This does Profusion, and the accursed cause
Of such deep mischief has itself a cause.

In colleges and halls in ancient days,
When learning, virtue, piety and truth,
Were precious, and inculcated with care,
There dwelt a sage called Discipline. His head,
Not yet by time completely silvered o'er,
Bespoke him past the bounds of freakish youth,
But strong for service still, and unimpaired.
His eye was meek and gentle, and a smile
Played on his lips; and in his speech was heard
Paternal sweetness, dignity and love.
The occupation dearest to his heart

Was to encourage goodness. He would stroke
The head of modest and ingenuous worth,

With belted waist and pointers at their heels,
Than in the bounds of duty? What was learned,
If aught was learned in childhood, is forgot;
And such expense, as pinches parents blue,
And mortifies the liberal hand of love,

Is squandered in pursuit of idle sports
And vicious pleasure; buys the boy a name,
That sits a stigma on his father's house,
And cleaves through life inseparably close
To him that wears it. What can after-games
Of riper joys, and commerce with the world,
The lewd vain world, that must receive him soon,
Add to such erudition, thus acquired,
Where science and where virtue are professed?
They may confirm his habits, rivet fast

That blushed at its own praise; and press the His folly, but to spoil him is a task,

That bids defiance to th' united powers

Close to his side, that pleased him. Learning Of fashion, dissipation, taverns, stews.


Beneath his care a thriving vigorous plant;
The mind was well informed, the passions held
Subordinate, and diligence was choice.

If e'er it chanced, as sometimes chance it must,
That one among so many overleaped
The limits of control, his gentle eye
Grew stern, and darted a severe rebuke:
His frown was full of terror, and his voice
Shook the delinquent with such fits of awe,
As left him not, till penitence had won
Lost favour back again, and closed the breach.
But Discipline, a faithful servant long;
Declined at length into the vale of years:
A palsy struck his arm; his sparkling eye

Now blame we most the nursling or the nurse?
The children crooked, twisted, and deformed,
Through want of care; or her, whose winking eye,
And slumbering oscitancy mars the brood?
The nurse no doubt. Regardless of her charge,
She needs herself correction; needs to learn,
That it is dangerous sporting with the world,
With things so sacred as the nation's trust,
The nurture of her youth, her dearest pledge.
All are not such. I had a brother once
Peace to the memory of a man of worth,
A man of letters, and of manners too!

Of manners sweet as Virtue always wears,
When gay Good-nature dresses her in smiles."
He graced a college, in which order yet


Was quenched in rheums of age; his voice un- Was sacred; and was honoured, loved, and wept,


Grew tremulous, and drew derision more
Than reverence in perverse, rebellious youth.
So colleges and halls neglected much
Their good old friend; and Discipline at length,
O'erlooked and unemployed, fell sick and died.
Then Study languished, Emulation slept,
And Virtue fled. The schools became a scene
Of solemn farce, where Ignorance in stilts,
His cap well lined with logic not his own,
With parrot tongue performed the scholar's part,
Proceeding soon a graduated dunce.
Then compromise had place, and scrutiny
Became stone blind; precedence went in truck;
And he was competent whose purse was so,
A dissolution of all bonds ensued;

The curbs invented for the mulish mouth,

By more than one, themselves conspicuous there.
Some minds are tempered happily, and mixed
With such ingredients of good sense, and taste
Of what is excellent in man, they thirst
With such a zeal to be what they approve,"
That no restraints can circumscribe them more
Than they themselves by choice, for wisdom's sake.
Nor can example hurt them: what they see
Of vice in others but enhancing more
The charms of virtue in their just esteem.
If such escape contagion, and emerge
Pure from so foul a pool to shine abroad,
And give the world their talents and themselves,
Small thanks to those whose negligence or sloth
Exposed their inexperience to the snare,
And left them to an undirected choice.
See then the quiver broken and decayed,

Of headstrong youth were broken; bars and bolts In which are kept our arrows! Rusting there

Grew rusty by disuse; and massy gates
Forgot their office, opening with a touch;
Till gowns at length are found mere masquerade,
The tasselled cap and the spruce band a jest,
A mockery of the world! What need of these
For gamesters, jockeys, brothellers impure,
Spendthrifts, and booted sportsmen oftener seen

In wild disorder, and unfit for use,

What wonder if, discharged into the world,
They shame their shooters with a random flight,
Their points obtuse, and feathers drunk with wine!
Well may the church wage unsuccessful war

• Bene't Coll. Cambridge.

