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And Katterfelto, with his hair on end
At his own wonders, wondering for his bread.
'Tis pleasant, through the loopholes of retreat,
To peep at such a world; to see the stir
Of the great Babel, and not feel the crowd;
To hear the roar she sends through all her gates
At a safe distance, where the dying sound
Falls a soft murmur on th' uninjured ear.
Thus sitting, and surveying thus at ease
The globe and its concerns, I seem advanced
To some secure and more than mortal height,
That liberates and exempts me from them all.
It turns submitted to my view, turns round
With all its generations; I behold
The tumult, and am still. The sound of war
Has lost its terrors ere it reaches me;
Grieves, but alarms me not. I mourn the pride
And avarice that makes man a wolf to man;
Hear the faint echo of those brazen throats,
By which he speaks the language of his heart,
And sigh, but never tremble at the sound.
He travels and expatiates, as the bee
From flower to flower, so he from land to land:
The manners, customs, policy of all
Pay contribution to the store he gleans;
He sucks intelligence in every clime,
And spreads the honey of his deep research
At his return-a rich repast for me.
He travels, and I too. I tread his deck,
Ascend his topmast, through his peering eyes
Discover countries, with a kindred heart
Suffers his woes, and share in his escapes;
While fancy, like the finger of a clock,
Runs the great circuit, and is still at home.
O Winter, ruler of th' inverted year,
Thy scattered hair with sleet like ashes filled,
Thy breath congealed upon thy lips, thy cheeks
Fringed with a beard made white with other
Than those of age, thy forehead wrapped in
A leafless branch thy sceptre, and thy throne
A sliding car, indebted to no wheels,
But urged by storms along its slippery way,
I love thee, all unlovely as thou seem'st,
And dreaded as thou art! Thou hold'st the sun
A prisoner in the yet undawning east,
Shortening his journey between morn and noon,
And hurrying him, impatient of his stay,
Down to the rosy west; but kindly still
Compensating his loss with added hours
Of social converse and instructive ease,
And gathering, at short notice, in one group
The family dispersed, and fixing thought,
Not less dispersed by daylight and its cares.
I crown thee king of intimate delights,
Fireside enjoyments, homeborn happiness,
And all the comforts, that the lowly roof
Of undisturbed Retirement, and the hours
Of long uninterrupted evening, know.
No rattling wheels stop short before these gates;
No powdered pert proficient in the art
Of sounding an alarm assaults these doors
Till the street rings; no stationary steeds
Cough their own knell, while heedless of the sound,
The silent circle fan themselves, and quake:
But here the needle plies its busy task,
The pattern grows, the well depicted flower,
Wrought patiently into the snowy lawn,
Unfolds its bosom; buds, and leaves, and sprigs,
And curling tendrils, gracefully disposed,
Follow the nimble finger of the fair;.
A wreath that can not fade, of flowers, that blow
With most success when all besides decay.
The poet's or historian's page by one
Made vocal for th' amusement of the rest;
The sprightly lyre, whose treasure of sweet sounds
The touch from many a trembling chord shakes
And the clear voice symphonious, yet distinct,
And in the charming strife triumphant still,
Beguile the night, and set a keener edge
On female industry: the threaded steel
Flies swiftly, and unfelt the task proceeds.
The volume closed, the customary rites
Of the last meal commence. A Roman meal;
Such as the mistress of the world once found
Delicious, when her patriots of high note,
Perhaps by moonlight, at their humble doors,
And under an old oak's domestic shade,
Enjoyed, spare feast! a radish and an egg,
Discourse ensues, not trivial, yet not dull,
Nor such as with a frown forbids the play
Of fancy, or prescribes the sound of mirth.
Nor do we madly, like an impious world,
Who deem religion frenzy, and the God
That made them, an intruder on their joys,
Start at his awful name, or deem his praise
A jarring note. Themes of a graver tone,
Exciting oft our gratitude and love,
While we retrace with Memory's pointing wand,
That calls the past to our exact review,
The dangers we have 'scaped, the broken snare,
The disappointed foe, deliverance found
Unlooked for, life preserved, and peace restored,
Fruits of omnipotent eternal love.
O evenings worthy of the gods! exclaimed
The Sabine bard. O evenings, I reply,
More to be prized and coveted than yours,
As more illumined, and with nobler truths,
That I, and mine, and those we love, enjoy.
Is Winter hideous in a garb like this?
Needs he the tragic fur, the smoke of lamps,
The pent-up breath of an unsavoury throng,
To thaw him into feeling; or the smart
And snappish dialogue, that flippant wits
Call comedy, to prompt him with a smile?
