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Nam neque me tantum vcnientis sibilus austri,
Virg. Ecl. 5.
Though nature weigh our talents, and dispense To ev'ry man his modieum of sense, And Conversation in it's 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 it's insignificant result,
Too often proves an implement of play,"
There is a prurience in the speech of some,
Not ev'n the vigorous and headlong rage
Oaths terminate, as Paul observes, all strife
Bow'd at the close with all his graceful airs,
Go, quit the rank to which ye stood preferr'd,
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-dispos’d to death. O 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 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 deceiv'd, 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 call’d 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.