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But now the sounds of population fail,
No cheerful murmurs fluctuate in the gale,
No busy steps the grass-grown foot-way tread,
But all the bloomy flush of life is fled.
All but yon widow'd, solitary thing,
That feebly bends beside the plashy spring;
She, wretched matron, forc'd in age, for bread,
To strip the brook with mantling cresses spread,
To pick her wintry faggot from the thorn,
To seek her nightly shed, and weep till morn;
She only left of all the harmless train,
The sad historian of the pensive plain.
Near yonder copse, where once the garden smil'd,
And still where many a garden flower grows wild;
There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose,
The village preacher's modest mansion rose.
A man he was to all the country dear,
And passing rich with forty pounds a year;
Remote from towns he ran his godly race,
Nor e'er had chang'd, nor wish'd to change his place;
Unskilful he to fawn, or seek for power,
By doctrines fashion'd to the varying hour;
Far other aims his heart had learn'd to prize,
More bent to raise the wretched than to rise.
His house was known to all the vagrant train,
He chid their wand'rings, but reliev'd their pain;
The long remember'd beggar was his guest,
Whose beard descending swept his aged breast;
The ruin'd spendthrift, now no longer proud,
Claim'd kindred there, and had his claims allow'd;
The broken soldier, kindly bade to stay,
Sate by his fire, and talk'd the night away;
Wept o'er his wounds, or tales of sorrow done,
.Shoulder'd his crutch, and shew'd how fields were won.
Pleas'd with his guests, the good man learn'd to glow,
And quite forgot their vices in their woe;
Careless their merits or their faults to scan,
His pity gave ere charity began.
Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,
And ev'n his failings lean'd to virtue's side ;.
But in his duty prompt at every call,
He watch'd and wept, he pray'd and felt for all;
And, as a bird each fond endearment tries,
To tempt its new-fledg'd offspring to the skies;
He tried each art, reprov'd each dull delay,
Allur'd to brighter worlds, and led the way.
Beside the bed where parting life was laid,
And sorrow, guilt, and pain, by turns dismay'd,
The rev'rend champion stood. At his control,
Despair and anguish fled the struggling soul;
Comfort came down the trembling wretch to raise,
And his last fault'ring accents whisper'd praise.
At church, with meek and unaffected grace, His looks adorn'd the venerable plate; Truth from his lips prevaii'd with double sway, And fools, who came to scofT, remain'd to pray. The service past, around the pious man, With steady zeal, each honest rustic ran; Ev'n children follow'd, with endearing wile, And pluck'd his gown, to share the good man's smile. His ready smile a parent's warmth exprest, Their welfare pleas'd him, and their care distrest; To them his heart, his love, his griefs were given, But all his serious thoughts had rest in heaven. As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form, Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm,
Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread, Eternal sunshine settles on its head.
Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way, With blossom'd furze unprofitably gay, There, in his noisy mansion, skill'd to rule, The village master taught his little school; A man severe he was, and stern to view, I knew him well, and every truant knew; Well had the boding tremblers learn'd to trace, The day's disasters in his morning face; Full well they laugh'd with counterfeited glee At all his jokes, for many a joke had he; Full well the busy whisper circling round, Convey'd the dismal tidings when he frown'd; Yet he was kind, ur K ocrcrc in ougnt, The love he bore to learning was in fault; The village all declar'd how much he knew; 'Twas certain he could write, and cypher too; Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage, And ev'n the story ran that he could gauge: In arguing too, the parson own'd his skill, For ev'n though vanquish'd, he could argue still; While words of learned strength, and thund'ring sound, Amaz'd the gazing rustics rang'd around, And still they gaz'd, and still the wonder grew, That one small head could carry all he knew.
But past is all his fame. The very spot Where many a time he triumph'd, is forgot. Near yonder thorn, that lifts its head on high, Where once the sign-post caught the passing eye, Low lies that house where nut-brown draughts inspir'd. Where grey-beard mirth and smiling toil retir'd, Where village statesmen talk'd with looks profound. And news much older than their ale went round.
Imagination fondly stoops to trace
The parlor splendors of that festive place;
The white-wush'd wall, the nicely sanded floor,
The varnish'd clock that click'd behind the door;
The chest contriv'd a double debt to pay,
A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day;
The pictures plac'd for ornament and use,
The twelve good rules, the royal game of goose;
The hearth, except when winter chill'd the day,
With aspin boughs, and flowers and fennel gay,
While broken tea-cups, wisely kept for shew,
Rang'd o'er the chimney, glisten'd in a row.
Vain transitory splendors ! could not all
Reprieve the tott'ring mansion from its fall!
Obscuve it uixikb, nor ahail it raoro impart
An hour's importance to the poor man's heart;
Thither no more the peasant shall repair,
To sweet oblivion of his daily care;
No more the farmer's news, the barber's tale,
No more the wood-man's ballad shall prevail:
No more the smith his dusky brow shall clear,
Relax his pond'rous strength, and lean to hear;
The host himself no longer shall be found
Careful to see the mantling bliss go round;
Nor the coy maid, half willing to be prest,
Shall kiss the cup to pass it to the rest.
Yes ! let the rich deride, the proud disdain,
These simple blessings of the lowly train;
To me more dear, congenial to my heart,
One native charm, than all the gloss of art;
Spontaneous joys, where nature has its play,
The soul adopts, and owns their first-born sway;
Lightly they frolic o'er the vacant mind,
Unenvy'd, unmolested, unconfin'd,
But the long pomp, the midnight masquerade,
With all the freaks of wanton wealth array'd,
In these, ere trifles half their wish obtain,
The toiling pleasure sickens into pain;
And, ev'n, while fashion's brightest arts decoy,
The heart distrusting asks, if this be joy?
Ye friends to truth, ye statesmen who survey
The rich man's joys increase, the poor's decay,
'Tis your's to judge, how wide the limits stand
Between a splendid and an happy land.
Proud swells the tide with loads of freighted ore,
And shouting folly hails them from her shore;
Hoards, ev'n beyond the miser's wish abound,
And rich men flock from all the world around.
Yet count our gains. This wealth is but a name
That leaves our useful products still the same.
Not so the loss. The man of wealth and pride,
Takes up a space that many poor supply'd;
Space for his lake, his park's extended bounds,
Space for his horses, equipage and hounds;
The robe that wraps his limbs in silken sloth,
Has robb'd the neighboring fields of half their growth.
His seat, where solitary sports are seen,
Indignant spurns the cottage from the green;
Around the world each needful product flies,
For all the luxuries the world supplies.
While thus the land adorn'd for pleasure, all
In barren splendor feebly waits the fall. *
As some fair female unadorn'd and plain, Secure to please while youth confirms her reign. Slights every borrovv'd charm that dress supplies, Nor shares with art the triumph of her eyes; But when those charms are past, for charms are frail) When time advances, and when lovers fail,