With such artillery armed. Vice parries wide
Th' undreaded volley with a sword of straw,
And stands an impudent and fearless mark.

Have we not tracked the felon home, and found
His birth-place and his dam? The country mourns,
Mourns because every plague, that can infest
Society, and that saps and worms the base
Of th' edifice, that Policy has raised,
Swarms in all quarters: meets the eye, the ear,
And suffocates the breath at every turn,
Profusion breeds them; and the cause itself

Of that calamitous mischief has been found:
Found too where most offensive, in the skirts
Of the robed pedagogue! Else let th' arraigned
Stand up unconscious, and refute the charge.
So when the Jewish leader stretched his arm,
And waved his rod divine, a race obscene,
Spawned in the muddy beds of Nile, came forth,
Polluting Egypt: gardens, fields, and plains,
Were covered with the pest; the streets were filled;
The croaking nuisance lurked in every nook;
Nor palaces, nor even chambers, 'scaped;
And the land stank-so numerous was the fry.

The Task.




Self-recollection and reproof-Address to domestic happiness.-Some account of myself-The vanity of many of their pursuits who are reputed wise.-Justification of my censures.-Divine illumination necessary to the most expert philoso pher. The question, What is truth? answered by other questions.-Domestic happiness addressed again.-Few lovers of the country. My tame hare.-Occupations of a retired gentleman in his garden. Pruning.-Framing.-Green-house.— Sowing of flower-seeds-The country preferable to the town even in winter.-Reasons why it is deserted at that season.Ruinous effects of gaming, and of expensive improvement.-Book concludes with an apostrophe to the metropolis.

As one, who long in thickets and in brakes
Entangled, winds now this way and now that
His devious course uncertain, seeking home;
Or, having long in miry ways been foiled
And sore discomfited, from slough to slough
Plunging, and half despairing of escape;
If chance at length he find a greensward smooth
And faithful to the foot, his spirits rise,
He cherups brisk his ear-erecting steed,

Or, when rough winter rages, on the soft
And sheltered Sofa, while the nitrous air
Feeds a blue flame, and makes a cheerful hearth
There, undisturbed by Folly, and apprised
How great the danger of dirturbing her,
To muse in silence, or, at least, confine
Remarks, that gall so many, to the few
My partners in retreat. Disgust concealed
Is ofttimes proof of wisdom, when the fault

And winds his way with pleasure and with ease; Is obstinate, and cure beyond our reach

So I, designing other themes, and called
T'adorn the Sofa with eulogium due,
To tell its slumbers, and to paint its dreams,
Have rambled wide; in country, city, seat
Of academic fame (howe'er deserved,)
Long held, and scarcely disengaged at last.
But now with pleasant pace a cleanlier road
I mean to tread: I feel myself at large.
Courageous and refreshed for future toil,
If toil await me, or if dangers new.
Since pulpits fail, and sounding boards reflect
Most part an empty, ineffectual sound,
What chance that I, to fame so little known,
Nor conversant with men or manners much,
Should speak to purpose, or with better hope
Crack the satiric thong? 'Twere wiser far
For me, enamoured of sequestered scenes,
And charmed with rural beauty, to repose,

Domestic happiness, thou only bliss
|Of Paradise, that has survived the fall!
Though few now taste thee unimpaired and pure,
Or tasting long enjoy thee! too infirm,
Or too incautious to preserve thy sweets
Unmixed with drops of bitter, which neglect
Or temper sheds into thy crystal cup;
Thou art the nurse of Virtue, in thine arms
She smiles, appearing, as in truth she is,
Heaven-born, and destined to the skies again.
Thou art not known where Pleasure is adored,
That reeling goddess with the zoneless waist
And wandering eyes, still leaning on the arm
Of Novelty, her fickle, frail support;
For thou art meek and constant, hating change
And finding in the calm of truth-tried love
Joys that her stormy raptures never yield.
Forsaking thee what shipwreck have we made

Where chance may throw me, beneath elm or Of honour, dignity and fair renown!


