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Relenting forms would lose their power, or cease;
And e'en the dipp'd and sprinkled live in peace:
Each heart would quit its prison in the breast,
And flow in free communion with the rest.
The statesman, skill'd in projects dark and deep,
Might burn his useless Machiavel, and sleep;
His budget often filld, yet always poor,
Might swing at ease behind his study door,
No longer prey upon our annual rents,
Or scare the nation with its big contents:
Disbanded legions freely might depart,
And slaying man would cease to be an art.
No learned disputants would take the field,
Sure not to conquer, and sure not to yield;
Both sides deceived, if rightly understood,
Pelting each other for the public good.
Did charity prevail, the press would prove
A vehicle of virtuo, truth, and love;
And I might spare myself the pains to shew
What few can learn, and all suppose they know.
Thus have I sought to grace a serious lay
With many a wild, indeed, but flowery spray,
In hopes to gain what else I must have lost,
The attention pleasure has so much engrossed.
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's sake.
Nam neque me tantum venientis sibilus Austri,
Nec percussa juvant fluctu tam litora, nec que
Saxons inter decurrunt flumina valles.'-Virg. Ecl.
Thougil nature weigh our talents, and dispense
To every man his modicum of sense,
And Conversation, in its better part,
May be esteemed 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 partot inay rehearse,
But talking is not always to converse ;
Not more distinct from harniony 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 call'd his A B C;
So language in the mouth of the adult
Witness its insignificant result-
Too often pruves an implement of play,
Å 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 the importance of a fiy,
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 sell their glory at the market price ;
Who vote for hire, or point it with lampoon,
The dear-bought placeman, and the cheap buffoon.
There is a prurience in the speech of some,
Wrath stays him, or else God would strike them dumh.
His wise forbearance has their end in view,
They fill their measure, and receive their duc.
The heathen lawgivers of ancient days,
Names almost worthy of a Christian's praise,
Would drive them forth from the resort of men,
And shut up every satyr in his den.
O 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 e'en the vigorous and headlong rago
Of adolescence, or a firmer age,
Affords a plea allowable or just
Por making speech the pamperer of lust;
But when the breath of age commits tho 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,
Well known, or such as no man ever knew,
They fix attention, heedless of your pain,
With oaths like rivets forced into the brain;
And e'en when sober truth prevails throughout,
They swear 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 intrest 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 secrets by his works.
Ye powers who rule the tongue, if such there aru
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-dispoeed to death.
O 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 privilego 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 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-presumesmit may be so.
His evidence, if he were call'd by law
To swear to some enormity he saw,
Por 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 befal,
Centering at last in having none at all.
Yet, though he tease and balk your listening our
He makes one useful point exceeding clear,
Howe'er ingenious on his darling themo
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.
Where men of judgment creep and feel their wa
The positive 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 strong i
Where others toil with philosophic force,
Their nimble nonsense takes a shorter course;
Flings at your head conviction in a 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 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;