Page images
PDF
EPUB

Reflections such as meliorate the heart,
Compose the passions, and exalt the mind;
Scenes such as these 'tis his supreme delight
To fill with riot, and defile with blood.
Should some contagion, kind to the poor brutes
We persecute, annihilate the tribes
That draw the sportsman over hill and dale,
Fearless and wrapt away from all his cares ;
Should never game.fowl hatch her eggs again,
Nor waited hook deceive the fish's eye ;
Could pageantry and dance, and seast and song,
Be quell'd in all our summer months' retreats;
How many self-deluded nymphs and swains,
Who dream they have a taste for fields and groves,
Would find them hideous nurs'ries of the spleen,
And crowd the roads, impatient for the town!
They love the country, and none else, who seek,
For their own sake, its silence and its shade.
Delights which who would leave that has a heart
Susceptible of pity, or a mind
Cultur'd and capable of sober thought
For all the savage din of the swift pack!
And clamours of the field ? -Detested sport,
That owes its pleasures to another's pain;
That feeds upon the sobs and dying shrieks
Of harmless nature, dumb, but yet endued
With eloquence, that agonies inspire,
Of silent tears and heart-distending sighs ?
Vain tears, alas, and sighs that never find
A corresponding tone in joyial souls !
Well-one at least is safe. One shelter'd hare
Ilas never heard the sanguinary yell
Of cruel man, exulting in her woes.
Innocent partner of my peaceful home,
Whom ten long years' experience of my care
as made at last familiar: she has lost

Much of her vigilant instinctive dread,
Not needful here, beneath a roof like inine.
Yes-thou mayst eat thy bread, and lick the hand
That feeds thee; thou mayst frolick on the floor
At ev'ning, and at night retire secure
To thy straw couch, and slumber unalarm’d ;
For I have gain'd thy confidence, have pledg'd
All that is human in me, to protect
Thine unsuspecting gratitude and love.
If I survive thee, I will dig, thy grave;
And, when I place thee in it, sighing say,
I knew at least one hare that had a friend.*

How various his employments, whom the world
Calls idle ; and who justly in return
Esteems that busy world an idler too !
Friends, books, a garden, and perhaps his pen,
Delightful industry enjoy'd at home,
And nature in her cultivated trim
Dress'd to his taste, inviting him abroad-
Can he want occupation who has these ?
Will he be idle who has much t' enjoy ?
Me therefore studious of laborious ease,
Not slothful, happy to deceive the time,
Not waste it, and aware that human life
Is but a loan to be repaid with use,
When He shall call his debtors to account,
From whom are all our blessings, business finds
E'en here: while sedulous I seek t improve,
At least neglect not, or leave unemploy'd,
The mind he gave me ; driving it, though slack
Too oft, and much impeded in its work
. By causes not be divulg'd in vain,
To its just point-the service of mankind.
lle that attends to his interiour self,

* See the note at the end.

That has a heart, and keeps it; has a mind
That hungers and supplies it; and who seeks
A social, not a dissipated life,
Has business; feels himself engag'd t' achieve ;
No unimportant, though a silent task.
A life all turbulence and noise may seem
To him that leads it wise, and to be prais'd ;
But wisdom is a pearl with most success
Sought in still water, and beneath clear skies.
He that is ever occupied in storms,
Or dives not for it, or brings up instead,
Vainly industrious, a disgraceful prize.

The morning finds the self-sequester'd man
Fresh for his task, intend what task he may.
Whether inclement seasons recommend
His warm but simple home, where he enjoys
With her who shares his pleasures and his heart,
Sweet converse, sipping calm the fragrant lymph,
Which neatly she prepares: then to his book
Well chosen, and not sullenly, perus'd
In selfish silence, but imparted, oft
As aught occurs that she may smile to hear,
Or turn to nourishment, digested well.
Or if the garden with its many cares,
All well repaid, demand him, he attends
The welcome call, conscious how much the hand
or lubbard Labour needs his watchful eye,
Oft loit'ring lazily, if not o'erseen,
Or misapplying his unskilful strength.
Nor does he govern only, or direct,
But much performs himself. No works indeed,
That ask robust, tough sinews bred to toil,
Servile employ; but such as may amuse,
Not tire, demanding rather skill than force.
Proud of his well-spread walls, he views bis trees,
That meet no barren interval between,

With pleasure more than e'en their fruits afford ;
Which, save himself who trains them, none can feel.
These therefore are his own peculiar charge ;
No meaner hand may discipline the shoots,
None but his steel approach them. What is weak,
Distemper’d, or has lost prolifick pow'rs,
Impair'd by age, his unrelenting hand
Dooms to the knife : nor does he spare the soft
And succulent, that feeds its giant growth,
But barren, at the expense of neigh’bring twigs
Less ostentatious, and yet studded

thick
With hopeful gems. The rest, no portion left
That may disgrace his art, or disappoint
Large expectation, he disposes neat
At measur'd distances, that air and sun,
Admitted freely may afford their aid,
And ventilate and warm the swelling buds.
Hence summer has her riches, Autumn hence,
And hence e'en Winter fills his wither'd hand
With blushing fruits, and plenty not his own.*
Fair recompense of labour well bestow'd,
And wise precaution ; which a clime so rude
Makes needful still, whose Spring is but the child
of churlish Winter, in her froward moods
Discov'ring much the temper of her sire.
For oft, as if in her the stream of mild
Maternal nature had revers'd its course,
She brings her infants forth with many smiles 3
But once deliver'd, kills them with a frown.
He therefore, timely warn’d, himself supplies
Her want of care, screening and keeping warm
The plenteous bloom, that no rough blast may sweep
His garlands from the boughs. Again, as oft
As the sun peeps, and vernal airs breathe mild,
* Miraturque novos fructus et non sua poma.-[VIRO

[ocr errors]

The fence withdrawn, he gives them ev'ry beant,
And spreads his hopes before the blaze of day.

To raise the prickly and green.coated gourd,
So grateful to the palate, and when rare
So coveted, else base and disesteem'd-
Food for the vulgar merely-is an art
That toiling ages have but just matur'd,
And at this moment unessay'd in song.
Yet gnats have had, and frogs and mice, long since,
Their eulogy ; those sang the Mantuan bard,
And these the Grecian, in ennobling strains ;
And in thy numbers, Philips, shines for aye
The solitary shilling. Pardon, then,
Ye sage dispensers of poetick fame,
T'h' ambition of one meaner far, whose pow'rs,
Presuming an attempt not less sublime,
Pant for the praise of dressing to the taste
Of critick appetite, no sordid fare,
A cucumber, while costly yet and scarce.

The stable yields a stercoraceous heap,
Impregnated with quick fermenting salts,
And potent to resist the freezing blast :
For ere the beech and elm have cast their leas
Deciduous, when now November dark
Checks vegetation in the torpid plant
Expos'd to his cold breath, the task begins.
Warily, therefore, and with prudent heed,
He seeks a favoui'd spot; that where he builds
Th' agglomerated pile his frame may front
The sun's meridian disk, and at the back
Enjoy close shelter, wall, or reeds, or hedge
Impervious to the wind. First he bids spread
Dry fern or litter'd hay, that may imbibe
Th’ ascending damps; then leisurely impose,
And lightly shaking it with agile hand
from the full fork, the saturated straw.

« PreviousContinue »