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Few boys are born with talents that excel,
But all are capable of living well;
Then ask not, Whether limited or large?
But, Watch they strictly, or neglect their charge?
If anxious only that their boys may learn,
While morals languish, a despis'd concern,
The great and small deserve one common blame,
Diff'rent in size, but in effect the same.
Much zeal in virtue's cause all teachers boast,
Though motives of mere lucre sway the most;
Therefore in towns and cities they abound,
For there the game they seek is easiest found;
Though there, in spite of all that care can do,
Traps to catch youth are most abundant too.
If shrewd, and of a well-constructed brain,
Keen in pursuit, and vig'rous to retain,
Your son come forth a prodigy of skill;
As, wheresoever taught, so form’d, he will;
The pedagogue, with self-complacent air,
Claims more than half the praise as his due share.
But, if, with all his genius, he betray,
Not more intelligent than loose and gay,
Such vicious habits as disgrace his name,
Threaten his health, his fortune, and his fame;
Though want of due restraint alone have bred
The symptoms that you see with so much dread;
Unenvy'd there, he may sustain alone
The whole reproach — the fault was all his
Oh 'tis a sight to be with joy perus’d, By all whom sentiment has not abus'd; New-fangled sentiment, the boasted grace Of those who never feel in the right place; A sight surpass’d by none that we can show, Though Vestris on one leg still shine below; A father blest with an ingenuous sonFather, and friend, and tutor, all in one. How!-turn again to tales long since forgot, Æsop, and Phædrus, and the rest? —Why not?
He will not blush that has a father's heart,
To take in childish plays a childish part;
But bends his sturdy back to any toy
That youth takes pleasure in, to please his boy:
Then why resign into a stranger's hand
A task as much within your own command,
That God and nature, and your int'rest too, ,
Seem with one voice to delegate to you?
Why hire a lodging in a house unknown
For one whose tend'rest thoughts all hover round
This second weaning, needless as it is,
How does it lac'rate both your heart and his!
Th' indented stick, that loses day by day
Notch after notch, till all are smooth'd away,
Bears witness, long ere his dismission come,
With what intense desire he wants his home.
But, though the joys he hopes beneath your
Bid fair enough to answer in the proof,
Harmless, and safe, and nat'ral, as they are,
A disappointment waits him even there:
Arriv’d, he feels an unexpected change;
He blushes, hangs his head, is shy and strange,
No longer takes, as once, with fearless ease,
His fav’rite stand between his father's knees,
But seeks the corner of some distant seat,
And eyes the door, and watches a retreat,
And, least familiar where he should be most,
Feels all his happiest privileges lost.
Alas, poor boy!-the natural effect
Of love by absence chill'd into respect.
Say, what accomplishments, at school acquir’d,
Brings he, to sweeten fruits so undesir’d?
Thou well deserv'st an alienated son,
Unless thy conscious heart acknowledge—none;
None that, in thy domestic snug recess,
He had not made his own with more address,
Though some perhaps that shock thy feeling mind,
And better never learn'd, or left behind.
Add too, that, thus estrang’d, thou canst obtain
By no kind arts his confidence again;
That here begins with most that long complaint
Of filial frankness lost, and love grown faint,
Which, oft neglected, in life's waning years
A parent pours into regardless ears.
Like caterpillars, dangling under trees By slender threads, and swinging in the breeze, Which filthily bewray and sore disgrace The bougns in which are bred th' unseemly
While ev'ry worm industriously weaves
And winds his web about the rivell'd leaves;
So num'rous are the follies that annoy
The mind and heart of every sprightly boy;
Imaginations noxious and perverse,
Which admonition can alone disperse.
Th' encroaching nuisance asks a faithful hand,
Patient, affectionate, of high command,