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An idler is a watch that wants both hands,
As useless if it goes, as when it stands.
Friends (for I cannot stint as some have done,
Too rigid in my views that name to one,
Though one, I grant it, in the gen'rous breast
Will stand advanced a step above the rest ;
Flow'rs by that name promiscuously we call,
But one, the rose, the regent of them all),
Friends, not adopted with a schoolboy's baste,
But chosen with a nice discerning taste,
Well-born, well-disciplined, who, placed apart
From vulgar minds, have honour much at heart,
And (though the world may think th' ingredients odd)
The love of virtue, and the fear of God !
Such friends prevent, what else would soon succeed,
A temper rustic as the life we lead,
And keep the polish of the manners clean,
As theirs who bustle in the busiest scene.
For solitude, however some may rave,
Seeming a sanctuary, proves a grave,
A sepulchre in which the living lie,
Where all good qualities grow sick and die.
I praise the Frenchman, his remark was shrewd-
How sweet, how passing sweet is solitude !
But grant me still a friend in my retreat,
Whom I may whisper,--Solitude is sweet.
Religion does not censure or exclude
Unnumber'd pleasures, harmlessly pursued.
To study culture, and with artful toil
To meliorate and tame the stubborn soil;
To give dissimilar yet fruitful lands,
The grain, or herb, or plant, that each demands ;
To cherish virtue in a humble state,
And share the joys your bounty may create ;
To mark the matchless workings of the power
That shuts within its seed the future flower,
Bids these in elegance of form excel,
In colour these, and those delight the smell,
Sends Nature forth, the daughter of the skies,
To dance on earth, and charm all human eyes ;
To teach the canvas innocent deceit,
Or lay the landscape on the snowy sheet-
These, these are arts pursued without a crime,
That leave no stain upon the wing of time.
Me poetry (or rather notes that aim
Feebly and vainly at poetic fame)
Employs, shut out from more important views,
Fast by the banks of the slow-winding Ouse ;
Content if, thus sequester'd, I may raise
A monitor's, though not a poet's praise,
And while I teach an art, too little known,
To close life wisely, may not waste my own.
Her new-laid eggs she fondly press'd,
And on her wicker-work high mounted,
Her chickens prematurely counted
(A fault philosopher might blame
If quite exempted from the same),
Enjoy'd at ease the genial day,
'Twas April as the bumpkins say,
The legislature call'd it May.
But suddenly a wind, as high
As ever swept a winter sky,
Shook the young leaves about her ears,
And fill'd her with a thousand fears,
Lest the rude blast should snap the bough,
And spread her golden hopes below.
But just at eve the blowing weather
And all her fears were hush'd together :
And now, quoth poor unthinking Raph,
'Tis over, and the brood is safe ;
(For ravens, though as birds of omen
They teach both conj'rers and old women
To tell us what is to befall,
Can't prophesy, themselves, at all ;)
The morning came, when neighbour Hodge,
Who long had mark'd her airy lodge,
And destined all the treasure there
A gift to his expecting fair,
Climb'd like a squirrel to his dray,
And bore the worthless prize away.
ADDRESSED TO A YOUNG LADY.
WEET stream, that winds through yonder
Apt emblem of a virtuous maid, [glade, Silent and chaste she steals along, Far from the world's gay, busy throng, With gentle yet prevailing force, Intent upon her destined course ; Graceful and useful all she does, Blessing and blest where'er she goes, Pure-bosom'd that wat’ry glass, And heav'n reflected in her face.
SUPPOSED TO BE WRITTEN BY ALEXANDER SELKIRK,
DURING HIS SOLITARY ABODE IN THE ISLAND OF
AM monarch of all I survey,
My right there is none to dispute,
From the centre all round to the sea,
I am lord of the fowl and the brute.
Oh solitude ! where are the charms
That sages have seen in thy face?
Better dwell in the midst of alarms,
Than reign in this horrible place.
I am out of humanity's reach,
I must finish my journey alone,
Never hear the sweet music of speech-
I start at the sound of my own.
The beasts that roam over the plain,
My form with indifference see,
They are so unacquainted with man,
Their tameness is shocking to me.
Society, friendship, and love,
Divinely bestow'd upon man-
Oh, had I the wings of a dove,
How soon would I taste you again!
My sorrows I then might assuage
In the ways of religion and truth,
Might learn from the wisdom of age,
And be cheer'd by the sallies of youth.
Religion ! what treasure untold
Resides in that heavenly word !
More precious than silver and gold,
Or all that this earth can afford.
But the sound of the church-going bell
These valleys and rocks never heard,
Ne'er sigh'd at the sound of a knell,
Or smiled when a Sabbath appear'd. Ye winds, that have made me your sport,
Convey to this desolate shore
Some cordia! endearing report
Of a land I shall visit no more.
My friends, do they now and then send
A wish or a thought after me ?
Oh, tell me I yet have a friend,
Though a friend I am never to see. How fleet is a glance of the mind !
Compared with the speed of its flight, The tempest itself lags behind,
And the swift-winged arrows of light. When I think of my own native land,
In a moment I seem to be there; But alas, recollection at hand
Soon hurries me back to despair. But the sea-fowl is gone to her nest,
The beast is laid down in his lair, Even here is a season of rest,
And I to my cabin repair. There is mercy in every place,
And mercy, encouraging thought ! Gives even affliction a grace,
And reconciles man to his lot.