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Our early notices of truth, disgrac'd,
Elisha's eye, that, when Gehazi stray'd, Soon lose their credit, and are all effac'd.
Went with him, and saw all the game he play'd ? Would you your son should be a sot or dunce, Yes ye are conscious; and on all the shelves Lascivious, headstrong, or all these at once ; Your pupils strike upon, have struck yourselves That in good time the stripling's finish'd taste Or if, by nature sober, ye had then, For loose expense, and fashionable waste,
Boys as ye were, the gravity of men ; Should prove your ruin, and his own at last; Ye knew at least, by constant proofs address'd Train him in public with a mob of boys,
To ears and eyes, the vices of the rest. Childish in mischief only and in noise,
But ye connive at what ye cannot cure, Else of a mannish growth, and five in ten
And evils, not to be endur'd, endure, In intidelity and lewdness men.
Lest pow'r exerted, but without success, There shall he learn, ere sixteen winters old, Should make the little ye retain still less. That authors are most useful pawn'd or sold; Ye once were justly fam'd for bringing forth That pedantry is all that schools impart,
Undoubted scholarship and genuine worth; But taverns teach the knowledge of the heart; And in the firmament of fame still shines There waiter Dick, with Bacchanalian lays, A glory, bright as that of all the signs, Shall win his heart, and have his drunken praise, Of poets rais’d by you, and statesmen, and divines His counsellor and bosom-friend, shall prove, Peace to them all those brilliant times are fled, And some street-pacing harlot his first love. And no such lights are kindling in their stead; Schools, unless discipline were doubly strong, Our striplings shine indeed, but with such rays, Detain their adolescent charge too long;
As set the midnight riot in a blaze ; The management of tiroes of eighteen
And seem, if judg'd by their expressive looks, Is difficult, their punishment obscene.
Deeper in none than in their surgeons' books The stout tall captain, whose superior size
Say, Muse, (for education made the song,
No Muse can hesitate, or linger long,)
To send our sons to scout and scamper there, With them is courage; his effront'ry wit.
While colts and puppies cost us so much care? His wild excursions, window-breaking feats,
Be it a weakness, it deserves some praise, Robb’ry of gardens, quarrels in the streets,
We love the play-place of our early days; His hair-breadth 'scapes, and all his daring schemes, The scene is touching, and the heart is stone, Transport them, and are made their fav’rite themes. That feels not at that sight, and feels at none. In little bosoms such achievements strike
The wall on which we tried our graving skill, A kindred spark : they burn to do the like. The very name we carv'd subsisting still ; Thus, half-accomplish'd ere he yet begin
The bench on which we sat while deep employ'd, To show the peeping down upon his chin ; Though mangled, hack'd, and hew'd, not yet de And, as maturity of years comes on,
stroy'd ; Made just th' adept that you design'd your son ; The little ones, unbutton'd, glowing hot, T ensure the perseverance of his course,
Playing our games, and on the very spot; And give your monstrous project all it's force, As happy as we once, to kneel and draw Send him to college. If he there be tam'd, The chalky ring, and knuckle down at taw; Or in one article of vice reclaim'd,
To pitch the ball into the grounded hat, Where no regard of ord'nances is shown
Or drive it devious with a dext'rous pat; Or look'd for now, the fault must be his own. The pleasing spectacle at once excites Some sneaking virtue lurks in him, no doubt, Such recollection of our own delights, Where neither strumpets' charms, nor drinking. That, viewing it, we seem almost t' obtain bout,
Our innocent sweet simple years again. Nor ling practices, can find it out.
This fond attachment to the well-known place, Such youths of spirit, and that spirit too,
Whence first we started into life's long race, Ye nurs'ries of our boys, we owe to you:
Maintains it's hold with such unfailing sway, Though from ourselves the mischief more proceeds, We feel it ev'n in age, and at our latest day. For public schools 't is public folly feeds.
