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THE INVITATION TO SELBORNE.
See, Selborne spreads her boldest beauties round
The varied valley, and the mountain ground,
Wildly majestic! What is all the pride
Of flats, with loads of ornament supplied ?-
Unpleasing, tastleless, impotent expense,
Compared with Nature's rude magnificence.
Arise, my stranger, to these wild scenes haste;
The unfinish'd farm awaits your forming taste:
Plan the pavilion, airy, light, and true;
Through the high arch call in the length’ning view;
Expand the forest sloping up the hill;
Swell to a lake the scant, penurious rill ;
Extend the vista; raise the castle mound
In antique taste, with turrets ivy-crown'd ;
O’er the gay lawn the flow'ry shrub dispread,
Or with the blending garden mix the mead;
Bid China's pale, fantastic fence delight;
Or with the mimic statue trap the sight.
Oft on some evening, sunny, soft, and still, The Muse shall lead thee to the beech-grown hill, To spend in tea the cool, refreshing hour, Where nods in air the pensile, nest-like bower : * Or where the hermit hangs the straw-clad cell,+ Emerging gently from the leafy dell, By Fancy plann'd; as once th' inventive maid Met the hoar sage amid the secret shade:
* A kind of arbour on the side of a hill.
+ A grotesque building, contrived by a young gentleman, who used on occasion to appear in the character of a hermit.
Romantic spot! from whence in prospect lies
Whate'er of landscape charms our feasting eyes,-
The pointed spire, the hall, the pasture plain,
The russet fallow, or the golden grain,
The breezy lake that sheds a gleaming light,
Till all the fading picture fail the sight.
Each to his task; all different ways retire :
Cull the dry stick; call forth the seeds of fire ;
Deep fix the kettle's props, a forky row,
Or give with fanning hat the breeze to blow.
Whence is this taste, the furnish'd hall forgot,
To feast in gardens, or th' unhandy grot?
Or novelty with some new charms surprises,
Or from our very shifts some joy arises.
Hark, while below the village bells ring round,
Echo, sweet nymph, returns the soften'd sound ;
But if gusts rise, the rushing forests roar,
Like the tide tumbling on the pebbly shore.
Adown the vale, in lone, sequester'd nook,
Where skirting woods imbrown the dimpling brook,
The ruin'd convent lies : here wont to dwell
The lazy canon midst his cloister'd cell, *
While Papal darkness brooded o'er the land,
Ere Reformation made her glorious stand :
Still oft at eve belated shepherd swains
See tlie cowld spectre skim the folded plains.
To the high Templet would my stranger go
The mountain-brow commands the woods below:
In Jewry first this order found a name,
When madding Croisades set the world in flame ;
When western climes, urged on by pope and priest,
Pour'd forth their millions o'er the deluged East :
Luxurious knights, ill-suited to defy
To mortal fight Turcestan chivalry.
Nor be the parsonage by the Muse forgot-
The partial bard admires his native spot ;
Smit with its beauties, loved, as yet a child,
Unconscious why, its capes, grotesque and wild.
* The ruins of a Priory, founded by Peter de Rupibus, Bishop of Winchester.
+ The remains of a Preceptory of the Knights Templars ; at least it was a farm dependent upon some preceptory of that order. I find it was a preceptory, called the Preceptory of Suddington ; now called Southington.
High on a mound th' exalted gardens stand,
Beneath, deep valleys, scoop'd by Nature's hand.
A Cobham here, exulting in his art,
Might blend the general's with the gardener's part ;
Might fortify with all the martial trade
Of rampart, bastion, fosse, and palisade ;
Might plant the mortar with wide threat’ning bore,
Or bid the mimic cannon seem to roar.
Now climb the steep, drop now your eye below
Where round the blooming village orchards grow;
There, like a picture, lies my lowly seat,
A rural, shelter’d, unobserved retreat.
Me far above the rest Selbornian scenes, The pendent forests, and the mountain greens, Strike with delight; there spreads the distant view, That gradual fades till sunk in misty blue : Here Nature hangs her slopy woods to sight, Rills purl between and dart a quivering light.
A WINTER PIECE. -TO THE MISS B ***** S.
