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Escaped from office and its constant cares,
What charms he sees in freedom's smile expressed,
In freedom lost so long, now repossessed ;
The tongue, whose strains were cogent as commands,
Revered at home, and felt in foreign lands,
Shall own itself a stammerer in that cause,
Or plead its silence as its best applause.
He knows indeed that, whether dressed or rude,
Wild without art, or artfully subdued,
Nature in every form inspires delight,
But never marked her with so just a sight.
Her hedge-row shrubs, a variegated store,
With woodbine and wild-roses mantled o'er,
Green balks and furrowed lands, the stream that spreads
Its cooling vapour o'er the dewy meads,
Downs, that almost escape the inquiring eye,
That melt and fade into the distant sky,
Beauties he lately slighted as he passed,
Seem all created since he travelled last.
Master of all the enjoyments he designed,
No rough annoyance rankling in his mind,
What early philosophic hours he keeps,
How regular his meals, how sound he sleeps !
Not sounder he that on the mainmast head,
While morning kindles with a windy red,
Begins a long look-out for distant land,
Nor quits till evening-watch his giddy stand,
Then swift descending with a seaman's haste,
Slips to his hammock, and forgets the blast.
He chooses company, but not the squire's,
Whose wit is rudeness, whose good breeding tires ;
Nor yet the parson's, who would gladly come,
Obsequious when abroad, though proud at home ;
Nor can he much affect the neighbouring peer,
Whose toe of emulation treads too near ;
But wisely seeks a more convenient friend,
With whom, dismissing forms, he may unbend :
A man whom marks of condescending grace
Teach, while they flatter him, his proper place :
Who comes when called, and at a word withdraws,
Speaks with reserve, and listens with applause ;
Some plain mechanic, who, without pretence
To birth or wit, nor gives nor takes offence,
On whom he rests well pleased his weary powers,
And talks and laughs away his vacant hours.
The tide of life, swift always in its course,
May run in cities with a brisker force,
But nowhere with a current so serene,
Or half so clear, as in the rural scene.
Yet how fallacious is all earthly bliss,
What obvious truths the wisest heads may miss ;
Some pleasures live a month, and some a year,
But short the date of all we gather here ;
No happiness is felt, except the true,
That does not charm the more for being new.
This observation, as it chanced, not made,
Or, if the thought occurred, not duly weighed,
He sighs—for, after all, by slow degrees
The spot he loved has lost the power to please ;
To cross his ambling pony day by day
Seems at the best but dreaming life away;
The prospect, such as might enchant despair,
He views it not, or sees no beauty there :
With aching heart, and discontented looks,
Returns at noon to billiards or to books,
But feels, while grasping at his faded joys,
A secret thirst of his renounced employs.
He chides the tardiness of every post,
Pants to be told of battles won or lost,
Blames his own indolence, observes, though late,
'Tis criminal to leave a sinking state,
Flies to the levee, and received with grace,
Kneels, kisses hands, and shines again in place.
A mind unnerved, or indisposed to bear The weight of subjects worthiest of her care, Whatever hopes a change of scene inspires, Must change her nature, or in vain retires. An idler is a watch that wants both hands, As useless if it goes as when it stands. Books therefore, not the scandal of the shelves, In which lewd sensualists print out themselves ; Nor those in which the stage gives vice a blow, With what success let modern manners show; Nor his? who, for the bane of thousands born, Built God a church, and laughed his word to scorn, Skilful alike to seem devout and just, And stab religion with a sly side-thrust ; Nor those of learned philologists, who chase A panting syllable through time and space, Start it at home, and hunt it in the dark, To Gaul, to Greece, and into Noah's ark; But such as learning without false pretence, The friend of truth, the associate of sound sense, And such as, in the zeal of good design, Strong judgment labouring in the scripture mine, All such as manly and great souls produce, Worthy to live, and of eternal use ; Behold in these what leisure hours demand, Amusement and true knowledge hand in hand. Luxury gives the mind a childish cast, And, while she polishes, perverts the taste ; Habits of close attention, thinking heads, Become more rare as dissipation spreads, Till authors hear at length one general cry, Tickle and entertain us, or we die!
The loud demand, from year to year the same,
Beggars Invention, and makes Fancy lame;
Till farce itself, most mournfully jejune,
Calls for the kind assistance of a tune,
And novels (wi ess every month's Review)
Belie their name, and offer nothing new.
The mind relaxing into needful sport,
Should turn to writers of an abler sort,
Whose wit well managed, and whose classic style,
Give truth a lustre, and make wisdom smile,
A COMPARISON. ADDRESSED TO A YOUNG LADY 1.
Sweet stream, that winds through yonder glade,
Apt emblem of a virtuous maid !
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 blessed where'er she goes ;
Pure-bosomed as that watery glass,
And heaven reflected in her face !
[From the Latin of Vincent Bourne.]
There is a bird who by his coat,
And by the hoarseness of his note,
Might be supposed a crow ;
A great frequenter of the church,
Where bishop-like he finds a perch,
And dormitory too.
Above the steeple shines a plate,
That turns and turns, to indicate
From what point blows the weather ; Look up-your brains begin to swim, 'Tis in the clouds—that pleases him,
He chooses it the rather.
Fond of the speculative height,
Thither he wings his airy flight,
And thence securely sees
The bustle and the raree-show
That occupy mankind below,
Secure and at his ease.
You think, no doubt, he sits and muses
On future broken bones and bruises,
If he should chance to fall.
No; not a single thought like that .
Employs his philosophic pate,
Or troubles it at all.
He sees that this great roundabout,
The world, with all its motley rout,
Church, army, physic, law,
Its customs, and its businesses,
A no concern at all of his,
And says-what says he ?- Caw.'
Thrice happy bird ! I too have seen
Much of the vanities of men ;
And sick of having seen 'em,
Would cheerfully these limbs resign
For such a pair of wings as thine,
And such a head between 'em.