Hark! how the sire of chits, whose future share The slaves of custom and establish'd mode,
Of classic food begins to be his care,
And tells them, as he strokes their silver locks, To follow foolish precedents, and wink
That they must soon learn Latin, and to box; With both our eyes, is easier than to think : Then turning he regales his list'ning wife And such an age as ours balks no expense,
With all th' adventures of his early life: Except of caution, and of common sense;
His skill in coachmanship, or driving chaise, Else, sure, notorious fact, and proof so plain, In bilking tavern-bills, and spouting plays; Would turn our steps into a wiser train.
What shifts he us'd, detected in a scrape, I blame not those, who, with what care they can How he was flogg'd, or had the luck t'escape; O'erwatch the num'rous and unruly clan;
What sums he lost at play, and how he sold Or, if I blame, 't is only that they dare
Watch, seals, and all — till all his pranks are told.
He gives the local bias all it's sway;
And destines their bright genius to be shown Press'd on his part by means, that would disgrace
In sacrilege, in God's own house profan'd.
The wretch shall rise, and be the thing on Earth Th' event is sure ; expect it, and rejoice !
Least qualified in honour, learning, worth,
To occupy a sacred, aweful post,
The great, indeed, by titles, riches, birth, The royal letters are a thing of course,
As bound in duty, would confirm the choice.
Dumb as a senator, and as a priest
And his end sure, without one glimpse of hope,
Still keeps a seat or two for worth and grace;
And therefore 't is, that, though the sight be rare,
We sometimes see a Lowth or Bagot there.
Though fair in promise, permanent and sound;
The most disint'rested and virtuous minds, In coach with purple lin'd, and mitres on it's side. In early years connected, time unbinds; Events improbable and strange as these,
New situations give a diff'rent cast
Of habit, inclination, temper, taste ;
Soon shows the strong similitude revers’d.
Young heads are giddy, and young hearts are warm, And will it breathe into him all the zeal,
And make mistakes for manhood to reform. That candidates for such a prize should feel, Boys are at best but pretty buds unblown, To take the lead and be the foremost still
Whose scent and hues are rather guess'd than known; In all true worth and literary skill ?
Each dreams that each is just what he appears, “ Ah blind to bright futurity, untaught
But learns his errour in maturer years,
If, therefore, ev'n when honest in design,
’T were wiser, sure, t'inspire a little heart Small skill in Latin, and still less in Greek, With just abhorrence of so mean a part, Is more than adequate to all I seek.
Than set your son to work at a vile trade, Let erudition grace him, or not grace,
For wages so unlikely to be paid.
Our public hives of puerile resort,
To such base hopes, in many a sordid soul,
Owe their repute in part, but not the whole.
Ranks as a virtue, and is yet a vice;
Contributes most, perhaps, to enhance their fame;
Boys, once on fire with that contentious zeal,
Feel all the rage, that female rivals feel;
The spirit of that competition burns
With all varieties of ill by turns;
Each vainly magnifies his own success,
How! - turn again to tales long since forgot, Resents his fellow's, wishes it were less,
Æsop, and Phædrus, and the rest ? — Why not? Exults in his miscarriage, if he fail,
He will not blush, that has a father's heart, Deems his reward too great, if he prevail,
To take in childish plays a childish part; And labours to surpass him day and night,
But bends his sturdy back to any toy, Less for improvement than to tickle spite.
That youth takes pleasure in, to please his boy ; The spur is pow'rful, and I grant it's force ; Then why resign into a stranger's hand It pricks the genius forward in it's course,
A task as much within your own command, Allows short time for play, and none for sloth; That God and Nature, and your int'rest too, And, felt alike by each, advances both:
Seem with one voice to delegate to you? But judge, where so much evil intervenes,
Why hire a lodging in a house unknown The end, though plausible, not worth the means. For one, whose tend'rest thoughts all hover round Weigh, for a moment, classical desert Against a heart deprav'd and temper hurt; This second weaning, needless as it is, Hurt too, perhaps, for life; for early wrong, How does it lae'rate both your heart and his ! Done to the nobler part, affects it long ;
Th' indented stick, that loses day by day And you are staunch, indeed, in learning's cause, Notch after notch, till all are smooth'd away, If you can crown a discipline, that draws
Bears witness, long ere his dismission come, Such mischiefs after it, with much applausc. With what intense desire he wants his home.
