[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. [Page]〈1 page duplicate〉[Page]〈1 page duplicate〉
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,[Page 7]
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,[Page 8]
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[Page 9]
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,[Page 10]
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[Page 11]
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.
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.
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.
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! [Page 15]
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,[Page 16]
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,[Page 17]
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.
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,[Page 19]
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[Page 20]
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.
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.
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[Page 23]
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[Page 24]
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[Page 25]
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; Then most delighted, when she smiling sees
378 The whole mix'd animal creation round
379 Alive, and happy. 'Tis not joy to her,
380 This falsely chearful, barbarous game of death;
381 This rage of pleasure, which the restless youth
382 Awakes, impatient, with the gleaming morn;
383 When beasts of prey retire, that all night long,[Page 26]
384 Urg'd by necessity, had roam'd the dark;
385 As if their conscious ravage shun'd the light,
386 Asham'd. Not so the steady tyrant man,
387 Who with the thoughtless insolence of power
388 Inflam'd, beyond the most infuriate rage
389 Of the worst monster that e'er howl'd the waste,
390 For sport alone takes up the cruel tract,
391 Amid the beamings of the gentle days.
392 Upbraid us not, ye wolves! ye tygers fell!
393 For hunger kindles you, and lawless want;
394 But lavish fed, in Nature's bounty roll'd,
395 To laugh at anguish, and rejoice in blood,
396 Is what your horrid bosoms never knew.
397 Poor is the triumph o'er the timid Hare!
398 Shook from the corn, and now to some lone seat
399 Retir'd: the rushy fen; the ragged furz,
400 Stretch'd o'er the stony heath; the stubble chapt;
401 The thistly lawn; the thick, intangled broom;
402 Of the same friendly hue, the wither'd fern;[Page 27]
403 The fallow ground laid open to the sun,
404 Concoctive; and the nodding sandy bank,
405 Hung o'er the mazes of the mountain-brook.
406 Vain is her best precaution; tho' she sits
407 By Nature rais'd to take the horizon in;
408 And head couch'd close betwixt her hairy feet,
409 In act to spring away. The scented dew
410 Betrays her early labyrinth; and deep,
411 In scatter'd, sullen openings, far behind,
412 With every breeze she hears the coming storm.
413 But nearer, and more frequent, as it loads
414 The sighing gale, she springs amaz'd, and all
415 The savage soul of game is up at once:
416 The pack full-opening, varions; the shrill horn,
417 Resounded from the hills; the neighing steed,
418 Wild for the chace; and the loud hunter's shout;
419 O'er a weak, harmless, flying creature, all
420 Mix'd in mad tumult, and discordant joy.
421 The Stag too, singled from the herd, where long
422 He rang'd the branching monarch of the shades,
423 Before the tempest drives. At first in speed,
424 He, sprightly, puts his faith; and, fear-arous'd,
425 Gives all his swift, aereal soul to flight.
426 Against the breeze he darts, that way the more
427 To leave the lessening, murderous cry behind.
428 Deception short! tho' fleeter than the winds
429 Blown o'er the keen-air'd mountain by the north,
430 He bursts the thickets, glances thro' the glades,
431 And plunges deep into the wildest wood.
432 If slow, yet sure, adhesive to the tract
433 Hot-steaming, up behind him comes again
434 Th' inhuman rout, and from the shady depth
435 Expel him, circling thro' his every shift.
436 He sweeps the forest oft; and sobbing sees
437 The glades, mild-opening to the golden day;
438 Where, in kind contest, with his butting friends
439 He went to struggle, or his loves enjoy. [Page 29]
440 Oft in the full-descending flood he tries
441 To lose the scent, and lave his burning sides;
442 Oft seeks the herd; the watchful herd alarm'd,
443 With quick consent, avoid th' infectious maze.
444 What shall he do? His once so vivid nerves,
445 So full of buoyant soul, inspire no more
446 The fainting course; but wrenching, breathless toil,
447 Sick, seizes on his heart: he stands at bay;
448 And puts his last weak refuge in despair.
449 The big round tears run down his dappled face;
450 He groans in anguish; while the growling pack,
451 Blood-happy, hang at his fair, jutting chest,
452 And mark his beauteous checquer'd sides with gore.
453 Of this enough. But if the silvan youth
454 Whose fervent blood boils into violence,
455 Must have the chace; behold, despising flight,
456 The rous'd-up lyon, resolute, and slow,
457 Advancing full on the protended spear,
458 And coward-band, that circling wheel aloof. [Page 30]
459 Slunk from the cavern, and the troubled wood,
460 See the grim wolf; on him his shaggy foe
461 Viudictive fix, for murder is his trade:
462 And, growling horrid, as the brindled boar
463 Grins near destruction, to the monster's heart
