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Like mighty rivers, with refiftless force
And sure, the deadliest Foe to Virtue's fame,
Behold yon Wretch, by impious fashion driven, 75 Believes and trembles, while he scoffs at Heaven. By weakness strong, and bold through fear alone, He dreads the sneer by shallow Coxcombs thrown; Dauntless pursues the path Spinoza trod; To man a Coward, and a Brave to God.
80 Faith, Justice, Heaven itself now quit their hold, When to false Fame the captive Heart is sold: Hence, blind to truth, relentless Cato dy'd ; Nought could subdue his Virtue, but his Pride. Hence chaste Lucretia's Innocence betray'd 85 Fell by that Honour which was meant its aid.
Thus Virtue sinks beneath unnumber'd woes,
Hence Satire's power: 'Tis her corrective part,
Nor boasts the Muse a vain imagin’d Power, 'Though oft she mourns thofe ills she cannot cure. The Worthy court her, and the Worthless fear; Who Thun her piercing eye, that eye revere. Her awful voice the Vain and Vile obey, And every foe to Wisdom feels her sway. Smarts, Pedants, as she smiles, no more are vain ; 105 Desponding Fops resign the clouded cane : Hush'd at her voice, pert Folly's felf is still, And Dulness wonders while she drops her quill. Like the arm’d Bee, with art most subtly true, From poisonous Vice she draws a healing dew: 110 Weak are the ties that civil arts can find, To quell the ferment of the tainted mind: Cunning evades, securely wrapp'd in wiles! And Force strong-finew'd rends th’ unequal toils: The stream of Vice impetuous drives along, 115 Too deep for Policy, for Power too strong,
Ev'n fair Religion, Native of the skies,
But with the friends of Vice, the focs of Satire,
Well may they dread the Muse's fatal kill; 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 Dæmon 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 wakes her scorn of Vice : Where Justice calls, 'tis Cruelty to save;
145 And 'tis the Law's good-nature hangs the Knave.
Who combats Virtue's foe is Virtue's friend;
ARE nobly then: But conscious of your trust,
As ever warm and bold be ever just: 170 Nor court applause in these degenerate days: The Villain's cenfure is extorted praise.
But chief, be steady in a noble end, And thew Mankind that Truth has yet a friend. 'Tis mean for empty praise of wit to write, 175 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.
180 lost to honour's voice, O doom'd to shame, Thou Fiend accurst, 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.
190 With caution next, the dangerous power apply; An eagle's talon alks an eagle's eye: Let Satire then her proper object know, And ere she strike, be sure the strike a foe.