from SATIRE AGAINST REASON AND MANKIND
~ by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester
…And ’tis this very reason I despise,
This supernatural gift, that makes a mite
Think he’s the image of the infinite,
Comparing his short life, void of all rest,
To the eternal and the ever blest,
This busy, puzzling stirrer-up of doubt
That frames deep mysteries, then finds ’em out,
Filling with frantic crowds of thinking fools
Those reverend bedlams, colleges and schools,
Borne on whose wings each heavy sot can pierce
The boundless limits of the universe,
So charming ointments can make an old witch fly
And bear a crippled carcass through the sky.
‘Tis this exalted power, whose business lies
In nonsense and impossibilities,
This made a whimsical philosopher
Before the spacious world, his tub prefer,
And we have modern cloistered coxcombs who
Retire to think, ’cause they have nought to do.
But thoughts are given for action’s government.
Where action ceases, thought’s impertinent.
Our sphere of action is life’s happiness,
And he who thinks beyond, thinks like an ass.
Thus, whilst against false reasoning I inveigh,
I own right reason, which I would obey.
That reason which distinguishes by sense
And gives us rules of good and ill from thence,
That bounds desires with a reforming will
To keep ’em more in vigor, not to kill.
Your reason hinders, mine helps to enjoy,
Renewing appetites yours would destroy.
My reason is my friend, yours is a cheat.
Hunger calls out, my reason bids me eat.
Perversely, yours your appetite does mock.
This asks for food, that answers, “What’s o’clock?”
This plain distinction, sir, your doubt secures.
‘Tis not true reason I despise, but yours.
An excerpt from the long work, Satire Against Reason And Mankind, by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, the great Restoration wit and libertine.