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is never well known, even by his parents; because he is never placed in those circumstances which alone are able effectually to rouse and interest his passions, and consequently to make his character appear. His parents, therefore, or tutors, never know his weak side, nor what particular advices or cautions he stands most in need of; whereas, if he had attended a public school, and mingled in the amusements and pursuits of his equals, his virtues and his vices would have been disclosing themselves every day; and his teachers would have known what particular precepts and examples it was most expedient to inculcate upon him. Compare those who have had a public education with those who have been educated at home; and it will not be found, in fact, that the latter are, either in virtue or in talents, superior to the former.

Letter to Mrs. Inglis, Dec. 1770.


Of the second class of social duties, which consist in the indulgence of those affections that incline us to do good to others, the first is to cherish benevolence, charity, or love, to all mankind without exception. We are all by nature brethren, placed in the same, or in similar circumstances, subject to the same wants and infirmities, endowed with the same faculties, and equally dependent on the great Author of our being: we cannot be happy but in the society of one another, and from one another we daily receive, or may receive, important services. These considerations recommend the great duty of universal benevolence, which is not more beneficial to others than to ourselves; for it makes us happy in our own minds, and amiable in the eyes of all who know us; it even promotes bodily health, and it prepares the soul for every virtuous impression while malevolent passions debase the understanding, harden the heart, and make a man disagreeable to others and a torment to himself. A second duty of this class is compassion, or that sympathy which prompts us to relieve the distresses of one another; and a third is gratitude, which makes us anxious to requite the favors we may have received. Good men are entitled to peculiar love and esteem. He who does good to one person, from a benevolent principle, lays an obligation on the whole species; for he shows that he has the interest of mankind at heart, and he sets a good example. Our love of good men, therefore, partakes of the nature of gratitude: to be destitute of it, is a proof of such depravity as even profligates would be ashamed of.

Moral Science, part iii.


Ah! who can tell how hard it is to climb

The steep where Fame's proud temple shines afar!
Ah! who can tell how many a soul sublime
Has felt the influence of malignant star,
And waged with Fortune an eternal war;
Check'd by the scoff of Pride, by Envy's frown,
And Poverty's unconquerable bar,

In life's low vale remote has pined alone,

Then dropp'd into the grave, unpitied and unknown!

And yet the languor of inglorious days

Not equally oppressive is to all;

Him who ne'er listen'd to the voice of praise

The silence of neglect can ne'er appal.

There are, who, deaf to mad Ambition's call,

Would shrink to hear the obstreperous trump of Fame;
Supremely blest, if to their portion fall

Health, competence, and peace.

Nor higher aim

Had he, whose simple tale these artless lines proclaim.

The rolls of fame I will not now explore;
Nor need I here describe, in learned lay,
How forth the Minstrel fared in days of yore,
Right glad of heart, though homely in array,
His waving locks and beard all hoary gray;
While from his bending shoulder, decent hung
His harp, the sole companion of his way,
Which to the whistling wind responsive rung:
And ever as he went some merry lay he sung.
Fret not thyself, thou glittering child of pride,
That a poor villager inspires my strain:
With thee let Pageantry and Power abide;
The gentle Muses haunt the sylvan reign,

Where through wild groves at eve the lonely swain
Enraptur'd roams, to gaze on Nature's charms.
They hate the sensual, and scorn the vain;
The parasite their influence ne'er warms,
Nor him whose sordid soul the love of gold alarms.


There lived in Gothic days, as legends tell,
A shepherd swain, a man of low degree,

Whose sires, perchance, in Fairyland might dwell,
Sicilian groves, or vales of Arcady;

1 The conception of the commencement of the Minstrel is fine, and highly poetical; and it is beautifully and vigorously executed; but he already falls off in the second canto, both in invention and expression." Read a very genial critique on Beattie's Poems, in Sir Egerton Brydges' "Imaginative Biography," i. 153-173.

Lord Lyttelton (author of "Dialogues of the Dead," and of a "Dissertation on the Conversion and Apostleship of Paul") thus wrote to Mrs. Montagu, March, 1771:-"I read the 'Minstrel' with as much rapture as poetry, in her noblest, sweetest charms, ever raised in my soul. It seemed to me that my once most-beloved minstrel, Thomson, was come down from heaven, refined by the converse of purer spirits than those he lived with here, to let me hear him sing again the beauties of nature, and the finest feelings of virtue, not with human, but with angelic strains."

But he, I ween, was of the north countrie!'
A nation fam'd for song, and beauty's charms;
Zealous, yet modest; innocent, though free;
Patient of toil; serene amidst alarms;
Inflexible in faith; invincible in arms.

The shepherd-swain of whom I mention made,
On Scotia's mountain fed his little flock;
The sickle, scythe, or plough he never sway'd;
An honest heart was almost all his stock;
His drink the living water from the rock;
The milky dams supplied his board, and lent
Their kindly fleece to baffle winter's shock;

And he, though oft with dust and sweat besprent,

Did guide and guard their wanderings, wheresoe'er they went.
From labor health, from health contentment springs:
Contentment opes the source of every joy:
He envied not, he never thought of kings;
Nor from those appetites sustain'd annoy,
That chance may frustrate, or indulgence cloy;
Nor fate his calm and humble hopes beguiled;
He mourn'd no recreant friend, nor mistress coy,
For on his vows the blameless Phoebe smiled,
And her alone he loved, and loved her from a child.

No jealousy their dawn of love o'ercast,
Nor blasted were their wedded days with strife;
Each season look'd delightful, as it past,

To the fond husband and the faithful wife.
Beyond the lowly vale of shepherd life
They never roam'd; secure beneath the storm
Which in Ambition's lofty land is rife,

Where peace and love are canker'd by the worm
Of pride, each bud of joy industrious to deform.

