Tales: Edward Shore "Who Often Reads, Will Sometimes Wish To Write"
by George Crabbe

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"Who Often Reads, Will Sometimes Wish To Write"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Edward Shore, a very personable young man endowed with genius and learning, could not settle upon any course in life. In all ways he was a model young man, gracious, good-natured, sensible, spirited, conservative in his dress. He looked over all the professions and found them all wanting. He shrank from entering trade and could be a lawyer only if he approved of the cases he might have; physicians seemed dull and divines wrapped in dreams; war he could perhaps love, but, there again, he would have to approve the cause. He believed in absolute virtue, unconstrained by law; he would be good, but only because of his inner promptings: the coarse, common people were constrained to be good because the law compelled them to be, but not so with Edward Shore. While reason guided him, he would walk upright. He, however, had doubts, and applied to doubters for help in resolving them; but this action was like the blind leading the blind. Naturally, he read a great deal, and anyone who reads much finally desires to write; but he could not fix upon any form of literature in which to gain the fame he wished. Tragedies were tedious and gloomy; a serious story concerned ghosts, of which he became ashamed; his sermons were unread; a guide for the conduct of national affairs came to nothing because he could not fix upon a political party. In short, his dislike of labor and his vacillating mind kept him from doing anything.

But though with shaken faith, and slave to fame,
Vain and aspiring on the world he came;
Yet was he studious, serious, moral, grave,
No passion's victim, and no system's slave:
Vice he opposed, indulgence he disdained,
And o'er each sense in conscious triumph reigned.
Who often reads, will sometimes wish to write,
And Shore would yield instruction and delight;
A serious drama he designed, but found
'Twas tedious traveling in that gloomy ground;
A deep and solemn story he would try,
But grew ashamed of ghosts, and laid it by;
Sermons he wrote, but they who knew his creed,
Or knew it not, were ill disposed to read;
And he would lastly be the nation's guide,
But, studying, failed to fix upon a side;
Fame he desired, and talents he possessed,
But loved not labor, though he could not rest,
Nor firmly fix the vacillating mind,
That, ever working, could no center find.