious may gaze
With applause & amazement, but chiefly his praise
And delight, was in painting the devil.
They were angels compar’d to the devils he drew,
Who beseig’d poor St Anthony’s cell;
Such hot burning eyes, such a d--nable hue,
You could even smell brimstone, their breath was so blue,
He painted the devil as well.
And now had the artist a picture begun,
’Twas over the Virgin’s church door;
She stood on the dragon, embracing her son;
Many devils already this painter had done,
But this must out do all before.
The old dragon’s imps, as they fled thro’ the air,
At seeing it, paus’d on the wing;
For he had the likeness so just to a hair
That they came as if Apollyon himself had been there,
To pay their respects to their king.
Ev’ry child at beholding it, shiver’d with dread,
And scream’d as he turn’d away quick:
Not an old woman saw it, but, raising her head,
Dropt a bead, made a cross on her wrinkles, and said,
“God help me from ugly Old Nick!”
What the painter so earnestly thought on by day,
He sometimes would dream of by night:
But once he was startled as sleeping he lay,
’Twas no fancy, no dream — he could plainly survey
That the devil himself was in sight.
“You rascally dauber,” old Beelzebub cries,
“Take heed how you wrong me again!
Though your caricatures for myself I despise,
Make me handsomer now in the multitude’s eyes,
Or see if I threaten in vain!”
Now the painter was bold, and religious beside,
And on faith he had certain reliance:
So, earnestly he all his countenance ey’d,
And thank’d him for sitting, with Catholic pride,
And sturdily bade him defiance.
Betimes in the morning the painter arose,
He is ready as soon as ’tis light;
Ev’ry look, ev’ry line, ev’ry feature he knows,
’Tis fresh in his eye, to his labor he goes,
And he has the wicked on quite.
Happy man! He is sure the resemblance can’t fail,
The tip of his nose is red hot,
There’s his grin and his fangs, his skin cover’d with scale,
And that — the identical curl in his Tail,
Not a mark, not a claw is forgot.
He looks, and retouches again with delight,
’Tis a portrait complete to his mind;
He touches again, and again feeds his sight,
He looks round for applause, and he sees with affright,
The original standing behind.
“Fool! Idiot!” old Beelzebub grinn’d as he spoke,
And stampt on the scaffold in ire;
The painter grew pale, for he knew it no joke,
’Twas a terrible height, & the scaffolding broke,
The devil could wish it no higher.
“Help! Help me! O Mary!” he cried in alarm,
And the scaffold sank under his feet:
From the canvas the Virgin extended her arm,
She caught the good painter, she sav’d him from harm;
There were thousands who saw, in the street.
The old dragon fled, when the wonder he spied,
And curs’d his own fruitless endeavour;
While the painter call’d after, his rage to deride,
Shook his pallet & brushes in triumph, and cried,
“I’ll paint thee more ugly than ever!”