The Hind and the Panther

Theme and synopsis

Dryden converted to Catholicism more or less simultaneously with the accession of the Roman Catholic king James II in 1685, to the disgust of many Protestant writers.[2] The Hind and the Panther is considered the major poetic result of Dryden's conversion, and presents some evidence for thinking that Dryden became a Catholic from genuine conviction rather than political time-serving, in so far as his call for an alliance of Anglicans, Catholics and King against the Nonconformists directly contradicted James II's policy of appealing to the Nonconformists as allies against the Church of England.[3] The Hind and the Panther falls into three parts: the first is a description of the different religious denominations, in which the Roman Catholic church appears as "A milk-white Hind, immortal and unchanged",[4] the Church of England as a panther, the Independents as a bear, the Presbyterians as a wolf, the Quakers as a hare, the Socinians as a fox, the Freethinkers as an ape, and the Anabaptists as a boar;[5] the second part deals with the controversial topics of church authority and transubstantiation; and the third part argues that the Crown and the Anglican and Catholic Churches should form a united front against the Nonconformist churches and the Whigs.

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