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For no obstructions will give out;
Climbs up, creeps under, winds about;
Like valour, that can suffer, die,
Do any thing,—but yield, or fly.
While brambles hints like these can start,
Am I to blame to take their part?
No, let who will affect to scorn 'em,
My Muse shall glory to adorn 'em;
For as rhyme did, in my preamble,
So reason now cries, 'Bravo! bramble !!
IN PRAISE OF THE HORN-BOOK.
UNDER A FIT OF THE GOUT.
Hall, ancient book! most venerable code!
Learning's first cradle and its last abode !
The huge unnumber'd volumes which we see,
By lazy plagiaries are stolen from thee;
Yet future times to thy sufficient store
Shall ne'er presume to add one letter more.
Thee will I sing in comely wainscot bound,
And golden verge enclosing thee around,
The faithful horu before, from age to age
Preserving thy invaluable page;
Behind, thy patron saint in armour shines,
With sword and lance to guard thy sacred liucs;
Beneath his courser's feet the dragon lies
Transfix'd; his blood thy scarlet cover dies;
Th' instructive handle's at the bottom fix'd,
Lest wrangling critics should pervert the text.
Or if to giogerbread thou shalt descend, And liquorish learning to thy babes extend;
Or sugar'd plane, o'erspread with beaten gold,
Does the sweet treasure of thy letters hold,
Thou still shalt be my song.–Apollo's choir
I scorn t’invoke; Cadmas ! my verse inspire :
'Twas Cadmus who the first materials brought
Of all the learning which has since been taught,
Soon made complete! for mortals ne'er shall know
More than contain'd of old the Christ-cross row;
What masters dictate or what doctors preach,
Wise matrons hence e'en to our children teach.
But as the name of every plant and flow'r
(So common that each peasant knows its pow'r)
Physicians in mysterious cant express
T'amuse the patient, and enliance their fees,
So, from the letters of our native tongue
Put in Greek scrawls, a mystery too is sprung;
Schools are erected, puzzling grammars made,
And artful men strike out a gainful trade;
Strange characters adorn the learned gate,
And heedless youth catch at the shining bait;
The pregnant boys the noisy charms declare,
And Taus and Deltas * make their mothers stare;
Th’uucommon sounds amaze the vulgar ear,
And what's uncommon never costs too dear;
Yet in all tongnes the Horn-book is the same,
Taught by the Grecian master or the English dame.
But how shall I thy endless virtues tell
In which thou dost all other books excel?
No greasy thumbs thy spotless leaf can soil,
Nor crooked dogs-ears thy smooth corners' spoil ;
In idle pages no errata stand
To tell the blunders of the printer's hand;
No fulsome dedication here is writ,
Nor flattering verse to praise the author's wit;
The margin with no tedious notes is vex'd
Nor various readings to confound the text;
All parties in thy literal sense agree,
Thou perfect centre of concordancy!
Search we the records of an ancient date,
Or read what modern histories relate,
They all proclaim what wonders have been done
By the plain letters taken as they ron :
«* Too high the floods of passion us'd to roll,
And rend the Roman youth's impatient soul;
His hasty anger furnish'd scenes of blood,
And frequent deaths of worthy men ensued;
In vain were all the weaker methods tried,
None could suffice to stem the furious tide;
Thy sacred line he did but once repeat,
And laid the storm, and cool'd the raging heat.!
Thy heavenly notes like angel's music cheer
Departing souls, and sooth the dying ear.
An aged peasant, on his latest bed,
Wish'd for a friend some godly book to read;
The pious grandson thy known handle takes,
And (eyes lift up) this savoury lecture makes.
Great A he gravely read; th' important sound
The empty walls and hollow roof rebound :
Th’expiring ancient reard his drooping head,
And thank'd his stars that Hodge had learn'd to read.
Great B, the younker bawls; . O heavenly breath!
What ghostly comforts in the hour of death!
• The advice given to Augustus by the Stoic philosopher Athenodorus, who desired the emperor neither to say nor to do any thing till he had first said over the alphabet, as the ob. servance of this rule would moderate his passion, and prevent rash words and actions.
What hopes I feel !' Great C, pronounc'd the boy! The grandsire dies with ecstasy of joy.
Yet in some lands such ignorance abounds, Whole parishes scarce know thy useful sounds : Of Essex-Hundreds Fame gives this report, But Fame, I ween, says many things in sport: Scarce lives the man to whom thou'rt quite un
known, Though few th’ extent of thy vast empire own. Whatever wonders magic spells can do, On earth, in air, in sea, in shades below; What words, profound and dark, wise Mah’met
spoke When his old cow an angel's figure took; What strong enchantment sage Canidia knew, Or Horace sung, fierce monsters to subdue, O mighty Book! are all contain'd in yon : All human arts and every science meet Within the limits of thy single sheet: From thy vast root all Learning's branches grow, And all her streams from thy deep fountain flow. And lo! while thus thy wonders I indite, Inspir'd I feel the power of which I write; The gentler gout his former rage forgets, Less frequent now and less severe the fits; Loose grow the chains which bound my useless feet, Stiffness and pain from every joint retreat, Surprising strength comes every moment on; I stand, I step, I walk, and now I run. Here let me cease, my hobbling numbers stop, And at thy handle* hang my crutches up.
(FROM THE LATIN OF BEZA.)
Come hither, hoy! we'll hunt to-day
The Book-Worm, ravening beast of prey,
Produc'd by parent Earth, at odds,
As Fame reports it, with the gods.
Him frantic hunger wildly drives
Against a thousand author's lives :
Through all the fields of wit he Aies;
Dreadful his head with clustering eyes,
With horns without, and tusks within,
And scales to serve him for a skin.
Observe him nearly, lest he climb
To wound the bards of ancient time;
Or down the vale of fancy go,
To tear some modern wretch below:
On every corner fix thine eye,
Or ten to one he slips thee by.
See where his teeth a passage eat:
We'll rouse him from the deep retreat.
But who the shelter's forc'd to give?
"Tis sacred Virgil, as I live!
From leaf to leaf, from song to song,
He draws the tadpole form along,
He mounts the gilded edge before,
He's up, he scuds the cover o'er,
He turns, he doubles, there he past,
And here we have him, caught at last.
Insatiate brute! whose teeth abuse
The sweetest servants of the Muse.
(Nay never offer to deny,
I took thee in the fact to fly.)