Page images
PDF
EPUB

And e'es when sober truth prevails throughout,
They svear 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,
Supposed the man a bishop, or, at least,
God's name so much upon his lips, a priest;
Bow'd at the close with all his graceful airs,
And begg’d an interest in his frequent prayers.

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 powers 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-disposed to death. O thwart me not, sir Soph, at every turn, Nor carp at every flaw you may disceru; 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 claini. A disputable point is no man's ground; Rove 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 niean 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 deceived, 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,
Reply 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 peremptory 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 callid 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,
Centering at last in having none at all.
Yet, though he tease and balk your listening ear,
He makes one useful point exceeding clear;
Howe'er ingenious on his darling theme
A sceptic in philosophy may seem,
Reduced to practice, his beloved rule
Would only prove him a consummate fool;
Useless in him alike both brain and speech,
Fate having placed all truth above his reach,
His ambiguities his total sum,
He might as well be blind, and deaf, and dumb,

Wheremen of judgment creep and feel their way, The posiive pronounce without dismay; Their want of light and intellect supplied By sparks absurdity strikes out of pride. Without the means of knowing right from wrong, They always are decisive, clear, and strovg; Where others toil with philosophic force, Their nimble nonsense takes a shorter course; Fliogs at your head conviction in the lump, And gains remote conclusions at a jump: Their own defect, invisible to them, Seen in another, they at once condemn; And, though self-idolized in every case, Hate their own likeness in a brother's face. 'The cause is plain, and not to be denied, The proud are always inost provoked by pride; Few competitions but engender spite ; And those the most when neither has a right.

The point of honour has been deem'd of use, To teach good manners, and to curb abuse; Admit it true, the consequence is clear, Our polish'd manners are a 'mask we wear, And, at the bottom, barbarous still and rude, We are restrain'd, indeed, but not subdued. The very remedy, however sure, Springs from the mischief it intends to cure, And savage in its principle appears, Tried, as it should be, by the fruit it bears. 'Tis hard, indeed, if nothing will defend Mankind from quarrels but their fatal end; That now and then a hero must decease, That the surviving world may live in peace. Perhaps at last close scrutiny may show The practice dastardly, aud mean, and low; That men engage in it compellid by force, And fear, not courage, is its proper source ; The fear of tyrant custom, and the fear Lest fops should censure us, and fools should sneer. At least to trample on our Maker's laws, And hazard life for any or no cause,

To rush into a fix'd eternal state
Out of the very flames of rage and hate,
Or send another shivering to the bar
With all the guilt of such unnatural war,
Whatever Use may urge, or Honour plead,
On Reason's verdict is a madman's deed.
Am I to set my life upon a throw,
Because a bear is rude and surly? No-
A moral, sensible, and well-bred man
Will not affront me; and no other can.
Were I empower'd to regulate the lists,
They should encounter with well-loaded fists;
A Trojan combat would be something new,
Let Dares beat Entellus black and blue;
Then each might show, to his admiring friends,
In honourable bumps his rich amends,
And carry in contusions of his scull,
A satisfactory receipt in full.

A story, in which native humour reigns,
Is often useful, always entertains:
A graver fact, enlisted on your side,
May furnish illustration, well applied ;
But sedentary weavers of long tales
Give me the fidgets, and my patience fails.
'Tis the most asinine employ on earth,
To hear them tell of parentage and birth,
And echo conversations dull and dry,
Embellish'd with He said, and so said I.
At every interview their route the same,
The repetition makes attention lame:
We bustle up with unsuccessful speed,
And in the saddest part cry-Droll indeed!
The path of narrative with care pursue,
Still making probability your clue:
On all the vestiges of truth attend,
And let them guide you to a decent end.
Of all ambitions man may entertain,
The worst, that can invade a sickly brain,
Is that, which angles hourly for surprise,
And baits its hook with prodigies and lies.

Credulous infancy, or age as weak,
Are fittest auditors for such to seek,
Who to please others will themselves disgrace,
Yet please not, but affront you to your face.
A great retailer of this curious ware
Having unloaded and made many stare,
Can this be true ?-an arch observer cries,
Yes, (rather moved) I saw it with these eyes.
Sir! I believe it on that ground alone;
I could pot, had I seen it with my own.

A tale should be judicious, clear, succinct;
The language plain, and incidents well liok'd;
Tell not as new what every body knows,
And, new or old, still hasten to a close;
There, centering in a focus round and neat,
Let all your rays of information meet.
What neither yields us profit nor delight
Is like a nurse's lullaby at night;
Guy Earl of Warwick and fair Eleanore,
Or giant killing Jack, would please me more.

The pipe, with solemn interposing puff,
Makes half a sentence at a time enough;
The dozing sages drop the drowsy strain,
Then pause, and puff

and speak, and pause again. Such often, like the tube they so admire, Important triflers! have more smoke than fire. Pernicious weed! whose scent the fair annoys, Unfriendly to society's chief joys, Thy worst effect is banishing for hours The sex whose presence civilizes ours : Thou art indeed the drug a gardener wants, To poison vermin that in fest his plants; But are we so to wit and beauty blind, As to despise the glory of our kind, And show the softest minds and fairest forms As little mercy, as he grubs and worms? They dare not wait the riotous abuse, Thy thirst-creating steams at length produce, When wine has given indecent language birth, And forced the floodgates of licentious mirth;

« PreviousContinue »