Till prostitution elbows us aside

My languid limbs, when summer seers the plains, In all our crowded streets; and senates seem

Convened for purposes of empire less,

Than to release the adulteress from her bond.
Th' adulteress! what a theme for angry verse!
What provocation to the indignant heart,
That feels for injured love! but I disdain
The nauseous task to paint her as she is,
Cruel, abandoned, glorying in her shame!
No: let her pass, and, charioted along
In guilty splendour, shake the public ways;
The frequency of crimes has washed them white.
And verse of mine shall never brand the wretch
Whom matrons now, of character unsmirched,
And chaste themselves, are not ashamed to own.
Virtue and vice had boundaries in old time,
Not to be passed: and she, that had renounced
Her sex's honour, was renounced herself
By all that prized it; not for prudery's sake,
But dignity's, resentful of the wrong.
'Twas hard perhaps on here and there a waif,
Desirous to return, and not received;
But 'twas a wholesome rigour in the main,

My former partners of the peopled scene;
With few associates, and not wishing more.
Here much I ruminate, as much I may,
With other views of men and manners now
Than once, and others of a life to come.
I see that all are wanderers, gone astray
Each in his own delusions; they are lost
In chase of fancied happiness, still wooed
And never won. Dream after dream ensues;
And still they dream that they shall still succeed,
And still are disappointed. Rings the world
With the vain stir. I sum up half mankind,
And add two thirds of the remaining half,
And find the total of their hopes and fears
Dreams, empty dreams. The million flit as gay
As if created only like the fly,

That spreads his motley wings in th' eye of noon,
To sport their season, and be seen no more.
The rest are sober dreamers, grave and wise,
And pregnant with discoveries new and rare.
Some write a narrative of wars, and feats

And taught th' unblemished to preserve with care Of heroes little known; and call the rant
That purity, whose loss was loss of all.
Men too were nice in honour in those days,

And judged offenders well. Then he that sharped,
And pocketed a prize by fraud obtained,

A history: describe the man of whom
His own coevals took but little note,
And paint his person, character, and views,
As they had known him from his mother's womb.

Was marked and shunned as odious. He that They disentangle from the puzzled skein,

His country, or was slack when she required
His every nerve in action and at stretch,"
Paid with the blood that he had basely spared,
The price of his default. But now-yes, now
We are become so candid and so fair,
So liberal in construction, and so rich
In Christian charity, (good natured age!)
That they are safe, sinners of either sex,
Transgress what laws they may. Well dressed,
well bred,

Well equipaged, is ticket good enough
To pass as readily through every door.
Hypocrisy, detest her as we may,

(And no man's hatred ever wronged her yet)
May claim this merit still-that she admits
The worth of what she mimics with such care
And thus gives virtue indirect applause;
But she has burnt her mask, not needed here,
Where vice has such allowance, that her shifts
And specious semblances have lost their use.
I was a stricken deer, that left the herd
Long since. With many an arrow deep infixed
My panting side was charged, when I withdrew
To seek a tranquil death in distant shades,
There was I found by one who had himself
Been hurt by th' archers. In his side he bore,
And in his hands and feet the cruel scars.
With gentle force soliciting the darts,

In which obscurity has wrapped them up
The threads of politic and shrewd design,
That ran through all his purposes, and, charge
His mind with meanings that he never had,
Or, having, kept concealed. Some drill and bore
The solid earth, and from the strata there
Extract a register, by which we learn,
That he who made it, and revealed its date
To Moses, was mistaken in its age.
Some, more acute, and more industrious still,
Contrive creation; travel nature up

To the sharp peak of her sublimest height,
And tell us whence the stars; why some are fixed
And planetary some; what gave them first
Rotation, from what fountain flowed their light.
Great contest follows, and much learned dust
Involves the combatants; each claiming truth,
And truth disclaiming both. And thus they spend
The little wick of life's poor shallow lamp
In playing tricks with nature, giving laws
To distant worlds, and trifling in their own.
Is't not a pity now that tickling rheums
Should ever tease the lungs, and blear the sight
Of oracles like these? Great pity too,
That having wielded the elements, and built
A thousand systems, each in his own way,
They should go out in fume, and be forgot?
Ah! what is life thus spent? and what are they
But frantic, who thus spend it? all for smoke-

He drew them forth, and healed, and bade me live. Eternity for bubbles proves at last

Since then, with few associates, in remote

And silent woods I wander, far from those

A senseless bargain. When I see such games
Played by the creatures of a Power, who swears

That he will judge the earth and call the fool
To a sharp reckoning, that has lived in vain;
And when I weigh this seeming wisdom well,
And prove it in the infallible result

So hollow and so false-I feel my heart
Dissolve in pity, and account the learned,
If this be learning, most of all deceived.
Great crimes alarm the conscience, but it sleeps,
While thoughtful man is plausibly amused,
Defend me therefore, common sense, say I,
From reveries so airy, from the toil

[ocr errors]

Of dropping buckets into empty wells,
And growing old in drawing nothing up!

