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Hunger the first attention claims;
Upon the coals a rasher flames.
Dry crusts, and liquor something stale,
Were added to make up a meal ;
At which our trav’ller as he sat,
By intervals began to chat.-
T'is odd, quoth he, to think what strains
Of folly govern some folks' brains :
What makes you choose this wild abode ?
You'll say, 'Tis to converse with God.
Alas, I fear, 'tis all a whim;
You never saw or spoke with him.
They talk of providence's pow'r,
say, it rules us ev'ry hour: To me all nature seems confusion, And such weak fancies mere delusion. Say, if it ruld and govern'd right, Could there be such a thing as night; Which, when the sun has left the skies, Puts all things in a deep disguise ? If then a trav'ller chance to stray The least step from the public way, He's soon in endless mazes lost, As I have found it to my cost. Besides, the gloom which nature wears Assists imaginary fears, Of ghosts and goblins from the waves of sulph'rous lakes and yawning graves ; All sprung from superstitious seed, Like other maxims of the creed. For my part, I reject the tales Which fääth suggests when reason fails ; And reason nothing understands, Unwarranted by eyes and hands. These subtile essences, like wind, Which some have dreamt of, and call mind, It ne'er admits ; nor joins the lie, Which says men rot, but never die. It holds all future things in doubt, And therefore wisely leaves them out : Suggesting what is worth our care, To take things present as they are, Our wisest course : the rest is folly, The fruit of spleen and melancholy.
Sir, quoth the Hermit, I agree That Reason still our guide should be ; And will admit ber as the test Of what is true, and what is best ; But Reason sure would blush for shame At what you mention in her name ; Her dictates are sublime and holy; Impiety's the child of Folly. Reason, with measur'd steps and slow, To things above from things below Ascends, and guides us through her sphere With caution, vigilance, and care. Faith in the utmost frontier stands, And Reason puts us in her hands; But not till her commission giv'n Is found authentic, and from Heav'n. 'Tis strange that man, a reas'ning creature, Should miss a God in viewing nature ; Whase high perfections are display'd In ev'ry thing his hands have made. Ev'n when we think their traces lost, When found again, we see them most : The night itself, which you would blame As something wrong in nature's frame, Is but a curtain to invest Her weary children when at rest : Like that which motbers draw to keep The light off from a child asleep. Beside, the fears which darkness breeds (At least augments) in vulgar heads, Àre far from useless, when the mind Is narrow, and to earth confin'd: They make the worldling think, with pain On frauds, and oaths, and ill got gain; Force from the ruffian's hand the knife Just rais'd against his neighbour's life; And in defence of virtue's cause, Assist each sanction of the laws. But souls serene, where wisdom dwells, And superstitious dread expels, The silent majesty of night Excites to take a nobler, Alight; With gaints and angels to explore The wonders of creating pow'r;
And lifts on contemplation's wings
Above the sphere of mortal things.
Walk forth, and tread those dewy plains
Where night in awful silence reigns ;
Thy sky's serene, the air is still,
The woods stand list'ning on each hill,
To catch the sounds that sink and swell,
Wide-floating from the ev'ning bell,
Wbile foxes howl, and beetles hum,
Sounds which make silence still more dumb :
And try if folly, rash and rude,
Dare on the sacred hour intrude.
Then turn your eyes to heaven's broad frame,
Attempt to quote those lights by name,
Which shine so thick, and spread so far ;
Conceive a sun in ev'ry star,
Round which upnumber'd planets roll,
While comets shoot athwart the whole ,
From system still to system ranging,
Their various benefits exchanging,
And shaking from their flaming hair
The things most needed ev'ry where
Explore this glorious scene, and say,
That night discovers less than day;
That 'tis quite useless, and a sign
That chance disposes, not design :
Whoe'er maintains it, I'll pronounce
Him either mad, or else a dunce ;
For reason, though 'tis far from strong,
Will soon find out that nothing's wrong,
From signs and evidences clear
Of wise contrivance ev'ry where.
