Page images

A form as splendid as the proudest there,
Though appetite raise outcries at the cost?
A man of the town dines late, but soon enough
With reasonable forecast and dispatch,


To insure a side-box station at half price.
You think perhaps, so delicate his dress,
His daily fare as delicate. Alas!


He picks clean teeth, and busy as he seems
With an old tavern quill, is hungry yet.
The rout is folly's circle which she draws
With magic wand. So potent is the spell,
That none decoy'd into that fatal ring,




Unless by Heaven's peculiar grace, escape.
There we grow early grey, but never wise;
There form connexions, and acquire no friend;
Solicit pleasure hopeless of success;
Waste youth in occupations only fit
For second childhood, and devote old age
To sports which only childhood could excuse
There they are happiest who dissemble best
Their weariness; and they the most polite
Who squander time and treasure with a smile,
Though at their own destruction. She that asks
Her dear five hundred friends, contemns them all,
And hates their coming. They, what can they less?

25 At last to follies youth could scarce defend,
It grows their age's prudence to pretend;
Ashamed to own they gave delight before,
Reduced to feign it when they give no more:
As hags hold sabbaths less for joy than spite,
So these their merry, miserable night.

Pope. Moral Essays. Epist. ii. 235.


Make just reprisals, and with cringe and shrug
And bow obsequious, hide their hate of her 26
All catch the frenzy, downward from her Grace,
Whose flambeaux flash against the morning skies
And gild our chamber ceilings as they pass,
To her who, frugal only that her thrift
May feed excesses she can ill afford,

Is hackney'd home unlackey'd,-who in haste
Alighting, turns the key in her own door,



And at the watchman's lantern borrowing light,
Finds a cold bed her only comfort left.


Wives beggar husbands, husbands starve their wives, On Fortune's velvet altar offering up

Their last poor pittance;-Fortune most severe

Of goddesses yet known, and costlier far

Than all that held their routs in heathen heaven.

So fare we in this prison-house the world:


And 'tis a fearful spectacle to see

So many maniacs dancing in their chains.

They gaze upon the links that hold them fast
With eyes of anguish, execrate their lot,

Then shake them in despair, and dance again.
Now basket up the family of plagues


That waste our vitals. Peculation, sale
Of honour, perjury, corruption, frauds
By forgery, by subterfuge of law,


By tricks and lies as numerous and as keen

As the necessities their authors feel;

26 What though the dome be wanting, whose proud gate Each morning vomits out the sneaking crowd

Of flatterers false, and in their turn abused,

Vile intercourse.

Thomson. Autumn, 1243.

Then cast them closely bundled, every brat
At the right door. Profusion is its sire.
Profusion unrestrain'd, with all that's base
In character, has litter'd all the land,
And bred within the memory of no few,
A priesthood such as Baal's was of old,


A people such as never was till now.

It is a hungry vice:-it eats up all
That gives society its beauty, strength,
Convenience, and security, and use;

Makes men mere vermin, worthy to be trapp'd
And gibbeted as fast as catchpole claws
Can seize the slippery prey: unties the knot
Of union, and converts the sacred band
That holds mankind together, to a scourge.
Profusion deluging a state with lusts
Of grossest nature and of worst effects,
Prepares it for its ruin; hardens, blinds,
And warps the consciences of public men
Till they can laugh at virtue, mock the fools
That trust them, and in the end disclose a face
That would have shock'd credulity herself
Unmask'd, vouchsafing this their sole excuse,
Since all alike are selfish-why not they?
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 call'd Discipline. His head
Not yet by time completely silver'd o'er,
Bespoke him past the bounds of freakish youth,






But strong for service still, and unimpair'd.
His eye was meek and gentle, and a smile
Play'd 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
That blush'd at its own praise, and press the youth
Close to his side that pleased him. Learning grew
Beneath his care, a thriving vigorous plant;
The mind was well inform'd, the passions held
Subordinate, and diligence was choice.


If e'er it chanced, as sometimes chance it must,
That one among so many overleap'd

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
Was quench'd in rheums of age, his voice unstrung
Grew tremulous, and moved derision more
Than reverence, in perverse rebellious youth.
So colleges and halls neglected much
Their good old friend, and Discipline at length
O'erlook'd and unemploy'd, fell sick and died.
Then study languish'd, emulation slept,

27 In every gesture dignity and love.

Par. Lost, viii. 489.



And virtue fled. The schools became a scene
Of solemn farce, where ignorance in stilts,


cap well lined with logic not his own,

With parrot tongue perform'd 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 muleish mouth



Of headstrong youth were broken; bars and bolts 745 Grew rusty by disuse, and massy gates

Forgot their office, opening with a touch;

Till gowns at length are found mere masquerade;
The tassell'd cap and the spruce band a jest,
A mockery of the world. What need of these
For gamesters, jockies, brothellers impure,
Spendthrifts and booted sportsmen, oftener seen
With belted waist and pointers at their heels,
Than in the bounds of duty? What was learn'd,
If aught was learn'd in childhood, is forgot,
And such expense as pinches parents blue,
And mortifies the liberal hand of love,
Is squander'd in pursuit of idle sports
And vicious pleasures; 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 profess'd?

« PreviousContinue »