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Yet not from low desire to shine Does Genius toil in learning's mine ; Not to indulge in idle vision, But strike new light by strong collision. Of CONVERSATION, wisdom's friend, This is the object and the end, Of moral truth, man's proper science, With sense and learning in alliance, To search the depths, and thence produce What tends to practice and to use. And next in value we shall find What mends the taste and forms the mind. If high those truths in estimation, Whose search is crown'd with demonstration; To these assign no scanty praise, Our taste which clear, our views which raise. For grant that mathematic truth Best balances the mind of Youth; Yet scarce the truth of Taste is found To grow from principles less sound.
O’er books the Mind inactive lies,
Books, the Mind's food, not exercise !
Her vigorous wing she scarcely feels,
'Till use the latent strength reveals ;
Her slumb’ring energies callid forth,
She springs, she mounts, she feels her worth ;
And, at her new-found powers elated,
Thinks them not rous'd, but new created.
Enlighten'd spirits ! you, who know
What charms from polish'd converse flow,
Speak, for you can, the pure delight
When kindling sympathies unite ;
When correspondent tastes impart
Communion sweet from heart to heart;
You ne'er the cold gradations need
Which vulgar souls to union lead ;
No dry discussion to unfold
The meaning caught ere well 'tis told :
In taste, in learning, wit, or science,
Still kindred souls demand alliance;
Each in the other joys to find
The image answering to his mind.
But sparks electric only strike
On souls electrical alike;
The flash of intellect expires,
Unless it meet congenial fires :
The language to th’ Elect alone
Is, like the Mason's mystery, known;
In vain th' unerring sign is made
To him who is not of the Trade.
What lively pleasure to divine
The thought implied, the hinted line,
To feel Allusion's artful force,
And trace the image to its source.
Quick Memory blends her scatter'd rays,
Till Fancy kindles at the blaze;
The works of ages start to view,
And ancient wit elicits new.
But wit and parts if thus we praise,
What pobler altars should we raise.
Those sacrifices could we see
Which wit, O Virtue! makes to thee.
At once the rising thought to dash,
To quench at once the bursting flash!
The shining mischief to subdue,
And lose the praise and pleasure too !
Though Venus' self, could you detect her,
Imbuing with her richest nectar,
The thought unchaste -- to check that thought,
To spurn a fame so dearly bought,
This is high Principle's controul !
This is true continence of Soul !
Blush, heroes, at your cheap renown,
A vanquish'd realm, a plunder'd town!
Your conquests were to gain a name,
This conquest triumphs over Fame;
So pure its essence, 'twere destroy'd
If known, and if commended, void.
Amidst the brightest truths believ'd,
Amidst the fairest deeds achiev'd,
Shall stand recorded and admir'd,
That Virtue sunk what Wit inspir’d.
But let the letter'd, and the fair,
And, chiefly, let the Wir beware ;
You, whose warm spirits never fail,
Forgive the hint which ends my tale:
O shun the perils which attend
On wit, on warmth, and heed your friend.
Though Science nurs’d you in her bowers,
Though Fancy crown your brow with flowers,
Each thought though bright invention fill,
Though Attic bees each word distil ;
Yet, if one gracious power refuse
Her gentle influence to infuse ;
If she with hold her magic spell,
Nor in the social circle dwell;
In rain shall listening crowds approre,
Ther'll praise you, but they will not lore.
What is this power you're loth to mention,
This charm, this witchcraft ? ”tis ATTENTION:
Mute Angel, yes; thy looks dispense
The silence of intelligence;
Thy graceful form I well discern,
In act to listen and to learn ;
*Tis thou for talents shalt obtain
That pardon Wit would hope in vain:
Thy wondrous power, thy secret charm,
Shall Eary of ber sting disarm ;
Thy silent flattery sooths our spirit,
And we forgive eclipsing merit;
Our jealous souls no longer burn,
Nor hate thee, though thou shine in turn;
The sweet atonement screens the fault,
And lore and praise are cheaply bought.
With mild complacency to hear,
Though somewhat long the tale appear, —
The dull relation to attend,
Which mars the story you could mend;
*Tis more than wit, 'tis moral beauty,
Tis pleasure rising out of duty.
Nor rainly think the time you waste,
When temper triumphs orer taste.