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Would spare, that loves them, offices like these?)
Well they reward the toil. The sight is pleas',
The scent regal'd, each odorif'rous leaf,
Each op’ning blossom, freely breathes abroad
Its gratitude, and thanks him with its sweets.
So manifold, all pleasing in their kind,
All healthful, are th' employs of rural life,
Reiterated as the wheel of time
Runs round; still ending, and beginning still.
Nor are these all. To deck the shapely knoll,
That softly swell'd and gaily dress’d appears
A flow’ry island, from the dark green lawn
Emerging, must be deem'd a labour due
To no mean hand, and asks the touch of taste.
Here also grateful mixture of well-match'd
And sorted hues (each giving each relief,
And by contrasted beauty shining more)
Is needful. Strength may wield the pondrous
spade, May turn the clod, and wheel the compost homë; But elegance, chief grace the garden shows, And most attractive, is the fair result Of thought, the creature of a polish'd mind. Without it all is gothick as the scene, To which th' insipid citizen resorts Near yonder heath ; where Industry mispent, But proud of his uncouth ill-chosen task, Has made a heav'n on earth ; with suns and moons Of close ramm'd stones has charg'd th’encumber'd
soil, And fairly laid the zodiack in the dust. He, therefore, who would see his flow'r's dispos’d
Sightly and in just order, ere he gives
The beds the trusted treasure of their seeds,
Forecasts the future whole ; that when the scene
Shall break into its preconceiv'd display,
Each for itself, and all as with one voice
Conspiring, may attest his bright design.
Nor even then, dismissing as perform'd
His pleasant work, may he suppose it done.
Few self-supported flow’rs endure the wind
Uninjur'd, but expect th' upholding aid
Of the smooth-shaven prop, and, neatly tied,
Are wedded thus, like beauty to old age,
For int’rest sake, the living to the dead.
Some clothe the soil that feeds them, far diffus’d
And lowly creeping, modest and yet fair,
Like virtue, thriving most where little seen :
Some more aspiring catch the neighbour shrub
With clasping tendrils, and invest his branch,
Else unadorn’d, with many a gay festoon
And fragrant chaplet, recompensing well
The strength they borrow with the grace they lend.
All bate the rank society of weeds,
Noisome, and ever greedy to exhaust
Th' impoverish'd earth ; an overbearing race,
That, like the multitude made faction-mad,
Disturb good order, and degrade true worth.
O blest seclusion from a jarring world,
Which he, thus occupied, enjoys! Retreat
Cannot indeed to guilty man restore
Lost innocence, or cancel follies past;
But it has peace, and much secures the mind
From all assaults of evil ; proving still,
A faithful barrier, not o'erleap'd with ease
By vicious Custom, raging uncontrollid
Abroad, and desolating publick life.
When fierce Temptation, seconded within
By traitor Appetite, and arm’d with darts
Temper'd in hell, invades the throbbing breast,
To combat may be glorious, and success
Perhaps may crown us; but to fly is safe.
Had I the choice of sublunary good,
What could I wish, that I possess not here?
Health, leisure, means t’improve it, friendship
No loose or wanton, though a wand'ring, muse,
And constant occupation without care.
Thus blest I draw a picture of that bliss ;
Hopeless, indeed, that dissipated minds,
And profligate abusers of a world
Created fair so much in vain for them,
Should seek the guiltless joys, that I describe,
Allur'd by my report: but sure no less
That self-condemn’d they must neglect the prize,
And what they will not taste must yet approve.
What we admire we praise ; and, when we praise,
Advance it into notice, that, its worth
Acknowledg’d, others may admire it too.
I therefore recommend, though at the risk
Of popular disgust, yet boldly still,
The cause of piety, and sacred truth,
And virtue, and those scenes, which God ordain'd
Should best secure them, and promote them most
Scenes that I love, and with regret perceive
Forsaken, or through folly not enjoy'd.
Pure is the nymph, though lib’ral of her smiles
And chaste, though unconfin’d, whom I extol
Not as the prince in Shushan, when he call’d,
Vain glorious of her charms, his Vashti forth,
To grace the full pavilion. His design
Was but to boast his own peculiar good,
Which all might view with envy, none partake
My charmer is not mine alone; my sweets,
And she that sweetens all my bitters too,
Nature, enchanting Nature, in whose form
And lineaments divine I trace a hand,
That errs not, and find raptures still renewd,
Is free to all men—universal prize.
Strange that so fare a creature should yet want
Admirers, and be destin'd to divide
With meanor objects e’en the few she finds;
Stripp'd of her ornaments, her leaves and flow'řs,
She loses all her influence. Cities then
Attract us, and neglected Nature pines
Abandon'd, as unworthy of our love.
But are not wholesome airs, though unperfum’d
By roses; and clear suns, though scarcely felt;
And groves, if unharmonious, yet secure
From clamour, and whose very silence charms;
To be prefer'd to smoke, to the eclipse,
That metropolitan volcanoes make,
Whose Stygian throats breathe darkness all day long?
And to the stir of Commerce, driving slow,
And thund'ring loud, with his ten thousand wheels;
They would be, were not madness in the head,
And folly in the heart ; were England now,
What England was, plain, hospitable, kind,
And undebauch’d. But we have bid farewell
To all the virtues of those better days,
And all their honest pleasures. Mansions once
Knew their own masters; and laborious hinds,
Who had surviv'd the father, serv'd the son.
Now the legitimate and rightful lord
Is but a transient guest, newly arriv'd,
As soon to be supplanted. He, that saw
His patrimonial timber cast its lealf,
Sells the last scantling, and transfers the price
To some shrewd sharper, ere it buds again,
Estates are landscapes, gaz'd upon a while,
Then advertis'd, and auctioneer'd away.
The country starves, and they, that feed th' o'er-
And surfeited lewd town with her fair dues,
By a just judgment strip and starve themselves.
The wings, that waft our riches out of sight,
Grow on the gamester's elbows ; and th' alert
And nimble motion of those restless joints,
That never tire, soon fans them all away.
Improvement too, the idol of the age,
Is fed with many a vietim. Lo, he comes !
Th'omnipotent magician, Brown, appears!
Down falls the venerable pile, th' abode
Of our forefathers-a grave whisker'd race,
But tasteless. Springs a palace in its stead,
But in a distant spot; where more expos’d
It may enjoy th' advantage of the north,
And aguish east, till time shall have transformid
Those naked acres to a shelt'ring grove.
He speaks. The lake in front becomes a lawn ;