[Page 35]


1 NO more, dear Smith, the hackney'd Tale renew;
2 I own their censure, I approve it too.
3 For how can Ideots destitute of thought,
4 Conceive, or estimate, but as they're taught?
5 Say, can the satirizing Pen of Shears,
6 Exalt his name, or mutilate his ears?
7 None, but a Lawrence, can adore his Lays,
8 Who in a quart of Claret drinks his praise.
9 T—l—r repeats, what Catcott told before,
10 But lying T—l—r is believ'd no more.
[Page 36]
11 If in myself I think my notions just,
12 The Church and all her arguments are dust.
13 Religion's but Opinion's bastard Son,
14 A perfect mystery, more than three in one.
15 'Tis fancy all, distempers of the mind;
16 As Education taught us, we're inclin'd.
17 Happy the man, whose reason bids him see,
18 Mankind are by the state of Nature free;
19 Who, thinking for himself, despises those,
20 That would upon his better sense impose;
21 Is to himself the Minister of God,
22 Nor dreads the path, where Athanasius trod.
23 Happy (if Mortals can be) is the Man,
24 Who, not by Priest, but Reason rules his span;
25 Reason, to its Possessor a sure guide,
26 Reason, a thorn in Revelations side.
27 If Reason fails, incapable to tread
28 Thro' gloomy Revelations thick'ning bed,
29 On what authority the Church we own?
30 How shall we worship Deities unknown?
[Page 37]
31 Can the Eternal Justice pleas'd receive
32 The prayers of those, who, ignorant believe?
33 Search the thick multitudes of ev'ry Sect,
34 The Church supreme, with Whitfield's new Elect;
35 No individual can their God define,
36 No, not great Penny in his nervous Line.
37 But why must Chatterton selected sit,
38 The butt of ev'ry Critic's little wit?
39 Am I alone for ever in a crime;
40 Nonsense in Prose, or blasphemy in Rhyme?
41 All monosyllables a line appears?
42 Is it not very often so in Shears?
43 See gen'rous Eccas, length'ning out my praise
44 Inraptur'd with the music of my Lays;
45 In all the arts of panegyric grac'd,
46 The cream of modern Literary Taste.
47 Why, to be sure, the metaphoric line
48 Has something sentimental, tender, fine;
49 But then how hobbling are the other two;
50 There are some beauties, but they're very few.
[Page 38]
51 Besides the Author, 'faith 'tis something odd,
52 Commends a reverential awe of God.
53 Read but another fancy of his brain;
54 He's Atheistical in every strain.
55 Fallacious is the charge: 'Tis all a lie,
56 As to my reason I can testify.
57 I own a God, immortal, boundless, wise,
58 Who bid our glories of Creation rise;
59 Who form'd his varied likeness in mankind,
60 Centring his many wonders in the mind;
61 Who saw Religion, a fantastic night
62 But gave us Reason to obtain the light.
63 Indulgent Whitfield scruples not to say,
64 He only can direct to Heavens high-way.
65 While Bishops, with as much vehemence tell,
* Both in the Author's hand-writing, and uncancelled.
Sects|[All sorts] heterodox are food for Hell.
67 Why then, dear Smith, since Doctors disagree,
68 Their notions are not oracles to me:
69 What I think right, I ever will pursue
70 And leave you liberty to do so too.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): THE DEFENCE,
Genres: heroic couplet; epistle

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Source edition

Chatterton, Thomas, 1752-1770. A Supplement to the Miscellanies of Thomas Chatterton London: printed for T. Becket, in Pall-Mall; Bookseller to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and Their Royal Highnesses the Princes. MDCCLXXXIV., 1784, pp. 35-38. [6],ii,88p.; 8⁰. (ESTC T48948; OTA K045459.000)

Editorial principles

The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

Other works by Thomas Chatterton