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And with impertinent evasions force
The clearest reason from its native course
That argue things so’ uncertain, 'tis no matter
Whether they are, or never were in nature ;
And venture to demonstrate, when they ’ve sur'd,
And palm'd a fallacy upon a word.
For disputants (as swordsmen use to fence
With blunted foyles) engage with blunted sense ;
And, as they ’re wont to falsify a blow,
Use nothing else to pass upon the foe;
Or, if they venture further to attack,
Like bowlers, strive to beat away the jack;
And, when they find themselves too hardly prest on,
Prevaricate, and change the state o' th’ quest'on;
The noblest science of defence and art
In practice now with all that controvert,
And th' only mode of prizes, from Bear-garden
Down to the schools, in giving blows, or warding.


A S old knights-errant in their harness fought
As fafe as in a castle or redoubt,
Gave one another desperate attacks,
To storm the counterscarps upon their backs;
So disputants advance, and post their arms,
To storm the works of one another's terms;
Fall foul on some extravagant expression,
But ne'er attempt the main design and reason
So fome polemics use to draw their swords
Against the language only and the words;


As he who fought at barriers with Salmafius,
Engag'd with nothing but his style and phrases,
Wav'd to assert the murther of a prince,
The author of falfe Latin to convince ;
But laid the merits of the cause aside,
By those that understood them to be try'd ;
And counted breaking Priscian's head a thing
More capital than to behead a king;
For which he 'as been admir'd by all the learn’d,
Of knaves concern'd, and pedants unconcern'd.

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JUDGMENT is but a curious pair of scales,
That turns with th' hundredth part of true or false,
And still, the more 'tis us'd, is wont t'abate
The subtlety and niceness of its weight,
Until 'tis false, and will not rise nor fall,
Like those that are less artificial ;
And therefore students, in their ways of judging,
Are fain to swallow many a senseless gudgcon,
And by their over-understanding lose
Its active faculty with too much use;
For reason, when too curiously 'tis spun,
Is but the next of all remov'd from none

It is Opinion governs all mankind,
As wisely as the blind that leads the blind :
For, as those surnaines are etteem'd the best
That fignify in all things elle the least,
So men pass fairest in the world's opinion,
That have the least of truth and reason in ihein.



Truth would undo the world, if it pofleft
The meanest of its right and interest;
Is but a titular princess, whose authority
Is always under age, and in minority ;
Has all things done, and carried in its name,
But most of all where it can lay no claim ;
As far from gaiety and complaisance,
As greatness, insolence, and ignorance;
And therefore has surrendred her dominion
O'er all mankind to barbarous Opinion,
That in her right ufurps the tyrannies
And arbitrary government of lyes

As no tricks on the rope but those that break,
Or come most near to breaking of a neck,
Are worth the fight, so nothing goes for wit
But nonsense, or the next of all to it:
For nonsense, being neither false nor true,
A little wit to any thing may screw;
And, when it has a while been us'd, of course
Will stand as well in virtue, power, and force,
And pass for sense to all purposes as good
As if it had at first been understood :
For nonsense has the amplekt privileges,
And more than all the strongest sense obliges;
That furnishes the schools with terms of art,
The mysteries of science to impart;
Supplies all seminaries with recruits
Of endless controversies and disputes ;


For learned nonsense has a deeper found
Than easy sense, and goes for more profound.

FOR all our learned authors now compile
At charge of nothing but the words and style,
And the moft curious critics or the learned
Believe themselves in nothing else concerned ;
For, as it is the garniture and dress
That all things wear in books and languages
(And all men's qualities are wont t'appear
According to the habits that they wear),
'Tis probable to be the truest test
Of all the ingenuity o'th' rest.
The lives of trees lie only in the barks,
And in their styles the wit of greatest clerks ;
Hence 'twas the ancient Roman politicians
Went to the schools of foreign rhetoricians,
To learn the art of patrons, in defence
of interest and their clients' eloquence ;
When consuls, censors, senators, and prætors,
With great dictators, us'd t' apply to rhetors,
To hear the greater magistrate o' th' school
Give sentence in his haughty chair-curule,
And those who mighty nations overcame,
Were fain to say their lessons, and declame.

Words are but pictures, true or false design’d,
To draw the lines and features of the mind;
The characters and artificial draughts,
T'express the inward images of thoughts ;


And artists say a picture may be good,
Although the moral be not understood ;
Whence some infer they may admire a style,
Though all the rest be e’er so mean and vile ;
Applaud th' outsides of words, but never mind
With what fantastic tawdry they are lin'd.

So orators, enchanted with the twang
Of their own trillos, take delight t' harangue;
Whose science, like a juggler's box and balls,
Conveys and counterchanges true and false;
Casts mists before an audience's eyes,
To pass the one for th other in disguise ;
And, like a morrice-dancer dress’d with bells,
Only to serve for noise and nothing else,
Such as a carrier makes his cattle wear,
And hangs for pendents in a horse's ear ;
For, if the language will but bear the test,
No matter what becomes of all the rest :
The ablest orator, to save a word,
Would throw all sense and reason overboard.

Hence 'tis that nothing else but eloquence
Is ty'd to such a prodigal expence;
That lays out half the wit and sense it uses
Upon the other half's, as vain excuses :
For all defences and apologies
Are but specifics t' other frauds and lyes ;
And th' artificial wash of eloquence
Is daub’d in vain upon the clearest sense,
Only to stain the native ingenuity
Of equal brevity and perfpicuity;


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