"The wise look further, and the wise can see / The hands of Sawney actuating thee; / The clock-work of thy conscience turns about, / Just as his mandates wind thee in and out."

— Chatterton, Thomas (1752-1770)

Place of Publication
Hamilton, Adams & Co.
w. prior to April 1770; 1785, 1837, 1875
"The wise look further, and the wise can see / The hands of Sawney actuating thee; / The clock-work of thy conscience turns about, / Just as his mandates wind thee in and out."
Metaphor in Context
If from the humblest station, in a place
By writers fixed eternal in disgrace,
Long in the literary world unknown
To all but scribbling blockheads of its own;
Then only introduced, unhappy fate!
The subject of a satire's little hate;
Whilst equally the butt of ridicule,
The town was dirty, and the bard a fool:---
If from this place, where catamites are found
To swarm like Scots on honorary ground,
I may presume to exercise the pen,
And write a greeting to the best of men:
Health to the ruling minister I send,
Nor has that minister a better friend.
Greater, perhaps, in titles, pensions, place,
He inconsiderately prefers his Grace.
Ah, North! a humble bard is better far,
Friendship was never found near Grafton's star;
Bishops are not by office orthodox:
Who'd wear a title, when they've titled Fox?
Nor does the honorary shame stop here,
Have we not Weymouth, Barrington, and Clare?
If noble murders, as in tale we're told,
Made heroes of the ministers of old,
In noble murders Barrington's divine,
His merit claims the laureated line.
Let officers of train-bands wisely try
To save the blood of citizens, and fly
When some bold urchin beats his drum in sport,
Or tragic trumpets entertain the court;
The captain flies through every lane in town,
And safe from danger wears his civic crown:
Our noble Secretary scorned to run,
But with his magic wand discharged the gun.
I leave him to the comforts of his breast,
And midnight ghosts, to howl him into rest.
Health to the minister, of [Bute] the tool,
Who with the little vulgar seems to rule.
But since the wiser maxims of the age
Mark for a noddy Ptolemy the sage;
Since Newton and Copernicus have taught
Our blundering senses ever are in fault;
The wise look further, and the wise can see
The hands of Sawney actuating thee;
The clock-work of thy conscience turns about,
Just as his mandates wind thee in and out.

By this political machine, my rhymes
Conceive an estimation of the times;
And, as the wheels of state in measures move,
See how time passes in the world above:
Whilst tottering on the slippery edge of doubt,
Sir Fletcher sees his train-bands flying out:
Thinks the minority, acquiring state,
Will undergo a change, and soon be great.
North issues out his hundreds to the crew,
Who catch the atoms of the golden dew;
The etiquette of wise Sir Robert takes,
The doubtful stand resolved, and one forsakes;
He shackles every vote in golden chains,
And Johnson in his list of slaves maintains.
Rest, Johnson, hapless spirit, rest and drink,
No more defile thy claret-glass with ink:
In quiet sleep repose thy heavy head,
--- disdains to---upon the dead:
Administration will defend thy fame,
And pensions add importance to thy name.
When sovereign judgment owns thy works divine,
And every writer of reviews is thine,
Let busy Kenrick vent his little spleen,
And spit his venom in a magazine.
Health to the minister! nor will I dare
To pour out flattery in his noble ear;
His virtue, stoically great, disdains
Smooth adulation's entertaining strains,
And, red with virgin modesty, withdraws
From wondering crowds and murmurs of applause.
Here let no disappointed rhymer say,
Because his virtue shuns the glare of day,
And, like the conscience of a Bristol dean,
Is never by the subtlest optic seen,
That virtue is with North a priestish jest,
By which a mere nonentity's expressed.
No, North is strictly virtuous, pious, wise,
As every pensioned Johnson testifies.
But, reader, I had rather you should see
His virtues from another than from me:
Bear witness, Bristol, nobly prove that I
By thee or North was never paid to lie.
Health to the minister! his vices known,
(As every lord has vices of his own,
And all who wear a title think to shine
In forming follies foreign to his line;)
His vices shall employ my ablest pen,
And mark him out a miracle of men.
Then let the Muse the healing strain begin,
And stamp repentance upon every sin.
Why this recoil?---And will the dauntless Muse
To lash a minister of state refuse?
What! is his soul so black, thou canst not find
Aught like a human virtue in his mind?
Then draw him so, and to the public tell
Who owns this representative of hell:
Administration lifts her iron chain,
And truth must abdicate her lawful reign.
(pp. 166-169, ll. 855-958)
2 entries in ESTC (1785, 1789).

First 376 lines published as Supplement to Chatterton’s Miscellanies. Kew Gardens. (London, s.n., 1785?). <Link to ESTC>.

See also John Ross Dix and Thomas Chatterton, The Life of Thomas Chatterton (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co, 1837).

Text from The Poetical Works of Thomas Chatterton, (London: George Bell, 1875).
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.