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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 gray, but never wise ;
There form connexions, but 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 ?)
Make just reprisals; and, with cringe and shrug,
And bow obsequious, hide their hate of her.
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 Juno's 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 ;
Then cast them, closely bundled, every brat
At the right door. Profusion is the fire.
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,
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 mulish mouth
Of headstrong youth were broken ; bars and bolts
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, jockeys, 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 ?
They may confirm his habits, rivet fast
His folly, but to spoil him is a task
That bids defiance to the united powers
Of fashion, dissipation, taverns, stews.
Now, blame we most the nurslings 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, in which order yet
Was sacred ; and was honour'd, loved, and wept,
By more than one, themselves conspicuous there.
Some minds are temper'd happily, and mix’d
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,
1 Bene't College, Cambridge.