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Till their own dreams at length deceive 'em,
And, oft repeating, they believe 'em :
Or as, again, those amorous blades,
Who trifle with their mothers' maids,
Though at the first their wild desire
Was but to quench a present fire;
Yet if the object of their love
Chance by Lucina's aid to prove,
They seldom let the bantling roar
In basket at a neighbor's door;
But, by the flattering glass of Nature
Viewing themselves in cake-bread's feature,
With serious thought and care support
What only was begun in sport:
"Just so with you, my friend, it fares,
Who deal in philosophic wares.
Atoms you cut, and forms you measure,
To gratify your private pleasure;
Till airy seeds of casual wit
Do some fantastic birth beget;
And, pleas'd to find your system mended
Beyond what you at first intended,
The happy whimsey you pursue,
Till you at length believe it true.
Caught by your own delusive art,
You fancy first, and then assert."
Quoth Matthew: "Friend, as Car as I Through Art or Nature cast my eye, This axiom clearly I discern, That one must teach, and t' other learn. No fool Pythagoras was thought; Whilst he his weighty doctrines taught, He made his listening scholars stand, Their mouth still cover'd with their hand: Else, may be, some odd-thinking youth, Less friend to doctrine than to truth, Might have refus'd to let his ears Attend the music of the spheres ; Denied all transmigrating scenes, And introduced the use of beans. From great Lucretius take his void, And all the world is quite destroy'd. Deny Des-cart his subtil matter, You leave him neither fire nor water. How oddly would Sir Isaac look, If you, in answer to his book, Say in the front of your discourse, That things have no elastic force! How could our chymic friends go on, To find the philosophic stone, If you more powerful reasons bring, To prove that there is no such thing?
"Your chiefs in sciences and arts Have great contempt of Alma's parts. They find she giddy is, or dull: She doubts if things are void, or full: And who should be presum'd to tell What she herself should see, or feel? She doubts if two and two make four, Though she has told them ten times o'er. It can't it may be-and it must; To which of these must Alma trust? Nay further yet they make her go In doubting, if she doubts, or no. Can syllogism set things right? No: majors soon with minors fight; Or, both in friendly consort join'd, The consequence limps false behind. So to some cunning man she goes, And asks of him, how much she knows.
In philosophic matters so
Your judgment must with others go: For as in senates, so in schools, Majority of voices rules.
"Poor Alma, like a lonely deer,
O'er hills and dales does doubtful err;
With panting haste, and quick surprise,
From every leaf that stirs, she flies;
Till, mingled with the neighboring herd,
She slights what erst she singly fear'd:
And now, exempt from doubt and dread,
She dares pursue, if they dare lead;
As their example still prevails,
She tempts the stream, or leaps the pales."
"He then," quoth Dick, "who by your rule
Thinks for himself, becomes a fool;
As party man, who leaves the rest,
Is call'd but whimsical* at best.
"Now, by your favor, master Mat,
Like Ralpho, here I smell a rat.
I must be listed in your sect,
Who, though they teach not, can protect."
"Right, Richard," Mat in triumph cried :
"So put off all mistrust and pride.
And, while my principles I beg,
Pray answer only with your leg.
Believe what friendly I advise :
Be first secure, and then be wise.
The man within the coach that sits,
And to another's skill submits,
Is safer much, (whate'er arrives,)
And warmer too, than he that drives.
"So Dick Adept, tuck back thy hair,
And I will pour into thy ear
Remarks, which none did e'er disclose
In smooth-pac'd verse, or hobbling prose.
Attend, dear Dick; but don't reply:
And thou may'st prove as wise as I.
"When Alma now, in different ages, Has finish'd her ascending stages,
Some of the Tories, in the queen's reign, were distin. guished by that appellation.
Into the head at length she gets,
And there in public grandeur sits,
To judge of things, and censure wits.
"Here, Richard, how could I explain
The various labyrinths of the brain!
Surprise my readers, whilst I tell 'em
Of cerebrum, and cerebellum!
How could I play the commentator
On dura and on pia mater!
Where hot and cold, and dry and wet,
Strive each the other's place to get;
And, with incessant toil and strife,
Would keep possession during life.
I could demonstrate every pore,
Where memory lays up all her store;
And to an inch compute the station
"Twixt judgment and imagination.
O friend! I could display much learning,
At least to men of small discerning.
The brain contains ten thousand cells:
In each some active fancy dwells;
Which always is at work, and framing
The several follies I was naming.
As in a hive's vimineous dome
Ten thousand bees enjoy their home,
Each does her studious actions vary,
To go and come, to fetch and carry;
Each still renews her little labor,
Nor justles her assiduous neighbor:
Each whilst this thesis I maintain,
I fancy, Dick, I know thy brain.
O, with the mighty theme affected,
Could I but see thy head dissected!"
"My head!" quoth Dick, "to serve your
Spare that, and take some other limb.
Sir, in your nice affairs of system,
Wise men propose; but fools assist 'em."
Says Matthew, "Richard, keep thy head, And hold thy peace; and I'll proceed."
