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CLOSE / Parnassiad

Peace and Other Stories

Fragments of a Formerly Active Sex Life

The Logicians Refuted
by Jonathan Swift  /  poetry  /  7 Nov 2007

Logicians have but ill defined
As rational, the human kind;
Reason, they say, belongs to man,
But let them prove it if they can.
Wise Aristotle and Smiglesius,
By ratiocinations specious,
Have strove to prove, with great precision,
With definition and division,
Homo est ratione praeditum;
But for my soul I cannot credit 'em,
And must, in spite of them, maintain,
That man and all his ways are vain;
And that this boasted lord of nature
Is both a weak and erring creature;
That instinct is a surer guide
Than reason, boasting mortals' pride;
And that brute beasts are far before 'em.
Deus est anima brutorum.
Whoever knew an honest brute
At law his neighbour prosecute,
Bring action for assault or battery,
Or friend beguile with lies and flattery?
O'er plains they ramble unconfined,
No politics disturb their mind;
They eat their meals, and take their sport
Nor know who's in or out at court.
They never to the levee go
To treat, as dearest friend, a foe:
They never importune his grace,
Nor ever cringe to men in place:
Nor undertake a dirty job,
Nor draw the quill to write for Bob [Sir Robert Walpole, known for employing writers].
Fraught with invective, they ne'er go
To folks at Paternoster Row.
No judges, fiddlers, dancing-masters,
No pickpockets, or poetasters,
Are known to honest quadrupeds;
No single brute his fellow leads.
Brutes never meet in bloody fray,
Nor cut each other's throats for pay.
Of beasts, it is confess'd, the ape
Comes nearest us in human shape;
Like man, he imitates each fashion,
And malice is his lurking passion:
But, both in malice and grimaces,
A courtier any ape surpasses.
Behold him, humbly cringing, wait
Upon the minister of state;
View him soon after to inferiors
Aping the conduct of superiors;
He promises with equal air,
And to perform takes equal care.
He in his turn finds imitators,
At court, the porters, lacqueys, waiters,
Their masters' manner still contract,
And footmen, lords and dukes can act.
Thus, at the court, both great and small
Behave alike, for all ape all.

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