The wight, whose tale these artless lines unfold,
Was all the offspring of this humble pair:
His birth no oracle or seer foretold;

No prodigy appear'd in earth or air,

Nor aught that might a strange event declare.
You guess each circumstance of Edwin's birth;
The parent's transport, and the parent's care;
The gossip's prayer for wealth, and wit, and worth;
And one long summer-day of indolence and mirth.

And yet poor Edwin was no vulgar boy:
Deep thought oft seem'd to fix his infant eye;
Dainties he heeded not, nor gaude, nor toy,
Save one short pipe of rudest minstrelsy:
Silent when glad; affectionate, though shy;
And now his look was most demurely sad;
And now he laugh'd aloud, yet none knew why.

1 There is hardly an ancient ballad or romance, wherein the minstrel or harper who appears is not declared, by way of eminence, to have been "of the north countrie." It is probable that under this appellation were formerly comprehended all the provinces to the north of the Trent.

The neighbors stared, and sigh'd, yet bless'd the lad:

Some deem'd him wondrous wise, and some believed him mad.

But why should I his childish feats display?
Concourse, and noise, and toil he ever fled;
Nor cared to mingle in the clamorous fray
Of squabbling imps; but to the forest sped,
Or roam'd at large the lonely mountain's head;
Or, when the maze of some bewilder'd stream
To deep untrodden groves his footsteps led,
There would he wander wild, till Phoebus' beam,
Shot from the western cliff, released the weary team.

Th' exploit of strength, dexterity, or speed,
To him nor vanity nor joy could bring;

His heart, from cruel sport estrang'd, would bleed
To work the wo of any living thing,

By trap or net, by arrow, or by sling;

These he detested, those he scorn'd to wield;
He wish'd to be the guardian, not the king,
Tyrant far less, or traitor, of the field.

And sure the sylvan reign unbloody joy might yield.

Lo! where the stripling, rapt in wonder, roves
Beneath the precipice o'erhung with pine;
And sees on high, amidst th' encircling groves,
From cliff to cliff the foaming torrents shine;
While waters, woods, and winds in concert join,
And Echo swells the chorus to the skies:
Would Edwin this majestic scene resign

For aught the huntsman's puny craft supplies?

Ah! no: he better knows great Nature's charms to prize.

And oft he traced the uplands, to survey,
When o'er the sky advanced the kindling dawn,

The crimson cloud, blue main, and mountain gray,
And lake, dim-gleaming on the smoky lawn:

Far to the west the long, long vale withdrawn,

Where twilight loves to linger for awhile;

And now he faintly kens the bounding fawn,

And villager abroad at early toil:

But lo! the Sun appears, and heaven, earth, ocean, smile.

And oft the craggy cliff he loved to climb,

When all in mist the world below was lost.

What dreadful pleasure! there to stand sublime,
Like shipwreck'd mariner on desert coast,

And view th' enormous waste of vapor, toss'd

In billows, length'ning to th' horizon round,

Now scoop'd in gulfs, with mountains now emboss'd!
And hear the voice of mirth and song rebound,
Flocks, herds, and waterfalls, along the hoar profound.
In truth he was a strange and wayward wight,
Fond of each gentle and each dreadful scene.
In darkness, and in storm, he found delight:
Nor less than when on ocean-wave serene

The southern Sun diffused his dazzling sheen.'
E'en sad vicissitude amused his soul:
And if a sigh would sometimes intervene,
And down his cheek a tear of pity roll,

A sigh, a tear, so sweet, he wish'd not to control.


But who the melodies of morn can tell?

The wild-brook babbling down the mountain side;
The lowing herd; the sheepfold's simple bell;
The pipe of early shepherd dim descried
In the lone valley; echoing far and wide
The clamorous horn along the cliffs above;
The hollow murmur of the ocean-tide;
The hum of bees, and linnet's lay of love,
And the full choir that wakes the universal grove.

The cottage-curs at early pilgrim bark;
Crown'd with her pail the tripping milkmaid sings;
The whistling ploughman stalks afield; and, hark!
Down the rough slope the ponderous wagon rings;
Thro' rustling corn the hare astonish'd springs;
Slow tolls the village-clock the drowsy hour;
The partridge bursts away on whirring wings;
Deep mourns the turtle in sequester'd bower,
And shrill lark carols clear from her aërial tour.


The end and the reward of toil is rest.

Be all my prayer for virtue and for peace.

Of wealth and fame, of pomp and power possess'd,

Who ever felt his weight of wo decrease?
Ah! what avails the lore of Rome and Greece,
The lay heaven-prompted, and harmonious string,
The dust of Ophir, or the Tyrian fleece,

All that art, fortune, enterprise, can bring,
If envy, scorn, remorse, or pride the bosom wring!

Let vanity adorn the marble tomb

With trophies, rhymes, and scutcheons of renown,
In the deep dungeon of some Gothic dome,

Where night and desolation ever frown.

Mine be the breezy hill that skirts the down;

Where a green grassy turf is all I crave,

With here and there a violet bestrown,

Fast by a brook, or fountain's murmuring wave;
And many an evening sun shine sweetly on my grave.

And thither let the village swain repair;

And light of heart, the village maiden gay,

1 Brightness, splendor. The word is used by some late writers, as well as by Milton. "Do you rise early? If not, let me conjure you to acquire the habit. This will very much contribute towards rendering your life long, useful, and happy."-LORD CHATHAM, Letters.

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