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[The Seasons:] AUTUMN.

1 CROWN'D with the sickle, and the wheaten shear,
2 While Autumn, nodding o'er the yellow plain,
3 Comes jovial on; the doric reed once more,
4 Well-pleas'd, I tune. Whate'er the wintry frost
5 Nitrous prepar'd; the various-blossom'd Spring
6 Put in white promise forth; and Summer-Suns
7 Concocted strong, rush boundless now to view,
8 Full, perfect all, and swell my glorious theme.
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9 Onslow! the muse, ambitious of thy name,
10 To grace, inspire, and dignify her song,
11 Would from the public voice thy gentle ear
12 A while engage. Thy noble cares she knows,
13 The patriot-virtues that distend thy thought,
14 Spread on thy front, and in thy conduct glow;
15 While listening senates hang upon thy tongue,
16 Devolving thro' the maze of eloquence
17 A rowl of periods, sweeter than her song.
18 But she too pants for public virtue, she,
19 Tho' weak of power, yet strong in ardent will,
20 Whene'er her country rushes on her heart,
21 Assumes a bolder note, and fondly tries
22 To mix the patriot's with the poet's flame.
23 When the bright Virgin gives the beauteous days,
24 And Libra weighs in equal scales the year;
25 From heaven's high cope the fierce effulgence shook
26 Of parting Summer, a serener blue,
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27 With golden light irradiate, wide invests
28 The happy world. Attemper'd suns arise,
29 Sweet-beam'd, and shedding oft thro' lucid clouds
30 A pleasing calm; while broad, and brown, below,
31 Unbounded harvests hang the heavy head.
32 Rich, silent, deep, they stand; for not a gale
33 Rolls its light billows o'er the bending plain;
34 A calm of plenty! till the ruffled air
35 Falls from its poise, and gives the breeze to blow.
36 Rent is the fleecy mantle of the sky;
37 The clouds fly different; and the sudden sun
38 By fits effulgent gilds th' illumin'd field,
39 And black by fits the shadows sweep along.
40 A gayly checker'd, wide-extended view,
41 Far as the circling eye can shoot around,
42 Convolv'd, and tossing in a flood of corn.
43 These are thy blessings Industry! rough Power!
44 Whom Labour still attends, and Sweat, and Pain;
45 Yet the kind source of every gentle art,
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46 And all the soft civility of life:
47 Raiser of human kind! by Nature cast,
48 Naked, and helpless, out amid the woods,
49 And wilds, to rude inclement elements;
50 With various powers of deep efficiency
51 Implanted, and profusely pour'd around
52 Materials infinite; but idle all.
53 Still unexerted, in th' unconscious breast,
54 Slept the lethargic powers; Corruption still,
55 Voracious, swallow'd what the liberal hand
56 Of Bounty scatter'd o'er the savage year.
57 And still the sad barbarian, roving, mix'd
58 With beasts of prey; or for his acron-meal
59 Fought the fierce tusky boar: a shivering wretch!
60 Aghast, and comfortless, when the red north,
61 With winter charg'd, let the mixt tempest fly,
62 Hail, rain, and snow, and bitter-breathing frost.
63 Then to the shelter of the hut he fled;
64 And the wild season, sordid, pin'd away.
65 For home he had not; home is the resort
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66 Of love, of joy, of peace, and plenty, where,
67 Supporting and supported, polish'd friends,
68 And dear relations mingle into bliss.
69 But this the rugged savage never felt,
70 Even desolate in crouds; and thus his days
71 Roll'd heavy, dark, and unenjoy'd along;
72 A waste of time! till Industry approach'd,
73 And rous'd him from his miserable sloth;
74 His faculties unfolded; pointed out,
75 Where lavish Nature the directing hand
76 Of Art demanded; shew'd him how to raise
77 His feeble force by the mechanic powers,
78 To dig the mineral from the vaulted earth,
79 On what to turn the piercing rage of fire,
80 On what the torrent, and the gather'd blast;
81 Gave the tall antient forest to his ax;
82 Taught him to chip the wood, and hew the stone,
83 Till by degrees the finish'd fabric rose;
84 Tore from his limbs the blood-polluted fur,
85 And wrapt them in the woolly vestment warm,
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86 Or bright in glossy silk, and flowing lawn;
87 With wholesome viands fill'd his table, pour'd
88 The generous glass around, inspir'd, to wake
89 The life-refining soul of decent wit:
90 Nor stopp'd at barren, bare necessity;
91 But still advancing bolder, led him on,
92 By hardy patience, and experience slow,
93 To pomp, to pleasure, elegance, and grace;
94 And breathing high ambition thro' his soul,
95 Set science, wisdom, glory in his view,
96 And bad him be the Lord of all below.
97 Then gathering men their natural powers combin'd,
98 And form'd a Public; to the general good
99 Submitting, aiming, and conducting all.
100 For this the Patriot-Council met, the full,
101 The free, and fairly represented Whole,
102 For this devis'd the holy guardian laws,
103 Distinguish'd orders, animated Arts,
104 And with joint force Oppression chaining, set
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105 Imperial Justice at the helm; yet still
106 To them accountable: nor slavish dream'd
107 That toiling millions must resign their weal,
108 And all the honey of their search, to such
109 As for themselves alone themselves have rais'd.
110 Hence every form of cultivated life
111 In order set, protected, and inspir'd,
112 Into perfection wrought. Uniting all,
113 Society grew numerous, high, polite,
114 And happy. Nurse of art! the city rose;
115 And stretching street on street by thousands led,
116 From twining woody haunts, and the tough yew
117 To bows strong-straining, her aspiring sons.
118 'Twas nought but labour, the whole dusky groupe
119 Of clustering houses, and of mingling men,
120 Restless design, and execution strong.
121 In every street the sounding hammer ply'd
122 His massy task; while the corrosive file,
123 In flying touches, form'd the fine machine.
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124 Then Commerce brought into the public walk
125 The busy Merchant; the big ware-house built;
126 Rais'd the strong crane; choak'd up the loaded street
127 With foreign plenty; and on thee, thou Thames,
128 Large, gentle, deep, majestic, king of floods!
129 Than whom no river heaves a fuller tide,
130 Seiz'd for his grand resort. On either hand,
131 Like a long wintry forest, groves of masts
132 Shot up their spires; the bellying sheet between
133 Possess'd the breezy void; the sooty hulk
134 Steer'd sluggish on; the splendid barge along
135 Row'd, regular, to harmony; around,
136 The boat, light-skimming, stretch'd its oary wings;
137 While deep the various voice of fervent toil
138 From bank to bank increas'd; whence ribb'd with oak,
139 To bear the British thunder, black, and bold,
140 The roaring vessel rush'd into the main.
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141 Then too the pillar'd dome, magnific, heav'd
142 His ample roof; and Luxury within
143 Pour'd out her glittering stores. The canvas smooth,
144 With glowing life protuberant, to the view
145 Embodied rose. The statue seem'd to breathe,
146 And soften into flesh, beneath the touch
147 Of forming art, imagination-flush'd.
148 All is the gift of Industry; whate'er
149 Exalts, embellishes, and renders life
150 Delightful. Pensive Winter chear'd by him
151 Sits at the social fire, and happy hears
152 Th' excluded tempest idly rave along.
153 His harden'd fingers deck the gaudy Spring.
154 Without him Summer were an arid waste;
155 Nor to th' autumnal months could thus transmit
156 These full, mature, immeasurable stores,
157 That, waving round, recal my wandering song.
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158 Soon as the morning trembles o'er the sky,
