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To peep at such a world; to see the stir
Of the great Babel, and not feel the crowd;
To hear the roar she sends tbrough all her gates
At a safe distance, where the dying sound
Falls a soft murmur on th' uninjur'd ear.
Thus sitting, and surveying thus at ease
The globe and its concerns, I seem advanc'd
To some secure and more than mortal height,
That liberates and exempts me from them all.
It turns submitted to my view, turns round .
With all its generations; I behold
The tumult, and am still. The sound of war 100
Has lost its terrours ere it reaches me;
Grieves, but alarms me not. I mourn the pride
And av’rice that make man a wolf to man;
Hear the faint echo of those brazen throats,
By which he speaks the language of his heart, 105
And sigh, but never tremble at the sound.
He travels and expatiates, as the bee
From flow'r to flow'r, so he from land to land;
The manners, customs, policy, of all
Pay contribution to the store he gleans;
He sucks intelligence in ev'ry clime,
And spreads the honey of his deep research
At his return-a rich repast for me.
He travels, and I too. I tread his deck,
Ascend his topmast through his peering eyes 115
Discover countries, with a kindred heart
Suffer his woes, and share in his escapes;
While fancy, like the finger of a clock,
Runs the great circuit, and is still at home.
O Winter, ruler of th' inverted year,
Thy scatter'd hair with sleet like ashes fill’d, :
Thy breath congeal’d upon thy lips, thy cheeks
Fring'd with a beard made white with other snows
Than those of age, thy forehead wrapt in clouds,
A leafless branch thy sceptre, and thy throne 125
A sliding car, indebted to no wheels,
But urg'd by storms along its slipp'ry way,
I love thee, all unlovely as thou seem'st,
And dreaded as thou art! Thou hold'st the sun
A pris’ner in the yet undawning east,
Short'ning his journey between morn and noon,
And hurrying him, impatient of his stay,
Down to the rosy west: but kindly still
Compensating his loss with added hours
Of social converse and instructive ease,
And gath'ring, at short notice in one group
The family dispers’d, and fixing thought,
Not less dispers’d by daylight and its cares.
I crown thee king of intimate delights
Fireside enjoyments, homeborn happiness,
And all the comforts that the lowly roof
Of undisturb’d Retirement, and the hours
Of long, uninterrupted ev’ning know.
No rattling wheels stop short before these gates;
No powder'd pert proficient in the art.
Of sounding an alarm, assaults these doors
Till the street rings; no stationary steeds
Cough their own knell, while, heedless of the sound,
The silent circle fan themselves, and quake;
But here the needle plies its busy task,
The pattern grows, the well-depicted flow'r,
Wrought patiently into the snowy lawn,
Unfolds its bosom; buds, and leaves, and sprigs,
And curling tendrils, gracefully dispos’d,
Follow the nimble finger of the fair;
155 A wreath, that cannot fade, or flow’rs that blow With most success when all besides decay. The poet's or historian's page by one Made vocal for the amusement of the rest:
159 The sprightly lyre, whose treasure of sweet sounds The touch from many a trembling chord shakes out; And the clear voice symphonious, yet distinct, And in the charming strife triumphant still, Beguile the night, and set a keener edge
On female industry: the threaded steel
Flies swiftly, and unfelt the task proceeds.
The volume closed, the customary rites
Of the last meal commence. A Roman meal:
Such as the mistress of the world once found
Delicious, when her patriots of high note,
Perhaps by moonlight, at their humble doors,
And under an old oak’s domestick shade,
Enjoy'd, spare feast! a radish and an egg.
Discourse ensues, not trivial, yet not dull,
Nor such as with a frown forbids the play
Of fancy, or proscribes the sound of mirth: .
Nor do we madly, like an impious World,
Who deem religion frenzy, and the God
That made them an intruder on their joys,
Start at his awful name, or deem his praise
A jarring note. Themes of a graver tone
Exciting oft our gratitude and love,
While we retrace with Mem’ry's pointing wand,
That calls the past to our exact review,
The dangers we have 'scaped, the broken snare,
The disappointed foe, deliv'rance found
Unlook'd for, life presery'd, and peace restord-
Fruits of omnipotent eternal love.
