EPISTLE TO THE REVEREND MR. CATCOTT.
1 WHAT strange infatuations rule mankind!
2 How narrow are our prospects, how confin'd!
3 With universal vanity possest,
4 We fondly think our own ideas best:
5 Our tott'ring arguments are ever strong;
6 We're always self-sufficient in the wrong.
7 What philosophic Sage of pride austere
8 Can lend conviction an attentive ear?
9 What pattern of humility and truth
10 Can bear the jeering ridicule of youth? [Page 20]
11 What blushing Author ever rank'd his Muse
12 With Fowler's Poet-Laureat of the Stews?
13 Dull Penny, nodding o'er his wooden lyre,
14 Conceits the vapours of Geneva fire.
15 All in the language of Apostles cry,
16 If Angels contradict me, Angels lie?
17 As all have intervals of ease and pain,
18 So all have intervals of being vain;
19 But some of folly never shift the scene,
20 Or let one lucid moment intervene;
21 Dull single acts of many-footed Prose
22 Their tragi-comedys of life compose;
23 Incessant madding for a system toy
24 The greatest of Creations blessings cloy;
25 Their senses dosing a continual dream,
26 They hang enraptured o'er the hideous scheme:
27 So virgins tott'ring into ripe three score,
28 Their greatest likeness in baboons adore.
29 When you advance new systems, first unfold
30 The various imperfections of the old;[Page 21]
31 Prove Nature hitherto a gloomy night,
32 You the first focus of primaeval light.
33 'Tis not enough you think your system true,
34 The busy world wou'd have you prove it too:
35 Then, rising on the ruins of the rest,
36 Plainly demonstrate your ideas best.
37 Many are best; one only can be right
38 Tho' all had inspiration to indite.
39 Some this unwelcome truth perhaps would tell,
40 Where Clogher stumbled, Catcott fairly fell.
41 Writers on Rolls of Science long renown'd
42 In one fell page are tumbled to the ground.
43 We see their systems unconfuted still;
44 But Catcott can confute them — if he will.
45 Would you the honour of a Priest mistrust
46 An excommunication proves him just.
47 Could Catcott from his better sense be drawn
48 To bow the knee to Baal's sacred lawn?
49 A mitred Rascal to his long-ear'd flocks
50 Gives ill example, to his wh—s, the p-x[Page 22]
51 Yet we must reverence sacerdotal black,
52 And saddle all his faults on Nature's back.
53 But hold, there's solid reason to revere;
54 His Lordship has six thousand pounds a year;
55 In gaming solitude he spends the nights,
56 He fasts at Arthur's and he prays at White's;
57 Rolls o'er the pavement with his Swiss-tail'd six,
58 At White's the Athanasian Creed for Tricks.
59 Whil'st the poor Curate in his rusty gown
60 Trudges unnotic'd thro' the dirty town.
61 If God made order, order never made
62 These nice distinctions in the preaching trade.
63 The servants of the Devil are rever'd,
64 And Bishops pull the Fathers by the beard.
65 Yet in these horrid forms Salvation lives,
66 These are Religions representatives;
67 Yet to these idols must we bow the knee —
68 Excuse me, Broughton, when I bow to thee.
69 But sure Religion can produce at least,
70 One Minister of God — one honest Priest.
71 Search Nature o'er, procure me, if you can,
72 The fancy'd character, an honest Man
73 (A man of sense, not honest by constraint
74 For fools are canvass, living but in paint)
75 To Mammon, or to Superstition slaves,
76 All orders of mankind are fools, or knaves:
77 In the first attribute by none surpast,
78 Taylor endeavours to obtain the last.
79 Imagination may be too confin'd;
80 Few see too far; how many are half blind?
81 How are your feeble arguments perplext
82 To find out meaning in a senseless text?
83 You rack each metaphor upon the wheel,
84 And words can philosophic truths conceal.
85 What Paracelsus humor'd as a jest,
86 You realize to prove your system best.
87 Might we not, Catcott, then infer from hence,
