Warrington Academy

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For other versions of this work, see The Invitation: to Miss B—.
Warrington Academy
by Anna Laetitia Barbauld

Ireland, J., ed. Beauties in prose and verse: or, the new, pleasing, and entertaining collection, selected from the most eminent English authors. To which is added, a practical English grammar; or, an easy introduction to Speaking and Writing The English language with Propriety and Elegance. By the Rev. J. Ireland, Curate of Tynemouth, and Master of a Grammar School, North Shields. Newcastle: Printed by T. Angus, 1784. Eighteenth Century Collections Online.

Mark where its simple front yon mansion rears,
The nursery of men for future years!
Here callow chiefs and embryo statesmen lie,
And unfledg’d poets short excursions try:
While Mersey’s gentle current, which too long
By fame neglected, and unknown to song,
Between his rushy banks (no poet’s theme)
Had crept inglorious, like a vulgar stream,
Reflects th’ascending feats with conscious pride,
And dares to emulate a classic tide.
Soft music breathes along each op’ning shade,
And sooths the dashing of his rough cascade.
With mystic lines his hands are figur’d o’er,
And circles traced upon the letter’d shore.
Beneath his willows rove th’enquiring youth,
And court the fair majestic form of truth.
Here nature opens all her secret springs,
And heav’n born science plumes her eagle-wings:
Too long had bigot rage, with malice swell’d,
Crush’d her strong pinions, and her flight withheld;
Too long to check her ardent progress strove:
So writhes the serpent round the bird of Jove;
Hangs on her flight, restrains her tow’ring wing,
Twists its dark folds, and point its venom’d sting.
Yet still (if aught aright the Muse divine)
Her rising pride shall mock the vain design;
On founding pinions yet aloft shall soar,
And thro’ the azure deep untravell’d paths explore.
Where science smiles, the Muses join the train;
And gentlest arts and purest manners reign.

Ye generous youths who love this studious shade,
How rich a field is to your hopes display’d!
Knowledge to you unlocks the classic page;
And virtue blossoms for a better age.
Oh golden days! Oh bright unvalued hours!
What bliss (did ye but know that bliss) were yours?
With richest stores your glowing bosoms fraught,
Preception quick, and luxury of thought;
The high designs that heave the labouring soul,
Panting for fame, impatient of controul;
And fond enthusiastic thought, that feeds
On pictured tales of vast heroic deeds;
And quick affections, kindling into flame
At virtue’s, or their country’s honour’d name;
And spirits light, to every joy in tune;
And friendship, ardent as a summer’s noon;
And generous scorn of vice’s venal tribe;
And proud disdain of interest’s sordid bribe;
And conscious honour’s quick instinctive sense;
And smiles unforc’d; and easy confidence;
And vivid fancy; and clear simple truth;
And all the mental bloom of vernal youth.

How bright this scene to fancy’s eye appears,
Thro’ the long perspective of distant years,
When this, this little group their country calls
From academic shades and learned halls,
To fix her laws, her spirit to sustain,
And light up glory thro’ her wide domain!
Their various tastes in different arts display’d,
Like temper’d harmony of light and shade,
With friendly union in one mass shall blend,
And this adorn the state and that defend.
These the sequester’d shade shall cheaply please,
With learned labour, and inglorious ease:
While those, impell’d by some resistless force,
O’er seas and rocks shall urge their venturous course:
Rich fruits matur’d by glowing suns behold,
And China’s groves of vegetable gold;
From every land the various harvest spoil,
And bear the tribute to their native soil:
But tell each land (while every toil they share,
Firm to sustain, and resolute to dare,)
Man is the nobler growth our realms supply,
And Souls are ripen’d in our northern sky.

Some pensive creep along the shelly shore,
Unfold the silky texture of a flower,
With sharpened eyes inspect an hornet’s sting,
And all the wonders of an insects wing.
Some trace with curious search the hidden cause
Of nature’s changes, and her various laws;
Untwist her beauteous web, disrobe her charms,
And hunt her to her elemental forms:
Or prove what hidden powers in herbs are found,
To quench disease and cool the burning wound;
With cordial drops the fainting head sustain,
Call back the flitting soul, and still the throbs of pain.

The patriot passion that shall strongly feal,
Ardent, and glowing with undaunted zeal;
With lips of fire shall plead his country’s cause,
And vindicate the majesty of laws.
This, cloath’d with Britain’s thunder, spread alarms
Thro’ the wide earth, and shake the pole with arms.
That, to the sounding lyre his deads rehearse,
Enshrine his name in some immortal verse,
To long posterity his praise consign,
And pay a life of hardships by a line.
While others, consecrate to higher aims,
Whose hallowed bosoms glow with purer flames,
Love in their hart, persuasion in their tongue,
With words of peace shall charm the list’ning throng.
Draw the dread veil that wraps th’ eternal throne,
And launch our souls into the bright unknown.