Page images
PDF
EPUB

a

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.
If all we find possessing earth, sea, air,
Reflect his attributes, who plae'd them there,
Fulfil the purpose, and appear design'd
Proofs of the wisdom of th' all.seeing mind,
'Tis plain the creature, whom he chose t’invest
With kingship and dominion o'er the rest,
Receiv'd his nobler nature, and was made
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,
Praise him on Earth, or, obstinately dumb,
Suffer his justice in a world to come.
Thiš once believ’d, 'twere logick misapplied,
To prové a consequence by none denied,
That we are bound to cast the minds of youth
Betimes into the mould of heav'nly truth,
That taught of God they may indeed be wise,
Norignorantly wand'ring miss the skies.

In early days the conscience has in most
A quickness, which in later life is lost :
Preserv'd 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,
To feed our infant minds with proper fare ;
And wisely store the nurs’ry by degrees
With wholesome learning, yet acquir'd with ease.

[graphic]

Neatly secur'd from being soild or torn
Beneath a pane of thin translucent horn,
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
Through moral, narrative, or sacred text;
And learn with wonder how this world began,
Whomade, who marr’d, and who has ransom'd, man:
Points, which, unless the Scripture made them plain,
The wisest heads might agitate in vain.
Othou, 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
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;
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,
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 bad charm’d the boy,
Would die at last in comfort, peace, and joy ;

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 beardled, and yet pert and raw,
Regards with scorn, though once receiv'd with awe;
And, warp'd into the labyrinth of lies,
That babblers, callid philosophers, devise,
Blasphemes his creed, as founded on a plan
Replete with dreams, unworthy of a man.
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
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 !
While self-betray'd, and wilfully undone,
She longs to yield, no sooner woo'd than won.
Try now the merits of this blest exchange
Of modest truth for wit’s eccentrick range.
Time was, he clos'd as he began the day
With decent duty, not asham’d to pray:
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.

See 2 Chron, cb. xxvi, ver. 19.

[graphic]

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

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;

*The author begs leave to explain.-Sensible that, with. out such knowledge, neither the ancient poets nor histori. ans can be tasted, or indeed understood, he does not mean to censure the pains that are taken to instruct a schoolboy in the religion of the Heathen, but merely that neglect of Christian culture which leaves him shamefully ignorant of his own.

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.
There shall he learn, ere sixteen winters old,
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,
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 tiroes of eighteen
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.
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 favorite 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 ;
And, as maturity of years comes on,
Made just th' adept that you design'd your son ;

« PreviousContinue »