Connection form'd for int'rest, and endear'd But though the joys he hopes beneath your roof By selfish views, thus censur'd and cashier'd; Bid fair enough to answer in the proof, And emulation, as engend'ring hate,
Harmless, and safe, and nat'ral as they are, Doom'd to a no less ignominious fate :
A disappointment waits him even there : The props of such proud seminaries fall,
Arriv'd, he feels an unexpected change, The Jachin and the Boaz of them all.
He blushes, hangs his head, is shy and strange, Great schools rejected then, as those that swell No longer takes, as once, with fearless case, Beyond a size that can be manag'd well,
His fav’rite stand between his father's knees, Shall royal institutions miss the bays,
But seeks the corner of some distant seat, And small academies win all the praise ?
And eyes the door, and watches a retreat, Force not my drift beyond it's just intent,
And, least familiar where he should be most, I praise a school as Pope a government;
Feels all his happiest privileges lost. So take my judgment in his language dress’d, Alas, poor boy! the natural effect “ Whate'er is best administer'd is best."
Of love by absence chill'd into respect Few boys are born with talents that excel,
Say, what accomplishments, at school acquir'd, But all are capable of living well ;
Brings he, to sweeten fruits so undesir'd? Then ask not, Whether limited or large?
Thou well deserv'st an alienated son, But, Watch they strictly, or neglect their charge ? Unless thy conscious heart acknowledge - -none; If anxious only, that their boys may learn,
None that, in thy domestic snug recess, While morals languish, a despis'd concern, He had not made his own with more address, The great and small deserve one common blame, Though some perhaps, that shock thy feeling mind, Diff'rent in size, but in effect the same.
And better never learn'd, or left behind. Much zeal in virtue's cause all teachers boast, Add too, that, thus estrang'd, thou canst obtain Though motives of mere lucre sway the most : By no kind arts his confidence again ; Therefore in towns and cities they abound,
That here begins with most that long complaint Tor there the game they seek is easiest found; Of filial frankness lost, and love grown faint, Though there, in spite of all that care can do, Which, oft neglected, in life’s waning years Traps to catch youth are most abundant too. A parent pours into regardless ears. If shrewd, and of a well-constructed brain,
Like caterpillars, dangling under trees Keen in pursuit, and vig'rous to retain,
By slender threads, and swinging in the breeze, Your son come forth a prodigy of skill :
Which filthily bewray and sore disgrace As, wheresoever taught, so form’d, he will; The boughs, in which are bred th' unseemly race; The pedagogue, with self-complacent air,
While ev'ry worm industriously weaves Claims more than half the praise as his due share. And winds his web about the rivellid leaves; But if, with all his genius, he betray,
So mum'rous are the follies, that annoy Not more intelligent than loose and gay,
The mind and heart of ev'ry sprightly boy ; Such vicious habits, as disgrace his name,
Imaginations noxious and perverse,
To check the procreation of a breed
'T is not enough that Greek or Roman page, By all whom sentiment has not abus'd;
At stated hours, his freakish thoughts engage; New-fangled sentiment, the boasted grace
Ev'n in his pastimes he requires a friend,
And levying thus, and with an easy sway,
A tax of profit from his very play,
T impress a value, not to be eras'd, (waste. To double all thy pleasure in thy child,
Safe under such a wing, the boy shall show
No spots contracted among grooms below, And is he well content his son should find
Nor taint luis speech with meannesses, design'd No nourishment to feed his growing mind,
By footman Tom for witty and refin’d. But conjugated verbs, and nouns declin'd? There, in his commerce with the liv'ried herd, For such is all the mental food purvey'd
Lurks the contagion chiefly to be fear'd; By public hacknies in the schooling trade ; For since (so fashion dictates) all, who claim Who feed a pupil's intellect with store
A higher than a mere plebeian fame, Of syntax, truly, but with little more ;
Find it expedient, come what mischief may, Dismiss their cares, when they dismiss their flock, To entertain a thief or two in pay, Machines themselves, and govern'd by a clock. (And they that can afford th’ expense of more, Perhaps a father, blest with any brains,
Some half-a-dozen and some half-a-score,) Would deem it no abuse, or waste of pains, Great cause occurs, to save him from a band T'improve this diet, at no great expense,
So sure to spoil him, and so near at hand; With sav'ry truth and wholesome common sense ; A point secur’d, if once he be supplied To lead his son, for prospects of delight,
With some such Mentor always at his side. To some not steep, though philosophic, height, Are such men rare? perhaps they would abound, Thence to exhibit to his wond'ring eyes
Were occupation easier to be found, Yon circling worlds, their distance, and their size, Were education, else so sure to fail, The moons of Jove, and Saturn's belted ball, Conducted on a manageable scale, And the harmonious order of them all;
And schools, that have outliv'd all just esteem, To show him in an insect or a flow'r
Exchang'd for the secure domestic scheme. Such microscopic proof of skill and pow'r,
Dus, having found him, be thou duke or earl, As, hid from ages past, God now displays,
Show thou hast sense enough to prize the pearl, To combat atheists with in modern days;
And, as thou wouldst th' advancement of thine heir To spread the Earth before him, and commend, In all good faculties beneath his care, With designation of the finger's end,
Respect, as is but rational and just,
A man deem'd worthy of so dear a trust.
