Epistle Ii. To A Youthful Friend

How sweet the task to teach the tender mind
The path of Wisdom, which so few do find,
Whose ways unerring, spite of Envy's hiss,
Lead to those realms where all is endless bliss.
For this, an untaught bard, in homely strain,
To Mary sings, nor hopes he sings in vain;
For this, the labours of the genius sends,
Who chastest pleasure with instruction blends;
Whose moral precepts, free from pompous art,
Improve the manners as they mend the heart;
Who joins pure diction with each classic grace,
Striving the thorny paths of Vice to trace--
A wise preceptor to the human race.

Now, when the flow'rs are welcom'd forth by spring,
And in each grove the woodland warblers sing,
Let these remind thee of that Pow'r above,
Who daily shews to man his wond'rous love:
Know, 'tis his goodness that the cultur'd fields
A plenteous produce to the peasant yields.
When frowning Winter bends the naked tree,
Still praise Him who is bountiful to thee,
And look with pity on the suffering poor,
Who're doom'd full many a bitter storm t'endure:
Think, when thou see'st imploring Misery roam,
Misfortune may have robb'd him of a home;
Nor dare to scorn Affliction's lowly cot,
Lest humbler poverty should be thy lot;
Nor grudge the fainting wanderer relief,
But learn to feel for those o'erwhelm'd with grief,
And give with pleasure what thou canst afford,
For what thou giv'st is lent but to the Lord,
Who marks each action and its various cause,
Each pitying sigh forc'd by another's woes,
At whose all--wise command we first draw breath,
And with a Christian's hopes rejoice in death.

Whilst in thy youth, seek the true God to know,
And the pure joys which from Religion flow,
Whose sacred precepts teach weak man to shun,
The various ills by which he's oft undone.
If Virtue, that bright gem, adorn thy breast,
Ne'er envy Folly's children gaily dress'd,
Nor grieve tho' wealth and luxury be not thine,
But know thyself, nor at God's will repine:
Whate'er thy station, 'tis thy duty still
To bend submissive to his holy will.
In hours of sickness his great name adore,
Whose goodness can Health's roseate bloom restore;
And should'st thou taste life's bitter cup of care,
With fortitude thy painful sufferings bear,
Nor fail this best of maxims to regard,
That patient Virtue gains a sure reward.

Still let thy walk be heav'nly Wisdom's way,
Nor be by false--nam'd Pleasure led astray,
For Vice oft lurks in Pleasure's gayest bow'r,
And lures th'unwary at th'unguarded hour:
So the fair rose that opens with the morn,
Beneath its sweets conceals a piercing thorn.

Beware of Pride, that gay delusive guest,
The vain disturber of the artless breast;
A dang'rous pois'ner of the human mind,
Engend'ring half the evils of mankind:
'Tis Vice's ratsbane, Virtue to destroy,
Scorn'd by the righteous as a gilded toy;
A badge that tells the foolish from the wise,
Which fair Religion warns thee to despise.

Beware of artful Flattery, foe to youth,
That oft misleads you from the search of Truth;
Nor vainly boast that you are good or fair,
But let improvement be your constant care;
And if some faults in others thou should'st see,
Think others may those faults perceive in thee.
Let not thy tongue the innocent betray,
And deem it right thy parents to obey;
Think how they rear'd thee in thy infant state,
And taught thy tongue Heav'n's wonders to relate:
Observe that honour which to them is due,
And with thy happiness keep theirs in view.

In all thy ways be faithful to thy trust;
Remember God commands thee to be just.
Avoid all quarrelling and contentious strife,
For meek Religion loves the peaceful life.
Shun those who the Creator's word deride,
And let his holy scripture be thy guide;
Then shalt thou, when old age steals on, survey
The num'rous pleasures of life's well--spent day,
And thy Redeemer's sacred promise claim,
Dying lamented with unsullied fame.

by Robert Anderson

Comments (1)

Faith is the key, but sometimes it's hard to have faith with so much tribulation in the world. Nicely expressed advice and encouragement for us all.