464 Let the dart lighten from the nervous arm.
465 These Britain Knows not; give, ye Britons, then
466 Your sportive fury, pityless, to pour
467 Loose on the sly destroyer of the flock.
468 Him, from his craggy winding haunts unearth'd,
469 Let all the thunder of the chace pursue.
470 Throw the broad ditch behind you; o'er the hedge
471 High-bound, resistless; nor the deep morass
472 Refuse, but thro' the shaking wilderness
473 Pick your, nice way; into the perilous flood
474 Bear fearless, of the raging instinct full;
475 And as you ride the torrent, to the banks
476 Your triumph sound sonorous, running round,
477 From rock to rock, in circling echo tost;[Page 31]
478 Then snatch the mountains by their woody tops;
479 Rush down the dangerous steep; and o'er the lawn,
480 In fancy swallowing up the space between,
481 Pour all your speed into the rapid game.
482 For happy he! who tops the wheeling chace;
483 Has every maze evolv'd, and every guile
484 Disclos'd; who knows the merits of the pack;
485 Who saw the villain seiz'd, and dying hard,
486 Without complaint, tho' by an hundred mouths
487 At once tore, mercyless. Thrice happy he!
488 At hour of dusk, while the retreating horn
489 Calls them to ghostly halls of grey renown,
490 With woodland honours grac'd; the fox's fur,
491 Depending decent from the roof; and spread
492 Round the drear walls, with antick figures fierce,
493 The stag's large front: he then is loudest heard,
494 When the night staggers with severer toils;
495 And their repeated wonders shake the dome.
496 But first the fuel'd chimney blazes wide;
497 The tankards foam; and the strong table groans
498 Beneath the smoaking sirloin, stretch'd immense
499 From side to side; on which, with fell intent,
500 They deep incision make, and talk the while
501 Of England's glory, ne'er to be defac'd,
502 While hence they borrow vigour: or amain
503 Into the pasty plung'd, at intervals,
504 If stomach keen can intervals allow,
505 Relating how it ran, and how it fell.
506 Then sated Hunger bids his brother Thirst
507 Produce the mighty bowl; the mighty bowl,
508 Swell'd high with fiery juice, steams liberal round
509 A potent gale, reviving as the breath
510 Of Maia, to the love-sick shepherdess,
511 On violets diffus'd, while soft she hears
512 Her panting shepherd stealing to her arms,
513 Nor wanting is the brown october, drawn,
514 Mature, and perfect, from his dark retreat[Page 33]
515 Of thirty years; and now his honest front
516 Flames in the light refulgent, nor asham'd
517 To vie it with the vineyard's best produce.
518 Perhaps a while, amusive, thoughtful Whisk
519 Walks gentle round, beneath a cloud of smoak,
520 Wreath'd, fragrant, from the pipe; or the quick dice,
521 In thunder leaping from the box, awake
522 The sounding gammon: while romp-loving miss
523 Is haul'd about, in gallantry robust.
524 At last these puling idlenesses laid
525 Aside, frequent, and full, the dry divan
526 Close in firm circle; and set, ardent, in
527 For serious drinking. Nor evasion sly,
528 Nor sober shift is to the puking wretch
529 Indulg'd askew; but earnest, brimming bowls
530 Lave every soul, the table floating round,
531 And pavement, faithless to the fuddled foot.
532 Thus as they swim in mutual swill, the talk,
533 Vociferate at once by twenty tongues,[Page 34]
534 Reels fast from theme to theme; from horses, hounds,
535 To church, or mistress, politicks, or ghost,
536 In endless mazes, intricate, perplext.
537 Mean-time, with sudden interruption, loud,
538 Th' impatient catch bursts from the joyous heart.
539 That moment touch'd is every kindred soul;
540 And, opening in a full-mouth'd Cry of joy,
541 The laugh, the slap, the jocund curse goes round;
542 While, from their slumbers shook, the kennel'd hounds
543 Mix in the music of the day again.
544 As when the tempest, that has vex'd the deep
545 The dark night long, falls murmuring towards morn;
546 So their mirth gradual sinks. Their feeble tongues,
547 Unable to take up the cumbrous word,
548 Ly quite disslov'd. Before their maudlin eyes,
549 Seen dim, and blue, the double tapers dance,
550 Like the sun wading thro' the misty sky.
551 Then, sliding sweet, they drop. O'erturn'd above
552 Lies the wet, broken scene; and stretch'd below,
553 Each way, the drunken slaughter; where astride[Page 35]
554 The lubber Power himself triumphant sits,
555 Slumbrous, inclining still from side to side,
556 And steeps them, silent all, in sleep till morn.
557 But if the rougher sex by this red sport
558 Are hurry'd wild, let not such horrid joy
559 E'er stain the bosom of the British Fair.
560 Far be the spirit of the chace from them!
561 Uncomely courage, unbeseeming skill,
562 To spring the fence, to rein the prancing steed,
563 The cap, the whip, the masculine attire,
564 In which they roughen to the sense, and all
565 The winning softness of their sex is lost.
566 Made up of blushes, tenderness, and fears,
567 In them 'tis graceful to dissolve at woe;
568 With every motion, every word, to wave
569 Quick o'er the kindling cheek the ready blush;
570 And from the smallest violence to shrink,
571 Unequal, then the loveliest in their fears;
572 And by this silent adulation, soft,[Page 36]
573 To their protection more engaging man.
574 O may their eyes no miserable sight,
575 Save weeping lovers, see! a nobler game,
576 Thro' love's enchanting wiles pursu'd, yet fled,
577 In chace ambiguous. May their tender limbs
578 Float in the loose simplicity of dress!
579 And fashion'd all to harmony, alone,