159 And, unperceiv'd, unfolds the spreading day;
160 Before the ripen'd field the reapers stand,
161 In fair array; each by the lass he loves,
162 To bear the rougher part, and mitigate
163 By nameless gentle offices her toil.
164 At once they stoop, and swell the lusty sheaves;
165 While, bandied round and round, the rural talk,
166 The rural scandal, and the rural jest
167 Fly hearty, to deceive the tedious time,
168 And chearly steal the sultry hours away.
169 Behind the master walks, builds up the shocks;
170 And, conscious, glancing oft this way and that
171 His sated eye, feels his heart heave with joy.
172 The gleaners spread around, and here and there,
173 Spike after spike, their sparing harvest pick.
174 Be not too narrow, husband-men! but fling
175 From the full sheaf, with charitable stealth,
176 The liberal handful. Think, oh grateful think!
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177 How good the God of harvest is to you;
178 Who pours abundance o'er your flowing fields;
179 While these unhappy partners of your kind
180 Wide-hover round you, like the fowls of heaven,
181 And ask their humble dole. The various turns
182 Of fortune ponder; that your sons may want
183 What now, with hard reluctance, faint, ye give.
184 The lovely young Lavinia once had friends;
185 And fortune smil'd, deceitful, on her birth.
186 For in her helpless years depriv'd of all,
187 Of every stay, save innocence and Heaven,
188 She with her widow'd mother, feeble, old,
189 And poor, liv'd in a cottage, lost far up
190 Amid the windings of a woody vale;
191 Safe from the cruel, blasting arts of man;
192 Almost on Nature's common bounty fed,
193 Like the gay birds that sung them to repose,
194 Content, and careless of to-morrow's fare.
195 Her form was fresher than the morning-rose,
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196 When the dew wets its leaves; unstain'd, and pure,
197 As is the lilly, or the mountain snow.
198 The modest virtues mingled in her eyes,
199 Still on the ground deject, and darting all
200 Their humid beams into the blooming flowers:
201 Or when the stories that her mother told,
202 Of what her faithless fortune flatter'd once,
203 Thrill'd in her thought, they, like the dewy star
204 Of evening, shone in tears. A native grace
205 Sat fair-proportion'd on her polish'd limbs,
206 Veil'd in a simple robe; for loveliness
207 Needs not the foreign aid of ornament,
208 But is when unadorn'd adorn'd the most.
209 Thoughtless of beauty, she was beauty's self,
210 Recluse among the woods; if city-dames
211 Will deign their faith. And thus she went compell'd
212 By strong necessity, with as serene,
213 And pleas'd a look as patience can put on,
214 To glean Palaemon's fields. The pride of swains
215 Palaemon was, the generous, and the rich,
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216 Who led the rural life in all its joy,
217 And elegance, such as Arcadian song
218 Transmits from antient, incorrupted times;
219 When tyrant custom had not shackled man,
220 And free to follow nature was the mode.
221 He then, his fancy with autumnal scenes
222 Amusing, chanc'd beside his reaper-train
223 To walk, when poor Lavinia drew his eye;
224 Unconscious of her power, and turning quick
225 With unaffected blushes from his gaze.
226 He saw her charming, but he saw not half
227 The charms her down-cast modesty conceal'd.
228 That very moment love and chast desire
229 Sprung in his bosom, to himself unknown;
230 For still the world prevail'd, and its dread laugh
231 Which scarce the firm philosopher can scorn,
232 Should his heart own a gleaner in the field:
233 And thus in secret to his soul he sigh'd.
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234 What pity! that so delicate a form,
235 By beauty kindled, and harmonious shap'd,
236 Where sense sincere, and goodness seem'd to dwell,
237 Should be devoted to the rude embrace
238 Of some indecent clown? She looks, methinks,
239 Of old Acasto's line; and to my mind
240 Recalls that patron of my happy life,
241 From whom my liberal fortune took its rise;
242 Now to the dust gone down; his houses, lands,
243 And once fair-spreading family dissolv'd.
244 I've heard that, in some waste obscure retreat,
245 Urg'd by remembrance sad, and decent pride,
246 Far from those scenes which knew their better days,
247 His aged widow and his daughter live;
248 Whom yet my fruitless search could never find.
249 Romantic wish, would this the daughter were!
250 When, strict enquiring, from herself he found
251 She was the same, the daughter of his friend,
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252 The bountiful Acasto; who can speak
253 The mingling passion that surpriz'd his heart,
254 And thro' his nerves in shivering transport ran?
255 Then blaz'd his smother'd flame, avowed, and bold;
256 And as he run her, ardent, o'er and o'er,
257 Love, gratitude, and pity wept at once.
258 Confus'd, and frighten'd at his sudden tears,
259 Her rising beauties flush'd a higher bloom,
260 As thus Palaemon, passionate, and just,
261 Pour'd out the pious rapture of his soul.
262 And art thou then Acasto's dear remains?
263 She, whom my restless gratitude has sought
264 So long in vain? Oh yes! the very same,
265 The soften'd image of my noble friend,
266 Alive, his every feature, every look,
267 More elegantly touch'd. Fairer than spring!
268 Thou sole surviving blossom from the root,
269 That nourish'd up my fortune, say, ah where,
270 In what unsmiling desart, hast thou drawn
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271 The kindest aspect of delighted heaven?
272 Into such beauty spread? and blown so white?
273 Tho' poverty's cold wind, and crashing rain,
274 Beat keen, and heavy, on thy tender years.
275 O let me now, into a richer soil,
276 Transplant thee safe! where vernal suns, and showers,
277 Diffuse their warmest, largest influence;
278 And of my garden be the pride, and joy!
279 It ill befits thee, oh it ill befits
280 Acasto's daughter, his, whose open stores,
281 Tho' vast, were little to his ampler heart,
282 The father of a country, thus to pick
283 The very refuse of those harvest-fields,
284 His bounty taught to gain, and right enjoy.
285 Then throw that shameful pittance from thy hand,
286 But ill apply'd to such a rugged task;
287 With harvest shining all these fields are thine;
288 And, if my wishes may presume so far,
289 Their master too, who then indeed were blest,
290 To make the daughter of Acasto so.
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291 Here ceas'd the youth: yet still his speaking eye
292 Express'd the sacred triumph of his soul,
293 With conscious virtue, gratitude, and love,
294 Above the vulgar joy divinely rais'd.
295 Nor waited he reply. Won by the charm
296 Of goodness irresistible, and all
297 In sweet disorder lost, she blush'd consent.
298 The news immediate to her mother brought,
299 While, pierc'd with anxious thought, she pin'd away
300 The lonely moments for Lavinia's fate;
301 Amaz'd, and scarce believing what she heard,
302 Joy seiz'd her wither'd veins, and one bright gleam
303 Of setting life shone on her evening-hours:
304 Not less enraptur'd than the happy pair;
305 Who flourish'd long in mutual bliss, and rear'd
306 A numerous offspring, lovely like themselves,
307 And good, the grace of all the country round.
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308 Defeating oft the labours of the year,
309 The sultry south collects a potent blast.
310 At first, the groves are scarcely seen to stir
311 Their trembling tops; and a still murmur runs
312 Along the soft-inclining fields of corn.
313 But as th' aereal tempest fuller swells;
314 And in one mighty stream, invisible,
315 Immense, the whole excited atmosphere,
316 Impetuous rushes o'er the sounding world;
317 Strain'd to the root, the stooping forest pours
318 A rustling shower of yet untimely leaves.
319 High-beat, the circling mountains eddy in,
320 From the bare wild, the dissipated storm,
321 And send it in a torrent down the vale.
322 Expos'd, and naked, to its utmost rage,
323 Thro' all the sea of harvest rolling round,
324 The billowy plain boils wide; nor can evade,
325 Tho' plyant to the blast, its seizing force;
326 Or whirl'd in air, or into vacant chaff
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327 Shook waste. And sometimes too a burst of rain,
