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Another poet thus speaks of juvenile joys:
See on yon carpet, mantled o'er with flow'rs,
A little bubbling playful tribe disport!
As yet no cloud o'ershades their joyous hours,
Nor thought intrudes, nor reason holds her course.
But ALL is bustle in the busy hive,
Each sense imbibes the honied dews of May !
For general rise, all eager, all alive,
As summer flies that flit from spray to 'spray.
Miss Vardill, in her Poem on the pleasures of Human Life, thus speaks of the pleasures of childhood :
On yon low mound, beneath a silver'd thorn,
Where the first cowslip drinks the dew of morn,
How rich, how pure, the notes of pleasure rise,
When infant hunters snatch the golden prize!
A lurking bud, an absent woodlark's nest,
Crowns young ambition in the little breast:
Panting and proud, the frolic victors seize
The thistle's grey down floating in the breeze;
Type of themselves, the airy truant strays,
Shuns its soft bond, and in the sunbeam plays.
Not less, when Winter wraps the infant year,
Throng the light joys to laughing childhood dear;
The jocund tale, the close-drawn circle round,
The board, with Autumn's mellow'd treasures crown'd,
The seat suspended on the smooth rock's side,
• While flying snowballs print the glassy tide ;
Or, with fond bark, the boasted greyhound springs,
And back the far-thrown prize triumphant brings,
TiII, the rich dairy's fragrant stores to share,
Home their glad spoils the rosy rivals bear.
Home, pleasure's palace ! when the smiling race
Strive for a mother's or a sire's embrace,
Till, in her soft eye, and his toil-brown'd cheek,
The tear and flush of tender triumph speak!
Delicious hour! while round the social blaže
Assembled cherabs swell the note of praise ;
Or, with full hands, the ready mite bestow,
When th' aged minstrel tells his tale of woe,
And while the prattling throng around him stands,
Thinks of his buried babes in distant lands.
Dear home! these hours of golden joy are thine,
If cherish'd childhood bends at duty's shrine.
The same fair writer, speaking of the pleasures of youth, says :
Ask him whose eye the light of life illumes,
If in his path no flower of Eden blooms?
Ask him if, while his joçund step he turns
Where pure and bright the social taper burns,
While mirth and friendship urge their sparkling bowl,
And beauty's voice pours music on his soul,
Is Heaven unkind ?-or, when the historic page
Glows with the glories of a long-past age,
If his warm bosom pants for high renown,
¿Till hope, exulting, grasps her radiant crown? -..
While the proud promise soothes a father's ear,
Or steals from beauteous eyes the blissful tear,
Has life no joys ?-for meagre care alone
Did envious nature rear so rich a throne ? In general, we look back to the days of infancy and youth as seasons of pleasure and felicity :
Time ceases not his course—but yesterday
And I was in my childhood-happy age;
Pale aching thoughts nor cares could then engage
My spirit for a moment—it was gay
As the young squirrel, ever at its play,
Without a wish to quit its narrow cage.
Life seem'd a lustre, a translucent ray,
And not a warfare for warm youth to wage. It is a striking proof of the wisdom and goodness of Providence, that the world commonly puts on its most smiling aspect to welcome our entrance. 'The charm of novelty makes almost every object which we then behold an object of delight. Hence the first stage of our existence may be considered as the empire of pleasure, and her favourite residence. And for what end was this ordained, but that, at the period when we are least capable of conducting affairs of importance, and most free from the avocations of business and the cares of life, impressions of cheerfulness and joy might be stamped upon the mind that the social principles, which subsist by giving and receiving pleasure, might be strengthened and improved—and that stores of gratitude and love to our Great Parent, might be laid up within the soul, from so long a train
of recollected blessings. These are virtues, for which the rigid and austere are not always the most remarkable: yet, what is there left which deseryes the name of virtue, when the cheerful service of our fellow-creatures, and of our Maker, is wanting ?.. Nature therefore clearly points out, as the God of nature ordained, that cheerfulness and pleasure, accompanied with innocence and virtue, should preside over the first stages of life. A favourite poet thus alludes to the pleasure of early life:
Sweet scenes of youth, to faithful memory dear,
Still fondly cherish'd with the sacred tear,
When, in the soften'd light of summer skies,
Full on my soul life's first illusions rise !
Ye lovely vales, that met my earliest view,
How soft ye smiled when nature's charms were new!