His lessons tire, his mild rebukes offend,
And all th: instructions of thy son's best friend A wish to copy, what he must admire.
Are a stream chok'd, or trickling to no end.
And that, possessor of a soul refin'd,
And, if admitted at thy board he sit,
Offend not him, whom modesty restrains
From repartee, with jokes that he disdains ;
Much less transfix his feelings with an oath ;
Foul with excess, and with discourse obscene, No jester, and yet lively in discourse,
And thou a wretch, whom, foll'wing her old plan, His phrase well chosen, clear, and full of force; The World accounts an honourable man, And his address, if not quite French in ease, Because forsooth thy courage has been tried, Not English suff, but frank, and form'd to please ; And stood the test, perhaps, on the wrong side ! Low in the world, because he scorns it's arts; Though thou hadst never grace enough to prove, A man of letters, manners, morals, parts ;
That any thing but vice could win thy love ; Unpatronis'd, and therefore little known;
Or hast thou a polite, card-playing wife, Wise for himself and his few friends alone
Chain’d to the routs that she frequents for life; In him thy well-appointed proxy see,
Who just when industry begins to snoré, Arın'd for a work too difficult for thee;
Flies, wing’d with joy, io some coach-crowded door ; Prepar'd by taste, by learning, and true worth, And thrice in ev'ry winter throngs thine own To form thy son, to strike his genius forth; With balf the chariots and sedans in town, Beneath thy roof, beneath thine eye, to prove Thyself, meanwhile, e'en shifting as thou nayst; The force of discipline, when back'd by love; Not very sober though, nor very chaste :
Or is thine house, though less superb thy rank, See great commanders making war a trade,
Great lawyers, lawyers without study made; And thou at best, and in thy sob'rest mood, Churchmen, in whose esteem their blest employ A trifler vain, and empty of all good;
Is odious, and their wages all their joy, Though mercy for thyself thou canst have none, Who, far enough from furnishing their shelves Hear Nature plead, show mercy to thy son. With Gospel lore, turn infidels themselves; Sav'd from his home, where ev'ry day brings forth See womanhood despis'd, and manhood sham'd Some mischief fatal to his future worth,
With infamy too nauseous to be nam'd, Find him a better in a distant spot,
Fops at all corners, lady-like in mien, Within some pious pastor's humble cot,
Civetted fellows, smelt ere they are seen, Where vile example (yours I chiefly mean,
Else coarse and rude in manners, and their tongue The most seducing, and the oft'nest seen)
On fire with curses, and with nonsense hung, May never more be stamp'd upon his breast, Now Aush'd with drunk'nness, now with whoredom Nor yet perhaps incurably impress'd.
