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But with the friends of vice, the foes of SATIRE, All truth is spleen; all just reproof, ill-nature.
Well may they dread the Muse's fatal skill; Well may they tremble when she draws her quill; Her magic quill, that like ITHURIEL's spear, 135 Reveals the cloven hoof, or lengthen'd ear; Bids Vice and Folly take their natural shapes, Turns duchesses to strumpets, beaux to apes; Drags the vile whisperer from his dark abode, Till all the demon starts up from the toad. 140 O sordid maxim, form'd to screen the vile, That true good-nature still must wear a smile! In frowns array'd her beauties stronger rise, When love of virtue makes her scorn of vice: Where justice calls, 'tis cruelty to save; And 'tis the law's good-nature hangs the knave. Who combats virtue's foe is virtue's friend: Then judge of SATIRE'S merit by her end: To Guilt alone her vengeance stands confined, The object of her love is all mankind. 150 Scarce more the friend of Man, the wise must own, Even ALLEN's bounteous hand, than SATIRE's frown: This to chastise, as that to bless, was given; Alike the faithful ministers of Heaven.
Oft in unfeeling hearts the shaft is spent: 155 Though strong th' example, weak the punishment. They least are pain'd, who merit Satire most; Folly the Laureat's, vice was Chartres' boast: Then where's the wrong, to gibbet high the name Of fools and knaves already dead to shame? 160
Oft SATIRE acts the faithful surgeon's part; Generous and kind, though painful is her art: With caution bold, she only strikes to heal; Though folly raves to break the friendly steel. Then sure no fault impartial SATIRE knows, 165 Kind even in vengeance, kind to Virtue's foes. Whose is the crime, the scandal too be theirs : The knave and fool are their own libellers.
DARE nobly then: but conscious of your trust,
As ever warm and bold, be ever just:
Nor court applause in these degenerate days:
The villain's censure is extorted praise.
But chief, be steady in a noble end,
And shew mankind that truth has yet a friend.
'Tis mean for empty praise of wit to write,
As foplings grin to shew their teeth are white.
To brand a doubtful folly with a smile,
Or madly blaze unknown defects, is vile:
'Tis doubly vile, when, but to prove your art,
You fix an arrow in a blameless heart.
O lost to honour's voice, O doom'd to shame,
Thou fiend accursed, thou murderer of fame!
Fell ravisher, from Innocence to tear
That name, than liberty, than life more dear!
Where shall thy baseness meet its just return? 185
Or what repay thy guilt, but endless scorn?
And know, immortal truth shall mock thy toil:
Immortal truth shall bid the shaft recoil;
With rage retorted, wing the deadly dart,
And empty all its poison in thy heart.
With caution next, the dangerous power apply;
An eagle's talon asks an eagle's eye:
Let SATIRE then her proper object know,
And ere she strike, be sure she strike a foe.
Nor fondly deem the real fool confess'd,
Because blind Ridicule conceives a jest ;
Before whose altar virtue oft hath bled,
And oft a destined victim shall be led.
Lo, Shaftesbury rears her high on reason's throne,
And loads the slave with honours not her own. 200
Big-swoln with folly, as her smiles provoke,
Profaneness spawns, pert dunces nurse the joke!
Come, let us join awhile this tittering crew,
And now the ideot guide for once is true;
Deride our weak forefathers' musty rule,
Who therefore smiled, because they saw a fool;
Sublimer logic now adorns our isle,
We therefore see a fool, because we smile.
Truth in her gloomy cave why fondly seek?
Lo, gay she sits in Laughter's dimple cheek, 210
Contemns each surly academic foe,
And courts the spruce freethinker and the beau.
Dadalian arguments but few can trace,
But all can read the language of grimace.
Hence mighty ridicule's all-conquering hand
Shall work Herculean wonders through the land.
Bound in the magic of her cobweb chain,
You, mighty WARBURTON, shall rage in vain;
In vain the trackless maze of truth you scan,
And lend th' informing clue to erring man.
No more shall reason boast her power divine,
Her başe eternal shook by folly's mine;
Truth's sacred fort th' exploded laugh shall win, And coxcombs vanquish BERKLEY by a grin.
But you, more sage, reject th' inverted rule, 225 That truth is e'er explored by ridicule:
On truth, on falsehood let her colours fall,
She throws a dazzling glare alike on all;
As the gay prism but mocks the flatter'd eye,
And gives to every object every dye.
Beware the mad adventurer: bold and blind
She hoists her sail, and drives with every wind;
Deaf as the storm to sinking virtue's groan,
Nor heeds a friend's destruction, or her own.
Let clear-eyed reason at the helm preside,
Bear to the wind, or stem the furious tide;
Then mirth may urge, when reason can explore,
This point the way, that waft us glad to shore.
Though distant times may rise in SATIRE's page,
Yet chief 'tis hers to draw the present age;
With wisdom's lustre, folly's shade contrast,
And judge the reigning manners by the past;
Bid Britain's heroes (awful shades!) arise,
And ancient honour beam on modern vice;
Point back to minds ingenuous, actions fair, 245
Till the sons blush at what their fathers were,
Ere yet 'twas beggary the great to trust;
Ere yet 'twas quite a folly to be just;
When low-born sharpers only dared a lie,
Or falsified the card, or cogg'd the die;
Ere lewdness the stain'd garb of honour wore,
Or chastity was carted for the whore;