« PreviousContinue »
“ What need of Homer's verse or Tully's prose,,
“ Sweet interjections! if he learn but those ?
“ Let reverend churls his ignorance rebuke, .
“ Who starve upon a dog's-eared Pentateuch,
“ The parson knows enough, who knows a duke.”
Egregious purpose! worthily begun
In barbarous prostitution of your son;
Pressed on his part by means, that would disgrace
A scrivener's clerk or footman out of place,
And ending, if at last its end be gained,
In sacrilege, in God's own house profaned.
It may succeed ; and, if his sins should call
For more than common punishment, it shall;
The wretch shall rise, and be the thing on earth
Least qualified in honour, learning, worth,
To occupy a sacred, awful post,
In which the best and worthiest tremble most.
The royal letters are a thing of course,
A king, that would, might recommend his horse;
And deans, no doubt, and chapters, with one voice,
As bound in duty, would confirm the choice.
Behold your bishop! well he plays his part,
Christian in name, and infidel in heart,
Ghostly in office, earthly in his plan,
A slave at court, elsewhere a lady's man.
Dumb as a senator, and as a priest
A piece of mere church furniture at best;
To live estranged from God bis total scope,
And his end sure without one glimpse of hope.
But fair although and feasible it seem,
Depend not much upon your golden dream;
For providence, that seems concerned to exempt
The hallowed bench from absolute contempt,
In spite of all the wrigglers into place,
Still keeps a seat or two for worth and grace;
And therefore ’tis, that, though the sight be rare,
We sometimes see a Lowth or Bagot there.
Besides, school-friendships are not always found,
Though fair in promise, permanent and sound;
The most disinterested and virtuous minds,
In early years connected, time unbinds;
New situations give a different cast
Of habit, inclination, temper, taste ;
And he, that seemed our counterpart at first,
Soon shows the strong similitude reversed.
Young heads are giddy, and young hearts are warm,
And make mistakes for manhood to reform.
Boys are at best but pretty buds unblown,
Whose scent and hues are rather guessed than known,
Each dreams that each is just what he appears,
But learns bis error in maturer years,
When disposition, like a sail unfurled,
Shows all its rents and patches to the world.
If, therefore, ev'n when honest in design,
A boyish friendship may so soon decline,
"Twere wiser sure to inspire a little heart
With just abhorrence of so mean a part,
Than set your son to work at a vile trade
For wages so unlikely to be paid.
Our public hives of puerile resort,
That are of chief and most approved report,
To such base hopes, in many a sordid soul,
Owe their repute in part, but not the whole.
A principle whose proud pretentions pass
Unquestioned, though the jewel be but glass---
That with a world, not often over nice,
Ranks as a virtue, and is yet a vice;
Or rather a gross compound, justly tried,
Of envy, hatred, jealousy, and pride---
Contributes most perhaps to enhance their fame;
And emulation in its specious name.
Boys, once on fire with that contentious zeal,
Feel all the rage that female rivals feel;
The prize of beauty in a woman's eyes
Not brighter than in their's the scholar's prize.
The spirit of that competition burns
With all varieties of ill by turns ;
Each vainly magnifies his own success,
Resents his fellow's, wishes it were less,
Exults in his miscarriage if he fail,
Deems his reward too great if he prevail,
And labours to surpass him day and night,
Less for improvement than to tickle spite.
The spur is powerful, and I grant its force;
It pricks the genius forward in its course,
Allows short time for play, and none for sloth;
And, felt alike by each, advances both :
But judge, where so much evil intervenes,
The end, though plausible, not worth the means.
Weigh, for a moment, classical desert
Against a heart depraved and temper hurt;
Hurt too perhaps for life; for early wrong
Done to the nobler part, affects it long ;
And you are staunch indeed in learning's cause
If you can crown a discipline, that draws
Such mischiefs after it with much applause.
Connexion formed for interest, and endeared
By selfish views, thus censured and cashiered;
And emulation, as engendering hate,
Doomed to a no less ignominious fate;
The props of such proud seminaries fall,
The Jachin and the Boaz of them all.
