Sidebilder
PDF

As here and there a twinkling star descried

Serves but to show how black is all beside.

Now look on him whose very voice in tone

Just echoes thine, whose features are thine own,

And stroke his polished cheek of purest red,

And lay thine hand upon his flaxen head,

And say, my boy, the unwelcome hour is come,

When thou, transplanted from thy genial home,

Must find a colder soil and bleaker air,

And trust for safety to a stranger's care;

What character, what turn thou wilt assume

From constant converse with I know not whom,

Who there will court thy friendship, with what view

And, artless as thou art, whom thou wilt choose,

Though much depends on what thy choice shall be,

Is all chance-medley and unknown to me.

Canst thou, the tear just trembling on thy lids.

And while the dreadful risk 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,

Merely to gratify so blind a guide?

Thou canst not: Nature pulling at thine heart,

Condemns the unfatherly, the imprudent part.

Thou wouldst 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 of 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 secret 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! wouldst thou with a Gothic hand Pull down the schools—what !—all the schools i' the

land?
Or throw them up to livery-nags and grooms?
Or turn them into shops and auction rooms?
—A captious question, sir, and yours is one,
Deserves an answer similar, or none.
Wouldst thou, possessor of a flock, employ
(Apprised that he is such) a careless boy,
And feed 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,
Unless 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.

[ocr errors][graphic]
[graphic]

VERSES

WRITTEN AT HATH, ON FINDING THE HEEL OF A SHOE, IN 1748.

Fortune! I thank thee: gentle goddess, thanks!

Not that my Muse, though bashful, shall deny

She would have thanked thee rather, hadst thou cast

A treasure in her way; for neither meed

Of early breakfast, to dispel the fumes

And bowel-raking pains of emptiness,

Nor noontide feast, nor evening's cool repast,

Hopes she from this, presumptuous—though perhaps

The cobbler, leather-carving artist, might.

Nathless she thanks thee, and accepts thy boon,

Whatever; not as erst the fabled cock,

Vain-glorious fool, unknowing what he found,

Spurned the rich gem thou gavest him. Wherefore, ah!

Why not on me that favour, (worthier sure,)

Conferredst thou, goddess? Thou art blind, thou sayest:

Enough !—thy blindness shall excuse the deed.

Nor does my Muse no benefit exhale
From this thy scant indulgence ;—even here,
Hints, worthy sage philosophy, are found,
Illustrious hints, to moralise my song.
This ponderous heel of perforated hide
Compact, with pegs indented many a row,
Haply, (for such its massy form bespeaks),
The weighty tread of some rude peasant clown
Upbore: on this supported oft he stretched,
With uncouth strides, along the furrowed glebe,
Flattening the stubborn clod, till cruel time
(What will not cruel time?) on a wry step,
Severed the strict cohesion; when, alas!
He, who could erst with even equal pace,
Pursue his destined way with symmetry
And some proportion formed, now, on one side,
Curtailed and maimed, the sport of vagrant boys,
Cursing his frail supporter, treacherous prop!
With toilsome steps, and difficult, moves on.

Thus fares it oft with other than the feet

Of humble villager:—the statesman thus,

Up the steep road where proud ambition leads,

Aspiring, first uninterrupted winds

His prosperous way; nor fears miscarriage foul,

While policy prevails and friends prove true:

But that support soon failing, by him left

On whom he most depended,—basely left,

Betrayed, deserted,—from his airy height

Headlong he falls, and through the rest of life

Drags the dull load of disappointment on.

AN ODE,

ON READING MR. EICHAEDSON's HISTORY OF SIR CHARLES GEANDISON.

Say, ye apostate and profane,
Wretches who blush not to disdain

Allegiance to your God,—
Did e'er your idly-wasted love
Of virtue for her sake remove

And lift you from the crowd?

Would you the race of glory run,
Know, the devout and they alone,

Are equal to the task:
The labours of the illustrious course
Far other than the unaided force

Of human vigour ask,

To arm against repeated ill

The patient heart too brave to feel

The tortures of despair;
Nor safer yet high-crested pride,
When wealth flows in with every tide

To gain admittance there.

To rescue from the tyrant's sword

The oppressed ;—unseen and unimplored,

To cheer the face of woe;
From lawless insult to defend
An orphan's right, a fallen friend,

And a forgiven foe;

These, these distinguish from the crowd,
And these alone, the great and good,

The guardians of mankind;
Whose bosoms with these virtues heave,
Oh, with what matchless speed, they leave

The multitude behind!

Then ask ye, from what cause on earth
Virtues like these derive their birth?
Derived from heaven alone,

A SONG.

The sparkling eye, Ihe mantling cheek,
The polished front, the snowy neck,

How seldom we behold in one!
Glossy locks, and brow serene,
Venus' smiles, Diana's mien,
All meet in you, and you alune.

Beauty, like other powers, maintains
Her empire, and by union reigns;

Each single feature faintly warms:
But where at once we view displayed
Unblemished grace, the perfect maid

Our eyes, our ears, our heart alarms.

So when on earth the god of day
Obliquely sheds his tempered ray,

Tnrough convex orbs the beams transmit, The beams that gently warmed before, Collected, gently warm no more,

But glow with more prevailing heal.

A SONG.

On the green margin of the brook

Despairing Phyllida reclined, Whilst every sigh, and every look,

Declared the anguish of her mind.

Am I less lovely then? (she cries,
And in the waves her form surveyed);

Oh yes, I see my languid eyes,
My faded cheek, my colour fled:

These eyes no more like lightning pierced,

These cheeks grew pale, when Damon first His Phyllida betrayed.

Thp rose he in his bosom wore,

How oft upon my breast was seen!

And when I kissed the drooping flower,
Behold, he cried, it blooms again!

The wreaths that bound my braided hair,

Himself next day was proud to wear
At church, or on the green.

While thus sad Phyllida lamented,
Chance brought unlucky Thyrsis on;

Umr.l.mgly the nymph consented,
But Damon first the cheat begun.

She wiped the fallen tears away,

Then sighed and blushed, as who would say Ah! Thyrsis, I am won.

« ForrigeFortsett »