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O thou, 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 ev’n 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 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 receiv'd 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 it's 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 eccentric
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.
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 shrewd discerning youth
Learn from expert inquiries after truth;
Whose only care, might truth presume to speak,
Is not to find what they profess to seek.
And thus, well-tutorid only while we share
A mother's lectures and a nurse's care;
And taught at schools much mythologic 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; Train him in public 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 wailer Dick, with Bacchanalian lays, Shall win his heart, and have his drunken praise His counsellor and bosom-friend shall prove, And some street-pacing barlot 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 superior 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 fav'rite 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;
T'ensure the perseverance of his course,
And give your monstrous project all it's force,
Send him to college. If he there be tam'd,
Or in one article of vice reclaim’d,