'Now basket up the family of plagues That 7vaste our viials, peculation, sale Of honour, perjury, corruption, frauds."

[ocr errors]

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 its sire.
Profusion unrestrained, with all that's base
In character, has littered 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 trapped
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 shocked credulity herself
Unmasked, 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 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
That blushed 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 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 pemtence had won

Lost favour back again, and closed the breach.

But Discipline, a faithful servant long,

Declmed at length into the vale of years;

A palsy struck his arm, his sparkling eye

Was quenched 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'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

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 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

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 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 professed?

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 nurselings or the nurse?
The children crooked and 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 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 college1 in which order yet
Was sacred, and was honoured, loved and wept
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 poo), 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 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 armed. Vice parries wide The undreaded volley with a sword of straw, And stands an impudent and fearless mark.

Have we not tracked 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; 1 Bcn'et College, Cambridge.

« ForrigeFortsett »