328 Swept from the black horizon, broad, descends
329 In one continuous flood. Still over head
330 The glomerating tempest grows, and still
331 The deluge deepens; till the fields around
332 Ly sunk, and flatted, in the sordid wave.
333 Sudden, the ditches swell; the meadows swim.
334 Red, from the hills, innumerable streams
335 Tumultuous roar; and high above its banks
336 The river lift; before whose weighty rush,
337 Herds, flocks, and harvests, cottages, and swains,
338 Roll mingled down; all that the winds had spar'd,
339 In one wild moment ruin'd, the big hopes,
340 And well-earn'd treasures of the painful year.
341 Fled to some eminence, the husbandman,
342 Helpless beholds the miserable wreck
343 Driving along, his drowning ox at once
344 Descending, with his labours scatter'd round,
345 He sees; and instant o'er his shivering thought
346 Comes winter unprovided, and a train
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347 Of clamant children dear. Ye masters, then
348 Be mindful of the rough laborious hand,
349 That sinks you soft in elegance, and ease;
350 Be mindful of those limbs, in russet clad,
351 Whose toil to yours is warmth, and graceful pride;
352 And oh be mindful of that sparing board,
353 Which covers yours with luxury profuse,
354 Makes your glass sparkle, and your sense rejoice!
355 Nor cruelly demand what the deep rains,
356 And all-involving winds have swept away.
357 Here the rude clamour of the sportsman's joy,
358 The gun thick-thundering, and the winded horn,
359 Would tempt the muse to ling the rural game.
360 How, in his mid-career, the spaniel struck,
361 Stiff, by the tainted gale, with open nose,
362 Out-stretch'd, and finely sensible, draws full,
363 Fearful, and cautious, on the latent prey;
364 As in the sun the circling covey bask
365 Their varied plumes, watchful, and every way
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366 Thro' the rough stubble turn'd the secret eye.
367 Caught in the meshy snare, in vain they beat
368 Their useless wings, intangled more and more:
369 Nor on the surges of the boundless air,
370 Tho' borne triumphant, are they safe; the gun,
371 Glanc'd just, and sudden, from the fowler's eye,
372 O'ertakes their sounding pinions; and again,
373 Immediate, brings them from the towering wing,
374 Dead to the ground; or drives them else disperst,
375 Wounded, and wheeling various, down the wind.
376 These are not subjects for the peaceful muse,
377 Nor will she stain her spotless theme with such;
378 Then most delighted, when she smiling sees
379 The whole mix'd animal creation round
380 Alive, and happy. 'Tis not joy to her,
381 This falsely chearful, barbarous game of death;
382 This rage of pleasure, which the restless youth
383 Awakes, impatient, with the gleaming morn;
384 When beasts of prey retire, that all night long,
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385 Urg'd by necessity, had roam'd the dark;
386 As if their conscious ravage shun'd the light,
387 Asham'd. Not so the steady tyrant man,
388 Who with the thoughtless insolence of power
389 Inflam'd, beyond the most infuriate rage
390 Of the worst monster that e'er howl'd the waste,
391 For sport alone takes up the cruel tract,
392 Amid the beamings of the gentle days.
393 Upbraid us not, ye wolves! ye tygers fell!
394 For hunger kindles you, and lawless want;
395 But lavish fed, in Nature's bounty roll'd,
396 To laugh at anguish, and rejoice in blood,
397 Is what your horrid bosoms never knew.
398 Poor is the triumph o'er the timid Hare!
399 Shook from the corn, and now to some lone seat
400 Retir'd: the rushy fen; the ragged furz,
401 Stretch'd o'er the stony heath; the stubble chapt;
402 The thistly lawn; the thick, intangled broom;
403 Of the same friendly hue, the wither'd fern;
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404 The fallow ground laid open to the sun,
405 Concoctive; and the nodding sandy bank,
406 Hung o'er the mazes of the mountain-brook.
407 Vain is her best precaution; tho' she sits
408 By Nature rais'd to take the horizon in;
409 And head couch'd close betwixt her hairy feet,
410 In act to spring away. The scented dew
411 Betrays her early labyrinth; and deep,
412 In scatter'd, sullen openings, far behind,
413 With every breeze she hears the coming storm.
414 But nearer, and more frequent, as it loads
415 The sighing gale, she springs amaz'd, and all
416 The savage soul of game is up at once:
417 The pack full-opening, varions; the shrill horn,
418 Resounded from the hills; the neighing steed,
419 Wild for the chace; and the loud hunter's shout;
420 O'er a weak, harmless, flying creature, all
421 Mix'd in mad tumult, and discordant joy.
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422 The Stag too, singled from the herd, where long
423 He rang'd the branching monarch of the shades,
424 Before the tempest drives. At first in speed,
425 He, sprightly, puts his faith; and, fear-arous'd,
426 Gives all his swift, aereal soul to flight.
427 Against the breeze he darts, that way the more
428 To leave the lessening, murderous cry behind.
429 Deception short! tho' fleeter than the winds
430 Blown o'er the keen-air'd mountain by the north,
431 He bursts the thickets, glances thro' the glades,
432 And plunges deep into the wildest wood.
433 If slow, yet sure, adhesive to the tract
434 Hot-steaming, up behind him comes again
435 Th' inhuman rout, and from the shady depth
436 Expel him, circling thro' his every shift.
437 He sweeps the forest oft; and sobbing sees
438 The glades, mild-opening to the golden day;
439 Where, in kind contest, with his butting friends
440 He went to struggle, or his loves enjoy.
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441 Oft in the full-descending flood he tries
442 To lose the scent, and lave his burning sides;
443 Oft seeks the herd; the watchful herd alarm'd,
444 With quick consent, avoid th' infectious maze.
445 What shall he do? His once so vivid nerves,
446 So full of buoyant soul, inspire no more
447 The fainting course; but wrenching, breathless toil,
448 Sick, seizes on his heart: he stands at bay;
449 And puts his last weak refuge in despair.
450 The big round tears run down his dappled face;
451 He groans in anguish; while the growling pack,
452 Blood-happy, hang at his fair, jutting chest,
453 And mark his beauteous checquer'd sides with gore.
454 Of this enough. But if the silvan youth
455 Whose fervent blood boils into violence,
456 Must have the chace; behold, despising flight,
457 The rous'd-up lyon, resolute, and slow,
458 Advancing full on the protended spear,
459 And coward-band, that circling wheel aloof.
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460 Slunk from the cavern, and the troubled wood,
461 See the grim wolf; on him his shaggy foe
462 Viudictive fix, for murder is his trade:
463 And, growling horrid, as the brindled boar
464 Grins near destruction, to the monster's heart
465 Let the dart lighten from the nervous arm.
466 These Britain Knows not; give, ye Britons, then
467 Your sportive fury, pityless, to pour
468 Loose on the sly destroyer of the flock.
469 Him, from his craggy winding haunts unearth'd,
470 Let all the thunder of the chace pursue.
471 Throw the broad ditch behind you; o'er the hedge
472 High-bound, resistless; nor the deep morass
473 Refuse, but thro' the shaking wilderness
474 Pick your, nice way; into the perilous flood
475 Bear fearless, of the raging instinct full;
476 And as you ride the torrent, to the banks
477 Your triumph sound sonorous, running round,
478 From rock to rock, in circling echo tost;
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479 Then snatch the mountains by their woody tops;