The self-complacent actor, when he views
(Stealing a sidelong glance at a full house)
The slope of faces from the floor to th' roof
(As if one master-spring controlled them all)
Relaxed into a universal grin,
Sees not a countenance there that speaks of joy
Half so refined or so sincere as oùrs,
Cards were superfluous here, with all the tricks,
That idleness has ever yet contrived
To fill the void of an unfurnished brain,
To palliate dullness, and give time a shove,
Time, as he passes us, has a dove's wing,
Unsoiled and swift, and of a silken sound;
But the world's Time is Time in masquerade!"
"Theirs, should I paint him, has his pinions fledged
With motley plumes; and, where the peacock
His azure eyes, is tinctured black and red
With spots quadrangular of diamond form,..
Ensanguined hearts, clubs typical of strife,
And spades, the emblem of untimely graves.
What should be, and what was an hour-glass
Becomes a dice-box, and a billiard mace
Well does the work of his destructive scythe.
Thus decked, he charms a world whom fashion
To his true worth, most pleased when idle most;
Whose only happy are their wasted hours.
E'en misses, at whose age their mothers wore
The backstring and the bib, assume the dress
Of womanhood, fit pupils in the school
Of card-devoted Time, and night by night
Placed at some vacant corner of the board,
Learn every trick, and soon play all the game.
But truce with censure. Roving as I rove,
Where shall I find an end, or how proceed?
As he who travels far oft turns aside,
To view some rugged rock or mouldering tower,
Which seen delights him not; then coming home,
Describes and prints it, that the world may know
How far he went for what was nothing worth;
So I, with brush in hand, and palette spread,
With colours mixed for a far different use,
Paint cards, and dolls, and every idle thing,
That Fancy finds in her excursive flights.
'Come, Evening, once again, season of peace;
Return, sweet Evening, and continue long!
Methinks I see thee in the streaky west,
With matron step slow. moving, while the Night
Treads on thy sweeping train! one hand employed
In letting fall the curtain of repose
On bird and beast, the other charged for man
With sweet oblivion of the cares of day:
Not sumptuously adorned, not needing aid,
Like homely-featured Night, of clustering gems;
A star or two just twinkling on thy brow,
Suffices thee; save that the moon is thine
No less than hers, not worn indeed on high
With ostentatious pageantry, but set
With modest grandeur in thy purple zone,
Resplendent less, but of an ampler round.
Come then, and thou shalt find thy votary calm,
Or make me so. Composure is thy gift:
And, whether I devote thy gentle hours
To books, to music, or the poet's toil;
To weaving nets for bird-alluring fruit;
Ortwining silken threads round ivory reels.
When they command whom man was born to
I slight thee not, but make thee welcome still.
Just when our drawing-rooms begin to blaze
With lights, by clear reflection multiplied
From many a mirror, in which he of Gath,
Goliah, might have seen his giant bulk
Whole without stooping, towering crest and all,
My pleasures too begin. But me perhaps
The glowing hearth may satisfy awhile
With faint illumination, that uplifts
The shadows to the ceiling, there by fits
Dancing uncouthly to the quivering flame.
Not undelighted is an hour to me
So spent in parlour twilight: such a gloom
Suits well the thoughtful or unthinking mind,
The mind contemplative, with some new theme
Pregnant, or indisposed alike to all.
Laugh ye, who boast your more mercurial powers,
That never felt a stupor, know no pause,
Nor need one; I am conscious, and confess
Fearless, a soul that does not always think.
Me oft has Fancy ludicrous and wild
Soothed me with a waking dream of houses, towers,
Trees, churches, and strange visages, expressed
In the red cinders, while with poring eye
I gazed, myself creating what I saw.
Nor less amused have I quiescent watched
The sooty films, that play upon the bars
Pendulous, and foreboding in the view
Of superstition, prophesying still,
Though still deceived, some stranger's near ap-
'Tis thus the understanding takes repose,
In indolent vacuity of thought,
And sleeps, and is refreshed. Meanwhile the face
Conceals the mood lethargic with a mask
Of deep deliberation, as the man
Were tasked to his full strength, absorbed and lost.
Thus oft, reclined at ease, I lose an hour
At evening, till at length the freezing blast,
That sweeps the bolted shutter, summons home
The recollected powers; and snapping short
The glassy threads, with which the fancy weaves
Her brittle toils, restores me to myself.
How calm is my recess; and how the frost,
Raging abroad, and the rough wind endear
The silence and the warmth enjoyed within?
