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With many a wild, indeed, but flow'ry spray,
In hopes to gain what else I must have lost,
Th' attention pleasure has so much engross'd.
But if unhappily deceived I dream,
And prove too weak for so divine a theme,
Let Charity forgive me a mistake
That zeal, not vanity, has chanced to make,
And spare the poet for his subject sake.
“Nam neque me tantum venientis sibilus austri,
Nec percussa juvant fluctu tam litora, nec quae
Saxosas inter decurrunt flumina walles.”
—WIRGIL, Ecl, v.
HOUGH nature weigh our talents, and dispense
To every 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 called his A B 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 evening 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 !
But all shall give account of every wrong
Who dare dishonour or defile the tongue,
Who prostitute it in the cause of vice,
Or .. their glory at a market-price,
Who vote for hire, or point it with lampoon,
The dear-bought placeman, and the cheap buffoon.
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-disposed to death.
Oh 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,
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 mean to please,
To press your point with modesty and ease.
The mark at which my jester 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,
*f; discreetly—To be sure—no doubt.
h' emphatic speaker dearly loves toppose
In contact inconvenient, nose to nose,
As if the gnomon on his neighbour's phiz,
Touch'd with a magnet had attracted his.
His whisper'd theme, dilated and at large,
Proves after all a wind-gun's airy charge,
An extract of his diary—no more,
A tasteless journal of the day before.
He walk'd abroad, o'ertaken in the rain,
Call'd on a friend, drank tea, stept home again,
Resumed his purpose, had a world of talk
With one he stumbled on, and lost his walk.
I interrupt him with a sudden bow,
Adieu, dear sir! lest you should lose it now.
Some men employ their health, an ugly trick,
In making known how oft they have been sick,
And give us in recitals of disease
A doctor's trouble, but without the fees :
Relate how many weeks they kept their bed,
How an emetic or cathartic sped,
Nothing is slightly touch'd, much less forgot,
Nose, ears, and eyes seem present on the spot.
Now the distemper, spite of draught or pill,
Victorious seem’d, and now the doctor's skill;
And now—alas for unforeseen mishaps 1
They put on a damp nightcap, and relapse;
They thought they must have died, they were so bad,
Their peevish hearers almost wish they had.
It happen'd on a solemn even-tide,
Soon after He that was our surety died,
Two bosom friends, each pensively inclined,
The scene of all those sorrows left behind,
Sought their own village, busied as they went
In . worthy of the great event:
They spake of Him they loved, of Him whose life
Though blameless had incurr'd perpetual strife,
Whose deeds had left, in spite of hostile arts,
A deep memorial graven on their hearts;
The recollection, like a vein of ore,
The farther traced enrich'd them still the more,
They thought Him, and they justly thought Him one
Sent to do more than He appeared t' have done,
T' exalt a people, and to place them high
Above all else, and wonder'd He should die.
Ere yet they brought their journey to an end,
A stranger join'd them, courteous as a friend,
And ask'd them, with a kind engaging air,
What their affliction was, and begg'd a share.
Inform’d, He gather'd up the broken thread,
And truth and wisdom gracing all He said,
Explain'd, illustrated, and search'd so well
The tender theme on which they chose to dwell,
That reaching home, The night, they said, is near,
We must not now be parted, sojourn here.
The new acquaintance soon became a guest,
And made so welcome at their simple feast,
He bless'd the bread, but vanish'd at the word,
And left them both exclaiming—'Twas the Lord 1
Did not our hearts feel all He deign'd to say,
Did they not burn within us by the way?
Now theirs was converse such as it behoves
Man to maintain, and such as God approves;
Their views, indeed, were indistinct and dim,
But yet successful, being aim'd at Him.
But conversation, choose what theme we may,
And chiefly when Religion leads the way,
Should flow like waters after summer show’rs,
Not as if raised by mere mechanic pow'rs.
The Christian, in whose soul, though now distress'd,
Lives the dear thought of joys he once possess'd,
When all his glowing language issued forth
With God's deep stamp upon its current worth,
Will speak without disguise, and must impart,
Sad as it is, his undissembling heart,
Abhors constraint, and dares not feign a zeal,
Or seem to boast a fire he does not feel.
The Song of Sion is a tasteless thing,
Unless when rising on a joyful wing
The soul can mix with the celestial bands,
And give the strain the compass it demands.
RETIREMENT. -- studiis florens ignobilis oti.”—VIRG. Geor. Lib. 17.
ACKNEY’D in business, wearied at that oar
Which thousands, once fast chain'd to, quitno
more, But which, when life at ebb runs weak and low, All wish, or seem to wish they could forego,