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That slily counterchanges wrong and right, Teach virtue more fantastic ways and nice, Like white in fields of black, and black in white; Than ours will now endure t improve in vice, As if the laws of Nature had been made
Made a dull sentence, and a moral fable, On purpose only to be disobey'd ;
Do more than all our holdingsforth are able ; Or man had lost his mighty interest,
A forced obscure mythology convince, By having been distinguish'd from a beast ;
Beyond our worst inflictions upon sins : And had no other way but sin and vice,
When an old proverb, or an end of verse, To be restored again to Paradise.
Could more than all our penal laws coerce, How copious is our language lately growi, And keep men honester than all our furies To make blaspheming wit, and a jargon!
Of jailors, judges, constables, and juries; And yet how expressive and significant,
Who were converted then with an old saying, In damme, at once to curse, and swear, and rant! Better than all our preaching now, and praying. As if no way express'd men's souls so well,
What fops had these been, had they lived with us, As damning of them to the pit of hell;
Where the best reason's made ridiculous, Nor any assev'ration were so civil,
And all the plain and sober things we say, As mortgaging salvation to the devil;
By raillery are put beside their play! Or that his name did add a charming grace, For men are grown above all knowledge now, And blasphemy a purity to our phrase.
And what they 're ignorant of disdain to know; For what can any language more enrich,
Engross truth (like fanatics) underhand,
And boldly judge before they understand ;
What trivial punishments did then protect And, by the same degrees of confidence,
Become impregnable against all sense ; When the most shameful penance, and severe, For as they outgrew ordinances then, That could b' inflicted on a Cavalier
So would they now morality again, For infamous debauchery, was no worse
Though Drudgery and Knowledge are of kin, Than but to be degraded from his horse,
And both descended from one parent, Sin, And have his livery of oats and hay,
And therefore seldom have been known to part, Instead of cutting spurs off, ta'en away!
In tracing out the ways of Truth and Art, They held no torture then so great as shame,
Yet they have north-west passages to steer And that to slay was less than to defame ;
A short way to it, without pains or care : For just so much regard as men express
For as implicit faith is far more stiff To th' censure of the public, more or less,
Than that which understands its own belief, The same will be return'd to them again,
So those that think and do but think they know, In shame or reputation, to a grain ;
Are far more obstinate than those that do, And how perverse soe'er the world appears,
And more averse than if they ’d ne'er been taught 'Tis just to all the bad it sees and hears ;
A wrong way, to a right one to be brought; And for that virtue strives to be allow'd
Take boldness upon credit beforehand, For all the injuries it does the good.
And grow too positive to understand; How silly were the sages heretofore,
Believe themselves as knowing and as famous, To fright their heroes with a syren whore !
As if their gifts had gotten a mandamus,
With all the learning to it, custom-free :
And look as big for what they bought at Court, Into land porpoises, and cod, and ling;
As if they ’ad done their exercises for 't.
SATIRE UPON THE ABUSE OF HUMAN Until the subtlest of their conjurers
It is the noblest act of human reason
To free itself from slavish prepossession, And rather venture drowning than to wrong
Assume the legal right to disengage The sea-pugs' chaste ears with a bawdy song:
From all it had contracted under age, To b' out of countenance, and, like an ass,
And not its ingenuity and wit Not pledge the lady Circe one beer-glass ;
To all it was imbued with first submit; Unmannerly refuse her treat and wine,
Take true or false, for better or for worse, For fear of being turn’d into a swine,
To have or thold indifferently of course. When one of our heroic advent'rers now,
For Custom, though but usher of the school Would drink her down, and turn her int' a sow. Where Nature breeds the body and the soul,
So simple were those times, when a grave sage Usurps a greater pow'r and interest Could with an old wife's tale instruct the age, O'er man, the heir of Reason, than brute beast,
That by two different instincts is led,
When letters at the first were meant for play, Born to the one, and to the other bred,
And only us'd to pass the time away, And trains him up with rudiments more false When th' ancient Greeks and Romans had no name Than Nature does her stupid animals ;
T'express a school and playhouse but the same, And that's one reason why more care's bestow'd
And in their languages, so long agone, Upon the body than the soul's allow'd,
To study or be idle was all one; That is not found to understand and know
For nothing more preserves men in their wits So subtly as the body's found to grow.
