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For rhetoric, he could not ope
His mouth, but out there flew a trope;
And when he happen'd to break off
I'th' middle of his speech, or cough,
He’ had hard words ready to show why,
And tell what rules he did it by;
Else when with greatest art he spoke,
You'd think he talk'd like other folk;
For all a rhetorician's rules
Teach nothing but to name his tools.
But, when he pleas'd to show't, his speech,
In loftiness of sound, was rich;
A Babylonish dialect,
Which learned pedants much affect;
It was a party-colour'd dress
Of patch'd and piebald languages;
'Twas English cut on Greek and Latin,
Like fustian heretofore on satin;
It had an old promiscuous tone,
As if he had talk'd three parts in one;
Which made some think, when he did gabble,
They' had heard three labourers of Babel,
Or Cerberus himself pronounce
A leash of languages at once.
This he as volubly would vent,
As if his stock would ne'er be spent;
And truly to support that charge,
He had supplies as vast and large;
For he could coin or counterfeit*
New words, with little or no wit;
* The Presbyterians coined a great number, such as Out-goings, Carryings-on, Nothingness, Workings-out, Gospel-walking times, &c. which we shall meet with hereafter, in the speeches of the Knight and Squire, and others, in this poem; for which they are bantered by Sir John Birkenhead, in his two Centuries of Paul's Church-yard.
Words so debas'd and hard, no stone
Was hard enough to touch them on;
And when with hasty noise he spoke 'em,
The ignorant for current took 'em;
That had the orator,* who once
Did fill his mouth with pebble stones
When he harangu’d, but known his phrase,
He would have us'd no other ways.
In mathematics he was greater
Than Tycho Brahet or Erra Pater;
For he, by geometric scale,
Could take the size of pots of ale ;
Resolve by sines and tangents, straight,
If bread or butter wanted weight;
And wisely tell what hour o'th' day
The clock does strike, by Algebra.
Beside he was a shrewd philosopher,
And had read ev'ry text and gloss over;
Whate'er the crabbed'st author hath,
He understood by' implicit faith ;
Whatever sceptic could inquire for,
For every why he had a wherefore;
Knew more than forty of them do,
As far as words and terms could go :
All which he understood by rote,
And, as occasion serv'd, would quote ;
No matter whether right or wrong;
They might be either said or sung.
His notions fitted things so well,
That which was which he could not tell,
* De:nosthenes is here meant, who had a defect in his speech.
† An eminent Danish mathematician.
Ib. William Lilly, the famous Astrologer of those times.
But oftentimes mistook the one
For the other, as great clerks have done.
He could reduce all things to acts, ·
And knew their natures by abstracts;
Where Entity and Quiddity,
The ghosts of defunct bodies, fly;
Where truth in person does
Like words congeald in northern air.
He knew what's what, and that's as high
As metaphysic wit can fly:
In school-divinity as able
As he that height Irrefragable ;*
A second Thomas, or, at once
To name them all, another Dunce :f
Irrefragable.] Alexander Hales, so called : he was an English. man, born in Gloucestershire, and flourished about the year 1236, at the time when what was called School-divinity was much in Vogue; in which science he was so deeply read, that he was called Doctor Irrefragabilis ; ihat is, the Invincible Doctor, whose argu. ments could not be resisted.
+ Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican friar, was born in 1224, studied at Cologne and at Paris. He new-modelled the school-divinity, and was therefore called the Angelic Doctor, and Eagle of divines. The most illustrious persons of his time were ambitious of his friendship, and put a high value on his merits, so that they offered him bishopricks, which he refused with as much ardour as others seek after them. He died in the fiftieth year of his age, and was canonized by Pope John XXII. We have his works in 18 vols. several times printed.
Johannes Dunscotus was a very learned man, who lived about the end of the thirteenth, and beginning of the fourteenth century. The English and Scots strive which of them shall have the honour of his birth. The English say he was born in Northumberland; the Scots allege he was born at Dunse in the Merse, the neighbour. ing county to Northumberland, and hence was called Dunscotus :