"Proceed!" quoth Dick: "Sir, I aver,
You have already gone too far.
When people once are in the wrong,
Each line they add is much too long.
Who fastest walks, but walks astray,
Is only farthest from his way.
Bless your conceits! must I believe,
Howe'er absurd, what you conceive;
And, for your friendship, live and die
A Papist in philosophy?
I say, whatever you maintain
Of Alma in the heart or brain,
The plainest man alive may tell ye,
Her seat of empire is the belly:
From hence she sends out those supplies,
Which make us either stout or wise;
The strength of every other member
Is founded on your belly-timber;
The qualms or raptures of your blood
Rise in proportion to your food;
And, if you would improve your thought,
You must be fed as well as taught.
Your stomach makes your fabric roll,
Just as the bias rules the bowl.
The great Achilles might employ
The strength design'd to ruin Troy;
He din'd on lion's marrow, spread
On toasts of ammunition bread:
But, by his mother sent away,
Amongst the Thracian girls to play,
Effeminate he sat, and quiet:
Strange product of a cheese-cake diet'
Now give my argument fair play,
And take the thing the other way:
The youngster, who at nine and three
Drinks with his sisters milk and tea,
From breakfast reads till twelve o'clock,
Burnet and Heylin, Hobbes, and Locke:
He pays due visits after noon
To cousin Alice and uncle John.
At ten from coffee-house or play
Returning, finishes the day.
But, give him port and potent sack,
From milksop he starts up Mohack;
Holds that the happy know no hours;
So through the street at midnight scours,
Breaks watchmen's heads and chairmen's glasses
And thence proceeds to nicking sashes;
Till, by some tougher hand o'ercome,
And first knock'd down, and then led home,
He damns the footman, strikes the maid,
And decently reels up to bed.
"Observe the various operations Of food and drink in several nations. Was ever Tartar fierce or cruel Upon the strength of water-gruel? But who shall stand his rage and force, If first he rides, then eats his horse? Salads, and eggs, and lighter fare, Tune the Italian spark's guitar. And, if I take Dan Congreve right, Pudding and beef make Britons fight. Tokay and coffee cause this work Between the German and the Turk; And both, as they provisions want, Chicane avoid, retire and faint.
"Hunger and thirst, or guns and swords,
Give the same death in different words.
To push this argument no further;
To starve a man, in law is murther.
"As in a watch's fine machine,
Though many artful springs are seen;
The added movements, which declare
How full the Moon, how old the year,
Derive their secondary power
From that which simply points the hour.
For, though those gimeracks were away,
(Quare would not swear, but Quare would say)
However more reduc'd and plain,
The watch would still a watch remain:
But, if the horal-orbit ceases,
The whole stands still, or breaks to pieces;
Is now no longer what it was,
And you may e'en go sell the case.
So, if unprejudic'd you scan
The goings of this clock-work man,
You find a hundred movements made
By fine devices in his head;
But 'tis the stomach's solid stroke
That tells his being what's o'clock.
If you take off this rhetoric trigger,
He talks no more in mode and figure;
Or, clog his mathematic-wheel,
His buildings fall, his ship stands still;
Or, lastly, break his politic-weight,
His voice no longer rules the state.
Yet, if these finer whims are gone,
Your clock, though plain, would still go on;
But spoil the engine of digestion,
And you entirely change the question.
Alma's affairs no power can mend ;
The jest, alas! is at an end:
Soon ceases all the worldly bustle,
And you consign the corpse to Russel.
"Now make your Alma come or go
From leg to hand, from top to toe,
Your system, without my addition,
Is in a very sad condition.
So Harlequin extoll'd his horse,
Fit for the war, or road, or course!
His mouth was soft, his eye was good,
His foot was sure as ever trod :
One fault he had (a fault indeed!)
And what was that? the horse was dead."
'Dick, from these instances and fetches, Thou mak'st of horses, clocks, and watches," Quoth Mat, "to me thou seem'st to mean, That Alma is a mere machine: That, telling others what's o'clock, She knows not what herself has struck; But leaves to standers-by the trial Of what is mark'd upon her dial."
"Here hold a blow, good friend," quoth Dick,
And rais'd his voice exceeding quick.
"Fight fair, sir: what I never meant
Don't you infer. In argument
Similies are like songs in love:
They much describe; they nothing prove."
Mat, who was here a little gravell'd,
Tost up his nose, and would have cavill'd;
But, calling Hermes to his aid,
Half pleas'd, half angry, thus he said:
(Where mind ('tis for the author's fame)
That Matthew call'd, and Hermes came.
In danger heroes, and in doubt
Poets find gods to help them out.)
"Friend Richard, I begin to see,
That you and I shall scarce agree.
Observe how oddly you behave:
The more I grant, the more you crave.
But, comrade, as I said just now,
I should affirm, and you allow.
We system-makers can sustain
The thesis, which you grant was plain;
And with remarks and comments tease ye,
In case the thing before was easy.
But, in a point obscure and dark,
We fight as Leibnitz did with Clarke;
And, when no reason we can show,
Why matters this or that way go,
The shortest way the thing we try,
And what we know not, we deny;
True to our own o'erbearing pride,
And false to all the world beside.