480 Rush down the dangerous steep; and o'er the lawn,
481 In fancy swallowing up the space between,
482 Pour all your speed into the rapid game.
483 For happy he! who tops the wheeling chace;
484 Has every maze evolv'd, and every guile
485 Disclos'd; who knows the merits of the pack;
486 Who saw the villain seiz'd, and dying hard,
487 Without complaint, tho' by an hundred mouths
488 At once tore, mercyless. Thrice happy he!
489 At hour of dusk, while the retreating horn
490 Calls them to ghostly halls of grey renown,
491 With woodland honours grac'd; the fox's fur,
492 Depending decent from the roof; and spread
493 Round the drear walls, with antick figures fierce,
494 The stag's large front: he then is loudest heard,
495 When the night staggers with severer toils;
496 And their repeated wonders shake the dome.
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497 But first the fuel'd chimney blazes wide;
498 The tankards foam; and the strong table groans
499 Beneath the smoaking sirloin, stretch'd immense
500 From side to side; on which, with fell intent,
501 They deep incision make, and talk the while
502 Of England's glory, ne'er to be defac'd,
503 While hence they borrow vigour: or amain
504 Into the pasty plung'd, at intervals,
505 If stomach keen can intervals allow,
506 Relating how it ran, and how it fell.
507 Then sated Hunger bids his brother Thirst
508 Produce the mighty bowl; the mighty bowl,
509 Swell'd high with fiery juice, steams liberal round
510 A potent gale, reviving as the breath
511 Of Maia, to the love-sick shepherdess,
512 On violets diffus'd, while soft she hears
513 Her panting shepherd stealing to her arms,
514 Nor wanting is the brown october, drawn,
515 Mature, and perfect, from his dark retreat
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516 Of thirty years; and now his honest front
517 Flames in the light refulgent, nor asham'd
518 To vie it with the vineyard's best produce.
519 Perhaps a while, amusive, thoughtful Whisk
520 Walks gentle round, beneath a cloud of smoak,
521 Wreath'd, fragrant, from the pipe; or the quick dice,
522 In thunder leaping from the box, awake
523 The sounding gammon: while romp-loving miss
524 Is haul'd about, in gallantry robust.
525 At last these puling idlenesses laid
526 Aside, frequent, and full, the dry divan
527 Close in firm circle; and set, ardent, in
528 For serious drinking. Nor evasion sly,
529 Nor sober shift is to the puking wretch
530 Indulg'd askew; but earnest, brimming bowls
531 Lave every soul, the table floating round,
532 And pavement, faithless to the fuddled foot.
533 Thus as they swim in mutual swill, the talk,
534 Vociferate at once by twenty tongues,
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535 Reels fast from theme to theme; from horses, hounds,
536 To church, or mistress, politicks, or ghost,
537 In endless mazes, intricate, perplext.
538 Mean-time, with sudden interruption, loud,
539 Th' impatient catch bursts from the joyous heart.
540 That moment touch'd is every kindred soul;
541 And, opening in a full-mouth'd Cry of joy,
542 The laugh, the slap, the jocund curse goes round;
543 While, from their slumbers shook, the kennel'd hounds
544 Mix in the music of the day again.
545 As when the tempest, that has vex'd the deep
546 The dark night long, falls murmuring towards morn;
547 So their mirth gradual sinks. Their feeble tongues,
548 Unable to take up the cumbrous word,
549 Ly quite disslov'd. Before their maudlin eyes,
550 Seen dim, and blue, the double tapers dance,
551 Like the sun wading thro' the misty sky.
552 Then, sliding sweet, they drop. O'erturn'd above
553 Lies the wet, broken scene; and stretch'd below,
554 Each way, the drunken slaughter; where astride
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555 The lubber Power himself triumphant sits,
556 Slumbrous, inclining still from side to side,
557 And steeps them, silent all, in sleep till morn.
558 But if the rougher sex by this red sport
559 Are hurry'd wild, let not such horrid joy
560 E'er stain the bosom of the British Fair.
561 Far be the spirit of the chace from them!
562 Uncomely courage, unbeseeming skill,
563 To spring the fence, to rein the prancing steed,
564 The cap, the whip, the masculine attire,
565 In which they roughen to the sense, and all
566 The winning softness of their sex is lost.
567 Made up of blushes, tenderness, and fears,
568 In them 'tis graceful to dissolve at woe;
569 With every motion, every word, to wave
570 Quick o'er the kindling cheek the ready blush;
571 And from the smallest violence to shrink,
572 Unequal, then the loveliest in their fears;
573 And by this silent adulation, soft,
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574 To their protection more engaging man.
575 O may their eyes no miserable sight,
576 Save weeping lovers, see! a nobler game,
577 Thro' love's enchanting wiles pursu'd, yet fled,
578 In chace ambiguous. May their tender limbs
579 Float in the loose simplicity of dress!
580 And fashion'd all to harmony, alone,
581 Know they to seize the captivated soul,
582 In rapture warbled from the radiant lip;
583 To teach the lute to languish; with smooth step,
584 Disclosing motion in its every charm,
585 To swim along, and swell the mazy dance;
586 To train the foliage o'er the snowy lawn;
587 To play the pencil, turn th' instructive page;
588 To give new flavour to the fruitful year,
589 And heighten Nature's dainties; in their race
590 To rear their graces into second life;
591 To give society its highest taste;
592 Well-order'd home man's best delight to make;
593 And by submissive wisdom, modest skill,
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594 With every kinder, care-elusive art,
595 To raise the glory, animate the joys,
596 And sweeten all the toils of human life;
597 This be the female dignity, and praise.
598 Ye swains, now hasten to the hazel-bank;
599 Where, down yon dale, the wildly-winding brook
600 Falls hoarse from steep to steep. In close array
601 Fit for the thickets, and the tangling shrub,
602 Ye virgins, come. For you their latest song
603 The woodlands raise; the cluster'd nut for you
604 The lover finds amid the secret shade;
605 Or, where they burnish on the topmost bough,
606 With active vigour crushes down the tree;
607 Or shakes them ripe from the resigning husk,
608 A glossy shower, and of an ardent brown,
609 As are the ringlets of Melinda's hair:
610 Melinda form'd with every grace compleat,
611 Yet these neglecting, above beauty wise,
612 And far transcending such a vulgar praise.
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613 Hence from the busy, joy-resounding fields,
614 In cheerful error, let us tread the maze
615 Of Autumn, unconfin'd; and vital taste
616 The breath of orchard big with bending fruit.
617 Obedient to the breeze, and beating ray,
618 From the deep-loaded bough a mellow shower,
619 Incessant melts away. The juicy pear
620 Lies, in a soft profusion, scatter'd round.
621 A various sweetness swells the gentle race;
622 In species different, but in kind the same,
623 By Nature's all-refining hand prepar'd,
624 Of temper'd sun, and water, earth, and air,
625 In ever-changing composition mixt.
626 So fares it with those wide-projected heaps
627 Of apples, which the lusty-handed year,
628 Innumerous, o'er the blushing orchard shakes.
629 A various spirit, fresh, delicious, keen,
630 Dwells in their gelid pores; and, active, points
631 The piercing cyder for the thirsty tongue:
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632 Thy native theme, and boon inspirer too,
633 Phillips, facetious bard, the second thou
634 Who nobly durst, in rhyme-unfetter'd verse,
635 With British freedom sing the British song;
636 How, from Silurian vats, high-sparkling wines
637 Foam in transparent floods; some strong, to cheer
638 The wintry revels of the labouring hind;
639 And tasteful some, to cool the summer-hours.
640 In this glad season, while his last, best beams
641 The sun sheds equal o'er the meeken'd day;
642 Oh lose me in the green, majestic walks
643 Of, Dodington! thy seat, serene, and plain;
644 Where simple Nature reigns; and every view,
645 Diffusive, spreads the pure Dorsetian downs,
646 In boundless prospect, yonder shagg'd with wood;
647 Here rich with harvest; and there white with flocks.
648 Mean time the grandeur of thy lofty dome,
649 Far-splendid, seizes on the ravish'd eye.
650 New beauties rise with each revolving day;
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651 New columns swell; and still the fresh spring finds