Than giving of them leave to play by fits, Tho'children, without study, pains, or thought, In dreams to sport and ramble with all fancies, Are languages and vulgar notions taught,
And waking, little less extravagances, Improve their nat'ral talents without care,
To rest and recreation of tir'd thought, And apprehend before they are aware,
When 'tis run down with care and overwrought, Yet as all strangers never leave the tones
Of which whoever does not freely take They have been used of children to pronounce,
His constant share, is never broad awake, So most men's reason never can outgrow
And when he wants an equal competence The discipline it first received to know,
Of both recruits, abates as much of sense. But renders words they first began to con,
Nor is their education worse design'd The end of all that's after to be known,
Than Nature (in her province) proves unkind: And sets the help of education back,
The greatest inclinations with the least
Condemn'd to drudge, and labour, and take pains,
While those she has indulg'd in soul and body, Run them behind-hand with their education, Are most averse to industry and study, And all alike are taught poetic rage,
And th' activ’st fancies share as loose alloys, When hardly one's fit for it in an age.
For want of equal weight to counterpoise. No sooner are the organs of the brain
But when those great conveniences meet, Quick to receive, and stedfast to retain
Of equal judgment, industry, and wit, Best knowledges, but all's laid out upon
The one but strives the other to divert, Retrieving of the curse of Babylon,
While Fate and Custom in the feud take part, To make confounded languages restore
And scholars by prepost'rous overdoing, A greater drudg'ry than it barr'd before:
And under-judging, all their projects ruin; And therefore those imported from the East Who, though the understanding of mankind Where first they were incurr'd, are held the best, Within so straight a compass is confin'd, Although conveyed in worse Arabian pothooks Disdain the limits Nature sets to bound Than gifted tradesmen scratch in sermon notebooks; The wit of man, and vaiply rove beyond. Are really but pains and labour lost,
The bravest soldiers scorn until they're got And not worth half the drudgery they cost,
Close to the enemy to make a shot ; Unless, like rarities, as they've been brought Yet great philosophers delight to stretch From foreign climates, and as dearly bought, Their talents most at things beyond their reachi, When those who had no other but their own, And proudly think t' unriddle ev'ry cause Have all succeeding eloquence outdone;
That Nature uses by their own bye-laws; As men that wink with one eye see more true, When 'tis not only impertinent, but rude And take their aim much better than with two: Where she denies admission, to intrude ; For the more languages a man can speak,
And all their industry is but to err, His talent has but
Unless they have free quarantine from her; And for the industry he has spent upon't,
Whence 'tis the world the less has understood, Must full as much some other way discount.
By striving to know more than 'tis allow'd. The Hebrew, Chaldee, and the Syriac,
For Adam, with the loss of Paradise, Do, like their letters, set men's reason back,
Bought knowledge at too desperate a price, And turn their wits that strive to understand it, And ever since that miserable fate (Like those that write the characters) left-handed; Learning did never cost an easier rate; Yet he that is but able to express
For though the most divine and sov'reign good No sense at all in several languages,
That Nature has upon mankind bestow'd, Will pass for learneder than he that's known
Yet it has prov'd a greater hinderance To speak the strongest reason in his own.
To th' interest of truth than ignorance, These are the modern arts of education,
And therefore never bore so high a value With all the learned of mankind in fashion,
As when 'twas low, contemptible, and shallow; But practised only with the rod and whip,
Had academies, schools, and colleges, As riding schools inculcate horsemanship;
Endow'd for it's improvement and increase ; Or Romish penitents let out their skins
With pomp and show was introduc'd with maces, To bear the penalties of others' sins,
More than a Roman magistrate had fasces;
Empower'd with statute, privilege, and mandate, And understand no further than the shelves; T assume an art, and after understand it;
But smatter with their titles and editions, Like bills of store for taking a degree,
And place them in their classical partitions ; With all the learning to it custom-free;
When all a student knows of what he reads And own professions which they never took Is not in's own, but under general heads So much delight in as to read one book:
Of common-places, not in his own pow'r, Like princes, had prerogative to give
But, like a Dutchman's money, in the cantore; Convicted malefactors a reprieve;
Where all he can make of it at the best, And having but a little paltry wit
Is hardly three per cent. for interest; More than the world, reduced and governed it. And whether he will ever get it out But scorn'd as soon as 'twas but understood,
Into his own possession is a doubt: As better is a spiteful foe to good,
Affects all books of past and modern ages, And now has nothing left for its support,
But reads no further than their title-pages, But what the darkest times provided for't.
