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The tythes, his parish freely paid, he took,
But never sued, or cursed with bell and book.
With patience bearing wrong, but off’ring none,
Since ev'ry man is free to lose his own,
The country-churls, according to their kind,
(Who grudge their dues, and love to be behind,)
The less he sought his off’rings, pinched the more,
And praised a priest contented to be poor.
Yet, of his little he had some to spare,
To feed the famished, and to clothe the bare;
For mortified he was to that degree,
A poorer than himself he would not see. .
True priests, he said, and preachers of the word,
Were only stewards of their sov'reign LOBD;
Nothing was their's, but all the public store :
Intrusted riches, to relieve the poor.
Who, should they steal for want of his relief,
He judged himself accomplice with the thief.
Wide was his parish; not contracted close
In streets, but here and there a straggling house;
Yet still he was at hand, without request,
To serve the sick, to succour the distressed :
Tempting on foot, alone, without affright,
The dangers of a dark tempestuous night.
All this the good old man performed alone,
Nor spared his pains ; for curate he had none.
Nor durst he trust another with his care;
Nor rode himself to Paul's, the public fair :
But duly watched his flock, by night and day,
And from the prowling wolf redeemed the prey,
And hungry sent the wily fox away.
The proud he tamed, the penitent he cheer’d,
Nor to rebuke the rich offender fear'd.
His preaching much, but more his practice, wrought;
(A living sermon of the truths he taught ;)
For this by rules severe his life he squar'd,
That all might see the doctrine which they heard.
For priests, he said, are patterns for the rest,
The gold of heaven, who bear the God imprest;
But when the precious coin is kept unclean,
The Sov'reign's image is no longer seen,
If they be foul, on whom the people trust,
may the baser brass contract a rust.
FAR in a wild, unknown to public view,
From youth to age a rev'rend Hermit grew;
The moşs his bed, the cave his humble cell,
His food the fruits, his drink the crystal well :
Remote from man, with God he pass’d his days,
Pray’r all his bus’ness, all his pleasure praise.
A life so sacred, such serene repose,
Seem'd heav'n itself, 'till one suggestion rose;
That Vice should triumph, Virtue Vice obey,
This sprung some doubt of Providence's sway:
His hopes no more a certain prospect boast,
And all the tenour of his soul is lost:
So when a smooth expanse receives imprest
Calm nature's image on its watery breast,
Down bend the banks, the trees depending grow,
And skies beneath with answ'ring colours glow;
But if a stone the gentle sea divide,
Swift ruffling circles curl on every side,
And glimm'ring fragments of a broken sun,
Banks, trees, and skies in thick disorder run.
To clear this doubt, to know the world by sight,
To find if books, or swains, report it right;
(For yet by swains alone the world he knew,
Whose feet came wand'ring o'er the nightly dew)
He quits his cell; the pilgrim staff he bore,
And fix'd the scallop in his hat before ;
Then with the sun a rising journey went,
Sedate to think, and watching each event.
The morn was wasted in the pathless grass,
And long and lonesome was the wild to pass ;
But when the southern sun had warm’d the day,
A youth came posting o’er a crossing way;
His raiment decent, his complexion fair,
And soft in graceful ringlets wav'd his hair,
Then near approaching, “ Father, hail !” he cried;
And,“ Hail, my son!” the reverend sire replied ;
Words follow'd words, from question answer flow'd,
And talk of various kind deceiv'd the road :
'Till each with other pleas'd, and loth to part,
While in their age they differ, join in heart ;
Thus stands an aged elm in ivy bound,
Thus youthful ivy clasps an elm around.
Now sunk the sun; the closing hour of day
Came onward, mantled o'er with sober grey ;
Nature-in silence bid the world repose :
When near the road a stately palace rose :
There by the moon through ranks of trees they
pass Whose verdure crown'd their sloping sides of
grass. It chanced the noble master of the dome Still made his house the wand'ring stranger's
home : Yet still the kindness, from a thirst of praise, Proved the vain flourish of expensive ease. The pair arrive; the liv'ried servants wait; Their lord receives them at the pompous gate. The table groans with costly pises of food, And all is more than hospitably good. Then led to rest, the day's long toil they drown, Deep sunk in sleep, and silk, and heaps of down. At length 'tis morn, and at the dawn of day, Along the wide canals the zephyrs play ;
Fresh o'er the gay parterres the breezes creep,
And shake the neighb'ring wood to banish sleep.
Up rise the guests, obedient to the call ;
An early banquet decked the splendid hall:
Rich luscious wine a golden goblet graced,
Which the kind master forced the guests to taste.
Then pleased and thankful, from the porch they
And, but the landlord, none had cause of woe:
His cup was vanished; for in secret guise
The younger guest purloined the glitt'ring prize.
As one who spies a serpent in his way,
Glist’ning and basking in the summer ray,
Disordered stops to shụn the danger near,
Then walks with faintness-on, and looks with fear:
So seemed the sire; when, far upon the road,
The shining spoil his wily partner showed.
He stopped with silence, walked with trembling
And much he wished, but durst not ask to part:
Murm’ring he lifts his eyes, and thinks it hard,
That gen'rous actions meet a base reward.
While thus they pass, the sun his glory shrouds,
The changing skies hang out their sable clouds;
A sound in air presagd approaching rain,
And beasts to covert scud across the plain.
Warn’d by the signs, the wand'ring pair retreat
To seek for shelter at a neighb’ring seat.
'Twas built with turrets, on a rising ground,
And strong, and large, and unimprov'd around;
Its owner's temper, tim'rous and severe,
Unkind and griping, caus'd a desert there.
As near the miser's heavy doors they drew.
Fierce rising gusts with sudden fury blew ;
. The nimble lightning, mix'd with show'rs, began,
And o'er their heads loud-rolling thunder ran.
Here long they knock, but knock or call in vain,
Driv'n by the wind, and batter'd by the rain.
At length some pity warm'd the master's breast,
('Twas then his threshold first receiy'd a guest,)...
Slow creaking turns the door with jealous care,
And half he welcomes in the shiv'ring pair;
One frugal faggot lights the naked walls,
And Nature's fervour through their limbs recalls;
Bread of the coarsest sort, with
wine, (Each hardly granted) serv'd them both to dine ; And when the tempest first appear'd to cease, A ready warning bid them part in peace. With still remark the pond'ring hermit view'd In one so rich, a life so poor and rude ; And why should such (within himself he cried,) Lock the lost wealth a thousand want beside ? But what new marks of wonder soon took place, In every settling feature of his face, When from his vest the young companion bore That cup, the gen'rous landlord own'd before, And paid profusely with the precious bowl The stinted kindness of this churlish soul ! But now the clouds in airy tumult fly, The sun emerging opes an azure sky; A fresher green the smelling leaves display, And glitt'ring as they tremble, cheer the day: The weather courts them from the
poor retreat, And the glad, master bolts the wary gate. While hence they walk, the pilgrim's bosom
wrought With all the travel of uncertain thought; His partner's acts without their cause appear, 'Twas there a vice, and seem'd a madness here; Detesting that and pitying this, he goes, Lost and confounded with the various shows.
Now night's dim shades again involve the sky,
Again the wand'rers want a place to lie i
Again they search, and find a lodging nigh.