1767 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

David Hume

Anonymous, "On Rousseau's Return to Hume" Scots Magazine 29 (March 1767) 153.



Ingratitude! a sound that stuns the ear,
And makes us all attention for to hear,
From what degenerate root, or noxious seed
Springs up this baneful and pernicious weed?
The virtuous soul, where reason rules the will,
Holds this its maxim, "Render good for ill."
What virtue, then, can lodge within the breast
Where anger and fantastic envy rest?
Where, without cause, rage bursts the noxious streams,
Discharging rancour black as poisonous streams.
The former maxim sure they have withstood,
Who soothe themselves in rendering ill for good.

R—au 'tis said's a philosophic sage,
Of shining parts as any in the age:
But what philosophy, may I debate,
First taught to love, then, without cause, to hate
A friend and benefactor? I presume,
Such was the kind and generous Mr. Hume.
Now let him show whereon his reasons rest;
Hypothesis can never stand the test.
Impartially I must such conduct scan,
Abhor the passion, but still love the man.
Ingratitude must check the generous fire
Which British souls so nobly does inspire,
To act the part of guardians to oppress'd,
And succour those that are with want distress'd.
Now, what affects the generous, the good,
Like a return of base ingratitude!