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'Than please the eye-sweet Nature's ev'ry sense.
The air salubrious of her lofty hills,
The cheering fragrance of her dewy vales,
And musick of her woods—no works of man 430
May rival these, these all bespeak a pow'r
Peculiar, and exclusively her own.
Beneath the open sky she spreads the feast;
"Tis free to all—'tis ev'ry day renew'd;
Who scorns it starves deservedly at home.
He does not scorn it, who, imprison'd long
In some unwholesome dungeon, and a prey
To sallow sickness, which the vapours, dank
And clammy, of his dark abode have bred,
Escapes at last to liberty and light:
His cheek recovers soon its healthful hue;
His eye relumines its extinguish'd fires;
He walks, he leaps, he runs-is wing’d with joy, /
And riots in the sweets of ev'ry breeze.
He does not scorn it, who has long endur'd
(A fever's agonies, and fed on drugs. )
Nor yet the mariner, his blood inflam'd
With acrid salts; his very heart athirst,
To gaze at Nature in her green array,
Upon the ship’s tall side he stands, possess’d 450
With visions prompted by intense desire; .
Fair fields appear below, such as he left
Far distant, such as he would die to find
He seeks them headlong, and is seen no more.
The spleen is seldom felt where Flora reigns; 455 The low’ring eye, the petulance, the frown, And sullen sadness, that o'ershade, distort, And mar, the face of Beauty, when no cause For such immeasurable wo appears, These Flora banishes, and gives the fair
460 Sweet smiles, and bloom less transient than her own. It is the constant revolution, stale And tasteless, of the same repeated joys, That palls and satiates, and makes lanquid life
A peddar's pack, that bows the bearer down.
Health suffers, and the spirits ebb, the heart
Recoils from its own choice--at the full feast
Is famish’d--finds no musick in the song,
No smartness in the jest; and wonders why.
Yet thousands still desire to journey on,
Though halt, and weary of the path they tread.
The paralytick, who can hold her cards,
But cannot play them, borrows a friend's hand,
To deal and shufile, to divide and sort
Her mingled suits and sequences; and sits,
Spectatress both and spectacle, a sad
And silent cipher, while her proxy plays.
Others are dragg'd into a crowded room
Between supporters; and, once seated, sit,
Through downright inability to rise,
Till the stout bearers lift the corpse again.
These speak a loud memento. Yet e’en these
Themselves love life, and cling to it, as he
That overhangs a torrent, to a twig.
They love it, yet loathe it; fear to die, . :. 485
Yet scorn the purposes for which they live.
Then wherefore not renounce them? No—the dread,
The slavish dread of solitude, that breeds
Reflection and remorse, the fear of shame,
And their invetrate habits, all forbid.
Whom call we gay? That honour has been long The boast of mere pretenders to the name. The innocent are gay-the lark is gay, That dries his feathers, saturate with dew, Beneath the rosy cloud, while yet the beams 495 Of day spring overshoot his humble nest. The peasant too, a witness of his song, Himself a songster, is as gay as he.
But save me from the gayety of those, Whose headachs nail them to a noonday bed; 500 And save me too from theirs, whose haggard eyes Flash desperation, and betray their pangs
For property stripp'd off by cruel chance;
From gayety, that fills the bones with pain,
The mouth with blasphemy, the heart with wo. 505
The earth was made so various, that the mind
Of desultory man, studious of change,
And pleas'd with novelty, might be indulg'd.
Prospects, however lovely, may be seen
Till half their beauties fade: the weary sight 510
Too well acquainted with their smiles, slides off,
Fastidious, seeking less familiar scenes.
Then snug enclosures in the shelter'd vale,
Where frequent hedges intercept the eye,
Delight us; happy to renounce awhile, . : 515 -
Not senseless of its charms, what still we love,
That such short absence may endear it more.
Then forests, or the savage rock, may please,
That hides the sea-mew in his hollow clefts
Above the reach of man. His hoary head,
520 Conspicuous many a league, the mariner Bound homeward, and in hope already there, Greets with three cheers.exulting. At his waist A girdle of half-wither'd shrubs he shows, And at his feet the baffled billows die.
