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EPISTLE

TO THE REVEREND MR. CATCOTT.

December 6th, 1769. What strange infatuations rule mankind ! How narrow are our prospects, how confined ! With universal vanity possest, We fondly think our own ideas best; Our tott'ring arguments are ever strong ; We're always self-sufficient in the wrong.

What philosophic sage of pride austere
Can lend conviction an attentive ear?
What pattern of humility and truth
Can bear the jeering ridicule of youth ?
What blushing author ever rank'd his muse
With Fowler's Poet-Laureate of the Stews ?
Dull Penny, nodding o'er his wooden lyre,
Conceits the vapours of Geneva fire.
All in the language of Apostles cry,
If angels contradict me, angels lie.
As all have intervals of ease and pain,
So all have intervals of being vain:
But some of folly never shift the scene,
Or let one lucid moment intervene;
Dull single acts of many-footed prose
Their tragi-comedies of life compose ;

cessant madding for a system toy,
The greatest of Creation's blessings cloy;

Their senses dosing a continual dream,
They hang enraptured o'er the hideous scheme :
So virgins tott'ring into ripe three-score,
Their greatest likeness in baboons adore.

When you advance new systems, first unfold
The various imperfections of the old;
Prove Nature hitherto a gloomy night,
You the first focus of primæval light.
'Tis not enough you think your system true,
The busy world would have you prove it too :
Then, rising on the ruins of the rest,
Plainly demonstrate your ideas best.
Many are best; one only can be right,
Tho' all had inspiration to indite.

Some this unwelcome truth perhaps would tell,
Where Clogher stumbled, Catcott fairly fell.
Writers on rolls of science long renown'd,
In one fell page are tumbled to the ground.
We see their systems unconfuted still ;
But Catcott can confute them if he will.
Would you the honour of a priest mistrust,
An excommunication proves him just.

Could Catcott from his better sense be drawn
To bow the knee to Baal's sacred lawn ?
A mitred rascal to his long-ear'd flocks
Gives ill example *

Yet we must reverence sacerdotal black,
And saddle all his faults on Nature's back;
But hold, there's solid reason to revere-
His Lordship has six thousand pounds a-year ;
In gaming solitude he spends the nights,
He fasts at Arthur's, and he prays at White's ;
Rolls o'er the pavement with his Swiss-tail'd six,
At White's the Athanasian Creed for tricks ;
Whilst the poor Curate in his rusty gown
Trudges unnoticed thro' the dirty town.

If God made order, order never made
These nice distinctions in the preaching trade.
The servants of the devil are revered,
And bishops pull the Fathers by the beard.
Yet in these horrid forms Salvation lives,
These are Religion's representatives ;
Yet to these idols must we bow the knee
Excuse me, Broughton, when I bow to thee.
But sure Religion can produce at least,
One minister of God-one honest priest.

Search Nature o’er, procure me, if you can,
The fancied character, an honest man

• The satire of Chatterton has more of the luxuriance, fluency, and neglience of Dryden, than of the terseness and refinement of Pope. These eight lines in particular are in the style of the former.-DR. GREGORY.

(A man of sense, not honest by constraint
For fools are canvass, living but in paint).
To Mammon or to Superstition slaves,
All orders of mankind are fools, or knaves ;
In the first attribute by none surpass'd
Taylor endeavours to obtain the last.

Imagination may be too confined ;
Few see too far ; how many are half blind!
How are your feeble arguments perplext
To find out meaning in a senseless text !
You rack each metaphor upon the wheel,
And words can philosophic truths conceal.
What Paracelsus humor'd as a jest,
You realize to prove your system best.
Might we not, Catcott, then infer from hence,
Your zeal for Scripture hath devour'd your sense?
Apply the glass of reason to your sight,
See Nature marshal oozy atoms right ;
Think for yourself, for all mankind are free :
We need not inspiration how to see.
If Scripture contradictory you find,
Be orthodox, and own your senses blind.

How blinded are their optics, who aver,
What inspiration dictates cannot err.
Whence is this boasted inspiration sent,
Which makes us utter truths we never meant ?

Which couches systems in a single word,
At once depraved, abstruse, sublime, absurd.
What Moses tells us might perhaps be true,
As he was learn’d in all the Egyptians knew.

But to assert that Inspiration's giv’n,
The copy of Philosophy in heav'n,
Strikes at Religion's root, and fairly fells
The awful terrors of ten thousand hells.
Attentive search the Scriptures, and you'll find
What vulgar errors are with truths combined.
Your tortured truths, which Moses seem'd to know,
He could not unto inspiration owe;
But if from God one error you admit,
How dubious is the rest of Holy Writ!

What knotty difficulties Fancy solves !
The heav'ns irradiate, and the earth revolves;
But here Imagination is allow'd
To clear this voucher from its mantling cloud:
From the same word we different meanings quote,
As David wears a many-colour'd coat.
O Inspiration, ever hid in night,
Reflecting various each adjacent light !
If Moses caught thee in the parted flood;
If David found thee in a sea of blood ;
If Mahomet with slaughter drench'd thy soil,
On loaded asses bearing thy spoil ;

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