88 Your zeal for Scripture hath devour'd your sense?
89 Apply the glass of reason to your sight,
90 See Nature marshal oozy atoms right. [Page 24]
91 Think for yourself, for all mankind are free;
92 We need not Inspiration how to see.
93 If Scripture contradictory you find,
94 Be Orthodox, and own your senses blind.
95 How blinded are their optics, who aver,
96 What Inspiration dictates cannot err.
97 Whence is this boasted Inspiration sent,
98 Which makes us utter truths, we never meant?
99 Which couches systems in a single word,
100 At once deprav'd, abstruse, sublime, absurd.
101 What Moses tells us might perhaps be true,
102 As he was learn'd in all the Egyptians knew.
103 But to assert that Inspiration's giv'n,
104 The Copy of Philosophy in Heav'n,
105 Strikes at Religions root, and fairly fells
106 The awful terrors of ten thousand Hells.
107 Attentive search the Scriptures and you'll find
108 What vulgar errors are with truths combin'd. [Page 25]
109 Your tortur'd truths, which Moses seem'd to know,
110 He could not unto Inspiration owe;
111 For if from God one error you admit,
112 How dubious is the rest of Holy Writ?
113 What knotty difficultys fancy solves?
114 The Heav'ns irradiate, and the Earth revolves;
115 But here Imagination is allow'd
116 To clear this voucher from its mantling cloud:
117 From the same word we different meanings quote,
118 As David wears a many colour'd coat.
119 O Inspiration, ever hid in night,
120 Reflecting various each adjacent light;
121 If Moses caught thee in the parted flood;
122 If David found thee in a sea of blood;
123 If Mahomet with slaughter drench'd thy soil,
124 On loaded asses bearing off thy spoil;
125 If thou hast favour'd Pagan, Turk, or Jew,
126 Say had not Broughton Inspiration too?
127 Such rank absurdities debase his line,
128 I almost could have sworn he copied thine.
129 Confute with candour, where you can confute,
130 Reason and arrogance but poorly suit.
131 Yourself may fall before some abler pen,
132 Infallibility is not for men.
133 With modest diffidence new schemes indite,
134 Be not too positive, tho' in the right.
135 What man of sense would value vulgar praise,
136 Or rise on Penny's prose, or duller lays?
137 Tho' pointed fingers mark the Man of Fame,
138 And literary Grocers chaunt your name;
139 Tho' in each Taylors book-case Catcott shines,
140 With ornamental flow'rs and gilded lines;
141 Tho' youthful Ladies who by instinct scan
142 The Natural Philosophy of Man,
143 Can ev'ry reason of your work repeat,
144 As sands in Africa retain the heat:
145 Yet check your flowing pride: Will all allow
146 To wreathe the labour'd laurel round your brow?
147 Some may with seeming arguments dispense,
148 Tickling your vanity to wound your sense:
149 But Clayfield censures, and demonstrates too,
150 Your theory is certainly untrue;[Page 27]
151 On Reason and Newtonian rules he proves,
152 How distant your machine from either moves.
153 But my objections may be reckon'd weak,
154 As nothing but my mother tongue I speak;
155 Else would I ask; by what immortal Pow'r
156 All Nature was dissolv'd as in an hour.
157 How, when the earth acquir'd a solid state,
158 And rising mountains saw the waves abate,
159 Each particle of matter sought its kind,
160 All in a strata regular combin'd?
161 When instantaneously the liquid heap
162 Harden'd to rocks, the barriers of the deep,
163 Why did not earth unite a stony mass;
164 Since stony filaments thro' all must pass?
165 If on the wings of air the planets run,
166 Why are they not impell'd into the sun?
167 Philosophy, nay common sense, will prove
168 All passives with their active agents move.
169 If the diurnal motion of the air,
170 Revolves the planets in their destin'd sphere;
171 How are the secondary orbs impell'd?
172 How are the moons from falling headlong held?
173 'Twas the Eternal's fiat you reply;