580 Know they to seize the captivated soul,
581 In rapture warbled from the radiant lip;
582 To teach the lute to languish; with smooth step,
583 Disclosing motion in its every charm,
584 To swim along, and swell the mazy dance;
585 To train the foliage o'er the snowy lawn;
586 To play the pencil, turn th' instructive page;
587 To give new flavour to the fruitful year,
588 And heighten Nature's dainties; in their race
589 To rear their graces into second life;
590 To give society its highest taste;
591 Well-order'd home man's best delight to make;
592 And by submissive wisdom, modest skill,[Page 37]
593 With every kinder, care-elusive art,
594 To raise the glory, animate the joys,
595 And sweeten all the toils of human life;
596 This be the female dignity, and praise.
597 Ye swains, now hasten to the hazel-bank;
598 Where, down yon dale, the wildly-winding brook
599 Falls hoarse from steep to steep. In close array
600 Fit for the thickets, and the tangling shrub,
601 Ye virgins, come. For you their latest song
602 The woodlands raise; the cluster'd nut for you
603 The lover finds amid the secret shade;
604 Or, where they burnish on the topmost bough,
605 With active vigour crushes down the tree;
606 Or shakes them ripe from the resigning husk,
607 A glossy shower, and of an ardent brown,
608 As are the ringlets of Melinda's hair:
609 Melinda form'd with every grace compleat,
610 Yet these neglecting, above beauty wise,
611 And far transcending such a vulgar praise.
612 Hence from the busy, joy-resounding fields,
613 In cheerful error, let us tread the maze
614 Of Autumn, unconfin'd; and vital taste
615 The breath of orchard big with bending fruit.
616 Obedient to the breeze, and beating ray,
617 From the deep-loaded bough a mellow shower,
618 Incessant melts away. The juicy pear
619 Lies, in a soft profusion, scatter'd round.
620 A various sweetness swells the gentle race;
621 In species different, but in kind the same,
622 By Nature's all-refining hand prepar'd,
623 Of temper'd sun, and water, earth, and air,
624 In ever-changing composition mixt.
625 So fares it with those wide-projected heaps
626 Of apples, which the lusty-handed year,
627 Innumerous, o'er the blushing orchard shakes.
628 A various spirit, fresh, delicious, keen,
629 Dwells in their gelid pores; and, active, points
630 The piercing cyder for the thirsty tongue:[Page 39]
631 Thy native theme, and boon inspirer too,
632 Phillips, facetious bard, the second thou
633 Who nobly durst, in rhyme-unfetter'd verse,
634 With British freedom sing the British song;
635 How, from Silurian vats, high-sparkling wines
636 Foam in transparent floods; some strong, to cheer
637 The wintry revels of the labouring hind;
638 And tasteful some, to cool the summer-hours.
639 In this glad season, while his last, best beams
640 The sun sheds equal o'er the meeken'd day;
641 Oh lose me in the green, majestic walks
642 Of, Dodington! thy seat, serene, and plain;
643 Where simple Nature reigns; and every view,
644 Diffusive, spreads the pure Dorsetian downs,
645 In boundless prospect, yonder shagg'd with wood;
646 Here rich with harvest; and there white with flocks.
647 Mean time the grandeur of thy lofty dome,
648 Far-splendid, seizes on the ravish'd eye.
649 New beauties rise with each revolving day;[Page 40]
650 New columns swell; and still the fresh spring finds
651 New plants to quicken, and new groves to green.
652 Full of thy genius all! the muses seat;
653 Where in the secret bower, and winding walk
654 They twine the bay for thee. Here oft alone,
655 Fir'd by the thirst of thy applause, I court
656 Th' inspiring breeze; and meditate the book
657 Of Nature, ever-open; aiming thence,
658 Heart-taught like thine, to learn the moral song.
659 And, as I steal along, the sunny wall,
660 Where Autumn basks, with fruit empurpled deep,
661 My theme still urges in my vagrant thought;
662 Presents the downy peach; the purple plumb,
663 With a fine blueish mist of animals
664 Clouded; the ruddy nectarine; and dark,
665 Beneath his ample leaf, the luscious fig.
666 The vine too here her curling tendrils shoots;
667 Hangs out her clusters, swelling to the south;
668 And scarcely wishes for a warmer sky.
669 Turn we a moment Fancy's rapid flight
670 To vigorous soils, and climes of fair extent;
671 Where, by the potent sun elated high,
672 The vineyard heaves refulgent on the day;
673 Spreads o'er the vale; or up the mountain climbs,
674 Profuse; and drinks amid the sunny rocks,
675 From cliff to cliff encreas'd, the heighten'd blaze.
676 Low bend the gravid boughs. The clusters clear,
677 Half thro' the foliage seen, or ardent flame,
678 Or shine transparent; while perfection breathes
679 White o'er the turgent film the living dew.
680 As thus they brighten with exalted juice,
681 Touch'd into flavour by the mingling ray;
682 The rural youth and virgins o'er the field,
683 Each fond for each to cull th' autumnal prime,
684 Exulting rove, and speak the vintage nigh.
685 Then comes the crushing swain; the country floats,
686 And foams unbounded with the mashy flood;
687 That by degrees fermented, and refin'd,[Page 42]
688 Round the rais'd nations pours the cup of joy:
689 The Claret smooth, deep as the lip we press,
690 In sparkling fancy, while we drain the bowl;
691 The mellow-tasted Burgundy; and quick,
692 As is the wit it gives, the bright Champaign.
693 Now by the cool, declining year condens'd,
694 Descend the copious exhalations, check'd
695 As up the middle sky unseen they stole,
