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How much a dunce that has been sent to roam Excels a dunce that has been kept at home.
Accomplishments have taken virtue's place, And wisdom falls before exterior grace; We slight the precious kernel of the stone, And toil to polish its rough coat alone. A just deportment, manners graced with ease, Elegant phrase, and figure form’d to please, Are qualities that seem to comprehend Whatever parents, guardians, schools intend: Hence an unfurnish'd and a listless mind, Though busy, trifling; empty, though refined; Hence all that interferes, and dares to clash With indolence and luxury, is trash: While learning, once the man's exclusive pride, Seems verging fast towards the female side. Learning itself, received into a mind By nature weak, or viciously inclined, Serves but to lead philosophers astray, Where children would with ease discern the
way. And of all arts sagacious dupes invent, To cheat themselves and gain the world's assent, The worst is—Scripture warp'd from its intent.
The carriage bowls along, and all are pleased If Tom be sober, and the wheels well greased; But if the rogue have gone a cup too far, Left out his linchpin, or forgot his tar, It suffers interruption and delay, And meets with hinderance in the smoothest way. When some hypothesis absurd and vain Has fill'd with all its fumes a critic's brain, The text, that sorts not with his darling whim, Though plain to others, is obscure to him.
The will made subject to a lawless force,
A critic on the sacred book should be
How shall I speak thee, or thy power address, Thou god of our idolatry, the press? By thee religion, liberty, and laws Exert their influence, and advance their cause; By thee worse plagues than Pharaoh's land befell, Diffused, make earth the vestibule of Hell; Thou fountain, at which drink the good and wise; Thou ever bubbling spring of endless lies; Like Eden's dread probationary tree, Knowledge of good and evil is from thee.
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, Discoverers of they know not what, confined 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, Poisoning the waters where their swarms abound;
Scorn'd by the nobler tenants of the flood,
Fresh confidence the speculatist takes
Ye ladies! (for indifferent in your cause,
None but an author knows an author's cares, Or Fancy's fondness for the child she bears. Committed once into the public arms, The baby seems to smile with added charms. Like some thing precious ventured far from shore, 'Tis valued for the danger's sake the more. He views it with complacency supreme, Solicits kind attention to his dream; And daily more enamour'd of the cheat, Kneels, and asks Heaven to bless the dear deceit. So one, whose story serves at least to show Men loved their own productions long ago, Woo'd an unfeeling statue for his wife, Nor rested till the gods had given it life. If some mere driveller suck the sugar'd fib, One that still needs his leading-string and bib, And praise his genius, he is soon repaid In praise applied to the same part—his head; For 'tis a rule, that holds for ever true, Grant me discernment, and I grant it you. .
Patient of contradiction as a child, Affable, humble, diffident, and mild; Such was Sir Isaac, and such Boyle and Locke: Your blunderer 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 Selfwill confirms him so. Tell him he wanders; that his error leads To fatal ills; that, though the path he treads Be flowery, 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;
Thus men grow wrong with an ingenious skill;
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.
None sends his arrow to the mark in view, Whose hand is feeble, or his aim untrue, For though, ere yet the shaft is on the wing, Or when it first forsakes the' elastic string, It err but little from the’ intended line, It falls at last far wide of his design: So he, who seeks a mansion in the sky, Must watch his purpose with a steadfast
eye: That prize belongs to none but the sincere, The least obliquity is fatal here.
With caution taste the sweet Circean cup: He that sips often, at last drinks it up. Habits are soon assumed; but when we strive To strip them off, 'tis being flay'd alive.