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I name thee not, less so despis'd a name 6
How weak the barrier of mere Nature proves, Oppos'd against the pleasures Nature loves!
170 While self-betray'd and wilfully 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:
The practice was a bond upon his heart,
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 noither the ancient poets nor historians can be 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 learn, ere sixteen winters old, 210
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, Such you of spirit, and that spirit too,
Ye nurs’ries of our boys, we owe to you:
255 With both our eyes, is easier than to think; . And such an age as ours balks no expense, Except of caution, and of common sense; Else sure notorious fact and proof so plain, Would turn our steps into a wiser train. I blame not those who, with what care they can, O’erwatch the num'rous and unruly clan; Or, if I blame, 'tis only that they dare Promise a work, of which they must despair. Have ye, ye sage intendants of the whole,
265 A ubiquarian presence and controlElisha's eye, that, when Gehazi stray'd, Went with him, and saw all the game he play'd? Yes—ye are conscious; and on all the shelves Your pupils strike upon, have struck yourselves, 270 Or if, by nature sober, ye had then, Boys as ye were, the gravity of men; Ye knew at least, by constant proofs address'd To ears and eyes, the vices of the rest. But ye connive at what ye cannot cure, . , 275 And evils, not to be endur'd, endure, Lest pow'r exerted, but without success, Should make the little ye retain still less. Ye once were justly fam'd for bringing forth Undoubted scholarship and genuine worth, And in the firmament of fame still shines A glory, bright as that of all the signs, Of poets rais'd by you, and statesmen, and divinos. Peace to them all! those brilliant times are fled, And no such lights are kindling in their stead. 285
Our striplings shine indeed, but with such rays,
Say, Muse, (for education made the song, 290
Be it a weakness, it deserves some praise, We love the play-place of our early days; The scene is touching, and the heart is stone That feels not at that sight, and feels at none. The wall on which we tried our graving skill, 300 The very name we carv'd subsisting still; The bench on which we sat while deep employ'd, Tho' mangled, hack'd, and hew'd, not yet destroy'd; The little ones, unbetton'd, glowing hot, Lu Playing our games, and on the very spot;
306 As happy as we once, to kneel and draw The chalky ring, and knuckle down at taw; To pitch the ball into the grounded hat, Or drive it devious with a dextrous pat; The pleasing spectacle at once excites
310 Such recollection of our own delights, That, viewing it, we seem almost t obtain Our innocent sweet simple years again. This fond attachment to the well-known place, Whence first we started into life's long race, 316 Maintains its hold with such unfailing sway, . We feel it e'en in age, and at our latest day, Hark! how the sire of chits, whose future share Of classick food begins to be his care, With his own likeness plac'd on either knoe, Indulges all a father's heart-felt glee; And tells them, as he strokes their silver looks, That they must soon learn Latin, and to box;