"Twere well, says one sage erudite, profound,
Terribly arched, and aquiline his nose,
And overbuilt with most impending brows,
'Twere well, could you permit the world to live
As the world pleases; what's the world to you?
Much. I was born of woman, and drew milk
As sweet as charity from human breasts.
I think, articulate, I laugh and weep,
And exercise all functions of a man.
How then should I and any man that lives
Be strangers to each other? Pierce my vein,
Take of the crimson stream meandering there,
And catechise it well; apply the glass,
Search it, and prove now if it be not blood
Congenial with thine own, and, if it be,
What edge of subtlety canst thou suppose
Keen enough, wise and skilful as thou art,
To cut the link of brotherhood, by which
One common Maker bound me to the kind?
True; I am no proficient, I confess,
In arts like yours. I can not call the swift
And perilous lightnings from the angry, clouds,
And bid them hide themselves in earth beneath,
I can not analyse the air, nor catch
The parallax of yonder luminous point,
That seems half quenched in the immense abyss:
Such powers I boast not-neither can I rest
A silent witness of the headlong rage,
Or heedless folly, by which thousands die,
Bone of my bone, and kindred souls to mine.
God never meant that man should scale the


Our wayward intellect, the more we learn
Of nature, overlooks her author more;
From instrumental causes proud to draw
Conclusions retrograde, and mad mistake.
But if his word once teach us, shoot a ray
Through all the heart's dark chambers, and reveal
Truths undiscerned but by that holy light,
Then all is plain. Philosophy, baptized;
In the pure fountain of eternal love,
Has eyes indeed and viewing all she sees
As meant to indicate a God to man,
Gives him his praise, and forfeits not her own.
Learning has borne such fruit in other days
On all her branches; piety has found

Friends in the friends of science, and true prayer
Has flowed from lips wet with Castalian dews.
Such was thy wisdom, Newton, child-like sage!
Sagacious reader of the works of God,
And in this word sagacious. Such too thine,
Milton, whose genius had angelic wings,
And fed on manna! And such thine, in whom
Our British Themis gloried with just cause,
Immortal Hale! for deep discernment praised,
And sound integrity, not more than famed
For sanctity of manners undefiled.

All flesh is grass, and all its glory fade
Like the fair flower dishevelled in the wind;
Riches have wings, and grandeur is a dream.
The man we celebrate must find a tomb,
And we that worship him ignoble graves.
Nothing is proof against the general curse
Of vanity, that seizes all below.

The only amaranthine flower on earth
Is virtue; th' only lasting treasure, truth.
But what is truth? 'Twas Pilate's question put
To truth itself, that deigned him no reply.
And wherefore? will not God impart his light
To them that ask it ?-Freely-'tis his joy,
His glory, and his nature, to impart.
But to the proud, uncandid, insincere,
Or negligent inquirer, not a spark.
What's that, which brings contempt upon a book,
And him who writes it, though the style be neat,
hea-The method clear, and argument exact?..
That makes a minister in holy things,
The joy of many, and the dread of more,
His name a theme for praise and for reproach ?—
That, while it gives us worth in God's account,
Depreciates and undoes us in our own?
What pearl is it that rich men can not buy,
That learning is too proud to gather up;
But which the poor, and the despised of all,
Seek and obtain, and often find unsought?
Tell me and I will tell thee what is truth.

By stride of human wisdom, in his works,
Though wondrous: he commands us in his word
To seek him rather where his mercy shines.
The mind, indeed, enlightened from above,
Views him in all; ascribes to the grand cause
The grand effect; acknowledges with joy
His manner, and with rapture tastes his style;
But never yet did philosophic tube,
That brings the planets home into the eye
Of observation, and discovers, else
Not visible, his family of worlds,

Discover him that rules them; such a veil
Hangs over mortal eyes, blind from the birth,
And dark in things divine. Full often too

O friendly to the best pursuits of man,
Friendly to thought, to virtue, and to peace,
Domestic life in rural pleasure passed!