696 And roll the doubling sogs around the hill.
697 No more the mountain, horrid, vast, sublime,
698 Who pours a sweep of rivers from his sides;
699 And deep betwixt contending kingdoms lays
700 The rocky, long division; while aloft,
701 His piny top is, lessening, lost in air:
702 No more his thousand prospects fill the view
703 With great variety; but in a night
704 Of gathering vapour, from the bassled sense,
705 Sink dark, and total. Nor alone immerst;
706 The huge dusk, gradual, swallows up the plain. [Page 43]
707 Vanish the woods. The dim-seen river seems
708 Sullen, and slow, to rowl the misty wave.
709 Even in the height of noon opprest, the sun
710 Sheds weak, and blunt, his wide-refracted ray;
711 Whence glaring oft with many a broaden'd orb
712 He frights the nations. Indistinct on earth,
713 Seen thro' the turbid air, beyond the life,
714 Objects appear; and, wilder'd, o'er the waste,
715 The shepherd stalks gigantick. Till at last
716 Wreath'd close around, in deeper circles still
717 Successive floating, sits the general fog
718 Unbounded o'er the world; and mingling thick,
719 A formless, grey confusion covers all.
720 As when of old (so sung the hebrew bard)
721 Light, uncollected, thro' the Chaos urg'd
722 Its infant way; nor Order yet had drawn
723 His endless train forth from the dubious gloom.
724 These roving mists, that constant now begin
725 To smoak along the hilly country, these,[Page 44]
726 With mighty rains, the skill'd in nature say,
727 The mountain-cisterns fill, those grand reserves
728 Of water, scoop'd among the hollow rocks;
729 Whence gush the streams, the ceaseless fountains play,
730 And their unfailing stores the rivers draw.
731 But is this equal to the vast effect?
732 Is thus the Volga fill'd? the rapid Rhine?
733 The broad Euphrates? all th' unnumber'd floods,
734 That large refresh the fair-divided earth;
735 And, in the rage of summer, never cease
736 To send a thundering torrent to the main?
737 What tho' the sun draws from the steaming deep
738 More than the rivers pour? How much again,
739 O'er the vext surge, in bitter-driving showers,
740 Frequent returns, let the wet sailor say:
741 And on the thirsty down, far from the burst
742 Of springs, how much, to their reviving fields,
743 And feeding flocks, let lonely shepherds sing.
744 But sure 'tis no weak, variable cause,[Page 45]
745 That keeps at once ten thousand thousand floods,
746 Wide-wandering o'er the world, so fresh, and clear,
747 For ever flowing, and for ever full.
748 And thus some sages, deep-exploring, teach:
749 That, where the hoarse, innumerable wave,
750 Eternal, lashes the refounding shore;
751 Suck'd thro' the sandy Stratum, every way,
752 The waters with the sandy Stratum rise;
753 Amid whole angles infinitely strain'd,
754 They leave each saline particle behind,
755 And clear, and sweeten, as they soak along.
756 Nor stops the restless fluid, mounting still,
757 Tho' here and there in lowly plains it springs,
758 But to the mountain courted by the sand,
759 That leads it darkling on in faithful maze,
760 Far from the parent-main, it boils again
761 Fresh into day; and all the glittering hill
762 Is bright with spouting rills. The vital stream
763 Hence, in its subterranean passage, gains,
764 From the wash'd mineral, that restoring power,[Page 46]
765 And salutary virtue, which anew
766 Strings every nerve, calls up the kindling soul
767 Into the healthful cheek, and joyous eye:
768 And whence, the royal maid, Amelia blooms
769 With new-flush'd graces; yet reserv'd to bless,
770 Beyond a crown, some happy prince; and shine,
771 In all her mother's matchless virtues drest,
772 The Carolina of another land.
773 While Autumn scatters his departing gleams,
774 Warn'd of approaching winter, gather'd, play
775 The swallow-people; and tost wide around,
776 O'er the calm sky, in convolution swift,
777 The feather'd eddy floats. Rejoycing once,
778 E're to their wintry slumbers they retire;
779 In clusters clung, beneath the mouldering bank,
780 And where the cavern sweats, as sages dream.
781 Or rather into warmer climes convey'd,
782 With other kindred birds of season, there
783 They twitter cheerful, till the vernal months[Page 47]
784 Invite them welcome back: for, thronging, now Innumerous wings are in commotion all.
785 Where the Rhine loses his majestic force
786 In Belgian plains, won from the raging deep
787 By diligence amazing, and the strong,
788 Unconquerable hand of Liberty,
789 The stork-assembly meets; for many a day,
790 Consulting deep, and various, e're they take
791 Their plumy voyage thro' the liquid sky.
792 And now their rout design'd, their leaders chose,
793 Their tribes adjusted, clean'd their vigorous wings;
794 And many a circle, many a short essay
795 Wheel'd round and round, in congregation full,
796 The figur'd flight ascends; and, riding high
797 Th' aerial billows, mixes with the clouds.
798 Or where the Northern ocean, in vast whirls,
799 Boils round the naked, melancholy isles
800 Of farthest Thule, and th' Atlantic surge[Page 48]
801 Pours in among the stormy Hebrides;
802 Who can recount what transmigrations there
803 Are annual made? What nations come and go?
804 And how the living clouds on clouds arise?
805 Infinite wings! till all the plume-dark air,
806 And white resounding store are one wild cry
807 Here the plain, harmless native his small flock,
808 And herd diminutive of many hues,
809 Tends on the little island's verdant swell,
810 The shepherd's sea-girt reign; or, to the rocks