O ev’nings worthy of the gods! exclaim'd
The Sabine bard. O ev’nings, I reply,
More to be priz'd and coveted than yours,
As more illumin’d, and with nobler truths,
That I, and mine, and those we love, enjoy.
Is winter hideous in a garb like this?
Needs he the tragick fur, the smoke of lamps,
The pent-up breath of an unsav'ry throng,
To thaw him into feeling, or the smart
And snappish dialogue, that flippant wits
Call comedy, to prompt him with a smile?
The self-complacent actor, when he views
(Stealing a sidelong glance at a full house)
The slope of faces, from the floor to th' roof
(As if one master spring controll’d them all,)..
Relax'd into a universal grin,
Sees not a count'nance there, that speaks of joy 205
Half so refin'd or so sincere as ours.
Cards were superfluous here, with all the tricks
That idleness has ever yet contriv'd
To fill the void of an unfurnish'd brain,
To palliate dulness, and give time a shove.
Time, as he passes us, has a dove's wing,
Unsoil'd, and swift, and of a silken sound;
But the world's Time is Time in Masquerade!
Theirs, should I paint him, has his pinions fledg'd, .
With motley plumes; and where the peacock shows
His azure eyes, is tinctur'd black and red ,
With spots quadrangular of diamond form,
Ensanguin'd hearts, clubs typical of strife,
And spades, the emblem of untimely graves.
What should be, and what was an hourglass once, 220
Becomes a dicebox, and a billiard mace
Well does the work of his destructive sithe.
Thus deck'd, he charms a World whom Fashion blinds
To his true worth, most pleas'd when idle most:
Whose only happy, are their idle hours.
E’en misses, at whose age their mothers wore
The backstring and the bib, assume the dress
Of womanhood, sit pupils in the school
Of card devoted Time, and, night by night,
Plac'd at some vacant corner of the board,
Learn ev'ry trick, and soon play all the game.
But truce with censure. Roving as I rove,
Where shall I find an end, or how proceed?
As he that travels far oft turns aside,
To view some rugged rock or mould'ring tow'r, 235
Which seen, delights him not; then coming home,
Describes and prints it, that the world may know
How far he went for what was nothing worth:
So I, with brush in hand and pallet spread,
With colours mix'd for a far diff'rent use,
Paint cards, and dolls, and ev'ry idle thing,
That Fancy finds in her excursive flights.
Come Ev’ning, once again, season of peace,
Return, sweet Ev’ning, and continue long!
Methinks I see thee in the streaky west,
245 With matron step slow-moving, while the Night . Treads on thy sweeping train; one hand employ'd In letting fall the curtain of repose On bird and beast, the other charg‘d for man With sweet oblivion of the cares of day: Not sumptuously adorn’d, nor needing aid, Like homely-featur'd Night, of clust'ring gems; A star or two, just twinkling on thy brow, Suffices thee; save that the moon is thine No less than hers, not worn indeed on high
255 With ostentatious pageantry, but set With modest grandeur in thy purple zone, . ' Resplendent less, but of an ampler round. Come then, and thou shalt find thy votary calm, Or make me so. Composure is thy gift; And, whether I devote thy gentle hours To books, to musick, or the poet's toil; To weaving nets for bird-alluring fruit; Or twining silken threads round ivory reels, When they command whom man was born to please; I slight thee not, but make thee welcome still. 266
Just when our drawing-rooms begin to blaze With lights, by clear reflection multiplied From many a mirror, in which he of Gath, Goliath, might have seen his giant bulk
270 Whole without stooping, tow’ring crest and all, My pleasures, too, begin. But me perhaps The glowing hearth may satisfy awhile With faint illumination, that uplifts The shadows to the ceiling, there by fits
275 Dancing uncouthly to the quiv’ring flame, Not undelightful is an hour to me So spent in parlour twilight: such a gloom