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As he that 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 12;
So I with brush in hand and pallet spread
With colours mixt for a far different use,
Paint cards and dolls, and every idle thing
That fancy finds in her excursive flights.
Come evening once again 13,
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 employ'd
In letting fall the curtain of repose 1
11 The want of method pray excuse,
Allowing for a vapoured Muse;
Nor to a narrow path confined,
Hedge in by rules a roving mind.
12 To show the world how Garrick did not act.
13 Come, pensive nun, devout and pure,
Sober, steadfast, and demure,
All in a robe of darkest grain
Flowing with majestic train;
And sable stole of Cyprus lawn
Over thy decent shoulders drawn,
Come, but keep thy wonted state
With even step, and pensive gait.
14 Now came still evening on, and twilight grey
Had in her sober livery all things clad;
Silence accompanied, for beast and bird,
They to their grassy couch, these to their nests,
Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale;
On bird and beast, the other charged for man
With sweet oblivion of the cares of day;
Not sumptuously adorn'd, nor 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;
Or twining silken threads round ivory reels
When they command whom man was born to please 15,
I slight thee not, but make thee welcome still.
She all night long her amorous descant sung,
Silence was pleased: now glowed the firmament
With living sapphires; Hesperus that led
The starry host, rode brightest, till the moon,
Rising in clouded majesty, at length
Apparent queen, unveil'd her peerless light,
And o'er the dark her silver mantle threw.
Par. Lost, iv. 598.
15 Now, with all due admiration of the whole sex, says that excellent good man Mr. Park, and with undying attachment to one who constituted the prime blessing of half my life, this excessive tribute seems to be more courteous than correct. If man had been born chiefly to please women, it does not appear likely that he should have been formed first. The toy is rarely constructed before its playmate.
Morning Thoughts and Midnight Musings, p. 31.
Just when our drawing-rooms begin to blaze
With lights by clear reflection multiplied
From many a mirror, in which he of Gath,
Goliath, 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 shadow to the ceiling, there by fits
Dancing uncouthly to the quivering flame.
Not undelightful 16 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 feel 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
Sooth'd with a waking dream of houses, towers,
Trees, churches, and strange visages express'd
In the red cinders, while with poring eye
I gazed, myself creating what I saw.
Nor less amused have I quiescent watch'd
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 approach.
16 Not undelightful is the ceaseless hum
To him who muses through the woods at noon.
'Tis thus the understanding takes repose In indolent vacuity of thought,
And sleeps and is refresh'd. Meanwhile the face 17
Conceals the mood lethargic with a mask
Of deep deliberation, as the man
Were task'd to his full strength, absorb'd and lost.
Thus oft reclined at ease, I lose an hour
At evening, till at length the freezing blast
That sweeps the bolted shutter 18, summons home
The recollected powers, and snapping short
The glassy threads with which the fancy weaves
Her brittle toys, 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 enjoy'd within 19 !
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,
Upturn'd so lately by the forceful share.
I saw far off the weedy fallows smile
17 What's the bent brow, or neck in thought reclined? The body's wisdom to conceal the mind.
Thus pedlers with some hero's head make bold,
Illustrious mark !-where pins are to be sold.
Young. Satire ii.
That no rough blast may sweep
His garlands from the boughs.
19 Suave, mari magno turbantibus æquora ventis, E terrá magnum alterius spectare laborem.
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 perform'd
And slowly, and by most unfelt, the face
Of universal nature undergoes.
Fast falls a fleecy shower 20. 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 fear'd 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,
21 In the centre of a world whose soil
Is rank with all unkindness, compassed round
20 Through the hushed air the whitening shower descends
At first thin wavering; till at last the flakes
Fall broad, and wide, and fast, dimming the day
With a continual flow. The cherish'd fields
Put on their winter robe of purest white:
'Tis brightness all; save where the new snow melts
Along the mazy current. Low the woods
Bow their hoar head; and ere the languid sun
Faint from the west emits his evening ray
Earth's universal face, deep-hid and chill
Is one wild dazzling waste, that buries wide
The works of man.