811 Dire-clinging, gathers his ovarious food;
812 Or sweeps the fishy shore; or treasures up
813 The plumage, riling full, to form the bed
814 Of luxury. And here a while the muse,
815 High-hovering o'er the broad cerulean scene,
816 Sees Caledonia, in romantic view:
817 Her airy mountains, from the gelid main,
818 Invested with a keen, diffusive sky,
819 Breathing the soul acute; her forests huge,[Page 49]
820 Incult, robust, and tall, by Nature's hand
821 Planted of old; her azure lakes between,
822 Pour'd out extensive, and of watry wealth
823 Full; winding deep, and green, her fertile vales;
824 With many a cool, translucent, brimming flood
825 Wash'd lovely, from the Tweed, pure parent-stream,
826 To where the north-inflated tempest foams
827 O'er Orca, or Betubium's highest peak.
828 Nurse of a people, in misfortune's school
829 Train'd up to hardy deeds; soon visited
830 By Learnings, when before the Gothic rage
831 She took her western flight. A generous race
832 Of unsubmitting spirit, wise, and brave,
833 Who still thro' bleeding ages struggled hard,
834 To hold a hapless, undiminish'd state;
835 Too much in vain! Hence of ignoble bounds
836 Impatient, and by tempting glory borne
837 O'er every land, for every land their life
838 Has flow'd profuse, their piercing genius plan'd,
839 And swell'd the pomp of peace their faithful toil. [Page 50]
840 As from their own clear north, in radiant streams,
841 Bright over Europe bursts the Boreal Morn.
842 Oh is there not some patriot, in whose power
843 That best, that godlike luxury is plac'd,
844 Of blessing thousands, thousands yet unborn,
845 Thro' late posterity? some, large of soul!
846 To cheer dejected industry? to give
847 A double harvest to the pining swain?
848 And teach the labouring hand the sweets of toil?
849 How, by the finest art, the native robe
850 To weave; how, white as hyperborean snow,
851 To form the lucid lawn; with venturous oar,
852 How to dash wide the billow; nor look on,
853 Shamefully passive, while Batavian fleets
854 Defraud us of the glittering, finny swarms,
855 That heave our friths, and croud upon our shores;
856 How all-enlivening trade to rouse, and wing
857 The prosperous sail, from every growing port,
858 Unchalleng'd, round the sea-incircled globe;[Page 51]
859 And thus united Britain Britain make
860 Intire, th' imperial Mistress of the deep.
861 Yes, there are such. And full on thee, Argyle,
862 Her hope, her stay, her darling, and her boast,
863 From her first patriots, and her heroes sprung,
864 Thy fond, imploring country turns her eye:
865 In thee, with all a mother's triumph, sees
866 Her every virtue, every grace combin'd,
867 Her genius, wisdom, her politest turn,
868 Her pride of honour, and her courage try'd,
869 Calm, and intrepid, in the very throat
870 Of sulphurous war, on Tenier's dreadful field,
871 While thick around the deadly tempest flew.
872 And when the trumpet, kindling war no more,
873 Pours not the flaming squadrons o'er the field;
874 But, fruitful of fair deeds, and mutual faith,
875 Kind peace unites the jarring world again;
876 Let the deep olive thro' thy laurels twine.
877 For, powerful as thy sword, from thy rich tongue[Page 52]
878 Persuasion flows, and wins the high debate:
879 While mix'd in thee combine the charm of youth,
880 The force of manhood, and the depth of age.
881 Thee, Forbes, too, whom every worth attends,
882 As Truth sincere, as weeping Friendship kind,
883 Thee, truly generous, and in silence great,
884 Thy country feels thro' her reviving arts,
885 Plan'd by thy wisdom, by thy soul inform'd;
886 And seldom has she felt the friend like thee.
887 But see the fading, many-colour'd woods,
888 Shade deepening over shade, the country round
889 Imbrown; a crowded umbrage, dusk, and dun,
890 Of every hue, from wan, declining green
891 To sooty dark. These now the lonesome muse,
892 Low-whispering, lead into their leaf-strown walks,
893 And give the Season in its latest view.
894 Mean-time, light-shadowing all, a sober calm
895 Fleeces unbounded ether; whose least wave[Page 53]
896 Stands tremulous, uncertain where to turn
897 The gentle current: while illumin'd wide,
898 The dewy-skirted clouds imbibe the sun,
899 And thro' their uvid pores his temper'd force
900 Shed o'er the peaceful world. Then is the time,
901 For those whom Wisdom, and whom Nature charm,
902 To steal themselves from the degenerate crowd,
903 And soar above this little scene of things;
904 To tread low-thoughted vice beneath their feet;
905 To sooth the throbbing passions into peace;
906 And woo lone Quiet in her silent walks.
907 Thus solitary, and in pensive guise,
908 Oft let me wander o'er the russet mead,
909 And thro' the sadden'd grove, where scarce is heard
910 One dying strain, to cheer the woodman's toil.
911 Haply some widow'd songster pours his plaint
912 Far, in saint warblings, thro' the tawny copse.
913 While congregated thrushes, linnets, larks,
914 And each wild throat, whose artless strains so late[Page 54]
915 Swell'd all the music of the swarming shades,
916 Robb'd of their tuneful souls, now shivering sit
917 On the dead tree, a dull, despondent flock!
918 With not a brightness waving o'er their plumes,
919 And nought save chattering discord in their note,
920 O let not, aim'd from some inhuman eye,
921 The gun the music of the coming year
922 Destroy; and harmless, unsuspecting harm,
923 Lay the weak tribes, a miserable prey!
924 In mingled murder, fluttering on the ground.