I saw the woods and fields at close of day
A variegated show; the meadows green,
Though faded; and the lands, where lately waved
The golden harvest, of a mellow brown,
Upturned so lately by the forceful share.
I saw far off the weedy fallows smile
With verdure not unprofitable, grazed
By flocks, fast feeding; and selecting each
His favourite herb; while all the leafless groves
That skirt the horizon, wore a sable hue,"
Scarce noticed in the kindred dusk of eve.
To-morrow brings a change, a total change!
Which even now, though silently performed,
And slowly, and by most unfelt, the face
Of universal nature undergoes. »
Fast falls a fleecy shower: the downy flakes
Descending, and, with never-ceasing lapse,
Softly alighting upon all below,
Assimilate all objects. Earth receives
Gladly the thickening mantle; and the green
And tender blade, that feared the chilling blast,
Escapes unhurt beneath so warm a veil.
In such a world, so thorny, and where none
Finds happiness unblighted, or, if found,
Without some thistly sorrow at its side,
It seems the part of wisdom, and no sin
Against the law of love, to measure lots
With less distinguished than ourselves; that thus
We may with patience bear our moderate ills,
And sympathize with others suffering more.
Ill fares the traveller now, and he that stalks
In ponderous boots beside his recking team.
The wain goes heavily, impeded sore
By congregated loads adhering close
To the clogged wheels; and in its sluggish pace
Noiseless appears a moving hill of snow.
The toiling steeds expand the nostril wide,
While every breath, by respiration strong
Forced downward, is consolidated soon
Upon their jutting chests. He, formed to bear
The pelting brunt of the tempestuous night,
With half-shut eyes, and puckered cheeks and
Presented bare against the storm, plods on.
One hand secures his hat, save when with both
He brandishes his pliant length of whip,
Resounding oft, and never heard in vain.
O happy; and in my account denied
That sensibility of pain, with which
Refinement is endued, thrice happy thou!
Thy frame, robust and hardy, feels indeed
The piercing cold, but feels it unimpaired.
The learned finger never need explore
The vigorous pulse; and the unhealthful east,
That breathes the spleen, and searches every bone
Of the infirm, is wholesome air to thee.
Thy days roll on exempt from household care;
Thy wagon is thy wife; and the poor beasts;
That drag the dull companion to and fro,
Thine helpless charge, dependent on thy care.
Ah treat them kindly! rude as thou appear'st,
Yet show that thou hast mercy! which the great,[
With needless hurry whirled from place to place,
Humane as they would seem, not always show.
Poor, yet industrious, modest, quiet, neat,
Such claim compassion in a night like this,
And have a friend in every feeling heart.
Warmed, while it lasts, by labour, all day long..
They brave the season, and yet find at eve, 1
Ill clad and fed but sparely, time too cool.
The frugal housewife trembles when she lightsTM
Her scanty stock of brushwood, blazing clear,
But dying soon, like all terrestrial joys.
The few small embers left she nurses well;
And, while her infant race, with outspread hands,
And crowded knees sit cowering o'er the sparks,
Retires, content to quake, so they be warmed.
The man feels least, as more inured than she
To winter and the current in his veins
More briskly moved by his severer toil;
Yet he too finds his own distress in theirs.
The taper soon extinguished, which I saw
Dangled along at the cold finger's end
Just when the day declined; and the brown loaf
Lodged on the shelf, half eaten without sauce
Of savoury cheese, or butter, costlier still;
Sleep seems their only refuge; for alas!
Where penury is felt the thought is chained,
And sweet colloquial pleasures are but few.
With all this thrift they thrive not. All the care
Ingenious parsimony takes, but just
Saves the small inventory, bed, and stool,
Skillet, and old carved chest, from public sale.
They live, and live without extorted alms
From grudging hands; but other boast have none
To soothe their honest pride, that scorns to beg,
Nor comfort else, but in their mutual love.
I praise you much, ye weak and patient pair,
For ye are worthy; choosing rather far
A dry but independent crust, hard earned,
And eaten with a sigh, than to endure
The rugged frowns and insolent rebuffs
Of knaves in office, partial in the work
Of distribution; liberal of their aid
To clamorous Importunity in rags,
But ofttimes deaf to suppliants, who would blush
To wear a tattered garb, however coarse,
Whom famine can not reconcile to filth:
These ask with painful shyness, and, refused
Because deserving, silently retire!
But be ye of good courage! Time itself
Shall much befriend you. Time shall give in
Their long complaints, is self-inflicted wo;
The effect of laziness or sottish waste.
