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Nam neque me tantum venientis sibilus austri,
VIRG. Ecl. 5. Though Nature weigh our talents, and dispense To every man his modicum of sense,
And Conversation in its better part
Yet much depends, as in the tiller's toil,
There is a prurience in the speech of some, Wrath stays him, or else 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 praise, Would drive them forth from the resort of men, And shut up every saytr in his den. Oh come not ye near innocence and truth, Ye worms that eat into the bud of youth ! Infectious as impure, your blighting power Taints in its rudiments the promised flower, Its odour perish'd and its charming hue; Thenceforth 'tis hateful, for it smells of you. Not even 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 every spark.
Oaths terminate, as Paul observes, all strife ; Some men have surely then a peaceful life. Whatever subject occupy discourse, The feats of Vestris or the naval force, Asseveration blustering in your face Makes contradiction such a hopeless case ;
In every tale they tell, or false or true,
Go quit the rank to which ye stood preferr'd,
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. Oh thwart me not, Sir Soph. at every turn, Nor carp at every 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 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 snapt 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 calld 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,
Where men of judgment creep and feel their The positive pronounce without dismay,
[way, 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 strong ; Where others toil with philosophic force, Their nimble nonsense takes a shorter course, Flings 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 most provoked by pride; Few competitions but engender spite, And those the most where 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 restraind 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 and mean and low, That men engage in it compell’d by force, And fear, not courage, is its proper source, The fear of tyrant custom, and the fear [sneer. Lest fops should censure us, and fools should At least to trample on our Maker's laws, And hazard life for any or no cause, To rush into a fixt 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 skull
A story in which native humour reigns
The pipe with solemn interposing puff
The emphatic speaker dearly loves to oppose In contact inconvenient, nose to nose,
As if the gnomon on his neighbour's phiz,
Your hope to please him vain on every plan, Touch'd with a magnet had attracted his.
Himself should work that wonder, if he can.His whisper'd theme, dilated and at large,
Alas ! his efforts double his distress, Proves after all a wind-gun's airy charge, He likes yours little, and his own still less; An extract of his diary,—no more,
Thus always teasing others, always teased, A tasteless journal of the day before.
His only pleasure is to be displeased. He walk'd abroad, o'ertaken in the rain,
I pity bashful men, who feel the pain Call’d on a friend, drank tea, stept home again ; Of fancied scorn and undeserved disdain, Resumed his purpose, had a world of talk
And bear the marks upon a blushing face With one he stumbled on, and lost his walk. Of needless shame and self-imposed disgrace. I interrupt him with a sudden bow,
Our sensibilities are so acute,
We sometimes think we could a speech produce A fine puss-gentleman that's all perfume ;
Much to the purpose, if our tongues were loose, The sight's enough,—no need to smell a beau, But, being tied, it dies upon the lip, Who thrusts his nose into a raree-show?
Faint as a chicken's note that has the pip: His odoriferous attempts to please
Our wasted oil unprofitably burns,
By way of wholesome curb upon our pride,
The cause perhaps inquiry may descry,
A graver coxcomb we may sometimes see Conceal'd within an unsuspected part, Quite as absurd, though not so light as he: The vainest corner of our own vain heart; A shallow brain behind a serious mask,
For ever aiming at the world's esteem, An oracle within an empty cask,
Our self-importance ruins its own scheme;
In other eyes our talents rarely shown,
We dare not risk them into public view, Owes all its weight, like loaded dice, to lead. Lest they miscarry of what seems their due. His wit invites you by his looks to come,
True modesty is a discerning grace, But when you knock it never is at home:
And only blushes in the proper place; 'Tis like a parcel sent you by the stage,
But counterfeit is blind, and skulks through fear, Some handsome present, as your hopes presage,
Where 'tis a shame to be ashamed to appear : 'Tis heavy, bulky, and bids fair to prove
Humility the parent of the first, An absent friend's fidelity and love;
The last by Vanity produced and nursed. But when unpack'd your disappointment groans
The circle form’d, we sit in silent state, To find it stuff’d with brickbats, earth, and stones. Like figures drawn upon a dial-plate;