pale, Where early rest makes early rising sure,
Their breath a sample of last night's regale; Disease or comes not, or finds easy cure,
See volunteers in all the vilest arts, Prevented much by diet neat and plain;
Men well endow'd, of honourable parts, Or, if it enter, soon starv'd out again :
Design'd by Nature wise, but self-made fools; Where all th' attention of his faithful host, All these, and more like these, were bred at schools. Discreetly limited to two at most,
And if it chance, as sometimes chance it will, May raise such fruits as shall reward his care, That, though school-bred, the boy be virtuous still; And not at last evaporate in air :
Such rare exceptions, shining in the dark, Where, stillness aiding study, and his mind Prove, rather than impeach, the just remark: Serene, and to his duties much inclin'd,
As here and there a twinkling star descried Not occupied in day-dreams, as at home,
Serves but to show how black is all beside. Of pleasures past, or follies yet to come,
Now look on him, whose very voice in tone His virtuous toil may terminate at last
Just echoes thine, whose features are thine own, In settled habit and decided taste.
And stroke his polish'd cheek of purest red, But whom do I advise ? the fashion-led,
And lay thine hand upon his flaxen head, Th' incorrigibly wrong, the deaf and dead, And say, “ My boy, th' unwelcome hour is comie, Whom care and cool deliberation suit
When thou, transplanted from thy genial home, Not better much than spectacles a brute ;
Must find a colder soil and bleaker air, Who, if their sons some slight tuition share, And trust for safety to a stranger's care ; Deem it of no great moment whose, or where ; What character, what turn thou wilt assume Too proud to adopt the thoughts of one unknown, From constant converse with I know not whom; And much too gay t' have any of their own. Who there will court - thy friendship, with what “ But courage, man !" methought the Muse replied,
views, “ Mankind are various, and the world is wide : And, artless as thou art, whom thou wilt choose; The ostrich, silliest of the feather'd kind,
Though much depends on what thy choice shall be, And form'd of God without a parent's mind, Is all chance-medley, and unknown to me. Commits her eggs, incautious, to the dust,
Canst thou, the tear just trembling on thy lids, Forgetful that the foot may crush the trust; And while the dreadful risk foreseen forbids; And, while on public nurs’ries they rely,
Free to, and under no constraining force, Not knowing, and too oft not caring, why, Unless the sway of custom warp thy course; Irrational in what they thus prefer,
Lay such a stake upon the losing side, No few, that would seem wise, resemble her. Merely to gratify so blind a guide ? But all are not alike. Thy warning voice Thou canst not! Nature, pulling at thine heart, May here and there prevent erroneous choice ; Condems th' unfatherly, th' imprudent part. And some perhaps, who, busy as they are,
Thou wouldst not, deaf to Nature's tend'rest ples, Yet make their progeny their dearest care, (reach | Turn him adrift upon a rolling sea, (Whose hearts will ache, once told what ills may Nor say, Go thither, conscious that there lay Their offspring, left upon so wild a beach,) A brood of asps, or quicksands in his way: Will need no stress of argument t' enforce
Then, only govern'd by the self-same rule Th' expedience of a less advent'rous course : Of nat'ral pity, send him not to school. The rest will slight thy counsel, or condemn; No guard him better. Is he not thine own, But they have human feelings - turn to them." Thyself in miniature, thy flesh, thy bone ?
To you, then, tenants of life's middle state, And hop'st thou not ('t is ev'ry father's hope) Securely plac'd between the small and great, That, since thy strength must with thy years elope, Whose character, yet undebauch'd, retains
And thou wilt need some comfort, to assuage Two-thirds of all the virtue that remains,
Health's last farewell, a staff of thine old age, Who, wise yourselves, desire your son should learn That then, in recompense of all thy cares, Your wisdom and your ways to you I turn. Thy child shall show respect to thy gray hairs Look round you on a world perversely blind; Befriend thee, of all other friends bereft, See what contempt is fall'n on human-kind; And give thy life it's only cordial left? See wealth abus'd, and dignities misplac'd, Aware, then, how much danger intervenes, Great titles, offices, and trusts disgrac'd,
To compass that good end, forecast the means Long lines of ancestry, renown'd of old,
His heart, now passive, yields to thy command; Their noble qualities all quench'd and cold ; Secure it thine, it's key is in thine hand. See Bedlam's closetted and hand-cuff'd charge If thou desert thy charge, and throw it wide, Surpass'd in phrenzy by the mad at large;
Nor heed wliat guests there enter and abide,