525 The common, overgrown with fern, and rough With prickly gorse, that, shapeless and deform’d, And dang’rous to the touch, has yet its bloom, And decks itself with ornaments of gold, Yields no unpleasing ramble; there the turf Smells fresh, and, rich in odorif'rous herbs And fungous fruits of earth, regales the sense With luxury of unexpected sweets.
There often wanders one, whom better days Saw better clad, in cloak of satin trimm'd
535 • With lace, and hat with splendid riband bound,
A serving maid was she, and fell in love
With one who left her, went to sea, and died.
Her fancy follow'd him through foaming waves
To distant shores; and she would sit and weep 540
At what a sailor suffers; fancy too,
Delusive most where warmest wishes are,
Would oft anticipate his glad return,
And dream of transports she was not to know.
She heard the doleful tidings of his death-
And never smil'd again! and now she roams
The dreary waste; there spends the livelong day,
And there, unless when charity forbids,
The livelong night. A tatter'd apron hides,
Worn as a cloak, and hardly hides, a gown
More tatter'd still; and both but ill conceal
A bosom heav'd with never-ceasing sighs.
She begs an idle pin of all she meets,
And hoards them in her sleeve; but needful food,
Though press’d with hunger oft, or comlier clothes, 555
Though pinch'd with cold, asks never.-Kate is craz’d.
I see a column of slow rising smoke
O’ertop the lofty wood, that skirts the wild.
A vagabond and useless tribe there eat
Their miserable meal. A kettle, slung
Between two poles upon a stick tranverse,
Receives the morsel-flesh obscene of dog,
Or vermin, or at best of cock purloin'd
From his accustom'd perch. Hard faring race!
They pick their fuel out of ev'ry hedge,
Which, kindled with dry leaves, just saves unquench'd
The spark of life. The sportive wind blows wide
Their flutt'ring rags, and shows a tawny skin,
The vellum of the pedigree they claim.
Great skill have they in palmistry, and more 570
To conjure clean away the gold they touch,
Conveying worthless dross into its place;
Loud when they beg, dumb only when they steal.
Strange! that a creature rational, and cast
In human mould, should brutalize by choice • 575
His nature; and, though capable of arts,
By which the world might profit, and himself
Self-banish'd from society, prefer
Such squalid sloth to honourable toil!
Yet even these, though feigning sickness oft 580
They swathe the forehead, drag the limping limb,
And vex their flesh with artificial sores,
Can change their whine into a mirthful note,
When safe occasion offers; and with dance,
And musick of the bladder and the bag,
Beguile their woes, and make the woods resound.
Such health and gayety of heart enjoy
The houseless rovers of the sylvan world;
And, breathing wholesome air, and wand'ring much,
Need other physick none to heal th' effects 590
Of loathsome diet, penury, and cold.
Blest he, though undistinguish'd from the crowd
By wealth or dignity, who dwells secure,
Where man by nature fierce, has laid aside
His fierceness, having learnt, though slow to learn, 595
The manners and the arts of civil life. .
His wants indeed are many; but supply
Is obvious, plac'd within the easy reach
Of temp’rate wishes and industrious hands.
Here virtue thrives as in her proper soil;
Not rude and surly, and beset with thorns,
And terrible to sight, as when she springs,
(If e’er she spring spontaneous) in remote
And barb’rous climes, where violence prevails,
And strength is lord of all; but gentle, kind,
By culture tam’d, by liberty refresh’d,
And all her fruits by radiant truth matur’d.
War and the chase engross the savage whole;
War follow'd for revenge or to supplant
The envied tenants of some happier spot:
The chase for sustenance, precarious trust!
His hard condition with severe constraint
Binds all his faculties, forbids all growth
Of wisdom, proves a school, in which he learns
Sly circumvention, unrelenting hate,
615 Mean self-attachment, and scarce aught beside.