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That courts make rogues is my belief,
Sure it may be with safety said, A parson's promise, duly made Beneath a prelate's holy roof, Must stand 'gainst all assaults a proof. Yet he, who thinks the church unshaken, May find himself in time mistaken. I know the man, and grieve to say't, Who so did fail--and that was STRAIGHT. And can we then no more depend on Our good forgetful friend at Findon, Than on a courtier promiseful, Or a whore's oath to cheat her cull? Can STRAIGHT no better promise keep fr If that were rue-I e'en should weep.
In Sarum's town when last we met,
And special pleadings of the courts,
That whore we speak of i'th' beginning, Hath some excuse to make for sinning : Her tongue and tail are taught deceit From her not knowing where to eat. The courtier too hath some excuse To think word-breaking small abuse: And ’midst the hurry, noise, and bustle, Of crowds, that at his levée jostle, No man can be in such a taking To see a little promise-breaking.
But what indulgence, what excuse, Can plead for thee, or for thy Muse ? For thee, on whom the sisters wait, Pleas'd with the task impos’d by STRAIGHT;
Whom at his christ’ning they did dip
TO THE FOREGOING, 1731.
My dearest boy,
When bloody-minded Jephtha swore, If he return'd a conqueror, He'd offer up in sacrifice What from his house first met his eyes ; And when his girl and only child Hasten'd to welcome from the field With pious joy her prosp’rous sire, Gaily dancing to the lyre ; The holy butcher understood His promise's performance good, Though for a year the virgin stray'd, And wept her unlost maidenhead.
Thus, Sir, you see we men of letters Can, like Jack Shepherd, cut our fetters ; When pinch’d, we file scholastic saw, And iron is no more than straw: The man is thought to have no brains Who can't break loose, or bind in chains. Your Sykeses and your Waterlands Have nothing else upon their hands : They stand prepar'd with double tackle To fix or to remove the shackle.
But, my dear boy, we'll only tye The silken bands of amity ; Or such as hock-tide boys and misses With laughter bind, and harmless kisses ; Indulge the free poetic measure, And mimic discord for more pleasure.