925 The pale, descending year, yet pleasing still,
926 A gentler mood inspires; for now the leaf
927 Incessant rustles from the mournful grove,
928 Oft starting such as, studious, walk below,
929 And slowly circles thro' the waving air.
930 But should a quicker breeze and the boughs
931 Sob, o'er the sky the leafy rain streams;
932 Till choak'd, and matted with the dreary shower,
933 The forest-walks, at every rising gale,[Page 55]
934 Roll wide the wither'd waste, and whistle bleak.
935 Fled is the blasted verdure of the fields;
936 And, shrunk into their beds, the flowery race
937 Their sunny robes resign. Even what remain'd
938 Of bolder fruits falls from the naked tree;
939 And woods, fields, gardens, orchards, all around
940 The desolated prospect thrills the soul.
941 He comes! he comes! in every breeze the Power
942 Of philosophic Melancholy comes!
943 His near approach the sudden-starting tear,
944 The glowing cheek, the mild dejected air,
945 The soften'd feature, and the beating heart,
946 Pierc'd deep with many a secret pang, declare.
947 O'er all his soul his sacred influence breathes;
948 In all the bosom triumphs, all the nerves;
949 Inflames imagination; thro' the sense
950 Infuses every tenderness; and far
951 Beyond dim earth exalts the swelling thought.
952 Ten thousand thousand fleet ideas, such[Page 56]
953 As never mingled with the Vulgar's dream,
954 Croud fast into the mind's creative eye.
955 As fast the correspondent passions rise,
956 As varied, and as high: devotion rais'd
957 To rapture, and divine astonishment.
958 The love of Nature unconfin'd, and chief
959 Of human kind; the large, ambitious wish,
960 To make them blest; the sigh for suffering worth,
961 Lost in obscurity; th' indignant scorn
962 Of mighty pride; the fearless, great resolve;
963 The wonder that the dying patriot draws,
964 Inspiring glory thro' remotest time;
965 Th' arousing pant for virtue, and for fame;
966 The sympathies of love, and friendship dear;
967 With all the social offspring of the heart.
968 Oh bear me then to vast, embowering shades!
969 To twilight groves, and visionary vales!
970 To weeping grottoes, and prophetic glooms!
971 Where angel-forms athwart the solemn dusk,[Page 57]
972 Tremendous sweep, or seem to sweep along;
973 And voices more than human, thro' the void
974 Deep-sounding, seize th' enthusiastic ear.
975 And now the western sun withdraws the day;
976 And humid evening, gilding o'er the sky,
977 In her chill progress, to the ground condens'd
978 Th' ascending vapour throws. Where waters ooze,
979 Where marshes stagnate, and where rivers wind,
980 Cluster the rolling fogs, and swim along
981 The dusky-mantled lawn. Mean-while the moon
982 Full-orb'd, and breaking thro' the scatter'd clouds,
983 Shews her broad visage in the crimson'd east.
984 Turn'd to the sun direct, her spotted disk,
985 (Where mountains rise, umbrageous dales descend,
986 And oceans roll, as optic tube descries)
987 A lesser earth gives all his blaze again,
988 Void of its flame, and sheds a softer day.
989 Now thro' the passing cloud she seems to stoop,
990 Now up the pure cerulean rides sublime. [Page 58]
991 Wide the pale deluge floats; and streaming mild
992 O'er the sky'd mountain to the shadowy vale,
993 While rocks, and floods reflect the quivering gleam,
994 The whole air whitens with a boundless tide
995 Of silver radiance, trembling round the world.
996 But when, half-blotted from the sky, her light,
997 Fainting, permits the starry fires to burn,
998 With keener lustre thro' the depth of heaven;
999 Or quite extinct, her deaden'd orb appears,
1000 And scarce appears, of sickly, beamless white:
1001 Oft in this season, silent from the north
1002 A blaze of meteors shoots, ensweeping first
1003 The lower skies, then all at once converge
1004 High to the crown of heaven, and all at once
1005 Relapsing quick, as quickly reascend,
1006 And mix, and thwart, extinguish, and renew,
1007 All ether coursing in a maze of light.
1008 From look to look, contagious thro' the crowd,
1009 The Pannic runs, and into wondrous shapes
1010 Th' appearance throws: armies in meet array,
1011 Throng with aerial spears, and steeds of fire;
1012 Till the long lines of full-extended war
1013 In bleeding fight commixt, the sanguine flood
1014 Rowls a broad slaughter o'er the plains of heaven.
1015 As thus they scan the visionary scene,
1016 On all sides swells the superstitious din,
1017 Incontinent; and busy frenzy talks
1018 Of blood and battle; cities over-turn'd,
1019 And, late at night, in swallowing earthquake sunk,
1020 Or painted hideous with ascending flame;
1021 Of sallow famine, inundation, storm;
1022 Of pestilence, and every great distress;
1023 Empires subvers'd, when ruling fate has struck
1024 Th' unalterable hour: even Nature's self
1025 Is deem'd to totter on the brink of time.
1026 Not so the man of philosophic eye,[Page 60]
1027 And inspect sage; the waving brightness he
1028 Curious surveys, inquisitive to know
1029 The causes, and materials, yet unfix'd,
1030 Of this appearance beautiful, and new.
1031 Now black, and deep, the night begins to fall,
1032 A solid shade, immense. Sunk in the gloom
1033 Magnificent, and vast, are heaven and earth.
1034 Order confounded lies; all beauty void;
1035 Distinction lost; and gay variety
1036 One universal blot: such the fair power
1037 Of Light, to kindle, and create the whole.
1038 Drear is the state of the benighted wretch,
1039 Who then, bewilder'd, wanders thro' the dark,
1040 Full of pale fancies, and chimeras huge;
