Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

730

735

A palsy struck his arm ; his sparkling eye
Was quenched in rheums of age ; his voice, unstrung,
Grew tremulous, and mov'd derision more
Than rev’rence, 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 languished, Emulation slept,
And Virtue fled. The schonls became a scene
Of solemn farce, where Ignorance in stilts,
His
cap

well lind with logick not his own,
With parrot tongue perform’d the scholar's part,
Proceeding soon a graduated dunce.
Then compromise had place, and scrutiny 740
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 745
Grew rusty by disuse ; and massy gates
Forgot their office, op’ning with a touch ;
Till gowns at length are found mere masquerade,
The tassel'd cap and the spruce band a jest,
A mock’ry of the world! What need of these

750 For gamesters, jockeys, brothelers impure, Spendthrifts, and booted sportsmen, oft'ner 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 : 755 And such expense, as pinches parents blue, And mortifies the lib'ral 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,

760 And cleaves through life inseparably close To him that wears it. What can after games Of riper joys, and commerce with the world, VOL. II.

5

The lewd vain world, that must receive him soon,
Add to such erudition, thus acquired,

765
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 th' united powers
Of fashion, dissipation, taverns, stews.

770 Now blame we most the nurselings or the nurse ? The children crook'd, and twisted, and deformd, Through want of care; or her, whose winking eye And slumb'ring oscitancy mars the brood ? The nurse, no doubt. Regardless of her charge, 775 She needs herself correction; needs to learn That it is dang’rous 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

780 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-natured dresses her in smiles. He grac'd a college,* in which order yet

785 Was sacred; and was honour'd, lov’d, 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

790 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

795 The charms of virtue in their just esteem. If such escape contagion, and emerge Pure from so foul a pool to shine abroad, And give the world their talents and themselves,

Bene't Coll. Cambridge.

Small thanks to those whose negligence or sloth 800
Expos’d their inexperience to the snare,
And left them to an undirected choice.

See then the quiver broken and decay'd,
In which are kept our arrows! Rusting there
In wild disorder, and unfit for use,

805
What wonder, if discharg'd 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 artill’ry arm’d. Vice parries wide 810
Th’undreaded volley with a sword of straw,
And stands an impudent and fearless mark.

Have we not track'd the felon home, and found His birthplace and liis dam ? The country mourns, Mourns because ev'ry plague that can infest 815 Society, and that saps and worms the base Of th' edifice that policy has rais'd, Swarms in all quarters: meets the eye, the ear, And suffocates the breath at ev'ry turn. Profusion breeds them; and the cause itself 820 Of that calamitous mischief has been found : Found, too, where most offensive, in the skirts Of the rob'd pedagogue! Else let th' arraign'd Stand up unconscious, and refute the charge. So when the Jewish leader stretch'd his arm, 825 And wav'd his rod divine, a race obscene, Spawn'd in the muddy beds of Nile, came forta, Polluting Egypt : gardens, fields, and plains, Were cover'd with the pest; the streets were fill'd; The croaking nuisance lurk’d in ev'ry nook ; 830 Nor palaces, nor even chambers, 'scap'd ; And the land stank-so num'rous was tho fry.

THE TASK,

BOOK III.

THE GARDEN.

ARGUMENT OF THE THIRD BOOK. Self-recollection, and reproof-Address to domestick happiness

Some account of myself—The vanity of many of their pursuits, who are reputed wise-Justification of my censures-Divine illumination necessary to the most expert philosopher.-The question, What is truth? answered by other questions-Domestick happiness addressed again-Few lovers of the country-My tame hare Occupations of a retired gentleman in his garden-Pruning -Framing - Greenhouse-Sowing of flower seeds—The country preferable to the town even in the winter-Reasons why it is deserted at that season-Ruinous effects of gaming and of expensive improvement-Book eoneludes with an apostrophe to the metropolis.

5

AS one, who long in thickets and in brakes
Entangled, winds now this way and now that
His devious course uncertain, seeking home;
Or, having long in miry ways been foil'd
And sore discomfited, from slough to slough
Plunging, and half despairing of escape ;
If chance at length he find a greensward smooth
And faithful to the foot, his spirits rise,
He cherups brisk his ear-erecting steed,
And winds his way with pleasure and with ease.
So I, designing other themes, and call’d
T'adorn the Sofa with eulogium due,

10 15

To tell its slumbers, and to paint its dreams,
Have ramblod wide. In country, city, seat
Of academick fame, (howe'er deserv'd,)
Long held, and scarcely disengag'd at last :
But now with pleasant pace a cleanlier road
I mean to tread. I feel myself at large,
Courageous, and refresh'd for future toil,
If toil await me, or if dangers new.

20
Since pulpits fail, and sounding boards reflect
Most part an empty ineffectual sound,
What chance that I, to fame so little known,
Nor conversant with men or manners much,
Should speak to purpose, or with better hope 25
Crack the satirick thong ? 'Twere wiser far
For me, enamour'd of sequester'd scenes,
And charm'd with rural beauty, to repose
Where chance may throw me, beneath elm or vinc,
My languid limbs ; when summer sears the plains; 30
Or, when rough winter rages, on the soft
And shelter'd Sofa, while the nitrous air
Feeds a blue flame, and makes a cheerful hearth;
There, undisturb'd by Folly, and appriz'd
How great the danger of disturbing her,

35 To muse in silence, or at least confine Remarks, that gall so many, to the few My partners in retreat. Disgust conceal'd Is ofttimes proof of wisdom, when the fault Is obstinate, and cure beyond our reach.

40 Domestick happiness, thou only bliss Of Paradise, that has surviv'd the fall! Though few now taste thee unimpair'd and pure, Or tasting, long enjoy thee ! too infirm, Or too incautious, to preserve thy sweets

45 Unmix'd with drops of bitter, which neglect Or temper sheds into thy crystal cup; Thou art the nurse of Virtue in thine arms She smiles, appearing, as in truth she is, Heav'n-born, and destin'd to the skies again. 50

« НазадПродовжити »