Only to con the authors' names by rote, Man has a natural desire to know,
Or at the best, those of the books they quote, But th' one half is for interst, th' other shew: Enough to challenge intimate acquaintance As scriv’ners take more pains to learn the sleight With all the learned moderns and the ancients. Of making knots, than all the hands they write: As Roman noblemen were wont to greet So all his study is not to extend
And compliment the rabble in the street, The bounds of knowledge, but some vainer end; Had nomenclators in their trains, to claim T'appear and pass for learned, though his claim Acquaintance with the meanest, by his name, Will hardly reach beyond the empty name: And by so mean, contemptible a bribe For most of those that drudge and labour hard, Trepann'd the suffrages of ev'ry tribe ; Furnish their understandings by the yard,
So learned men, by authors' names unknown, As a French library by the whole is,
Have gain'd no small improvement to their own, So much an ell for quartos and for folios;
And he's esteem'd the learned'st of all others To which they are but indexes themselves, That has the largest catalogue of authors.
'Tis still the same, although their airy shape But when he sees the eager chace renew'd, All but a quick poetic sight escape.
Himself by dogs, and dogs by men pursu'd, There Faunus and Sylvanus keep their courts, He straight revokes his bold resolve, and more And thither all the horned host resorts
Repents his courage than his fear before ; To graze the ranker mead; that noble herd
Finds that uncertain ways unsafest are, On whose sublime and shady fronts is rear'd And doubt a greater mischief than despair. Nature's great masterpiece, to shew how soon Then to the stream, when neither friends, nor force, Great things are made, but sooner are undone. Nor speed, nor art avail, he shapes his course; Here have I seen the King, when great affairs Thinks not their rage so desp’rate to essay Gave leave to slacken and unbend his cares,
An element more merciless than they. Attended to the chase, by all the flow'r
But fearless they pursue, nor can the flood Of youth, whose hopes a noble prey devour; Quench their dire thirst: alas! they thirst for blood. Pleasure with praise and danger they would buy, So towards a ship the oar-finn'd gallies ply, And wish a foe that would not only fly.
Which wanting sea to ride, or wind to fly, The stag now conscious of his fatal growth,
Stands but to fall reveng'd on those that dare At once indulgent to his fear and sloth,
Tempt the last fury of extreme despair. To some dark covert his retreat had made,
So fares the stag; among th' enraged hounds, Where no man's eye, nor heaven's should invade Repels their force, and wounds returns for wounds: His soft repose; when th' unexpected sound
And as a hero, whom his baser foes Of dogs and men his wakeful ear does wound. In troops surround, now these assails, now those, Rous'd with the noise, he scarce believes his ear, Though prodigal of life, disdains to die Willing to think th'illusions of his fear
By common hands; but if he can descry
And begs his fate, and then contented falls.
From his unerring hand, then glad to die,
Fair Liberty pursu'd, and meant a prey Has lost the chasers, and his ear the cry;
To lawless Power, here turn'd, and stood at bay; Exulting, till he finds their vobler sense
When in that remedy all hope was plac'd Their disproportion’d speed doth recompense; Which was, or should have been at least, the last. Then curses his conspiring feet, whose scent Here was that Charter seal'd wherein the crown Betrays that safety which their swiftness lent: All marks of arbitrary power lays down; Then tries his friends; among the baser herd, Tyrant and slave, those names of hate and fear, Where he so lately was obey'd and fear'd,
The happier style of king and subject bear: His safety seeks : the herd, unkindly wise,
Happy when both to the same centre move, Or chases him from thence or from him flies.
When kings give liberty and subjects love. Like a declining statesman, left forlorn
Therefore uot long in force this Charter stood; To his friends' pity, and pursuers' scorn,
Wanting that seal, it must be seald in blood. With shame remembers, while himself was one The subjects arm'd, the more their princes gave, Of the same herd, himself the same had done. Th' advantage only took the more to crave; Thence to the coverts and the conscious groves, Till kings, by giving, gave themselves away, The scenes of his past triumphs and his loves, And ev’n that power that should deny betray. Sadly surveying where he rang'd alone,
“ Who gives constrain’d, but his own fear reviles. Prince of the soil, and all the herd his own, “ Not thank’d, but scorn'd; nor are they gifts, but And like a bold knight-errant did proclaim
spoils.” Combat to all, and bore away the dame,
Thus kings, by grasping more than they could hold, And taught the woods to echo to the stream First made their subjects by oppression bold; His dreadful challenge, and his clashing beam; And popular sway, by forcing kings to give Yet faintly now declines the fatal strife,
More than was fit for subjects to receive, So much his love was dearer than his life.
Ran to the same extremes, and one excess Now ev'ry leaf, and ev'ry moving breath
Made both, by striving to be greater, less. Presents a foe, and ev'ry foe a death.
When a calm river, rais'd with sudden rains, Weary'd, forsaken, and pursu'd, at last
Or snows dissolv’d, o'erflows th' adjoining plains, All safety in despair of safety plac'd,
The husbandmen with high-rais'd banks secure Courage he thence resumes, resolv'd to bear Their greedy hopes, and this he can endure ; All their assaults, since 'tis in vain to fear.