Some men employ their health, an ugly trick, Yes, Ma'am, and No, Ma'am, utter'd softly, show In making known how oft they have been sick, Every five minutes how the minutes go; And give us in recitals of disease
Each individual suffering a constraint, A doctor's trouble, but without the fees;
Poetry may, but colours cannot paint,
Reports it hot or cold, or wet or dry,
Of epidemic throats, if such there are,
Some fretful tempers wince at every touch, Who danced with whom, and who are like to wed, You always do too little or too much :
And who is hang'd, and who is brought to bed ; You speak with life in hopes to entertain,
But fear to call a more important cause, Your elevated voice goes through the brain ; As if 'twere treason against English laws. You fall at once into a lower key,
The visit paid, with ecstasy we come, That's worse,—the dronepipe of an humble-bee. As from a seven years' transportation, home, The southern sash admits too strong a light, And there resume an unembarrass'd brow, You rise and drop the curtain,-now ’tis night. Recovering what we lost we know not how, He shakes with cold,—you stir the fire and strive The faculties that seem'd reduced to nought, To make a blaze,- that's roasting him alive. Expression and the privilege of thought. Serve him with venison, and he chooses fish; The reeking, roaring hero of the chase, With sole,—that's just the sort he would not wish. I give him over as a desperate case. He takes what he at first profess'd to loathe, Physicians write in hopes to work a cure, And in due time feeds heartily on both ;
Never, if honest ones, when death is sure : Yet still, o'erclouded with a constant frown, And though the fox he follows may be tamed, He does not swallow, but he gulps it down. A mere fox-follower never is reclaim'd.
Some farrier should prescribe his proper course, Is it incredible, or can it seem
A dream to any, except those that dream,
That man should love his Maker, and that fire, The noble beast judge otherwise, his groom. Warming his heart, should at his lips transpire? Yet even the rogue that serves him, though he Know then, and modestly let fall your eyes, To take his honour's orders cap in hand, (stand And veil your daring crest that braves the skies, Prefers his fellow grooms with much good sense, That air of insolence affronts your God, Their skill a truth, his master's a pretence. You need his pardon, and provoke his rod: If neither horse nor groom affect the squire, Now, in a posture that becomes you more Where can at last his jockeyship retire?
Than that heroic strut assumed before, Oh, to the club, the scene of savage joys,
Know, your arrears with every hour accrue The school of coarse good fellowship and noise ; For mercy shown, while wrath is justly due. There, in the sweet society of those
The time is short, and there are souls on earth, Whose friendship from his boyish years he chose, Though future pain may serve for present mirth, Let him improve his talent if he can,
Acquainted with the woes that fear or shame, Till none but beasts acknowledge him a man. By fashion taught, forbade them once to name,
Man's heart had been impenetrably sealid And having felt the pangs you deem a jest, Like theirs that cleave the food or graze the field, Have proved them truths too big to be express'd. Had not his Maker's all-bestowing hand
Go seek on Revelation's hallow'd ground, Given him a soul, and bade him understand. Sure to succeed, the remedy they found : [mock, The reasoning power vouchsafed of course inferr'd Touch'd by that power that you have dared to The power to clothe that reason with his word; That makes seas stable, and dissolves the rock, For all is perfect that God works on earth, Your heart shall yield a life-renewing stream, And He that gives conception adds the birth. That fools, as you have done, shall call a dream. If this be plain, 'tis plainly understood
It happen'd on a solemn eventide, What uses of his boon the giver would.
Soon after He that was our surety died, The mind despatch'd upon her busy toil,
Two bosom friends, each pensively inclined, Should range where Providence has bless'd the The scene of all those sorrows left behind, Visiting every flower with labour meet, [soil ; Sought their own village, busied as they went And gathering all her treasures sweet by sweet, In musings worthy of the great event : She should imbue the tongue with what she sips, They spake of him they loved, of him whose life, And shed the balmy blessing on the lips,
Though blameless, had incurr'd perpetual strife, That good diffused may more abundant grow, Whose deeds had left, in spite of hostile arts, And speech may praise the power that bids it flow. A deep memorial graven on their hearts. Will the sweet warbler of the livelong night The recollection, like a vein of ore, That fills the listening lover with delight,
The farther traced enrich'd them still the more: Forget his harmony, with rapture heard,
They thought him, and they justly thought him, one To learn the twittering of a meaner bird ?
