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ELEGY TO A YOUNG NOBLEMAN
b Lord J— C—.
LEAVING THE UNIVERSITY.

MDCCLIII.

1 EER yet, ingenuous youth, thy steps retire
2 From Cam's smooth margin, and the peaceful vale,
3 Where Science call'd thee to her studious quire,
4 And met thee musing in her cloysters pale;
5 O! let thy friend (and may he boast the name)
6 Breathe from his artless reed one parting lay;
7 A lay like this thy early Virtues claim,
8 And this let voluntary Friendship pay.
9 Yet know, the time arrives, the dangerous time,
10 When all those Virtues, opening now so fair,
11 Transplanted to the world's tempestuous clime,
12 Must learn each passion's boisterous breath to bear,
13 There, if Ambition pestilent and pale,
14 Or Luxury should taint their vernal glow;
15 If cold Self-interest, with her chilling gale,
16 Should blast th' unfolding blossoms e'er they blow;
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17 If mimic hues, by Art, or Fashion spread,
18 Their genuine, simple colouring should supply,
19 O! with them may these laureate honours fade;
20 And with them (if it can) my friendship die.
21 Then do not blame, if, tho' thyself inspire,
22 Cautious I strike the panegyric string;
23 The muse full oft pursues a meteor fire,
24 And, vainly ventrous, soars on waxen wing.
25 Too actively awake at Friendship's voice,
26 The poet's bosom pours the servent strain,
27 Till sad Reflection blames the hasty choice,
28 And oft invokes Oblivion's aid in vain.
29 Call we the shade of Pope, from that blest bower
30 Where thron'd he sits with many a tuneful Sage;
31 Ask, if he ne'er bemoans that hapless hour
32 When St. John's name
c Alluding to this couplet of Mr. Pope's,
To Cato, Virgil paid one honest line,
O let my country's friends illumine mine.
illumin'd Glory's page?
33 Ask, if the wretch, who dar'd his memory stain,
34 Ask, if his country's, his religion's foe,
35 Deserv'd the meed that Marlbro' fail'd to gain,
36 The deathless meed, he only could bestow?
37 The bard will tell thee, the misguided praise
38 Clouds the celestial sunshine of his breast;
39 Ev'n now, repentant of his erring lays,
40 He heaves a sigh amid the realms of rest.
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41 If Pope thro' friendship fail'd, indignant view,
42 Yet pity Dryden; hark, whene'er he sings,
43 How Adulation drops her courtly dew
44 On titled Rhymers, and inglorious Kings.
45 See, from the depths of his exhaustless mine,
46 His glittering stores the tuneful spendthrift throws;
47 Where Fear, or Interest bids, behold they shine;
48 Now grace a Cromwell's, now a Charles's brows.
49 Born with too generous, or too mean a heart,
50 Dryden! in vain to thee those stores were lent:
51 Thy sweetest numbers but a trifling art;
52 Thy strongest diction idly eloquent.
53 The simplest Lyre, if Truth directs its lays,
54 Warbles a melody ne'er heard from thine:
55 Not to disgust with false, or venal praise,
56 Was Parnell's modest fame, and may be mine.
57 Go then, my friend, nor let thy candid breast
58 Condemn me, if I check the plausive string;
59 Go to the wayward world; complete the rest;
60 Be, what the purest muse would wish to sing.
61 Be still thyself; that open path of truth,
62 Which led thee here, let Manhood firm pursue;
63 Retain the sweet simplicity of Youth,
64 And all thy virtue dictates, dare to do.
65 Still scorn, with conscious pride, the mask of Art;
66 On Vice's front let fearful Caution lour,
67 And teach the diffident, discreeter part
68 Of knaves that plot, and fools that fawn for power.
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69 So, round thy brow when age's honours spread,
70 When Death's cold hand unstrings thy Mason's lyre,
71 When the green turf lies lightly on his head,
72 Thy worth shall some superior bard inspire:
73 He, to the amplest bounds of time's domain,
74 On rapture's plume shall give thy name to fly;
75 For trust, with reverence trust this Sabine strain!
76 "The muse forbids the virtuous man to die."

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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): ELEGY TO A YOUNG NOBLEMAN LEAVING THE UNIVERSITY. MDCCLIII.
Author: William Mason
Themes: poetry; literature; writing; education
Genres: heroic quatrain; elegy
References: DMI 32298

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Source edition

A collection of poems in four volumes. By several hands. Vol. I. [The second edition]. London: printed for G. Pearch, 1770, pp. 197-200. 4v. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T116245; DMI 1122; OTA K093079.001)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.