The Hermit ended, and the youth
Became a convert to the truth ;
At least he vielded, and confess'd
That all was order'd for the best. -WILKIE.
SWEET Auburn ! laveliest village of the plain,
Where health and plenty cheer'd the lab'ring swain ;
Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid,
And parting summer's ling'ring blooms delay'd;
Dear lovely bow'rs of innocence and ease,
Seats of my youth, when ev'ry sport could please,
How often have I loiter'd o'er thy green,
Where humble happiness endear'd each scene!
How often have I paus’d on ev'ry charni,
The shelter'd cot, the cultivated farm,
The never-failing brook, the busy mill,
The decent church that topp'd the neighb'ring hill,
The hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade,
For talking age and youthful converse made !
How often have I bless'd the coming day,
When toil remitting lent its turn to play ;
And all the village train, from labour free,
Led up their sports beneath the spreading tree;
While many a pastime circled in the shade,
The young contending as the old survey'd ;
And many a gambol frolick'd o'er the ground,
And sleights of art and feats of strength went round.
These were thy charms, sweet village ! sports like these,
With sweet succession, taught e'en toil to please ;
These round thy bow'rs their cheerful influence shed ;
These were thy charms,---but all these charms are fled.
Sweet smiling village! loveliest of the lawn,
Thy sports are fled, and all thy charms withdrawn ;
Amidst thy bow'rs the tyrant's band is seen,
And desolation saddens all thy green:
One only master grasps the whole domain,
And half a tillage stints thy smiling plain.
No more thy glassy brook reflects the day,
But chok'd with sedges, works its weedy way;
Along thy glades, a solitary guest,
The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest;
Amidst thy desert walks, the lapwing flies,
And tires their echoes with unvaried cries.
Sunk are thy bow'rs in shapeless ruin all,
And the long grass o’ertops the mould'ring wall ;
And trembling, shrinking from the spoiler's hand,
far, far away thy children leave the land.
Ill fares the land, to hast’ning ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay.
Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade;
A breath can make them, as a breath has made :
But a bold peasantry, their country's pride,
When once destroy'd can never be supplied.
A time there was, ere England's griefs began,
When ev'ry rood of ground maintain'd its man ;
For him light labour spread her wholesome store ;
Just gave what life requir’d, but gave no more:
His best companions, innocence and health ;
And his best riches, ignorance of wealth.
But times are alter'd ; trade's unfeeling train
Ugurp the land, and dispossess the swain.
Along the lawn, where scatter'd hamlets rose,
Unwieldy wealth and cumb'rous pomp repose;
And ev'ry want to luxury allied,
And ev'ry pang that folly pays to pride.
Those gentle hours that plenty bade to bloom,
Those calm desires that ask'd but little room,
Those healthful sports that grac’d the peaceful scene
Liv'd in each look and brighten'd all the green-
These, far departing, seek a kinder shore,
And rural mirth and manners are no more.
Sweet Auburn ! parent of the blissful hour,
Thy glades forlorn confess the tyrant's pow'r.
Here as I take my solitary rounds,
Amidst thy tangling walks, and ruin'd grounds ;
And many a year elaps'd, return to view
Where once the cottage stood, the hawthorn grew ;
Rememb'rance wakes with all her busy train,
Swells at my breast, and turns the past to pain.
In all my wand'rings round this world of care,
In all my griefs—and God has giv'n my share
I still had hopes, my latest hours to crown,
Amidst these humble bowr's to lay me down ;
To husband out life's taper at the close,
And keep the flame from wasting, by repose :
I still had hopes, for pride attends us still,
Amidst the swains to show my book-learn’d skill ;
Around my fire an'evening group to draw,
And tell of all I felt, and all I saw :
And, as a hare, whom hounds and horns pursue,
Pants to the place from whence at first he flew,
I still had hopes, my long vexations past,
Here to return-and die at home at last.
O blest rețirement, friend to life's decline,
Retreat from care, that never must be mine !