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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 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 !
Dubious 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 callid 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,
What he remembers seems to have forgot ;
His sole opinion, whatsoe'er befall,
Centring at last in having none at all.
The reasoning power vouchsaf'd of course inferrd
The power to clothe that reason with his word;
For all is perfect that God works on earth,
And he that gives conception aids the birth.
If this be plain, 'tis plainly understood,
What uses of his boon the giver would.
The mind, dispatch'd upon her busy toil,
where Providence has blest the soil ; Visiting every flower with labour meet, And gathering all her treasures sweet by sweet, She should imbue the tongue with what she sips, And shed the balmy blessing on the lips, That good diffus'd, may more abundant grow, And speech may praise the power that bids it flow. Will the sweet warbler of the live-long night, That fills the listening lover with delight, Forget his harmony, with rapture heard, To learn the twittering of a meaner bird, Or make the parrot's mimicry his choice, That odious libel on a human voice ? No-nature unsophisticate by man, Starts not aside from her Creator's plan ; The melody that was at first design'd To cheer the rude forefathers of mankind, Is, note for note, deliver'd in our ears, In the last scene of her six thousand years : Yet fashion, leader of a chattering train, Whom man for his own hurt permits to reign, Who shifts and changes all things but his shape, And would degrade her votary to an ape,
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;
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 compelld by force :
And fear, not courage, is its proper source.
The fear of tyrant custom, and the fear
Lest fops should censure us, and fools should sneer.
At least to trample on our Maker's laws,
And hazard life for any or no cause,
To rush into a fix'd 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 satisfactory receipt in full.
A story, in which native humour reigns,
Is often useful, always entertains :
A graver fact, enlisted on your side,
May furnish illustration, well applied :
But sedentary weavers of long tales
Give me the fidgets, and my patience fails.
'Tis the most asinine employ on earth,
To hear them tell of parentage and birth,
And echo conversations, dull and dry,
Embellish'd with—He said, and, So said I.
At every interview their route the same,
The repetition makes attention lame ;
We bustle up with unsuccessful speed,
And in the saddest part, cry-Droll indeed!
The path of narrative with care pursue,
Still making probability your clue ;
On all the vestiges of truth attend,
And let them guide you to a decent end.
Of all ambitions man may entertain,
The worst that can invade a sickly brain
Is that which angles hourly for surprise,
And baits its hook with prodigies and lies.
Credulous infancy, or age as weak,
Are fittest auditors for such to seek,
Who to please others will themselves disgrace ;
Yet please not, but affront you to your face.
A great retailer of this curious ware,
Having unloaded and made many stare,
Can this be true ?-an arch observer cries.
Yes, (rather moved) I saw it with these eyes !
Sir! I believe it on that ground alone ;
I could not, had I seen it with my own.
A tale should be judicious, clear, succinct ;
The language plain, and incidents well link'd;
Tell not as new what every body knows ;
And, new or old, still hasten to a close;
There, centring in a focus round and neat,
Let all your rays of information meet.
What neither yields us profit nor delight,
Is like a nurse's lullaby at night;
Guy Earl of Warwick and fair Eleanore,
Or giant-killing Jack, would please me more.
The pipe, with solemn interposing puff, Makes half a sentence at a time enough; The dozing sages drop the drowsy strain, Then pause, and puff-and speak, and pause again. Such often, like the tube they so admire, Important triflers ! have more smoke than fire. Pernicious weed! whose scent the fair annoys, Unfriendly to society's chief joys, Thy worst effect is, banishing for hours The sex whose presence civilizes ours :