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Just as the melancholic eye
Sees fleets and armies in the sky;
And to the poor apprentice ear
The bells sound, · Whittington, lord-mayor.'
The conjuror thus explains his scheme;
Thus spirits walk, and prophets dream;
North Britons thus have second-sight ;
And Germans, free from gun-shot, fight.
“ Theodoret and Origen,
And fifty other learned men,
Attest, that, if their comments find
The traces of their master's mind,
Alma, can ne'er decay nor die :
This flatly t other sect deny;
Simplicius, Theophrast, Durand,
Great names, but hard in verse to stand.
They wonder men should have mistook
The tenets of their master's book,
And hold, that Alma yields her breath,
O'ercome by age, and seiz'd by death.
Now which were wise ? and which were fools?
Poor Alma sits between two stools :
The more she reads, the more perplext;
The comment ruining the text :
Now fears, now hopes, her doubtful fate :
But, Richard, let her look to that-
Whilst we our own affairs pursue.
“ These different systems, old or new,
A man with half an eye may see,
Were only form'd to disagree.
Now, to bring things to fair conclusion,
And save much Christian ink's effusion,
Let me propose an healing scheme,
And sail along the middle stream;
For, Dick, if we could reconcile
Old Aristotle with Gassendus,
How many would admire our toil !
And yet how few would comprehend us !
“ Here, Richard, let my scheme commence ;
Oh! may my words be lost in sense !
While pleas'd Thalia deigns to write
The slips and bounds of Alma's fight.
“ My simple system shall suppose
That Alma enters at the toes;
That then she mounts by just degrees
Up to the ancles, legs, and knees;
Next, as the sap of life does rise,
She lends her vigour to the thighs ;
And all these under-regions past,
She nestles somewhere near the waist ;
Gives pain or pleasure, grief or laughter,
As we shall show at large hereafter.
Mature, if not improv'd by time,
Up to the heart she loves to climb;
From thence, compell’d by craft and age,
She makes the head her latest stage.
“ From the feet upward to the head
“ Pithy and short,” says Dick, “ proceed.
« Dick, this is not an idle notion :
Observe the progress of the motion.
First, I demonstratively prove,
That feet were only made to move;
And legs desire to come and go,
For they have nothing else to do.
“ Hence, long before the child can crawl,
He learns to kick, and wince, and sprawl:
To hinder which, your midwife knows
To bind those parts extremely close ;
Lest Alma, newly enter'd in,
And stunn'd at her own christening's din,
Fearful of future grief and pain,
Should silently sneak out again.
Full piteous seems young Alma's case ;
As in a luckless gamester's place,
She would not play, yet must not pass.
“ Again; as she grows something stronger,
And master's feet are swath'd no longer,
If in the night too oft he kicks,
Or shows his loco-motive tricks;
These first assaults fat Kate repays him ;
When half asleep, she overlays him.
“ Now mark, dear Richard, from the age
That children tread this worldly stage,
Broom-staff or poker they bestride,
And round the parlour love to ride;
Till thoughtful father's pious care
Provides his brood, next Smithfield Fair,
With supplemental hobby-horses :
And happy be their infant courses !
“ Hence for some years they ne'er stand still :
Their legs, you see, direct their will;
From opening morn till setting sun,
Around the fields and woods they run ;
They frisk, and dance, and leap, and play,
Nor heed what Freind or Snape can say.
“ To her next stage as Alma flies, And likes, as I have said, the thighs,
With sympathetic power she warms
Their good allies and friends, the arms;
While Betty dances on the green,
And Susan is at stool-ball seen;
While John for nine-pins does declare,
And Roger loves to pitch the bar :
Both legs and arms spontaneous move;
Which was the thing I meant to prove.
" Another motion now she makes :
0, need I name the seat she takes?
His thought quite chang'd the stripling finds :
The sport and race no more he minds;
Neglected Tray and pointer lie,
And covies unmolested fly.
Sudden the jocund plain he leaves,
And for the nymph in secret grieves.
In dying accents he complains
Of cruel fires, and raging pains.
The nymph too longs to be alone,
Leaves all the swains, and sighs for one.
The nymph is warm’d with young desire,
And feels, and dies to quench his fire.
They meet each evening in the grove;
Their parley but augments their love:
So to the priest their case they tell :
He ties the knot; and all goes well.
“ But, O my Muse, just distance keep;
Thou art a maid, and must not peep.
In nine months time, the bodice loose,
And petticoats too short, disclose
That at this age the active mind
About the waist lies most confin'd;
And that young life and quickening sense
Spring from his influence darted thence.
So from the middle of the world
The Sun's prolific rays are hurld:
'Tis from that seat he darts those beams,
Which quicken Earth with genial flames."
Dick, who thus long had passive sat,
Here strok'd his chin, and cock'd his hat;
Then slapp'd his hand upon the board
And thus the youth put in his word.
“ Love's advocates, sweet sir, would find him
A higher place than you assign'd him."
“ Love's advocates! Dick, who are those ?". “ The poets, you may well suppose. I'm sorry, sir, you have discarded The men with whom till now you herded Prose-men alone, for private ends, I thought, forsook their ancient friends. In cor stillavit, cries Lucretius; If he may be allow'd to teach us. The self-same thing soft Ovid says, (A proper judge in such a case,) Horace's phrase is, torret jecur ; And happy was that curious speaker. Here Virgil too has plac'd this passion. What signifies too long quotation ? In ode and epic, plain the case is, That Love holds one of these two places.
“ Dick, without passion or reflection, I'll straight demolish this objection.
« First, poets, all the world agrees, Write half to profit, half to please.