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Land he could measure, terms and tides
And even the story ran that he could guage;
In arguing too the parson own'd his skill,
For, e'en though vanquish'd, he could argue still;
While words of learned length, and thund'ring
Amaz'd the gazing rustics rang'd around,
And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew,
That one small head should 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,
Where village statesmen talk'd with looks profound,
And news much older than their ale went round.
Imagination fondly stoops to trace
The parlour-splendours of that festive place;
The white-washed 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 aspen boughs, and flowers, and fennel gay,
While broken tea-cups, wisely kept for show,
Rang'd o'er the chimney, glisten'd in a row.
Vain transitory splendours! could not all
Reprieve the tott'ring mansion from its fall?
Obscure it sinks, nor shall it more 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 woodman'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
Lightly they frolic o'er the vacant mind,
Unenvied, unmolested, unconfin'd:
But the long pomp, the midnight masquerade,
With all the freaks of wanton wealth array'd,
In these, ere triflers half their wish obtain,
The toiling pleasure sickens into pain;
And, even 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 yours to judge, how wide the limits stand, Between a splendid and a happy land. Proud swells the tide with loads of freighted
And shouting Folly hails them from her shore ; Hoards, even 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 supplied; Space for his lake, his park's extended bounds, Space for his horses, equipage, and hounds; The robe that wraps his limbs in silken cloth, Has robb'd the neighbouring 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 splendour feebly waits the fall.
As some fair female unadorn'd and plain, Secure to please while youth confirms her reign, Slights every borrow'd charm that dress supplies Nor shares with art the triumph of her eyes; But when those charms are past, for charms are
When time advances, and when lovers fail,
She then shines forth, solicitous to bless,
In all the glaring impotence of dress:
Thus fares the land by luxury betray'd;
In nature's simplest charms at first array'd,
But, verging to decline, its splendours rise,
Its vistas strike, its palaces surprise;
While, scourg'd by famine from the smiling
The mournful peasant leads his humble band;
And while he sinks, without one arm to save,
The country blooms-a garden and a grave.
Where then, ah! where shall poverty reside,
To 'scape the pressure of contiguous pride?
If to some common's fenceless limits stray'd,
He drives his flock to pick the scanty blade,
Those fenceless fields the sons of wealth divide,
And even the bare-worn common is denied.
If to the city sped, what waits him there?
To see profusion that he must not share;
To see ten thousand baneful arts combin'd
To pamper luxury, and thin mankind;
To see each joy the sons of pleasure know,
Extorted from his fellow-creatures' woe.
Here, while the courtier glitters in brocade,
There the pale artist plies the sickly trade;
Here, while the proud their long-drawn pomps
There the black gibbet glooms beside the way:
The dome where Pleasure holds her midnight
Here, richly deck'd, admits the gorgeous train;
Tumultuous grandeur crowds the blazing square,
The rattling chariots clash, the torches glare.
Sure scenes like these no troubles e'er annoy!
Sure these denote one universal joy !-
Are these thy serious thoughts? ah, turn thine
Where the poor houseless shiv'ring female lies.
She once, perhaps, in village plenty blest,
Has wept at tales of innocence distrest;
Her modest looks the cottage might adorn,
Sweet as the primrose peeps beneath the thorn.
Now lost to all, her friends, her virtue fled,
Near her betrayer's door she lays her head,
And, pinch'd with cold, and shrinking from the
With heavy heart deplores that luckless hour,
When idly first, ambitious of the town,
She left her wheel, and robes of country brown.
Do thine, sweet Auburn, thine, the loveliest
Do thy fair tribes participate her pain?
Even now, perhaps, by cold and hunger led,
At proud men's doors they ask a little bread!
Ah, no. To distant climes, a dreary scene,
Where half the convex world intrudes between,
Through torrid tracts with fainting steps they go,
Where wild Altama murmurs to their woe.
Far different there from all that charm'd before,
The various terrors of that horrid shore;
Those blazing suns that dart a downward ray
And fiercely shed intolerable day;