Page images

Few self-supported flow’rs endure the wind
Uninjur’d, but expect th' upholding aid
Of the smooth-shayen prop, and neatly tied,
Are wedded thus like beauty to old age,
For int’rest's sake, the living to the dead.
Some clothe the soil that feeds them, far diffus'd
And lowly creeping, modest and yet fair,
Like virtue, thriving most where little seen:
Some more aspiring catch the neighbour shrub
With clasping tendrils, and invest his branch,
Else unadorn'd, with many a gay festoon
And fragrant chaplet, recompensing well
The strength they borrow with the grace they lend.
All hate the rank society of weeds,
Noisome, and ever greedy to exhaust
Th’ impov'rish’d earth; an overbearing race,
That, like the multitude made faction-mad,
Disturb good order, and degrade true worth.
O, blest seclusion from a jarring world,
Which he, thus occupied, enjoys! Retreat
Cannot indeed to guilty man restore
Lost innocence, or cancel follies past;
But it has peace, and much secures the mind
From all assaults of evil: proving still -
A faithful barrier, not ... with ease ;
By vicious Custom, raging uncontroll’d
Abroad, and desolating public life.
When fierce Temptation, seconded within
By traitor Appetite, and arm'd with darts
emper'd in hell, invades the throbbing breast,
To combat may be glorious, and success
Perhaps may crown us; but to fly is safe.
Had I the choice of sublunary good,
What could I wish, that I possess nothere? [peace,
Health, leisure, means to improve it, friendship,
No loose or wanton, though a wand'ring, Muse,
And constant occupation without care.
Thus blest I draw a picture of that bliss;

Hopeless, indeed, that dissipated minds, And profligate abusers of a world Created fair so much in vain for them, Should seek the guiltless joys, that I describe, Allur’d by my report; but sure no less, That self-condemn'd they must neglect the prize, And what they will not taste must yet approve. What we admire we praise; and, when we praise, Advance it into notice, that, its worth Acknowledg'd, others may admire it too I therefore recommend, though at the ris Of popular disgust, yet boldly still, The cause of piety, and sacred truth, And virtue, and those scenes, which God ordain’d Should best secure them, and promote them most; Scenes that I love, and with regret perceive Forsaken, or through folly not enjoy’d, Pure is the nymph, though lib'ral of her smiles, And chaste, though unconfin'd, whom I extol. Not as the prince in Shushan, when he call’d, Vain-glorious of her charms, his Vashti forth, To grace the full pavilion. His design Was but to boast his own peculiar good, Which all might view with envy, none partake. My charmer is not mine alone; my sweets, And she that sweetens all my bitters too, Nature, enchanting Nature, in whose form And lineaments divine I trace a hand That errs not, and find raptures still renew’d, Is free to all men—universal prize. Strange that so fair a creature should yet want Admirers, and be destin’d to divide With meaner objects e'en the few she finds! Stripp'd of her ornaments, her leaves and flow'rs, She loses all her influence. Cities then Attract us, and neglected Nature pines Abandon'd, as unworthy of our love. But are not wholesome airs, though unperfum'd

By roses; and clear suns, though scarcely felt;
And groves, if unharmonious, yet secure
From clamour, and whose very silence charms;
To be preferr'd to smoke, to the eclipse,
That metropolitan volcanoes make,
Whose Stygianthroats breathedarkness all day long;
And to the stir of Commerce, driving slow, ,
And thund'ring loud, with his ten thousandwheels?
They would be, were not madness in the head,
And folly in the heart; were England mow,
What England was, plain, hospitable, kind,
And undebauch'd. But we have bid farewell
To all the virtues of those better days,
And all their honest pleasures. Mansions once
Knew their own masters; and laborious hinds,
Who had surviv'd the father, serv'd the son.
Now the legitimate and rightful lord
Is but a transient guest, newly arrived,
As soon to be supplanted. He, that saw
His patrimonial timber cast its leaf,
Sells the last scantling, and transfers the price
To some shrewd sharper, ere it buds again.
Estates are landscapes, gaz'd upon awhile,
Then advertis'd, and auctioneer'd away. Tcharg’d
The country starves, and they, that feed th’ o'er-
And surfeited lewd town with her fair dues,
By a just judgment strip and starve themselves.
The wings that wast our riches out of sight,
Grow on the gamester's elbows; and th’ alert
And nimble motion of those restless joints,
That never tire, soon fans them all away.
Improvement too, the idol of the age,
Is fed with many a victim. Lo, he comes!
Th’ omnipotent magician, Brown appears'