But if with bays and dams they strive to force And now, too late, he wishes for the fight
His channel to a new or narrow course, That strength he wasted in ignoble flight;
No longer then within his banks he dwells,
First to a torrent, then a deluge, swells ;
All her own virtues through the universe. Stronger and fiercer by restraint, he roars,
Here some digression I must make, t' accuse And knows no bound, but makes his power his Thee, my forgetful and ungrateful Muse ! shores.
Couldst thou from Greece to Latium take thy flight,
I can no more believe old Homer blind,
Than those who say the sun hath never shin'd: When God from earth form'd Adam in the East, The age wherein he liv'd was dark, but he He his own image on the clay imprest.
Could not want sight who taught the world to see, As subjects then the whole creation came,
They who Minerva from Jove's head derive, And from their natures Adam them did name; Might make old Homer's skull the Muses' hive, Not from experience (for the world was new) And from his brain that Helicon distil He only from their cause their natures knew. Whose racy liquor did his offspring fill. Had memory been lost with innocence,
Nor old Anacreon, Hesiod, Theocrite, We had not known the sentence nor th' offence. Must we forget, nor Pindar's lofty flight. 'Twas his chief punishment to keep in store
Old Homer's soul, at last from Greece retir'd, The sad remembrance what he was before ;
In Italy the Mantuan swain inspir'd. And though th' offending part felt mortal pain, When great Augustus made war's tempests cease, Th’immortal part its knowledge did retain. His halcyon days brought forth the arts of
peace. After the food arts to Chaldea fell;
He still in his triumphant chariot shines, The fai her of the faithful there did dwell,
By Horace drawn and Virgil's mighty lines. Who both their parent and instructor was:
'Twas certainly mysterious that the name From thence did learning into Egypt pass.
Of prophets and of poets is the same. Moses in all th' Egyptian arts was skill'd,
What the Tragedian wrote, the late success
As dark a truth that author did unfold
“ Of things, and a new world by Typhis found; Musæus first, then Orpheus, civilize
“ Then ages far remote shall understand Mankind, and gave the world their deities:
“ The isle of Thule is not the farthest land.” To many gods they taught devotion,
Sure God, by these discoveries, did design Which were the distinct faculties of one:
That his clear light thro' all the world should shine; Thi Eternal Cause in their immortal lines
But the obstruction from that discord springs Was taught, and poets were the first divines. The Prince of Darkness made 'twixt Christian kings: God Moses first, then David, did inspire,
That peaceful age with happiness to crown, To compose anthems for his heavenly quire:
From heav'n the Prince of Peace himself came To th' one the style of Friend he did impart,
down; On th’ other stamped the likeness of his heart: Then the true Sun of knowledge first appear’d, And Moses, in the old original,
And the old dark mysterious clouds were clear'd; Er'n God the poet of the world doth call.
The heavy cause of th' old accursed flood Next those old Greeks Pythagoras did rise,
Sunk in the sacred deluge of his blood. Then Socrates, whom th' oracle call'd Wise.
His passion man from his first fall redeem'd; The divine Plato moral virtue shews,
Once more to Paradise restor'd we seemid; Then his disciple Aristotle rose,
Satan himself was bound, till th” iron chain Who nature's secrets to the world did teach, Our pride did break, and let him loose again. Yet that great soul our novelists impeach:
Still the old sting remain'd, and man began Too much manuring fill'd that field with weeds, To tempt the serpent as he tempted man. While sects, like locusts, did destroy the seeds. Then hell sends forth her furies, Av'rice, Pride, The tree of knowledge, blasted by disputes,
Fraud, Discord, Force, Hypocrisy, their guide : Produces sapless leaves instead of fruits.
Though the foundation on a rock were laid, Proud Greece all nations else barbarians held, The church was undermin'd, and then betray'd. Boasting her learning all the world excell'd. Though the Apostles these events foretold, Flying from thence, to Italy it came,
Yet ev’n the shepherd did devour the fold: And to the realm of Naples gave the name,
The fisher to convert the world began, Till both their nation and their arts did come The pride convincing of vain-glorious man ; A welcome trophy to triumphant Rome.
But soon his followers grew a sovereign lord, Then wheresoe'er her conquering eagles fled, And Peter's keys exchang'd for Peter's sword, Arts, learning, and civility, were spread;
Which still maintains for his adopted son And as in this our microcosm, the heart
Vast patrimonies, though himself had none; Heat, spirit, motion, gives to every part,
Wresting the text to the old giant's sense, So Rome's victorious influence did disperse
That heaven once more must suffer violence.