« PreviousContinue »
Stock. And of whom, when it says, "Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they are withered " 1
Will. O, that is Solomon's worldly fool.
Stock. You disapprove of both, then 1
Will. To be sure I do. I should not be a Christian if I did not.
Stock. And yet, though a Christian, you are admiring the very same thought in the song you were singing. How do you reconcile this?
Will. O, there is no comparison between them. These several texts are designed to describe loose, wicked heathens. Now, I learn texts as part of my religion. But religion, you know, has nothing to do with a song. I sing a song for my pleasure.
Stock. In our last night's talk, Will, I endeavored to prove to you that religion was to be brought into our business. I wish now to let you see that it is to be brought into our pleasure also; and that he who is really a Christian, must be a Christian in his very diversions.
Will. Now you are too strict again, master; as you last night declared, that in our business you would not have us always praying, so I hope that in our pleasure you would not have us always psalm-singing. I hope you would not have all one's singing to be about good things?
Stock. Not so, Will; but I would not have any part, either of our business or our pleasure, to be about evil things. It is one thing to be singing about religion, it is another thing to be singing against it. Saint Peter, I fancy, would not much have approved your favorite song. He, at least, seemed to have another view of the matter, when he said, " The end of all things is at hand." Now, this text teaches much the same awful truth with the first line of your song. But let us see to what different purposes the apostle and the poet turn the very same thought. Your song says, because life is so short, let us make it merry. Let us divert ourselves so much on the road, that we may forget the end. Now, what says the apostle 1 "Because the end of all things is at hand, be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer."
Will. Why, master, I like to be sober too, and have left off drinking. But still, I never thought that we were obliged to carry texts out of the Bible to try the soundness of a song, and to enable us to judge if we might be both merry and wise in singing it.
Stock. Providence has not so stinted our enjoyments, Will, but he has left us many subjects of harmless merriment: but, for my own part, I am never certain that any one is quite harmless till I have tried it by this rule that you seem to think so strict. There is another favorite catch which I heard you and some of the workmen humming yesterday.
Will. I will prove to you that there is not a word of harm in that: pray listen now. (Sings.)
"Which is the properest day to drink~—
Stock. Now, Will, do you really find your unwillingness to drink is so great, that you stand in need of all these incentives to provoke you to it 1 do you not find temptation strong enough, without exciting your inclinations, and whetting your appetites in this manner 1 can any thing be more unchristian than to persuade youth, by pleasant words, set to the most alluring music, that the pleasures of drinking are so great, that every day in the week, naming them all successively, by way of fixing and enlarging the idea, is equally fit, equally proper, and equally delightful; for what ?—for the low and sensual purpose of getting drunk. Tell me, Will, are you so very averse to pleasure 1 Are you naturally so cold and dead to all passion and temptation, that you really find it necessary to inflame your imagination, and disorder your senses, in order to excite a quicker relish for the pleasures of sin?
Will. All this is true enough, indeed; but I never saw it in this light before.
Stock. As I passed by the Greyhound last night, in the way to my evening's walk in the fields, I caught this one verse of a song which the club were singing :—
"Bring the flask; the music bring,
Joy shall quickly rind us;
When I got into the fields, I could not forbear comparing this song with the second lesson last Sunday evening at church; these were the words :—" Take heed, lest at any time your heart be overcharged with drunkenness, and so that day come upon you unawares, for as a snare shall it come upon all them that are on the face of the earth."
Will. Why, to be sure, if the second lesson was right, the song must be wrong.
Stock. I ran over in my mind also a comparison between such songs as that which begins with
"Prink, and drive care away,"
with those injunctions of holy writ, "Watch and pray, there* fore, that you enter not into temptation;" and again, "Watch and pray, that you may escape all these things." I say, I compared this with the song I allude to,
"Drink and drive cart- away,
Drink and be merry;
I compared this with that awful admonition of Scripture how to pass the time, "not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof."
Will. I am afraid, then, master, you would not much approve of what I used to think a very pretty song, which begins with,
"A plague on those musty oH lubbers,
Stock. Will, what would you think of any one who should sit down and write a book or a song to abuse the clergy?
