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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 ealled 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 bim. 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 controul, 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 penitence had won
Lost favour back again, and closed the breach.
But Discipline, a faithful servant long,
Declined at length into the vale of years:
A palsy struck his arm; his sparkling eye
Was quenched in rheuins 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 fárce, where ignorance in stilts,
well lined with fogic 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 head-strong 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 tassled 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 expence, 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 nurslings or the nurse?
The children crooked, and twisted, and deformed,
Through want of care; or her, whose winking eye
And slunbering oscitancy mars the brood?
The nurse no doubt. Regardless of her charge
She needs berself 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 college *, 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 mixt
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 sec
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 pool to shine abroad,
And give the world their talents and themselves,
Small thanks to those, whose negligence of 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,
Wbat wonder if, discharged into the world,
They shame their shooters with a random fight,
Their poii's obtuse, and feathers drunk with winc!
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 birth-place and his dain. 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,
And suffocates the brcath, at every turn.
Profusion breeds them; and the cause itself
Of that calamitous mischiet has been found:
Found too where most offensive, in the skirts,
Of the robed pedagogue! Else let the arraigned
Stand up unconscious; and refute the charge.
So, when the Jewish leader stretchex his arm,
And waved bis rod divine, a race obscene,
Spawned in the muddy bees of Nile, came forth,
Polluting Egypt: gardens, fields, and plains,
Were covered with the pest; the streets were filled;
The croaking nuisance lurked in every nook;
Nor palaces, nor even chambers, 'scaped;
And the land stauk--so numerous wns the fry.