Page images

In hopes to gain, what else I must have lost,
Th’ attention pleasure has so much engross'd.
But if, unhappily deceiv'd, I dream,
And prove too weak for so divine a theme,
Let Charity forgive me a mistake,
That zeal, not vanity, has chanc'd to make,
And spare the poet for his subject's sake.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* Nam neque me tantum venientis sibilus austri,
Nec percussa juvant fluctu tam litora, nec quae
Saxosas inter decurrunt flumina valles.”
Virg. Ecl. 5.

* Though nature weigh our talents, and dispense
To ev'ry man his modicum of sense,
And Conversation in its better part
May be esteem’d a gift, and not an art
Yet much depends, as in the tiller's toil,
On culture, and the sowing of the soil.
Words learn’d by rote a parrot may rehearse,
But talking is not always to converse;
Not more distinct from harmony divine,
The constant creaking of a country sign.
As alphabets in ivory employ,
Hour after hour, the yet unletter'd boy,
Sorting and puzzling with a deal of glee
Those seeds of science call’d his A # C
So language in the mouths of the adult,
Witness its insignificant result,
Too often proves an implement of play,
A toy to sport with, and pass time away.
Collect at ev'ning what the day brought forth,
Compress the sum into its solid worth,
And if it weigh th’ importance of a fly,
The scales are false, or algebra a lie.
Sacred interpreter of human thought,
How few respect or use thee as they ought!

[ocr errors]

But all shall give account of ev'ry wrong, Who dare dishonour or defile the tongue; Who prostitute it in the cause of vice, Or sell their glory at a market-price; Who vote for hire, or point it with lampoon, The dear-bought placeman, and the cheap buffoon. There is a prurience in the speech of some, Wrath stays him,orelse God would strike them dumb: His wise forbearance has their end in view They fill their measure, and receive their due. The heathen law-givers of ancient days, Names almost worthy of a Christian's praise, Would drive them forth from the resort of men, And shut up ev’ry satire in his den. O, come not ye near innocence and truth, Ye worms that eat into the bud of youth ! Infectious as impure, your blightin |. Taints in its rudiments the promis'd flow'r; Its odour perish'd and its charming hue, Thenceforth 'tis hateful, for it smells of you. Not e'en the vigorous and headlong rage Of adolescence, or a firmer age, Affords a plea allowable or just For making speech the pamperer of lust But when the breath of age commits the fault, *Tis nauseous as the vapour of a vault. So wither'd stumps disgrace the sylvan scene, No longer fruitful, and no longer green; The sapless wood, divested of the bark, Grows fungous, and takes fire at ev'ry spark. A. Oaths terminate, as Paul observes, all strife— * Some men have surely then a peaceful life; Whatever subject occupy discourse, The feats of Westris, or ū. naval force, Asseveration blustring in your face Makes contradiction such a hopeless case: In ev’ry tale they tell, or false or true, Well known, or such as no man ever knew,

They fix attention, heedless of your pain,
Wo, oaths like rivets forc’d into the brain; .
‘And e'en when sober truth prevails throughout,
They swear it, till affirmance breeds a doubt.
A Persian, humble servant of the sun,
Who, though devout, yet bigotry had none,
Hearing a lawyer, grave in his address,
With adjurations every word impress,
Suppos'd the man a bishop, or, at least,
God's name so much upon his ips, a priest;
Bow’d at the close with all his graceful airs,
And begg’d an intorest in his frequent pray'rs.
Go, quit the rank to which ye stood preferr'd,
Henceforth associate in one common herd;
Religion, virtue, reason, common sense,
Pronounce your human form a false pretence;
A mere disguise, in which a devil lurks,
Who yet betrays his secret by his works.
Ye pow'rs who rule the tongue, if such there are,
And make colloquial happiness your care,
Preserve me from the thing I dread and hate,
A duel in the form of a debate.
The clash of arguments and jar of words,
Worse than the mortal brunt of rival swords,
Decide no question with their tedious length,
For opposition gives opinion strength.
Divert the champions prodigal of breath;
And put the peaceably-dispos'd to death.
O! thwart me not, Sir Soph, at ev'ry turn,
Nor carp at ev'ry flaw you may discern;
Though syllogisms hang not on my tongue,
I am not surely always in the wrong;
*Tis hard if all is false that I advance,
A fool must now and then be right by chance.
Not that all freedom of dissent I blame;
No—there I grant the privilege I claim.
A disputable point is no man's ground;
tove where you please, ’tis common all around.

Discourse may want an animated—No,
To brush the surface, and to make it flow;
But still remember, if you mean to please,
To press your point with modesty and ease.
The mark, at which my juster aim I take,
Is contradiction for its own dear sake.
Set your opinion at whatever pitch,
Knots and impediments make something hitch;
Adopt his own, 'tis equally in vain,
Your thread of argument is snapp'd again;
The wrangler, rather than accord with you,
Will judge himself deceiv'd, and prove it too.
Vociferated logic kills me quite,
A noisy man is always in the right:
I twirl my thumbs, fall back into my chair,
Fix on the wainscot a distressful stare,
And, when I hope his blunders are all out,
fenly discreetly—To be sure—no doubt
Dubius is such a scrupulous good man—
Yes—you may catch him tripping, if you can.
He would not, with a Fo tone,
Assert the nose upon his face his own;
With hesitation admirably slow,
He humbly hopes—presumes—it may be so.
His evidence, if he were call’d by law
To swear to some enormity he saw,
For want of prominence and just relief,
Would hang an honest man, and save a thief.
Through constant dread of giving truth offence,
He ties up all his hearers in suspense;
Knows what he knows, as if he knew it not;
What he remembers, seems to have forgot;
His sole opinion, whatsoe'er befall,
Cent’ring at last in having none at all.
Yet, though he tease and balk your list’ning ear,
He makes one useful point exceeding clear;
Howe'er ingenious on his darling theme
A sceptic in philosophy may seem,

« PreviousContinue »