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To streams of popular opinion drawn,
Fresh confidence the speculatist takes
Whoever errs, the priest can ne'er be wrong,
Ye ladies ! (for, indifferent in your cause,
None but an author knows an author's caresy Or fancy's fondness for the child she bears. Committed once into the public arms, The baby seems to smile with added charms, Like something precious ventur'd far from shore, 'Tis valued for the danger's sake the more. He views it with complacency supreme; Solicits kind attention to his dream ; And daily, more enamour'd of the cheat, Kneels, and asks Heaven to bless the dear deceit. So one, whose story serves at least to show Men lov'd their own productions long ago, Woo'd an unfeeling statue for his wife, Nor rested till the gods had given it life. If some mere driveller suck the sugar'd fib, One that still needs his leading-string and bib, And praise his genius, he is soon repaid In praise applied to the same part—his head. For 'tis a rule, that holds forever true, Grant me discernment, and I grant it you.
Patient of contradiction, as a child Affable, humble, diffident, and mild ; Such was Sir Isaac, and such Boyle and Locke : Your blunderer is as sturdy as a rock. The creature is so sure to kick and bite, A muleteer's the man to set him right. First appetite enlists him truth's sworn foe, Then obstinate self-will confirms him so. Tell him he wanders ; that his error leads To fatal ills ; that though the path he treads Be flowery, and he see no cause of fear, Death and the pains of hell attend him there ; In vain ; the slave of arrogance and pride, He has no hearing on the prudent side. His still refuted quirks he still repeats ; New rais'd objections with new quibbles meets Till, sinking in the quicksand he defends, He dies disputing, and the contest ends But not the mischiefs : they, still left behind, Like thistle seeds are sown by every wind.
Thus men go wrong with an ingenious skill ; Bend the straight rule to their own crooked will ; And, with a clear and shining lamp supplied, First put it out, then take it for a guide. Halting on crutches of unequal size ; One leg by truth supported, one by fies; They sidle to the goal with awkward pace, Secure of nothing-but to lose the race,
Faults in the life breed errors in the brain ;
None sends his arrow to the mark in view, Whose hand is feeble, or his aim untrue. For though, ere yet the shaft is on the wing, Or when it first forsakes th' elastic string, It err but little from th' intended line, It falls, at last, far wide of his design : So he, who seeks a mansion in the sky, Must watch his purpose with a steadfast eye ; That prize belongs to none but the sincere, The least obliquity is fatal here.
With caution taste the sweet Circean cup : He that sips often, at last drinks it up. Habits are soon assum'd; but when we strive To strip them off, 'tis being flay'd alive, Callid to the temple of impure delight, He that abstains, and he alone, does right. If a wish wander that way, call it home ; He cannot long be safe whose wishes roam. But, if you pass the threshold, you are caught ; Die then, if power Almighty save you not. There, hardening by degrees, till double steeld, Take leave of nature's God, and God reveal'd ;
Then laugh at all you trembled at before ;
Some dream that they can silence when they will The storm of passion, and say, Peace, be still ; But,“ Thus far and no farther,” when address'd To the wild wave, or wilder human breast, Implies authority that never can, That never ought to be the lot of man.
But, muse, forbear ; long flights forebode a fall, Strike on the deep-ton'd chord the sum of all.
Hear the just law-the judgment of the skies ! He that hates truth shall be the dupe of lies ; And he that will be cheated to the last, Delusions, strong as hell, shall bind him fast. But, if the wanderer his mistake discern, Judge his own ways, and sigh for a return, Bewilder'd once, must he bewail his loss Forever and forever? No--the cross ! There, and there only, (though the deist rave, And atheist, if earth bear so base a slave ;) There, and there only, is the power to save. There no delusive hope invites despair ; No mockery meets you, no deception, there. VOL. I.