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No wild enthusiast ever yet could rest
Till half mankind were like himself possess'd.
Philosophers, who darken and put out
Eternal truth by everlasting doubt;
Church quacks, with passions under no command,
Who fill the world with doctrines contraband,
Discov’rers of they know not what, confin'd
Within no bounds--the blind that lead the blind;
To streams of popular opinion drawn,
Deposit in those shallows all their spawn.
The wriggling fry soon fill the creeks around,
Pois’ning the waters where their swarms abound.
Scorn’d by the nobler tenants of the flood,
Minnows and gudgeons gorge th’unwholesome food.
The propagated myriads spread so fast,
E'en Leuwenhoech himself would stand aghast,
Employ'd to calculate th' enormous sum,
And own his crab-computing pow'rs o'ercome.
Is this hyperbole? The world well known,
Your sober thoughts will hardly find it one.
Fresh confidence the speculatist takes
From ev'ry hair-brain'd proselyte he makes;
And therefore prints : himself but half deceivid,
Till others have the soothing tale believ'd.
Hence comment after comment, spun as fine
As bloated spiders draw the flimsy line:
Hence the same word, that bids our lusts obey,
Is misapplied to sanctify their sway.
If stubborn Greek refuse to be his friend,
Hebrew or Syriac shall be forc'd to bend :
If languages and copies all cry, No-
Somebody prov'd it centuries ago.
Like trout pursued, the critic, in despair,
Darts to the mud, and finds his safety there,
Patient of contradiction, as a child Affable, humble, diffident, and mild; Such was Sir Isaac, and such Boyle and Locke: Your blund'rer 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 flow'ry, 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 ev'ry 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 lies;
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;
And these, reciprocally, those again.
The mind and conduct mutually imprint
And stamp their image in each other's mint:
Each, sire and dam of an infernal race,
Begetting and conceiving all that's base.
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,
WHOM call we gay? That honour has been song
The boast of mere pretenders to the name,
The innocent are gay—the lark is gay,
That dries his feathers, saturate with dew,
Beneath the rosy cloud, while yet the beams
Of day-spring overshoot his humble nest.
The peasant too, a witness of his
Himself a songster, is as gay as he.
But save me from the gaiety of those
Whose head-aches nail them to a noon-day bed;
And save me too from their's, whose haggard eyes
Flash desperation, and betray their pangs
For property stripp'd off by cruel chance;
From gaiety that fills the bones with pain,
The mouth with blasphemy, the heart with wo.