Page images
PDF
EPUB

His palate works alone can touch,
Where every mouthful is bonne bouche.
Some phrase that with the public took
Was all he read of any book ;
For plan, detail, arrangement, system,
He let them go, and never miss'd 'em.
Of each new Play he saw a part,
And all the Anas had by heart :
He found whatever they produce
Is fit for conversation-use;
Learning so ready for display,
A page would prime him for a day:
They cram not with a mass of knowledge,
Which smacks of toil, and smells of college,
Which in the memory useless lies,
Or only makes men — good and wise.
This might have merit once, indeed,
But now for other ends we read.

A friend he had, Bellario hight,
A reasoning, reading, learned wight;
At least, with men of Florio's breeding,
He was a prodigy of reading.
He knew each stale and vapid lie
In tomes of French Philosophy;
And then, we fairly may presume,
From Pyrrho down to David HUME,
'Twere difficult to single out
A man more full of shallow doubt :
He knew the little sceptic prattle,
The sophist’s paltry arts of battle ;
Talk'd gravely of th’ Atomic dance,
Of moral fitness, fate, and chance;

Admir'd the system of LUCRETICS,
Whose matchless verse makes nonsense specious !
To this his doctrine owes its merits,
Like pois’nous reptiles kept in spirits ;
Though sceptics dull his scheme rehearse,
Who bave not souls to taste his verse.

BELLAR10 founds his reputation
On dry, stale jokes, about Creation ;
Would prove, by argument circuitous,
The combination was fortuitous.
Swore priests' whole trade was to deceive,
And prey on bigots who believe;
With bitter ridicule could jeer,
And bad the true free-thinking sneer.
Grave arguments he had in store,
Which have been answer'd o'er and o'er;
And us’d, with wond'rous penetration,
The trite, old trick of false citation ;
From ancient Authors fond to quote
A phrase or thought they never wrote.

Upon his highest shelf there stood
The Classics, neatly cut in wood;
And in a more commodious station,
You found them in a French translation :
He swears, 'tis from the Greek he quotes,
But keeps the French — just for the notes.
He worshipp'd certain modern names
Who History write in Epigrams,
In pointed periods, shining phrases,
And all the small poetic daisies
Which crowd the pert and florid style,
Where fact is dropt to raise a smile;

Where notes indecent or profane
Serve to raise doubts, but not explain :
Where all is spangle, glitter, show,
And truth is overlaid below :
Arts scorn’d by History's sober Muse,
Arts CLARENDON disdain’d to use.

Whate'er the subject of debate,
'Twas larded still with sceptic prate;
Begin whatever theme you will,
In unbelief he lands you still :
The good, with shame I speak it, feel
Not half this proselyting zeal :
While cold their Master's cause to own,
Content to go to Heav'n alone,
The infidel, in liberal trim,
Would carry all the World with him ;
Would treat his wife, friend, kindred, nation,
Mankind — with what? Annihilation.

Though FLORIO did not quite believe him, He thought, why should a friend deceive him? Much as he priz’d Bellario's wit, He lik'd not all his notions yet ; He thought him charming, pleasant, odd, But hop'd one might believe in God; Yet such the charms that grac'd his tongue, He knew not how to think him wrong. Though Florio tried a thousand ways, Truth's insuppressive torch would blaze: Where once her flame has burnt, I doubt If ever it go fairly out.

Yet, under great BELLARIO's care, He gain'd each day a better air;

With many a leader of renown,
Deep in the learning of the Town,
Who never other science knew,
But what from that prime source they drew;
Pleas’d, to the Opera they repair,
To get recuits of knowledge there;
Mythology gain at a glance,
And learn the Classics from a dance:
In Ovid they ne'er car'd a groat,
How far'd the vent'rous ARGONAUT;
Yet charm’d they see Medea rise
On fiery dragons to the skies.
For Dido *, though they never knew her
As Mako's magic pencil drew her,
Faithful and fond, and broken-hearted,
Her pious vagabond departed ;
Yet, for DIDONE how they roar !
And Cara! Cara ! loud encore.

One taste BELLARIO's soul possess'd,
The master-passion of his breast;
It was not one of those frail joys,
Which, by possession, quickly cloys;
This bliss was solid, constant, true,
'Twas action, and 'twas passion too;
For though the business might be finish'd,
The pleasure scarcely was diminish'd;
Did he ride out, or sit, or walk, .
He liv'd it o'er again in talk;
Prolong'd the fugitive delight,
In words by day, in dreams by night.

* MEDEA and Dido were the two reigning Operas at this time.

'Twas eating did his soul allure,
A deep, keen, modish Epicure;
Though once this name, as I opine,
Meant not such men as live to dine;
Yet all our modern Wits assure us,
That's all they know of Epicurus:
They fondly fancy, that repletion
Was the chief good of that fam'd Grecian.
To live in gardens full of flowers,
And talk philosophy in bowers,
Or, in the covert of a wood,
To descant on the sovereign good,
Might be the notion of their founder,
But they have notions vastly sounder:
Their bolder standards they erect,
To form a more substantial sect;
Old EPICURUS would not own 'em,
A DINNER is their summum bonum.
More like you'll find such sparks as these
To EPICURUS' deities;
Like them they mix not with affairs,
But loll and laugh at human cares.
To beaux this difference is allow'd,
They choose a sofa for a cloud.
BELLARIO had embrac'd with glee
This practical philosophy.

Young Florio's father had a friend,
And ne'er did Heaven a worthier send;
A cheerful knight of good estate,
Whose heart was warm, whose bounty great.
Where'er his wide protection spread,
The sick were cheer'd, the hungry fed ;

« PreviousContinue »