Now goes the nightly thief prowling abroad
For plunder: much solicitous how best
He may compensate for a day of sloth
By works of darkness and nocturnal wrong.
Wo to the gardener's pale, the farmer's hedge,
Plashed neatly, and secured with driven stakes ⚫
Deep in the loamy bank. Uptorn by strength,
Resistless in so bad a cause, but lame
To better deeds, he bundles up the spoil,
An ass's burthen, and, when laden most
And heaviest, light of foot steals fast away.
Nor does the boarded hovel better guard -
-The well-stacked pile of riven logs and roots,
From his pernicious force. Nor will he leave
Unwrenched the door, however well secured,
Where chanticleer amidst his haram sleeps
In unsuspecting pomp. Twitched from the perch,
He gives the princely bird, with all his wives,
To his voracious bag, struggling in vain,
And loudly wondering at the sudden change.
Nor this to feed his own. "Twere some excuse,
Did pity of their sufferings warp aside
His principle, and tempt him into sin
For their support, so destitute. But they
Neglected pine at home; themselves, as more
Exposed than others, with less scruple made
His victims, robbed of their defenceless all.
Cruel is all he does. 'Tis quenchless thirst
Of ruinous ebriety, that prompts
His every action, and imbrutes the man.
O for a law to noose the villain's neck,
Who starves his own; "who persecutes the blood
He gave them in his children's yeins, and hates
And wrongs the woman he has sworn to love!
Pass where we may, through city or through
Village, or hamlet, of this merry land,
Though lean and beggared, every twentieth pace
Conducts the unguarded nose to such a whiff
Of stale debauch, forth issuing from the styes
That law has licensed, as makes temperance reel.
There sit, involved and lost in curling clouds
Of Indian fume, and guzzling deep, the boor,
The lackey, and the groom: The craftsman there
Takes Lethean leave of all his toil;
Smith, cobler, joiner, he that plies the shears,
And he that kneads the dough; all loud alike,
All learned, and all drunk! the fiddle screams
Plaintive and piteous, as: wept and wailed
Its wasted tones and harmony unheard:
The cheek distending oath, not to be praised
As ornamental, musical, polite,
Like those, which modern senators employ,
Whose oath is rhetoric, and who swear for fame!
Behold the schools in which plebeian minds,
Once simple, are initiated in arts
Which some may practise with politer grace,
But none with readier skill!-'tis here they learn
The road, that leads from competence and peace
To indigence and rapine; till at last
Society, grown weary of the load,
Shakes her encumbered lap, and casts them out.
But censure profits little: vain th' attempt,
To advertise in verse a public pest,
That, like the filth with which the peasant feeds
His hungry acres, stinks, and is of use.
Th' excise is fattened with the rich result
Of all this riot; and ten thousand casks,
For ever dribbling out their base contents,
Touched by the Midas finger of the state,
Bleed gold for ministers to sport away.
Drink, and be mad then; 'tis your country bids!
Gloriously drunk obey th' important call!
Her cause demands th' assistance of your throats;
Ye all can swallow, and she asks no more. -
Would I had fallen upon those happier days,
That poets celebrate; those golden times,
And those Arcadian scenes that Maro sings,
And Sidney, warbler of poetic prose.
Nymphs were Dianas then, and swains had hearts
That felt their virtues: Innocence, it seems,
From courts dismissed, found shelter in the groves;
The footsteps of Simplicity, impressed
Upon the yielding herbage, (so they sing)
Then were not all effaced: then speech profane,
And manners profligate, were rarely found,
Observed as prodigies, and soon reclaimed.
Vain wish! those days were never; airy dreams
Sat for the picture: and the poet's hand,
Imparting substance to an empty shade,"
Imposed a gay delirium for a truth.
Grant it: I still must envy them an age,
That favoured such a dream; in days like these
Impossible, when virtue is so scarce,
That to suppose a scene where she presides,
Is tramontane, and stumbles all belief.
No: we are polished now. The rural lass
Whom once her virgin modesty and grace,
Her artless manners, and her neat attire,"
So dignified, that she was hardly less
Than the fair shepherdess of old romance,
Fierce the dispute whate'er the theme; while she, Is seen no more. The character is lost!
Fell Discord, arbitress of such debate,
Perched on the signpost, holds with even hand
Her undecisive scales. In this she lays
A weight of ignorance; in that, of pride:
And smiles delighted with th' eternal poise
Dire is the frequent curse, and its twin sound,
Her head, adorned with lappets pinned aloft,
And ribands streaming gay, superbly raised,
And magnified beyond all human size,
Indebted to some smart wig-weaver's hand
For more than half the tresses it sustains;
Her elbows ruffled and her tottering frame
Ill-propped upon French heels; she might be Perhaps, though by profession ghostly pure,
-(But that the basket dangling on her arm
Interprets her more truly) of a rank
Too proud for dairy-work, or sale of eggs.
