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Will need no stress of argument t' enforce
Th' expedience of a less advent'rous course :
The rest will slight thy counsel, or condemn;
But they have human feelings — turn to them."
To you, then, tenants of life's middle state,
Securely plac'd between the small and great,
Whose character, yet undebauch’d, retains
Two-thirds of all the virtue that remains,
Who, wise yourselves, desire your son should learn
Your wisdom and your ways — to you I turn.
Look round you on a world perversely blind;
See what contempt is fall’n on human-kind;
See wealth abus'd, and dignities misplac'd,
Great titles, offices, and trusts disgrac'd, .
Long lines of ancestry, renown'd of old,
Their noble qualities all quench'd and cold;
See Bedlam's closetted and hand-cuff'd charge
Surpass'd in phrenzy by the mad at large ;
See great commanders making war a trade,
Great lawyers, lawyers without study made;
Churchmen, in whose esteem their blest employ
Is odious, and their wages all their joy,
Who, far enough from furnishing their shelves
With Gospel lore, turn infidels themselves;
See womanhood despis’d, and manhood sham'd
With infamy too nauseous to be nam’d,
Fops at all corners, lady-like in mien,
Civetted fellows, smelt ere they are seen,
Else coarse and rude in manners, and their tongue
On fire with curses, and with nonsense hung,
Now flush'd with drunk'nness, now with whoredom
pale, Their breath a sample of last night's regale ;
See volunteers in all the vilest arts,
Men well endow'd, of honourable parts,
Design'd by Nature wise, but self-made fools ;
All these, and more like these, were bred at schools.
And if it chance, as sometimes chance it will,
That, though school-bred, the boy be virtuous still;
Such rare exceptions, shining in the dark,
Prove, rather than impeach, the just remark:
As here and there a twinkling star descried
Serves but to show how black is all beside.
Now look on him, whose very voice in tone
Just echoes thine, whose features are thine own,
And stroke his polish'd cheek of purest red,
And lay thine hand upon his flaxen head,
My boy, th' unwelcome hour is come,
When thou, transplanted from thy genial home,
Must find a colder soil and bleaker air,
And trust for safety to a stranger's care ;
What character, what turn thou wilt assume
From constant converse with I know not whom ;
Who there will court thy friendship, with what
views, And, artless as thou art, whom thou wilt choose ; Though much depends on what thy choice shall be, Is all chance-medley, and unknown to me.” Canst thou, the tear just trembling on thy lids, And while the dreadful risk foreseen forbids; Free to, and under no constraining force, Unless the sway of custom warp thy course; Lay such a stake upon the losing side, Merely to gratify so blind a guide ? Thou canst not! Nature, pulling at thine heart, Condems th' unfatherly, th' imprudent part.
Thou wouldst not, deaf to Nature's tend'rest plea,
Turn him adrift upon a rolling sea,
Nor say, Go thither, conscious that there lay
A brood of asps, or quicksands in his way:
Then, only govern'd by the self-same rule
Of nat'ral pity, send him not to school.
No-guard him better. Is he not thine own,
Thyself in miniature, thy flesh, thy bone ?
And hop'st thou not ('t is ev'ry father's hope)
That, since thy strength must with thy years elope,
And thou wilt need some comfort, to assuage
Health's last farewell, a staff of thine old age,
That then, in recompense of all thy cares,
Thy child shall show respect to thy gray hairs,
Befriend thee, of all other friends bereft,
And give thy life it's only cordial left ?
Aware, then, how much danger intervenes,
To compass that good end, forecast the means.
His heart, now passive, yields to thy command;
Secure it thine, it's key is in thine hand.
If thou desert thy charge, and throw it wide,
Nor heed what guests there enter and abide,
Complain not if attachments lewd and båse
Supplant thee in it, and usurp thy place.
But, if thou guard it's sacred chambers sure
From vicious inmates and delights impure,
Either his gratitude shall hold him fast,
And keep him warm and filial to the last;
Or, if he prove unkind (as who can say
But, being man, and therefore frail, he may ?)
One comfort yet shall cheer thine aged heart,
Howe'er he slight thee, thou hast done thy parte
Oh barb'rous! wouldst thou with a Gothic hand Pull down the schools -- what! - all the schools i'
th' land ? Or throw them up to liv'ry-nags and grooms, Or turn them into shops and auction-rooms ? A captious question, sir, (and yours is one,) Deserves an answer similar, or none. Wouldst thou, possessor of a flock, employ (Appris'd that he is such) a careless boy, And feed him well, and give him handsome pay, Merely to sleep, and let them run astray? Survey our schools and colleges, and see A sight not much unlike my simile. From education, as the leading cause, The public character it's colour draws; Thence the prevailing manners take their cast, Extravagant or sober, loose or chaste. And, though I would not advertise them yet, Nor write on each - This building to be let, Unless the world were all prepar'd t' embrace A plan well worthy'to supply their place; Yet, backward as they are, and long have been, To cultivate and keep the MORALS clean, (Forgive the crime,) I wish them, I confess, Or better manag'd, or encourag'd less.
Si te fortè meæ gravis uret sarcina chartæ,
Hor. Lib. i. Epist. 19,
A. You told me, I remember, “ Glory, built
On selfish principles, is shame and guilt;
The deeds, that men admire as half divine,
Stark naught, because corrupt in their design."
Strange doctrine this! that without scruple tears
The laurel, that the very lightning spares ;
Brings down the warrior's trophy to the dust,
And eats into his bloody sword like rust.
B. I grant that, men continuing what they are,
Fierce, avaricious, proud, there must be war.
And never meant the rule should be applied
To him, that fights with justice on his side.
Let laurels, drench'd in pure Parnassian dews,
Reward his mem'ry, dear to ev'ry Muse,
Who, with a courage of unshaken root,
In honour's field advancing his firm foot,
Plants it upon the line that Justice draws,
And will prevail or perish in her cause.
'T is to the virtues of such men, man owes
His portion in the good that Heav'n bestows.
And when recording History displays
Feats of renown, though wrought in ancient days,
Tells of a few stout hearts, that fought and died,
Where duty placed them, at their country's side ;
The man, that is not mov'd with what he reads,
That takes not fire at their heroic deeds,