The Native Impulse

T HAT man's ideas are innate
Is question'd, and with keen debate;
Nor yet Polemicks have concurr'd
In definitions of the word.
But inclinations pre-dispos'd
Are surely in the boy disclos'd;
And, long before his judgment's vote,
The bias of the man denote,
Adopt the talent's destin'd aim,
And, though in sparks, reveal its flame.
It has been said, " that accident
Alone can give the mind its bent;
That first impressions made at school
From early habits take the rule;
That intellect, with all its pride,
Examples mould, or precepts guide;
That Newton would the hair have curl'd
As ably as he read the World,
And, with an equal spur of zeal,
Of an old shoe reform'd the heel,
If jumping atoms had not made
Philosophy alone his trade. "
But is it so? — Examine well,
Before the child can read or spell,
If Nature does not mark the soul
As the complexion or the mole.
She, when the objects are presented,
With all but one is discontented;
Her whisper'd and prophetic choice
Directs the firm though sudden voice,
That marks to the commencing man
His future life's predestin'd plan.
The toilettes of the Fair oppress
Achilles in his female dress;
Complacent, but against his will,
He acts the part with awkward skill,
And, proud of a superior mind,
In trifling arts no joy can find:
But still indefinite his pride,
Without example, friend, or guide.
Amongst the jewels of the Fair,
That grace the robe, or bind the hair,
A sword was artfully convey'd,
And suddenly before him laid;
The ruling passion took its aim,
And prompted — military fame .
If I am told, " it was the sword
That Nature to herself restor'd,
Without assistance from the mind,
A neutral in the work assign'd; "
What hope could Greece have entertain'd
Of the new Hero she had gain'd?
Or, if the Hero felt his powers
In Beauty's fascinating bowers;
The martial weapon full in sight,
Could wield it, and with such delight:
What habits could have long conceal'd
The native impulse, thus reveal'd?
At school we have a little world,
In which the boy, with sail unfurl'd,
Alive to unexamin'd hope,
Gives to his talents all their scope;
But finds, whatever is propos'd,
His walk of genius pre-dispos'd;
In vain his eye the task inspects,
Till Nature's will the part selects.
What Pedagogue the task assign'd,
That fill'd the depth of Bacon's mind;
Amidst the toils and rocks of State,
In Science ever sound and great.
Could Shakespeare , whose poetic view
The forms of " airy nothing " drew,
And, when his models were no more,
Could all Futurity explore;
With Nature and the past his guide,
The character unborn descry'd —
Could he have grovel'd in the dark
That reptile, an Attorney's Clerk?
Could he have writ , tho' spurr'd and fee'd,
The Comments that on him we read?
Could Thurlow , had his form been taper,
Have sunk into a Linen-draper?
A Tyson , at the fiddle's call,
Have done the honours at a ball?
Or, primly pert, yet cold and wary,
Have smirk'd as an Apothecary?
Could he that Homer's Muse reprov'd,
Because the Bard had nothing prov'd,
Coquetting as a Sonneteer,
Have tickled a Reviewer's ear?
Could Watson's mind have lost its force,
In some diverted habit's course;
Or his capacity have deign'd
The arts that Wisdom have profan'd?
Could he have learnt the Courtier's guile,
Or laugh'd his lips the venal smile?
Could he to the caprice of youth
Have sacrific'd the rights of Truth?
Or barter'd independent thought
For all that Avarice ever bought?
No! 'tis an impulse of the soil,
That forms a Newton or a Boyle —
That lifts above the little great,
In leisure's philosophic state,
The shame and glory of his age —
That high-born spirit's matchless page,
Whose eloquent, though temper'd zeal,
The best can love, the worst can feel!
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