Sent to do more than he appears to have done, Or make the parrot's mimicry his choice,
To exalt a people, and to place them high That odious libel on a human voice?
Above all else, and wonder'd he should die. No,-Nature, unsophisticate by man,
Ere yet they brought their journey to an end, Starts not aside from her Creator's plan;
A stranger join’d them, courteous as a friend, The melody that was at first design'd
And ask'd them with a kind engaging air To cheer the rude forefathers of mankind,
What their affliction was, and begg'd a share, Is note for note deliver'd in our ears,
Inform’d, he gather'd up the broken thread, In the last scene of her six thousand years : And truth and wisdom gracing all he said, Yet Fashion, leader of a chattering train,
Explain`d, illustrated, and search'd so well Whom man for his own hurt permits to reign, The tender theme on which they chose to dwell, Who shifts and changes all things but his shape, That reaching home, the night, they said, is near, And would degrade her votary to an ape,
We must not now be parted, sojourn here.The fruitful parent of abuse and wrong
The new acquaintance soon became a guest, Holds a usurp'd dominion o'er his tongue ; And made so welcome at their simple feast, There sits and prompts him with his own disgrace, He bless’d the bread, but vanish'd at the word, Prescribes the theme, the tone, and the grimace, And left them both exclaiming, 'Twas the Lord ! And when accomplish'd in her wayward school, Did not our hearts feel all he deign’d to say, Calls gentleman whom she has made a fool. Did they not burn within us by the way? "Tis an unalterable fix'd decree,
Now theirs was converse such as it behoves That none could frame or ratify but she,
Man to maintain, and such as God approves : That heaven and hell, and righteousness and sin, Their views indeed were indistinct and dim, Snares in his path, and foes that lurk within, But yet successful, being aim'd at him. God and his attributes, (a field of day
Christ and his character their only scope, Where 'tis an angel's happiness to stray)
Their object and their subject and their hope, Fruits of his love, and wonders of his might, They felt what it became them much to feel, Be never named in ears esteem'd polite :
And, wanting him to loose the sacred seal, That he who dares, when she forbids, be grave, Found him as prompt as their desire was true, Shall stand proscribed a madman or a knave, To spread the newborn glories in their view. A close designer not to be believed,
Well,—what are ages and the lapse of time Or, if excused that charge, at least deceived. Match'd against truths as lasting as sublime ! Oh folly worthy of the nurse's lap,
Can length of years on God himself exact, Give it the breast, or stop its mouth with pap ! Or make that fiction which was once a fact?
No,-marble and recording brass decay,
What, always dreaming over heavenly things,
Well spoken, advocate of sin and shame, Known by thy bleating, Ignorance thy name. Is sparkling wit the world's exclusive right, The fix'd fee-simple of the vain and light? Can hopes of heaven, bright prospects of an hour That comes to waft us out of sorrow's power, Obscure or quench a faculty that finds Its happiest soil in the serenest minds? Religion curbs indeed its wanton play, And brings the trifler under rigorous sway, But gives it usefulness unknown before, And purifying, makes it shine the more. A Christian's wit is inoffensive light, A beam that aids but never grieves the sight, Vigorous in age as in the flush of youth, "Tis always active on the side of truth ; Temperance and peace insure its healthful state, And make it brightest at its latest date. Oh I have seen (nor hope perhaps in vain, Ere life go down, to see such sights again) A veteran warrior in the Christian field, Who never saw the sword he could not wield; Grave without dulness, learned without pride, Exact, yet not precise, though meek, keen-eyed; A man that would have foild at their own play A dozen would-be's of the modern day; Who when occasion justified its use, Had wit as bright as ready to produce, Could fetch from records of an earlier age, Or from philosophy's enlighten’d page, His rich materials, and regale your ear With strains it was a privilege to hear; Yet above all his luxury supreme, And his chief glory, was the gospel theme;
There he was copious as old Greece or Rome,
It moves me more perhaps than folly ought,
What is fanatic frenzy, scorn’d so much,
True bliss, if man may reach it, is composed