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Hatched by the beams of truth, denies him rest,
And proves a raging scorpion in his breast.
No pleasure ? Are domestic comforts dead ?
Are all the nameless sweets of friendship fled ?
Has time worn out, or fashion put to shame, [fame?
Good sense, good health, good conscience, and good
All these belong to virtue, and all prove
That virtue has a title to your love.
Have you no touch of pity, that the poor
Stand starved at your inhospitable door?
Or if yourself too scantily supplied
Need help, let honest industry provide.
you want ; if you abound, impart:
These both are pleasures to the feeling heart.
No pleasure? Has some sickly eastern waste
Sent us a wind to parch us at a blast?
Can British paradise no scenes afford
To please her sated and indifferent lord ?
Are sweet philosophy's enjoyments run
Quite to the lees? And has religion none?
Brutes capable would tell you 'tis a lie,
And judge you from the kennel and the stye.
Delights like these, ye sensual and profane,
Ye are bid, begged, besought to entertain;
Called to these crystal streams, do ye turn off
Obscene to swill and swallow at a trough?
Envy the beast then, on whom heaven bestows
Your pleasures, with no curses in the close.
Pleasure admitted in undue degree
Enslaves the will, nor leaves the judgment free.
'Tis not alone the grape's enticing juice
Unnerves the moral powers, and mars their use;
Ambition, avarice, and the lust of fame,
And woman, lovely woman, does the same.
The heart, surrendered to the ruling power
Of some ungoverned passion every hour,
Finds by degrees the truths, that once bore sway,
And all their deep impressions, wear away;
So coin grows smooth, in traffic current passed,
Till Cæsar's image is effaced at last.
The breach, though small at first, soon opening wide, In rushes folly with a full-moon tide,
Then welcome errors, of whatever size,
To justify it by a thousand lies.
As creeping ivy clings to wood or stone,
And hides the ruin that it feeds upon ;
So sophistry cleaves close to, and protects
Sin's rotten trunk, concealing its defects.
Mortals, whose pleasures are their only care,
First wish to be imposed on, and then are.
And, lest the fulsome artifice should fail,
Themselves will hide its coarseness with a veil.
Not more industrious are the just and true
To give to virtue what is virtue's due---
The praise of wisdom, comeliness, and worth,
And call her charms to public notice forth---
Than vice's mean and disingenuous race
To hide the shocking features of her face.
Her form with dress and lotion they repair;
Then kiss their idol, and pronounce her fair.
The sacred implement I now employ
Might prove a mischief, or at best a toy;
A trifle, if it move but to amuse;
But, if to wrong the judgment and abuse,
Worse than a poignard in the basest hand,
It stabs at once the morals of a land.
Ye writers of what none with safety reads,
Footing it in the dance that fancy leads :
Ye novelists, who mar what ye would mend,
Snivelling and drivelling folly without end;
Whose corresponding misses fill the ream
With sentimental frippery and dream,
Caught in a delicate soft silken net
By some rude earl, or rake-hell baronet :
Ye pimps, who, under virtue's fair pretence,
Steal to the closet of young innocence,
And teach her, unexperienced yet and green,
To scribble as you scribbled at fifteen;
Who, kindling a combustion of desire,
With some cold moral think to quench the fire;
Though all your engineering proves in vain,
The dribbling stream never puts it out again :
Oh! that a verse had power, and could command
Far, far away, these flesh-flies of the land;
Who fasten without mercy on the fair,
And suck, and leave a cragging maggot there.
Howe'er disguised th' inflammatory tale,
And covered with a fine-spun specious veil;
Such writers, and such readers, owe the gust
And relish of their pleasure all to lust.
But the muse, eagle-pinioned, has in view
A quarry more important still than you ;
Down, down the wind she swims and sails away;
Now stoops upon it, and now grasps the prey.
Petronius! all the muses weep for thee ; But every tear shall scald thy memory: The graces too, while virtue at their shrine Lay bleeding under that soft hand of thine, Felt each a mortal stab in her own breast, Abhorred the sacrifice, and cursed the priest. Thou polished and high-finished foe to truth, Gray-beard corrupter of our listening youth, To purge and skim away the filth of vice, That so refined it might the more entice, Then pour it on the morals of thy son; To taint his heart, was worthy of thine own? Now, while the poison all high life pervades, Write, if thou canst, one letter from the shades; One, and one only, charged with deep regret That thy worst part, thy principles, live yet ; One sad epistle thence may cure mankind Of the plague spread by bundles left behind.
