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An ELEGY. Written in a country church-yard. The curfeu tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea. The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness, and to me. Now fades ehe glimmering landscape on the fight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds;
Or drowsy tincklings lull the distant folds.
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Moleft her ancient solitary "reign.
Where heaves the turf in many a mould'ring heap, Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude fore-fathers of the hamlet sleep. The breezy call of incense breathing morn,
The swallow twitt'ring from the straw-built shed, The cock's fhrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed. For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care : No children run to lisp their fire's return,
Or climb his knees the envy'd kiss to share. Oft did the harvest to their fickle yield,
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke; How jocund did they drive their team a field !
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke! Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure ; Nor grandeur hear with a disdainful smile,
· The short and simple annals of the poor. The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave;
Forgive, ye proud, th' involuntary fault,
If memory to these no trophies raise, Where through the long-drawn ifle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the notes of praise. Can storied urn, or animated bust,
Back to its manfion call the fleeting breath? Can honour's voice provoke the filent duft,
Or fatt'ry sooth the dull cold ear of death ? Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire, Hands that the reins of empire might have fway'd,
Or wak'd to extasy the living lyre,
Rich with the spoils of time, did ne'er unro
rage, And froze the genial current of the foul. Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear : Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air. Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood Some mute inglorious Milton here may reft,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood. Th' applause of lift'ning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise, To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their history in a nation's eyes Their lot forbad ; nor circumscrib'd alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd; Forbad to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind, The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame, Or heap the shrine of luxury and pride
With incense, kindled at the muse's fame.
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble ftrife,
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray; Along the cool fequefter'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way. Yet e'en these bones from insult to protect,
Some frail memorial ftill erected nigh, With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd,
Implores the passing tribute of a figh. Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply ; And many a holy text around the strews,
That teach the rustic moralift to die. For who to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd, Left the warm precincts of the chearful
day, Nor cast one longing, ling'ring look behind ? On some fond breast the parting foul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires ;
Awake and faithful to her wonted fires.
Doft in these lines their artless tale relate ;
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate. Haply, some hoary-headed swain may say,
i Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn • Brushing with hafty steps the dews away,
• To meet the sun upon the upland lawn. 6. There at the foot of yonder nodding beech
• That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high, · His listless length at noon-tide would he stretch,
• And pore upon the brook that babbles by.
• Mutt'ring his wayward fancies he would rove, « Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,
• Or craz'd with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.
• One morn I miss'd him on th' accustom'd hill,
Along the heath, and near his fav’rite tree; • Another came ; nor yet beside the rill,
• Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he. • The next with dirges due in sad array,
• Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne. Approach and read (for thou can'ít read) the lay,
• Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn. • There scatter'd oft, the earliest of the year,
By hands unseen, are show'rs of violets found • The red-breast loves to build and warble there,
• And little foofteps lightly print the ground.
The EPITAP H.
• Here rests his head upon the lap of earth
• A youth to fortune and to fame unknown: « Fair science frown'd not on his humble birth,
• And melancholy mark'd him for her own.
· Heav'n did a recompence as largely send : • He gave to mis'ry (all he had) a tear :
• He gain’d from heav'n ('twas all he wish'd) a friend. No farther seek his merits to disclose,
• Or draw his frailties from their dread abode, • (There they alike in trembling hope repose)
• The bosom of his father and his God.'
We have already observed that any dreadful catastrophe is a proper subject for Elegy ; and what can be more fo than a civil war, where the fathers and children, the dearest relations and friends, meet each other in arms? We have on this subject a most affecting Elegy, intituled the Tears of Scotland, ascribed to Dr. Smollet, and set to music by Mr. Oswald, just after the late rebellion.
The Tears of SCOTLAND. Written in the Year 1746.
Thy fons, for valoar long renown'd,
III. What boots it then, in every clime, Thro’ the wide spreading waste of time, Thy martial glory, crown'd with praise, Still fhone with undiminish'd blaze ? Thy tow'ring spirit now is broke, Thy neck is bended to the yoke. What foreign arms could never quell, By civil rage, and rancour fell.