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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

First Line: Friends of the helpless! Let a nameless bard
Last Line: "since, ""what is given the poor is lent the lord!"
Alternate Author Name(s): Quaker Poet
Subject(s): Charity; Philanthropy

FRIENDS of the helpless! let a nameless bard
Unto your boon its fitting meed award,
And speak the thanks of these, themselves too young
To trust their feelings to a faltering tongue:
How could the muse a task more welcome take,
Both for her own, and human nature's sake,
Than that she now discharges? Howsoe'er
Imperfectly 'tis done, it must be dear
To every better feeling, to dispense
The thanks of childhood to beneficence.
That education, rightly understood,
Confers the capability of good,
At least improves it; that it lifts the views
Beyond enjoyments mere barbarians choose;
That, well directed, it may richly bless,
And train to order and to usefulness;
That, above all, it can enable those
Thus taught, in hours of leisure, to unclose
The SACRED WRITERS' vast and varied store
Of social, moral truth,—of Gospel lore:
These you admit as axioms, known to all,
Trite to repeat, and trifling to recall:
Besides, perhaps you'll add, that not to you
These children's thanks, for humble lore are due;
But granting this, have you done nothing, then,
To win their gratitude?—their praise to gain?
Indeed you have; and, lest you have forgot,
I'll tell you gratefully and frankly what.

It is ordain'd, as wisely sure it should,
That, in the luxury of doing good,
Such ample scope is given by Providence
For all to exercise benevolence,
That none, in whom the will and power unite,
Can be excluded from the pure delight;
And, although each a different task employ,
All share the labour, and partake the joy.
As when, in trans-atlantic wastes, a band
Of emigrants first cultivate the land,
One clears the weeds and brambles, to prepare
Th' encumber'd earth to admit th' upturning share
A second sows the grain; another's toil
Some streamlet leads to fertilize the soil;
But when the crop is borne their garners in,
Each one partakes what all conspir'd to win:
So in the works of charity, which find
Their own reward in every feeling mind,
It matters not in memory's page to keep
Who sows, who waters: all alike shall reap.

Be it your praise, then, which you well have won,
That when the beams of education's sun
Shone on the minds of these, and taught to shoot
Those seeds which yet may bear immortal fruit;
You did not then with frigid glance review
What had been done, and deem nought left to do:
'Twas yours, with kindred kindness, to contrive
What best might keep the generous seed alive;
To apply that stimulus, which, aptly brought
To bear upon the unfolding germs of thought,
Might, being merit's prize, with powerful sway,
Inculcate neatness, while it shunn'd display.
Nor can I but commend that blameless art,
Skill'd in the feelings of a childish heart,
Which, far from viewing them with haughty frown,
Held out that harmless bribe, a neat new gown;
Thus making e'en a love of dress conspire
To bring about the object you desire;
And wisely placing, too, by Learning's side,
That virtuous love of neatness, miscall'd pride!
If this has been your aim, O then believe!
More blest it is to give, than to receive!
Nor can these children's hearts a joy have known
From gifts of yours, but doubly is your own.

May your example, and the joy you feel,
Join'd with this artless, but sincere appeal,
And back'd by all the happy, youthful glee
Which crowns this season of festivity,
Bring many more to join your social band,
And aid the accomplishment of all you've plann'd.
May those who, as spectators, share the bliss,
Looking with pleasure on a scene like this,
Ere they withdraw, of their own bosoms ask,
Can we do nothing in this pleasing task?
However small the boon conferr'd may be,
If given from feelings of pure charity,
It cannot fail to win its sure reward,
Since, "What is given the poor is lent the Lord!"

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