'Tis granted, and no plainer truth appears, Our most important are our earliest years ; The mind, impressible and soft, with ease Imbibes and copies what she hears and sees, And through life's labyrinth holds fast the clue, That education gives her, false or true. Plants raised with tenderness are seldom strong ; Man's coltish disposition asks the thong ; And without discipline the favourite child, Like a neglected forester, runs wild, But we, as if good qualities would grow Spontaneons, take but little pains to sow; We give some Latin, and a smatch of Greek; Teach him to fence and figure twice a week;
And having done, we think, the best we can,
Praise his proficiency, and dub him man.
From school to Cam or Isis, and thence home;
And thence, with all convenient speed, to Rome,
With reverend tutor clad in habit lay,
To tease for cash and quarrel with all day;
With memorandum-book for every town,
And every post, and where the chaise broke down;
His stock, a few French phrases got by heart,
With much to learn, but nothing to impart,
The youth, obedient to his sire's commands,
Sets off a wanderer into foreign lands.
Surprised at all they meet, the gosling pair
With awkward gait, stretched neck, and silly stare,
Discover huge cathedrals built with stone,
And steeples towering high much like our own ;
But show peculiar light by many a grin
At popish practices observed within.
Ere long some bowing, smirking, smart Abbé
Remarks two loiterers, that have lost their way;
And being always primed with politesse
For men of their appearance and address,
With much compassion undertakes the task
To tell them more than they have wit to ask :
Points to inscriptions wheresoe'er they tread,
Such as, when legible, were never read.
But, being cankered now, and half worn out,
Craze antiquarian brains with endless doubt;
Some headless hero, or some Cæsar shows---
Defective only in his Roman nose;
Exhibits elevations, drawings, plans,
Models of Herculanean pots and pans ;
And sells them medals, which if neither rare
Nor ancient, will be so, preserved with care.
Strange the recital ! from whatever cause
His great improvement and new light he draws,
The squire, once bashful, is shame-faced no more,
But teems with powers he never felt before :
Whether increased momentum, and the force,
With which from clime to clime he sped his course,
(As axles sometimes kindle as they go)
Chafed him, and brought dull nature to a glow;
Or whether clearer skies and softer air,
That make Italian flowers so sweet and fair,
Freshening his lazy spirits as he ran,
Unfolded genially and spread the man;
Returning he proclaims by many a grace,
By shrugs and strange contortions of his face,
How much a dunce that has been sent to roam,
Excels a dunce that has been kept at home.
Accomplishments have taken virtue's place,
And wisdom falls before exterior grace;
We slight the precious kernel of the stone,
And toil to polish its rough coat alone.
A just deportment, manners graced with ease,
Elegant phrase, and figure formed to please,
Are qualities that seem to comprehend
Whatever parents, guardians, schools, intend;
Hence an unfurnished and a listless mind,
Though busy, trifling ; empty, though refined ;
Hence all that interferes, and dares to clash
With indolence and luxury, is trash :
While learning, once the man's exclusive pride,
Seems verging fast towards the female side.
Learning itself, received into a mind
By nature weak, or viciously inclined,
Serves but to lead philosophers astray,
Where children would with ease discern the way.
And of all arts sagacious dupes invent,
To cheat themselves and gain the world's assent,
The worst is---scripture warped from its intent.
The carriage bowls along, and all are pleased If Tom be sober, and the wheels well greased ; But if the rogue have gone a cup too far, Left out his linch-pin, or forgot his tar, It suffers interruption and delay, And meets with hindrance in the smoothest way. When some hypothesis, absurd and vain, Has filled with all its fumes a critic's brain, The text, that sorts not with his darling whim, Though plain to others, is obscure to him. The will made subject to a lawless force, All is irregular and out of course; And judgment drunk, and bribed to lose his way, Winks hard, and talks of darkness at noon-day.