1041 Nor visited by one directive ray,
1042 From cottage streaming, or from airy hall.
1043 Perhaps impatient as he stumbles on,
1044 Struck from the root of slimy ruses, blue,
1045 The wild-fire scatters round, or gathertd trails[Page 61]
1046 A length of flame deceitful o'er the moss;
1047 Whither decoy'd by the fantastic blaze,
1048 Now sunk and now renew'd, he's quite absorpt,
1049 Rider and horse into the miry gulph:
1050 While still, from day to day, his pining wife,
1051 And plaintive children his return await,
1052 In wild conjecture lost. At other times,
1053 Sent by the better Genius of the night,
1054 Innoxious, gleaming on the horse's mane,
1055 The meteor sits; and shews the narrow path,
1056 That winding leads thro' pits of death, or else
1057 Instructs him how to take the dangerous ford.
1058 The lengthen'd night elaps'd, the morning shines
1059 Serene, in all her dewy beauty bright,
1060 Unfolding fair the last Autumnal day.
1061 And now the mounting sun dispels the fog;
1062 The rigid hoar-frost melts before his beam,
1063 And hung on every spray, on every blade
1064 Of grass, the myriad dew-drops twinkle round.
1065 Ah see where robb'd, and murder'd, in that pit,
1066 Lies the still heaving hive; at evening snatch'd,
1067 Beneath the cloud of guilt-concealing night,
1068 And whelm'd o'er sulphur: while, undreaming ill,
1069 The happy people, in their waxen cells,
1070 Sat tending publick cares, and planning schemes
1071 Of temperance, for winter poor; rejoic'd
1072 To mark, full-flowing round, their copious stores,
1073 Sudden the dark, oppressive steam ascends:
1074 And, us'd to milder scents, the tender race,
1075 By thousands, tumble from their honey'd domes,
1076 Convolv'd, and agonizing in the dust.
1077 And was it then for this ye roam'd the spring,
1078 Intent from flower to flower? for this ye toil'd
1079 Ceaseless the burning summer-heats away?
1080 For this in Autumn search'd the blooming waste,
1081 Nor lost one sunny gleam? for this sad sate?
1082 O man! tyrannic lord! how long, how long,
1083 Shall prostrate nature groan beneath your rage,[Page 63]
1084 Awaiting renovation? When oblig'd,
1085 Must you destroy? Of their ambrosial food
1086 Can you not borrow? and in just return,
1087 Afford them shelter from the wintry winds;
1088 Or, as the sharp year pinches, with their own
1089 Again regale them on some smiling day?
1090 Hard by, the stony bottom of their town
1091 Looks desolate, and wild; with here and there
1092 A helpless number, who the ruin'd state
1093 Survive, lamenting weak, cast out to death.
1094 Thus a proud city, populous, and rich,
1095 Full of the works of peace, and high in joy,
1096 At theatre, or feast, or sunk in sleep,
1097 (As late, Palermo, was thy fate) is seiz'd
1098 By some dread earthquake, and convulsive hurld,
1099 Sheer from the black foundation, stench-involv'd,
1100 Into a gulph of blue, sulphureous flame.
1101 Hence every harsher sight! for now the day,
1102 O'er heaven and earth diffus'd, grows warm, and high,[Page 64]
1103 Infinite splendor! wide investing all.
1104 How still the breeze! save what the filmy threads
1105 Of dew evaporate brushes from the plain.
1106 How clear the cloudless sky! how deeply ting'd
1107 With a peculiar blue! th' ethereal arch
1108 How swell'd immense! amid whose azure thron'd
1109 The radiant sun how gay! how calm below
1110 The gilded earth! the harvest-treasures all
1111 Now gather'd in, beyond the rage of storms,
1112 Sure to the swain; the circling sence shut up;
1113 And instant Winter bid to do his worst.
1114 While loose to festive joy, the country round
1115 Laughs with the loud sincerity of mirth,
1116 Care shook away. The toil-invigorate youth,
1117 Not needing the melodious impulse much,
1118 Leaps wildly graceful, in the lively dance.
1119 Her every charm abroad, the village-toast,
1120 Young, buxom, warm, in native beauty rich,
1121 Darts not-unmeaning looks; and, where her eye
1122 Points an approving smile, with double force,[Page 65]
1123 The cudgel rattles, and the struggle twists.
1124 Age too shines out; and, garrulous, recounts
1125 The feats of youth. Thus they rejoyce; nor think
1126 That, with to-morrow's fun, their annual toil
1127 Begins again the never-ceasing round.
1128 Oh knew he but his happiness, of men
1129 The happiest he! who far from public rage,
1130 Deep in the vale, with a choice few retir'd,
1131 Drinks the pure pleasures of the rural life.
1132 What tho' the dome be wanting, whose proud gate
1133 Each morning vomits out the sneaking crowd
1134 Of flatterers false, and in their turn abus'd,
1135 Vile intercourse! What tho' the glittering robe,
1136 Of every hue reflected light can give,
1137 Or floating loose, or stiff with mazy gold,
1138 The pride, and gaze of fools! oppress him not.
1139 What tho' from utmost land, and sea, purvey'd,
1140 For him each rarer, tributary life
1141 Bleeds not, and his insatiate table heaps[Page 66]
1142 With luxury, and death. What tho' his wine
1143 Flows not from brighter gems; nor sunk in beds,
1144 Oft of gay care, he tosses out the night;
1145 Or, thoughtless, sleeps at best in idle state.
1146 What tho' depriv'd of these fantastic joys,
1147 That stiil amuse the wanton, still deceive;
1148 A face of pleasure, but a heart of pain;
1149 Their hollow moments undelighted all.
1150 Sure peace is his; a solid life, estrang'd
1151 To disappointment, and fallacious hope;
1152 Rich in content, in Nature's bounty rich,
1153 In herbs, and fruits; whatever greens the Spring,
