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"Tis the most asinine employ on earth,
To hear them tell of parentage and birth,
And echo conversations, dull and dry,
Embellish'd with-He said, and so said I.
At every interview their route the same,
The repetition makes attention lame:
We bustle up with unsuccessful speed,
And in the saddest part cry~ Droll indeed!
The path 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 ambitions 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?---an 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 link'd;
Tell not as new what every body knows,
And, new or old, still hasten to a close;
There, centring 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 lullahy at night;
Guy Earl of Warwick and fair Eleanore,
Or giant-killing Jack, would please me more.
The pipe, with solemn interposing puff,
Makes half a sentence at a time enough;
The dosing sages drop the drowsy strain,
Then pause, and puff--and speak, and pause
Such often, like the tube they so admire, [again.
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 ours:
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 he 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 floodgates of licentious nirth;
For seaborn 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.
The' emphatic speaker dearly loves to' oppose, In contact inconvenient, nose to nose, As if the gnomon on his neighbour's phiz, Touch'd with the magnet, had attracted his. His whisper'd theme, dilated and at large, Proves after all a windgun's airy charge, An extract of his diary-no more, A tasteless journal of the day before.
He walk'd abroad, o'ertaken in the rain,
Callid on a friend, drank tea, stepp'd 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 rareeshow?
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 mix'd resort,
What makes some sick, and others à-la-mort,
cogence, we may say, Why such a 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 unpack'd your disappointment groans, To find it stuff’d 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 touch'd, much less forgot, Nose, ears, and eyes seem present on the spot, Now the distemper, spite of draught or pill, Victorious seem’d, and now the doctor's skill; And now—alas, for unforeseen mishaps ! They put on a damp nightcap and relapse; They thought they must have died, they were so Their peevish hearers almost wish they had. [bad;
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 dronepipe of an humble-bee. The southern sash admits too strong a light, You rise and drop the curtain—now 'tis 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 sole—that's just the sort he would not wish. He takes what he at first profess’d to loathe, 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 canAlas! his efforts double his distress, He likes yours 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 complain’d;
It seems as if we Britons were ordain'd,
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,
Conceal'd within an unsuspected part,
The vainest corner of our own vain heart:
For ever aiming at the world's esteem,
Our self-importance ruins its own scheme;
In other eyes our talents rarely shown,
Become at length so splendid in our own,
We dare not risk them into public view,
Lest they miscarry of what seems their due.
True modesty is a discerning grace,
And only blushes in the proper place;
But counterfeit is blind, and skulks, through fear,
Where 'tis a shame to be ashamed to' appear;
Humility the parent of the first,
The last by vanity produced and nursed.