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Their own defect, invisible to them,
Seen in another, they at once condemn ;
And, though self-idolized in every case,
Hate their own likeness in a brother's face.
The cause is plain, and not to be denied,
The proud are always most provoked by pride;
Few competitions but engender spite,
And those the most, where neither has a right.
The point of honour has been deemed of use,
To teach good manners, and to curb abuse;
Admit it true, the consequence is clear,
Our polished manners are a mask we wear.
And at the bottom barbarous still and rude,
We are restrained 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 an 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 compelled 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 fixt 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 empowered to regulate the lists,
They should encounter with well-loaded fists.
A Trojan combat would be something new,
Let DARES beat ENTULLUS 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,
Embellished with---He said, and So said I.
At every interview their rout the same,
The repetition makes attention lame;
We bustle up with unsuccessful speed,
And in the saddest part cry---Droll indeed!
The part 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 ambitious 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?---au 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 linked; Tell not as new what every body knows, And, new or old, still hasten to a close;
There, centering 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 Elinore,
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 our's:
Thou art indeed the drug a gardener wants,
To poison vermin that infest his plants;
But are we so to wit and beauty blind,
As to despise the glory of our kind,
And show the softest minds and fairest forms
As little mercy as the grubs and worms?.
They dare not wait the riotous abuse,
Thy thirst-creating steams at length produce,
When wine has given indecent language birth,
And forced the flood gates of licentious mirth;
For sea-born Venus her attachment shows
Still to that element from which she rose,
And with a quiet, which no fumes disturb,
Sips meek infusions of a milder herb.
Th' emphatic speaker dearly loves t' oppose,
In contact inconvenient, nose to nose,
As if the gnomon on his neighbour's phiz,
Touched with the magnet had attracted his.
His whispered theme, dilated and at large,
Proves after all a wind-gun's airy charge,
An extract of his diary---no more,
A tasteless journal of the day before.
He walked abroad, o'ertaken in the rain,
Called on a friend, drank tea, stept home again,
Resumed his purpose, had a world of talk
With one he stumbled on, and lost his walk.
I interrupt him with a sudden bow,
Adieu, dear Sir! lest you should lose it now.
I cannot talk with civet in the room,
A fine puss gentleman that's all perfume;
The sight's enough---no need to smell a beau---
Who thrusts his nose into a raree-show?
His odoriferous attempts to please
Perhaps might prosper with a swarm of bees;
But we that make no honey, though we sting,
Poets, are sometimes apt to maul the thing.
'Tis wrong to bring into a mixed resort,
What makes some sick, and others a-la-mort,
An argument of cogence we may say,
Why such an one should keep himself away.
A graver coxcomb we may sometimes see,
Quite as absurd, though not so light as he :
A shallow brain behind a serious mask,
An oracle within an empty cask,
The solemn fop; significant and budge;
A fool with judges, amongst fools a judge;
He says but little, and that little said
Owes all its weight, like loaded dice, to lead.
His wit invites you by his looks to come,
But when you knock it never is at home;
'Tis like a parcel sent you by the stage,
Some handsome present, as your hopes presage;
'Tis heavy, bulky, and bids fair to prove
An absent friend's fidelity and love,
But when unpacked your disappointment groans
To find it stuffed with brickbats, earth, and stones.
Some men employ their health, an ugly trick,
In making known how oft they have been sick,
And give us in recitals of disease
A doctor's trouble, but without the fees;
Relate how many weeks they kept their bed,
How an emetic or cathartic sped;
Nothing is slightly touched, much less forgot,
Nose, ears, and eyes, seem present on the spot.
Now the distemper, spite of draught or pill,
Victorious seemed, and now the doctor's skill;
And now---alas for unforeseen mishaps!
They put on a damp night-cap, and relapse ;
They thought they must have died they were so bad,
Their peevish hearers almost wish they had.
Some fretful tempers wince at every touch,
You always do too little or too much :
You speak with life, in hopes to entertain---
Your elevated voice goes through the brain;
You fall at once into a lower key,
That's worse---the drone-pipe of an humble bee.
The southern sash admits too strong a light,
You rise and drop the curtain---now its night.
He shakes with cold---you stir the fire and strive
To make a blaze---that's roasting him alive.
Serve him with venison, and he chooses fish ;
With soal---that's just the sort he would not wish.
He takes what he at first professed to loath,
And in due time feeds heartily on both;
Yet still, o'erclouded with a constant frown,
He does not swallow, but he gulps it down.
Your hope to please him vain on every plan,
Himself should work that wonder, if he can---
Alas! his efforts double his distress,
He likes your's little, and his own still less.
Thus always teasing others, always teased,
His only pleasure is---to be displeased.
I pity bashful men, who feel the pain
Of fancied scorn and undeserved disdain,
And bear the marks upon a blushing face
Of needless shame and self-imposed disgrace,
Our sensibilities are so acute,
The fear of being silent makes us mute;
We sometimes think we could a speech produce
Much to the purpose, if our tongues were loose;
But, being tried, it dies upon the lip,
Faint as a chicken's note that has the pip:
Our wasted oil unprofitably burns,
Like hidden lamps in old sepulchral urns.
Few Frenchmen of this evil have complained;
It seems as if we Britons were ordained,
By way of wholesome curb upon our pride,
To fear each other, fearing none beside.
The cause perhaps inquiry may descry,
Self-searching with an introverted eye,