652 New plants to quicken, and new groves to green.
653 Full of thy genius all! the muses seat;
654 Where in the secret bower, and winding walk
655 They twine the bay for thee. Here oft alone,
656 Fir'd by the thirst of thy applause, I court
657 Th' inspiring breeze; and meditate the book
658 Of Nature, ever-open; aiming thence,
659 Heart-taught like thine, to learn the moral song.
660 And, as I steal along, the sunny wall,
661 Where Autumn basks, with fruit empurpled deep,
662 My theme still urges in my vagrant thought;
663 Presents the downy peach; the purple plumb,
664 With a fine blueish mist of animals
665 Clouded; the ruddy nectarine; and dark,
666 Beneath his ample leaf, the luscious fig.
667 The vine too here her curling tendrils shoots;
668 Hangs out her clusters, swelling to the south;
669 And scarcely wishes for a warmer sky.
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670 Turn we a moment Fancy's rapid flight
671 To vigorous soils, and climes of fair extent;
672 Where, by the potent sun elated high,
673 The vineyard heaves refulgent on the day;
674 Spreads o'er the vale; or up the mountain climbs,
675 Profuse; and drinks amid the sunny rocks,
676 From cliff to cliff encreas'd, the heighten'd blaze.
677 Low bend the gravid boughs. The clusters clear,
678 Half thro' the foliage seen, or ardent flame,
679 Or shine transparent; while perfection breathes
680 White o'er the turgent film the living dew.
681 As thus they brighten with exalted juice,
682 Touch'd into flavour by the mingling ray;
683 The rural youth and virgins o'er the field,
684 Each fond for each to cull th' autumnal prime,
685 Exulting rove, and speak the vintage nigh.
686 Then comes the crushing swain; the country floats,
687 And foams unbounded with the mashy flood;
688 That by degrees fermented, and refin'd,
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689 Round the rais'd nations pours the cup of joy:
690 The Claret smooth, deep as the lip we press,
691 In sparkling fancy, while we drain the bowl;
692 The mellow-tasted Burgundy; and quick,
693 As is the wit it gives, the bright Champaign.
694 Now by the cool, declining year condens'd,
695 Descend the copious exhalations, check'd
696 As up the middle sky unseen they stole,
697 And roll the doubling sogs around the hill.
698 No more the mountain, horrid, vast, sublime,
699 Who pours a sweep of rivers from his sides;
700 And deep betwixt contending kingdoms lays
701 The rocky, long division; while aloft,
702 His piny top is, lessening, lost in air:
703 No more his thousand prospects fill the view
704 With great variety; but in a night
705 Of gathering vapour, from the baffled sense,
706 Sink dark, and total. Nor alone immerst;
707 The huge dusk, gradual, swallows up the plain.
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708 Vanish the woods. The dim-seen river seems
709 Sullen, and slow, to rowl the misty wave.
710 Even in the height of noon opprest, the sun
711 Sheds weak, and blunt, his wide-refracted ray;
712 Whence glaring oft with many a broaden'd orb
713 He frights the nations. Indistinct on earth,
714 Seen thro' the turbid air, beyond the life,
715 Objects appear; and, wilder'd, o'er the waste,
716 The shepherd stalks gigantick. Till at last
717 Wreath'd close around, in deeper circles still
718 Successive floating, sits the general fog
719 Unbounded o'er the world; and mingling thick,
720 A formless, grey confusion covers all.
721 As when of old (so sung the hebrew bard)
722 Light, uncollected, thro' the Chaos urg'd
723 Its infant way; nor Order yet had drawn
724 His endless train forth from the dubious gloom.
725 These roving mists, that constant now begin
726 To smoak along the hilly country, these,
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727 With mighty rains, the skill'd in nature say,
728 The mountain-cisterns fill, those grand reserves
729 Of water, scoop'd among the hollow rocks;
730 Whence gush the streams, the ceaseless fountains play,
731 And their unfailing stores the rivers draw.
732 But is this equal to the vast effect?
733 Is thus the Volga fill'd? the rapid Rhine?
734 The broad Euphrates? all th' unnumber'd floods,
735 That large refresh the fair-divided earth;
736 And, in the rage of summer, never cease
737 To send a thundering torrent to the main?
738 What tho' the sun draws from the steaming deep
739 More than the rivers pour? How much again,
740 O'er the vext surge, in bitter-driving showers,
741 Frequent returns, let the wet sailor say:
742 And on the thirsty down, far from the burst
743 Of springs, how much, to their reviving fields,
744 And feeding flocks, let lonely shepherds sing.
745 But sure 'tis no weak, variable cause,
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746 That keeps at once ten thousand thousand floods,
747 Wide-wandering o'er the world, so fresh, and clear,
748 For ever flowing, and for ever full.
749 And thus some sages, deep-exploring, teach:
750 That, where the hoarse, innumerable wave,
751 Eternal, lashes the refounding shore;
752 Suck'd thro' the sandy Stratum, every way,
753 The waters with the sandy Stratum rise;
754 Amid whole angles infinitely strain'd,
755 They leave each saline particle behind,
756 And clear, and sweeten, as they soak along.
757 Nor stops the restless fluid, mounting still,
758 Tho' here and there in lowly plains it springs,
759 But to the mountain courted by the sand,
760 That leads it darkling on in faithful maze,
761 Far from the parent-main, it boils again
762 Fresh into day; and all the glittering hill
763 Is bright with spouting rills. The vital stream
764 Hence, in its subterranean passage, gains,
765 From the wash'd mineral, that restoring power,
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766 And salutary virtue, which anew
767 Strings every nerve, calls up the kindling soul
768 Into the healthful cheek, and joyous eye:
769 And whence, the royal maid, Amelia blooms
770 With new-flush'd graces; yet reserv'd to bless,
771 Beyond a crown, some happy prince; and shine,
772 In all her mother's matchless virtues drest,
773 The Carolina of another land.
774 While Autumn scatters his departing gleams,
775 Warn'd of approaching winter, gather'd, play
776 The swallow-people; and tost wide around,
777 O'er the calm sky, in convolution swift,
778 The feather'd eddy floats. Rejoycing once,
779 E're to their wintry slumbers they retire;
780 In clusters clung, beneath the mouldering bank,
781 And where the cavern sweats, as sages dream.
782 Or rather into warmer climes convey'd,
783 With other kindred birds of season, there
784 They twitter cheerful, till the vernal months
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785 Invite them welcome back: for, thronging, now
786 Innumerous wings are in commotion all.
787 Where the Rhine loses his majestic force
788 In Belgian plains, won from the raging deep
789 By diligence amazing, and the strong,
790 Unconquerable hand of Liberty,
791 The stork-assembly meets; for many a day,
792 Consulting deep, and various, e're they take
793 Their plumy voyage thro' the liquid sky.
794 And now their rout design'd, their leaders chose,
795 Their tribes adjusted, clean'd their vigorous wings;
796 And many a circle, many a short essay
797 Wheel'd round and round, in congregation full,
798 The figur'd flight ascends; and, riding high
799 Th' aerial billows, mixes with the clouds.
800 Or where the Northern ocean, in vast whirls,
801 Boils round the naked, melancholy isles
802 Of farthest Thule, and th' Atlantic surge
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803 Pours in among the stormy Hebrides;
804 Who can recount what transmigrations there
805 Are annual made? What nations come and go?
806 And how the living clouds on clouds arise?
807 Infinite wings! till all the plume-dark air,
808 And white resounding store are one wild cry
809 Here the plain, harmless native his small flock,
810 And herd diminutive of many hues,
811 Tends on the little island's verdant swell,
812 The shepherd's sea-girt reign; or, to the rocks
813 Dire-clinging, gathers his ovarious food;
814 Or sweeps the fishy shore; or treasures up
815 The plumage, riling full, to form the bed
816 Of luxury. And here a while the muse,
817 High-hovering o'er the broad cerulean scene,
818 Sees Caledonia, in romantic view:
819 Her airy mountains, from the gelid main,
820 Invested with a keen, diffusive sky,
821 Breathing the soul acute; her forests huge,
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822 Incult, robust, and tall, by Nature's hand