Few know thy value, and few taste thy sweets;
Though many boast thy favours, and affect

To understand and choose thee for their own.
But foolish man foregoes his proper bliss,
E'en as his first progenitor, and quits,
Though placed in Paradise (for earth has still
Some traces of her youthful beauty left,)
Substantial happiness for transient joy.
Scenes formed for contemplation, and to nurse
The growing seeds of wisdom; that suggest,'
By every pleasing image they present,
Reflections such as meliorate the heart,
Compose the passions, and exalt the mind;
Scenes such as these 'tis his supreme delight
To fill with riot and defile with blood.
Should some contagion, kind to the poor brutes
We persecute, annihilate the tribes

That draw the sportsman over hill and dale
Fearless, and wrapt away from all his cares;
Should never game-fowl hatch her eggs again,
Nor baited hook deceive the fish's eye;
Could pageantry and dance, and feast and song,
Be quelled in all our summer-months' retreats;
How many self-deluded nymphs and swains,
Who dream they have a taste for fields and groves,
Would find them hideous nurseries of the spleen,
And crowd the roads, impatient for the town!
They love the country, and none else, who seek
For their own sake its silence, and its shade.
Delights which who would leave, that has a heart
Susceptible of pity, or a mind

Cultured and capable of sober thought,
For all the savage din of the swift pack,
And clamours of the field?-detested sport,
That owes its pleasures to another's pain;
That feeds upon the sobs and dying shrieks
Of harmless nature, dumb, but yet endued
With eloquence, that agonies inspire,

Of silent tears and heart-distending sighs?
Vain tears, alas, and sighs that never find
A corresponding tone in jovial souls!
Well-one at least is safe. One sheltered hare
Has never heard the sanguinary yell
Of cruel man, exulting in her woes.
Innocent partner of my peaceful home,
Whom ten long years' experience of my care
Has made at last familiar; she has lost
Much of her vigilant instinctive dread,
Not needful here, beneath a roof like mine.

Esteems that busy world an idler too!
Friends, books, a garden, and perhaps his pen.
Delightful industry enjoyed at home,

And Nature, in her cultivated trim,
Dressed to his taste, inviting him abroad.-
Can he want occupation, who has these?
Will he be idle, who has much t' enjoy?
Me therefore studious of laborious.ease,
Not slothful, happy to deceive the time,
Not waste it, and aware that human life
Is but a loan to be repaid with use,
When He shall call his debtors to account,
From whom are all our blessings, business finds
E'en here: while sedulous I seek t' improve,
At least neglect not, or leave unemployed,
The mind he gave me; driving it, though slack
Too oft, and much impeded in its work
By causes not to be divulged in vain,
To its just point-the service of mankind.
He, that attends to his interior self,

That has a heart and keeps it; has a mind
That hungers, and supplies it: and who seeks
A social, not a dissipated life,

Has business; feels himself engaged t' achieve
No unimportant, though a silent, task.
A life all turbulence and noise may seem
To him that leads it wise, and to be praised;
But wisdom is a pearl with most success
Sought in still water, and beneath clear skies.
He that is ever occupied in storms,
Or dives not for it, or brings up instead,
Vainly industrious, a disgraceful prize.
The morning finds the self-sequestered man
Fresh for his task, intend what task he
Whether inclement seasons recommend
His warm but simple home, where he enjoys,
With her, who shares his pleasures and his heart,
Sweet converse, sipping calm the fragrant lymph,
Which neatly she prepares; then to his book
Well chosen, and not sullenly perused.

In selfish silence, but imparted oft,


As aught occurs, that she may smile to hear,
Or turn to nourishment, digested well,

Or if the garden with its many cares,

All well repaid, demand him, he attends
The welcome call, conscious how much the hand
Of lubbard labour needs his watchful eye,

Yes-thou mayest eat thy bread, and lick the hand | Oft loitering lazily, if not o'erseen,

That feeds thee; thou mayest frolic on the floor
At evening, and at night retire secure
To thy straw couch, and slumber unalarmed;
For I have gained thy confidence, have pledged
All that is human in me, to protect
Thine unsuspecting gratitude and love.
If I survive thee, I will dig thy grave;
And, when I place thee in it, sighing say,
I knew at least one hare that had a friend.

How various his employments, whom the world
Calls idle; and who justly in return

Or misapplying his unskilful strength.
Nor does he govern only or direct,

But much performs himself. No works, indeed
That ask robust, tough sinews, bred to toil,
Servile employ: but such as may amuse,
Not tire, demanding rather skill than force.
Proud of his well-spread walls, he views his trees
That meet, no barren interval between,

With pleasure more than e'en their fruits affords;
Which, save himself who trains them, none can


« VorigeDoorgaan »