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Nor exile I, nor prison fear;
Nor castle walls, nor dungeons deep,
There sorrow, for his sake, is found
A Saviour doubles all my joys,
His strength in my defence employs,
I fear no ill, resent no wrong,
Nor feel a passion move,
When malice whets her slanderous tongue;
SCENES FAVOURABLE TO MEDITATION.
WILDS horrid and dark with o'ershadowing trees,
Though awefully silent, and shaggy, and rude,
I am sick of thy splendour, O Fountain of day,
Ye Forests, that yield me my sweetest repose,
To you I securely and boldly disclose
Here, sweetly forgetting and wholly forgot
Here, wandering in scenes that are sacred to night,
And often the sun has spent much of his light
While a mantle of darkness envelopes the sphere,
To me the dark hours are all equally dear,
Here I and the beasts of the deserts agree;
Though little is found in this dreary abode
My spirit is soothed by the presence of God,
Ye desolate scenes, to your solitude led,
And scarce know the source of the tears that I shed,
There's nothing I seem to have skill to discern;
Love reigns in my bosom, I constantly burn,
I live, yet I seem to myself to be dead;
I am nourish'd without knowing how I am fed,
Oh Love! who in darkness art pleased to abide
That these contrarieties only reside
In the soul that is chosen of thee.
Ah send me not back to the race of mankind,
For where, in the crowds I have left, shall I find
Here let me, though fix'd in a desert, be free;
Though lost to the world, if in union with Thee,
THE history of the following production is briefly this. A lady, fond of blank verse, demanded a poem of that kind from the author, and gave him the Sofa for a subject. He obeyed; and having much leisure, connected another subject with it; and pursuing the train of thought to which his situation and turn of mind led him, brought forth at length, instead of the trifle which he at first intended, a serious affair,—a Volume.
In the poem on the subject of Education he would be very sorry to stand suspected of having aimed his censure at any particular school. His objections are such as naturally apply themselves to schools in general. If there were not, as for the most part there is, wilful neglect in those who manage them, and an omission even of such discipline as they are susceptible of, the objects are yet too numerous for minute attention; and the aching hearts of ten thousand parents, mourning under the bitterest of all disappointments, attest the truth of the allegation. His quarrel therefore is with the mischief at large, and not with any particular instance of it.
ARGUMENT OF THE FIRST BOOK.
Historical deduction of seats, from the stool to the Sofa. A schoolboy's ramble. A walk in the country. The scene described. Rural sounds as well as sights delightful. Another walk. Mistake concerning the charms of solitude corrected. Colonnades commended. Alcove, and the view from it. The Wilderness. The Grove. The Thresher. The necessity and the benefits of exercise. The works of nature superior to and in some instances inimitable by art. The wearisomeness of what is commonly called a life of pleasure. Change of scene sometimes expedient. A common described, and the character of crazy Kate introduced upon it. Gipsies. The blessings of civilized life. That state most favourable to virtue. The South Sea islanders compassionated, but chiefly Omai. His present state of mind supposed. Civilized life friendly to virtue, but not great cities. Great cities, and London in particular, allowed their due praise, but censured. Féte champêtre. The book concludes with a reflection on the fatal effects of dissipation and effeminacy upon our public measures.