Half-Putrid Epicures

Here shall you, raptur’d, find there is no hell;
A priest shall teach it, and the gospel tell;
The pleasing truth, so long from earth conceal’d,
To bless desponding guilt, is now reveal’d.
Thus rang the thrilling voice the new world round;
Each villain started at the pleasing sound,
Hugg’d his old crimes, new mischiefs ‘gan devise,
And turn’d his nose up to the threatning skies.
The perjur’d wretch, who met no honest eye,
But felt his own retreat, his spirit die,
Clear’d up his wither’d front, and true he cried
Ive sometimes been forsworne, and often lied;
But all’s a farce; as proves this doctrine new,
For God must help the perjur’d, as the true.
Up Florio sprang; and with indignant woes,
As thus he cried, his startled bosom rose — —
I am the first of men in ways of evil,
The truest, thriftiest servant of the devil,
Born, educated, glory to engross,
And shine confess’d, the Devil’s Man of Ross.
Here’s three to one, I beat even him in pride;
Two whores already in my chariot ride:
Shall then this wretch? — forbid it Florio, heaven!
Shall sin’s bright laurels to this priest be given?
No, still on Satan’s roll shall shine my praise,
As erst on C — — ‘s lists of yeas and nays.
Half pleas’d, the honest tar out bolted — ” whew ” !
” Good doctrine, Jack ” ” Aye, too good to ” be true. ”
P**** scowling heard, and growl’d — The day’s our own!
I’ll now tell two lies, where I told but one.
W****** more hard than flint, in sin grown old,
Clinch’d close his claws, and grip’d his bags of gold.
In vain, he cried, their woes let orphans tell;
In vain let widows weep; there is no hell.
Six, six per cent, each month, must now be given,
For pious usury now’s the road to heaven.
All who, tho’ fair without, yet black within,
Glued to their lips the choice liqueur of sin,
Whose conscience, oft rebuff’d, with snaky power,
Impoison’d still the gay and gleeful hour,
Check’d the loose wish, the past enjoyment stung,
And oft the alarm of retribution rung,
Thrill’d at each nerve, to find their fears were vain,
And swung triumphant caps at future pain.
And now the morn arose; when o’er the plain
Gather’d, from every side, a numerous train;
To quell those fears, that rankled still within,
And gain new strength, and confidence, to sin.
There the half putrid Epicure was seen,
His cheeks of port, and lips with turtle green,
Who hop’d a long eternity was given,
To spread good tables, in some eating heaven.
The leacher there his lurid visage shew’d,
The imp of darkness, and the foe of good;
Who fled his lovely wife’s most pure embrace,
To sate on hags, and breed a mongrel race;
A high-fed horse, for others wives who neigh’d;
A cur, who prowl’d around each quiet bed;
A snake, far spreading his impoison’d breath,
And charming innocence to guilt, and death,
Here stood Hypocrisy, in sober brown,
His sabbath face all sorrow’d with a frown.
A dismal tale he told of dismal times,
And this sad world brimful of saddest crimes,
Furrow’d his cheeks with tears for others sin,
But clos’d his eyelids on the hell within.]

Timothy Dwight: The Triumph of Infidelity (1788)

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