Page images
PDF
EPUB

His

But strong for service still, and unimpair'd.
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.

Pur. Lost, viii. 489.

705

710

715

720

725

730

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 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

735

740

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?

750

755

760

765

They may confirm his habits, rivet fast
His folly 28, but to spoil him is a task
That bids defiance to the united powers
Of fashion, dissipation, taverns, stews.
Now blame we most the nurselings or the nurse?
The children crook'd and twisted and deform'd
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 a 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 29 in which order yet
Was sacred, and was honour'd loved and wept 30
By more than one, themselves conspicuous there.
Some minds are temper'd happily, and mixt
With such ingredients of good sense and taste
Of what is excellent in man, they thirst

770

30 Praised, wept, and honour'd by the Muse he loved.

Pope on Craggs.

775

780

785

790

28 The sensual and the dark rebel in vainSlaves by their own compulsion.

Coleridge.

It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.-Burke. Answer to Objections, &c. 69.

29 Ben'et College, Cambridge.

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 thein, 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 decay'd
In which are kept our arrows. Rusting there
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
With such artillery arm'd. Vice parries wide
The undreaded volley with a sword of straw,
And stands an impudent and fearless mark.

Have we not track'd the felon home, and found
His birthplace and his dam? the country mourns,
Mourns, because every plague that can infest
Society, and that saps and worms the base
Of the 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

795

800

805

810

815

820

Of the robed pedagogue. Else, let the arraign'd
Stand up unconscious and refute the charge.
So when the Jewish Leader stretch'd his arm
And waved his rod divine, a race obscene
Spawn'd in the muddy beds of Nile, came forth
Polluting Egypt. Gardens, fields, and plains
Were cover'd with the pest. The streets were fill'd;
The croaking nuisance lurk'd in every nook,
Nor palaces nor even chambers 'scaped,
And the land stank, so numerous was the fry.

830

825

« PreviousContinue »