« ForrigeFortsett »
Not ev'n the vigorous and headlong rage
Of adolescence, or a firmer age,
Affords a plea allowable or just
For making speech the pamperer of lust;
But when the breath of age commits the 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 ev'ry spark.
Oaths terminate, as Paul observes, all strifeSome men have surely then a peaceful life; Whatever subject occupy discourse, The feats of Vestris, or the naval force, Asseveration blust'ring in your face Makes contradiction such a hopeless case: In ev'ry 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 forc'd into the brain; And ev'n 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 ev'ry word impress, Suppos'd 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,
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.
0 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,
1 am not surely always in the wrong;
A fool must now and then be right by chance.
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.
Yet, though he tease and balk your list'ning ear,
He makes one useful point exceeding clear;
Howe'er ingenious on his darling theme
A sceptic in philosophy may seem,
Reduc'd to practice, his beloved rule
Would only prove him a consummate fool;
Useless in him alike both brain and speech,
Fate having plac'd 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 way, 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; Whtre others toil with philosophic force, Their nimble nonsense takes a shorter course; Flings at your head conviction in the lump, And gains remote conclusions at a jump: Their own defect, invisible to them, Seen in another, they at once condemn;
And, though self-idoliz'd in ev'ry case,