« PreviousContinue »
No busy steps the grass-grown footway tread,
smiled, And still where many a garden flower grows wild ; There, where a few torn shrubs the place dis
close, The village preacher's modest mansion rose. A man he was, to all the country dear, And passing rich with forty pounds a year, Remote from towns he ran his godly race, Nor e'er had changed, nor wished to change, his
place; Unskilful he to fawn, or seek for power By doctrines fashioned to the varying hour; : Far other aims his heart had learnt to prize, More bent to raise the wretched than to rise. His house was known to all the vagrant train, He chid their wanderings, but relieved their pain;
The long-remembered beggar was his guest, Whose beard descending swept his aged breast; The ruined spendthrift, now no longer proud,
Claimed kindred there, and had his claims
allowed ; The broken soldier, kindly bid to stay, Sat by his fire, and talked the night away ; Wept o'er his wounds, or, tales of sorrow done, Shouldered his crutch, and showed how fields
were won. Pleased with his guests, the good man learned
Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,
all. And, as a bird each fond endearment tries, To tempt its new-fledged offspring to the skies; He tried each art, reproved each dull delay, Allured to brighter worlds, and led the way.
Beside the bed where parting life was laid, And sorrow, guilt, and pains, by turns dismayed, The reverend champion stood. At his control, Despair and anguish fled the struggling soul ; Comfort came down the trembling wretch to
raise, And his last faltering accents whispered praise.
At church with meek and unaffected grace, His looks adorned the venerable place;
Truth from his lips prevailed with double sway,
smile. His ready smile a parents warmth expressed ; Their welfare pleased him, and their cares
distressed; To them his heart, his love, his griefs, were given, But all his serious thoughts had rest in heaven : As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form, Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the
storm, Though round its breast the rolling clouds are
spread, Eternal sunshine settles on its head. Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the
way, With blossomed furze unprofitably gay, There, in his noisy mansion skilled to rule, The village master taught his little school ; A man severe he was, and stern to view, I knew him well, and every truant knew. Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace The day's disasters in his morning face : Full well they laughed with counterfeited glee, At all his jokes, for many a joke had he : Full well the busy whisper, circling round,
Conveyed the dismal tidings when he frowned ;
still ; While words of learned length, and thundering
sound, Amazed the gazing rustics ranged around, And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew, That one small head should carry all he knew. But past is all his fame. The very spot Where many a time he triumphed, is forgot.
Near yonder thorn, that lifts its head so high, Where once the sign-post caught the passing
eye, Low lies that house where nut-brown draughts
inspired, Where grey-beard mirth, and smiling toil, retired ; Where village statesmen talked with looks pro
found, And news, much older than their ale went round. Imagination fondly stoops to trace, The parlour-splendours of that festive place; The white-washed wall, the nicely sanded floor,
The varnished clock that clicked behind the
door ; The chest, contrived a double debt to pay, A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day; The pictures, placed for ornament and use, The twelve good rules, the royal game of
goose ; The hearth, except when winter chilled the day, With aspen boughs, and flowers, and fennel gay, While broken tea-cups, wisely kept for show, Ranged o'er the chimney, glistened in a row.
Good Heaven ! what sorrows gloomed that
parting day, That called them froni their native walks away ; When the poor exiles, every pleasure past, Hung round the bowers, and fondly looked their
last, And took a long farewell, and wished in vain, For seats like these beyond the western main ; And shuddering still to face the distant deep, Returned and wept, and still returned to weep ! The good old sire, the first prepared to go, To new found worlds, and wept for others' woe; But for himself, in conscious virtue brave, He only wished for worlds beyond the grave. His lovely daughter, lovelier in her tears, The fond companion of his helpless years, Silent went next, neglectful of her charms, And left a lover's for a father's arms.