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Since all alike are selfish, why not they?
This does Profusion, and th' aecursed cause
Of such deep mischief has itself a cause.
In colleges and halls in ancient days,
When learning, virtue, piety, and truth,
Were precious and inculcated with care,
There dwelt a sage call's Discipline. His head,
Not yet by time completely silver'd o'er,
Bespoke him past the bounds of freakish youth,
But strong for service still, and unimpair'd.
His eye was meek and gentle, and a smile
Play'd on his lips; and in his speech was heard
Paternal sweetness, dignity, and love.
The occupation dearest to his heart
Was to encourage goodness. He would stroke
The head of modest and ingenious worth,
That blush'd at his own praise : and press the youth
Close to his side that pleas'd him. Learning grew
Beneath his care, a thriving vig'rous plant ;
The mind was well inform'd, the passions held
Subordinate, and diligence was choice.
If e'er it chanc'd, as sometimes chance it must,
That one among so many overleap'd
The limits of control, his gentle eye
Grew stern, and darted a severe rebuke;
Bis frown was full of terrour, and his voice
Shook the delinquent with such fits of awe,
As left him not, till penitence had won
Lost favour back again, and clos'd the breach.
But Disciplirre, a faithful servant long,
Declin'd at length into the vale of years :
A palsy struck his arm ; his sparkling eye
Was quienched in rheums of age ; his voice, unstrung,
Grew tremulous, and mov'd derision more
Than rev'rence, in perverse rebellious youth.
So comeges and halls neglected much
Their good old friend ; and Discipline at length,
O'erlook'd and unemploy'd, fell sick and died.
Then Study languished, Emulation slept,
And Virtue fled. The schools became a scene
Of solemn farce, where Ignorance in stilts,
His cap well lin’d with logick not his own,
With parrot tongue perforin'd the scholar's part,
Proceeding soon a graduated dunce.
Then compromise had place, and scrutiny
Became stone blind; precedence went in truck,
And he was competent whose purse was so.
A dissolution of all bonds ensued;
The curbs invented for the mulish mouth
Of headstrong youth were broken ; bars and bolts
Grew rusty by disuse ; and massy gates
Forgot their office, op'ning with a touch ;
Till gowns at length are found mere masquerade,
The tassel'd cap and the spruce band a jest,
A mock’ry of the world! What need of these
For gamesters, jockeys, brotherlers impure,
Spendthrists, and booted sportsmen, oft'ner seen
With belted waist and pointers at their heels,
Than in tbe bounds of duty ? What was learn'd,
If aught was learn'd in cbildhood, is forgot :
And such expense, as pinches parents blue,
And mortifies the lib'ral hand of love,
Is squander'd in pursuit of idle sports
And vicious pleasures ; buys the boy a name
That sits a stigma on his father's house,
And cleaves through life inseparably close
To him that wears it. What can after games
of riper joys, and commerce with the world,
I he lewd vain world, that must receive him soon,
Add to such erudition, thus acquired,
Where science and where virtue are professed?
They may confirm his habits, rivet fast
His folly, but to spoil him is a task
That bids defiance to th’ united powers
Of fashion, dissipation, taverns, stews.
Now blame we most the nurselings or the purse ?
The children crook'd, and twisted, and deform’d,
Through want of care; or her, whose winking eye
And slumb’ring oscitancy mars the brood ?
The nurse, no doubt. Regardless of her charge,
She needs herself correction; needs to learn
That it is dangørous sporting with the world,
With things so sacred as a nation's trust,
The nurture of her youth, her dearest pledge.
All are not such. I had a brother once-
Peace to the memory of a man of worth,
A mar of letters, and of manners too !
of mannere sweet as Virtue always wears,
When gay good-natured dresses her in smiles.
He grae'd a college,* in which order yet
Was sacred ; and was honour'd, lov'd, and wept
Ry more than one, themselves conspicuous there.
Some minds are temper'd happily, and mix'd
With such ingredients of good sense, and taste
Of wbat is excellent in man, they thirst
With such a zeal to be what they approve,
That no restraints can circumscribe them more
Than they themselves by choice, for wisdom's sake.
Nor can example hurt them; what they see
or vice in others but enhancing more
The charms of virtue in their just esteem.
If such escape contagion, and emerge
Purge from so foul a pool to shine abroad,
And give the world their talents and themselves,
Small thanks to those whose negligence or sloth
Expos'd their inexperience to the snare,
* Bene't Coll. Cambridge.
And left them to an undirected choice.
See then the quiver broken and deeay'd, In which are kept our arrows! Rusting there In wild disorder, and unfit for use, What wonder, if discharg'd into the world, They shame their shooters with a random flight, Their points obtuse, and feathers drunk with wine ! Well may the church wage unsuccesful war With such artill’ry arm’d. Vice parries wide Th' undreaded volley with a sword of straw, And stands an impudent and fearless mark.
Have we not track'd the felon home, and found His birthplace and bis dam?. The country mourns, Mourns because ev'ry plague that can infest Society, and that saps and worms the base Of th: edifice that policy has rais'd, Swarms in all quarters : meets the eye, the ear, And suffocates the breath at ev'ry turn. Profusion breeds them; and the cause itself Of that calamitous mischief has been found : Found, too, where most offensive, in the skirts Of the rob'd pedagogue ! Else let th' arraign'd Stand up unconscious, and refute the charge. So when the Jewish leader stretch'd his arm, And wav'd his rod divine, a race obscene, Spawn'd in the muddy beds of Nile, came forth, Polluting Egypt : gardens, fields, and plains, Were cover'd with the pest; the streets were fill'd; The croaking nuisance Jurk'd in ev'ry nook ; Nor palaces, nor even chambers, 'scap'd ; And the land stauk-so num'rous was the fry.