"That old philosopher grew cross, Who could not tell what motion was: Because he walk'd against his will, He fac'd men down, that he stood still. And he who, reading on the heart, (When all his quodlibets of art Could not expound its pulse and heat) Swore he had never felt it beat. Chrysippus, foil'd by Epicurus, Makes bold (Jove bless him!) to assure us,
That all things, which our mind can view,
May be at once both false and true.
And Malebranche has an odd conceit,
As ever enter'd Frenchman's pate:
Says he, So little can our mind
Of matter or of spirit find,
That we by guess at least may gather
Something, which may be both, or neither.'
Faith, Dick, I must confess, 'tis true,
(But this is only entre nous)
That many knotty points there are,
Which all discuss, but few can clear;
As Nature slily had thought fit,
For some by-ends, to cross-bite wit:
Circles to square, and cubes to double,
Would give a man excessive trouble;
The longitude uncertain roams,
We must persist the best we can;
With care our system still renew,
And prove things likely, though not true.
"I could, thou seest, in quaint dispute,
By dint of logic, strike thee mute;
With learned skill, now push, now parry,
From Darii to Bocardo vary,
And never yield; or, what is worst,
Never conclude the point discours'd.
Yet, that you hic & nunc may know
How much you to my candor owe,
I'll from the disputant descend,
To show thee, I assume the friend:
I'll take thy notion for my own-
(So most philosophers have done)
It makes my system more complete :
Dick, can it have a nobler fate?"
Take what thou wilt," said Dick, "dear
But bring thy matters to an end."
"I find," quoth Mat, "reproof is vain:
Who first offend, will first complain.
Thou wishest I should make to shore;
Yet still putt'st in thy thwarting oar.
What I have told thee fifty times
In prose, receive for once in rhymes:
A huge fat man in country-fair,
Or city-church, (no matter where,)
Labor'd and push'd amidst the crowd,
Still bawling out extremely loud,
'Lord save us! why do people press!"
Another, marking his distress,
Friendly replied, Plump gentleman,
Get out as fast as e'er you can;
Or cease to push, or to exclaim:
You make the very crowd you blame.'"
Says Dick, "Your moral does not need
The least return; so e'en proceed:
Your tale, howe'er applied, was short:
So far, at least, I thank you for 't."
Mat took his thanks; and, in a tone
More magisterial, thus went on.
Now Alma settles in the head,
As has before been sung or said :
Thy son, and his, ere that, may die, And Time some uncouth heir supply, Who shall for nothing else be known But spoiling all that thou hast done. Who set the twigs shall he remember That is in haste to sell the timber? And what shall of thy woods remain, Except the box that threw the main?
Nay, may not Time and Death remove The near relations whom I love? And my coz Tom, or his coz Mary, (Who hold the plow, or skim the dairy,) My favorite books and pictures sell To Smart, or Doiley, by the ell? Kindly throw in a little figure, And set the price upon the bigger? Those who could never read the grammar, When my dear volumes touch the hammer, May think books best, as richest bound; My copper medals by the pound May be with learned justice weigh'd; To turn the balance, Otho's head
May be thrown in; and, for the metal,
The coin may mend a tinker's kettle-
"Tir'd with these thoughts"-"Less tir'd
Quoth Dick," with your philosophy-
That people live and die, I knew
An hour ago, as well as you.
And, if Fate spins us longer years,
Or is in haste to take the shears,
I know we must both fortunes try,
And bear our evils, wet or dry.
Yet, let the goddess smile or frown,
Bread we shall eat, or white or brown;
And in a cottage, or a court,
Drink fine champaigne, or muddled port.
What need of books these truths to tell,
Which folks perceive who cannot spell?
And must we spectacles apply,
To view what hurts our naked eye!
"Sir, if it be your wisdom's aim To make me merrier than I am,
I'll be all night at your devotion-
Come on, friend, broach the pleasing notion;
But, if you would depress my thought,
Your system is not worth a groat-
For Plato's fancies what care I?
I hope you would not have me die,
Like simple Cato in the play,
For any thing that he can say:
E'en let him of ideas speak
To heathens in his native Greek.
If to be sad is to be wise,
I do most heartily despise
Whatever Socrates has said,
Or Tully writ, or Wanley read. -
"Dear Drift,* to set our matters right, Remove these papers from my sight; Burn Mat's Des-cart, and Aristotle: Here! Jonathan, your master's bottle."
* Mr. Prior's secretary and executor.
"For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow."-ch. i. ver. 18. "And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end: and much study is a weariness of the flesh."-ch. xii. ver. 12.
SOLOMON, seeking happiness from knowledge, convenes the learned men of his kingdom; requires them to explain to him the various operations and effects of Nature; discourses of vegetables, animals, and man; proposes some questions concerning the origin and situation of the habitable Earth; proceeds to examine the system of the visible Heaven; doubts if there may not be a plurality of worlds; inquires into the nature of spirits and angels; and wishes to be more