1154 When heav'n descends in show'rs; or bends the bough,
1155 When Summer reddens, and when Autumn beams;
1156 Or in the Wintry glebe whatever lies
1157 Conceal'd, and fattens with the richest sap;
1158 These are not wanting; nor the milky drove,
1159 Luxuriant, spread o'er all the lowing vale;
1160 Nor bleating mountains; nor the chide of streams,
1161 And hum of bees, inviting sleep sincere[Page 67]
1162 Into the guiltless breast, beneath the shade,
1163 Or thrown at large amid the fragrant hay:
1164 Nor aught beside of prospect, grove, or song,
1165 Dim grottoes, gleaming lakes, and fountain clear.
1166 Here too lives simple truth; plain innocence;
1167 Unsully'd beauty; sound, unbroken youth,
1168 Patient of labour, with a little pleas'd;
1169 Health ever-blooming; unambitious toil;
1170 Calm contemplation, and poetic ease.
1171 Let others brave the flood, in quest of gain,
1172 And beat, for joyless months, the gloomy wave.
1173 Let such as deem it glory to destroy,
1174 Rush into blood; the sack of cities seek;
1175 Unpierc'd, exulting in the widow's wail,
1176 The virgin's shriek, and infant's trembling cry.
1177 Let some far-distant from their native soil,
1178 Urg'd, or by want, or harden'd avarice,
1179 Find other lands beneath another sun.
1180 Let This thro' cities work his ardent way,[Page 68]
1181 By legal outrage, and establish'd guile,
1182 The social sense extinct; and That ferment
1183 Mad into tumult the seditious herd,
1184 Or melt them down to slavery. Let These
1185 Insnare the wretched in the toils of law,
1186 Fomenting discord, and perplexing right,
1187 An iron race! and Those of fairer front,
1188 But equal inhumanity, in courts,
1189 And slippery pomp delight, in dark cabals;
1190 Wreathe the deep bow, diffuse the lying smile,
1191 And tread the weary labyrinth of state.
1192 While He, from all the stormy passions free,
1193 That restless men involve, hears, and but hears,
1194 At distance safe, the human tempest roar,
1195 Wrapt close in conscious peace. The fall of kings,
1196 The rage of nations, and the crush of states
1197 Move not the man, who, from the world escap'd,
1198 In still retreats, and flowery solitudes,
1199 To Nature's voice attends, from day to day,
1200 And month to month, thro' the revolving Year;[Page 69]
1201 Admiring, sees her in her every shape:
1202 Feels all her fine emotions at his heart;
1203 Takes what she liberal gives, nor thinks of more.
1204 He, when young Spring protrudes the bursting gems,
1205 Marks the first bud, and sucks the healthful gale
1206 Into his freshen'd soul; her genial hours
1207 He quite enjoys; and not a beauty blows,
1208 And not an opening blossom breathes in vain.
1209 In Summer he, beneath the living shade,
1210 Such as from frigid Tempe wont to fall,
1211 Or Haemus cool, reads what the muse, of these
1212 Perhaps, has in immortal numbers sung;
1213 Or what she dictates writes; and, oft an eye
1214 Shot round, rejoyces in the vigorous year.
1215 When Autumn's yellow lustre gilds the world,
1216 And tempts the sickled swain into the sield,
1217 Seiz'd by the general joy, his heart distends
1218 With gentle throws; and thro' the tepid gleams
1219 Deep-musing, then the best exerts his song.
1220 Even Winter wild to him is full of bliss. [Page 70]
1221 The mighty tempest, and the hoary waste,
1222 Abrupt, and deep, stretch'd o'er the bury'd earth,
1223 Awake to solemn thought. At night the skies,
1224 Disclos'd, and kindled, by refining frost,
1225 Pour every lustre on th' astonish'd eye.
1226 A friend, a book, the stealing hours secure,
1227 And mark them down for wisdom. With swift wing,
1228 O'er land, and sea, imagination roams;
1229 Or truth, divinely breaking on his mind,
1230 Elates his being, and unfolds his powers;
1231 Or in his breast heroic virtue burns.
1232 The touch of love, and kindred too he feels,
1233 The modest eye, whose beams on his alone
1234 Extatic shine; the little, strong embrace
1235 Of prattling children, twin'd around his neck,
1236 And emulous to please him, calling forth
1237 The fond parental soul. Nor purpose gay,
1238 Amusement, dance, or song, he sternly scorns;
1239 For happiness, and true philosophy
1240 Still are, and have been of the smiling kind. [Page 71]
1241 This is the life which those who fret in guilt,
1242 And guilty cities, never knew; the life,
1243 Led by primaeval ages, incorrupt,
1244 When God himself, and Angels dwelt with men!
1245 Oh Nature! all-sufficient! over all!
1246 Enrich me with the knowledge of thy works!
1247 Snatch me to heaven; thy rolling wonders there,
1248 World beyond world, in infinite extent,
1249 Profusely scatter'd o'er the void immense,
1250 Shew me; their motions, periods, and their laws,
1251 Give me to scan; thro' the disclosing deep
1252 Light my blind way: the mineral Strata there;
1253 Thrust, blooming, thence the vegetable world;
1254 O'er that rising system, more complex,
1255 Of animals; and higher still, the mind,
1256 The varied scene of quick-compounded thought,
1257 And where the mixing passions endless shift;
1258 These ever open to my ravish'd eye;
1259 A search, the flight of time can ne'er exhaust! [Page 72]
1260 But if to that unequal; if the blood,
1261 In sluggish streams about my heart, forbids
1262 That best ambition; under closing shades,
1263 Inglorious, lay me by the lowly brook,
1264 And whisper to my dreams. From Thee begin,
1265 Dwell all on Thee, with Thee conclude my song;
1266 And let me never, never stray from Thee!