Green was her vesture, glowing, fresh, and warm,
And every opening grace had power to charm;
While, as each scene in living lustre rose,
Each young emotion wak'd from soft repose. The retrospect of pleasures connected with our early days is a source of gratification, even to the latest period of life:
Be it a weakness, it deserves some praise,
We love the play-place of our early days;
The scene is touching, and the heart is stone,
That feels not at that sight, and feels at none;
The wall on which we tried our graving skill,
The very name we carr'd subsisting still ;
The bench on which we sat while deep employ'd,
Though mangled, hack’d, and hew'd, not yet destroy'd;
The little ones, unbutton'd, glowing hot,
Playing our games, and on the very spot;
As happy as we once, to kneel and draw
The chalky ring, and knuckle down at taw;
To pitch the ball into the grounded hat,
Or drive it devious with a dext'rous pat.
The pleasing spectacle at once excites
Such recollection of our own delights,
That, viewing it, we seem almost t'obtain
Our innocent, sweet, simple years again,
This fond attachment to the well-known place
Whence first we started into life's long race,
Maintains its hold with such unfailing sway,
We feel it ev’n in age, and at our lutest day? Cowper.'
The judicious Paley observes, that “the young of all animals appear to receive pleasure simply from the exercise of their limbs and bodily faculties, without reference to any end to be obtained, or any use to be answered, by the exertion. A child, without knowing any thing of the use of language, is in a high degree delighted with being able to speak. Its incessant repetition of the few articulate sounds, or, perhaps, of the single word, which it has learned to pronounce, proves this point clearly. Nor is it less pleased with its first successful endeavours to walk, or rather to run (which precedes walking), although entirely ignorant of the importance of the attainment to its future life, and even without applying it to any present purpose. A child is deliglited with speaking, without having any thing to say; and with walking, without knowing where to go. And, prior to both these, I am disposed to believe, that the waking hours of infancy are agreeably taken up with the exercise of vision, or perhaps, more properly speaking, with learning to see."
How sweet to all are childhood's thoughtless years,
When smiles are blended with our bitterest tears ;
When, ere our sorrows fall, joy's sparkles rise,
And shed their lustre thro' th' o'erflowing eyes.
Blest age! whilst yet the mind is pure from stain,
And the heart feels but momentary pain;
Whilst all creation wears a constant smile,
And artless sports the guiltless soul beguile.
With fond regret still memory turns her view
To those bright days when life and joy were new;
When every rising morn beheld us blest,
And every evening sooth'd us into rest.
BRETTELL's COUNTRY MINISTER. I must not omit in this place the Ode to Childhood, by John Scott, Esq.; at the same time I do not quite approve of the mournful sentiment at the conclusion of the stanzas, for I intend to maintain, in this work, that there are pleasures connected with every stage of human existence, from childhood down to old age; I recommend, therefore, that we enjoy the present hour, without lamenting what is past, or fearing what is to
Childhood, happiest stage of life!
Free from care, and free from strife;
Free from menory's ruthless reign,
Fraught with scenes of former pain;
Free from fancy's cruel skill,
Fabricating future ill;
Time when all that meets the view,
All can charm, for all is new;
How thy long-lost hours I inourn,
Never, never to return!
Then to toss the circling ball,
Caught rebounding from the wall;
Then the mimic ship to guide
Down the kennel's dirty tide;
Then the hoop's revolving pace
Through the dusty street
O what joy it once was mine,
Childhood, matchless boon of thine !
How thy long-lost hours I mourn,
Never, never to return !
Lady Manners thus addresses her infant son :-
Object of my fondest care,
'Mid whose gay and childish air,
Pleas'd attention can descry
Reason's dawning brightness nigh ;
While she, with delighted view,
Marks the cheek of rosy hue,
Marks thine eye, whose vivid light
Shines, than orient gems more bright;
Marks thy brows serenely bold,
Crown'd with locks of waving gold;
While an inexpressive charm,
More than features, more than form,
Which no pencil ere could trace,
Heightens every infant grace.
Thee, lov'd boy, no cares molest,
Shade thy brow, or heave thy breast;
Or, if eares should discompose,
Like the dew-drop on the rose,
Or, like clouds before the wind,
Light, they leave no trace behind.
Genuine delights are thine,
Mirth and innocence divine ;
Cherub health, of florid hue ;
Quick surprise, for ever new;
Frolic fancy, gay and free,
Gilds the rapid hours for thee.