Let Fools Starve On

There smil’d the smooth Divine, unus’d to wound
The sinners heart, with hell’s alarming sound.
No terrors on his gentle tongue attend;
No grating truths the nicest ear offend.
That strange new-birth, that methodistic grace,
Nor in his heart, nor sermons, found a place.
Plato’s fine tales he clumsily retold,
Trite, fireside, moral seasaws, dull as old;
His Christ, and bible, plac’d at good remove,
Guilt hell-deserving, and forgiving love.
‘Twas best, he said, mankind should cease to sin;
Good fame requir’d it; so did peace within:
Their honours, well he knew, would ne’er be driven;
But hop’d they still would please to go to heaven.
Each week, he paid his visitation dues;
Coax’d, jested, laugh’d; rehears’d the private news;
Smoak’d with each goody, thought her cheese excell’d;
Her pipe he lighted, and her baby held.
Or plac’d in some great town, with lacquer’d shoes,
Trim wig, and trimmer gown, and glistening hose,
He bow’d, talk’d politics, learn’d manners mild;
Most meekly questioned, and most smoothly smil’d;
At rich mens jests laugh’d loud their stories prais’d;
Their wives new patterns gaz’d, and gaz’d, and gaz’d;
Most daintily on pamper’d turkies din’d;
Nor shrunk with fasting, nor with study pin’d:
Yet from their churches saw his brethren driven,
Who thunder’d truth, and spoke the voice of heaven,
Chill’d trembling guilt, in Satan’s headlong path,
Charm’d the feet back, and rous’d the ear of death.
” Let fools, ” he cried, ” starve on, while prudent I
Snug in my nest shall live, and snug shall die.

Timothy Dwight: The Triumph of Infidelity (1788)

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