Great schools rejected then, as those that swell
Beyond a size that can be managed well,
Shall royal institutions miss the bays,
And small academies win all the praise?
Force not my drift beyond its just intent,
I praise a school as Pope a government;
So take my judgment in his language dressed,
“ Whate'er is best administered is best.”
Few boys are born with talents that excel,
But all are capable of living well ;
Then ask pot, Whether limited or large?
But, Watch they strictly, or neglect their charge?
If anxious only that their boys may learn,
While morals languish, a despised concern,
The great and small deserve one common blame,
Different in size, but in effect the same.
Much zeal in virtue's cause all teachers boast,
Though motives of mere lucre sway the most;
Therefore in towns and cities they abound,
For there the game they seek is easiest found;
Though there, in spite of all that care can do,
Traps to catch youth are most abundant too.
If shrewd, and of a well-constructed brain,
Keen in pursuit, and vigorous to retain,
Your son come forth a prodigy of skill;
As, wheresoever taught, so formed, he will ;
The pedagogue, with self-complacent air,
Claims more than half the praise as his due share:
But if, with all his genius, he betray,
Not more intelligent than loose and gay,
Such vicious habits, as disgrace his name,
Threaten bis health, his fortune, and his fame;
Though want of due restraint alone have bred
The symptoms, that you see with so much dread;
Unenvied there, he may sustain alone
The whole reproach, the fault was all his own.
Oh 'tis a sight to be with joy perused,
By all whom sentiment has not abused;
New-fangled sentiment, the boasted grace
Of those, who never feel in the right place;
A sight surpassed by none that we can show,
Though Vestris on one leg still shine below;
A father blest with an ingenuous son,
Father, and friend, and tutor, all in one.
How !---turn again to tales long since forgot,
Æsop, and Phædrus, and the rest ?---Why not?
He will not blush, that has a father's heart,
To take in childish plays a childish part;
But bends his sturdy back to any toy,
That youth takes pleasure in, to please his boy :
Then why resign into a stranger's hand
A task as much within your own command,
That God and nature, and your interest too,
Seem with one voice to delegate to you?
Why hire a lodging in a house unknown
For one, whose tenderest thoughts all hover round your
This second weaning, needless as it is,
How does it lacerate both your heart and his !
The indented stick, that loses day by day
Notch after notch, till all are smoothed away,
Bear witness, long ere his dismission come,
With what intense desire he wants his home.
But though the joys he hopes beneath the roof
Bid fair enough to answer in your proof,
Harmless, and safe, and natural, as they are,
A disappointment waits him even there :
Arrived, he feels an unexpected change,
He blushes, hangs his head, is shy and strange,
No longer takes, as once, with fearless ease,
His favourite stand between his father's knees,
But seeks the corner of some distant seat,
And eyes the door, and watches a retreat,
And, least familiar where he should be most,
Feels all his happiest privileges lost.
Alas, poor boy!---the natural effect
Of love by absence chilled into respect,
Say, what accomplishments, at school acquired,
Brings he, to sweeten fruits so undesired ?
Thou well deservest an alienated son,
Unless thy conscious heart acknowledge---none;
None that, in thy domestic snug recess,
He had not made his own with more address,
Though some perhaps that shock thy feeling mind,
And better never learned, or left behind.
Add too, that, thus estranged, thou canst obtain
By no kind arts his confidence again ;
That here begins with most that long complaint
Of filial frankness lost, and love grown faint,
Which, oft neglected, in life's waning years
A parent pours into regardless ears.
Like caterpillars, dangling under trees
By slender threads, and swinging in the breeze,
Which filthily bewray and sore disgrace
The boughs in which are bred the unseemly race;
While every worm industriously weaves
And winds his web about the rivelled leaves ;
So numerous are the follies, that annoy
The mind and heart of every sprightly boy;
Imaginations noxious and perverse,
Which admonition can alone disperse.
The encroaching nuisance asks a faithful hand,
Patient, affectionate, of high command,
To check the procreation of a breed
Sure to exhaust the plant on which they feed.
'Tis not enough that Greek or Roman page,
At stated hours his freakish thoughts engage;
E’en in his pastimes he requires a friend
To warn and teach him safely to unbend,