페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

And if, soon after having burn’d, by turns,

65 With ev'ry lust with which frail Nature burns, His being end where death desolves the bond, The tomb take all, and all be blank beyond; hutimitate Then he of all that Nature has brought forth, Stands self-impeachd the creature of least worth, 70 And useless while he lives and when he dies, Brings into doubt the wisdom of the skies.

Truths, that the learn'd pursue with eager thought, Are not important always as dear bought, Proving at last, though told in pompous strains, 75 A childish waste of philosophick pains ; But truths, on which depends our main concern, That 'tis our shame and mis'ry not to learn, Shine by the side of ev'ry path we tread With such a lustre, he that runs may read. 80 'Tis true, that if to trifle life away Down to the sunset of their latest day, Then perish on futurity's wide shore, Like fleeting exhalations, found no more, Were all that Heav'n requir'd of human kind, 85 And all the plan their destiny design’d, What none could rev’rence all might justly blame, And man would breathe but for his Maker's shame. But reason heard, and nature well perus’d, At once the dreaming mind is disabus'd.

90 If all we find possessing earth, sea, air, Reflect his attributes who plac'd them there, Fulfil the purpose, and appear design'd Proofs of the wisdom of the all-seeing Mind, 'Tis plain the creature, whom he chose t'invest 95 With kingship and dominion o'er the rest, Receiv'd his nobler nature, and was Madu Fit for the pow'r in which he stands array'd ; That first, or last, hereafter, if not here, He too might make his author's wisdom clear, 100 Praise him on earth, or, obstinately dumb, Suffer his justice in a world to come. Voc. II.

14

This once believ'd, 'twere logick misapplied,
To prove a consequence by none denied,
That we are bound to cast the minds of youth 105
Betimes into the mould of heav'nly truth,
That taught of God they may indeed be wise,
Nor, ignorantly wand'ring, miss the skies.

In early days the conscience has in most
A quickness, which in later life is lost :

110 Preservd from guilt by salutary fears, Or, guilty, soon relenting into tears. Too careless often, as our years proceed, What friends we sort with, or what books we read, Our parents yet exert a prudent care,

115 To feed our infant minds with proper fare ; And wisely store the nurs'ry by degrees With wholesome learning, yet acquir'd with ease. Neatly secur'd from being soild or torn Beneath a pane of thin translucent horn,

120 A book, (to please us at a tender age 'Tis call’d a book, though but a single page.) Presents the pray’r the Saviour deign’d to teach, Which children use, and parsons--when they preach. Lisping our syllables, we scramble next

125 Through moral narrative, or sacred text; And learn with wonder how this world began, Who made, who marr’d, and who has ransom'd man. Points which, unless the Scripture made them plain, The wisest heads might agitate in vain.

130 O thou, whom, borne on fancy's eager wing Back to the season of life's happy spring, I pleas'd remember, and, while mem’ry yet Holds fast her office here, can ne'er forget ; Ingenious dreamer, in whose well-told tale 135 Sweet fiction and sweet truth alike prevail ; Whose hum'rous vein, strong sense, and simple style, May teach the gayest, make the gravest smile ; Witty, and well employ'd, and like thy Lord, Speaking in parables his slighted word ;

140

I name thee not, lest so despis d a name
Should move a sneer at thy deserved fame;
Yet e’en in transitory life’s late day,
That mingles all my brown with sober gray,
Revere the man, whose Pilgrim marks the road, 145
And guides the progress of the soul to God.
'Twere well with most, if books, that could engage
Their childhood, pleas'd them at a riper age ;
The man approving what had charm’d the boy,
Would die at last in comfort, peace, and joy ;

150
And not with curses on his heart, who stole
The gem of truth from his unguarded soul.
The stamp of artless piety impress'd
By kind tuition on his yielding breast,
The youth now bearded, and yet pert and raw,

155 Regards with scorn, though once receiv'd with awe; And, warp'd into the labyrinth of lies, That babblers, call'd philosophers, devise, Blasphemes his creed, as founded on a plan Replete with dreams, unworthy of a man. 160 Touch but his nature in its ailing part, Assert the native evil of his heart, His pride resents the charge, although the proof Rise in his forehead, and seem rank enough ; Point to the cure, describe a Saviour's cross

165 As God's expedient to retrieve his loss, The young apostate sickens at the view, And hates it with the malice of a Jew.