The bard, who sang so late in blithest strain
Selbornian prospects, and the rural reign,
Now suits his plaintive pipe to sadden'd tone,
While the blank swains the changeful year bemoan.
How fallen the glories of these fading scenes!
The dusky beach resigns his vernal greens ;
The yellow maple mourns in sickly hue,
And russet woodlands crowd the dark’ning view.
Dim, clust'ring fogs involve the country round, The valley and the blended mountain ground Sink in confusion ; but with tempest-wing Should Boreas from his northern barrier spring, The rushing woods with deafʼning clamour roar, Like the sea tumbling on the pebbly shore. When spouting rains descend in torrent tides, See the torn zigzag weep its channel'd sides : Winter exerts its rage; heavy and slow, From the keen east rolls on the treasured snow; Sunk with its weight the bending boughs are seen, And one bright deluge whelms the works of men.
Amidst this savage landscape, bleak and bare,
Hangs the chill hermitage in middle air ;
Its haunts forsaken, and its feasts forgot,
A leaf-strown, lonely, desolated cot!
Is this the scene that late with rapture rang,
Where Delphy danced, and gentle Anna sang ?
With fairy step where Harriet tripp'd so late,
And, on her stump reclined, the musing Kitty sate?
Return, dear nymphs ; prevent the purple spring,
Ere the soft nightingale essays to sing ;
Ere the first swallow sweeps the fresh’ning plain,
Ere love-sick turtles breathe their amorous pain ;
Let festive glee th’enliven'd village raise,
Pan's blameless reign, and patriarchal days;
With pastoral dance the smitten swain surprise,
And bring all Arcady before our eyes.
Return, blithe maidens ; with you bring along
Free, native humour ; all the charms of song ;
The feeling heart, and unaffected ease ;
Each nameless grace, and ev'ry power to please.
November ], 1763.
I ook upon the Rainbow, and praise him that made it: very beautiful is
it in the brightness thereof.- Eccles. xliii. ll.
On morning or on evening cloud impress’d,
Bent in vast curve, the watery meteor shines
Delightfully, to th' level'd sun opposed :
Lovely refraction! while the vivid brede
In listed colours glows, th' unconscious swain,
With vacant eye, gazes on the divine
Phenomenon, gleaming o'er the illumined fields,
Or runs to catch the treasures which it sheds.
Not so the sage: inspired with pious awe,
He hails the federal arch ;* and, looking up,
Adores that God, whose fingers form’d this bow
Magnificent, compassing heaven about
With a resplendent verge: “ Thou mad'st the cloud
Maker omnipotent, and thou the bow ;
And by that covenant graciously hast sworn
Never to drown the world again : * henceforth,
Till time shall be no more, in ceaseless round,
Season shall follow season : day to night,
Summer to winter, harvest to seed-time,
Heat shall to cold in regular array
Succeed.”- Heav'n-taught, so sang the Hebrew bard.+
Waked by the gentle gleamings of the morn
Soon clad, the reaper, provident of want,
Hies cheerful-hearted to the ripen'd field ;
Nor hastes alone : attendant by his side
His faithful wife, sole partner of his cares,
Bears on her breast the sleeping babe ; behind,
With steps unequal, trips her infant train :
Thrice happy pair, in love and labour join'd !
All day they ply their task ; with mutual chat,
Beguiling each the sultry, tedious hours.
Around the falls in rows the sever'd corn,
Or the shocks rise in regular array,
But when high noon invites to short repast,
Beneath the shade of sheltering thorn they sit,
Divide the simple meal, and drain the cask :
The swinging cradle lulls the whimpering babe
Meantime ; while growling round, if at the tread
Of hasty passenger alarm’d, as of their store
Protective, stalks the cur with bristling back,
To guard the scanty scrip and russet frock.
ON THE DARK, STILL, DRY, WARM WEATHER,
Occasionally happening in the Winter Months.
Th’ imprison’d winds slumber within their caves,
Fast bound : the fickle vane, emblem of change,
Wavers no more, long settling to a point.
All Nature nodding seems composed : thick steams, From land, from flood up-drawn, dimming the day, “ Like a dark ceiling stand :” slow through the air