"Conjecture thus, That mental ignis fatuus, Led his poor brains a weary dance From France to England, hence to France."

— Churchill, Charles (1731-1764)

Work Title
Place of Publication
Books I-II and III, 1762; Book IV, 1763
"Conjecture thus, That mental ignis fatuus, Led his poor brains a weary dance From France to England, hence to France."
Metaphor in Context
                            Conjecture thus,
That mental ignis fatuus,
Led his poor brains a weary dance
From France to England, hence to France
Till Information (in the shape
Of chaplain learned, good Sir Crape,
A lazy, lounging, pamper'd priest,
Well known at every City feast,
For he was seen much oftener there
Than in the house of God at prayer;
Who, always ready in his place,
Ne'er let God's creatures wait for grace,
Though, as the best historians write,
Less famed for faith than appetite;
His disposition to reveal,
The grace was short, and long the meal;
Who always would excess admit,
If haunch or turtle came with it,
And ne'er engaged in the defence
Of self-denying Abstinence,
When he could fortunately meet
With anything he liked to eat;
Who knew that wine, on Scripture plan,
Was made to cheer the heart of man;
Knew too, by long experience taught,
That cheerfulness was kill'd by thought;
And from those premises collected,
(Which few perhaps would have suspected)
That none who, with due share of sense,
Observed the ways of Providence,
Could with safe conscience leave off drinking
Till they had lost the power of thinking;)
With eyes half closed came waddling in,
And, having stroked his double chin,
(That chin, whose credit to maintain
Against the scoffs of the profane,
Had cost him more than ever state
Paid for a poor electorate,
Which, after all the cost and rout
It had been better much without)
Briefly (for breakfast, you must know,
Was waiting all the while below)
Related, bowing to the ground,
The cause of that uncommon sound;
Related, too, that at the door
Pomposo, Plausible, and Moore,
Begg'd that Fame might not be allow'd
Their shame to publish to the crowd;
That some new laws he would provide,
(If old could not be misapplied
With as much ease and safety there
As they are misapplied elsewhere)
By which it might be construed treason
In man to exercise his reason;
Which might ingeniously devise
One punishment for truth and lies,
And fairly prove, when they had done,
That truth and falsehood were but one;
Which juries must indeed retain,
But their effect should render vain,
Making all real power to rest
In one corrupted, rotten breast,
By whose false gloss the very Bible
Might be interpreted a libel.
In four books, first published separately. 11 entries in ESTC (1762, 1763, 1765, 1766, 1769).

See Charles Churchill, The Ghost (London: Printed for the author, and sold by William Flexney, 1762). <Link to ESTC><Link to ECCO><Link to ECCO-TCP>

See also The Ghost. By C. Churchill. Book III. The second edition, with additions. (London: Printed for the author; and sold by W. Flexney, near Gray’s-Inn Gate, Holborn, 1763).<Link to ECCO-TCP>

And also The Ghost: Book IV. By C. Churchill. (London: Printed for J. Coote; W. Flexney; G. Kearsly; T. Henderson; J. Gardner; and J. Almon, 1763). <Link to ECCO-TCP>

Reading Charles Churchill: Selected Poetry, ed. Adam Rounce (Nottingham: Trent Editions, 2003).
Date of Entry

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