A GOOD INN IS A BAD HOME
By Hannah More
There was a prince of high degree,
As great and good as prince could be;
Much power and wealth were in his hand,
With lands and lordships at command.
One son, a favorite son, he had,
An idle, thoughtless kind of lad;
Whom, spite of all his follies passed,
He meant to make his heir at last.
The son escaped to foreign lands,
And broke his gracious sire’s commands;
Far, as he fancied, from his sight,
In each low joy he took delight.
The youth, detesting peace and quiet,
Indulged in vice, expense, and riot;
Of each wild pleasure rashly tasted,
Till health declined and substance wasted.
The tender sire, to pity prone,
Promised to pardon what was done;
And, would he certain terms fulfil,
He should receive a kingdom still.
The youth the pardon little minded,
So much his sottish soul was blinded;
But though he mourned no past transgression,
He liked the future rich possession.
He liked the kingdom when obtained,
But not the terms on which ’twas gained;
He hated pain and self-denial,
Chose the reward, but shunned the trial.
He knew his father’s power, how great;
How glorious too the promised state!
At length resolves no more to roam,
But straight to seek his father’s home.
His sire had sent a friend to say,
He must be cautious on his way;
Told him what road he must pursue,
And always keep his home in view.
The thoughtless youth set out indeed,
But soon he slackened in his speed;
For every trifle by the way
Seduced his idle heart astray.
By every casual impulse swayed,
On every slight pretence he staid;
To each, to all, his passions bend;
He quite forgets his journey’s end.
For every sport, for every song,
He halted as he passed along;
Caught by each idle sight he saw,
He’d loiter e’en to pick a straw.
Whate’er was present seized his soul,
A feast, a show, a brimming bowl;
Contented with this vulgar lot,
His father’s house he quite forgot.
Those slight refreshments by the way,
Which were but meant his strength to stay,
So sunk his soul in sloth and sin,
He looked no farther than his inn.
His father’s friend would oft appear,
And sound the promise in his ear;
Oft would he rouse him—“Sluggard, come
This is thy inn, and not thy home.”
Displeased, he answers, “Come what will,
Of present bliss I’ll take my fill;
In vain you plead, in vain I hear;
Those joys are distant, these are near.”
Thus perished, lost to worth and truth,
In sight of home, this hapless youth;
While beggars, foreigners, and poor,
Enjoyed the father’s boundless store.
My fable, reader, speaks to thee:—
In God this bounteous father see;
And in his thoughtless offspring trace
The sinful, wayward human race.
The friend the generous father sent,
To rouse, and to reclaim him, meant,
The faithful minister you’ll find,
Who calls the wandering, warns the blind.
Reader, awake: this youth you blame:
Are not you doing just the same?
Mindless your comforts are but given
To help you on your way to heaven.
The pleasures which beguile the road,
The flowers with which your path is strowed;
To these your whole desires you bend,
And quite forget your journey’s end.
The meanest toys your soul entice,
A feast, a song, a game at dice;
Charmed with your present paltry lot,
Eternity is quite forgot.
Then listen to a warning friend,
Who bids you mind your journey’s end;
A wandering pilgrim here you roam;
This world’s your Inn, the next your Home.