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Must be detach'd, and where it strews the floor
Swept with a woman's neatness, breeding else
Contagion, and disseminating death.
Discharge but these kind offices, (and who
spare; that loves them, offices like these?)
Well they reward the toil. The sight is pleas’d,
The scent regald, each odorif'rous leaf,
Each op’ning blossom, freely breathes abroad
Its gratitude, and thanks him with its sweets.
So manifold, all pleasing in their kind,
All healthful, are th' employs of rural life,
Reiterated as the wheel of time
Runs round; still ending, and beginning still.
Nor are these all. To deck the shapely knoll,
That, softly swell’d and gaily dress’d, appears
A flow'ry island, from the dark green lawn
Emerging, must be deem'd a labour due
To no mean hand, and asks the touch of taste.
Here also grateful mixture of well-match'd
And sorted hues (each giving each relief,
And by contrasted beauty shining more)
Is needful. Strength may wield the pond'rous
May turn the clod, and wheel the compost home;
But elegance, chief grace the garden shows,
And most attractive, is the fair result
Of thought, the creature of a polish'd mind.
Without it all is gothic as the scene
To which th' insipid citizen resorts
Near yonder heath; where industry mispent,
But proud of his uncouth ill-chosen task,
Has made a heav'n on earth; with suns and moons
Of close-ramm'd stones has charg'd th' encum-
ber'd soil, And fairly laid the zodiac in the dust. He, therefore, who would see his flow'rs dispos'd Sightly and in just order, ere he gives The beds the trusted treasure of their seeds,
Forecasts the future whole; that, when the scene
Shall break into its preconceiv'd display,
Each for itself, and all as with one voice
Conspiring, may attest his bright design.
Nor even then, dismissing as perform’d
His pleasant work, may
Few self-supported flow’rs endure the wind
Uninjur’d, but expect th' upholding aid
Of the smooth-shaven prop, and, neatly tied,
Are wedded thus, like beauty to old age,
For int’rest 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.
Oh, 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 o'erleap'd 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
Temper'd in hell, invades the throbbing breast,
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 not here?
Health, leisure, means t' improve it, friendship,
peace, 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 risk 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;