174 And who will give Eternity the lie?
175 I own the awful truth, that God made all,
176 And by his fiat worlds and systems fall.
177 But study Nature; not an atom there
178 Will unassisted by her powers appear;
179 The fiat, without agents, is, at best,
180 For priestcraft or for ignorance a vest.
181 Some fancy God is what we Nature call,
182 Being itself material, all in all.
183 The fragments of the Deity we own,
184 Is vulgarly as various matter known.
185 No agents could assist Creations birth:
186 We trample on our God, for God is Earth.
187 'Tis past the pow'r of language to confute
188 This latitudinary attribute.
189 How lofty must Imagination soar,
190 To reach absurdities unknown before?
191 Thanks to thy pinions, Broughton, thou hast brought
192 From the Moons orb a novelty of thought. [Page 29]
193 Restrain, O Muse, thy unaccomplish'd lines,
194 Fling not thy saucy satire at Divines;
195 This single truth thy brother Bards must tell;
196 Thou hast one excellence, of railing well.
197 But disputations are befitting those
198 Who settle Hebrew points, and scold in prose.
199 O Learning, where are all thy fancied joys
200 Thy empty pleasures and thy solemn toys?
201 Proud of thy own importance; tho' we see
202 We've little reason to be proud of thee:
203 Thou putrid foetus of a barren brain,
204 Thou offspring illegitimate of Pain.
205 Tell me, sententious Mortals, tell me whence
206 You claim the preference to men of sense?
207 — wants learning; see the letter'd throng
208 Banter his English in a Latin song.
209 Oxonian Sages hesitate to speak
210 Their native Language, but declaim in Greek.
211 If in his jests a discord should appear,
212 A dull lampoon is innocently clear. [Page 30]
213 Ye Classic Dunces, self-sufficient fools,
214 Is this the boasted justice of your schools?
215 — has parts; parts which would set aside
216 The labour'd acquisitions of your pride;
217 Uncultivated now his Genius lies,
218 Instruction sees his latent beauties rise;
219 His gold is bullion, yours debas'd with brass,
220 Imprest with Folly's head to make it pass.
221 But — swears so loud, so indiscreet,
222 His thunders rattle thro' the list'ning street:
223 Ye rigid Christians, formally severe,
224 Blind to his charities, his oaths you hear;
225 Observe his virtues: Calumny must own
226 A noble soul is in his actions shown;
227 Tho' dark this bright original you paint,
228 I'd rather be a — than a Saint.
229 Excuse me, Catcott, if from you I stray,
230 The Muse will go where Merit leads the way;
231 The Owls of Learning may admire the night,
232 But — shines with Reason's glowing light.
233 Still Admonition presses to my pen,
234 The infant Muse would give advice to Men.
235 But what avails it, since the man I blame
236 Owns no superior in the paths of fame?
237 In springs, in mountains, strata's, mines, and rocks,
238 Catcott is every notion Orthodox.
239 If to think otherwise you claim pretence,
* Which is the true reading is uncertain, both being in his own hand-writing, and uncancelled.Renounce|[You're a] detested heretick in sense.
241 But oh! how lofty your ideas roar,
242 In shewing wond'ring Cits the fossile store!
243 The Ladies are quite ravish'd, as he tells
244 The short adventures of the pretty shells;
245 Miss Biddy sickens to indulge her touch,
246 Madam more prudent thinks 'twould seem too much;
247 The doors fly open, instantly he draws
248 The sparry lood, and wonders of applause;
249 The full dress'd Lady sees with envying eye
250 The sparkle of her di'mond pendants die;[Page 32]
251 Sage Natural Philosophers adore
252 The fossil whimsys of the numerous store.
253 But see! the purple stream begins to play,
254 To shew how fountains climb the hilly way.
255 Hark what a murmur echoes thro' the throng.
256 Gods! that the pretty trifle should be wrong!
257 Experience in the voice of Reason tells
258 Above its surface water never swells.
259 Where is the priestly soul of Catcott now?
260 See what a triumph sits upon his brow:
261 And can the poor applause of things like these,
262 Whose souls and sentiments are all disease,
263 Raise little triumphs in a man like you,
264 Catcott, the foremost of the Judging few?
265 So at Llewellins your great Brother sits,
266 The laughter of his tributary wits;
267 Ruling the noisy multitude with ease,
268 Empties his pint and sputters his decrees.
MR. CATCOTT will be pleased to observe that I admire many things in his learned Remarks. This Poem is an innocent effort of poetical Vengeance, as Mr. Catcott has done me the honour to criticise my Trifles. I have taken great poetical liberties and what I dislike in Verse possibly deserves my approbation in the plain Prose of Truth — The many Admirers of Mr. Catcott may on perusal of this rank me as an Enemy: But I am indifferent in all things, I value neither the praise or censure of the Multitude.