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i Canst them, the tear just trembling on thy lids,
And while the dreadful risque foreseen forbids:
Free too, and under no constraining force,
'Unless the sway of custom warp thy course;
[Lay such a stake upon the losing side,
i Merely to gratify so blind a guide?
i Thou canst not! Nature, pulling at thine heart,
Condemns the unfatherly, the imprudent part.
Thou wouldest not, deaf to Nature's tenderest 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 governed by the self-same rule
Of natural pity, send him not to school.
No—guard him better. Is he not thine own,
Thyself in miniature, thy flesh, thy bone?
And hopest thou not ('tis every 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 in 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 its 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, its 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 base
Supplant thee in it, and usurp thy place.
But, if thou guard its 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 part.
Oh barbarous! wouklest thou with a Gothic hand Pull down the schools—what!—all the schools i' th'
Or throw them up to livery-nags and grooms,
Or turu them into shops and auction rooms?
A captious question, sir, (and your's is one)
Deserves an answer similar, or none.
Wouldest thou, possessor of a flock, employ
(Apprized that he is such) a careless boy,
And teed 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 its 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,
Ualess the world were all prepared to 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 managed, or encouraged less.
JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
Dear Joseph—five and twenty years ago— Alas how time escapes! 'tis even so— '• With frequent intercourse, and always sweet, And always friendly, we were wont to cheat A tedious hour—and now we never meet! As some grave gentleman in Terence says, ('Twas therefore much the same in ancient days) Good lack, we know not what to-morrow brings— Strange fluctuation of all human things! True. Changes will befal, and friends may part, But distance only cannot change the heart: And, were I called to prove the assertion true, One proof should serve—a reference to you.
Whence comes it then, that in the wane of life, Though nothing have occurred to kindle strife, We find the friends we fancied we had won, Though numerous once, reduced to few or none? Can gold grow worthless that has stood the touch? No; gold they seemed, but they were never such.
AN EPISTLE TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ. 75
Horatio's servant once, with bow and cringe, Swinging the parlour door upon its hinge, Dreading a negative, and overawed Lest he should trespass, begged to go abroad. Go, fellow !—whither ?—turning short about— Nay—stay at home—vou are always going out. Tis but a step, sir, just at the street's end.— For what ?—An please you, sir, to see a friend.— A friend! Horatio cried, and seemed to start— Yea, marry shalt thou, and with all my heart.— And fetch my cloak; for, though the night be raw, 111 see him too—the first I ever saw.
I knew the man, and knew his nature mild,
And was his plaything often when a child;
But somewhat at that moment pinched him close,
Else he was seldom bitter or morose.
Perhaps his confidence just then betrayed,
His grief might prompt him with the speech he made;
Perhaps 'twas mere good-humour gave it birth,
The harmless play of pleasantry and mirth.
However it was, his language, in my mind,
Bespoke at least a man that knew mankind.
But not to moralize too much, and strain
To prove an evil of which all complain,
(I hate long arguments verbosely spun)
One story more, dear Hill, and I have done.