Will. Why, I should think he was a very wicked fellow, and I hope no one would look into such a book, or sing such a song.
Stock. And yet it must certainly be the clergy who are scoffed at in that verse, it being their professed business to teach us to think and be serious.
'Will. Ay, master, and now you have opened my eyes, I think I can make some of those comparisons myself between the spirit of the Bible and the spirit of these songs.
"Bring the flask, the goblet bring"
won't stand very well in company with the threat of the prophet, "Wo unto them that rise up early, that they may mingle strong drink."
Stock. Ay, Will; and these thoughtless people who live up to their singing, seem to be the very people described in another place as glorying in their intemperance, and acting xvhat their songs describe—" They look at the wine, and say it is red, it moveth itself aright in the cup."
Will. I do hope I shall for the future not only become more careful what songs I sing myself, but also, not to keep company with those who sing nothing else but what, in my sober judgment, I now see to be wrong.
Stock. As we shall have no body in the world to come, it is a pity not only to make our pleasures here consist entirely in the delights of animal life, but to make our very songs consist in extolling and exalting those delights which are unworthy of the man as well as of the Christian. If, through temptation or weakness, we fall into errors, let us not establish and confirm them, by picking up all the songs and scraps of verses which excuse, justify, and commend sin. That " time is short," is a reason given by these song-mongers why we should give into greater indulgences. That " time is short," is a reason given by the apostle why we should enjoy our dearest comforts as if we enjoyed them not.
Now, Will, I hope you will see the importance of so managing, that our diversions (for diversions of some kind we all require) may be as carefully chosen as our other employments. For to make them such as shall effectually drive out of our minds all that the Bible and the minister have been putting into them, seems to me as imprudent as it is unchristian. But this is not all. Such sentiments as these songs contain, set off by the prettiest music, heightened by liquor, and all the noise and spirit of what is called jovial company; all this, I say, not only puts every thing that is right out of the mind, but puts every thing that is wrong into it. Such songs, therefore, as tend to promote levity, thoughtlessness, loose imaginations, false views of life, forgetfulness of death, contempt of whatever is serious, and neglect of whatever is sober, whether they be love-songs or drinking-songs, will not, cannot be sung by any man or any woman who makes a serious profession of Christianity.*
* It is with regret I have lately observed, that the fashionable author and singer of songs more loose, profane, and corrupt than any of those here noticed, not only received a prize as the reward of his important services, but received also the public acknowledgments of an illustrious society, for having contiihnted to the happiness of their country!
[The popular author and singer here alluded to, was the late Charles Dibdin, who obtained a pension of £200 a year, from government, during the administration of Mr. Pitt, as a reward for his loyal ballads, which certainly had a wonderful effect, especially in the navy. When Mr. Pitt died, however, the pension was withdrawn, ana poor Dibdin ended his days in poverty.—Editor.}
TOM WHITE THE POSTBOY.
IN TWO PARTS.
Tom White was one of the best drivers of a post-chaise on the Bath road. Tom was the son of an honest laborer, at a little village in Wiltshire: he was an active, industrious boy; and, as soon as he was old enough, he left his father, who was burdened with a numerous family, and went to live with Farmer Hodges, a sober, worthy man, in the same village. He drove the wagon all the week; and on Sundays, though he was now grown up, the farmer required him to attend the Sunday-school, carried on under the inspection of Dr. Shepherd, the worthy vicar, and always made him read his Bible in the evening after he had served his cattle; and would have turned him out of his service, if he had ever gone to the ale-house for his own pleasure.
Tom, by carrying some wagon-loads of fagots to the Bear Inn, at Devizes, made many acquaintances in the stable-yard. He soon learnt to compare his own carter's frock, and shoes thick set with nails, with the smart red jacket and tight boots of the postboys, and grew ashamed of his own homely dress: he was resolved to drive a chaise, to get money, and to see the world. Foolish fellow! he never considered that, though it is true a wagoner works hard all day, yet he gets a quiet evening at home, and undisturbed rest at night. However, as there must be chaise-boys as well as plough-boys, there was no great harm in the change. The evil company to which it exposed him, was the chief mischief. He left Farmer Hodges, though not without sor