Expect her soon with footboy at her heels,
No longer blushing for her awkward load,
Her train and her umbrella all her care!
He too may have his vice, and sometimes prove
Less dainty than becomes his grave outside
In lucrative concerns. Examine well
His milkwhite hand; the palm is hardly clean-
But here and there an ugly smutch appears.
Foh! 'twas a bribe that left it: he has touched
Corruption. Whoso seeks an audit here
The town has tinged the country; and the state Propitious, pays his tribute, game or fish, Appears a spot upon a vestal's robe, Wild fowl or venison; and his errand speeds. The worse for what it soils. The fashion runs But faster far, and more than all the rest, Down into scenes still rural; but, alas, A noble cause, which none, who bears a spark Scenes rarely graced with rural manners now! Of public virtue, ever wished removed, Time was when in the pastoral retreat Works the deplored and mischievous effect Th' unguarded door was safe; men did not watch 'Tis universal soldiership has stabbed T' invade another's right, or guard their own. The heart of merit in the meaner class. Then sleep was undisturbed by fear, unscared Arms, through the vanity and brainless rage By drunken howlings; and the chilling tale Of those that bear them, in whatever cause, Of midnight murder was a wonder heard Seem most at variance with all moral good, With doubtful credit, told to frighten babes. And incompatible with serious thought. But farewell now to unsuspicious nights, The clown, the child of nature, without guile, And slumbers unalarmed!. Now, ere you sleep, Blest with an infant's ignorance, of all See that your polished arms be primed with care, But his own simple pleasures; now and then And drop the nightbolt; ruffians are abroad, A wrestling match, a foot-race, or a fair; And the first larum of the cock's shrill throat Is balloted, and trembles at the news: May prove a trumpet, summoning your ear Sheepish he doffs his hat, and mumbling swears To horrid sounds of hostile feet within. A Bible oath to be whate'er they please, Een daylight has its dangers; and the walk To do he knows not what. The task performed, Through pathless wastes and woods, unconscious That instant he becomes the sergeant's care, His pupil, and his torment, and his jest. His awkward gait, his introverted toes, Bent knees, round shoulders, and dejected looks, Procure him many a curse. By slow degrees, Unapt to learn, and formed of stubborn stuff, He yet by slow degrees puts off himself, Grows conscious of a change, and likes it well; He stands erect; his slouch becomes a walk; He steps right onward, martial in his air, His form, and movement; is as smart above As meal and larded locks can make him; wears His hat, or his plumed helmet, with a grace; And, his three years of heroship expired, Returns indignant to the slighted plough. He hates the field, in which no fife or drum Attends him; drives his cattle to a march; And sighs for the smart comrades he has left. 'Twere well if his exterior change were allBut with his clumsy port the wretch has lost His ignorance and harmless manners too. To swear, to game, to drink; to show at home By lewdness, idleness, and sabbath-breach, The great proficiency he made abroad; T' astonish and to grieve his gazing friends, To break some maiden's and his mother's heart; To be a pest where he was useful onee; Are his sole aim, and all his glory, now.
Of other tenants than melodious birds,"
Or harmless flocks, is hazardous and bold.
Lamented change! to which full many a cause
Inveterate, hopeless of a cure, conspires.
The course of human things from good to ill
From ill to worse, is fatal, never fails.
Increase of power begets increase of wealth,
Wealth luxury, and luxury excess;
Excess the scrofulous and itchy plague,
That seizes first the opulent, descends
To the next rank contagious, and in time
Taints downward all the graduated scale
Of order, from the chariot to the plough.
The rich, and they that have an arm to check
The license of the lowest in degree,
Desert their office; and themselves, intent
On pleasure, haunt the capital, and thus
To all the violence of lawless hands
Resign the scenes their presence might protect.
Authority herself not seldom sleeps,
Though resident, and witness of the wrong.
The plump convivial parson often bears
The magisterial sword in vain, and lays
His reverence and his worship both to rest
On the same cushion of habitual sloth.
Perhaps timidity restrains his arm;
When he should strike he trembles, and sets free,
Himself enslaved by terror of the band,
Th' audacious convict whom he dares not bind.
Man in society is like a flower
Blown in its native bed: 'tis there alone
His faculties, expanded in full bloom,