Down #. the venerable pile, th’ abode
Of our forefathers—a grave, whisker'd race,
But tasteless. Springs a palace in its stead,
But in a distant spot; where more expos'd
It may enjoy the advantage of th’ north,

And aguish east, till time shall have transform'd
Those naked acres to a shelt’ring grove.
He speaks. The lake in front becomes a lawn ;
Woods vanish, hills subside, and valleys rise;
And streams, as if created for his use,
Pursue the tract of his directing wand,
Sinuous or straight, now rapid and now slow,
Now monoff soft, now roaring in cascades—
E’en as he bids! Th’ enraptur'd owner smiles.
'Tis finish'd, and yet, finish’d as it seems,
Still wants a grace, the loveliest it could show,
A mind to satisfy th’ enormous cost.
Drain’d to the last poor item of his wealth,
He sighs, departs, and leaves th’ accomplish’d plan,
That he has touch'd, retouch'd, many a long day
Labour'd, and many a night pursu'd in dreams,
Just when it meets his hopes, and proves the heav'n
He wanted, for a wealthier to enjoy!
And now perhaps the glorious hour is come,
When, having no stake left, no pledge to endear
Her int’rests, or that gives her sacred cause
A moment's operation on his love,
He burns with most intense and flagrant zeal
To serve his country. Ministerial grace
Deals him out money from the public chest;
Or, if that mine be shut, some private purse
Supplies his need with an usurious loan,
To be refunded duly, when his vote
Well-manag’d shall have earn'd its worthy price.
O innocent, compar'd with arts like these,
Crape, and cock'd pistol, and the whistling ball
Sent through the trav’llers temples | He, that finds
One drop of Heav'n's sweet mercy in his cup,
Can dig, beg, rot, and perish well content,
So he may wrap himself in honest rags
At his last gasp; but could not for a world
Fish up his dirty and dependent bread
From pools and ditches of the commonwealth,
Sordid and sick’ning at his own success.

Ambition, av'rice, penury incurr'd By endless riot, vanity, the lust Of pleasure and variety, despatch, As duly as the swallows disappear, The world of wand'ring knights and squires to town. London ingulfs them all! the shark is there, And the shark's prey; the spendthrift, and the leech That sucks him: there the sycophant, and he Who, with bareheaded and obsequious bows, Begs a warm office, doom'd to a cold gaol And groat per diem, if his patron frown. The levee swarms, as if in golden pomp Were character'd on ev'ry statesman's door, * Batter'd and bankrupt fortunes mended here.” These are the charms, that sully and eclipse The charms of nature. , 'Tis the cruel gripe, That lean, hard-handed Poverty inflicts, The hope of better things, the chance to win, The wish to shine, the thirst to be amus'd, That at the sound of Winter's hoary wing Unpeople all our counties of such herds Of flutt’ring, loit’ring, cringing, begging, loose, And wanton vagrants, as make London, vast And boundless as it is, a crowded coop.

O, thou, resort and mart of all the earth, Chequer'd with all complexions of mankind, And spotted with all crimes; in whom I see Much that I love, and more that I admire, And all that I abhor; thou freckled fair, That pleasest and yet shock'st me, I can laugh, And I can weep, can hope, and can despond, Feel wrath and pity, when I think on thee! Ten righteous would have sav’d a city once, And thou hast many righteous.-Well for thee— That salt preserves thee; more corrupted else, And therefore more obnoxious, at this hour, Than Sodom in her day had pow'r to be, For whom God heard his Abr'ham plead in vain.


« PreviousContinue »