823 Planted of old; her azure lakes between,
824 Pour'd out extensive, and of watry wealth
825 Full; winding deep, and green, her fertile vales;
826 With many a cool, translucent, brimming flood
827 Wash'd lovely, from the Tweed, pure parent-stream,
828 To where the north-inflated tempest foams
829 O'er Orca, or Betubium's highest peak.
830 Nurse of a people, in misfortune's school
831 Train'd up to hardy deeds; soon visited
832 By Learnings, when before the Gothic rage
833 She took her western flight. A generous race
834 Of unsubmitting spirit, wise, and brave,
835 Who still thro' bleeding ages struggled hard,
836 To hold a hapless, undiminish'd state;
837 Too much in vain! Hence of ignoble bounds
838 Impatient, and by tempting glory borne
839 O'er every land, for every land their life
840 Has flow'd profuse, their piercing genius plan'd,
841 And swell'd the pomp of peace their faithful toil.
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842 As from their own clear north, in radiant streams,
843 Bright over Europe bursts the Boreal Morn.
844 Oh is there not some patriot, in whose power
845 That best, that godlike luxury is plac'd,
846 Of blessing thousands, thousands yet unborn,
847 Thro' late posterity? some, large of soul!
848 To cheer dejected industry? to give
849 A double harvest to the pining swain?
850 And teach the labouring hand the sweets of toil?
851 How, by the finest art, the native robe
852 To weave; how, white as hyperborean snow,
853 To form the lucid lawn; with venturous oar,
854 How to dash wide the billow; nor look on,
855 Shamefully passive, while Batavian fleets
856 Defraud us of the glittering, finny swarms,
857 That heave our friths, and croud upon our shores;
858 How all-enlivening trade to rouse, and wing
859 The prosperous sail, from every growing port,
860 Unchalleng'd, round the sea-incircled globe;
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861 And thus united Britain Britain make
862 Intire, th' imperial Mistress of the deep.
863 Yes, there are such. And full on thee, Argyle,
864 Her hope, her stay, her darling, and her boast,
865 From her first patriots, and her heroes sprung,
866 Thy fond, imploring country turns her eye:
867 In thee, with all a mother's triumph, sees
868 Her every virtue, every grace combin'd,
869 Her genius, wisdom, her politest turn,
870 Her pride of honour, and her courage try'd,
871 Calm, and intrepid, in the very throat
872 Of sulphurous war, on Tenier's dreadful field,
873 While thick around the deadly tempest flew.
874 And when the trumpet, kindling war no more,
875 Pours not the flaming squadrons o'er the field;
876 But, fruitful of fair deeds, and mutual faith,
877 Kind peace unites the jarring world again;
878 Let the deep olive thro' thy laurels twine.
879 For, powerful as thy sword, from thy rich tongue
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880 Persuasion flows, and wins the high debate:
881 While mix'd in thee combine the charm of youth,
882 The force of manhood, and the depth of age.
883 Thee, Forbes, too, whom every worth attends,
884 As Truth sincere, as weeping Friendship kind,
885 Thee, truly generous, and in silence great,
886 Thy country feels thro' her reviving arts,
887 Plan'd by thy wisdom, by thy soul inform'd;
888 And seldom has she felt the friend like thee.
889 But see the fading, many-colour'd woods,
890 Shade deepening over shade, the country round
891 Imbrown; a crowded umbrage, dusk, and dun,
892 Of every hue, from wan, declining green
893 To sooty dark. These now the lonesome muse,
894 Low-whispering, lead into their leaf-strown walks,
895 And give the Season in its latest view.
896 Mean-time, light-shadowing all, a sober calm
897 Fleeces unbounded ether; whose least wave
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898 Stands tremulous, uncertain where to turn
899 The gentle current: while illumin'd wide,
900 The dewy-skirted clouds imbibe the sun,
901 And thro' their uvid pores his temper'd force
902 Shed o'er the peaceful world. Then is the time,
903 For those whom Wisdom, and whom Nature charm,
904 To steal themselves from the degenerate crowd,
905 And soar above this little scene of things;
906 To tread low-thoughted vice beneath their feet;
907 To sooth the throbbing passions into peace;
908 And woo lone Quiet in her silent walks.
909 Thus solitary, and in pensive guise,
910 Oft let me wander o'er the russet mead,
911 And thro' the sadden'd grove, where scarce is heard
912 One dying strain, to cheer the woodman's toil.
913 Haply some widow'd songster pours his plaint
914 Far, in saint warblings, thro' the tawny copse.
915 While congregated thrushes, linnets, larks,
916 And each wild throat, whose artless strains so late
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917 Swell'd all the music of the swarming shades,
918 Robb'd of their tuneful souls, now shivering sit
919 On the dead tree, a dull, despondent flock!
920 With not a brightness waving o'er their plumes,
921 And nought save chattering discord in their note,
922 O let not, aim'd from some inhuman eye,
923 The gun the music of the coming year
924 Destroy; and harmless, unsuspecting harm,
925 Lay the weak tribes, a miserable prey!
926 In mingled murder, fluttering on the ground.
927 The pale, descending year, yet pleasing still,
928 A gentler mood inspires; for now the leaf
929 Incessant rustles from the mournful grove,
930 Oft starting such as, studious, walk below,
931 And slowly circles thro' the waving air.
932 But should a quicker breeze and the boughs
933 Sob, o'er the sky the leafy rain streams;
934 Till choak'd, and matted with the dreary shower,
935 The forest-walks, at every rising gale,
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936 Roll wide the wither'd waste, and whistle bleak.
937 Fled is the blasted verdure of the fields;
938 And, shrunk into their beds, the flowery race
939 Their sunny robes resign. Even what remain'd
940 Of bolder fruits falls from the naked tree;
941 And woods, fields, gardens, orchards, all around
942 The desolated prospect thrills the soul.
943 He comes! he comes! in every breeze the Power
944 Of philosophic Melancholy comes!
945 His near approach the sudden-starting tear,
946 The glowing cheek, the mild dejected air,
947 The soften'd feature, and the beating heart,
948 Pierc'd deep with many a secret pang, declare.
949 O'er all his soul his sacred influence breathes;
950 In all the bosom triumphs, all the nerves;
951 Inflames imagination; thro' the sense
952 Infuses every tenderness; and far
953 Beyond dim earth exalts the swelling thought.
954 Ten thousand thousand fleet ideas, such
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955 As never mingled with the Vulgar's dream,
956 Croud fast into the mind's creative eye.
957 As fast the correspondent passions rise,
958 As varied, and as high: devotion rais'd
959 To rapture, and divine astonishment.
960 The love of Nature unconfin'd, and chief
961 Of human kind; the large, ambitious wish,
962 To make them blest; the sigh for suffering worth,
963 Lost in obscurity; th' indignant scorn
964 Of mighty pride; the fearless, great resolve;
965 The wonder that the dying patriot draws,
966 Inspiring glory thro' remotest time;
967 Th' arousing pant for virtue, and for fame;
968 The sympathies of love, and friendship dear;
969 With all the social offspring of the heart.
970 Oh bear me then to vast, embowering shades!
971 To twilight groves, and visionary vales!
972 To weeping grottoes, and prophetic glooms!
973 Where angel-forms athwart the solemn dusk,
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974 Tremendous sweep, or seem to sweep along;
