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Κεφαλαιον δη παιδειας ορθη τροφη. Plato.
The mind is the true object of instruction.
Agan KodsTEids araons veñv apoca. Diog. Laert.
The education of youth is the foundation of all civil government.
It is not from his form, in which we trace
Strength join'd with beauty, dignity with grace,
That man, the master of this globe, derives
His right of empire over all that lives.
That form, indeed, the associate of a mind
Vast in its powers, ethereal in its kind,
That form, the labour of almighty skill,
Framed for the service of a freeborn will,
Asserts precedence, and bespeaks control,
But borrows all its grandeur from the soul :
Her's is the state, the splendour, and the throne,
An intellectual kingdom, all her own.
For her the memory fills her ample page
With truths pour'd down from every distant age ;
For her amasses an unbounded store,
The wisdom of great nations, now no more ;
Though laden, not encumber'd with her spoil ;
Laborious, yet unconscious of her toil ;
When copiously supplied, then most enlarged
Still to be fed, and not to be surcharged.
For her the fancy, roving unconfined,
The present muse of every pensive mind,
Works magic wonders, adds a brighter hue
To Nature's scenes than Nature ever knew.
At her command winds rise, and waters roar,
Again she lays them slumbering on the shore ;
With flower and fruit the wilderness supplies,
Or bids the rocks in ruder pomp arise. in
For her the judgment, umpire in the strife,
That grace and nature have to wage through life
Quick-sighted arbiter of good and ill,
Appointed sage preceptor to the will,
Condemns, approves, and with a faithful voice
Guides the decision of a doubtful choice.
Why did the fiat of a God give birth
To yon fair sun, and his attendant earth ?
And when, descending, he resigns the skies,
Why takes the gentler moon her turn to rise,
Whom ocean feels through all his countless waves,
And owns her power on every shore he laves ?
Why do the seasons still enrich the year,
Fruitful and young as in their first career ?
Spring hangs her infant blossoms on the trees,
Rock'd in the cradle of the western breeze;
Summer in haste the thriving charge receives
Beneath the shade of her expanded leaves,
Till Autumn's fiercer heats and plenteous dews
Dye them at last in all their glowing hues.
'Twere wild profusion all, and bootless waste,
Power misemploy'd, munificence misplaced,
Had not its Author dignified the plan,
And crown'd it with the majesty of man.
Thus form’d, thus placed, intelligent, and taught,
Look where he will, the wonders God has wrought,
The wildest scorner of his Maker's laws
Finds in a sober moment time to pause,
To press the important question on his heart,
66 Why form'd at all, and wherefore as thou art ?”
If man be what he seems, this hour a slave,
The next mere dust and ashes in the grave;
Endued with reason only to descry
His crimes and follies with an aching eye ;
With passions, just that he may prove, with pain,
The force he spends against their fury vain ;
And if, soon after, having burnt, by turns,
With every lust with which frail Nature burns,
His being end, where death dissolves the bond,
The tomb take all, and all be blank beyond ;
Then he, of all that Nature has brought forth,
Stands self-impeach'd the creature of least worth,
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,
A childish waste of philosophic pains ;
But truths, on which depends our main concern,
That 'tis our shame and misery not to learn,
Shine by the side of every path we tread
With such a lustre, he that runs may read.
'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 Heaven required of humankind,
And all the plan their destiny design'd,
What none could reverence all might justly blame,
And man would breathe but for his Maker's shame.
But reason heard, and Nature well perused,
At once the dreaming mind is disabused.
If all we find possessing earth, sea, air,
Reflect His attributes, who placed 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 to invest
With kingship and dominion o'er the rest,
Received his nobler nature, and was made
Fit for the power, 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.
This once believed, 'twere logic misapplied
To prove a consequence by none denied,
That we are bound to cast the minds of youth
Betimes into the mould of heavenly truth,
That, taught of God, they may indeed be wise,
Nor, ignorantly wandering, miss the skies.
In early days the conscience has in most
A quickness, which in later life is lost ;
Preserved 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 storé the nursery by degrees
With wholesome learning, yet acquired with ease.
Neatly secured 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 prayer 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,
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.
O thou, whom, borne on fancy's eager wing
Back to the season of life's happy spring,
I pleased remember, and, while memory 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 humorous 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 despised a name
Should move a sneer at thy deserved fame;
Yet even 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, pleased them at a riper age;
The man, approving what had 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 bearded, and yet pert and raw,
Regards with scorn, though once received 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.
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,
Opposed 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 eccentric range.
Time was, he closed as he began the day
With decent duty, not ashamed to pray :
* See 2 Chron. ch. xxvi. ver. 19.-Author.