How weak the barrier of mere Nature proves, Oppos'd against the pleasures Nature loves ! 170 While self-betray'd and wildfully undone, She longs to yield, no sooner woo'd than won. Try now the merits of this bless'd exchange, Of modest truth for wit's eccentrick range. Time was, he clos'd as he began the day

175 With decent duty, not asham'd to pray :

* See 2 Chron. ch. xxvi. ver. 19.

The practice was a bond upon his heart,
A pledge he gave for a consistent part;
Nor could he dare presumptuously displease
A pow'r confess'd so lately on his knees.

180
But now farewell all legendary tales,
The shadows fly, philosophy prevails ;
Pray'r to the winds, and caution to the waves;
Religion makes thee free by nature slaves !
Priests have invented, and the world admir'd 185
What knavish priests promulgate as inspir'd;
Till Reason, now no longer overaw'd,
Resumes her powers, and spurns the clumsy fraud;
And, common sense diffusing real day,
The meteor of the Gospel dies away

190 Such rhapsodies our shrewd discerning youth Learn from expert inquirers after truth; Whose only care, might truth presume to speak, Is not to find what they profess to seek. And thus, well-tutor'd only while we share 195 A mother's lectures and a nurse's care ; And taught at schools much mythologick stuff,* But sound religion sparingly enough ; Our early notices of truth, disgrac'd, Soon lose their credit, and are all effac'd.

200 Would you your son should be a sot or dunce, Lascivious, headstrong, or all these at once ; That in good time the stripling's finish'd taste For loose expense, and fashionable waste, Should prove your ruin and his own at last; 205 Train him in publick with a mob of boys, Childish in mischief only and in noise, Else of a mannish growth, and five in ten In infidelity and lewdness men.

* The author begs leave to explain. Sensible that without such knowledge neither the ancient poets nor historians can he tasted, or indeed understood, he does not mean to censure the pains that are taken to instruct a school boy in the religion of the Heathen, but merely that neglect of Christian culture, which leaves him shamefully ignorant of his own.

There shall he leam, ere sixteen winters old, 210
That authors are most useful, pawn'd or sold;
That pedantry is all that schools impart,
But taverns teach the knowledge of the heart;
There waiter Dick, with Bacchanalian lays,
Shall win his heart, and have his drunken praise ; 215
His counsellor and bosom friend shall prove,
And some street-pacing harlot his first love.
Schools, unless discipline were doubly strong,
Detain their adolescent charge too long ;
The management of tyroes of eighteen

220
Is difficult, their punishment obscene.
The stout tall captain, whose superiour size
The minor heroes view with envious eyes,
Becomes their pattern, upon whom they fix
Their whole attention, and ape all his tricks. 225
His pride, that scorns t' obey or to submit,
With them is courage ; his effront'ry wit.
His wild excursions, window-breaking feats,
Robb'ry of gardens, quarrels in the streets,
His hairbreadth 'scapes, and all his daring schemes,
Transport them, and are made their fav'rite themes.
In little bosoms such achievements strike
A kindred spark : they burn to do the like :
Thus half accomplish'd ere he yet begin
To show the peeping down upon his chin;

235 And, as maturity of years comes on, Made just th' adept that you design’d your son ; T'ensure the perseverance of lis course, And give your monstrous project all its force, Send him to college. If he there be tam’d,

240 Or in one article of vice reclaim'd, Where no regard of ord’nances is shown Or look'd for

now,

the fault must be his own, Some sneaking virtue lurks in him, no doubt, Where neither strumpets' charms nor drinking bout, Nor gambling practices, can find it out.

246 Such youths of spirit, and that spirit too,

229

« 이전계속 »