975 And voices more than human, thro' the void
976 Deep-sounding, seize th' enthusiastic ear.
977 And now the western sun withdraws the day;
978 And humid evening, gilding o'er the sky,
979 In her chill progress, to the ground condens'd
980 Th' ascending vapour throws. Where waters ooze,
981 Where marshes stagnate, and where rivers wind,
982 Cluster the rolling fogs, and swim along
983 The dusky-mantled lawn. Mean-while the moon
984 Full-orb'd, and breaking thro' the scatter'd clouds,
985 Shews her broad visage in the crimson'd east.
986 Turn'd to the sun direct, her spotted disk,
987 (Where mountains rise, umbrageous dales descend,
988 And oceans roll, as optic tube descries)
989 A lesser earth gives all his blaze again,
990 Void of its flame, and sheds a softer day.
991 Now thro' the passing cloud she seems to stoop,
992 Now up the pure cerulean rides sublime.
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993 Wide the pale deluge floats; and streaming mild
994 O'er the sky'd mountain to the shadowy vale,
995 While rocks, and floods reflect the quivering gleam,
996 The whole air whitens with a boundless tide
997 Of silver radiance, trembling round the world.
998 But when, half-blotted from the sky, her light,
999 Fainting, permits the starry fires to burn,
1000 With keener lustre thro' the depth of heaven;
1001 Or quite extinct, her deaden'd orb appears,
1002 And scarce appears, of sickly, beamless white:
1003 Oft in this season, silent from the north
1004 A blaze of meteors shoots, ensweeping first
1005 The lower skies, then all at once converge
1006 High to the crown of heaven, and all at once
1007 Relapsing quick, as quickly reascend,
1008 And mix, and thwart, extinguish, and renew,
1009 All ether coursing in a maze of light.
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1010 From look to look, contagious thro' the crowd,
1011 The Pannic runs, and into wondrous shapes
1012 Th' appearance throws: armies in meet array,
1013 Throng with aerial spears, and steeds of fire;
1014 Till the long lines of full-extended war
1015 In bleeding fight commixt, the sanguine flood
1016 Rowls a broad slaughter o'er the plains of heaven.
1017 As thus they scan the visionary scene,
1018 On all sides swells the superstitious din,
1019 Incontinent; and busy frenzy talks
1020 Of blood and battle; cities over-turn'd,
1021 And, late at night, in swallowing earthquake sunk,
1022 Or painted hideous with ascending flame;
1023 Of sallow famine, inundation, storm;
1024 Of pestilence, and every great distress;
1025 Empires subvers'd, when ruling fate has struck
1026 Th' unalterable hour: even Nature's self
1027 Is deem'd to totter on the brink of time.
1028 Not so the man of philosophic eye,
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1029 And inspect sage; the waving brightness he
1030 Curious surveys, inquisitive to know
1031 The causes, and materials, yet unfix'd,
1032 Of this appearance beautiful, and new.
1033 Now black, and deep, the night begins to fall,
1034 A solid shade, immense. Sunk in the gloom
1035 Magnificent, and vast, are heaven and earth.
1036 Order confounded lies; all beauty void;
1037 Distinction lost; and gay variety
1038 One universal blot: such the fair power
1039 Of Light, to kindle, and create the whole.
1040 Drear is the state of the benighted wretch,
1041 Who then, bewilder'd, wanders thro' the dark,
1042 Full of pale fancies, and chimeras huge;
1043 Nor visited by one directive ray,
1044 From cottage streaming, or from airy hall.
1045 Perhaps impatient as he stumbles on,
1046 Struck from the root of slimy ruses, blue,
1047 The wild-fire scatters round, or gathertd trails
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1048 A length of flame deceitful o'er the moss;
1049 Whither decoy'd by the fantastic blaze,
1050 Now sunk and now renew'd, he's quite absorpt,
1051 Rider and horse into the miry gulph:
1052 While still, from day to day, his pining wife,
1053 And plaintive children his return await,
1054 In wild conjecture lost. At other times,
1055 Sent by the better Genius of the night,
1056 Innoxious, gleaming on the horse's mane,
1057 The meteor sits; and shews the narrow path,
1058 That winding leads thro' pits of death, or else
1059 Instructs him how to take the dangerous ford.
1060 The lengthen'd night elaps'd, the morning shines
1061 Serene, in all her dewy beauty bright,
1062 Unfolding fair the last Autumnal day.
1063 And now the mounting sun dispels the fog;
1064 The rigid hoar-frost melts before his beam,
1065 And hung on every spray, on every blade
1066 Of grass, the myriad dew-drops twinkle round.
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1067 Ah see where robb'd, and murder'd, in that pit,
1068 Lies the still heaving hive; at evening snatch'd,
1069 Beneath the cloud of guilt-concealing night,
1070 And whelm'd o'er sulphur: while, undreaming ill,
1071 The happy people, in their waxen cells,
1072 Sat tending publick cares, and planning schemes
1073 Of temperance, for winter poor; rejoic'd
1074 To mark, full-flowing round, their copious stores,
1075 Sudden the dark, oppressive steam ascends:
1076 And, us'd to milder scents, the tender race,
1077 By thousands, tumble from their honey'd domes,
1078 Convolv'd, and agonizing in the dust.
1079 And was it then for this ye roam'd the spring,
1080 Intent from flower to flower? for this ye toil'd
1081 Ceaseless the burning summer-heats away?
1082 For this in Autumn search'd the blooming waste,
1083 Nor lost one sunny gleam? for this sad sate?
1084 O man! tyrannic lord! how long, how long,
1085 Shall prostrate nature groan beneath your rage,
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1086 Awaiting renovation? When oblig'd,
1087 Must you destroy? Of their ambrosial food
1088 Can you not borrow? and in just return,
1089 Afford them shelter from the wintry winds;
1090 Or, as the sharp year pinches, with their own
1091 Again regale them on some smiling day?
1092 Hard by, the stony bottom of their town
1093 Looks desolate, and wild; with here and there
1094 A helpless number, who the ruin'd state
1095 Survive, lamenting weak, cast out to death.
1096 Thus a proud city, populous, and rich,
1097 Full of the works of peace, and high in joy,
1098 At theatre, or feast, or sunk in sleep,
1099 (As late, Palermo, was thy fate) is seiz'd
1100 By some dread earthquake, and convulsive hurld,
1101 Sheer from the black foundation, stench-involv'd,
1102 Into a gulph of blue, sulphureous flame.
1103 Hence every harsher sight! for now the day,
1104 O'er heaven and earth diffus'd, grows warm, and high,
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1105 Infinite splendor! wide investing all.
1106 How still the breeze! save what the filmy threads
1107 Of dew evaporate brushes from the plain.
1108 How clear the cloudless sky! how deeply ting'd
1109 With a peculiar blue! th' ethereal arch
1110 How swell'd immense! amid whose azure thron'd
1111 The radiant sun how gay! how calm below
1112 The gilded earth! the harvest-treasures all
1113 Now gather'd in, beyond the rage of storms,
1114 Sure to the swain; the circling sence shut up;
1115 And instant Winter bid to do his worst.
1116 While loose to festive joy, the country round
1117 Laughs with the loud sincerity of mirth,
1118 Care shook away. The toil-invigorate youth,
1119 Not needing the melodious impulse much,
1120 Leaps wildly graceful, in the lively dance.
1121 Her every charm abroad, the village-toast,
1122 Young, buxom, warm, in native beauty rich,
1123 Darts not-unmeaning looks; and, where her eye
1124 Points an approving smile, with double force,
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1125 The cudgel rattles, and the struggle twists.
