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If any mildly would reprove his faults,
They're critics envy-sicken'd at his thoughts.
To me he flies, his best-beloved friend,
Reads me asleep, then wakes me to commend.
Say, sages—if not sleep-charmed by the rhyme,
Is flattery, much-lov'd flattery, any crime?
Shall dragon Satire exercise his sting,
And not insinuating Flattery sing ?
Is it more noble to torment than please?
How ill that thought with rectitude agrees !
Come to my pen, companion of the lay,
And speak of worth where merit cannot say;
Let lazy Barton undistinguish'd snore,
Nor lash his generosity to Hoare;
Praise him for sermons of his curate bought,
His easy flow of words, his depth of thought;
His active spirit, ever in display,
His great devotion when he drawls to pray ;
His sainted soul distinguishably seen,
With all the virtues of a modern dean.
Varo, a genius of peculiar taste,
His misery in his happiness is placd;
When in soft calm the waves of Fortune roll,
A tempest of reflection storms the soul;
But what would make another man distrest,
Gives him tranquillity and thoughtless rest :
No disappointment can his peace invade,
Superior to all troubles not self-made-
This character let grey Oxonians scan,
And tell me of what species he's a man.
Or be it by young Yeatman criticised,
Who damn good English if not Latinized.
In Aristotle's scale the Muse he weighs,
And damps her little fire with copied lays !
Vers'd in the mystic learning of the schools,
He rings bob-majors by Leibnitzian rules.
Pulvis, whose knowledge centres in degrees,
Is never happy but when taking fees.
Blest with a bushy wig and solemn grace,
Catcott admires him for a fossile face.
When first his farce of countenance began,
Ere the soft down had mark'd him almost man,
A solemn dulness occupied his eyes,
And the fond mother thought him wondrous wise;–
But little had she read in Nature's book,
That fools assume a philosophic look.
O Education, ever in the wrong,
To thee the curses of mankind belong ;
Thou first great author of our future state,
Chief source of our religion, passions, fate :
On every atom of the Doctor's frame
Nature has stamp'd the pedant with his name ;
But thou hast made him (ever wast thou blind)
A licens'd butcher of the human kind.
Mould'ring in dust the fair Lavinia lies;
Death and our Doctor clos'd her sparkling eyes.
O all ye Powers, the guardians of the world!
Where is the useless bolt of vengeance hurl’d?
Say, shall this leaden sword of plague prevail,
And kill the mighty where the mighty fail !
Let the red bolus tremble o'er his head,
And with his cordial julep strike him dead.
But to return-in this wide sea of thought,
How shall we steer our notions as we ought?
Content is happiness, as sages say-
But what's content ? The trifle of a day.
Then, friend, let inclination be thy guide,
Nor be by superstition led aside.
The saint and sinner, fool and wise attain
An equal share of easiness and pain."
• When or how Chatterton was unfortunate enough to receive a tincture of infidelity we are not informed. Early in the year 1769. it appears from a poem on “ Happiness," addressed to Mr. Catcott, that he had drunk deeply of the poisoned spring. And in the conclusion of a letter to the same gentleman, after he left Bristol, he expresses himself, “ Heaven send you the comforts of Christianity; I request them not, for I am no Christian."--DR. GREGORY.
As to religion, with which a fashionable doctrine will have it that the poetical temperament is congenial, or rather so nearly identical that it may be admitted in substitution, we observe Chatterton manifesting his alienation and aversion, sometimes(as common with profane wits) by sneers and sarcasms levelled in such manner at what folly, hypocrisy, or mere canonical ceremony have odiously connected with religion, as to betray, by implication, a disregard of religion itself; sometimes avowedly, as when, derisively wishing an acquaintance who was under misfortune the benefit of his Christian notions, he says, with an evident air of self-complacency, and superiority, 'I am no Christian.' His naming, on supposition of the failure of other expedients, that of setting out as a methodist preacher, as an adventure to profit by the gullibility of mankind, did not perhaps mean an actual intention to do so; but it showed that he deemed the affair of religion no forbidden ground on which to play a part-the part of a knave, if a man were so disposed and had occasion.-- ECLECTIC REVIEW.
Newton, † accept the tribute of a line
From one whose humble genius honours thine.
Mysterious shall thy nazy numbers seem,
To give thee matter for a future dream,
Thy happy talents, meanings to untie,
My vacancy of meaning may supply;
And where the Muse is witty in a dash,
Thy explanations may enforce the lash :
How shall the line, grown servile in respect,
To North or Sandwich infamy direct ?
Unless a wise elipsis intervene,
How shall I satirize the sleepy Dean ?f
Perhaps the Muse might fortunately strike
A highly finish'd picture very like,
But deans are all so lazy, dull, and fat,
None could be certain worthy Barton sat.
Come then, my Newton, leave the musty lines
Where Revelation's farthing candle shines,
In search of hidden truths let others
goBe thou the fiddle to my puppet-show.
• The reader will remark that a considerable portion of the following Poem has already appeared in the “Kew Gardens."-See ante, page 369. The circumstance has been referred to in the Life.
+ Dr. Newton, then Bishop of Bristol. 1 Dr. Barton, Dean of Bristol.
What are these hidden truths but secret lies,
Which from diseas'd imaginations rise ?
What if our politicians should succeed
In fixing up the ministerial creed,
Who could such golden arguments refuse
Which melts and proselytes the harden'd Jews 2
When universal reformation bribes
With words and wealthy metaphors the tribes,
To empty pews the brawny chaplain swears,
Whilst none but trembling superstition hears.
When ministers with sacerdotal hands
Baptise the flock in streams of golden sands,
Through ev'ry town conversion wings her way,
And conscience is a prostitute for pay,
Faith removes mountains, like a modern dean ;
Faith can see virtues which were never seen.
Our pious ministry this sentence quote,
To prove their instrument's superior vote,
Whilst Luttrell, happy in his lordship's voice,
Bids faith persuade us 'tis the people's choice.
This mountain of objections to remove,
This knotty, rotten argument to prove,
Faith insufficient, Newton caught the pen,
And shew'd by demonstration, one was ten.
What boots it if he reason'd right or no,
'Twas orthodox-the Thane* would have it so.
And who shall doubts and false conclusions draw
Against the inquisitions of the law,