1126 Age too shines out; and, garrulous, recounts
1127 The feats of youth. Thus they rejoyce; nor think
1128 That, with to-morrow's fun, their annual toil
1129 Begins again the never-ceasing round.
1130 Oh knew he but his happiness, of men
1131 The happiest he! who far from public rage,
1132 Deep in the vale, with a choice few retir'd,
1133 Drinks the pure pleasures of the rural life.
1134 What tho' the dome be wanting, whose proud gate
1135 Each morning vomits out the sneaking crowd
1136 Of flatterers false, and in their turn abus'd,
1137 Vile intercourse! What tho' the glittering robe,
1138 Of every hue reflected light can give,
1139 Or floating loose, or stiff with mazy gold,
1140 The pride, and gaze of fools! oppress him not.
1141 What tho' from utmost land, and sea, purvey'd,
1142 For him each rarer, tributary life
1143 Bleeds not, and his insatiate table heaps
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1144 With luxury, and death. What tho' his wine
1145 Flows not from brighter gems; nor sunk in beds,
1146 Oft of gay care, he tosses out the night;
1147 Or, thoughtless, sleeps at best in idle state.
1148 What tho' depriv'd of these fantastic joys,
1149 That stiil amuse the wanton, still deceive;
1150 A face of pleasure, but a heart of pain;
1151 Their hollow moments undelighted all.
1152 Sure peace is his; a solid life, estrang'd
1153 To disappointment, and fallacious hope;
1154 Rich in content, in Nature's bounty rich,
1155 In herbs, and fruits; whatever greens the Spring,
1156 When heav'n descends in show'rs; or bends the bough,
1157 When Summer reddens, and when Autumn beams;
1158 Or in the Wintry glebe whatever lies
1159 Conceal'd, and fattens with the richest sap;
1160 These are not wanting; nor the milky drove,
1161 Luxuriant, spread o'er all the lowing vale;
1162 Nor bleating mountains; nor the chide of streams,
1163 And hum of bees, inviting sleep sincere
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1164 Into the guiltless breast, beneath the shade,
1165 Or thrown at large amid the fragrant hay:
1166 Nor aught beside of prospect, grove, or song,
1167 Dim grottoes, gleaming lakes, and fountain clear.
1168 Here too lives simple truth; plain innocence;
1169 Unsully'd beauty; sound, unbroken youth,
1170 Patient of labour, with a little pleas'd;
1171 Health ever-blooming; unambitious toil;
1172 Calm contemplation, and poetic ease.
1173 Let others brave the flood, in quest of gain,
1174 And beat, for joyless months, the gloomy wave.
1175 Let such as deem it glory to destroy,
1176 Rush into blood; the sack of cities seek;
1177 Unpierc'd, exulting in the widow's wail,
1178 The virgin's shriek, and infant's trembling cry.
1179 Let some far-distant from their native soil,
1180 Urg'd, or by want, or harden'd avarice,
1181 Find other lands beneath another sun.
1182 Let This thro' cities work his ardent way,
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1183 By legal outrage, and establish'd guile,
1184 The social sense extinct; and That ferment
1185 Mad into tumult the seditious herd,
1186 Or melt them down to slavery. Let These
1187 Insnare the wretched in the toils of law,
1188 Fomenting discord, and perplexing right,
1189 An iron race! and Those of fairer front,
1190 But equal inhumanity, in courts,
1191 And slippery pomp delight, in dark cabals;
1192 Wreathe the deep bow, diffuse the lying smile,
1193 And tread the weary labyrinth of state.
1194 While He, from all the stormy passions free,
1195 That restless men involve, hears, and but hears,
1196 At distance safe, the human tempest roar,
1197 Wrapt close in conscious peace. The fall of kings,
1198 The rage of nations, and the crush of states
1199 Move not the man, who, from the world escap'd,
1200 In still retreats, and flowery solitudes,
1201 To Nature's voice attends, from day to day,
1202 And month to month, thro' the revolving Year;
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1203 Admiring, sees her in her every shape:
1204 Feels all her fine emotions at his heart;
1205 Takes what she liberal gives, nor thinks of more.
1206 He, when young Spring protrudes the bursting gems,
1207 Marks the first bud, and sucks the healthful gale
1208 Into his freshen'd soul; her genial hours
1209 He quite enjoys; and not a beauty blows,
1210 And not an opening blossom breathes in vain.
1211 In Summer he, beneath the living shade,
1212 Such as from frigid Tempe wont to fall,
1213 Or Haemus cool, reads what the muse, of these
1214 Perhaps, has in immortal numbers sung;
1215 Or what she dictates writes; and, oft an eye
1216 Shot round, rejoyces in the vigorous year.
1217 When Autumn's yellow lustre gilds the world,
1218 And tempts the sickled swain into the sield,
1219 Seiz'd by the general joy, his heart distends
1220 With gentle throws; and thro' the tepid gleams
1221 Deep-musing, then the best exerts his song.
1222 Even Winter wild to him is full of bliss.
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1223 The mighty tempest, and the hoary waste,
1224 Abrupt, and deep, stretch'd o'er the bury'd earth,
1225 Awake to solemn thought. At night the skies,
1226 Disclos'd, and kindled, by refining frost,
1227 Pour every lustre on th' astonish'd eye.
1228 A friend, a book, the stealing hours secure,
1229 And mark them down for wisdom. With swift wing,
1230 O'er land, and sea, imagination roams;
1231 Or truth, divinely breaking on his mind,
1232 Elates his being, and unfolds his powers;
1233 Or in his breast heroic virtue burns.
1234 The touch of love, and kindred too he feels,
1235 The modest eye, whose beams on his alone
1236 Extatic shine; the little, strong embrace
1237 Of prattling children, twin'd around his neck,
1238 And emulous to please him, calling forth
1239 The fond parental soul. Nor purpose gay,
1240 Amusement, dance, or song, he sternly scorns;
1241 For happiness, and true philosophy
1242 Still are, and have been of the smiling kind.
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1243 This is the life which those who fret in guilt,
1244 And guilty cities, never knew; the life,
1245 Led by primaeval ages, incorrupt,
1246 When God himself, and Angels dwelt with men!
1247 Oh Nature! all-sufficient! over all!
1248 Enrich me with the knowledge of thy works!
1249 Snatch me to heaven; thy rolling wonders there,
1250 World beyond world, in infinite extent,
1251 Profusely scatter'd o'er the void immense,
1252 Shew me; their motions, periods, and their laws,
1253 Give me to scan; thro' the disclosing deep
1254 Light my blind way: the mineral Strata there;
1255 Thrust, blooming, thence the vegetable world;
1256 O'er that rising system, more complex,
1257 Of animals; and higher still, the mind,
1258 The varied scene of quick-compounded thought,
1259 And where the mixing passions endless shift;
1260 These ever open to my ravish'd eye;
1261 A search, the flight of time can ne'er exhaust!
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1262 But if to that unequal; if the blood,
1263 In sluggish streams about my heart, forbids
1264 That best ambition; under closing shades,
1265 Inglorious, lay me by the lowly brook,
1266 And whisper to my dreams. From Thee begin,
1267 Dwell all on Thee, with Thee conclude my song;
1268 And let me never, never stray from Thee!
The END.

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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): [The Seasons:] AUTUMN.
Author: James Thomson
Themes: rural life; weather; nature; landscapes
Genres: blank verse

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Source edition

The four seasons, and other poems. By James Thomson. London: printed for J. Millan, near Scotland-Yard, White-Hall; and A. Millar, in the Strand, M.DCC.XXXV., 1735, pp. []-72. [2];77,[3];64;72;79,[1]p.,plates; 8⁰. (ESTC T83; Foxon T242; OTA K019862.000)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.

Secondary literature

  • Anderson, David R. Emotive Theodicy in The Seasons. Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 12 (1983): 59-76. Print.
  • Cohen, Ralph. The Art of Discrimination: Thomson's The Seasons and the Language of Criticism. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1964. Print.
  • Inglesfield, Robert. Shaftesbury's Influence on Thomson's Seasons. British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 9 (1986): 141-56. Print.
  • McKillop, A. D. The Background of Thomson's Seasons. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1942. Print.
  • Terry, Richard. 'Through Nature shedding influence malign': Thomson's The Seasons as a Theodicy. Durham University Journal87 (1995): 257-68. Print.