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Luxury gives the mind a childish cast,
And while she polishes, perverts the taste;
Habits of close attention, thinking heads,
Become more rare as dissipation spreads,
Till authors hear at length one general cry,
Tickle and entertain us, or we die.
The loud demand, from year to year the same,
Beggars invention and makes fancy lame,
Till farce itself, most mournfully jejune,
Calls for the kind assistance of a tune;
And novels (witness every month's review)
Belie their name, and offer nothing new.
The mind, relaxing into needful sport,
Should turn to writers of an abler sort,
Whose wit well managed, and whose classic style,
Give truth a lustre, and make wisdom smile.
Friends (for I cannot stint, as some have done,
Too rigid in my view, that name to one;
Though one, I grant it, in the generous breast
Will stand advanced a step above the rest :
Flowers by that name promiscuously we call,
rose, the regent of them all)---
Friends, not adopted with a school-boy's haste,
But chosen with a nice discerning taste,
Well-born, well-disciplined, who, placed apart
From vulgar minds, have bonour much at heart,
And, though the world may think th' ingredients odd,
The love of virtue, and the fear of God!
Such friends prevent what else would soon succeed,
A temper rustic as the life we lead,
And keep the polish of the manners clean,
As their's, who bustle in the busiest scene;
For solitude, however some may rave,
Seeming a sanctuary, proves a grave,
A sepulchre, in which the living lie,
Where all good qualities grow sick and die.
I praise the Frenchman*, his remark was shrewd---
How sweet, how passing sweet, is solitude!
But grant me still a friend in my retreat,
Whom I may whisper---solitude is sweet,
Yet neither these delights, nor aught beside,
That appetite can ask, or wealth provide,
Can save us always from a tedious day,
Or shine the dulness of still life away;
Divine communion, carefully enjoyed,
Or sought with energy, must fill the void.
Oh sacred art, to which alone life owes
Its happiest seasons, and a peaceful close,
Scorned in a world, indebted to that scorn
For evils daily felt and hardly borne,
Not knowing thee, we reap with bleeding hands
Flowers of rank odour upon thorny lands,
And, while experience cautions us in vain,
Grasp seeming happiness and find it pain.
Despondence, self-deserted in her grief,
Lost by abandoning her own relief,
Murmuring and ungrateful discontent,
That scorns afflictions mercifully meant,
Those humours tart as wine upon the fret,
Which idleness and weariness beget ;
These, and a thousand plagues, that haunt the breast,
Fond of the phantom of an earthly rest,
Divine communion chases, as the day
Drives to their dens th' obedient beasts of prey.
See Judah’s promised king, bereft of all,
Driven out an exile from the face of Saul,
To distant caves the lonely wanderer Aies,
To seek that peace a tyrant's frown denjes.
Hear the sweet accents of his tuneful voice,
Hear him, o’erwhelmed with sorrow, yet rejoice;
No womanish or wailing grief has part,
No, not a moment, in his royal heart;
'Tis manly music, such as martyrs make,
Suffering with gladness for a Saviour's sake;
His soul exults, hope animates his lays,
The sense of mercy kindles into praise,'
And wilds, familiar with a lion's roar,
Ring with ecstatic sounds unheard before;
'Tis love like his, that can alone defeat
The foes of man, or make a desart sweet.
Religion does not censure or exclude
Unnumbered pleasures harmlessly pursued ;
To study culture, and with artful toil
To meliorate and tame the stubborn soil ;
To give dissimilar yet fruitful lands
The grain or herb or plant that each demands;
To cherish virtue in an humble state,
And share the joys your bounty may create;
To mark the matchless workings of the power,
That shuts within its seed the future flower,
Bids these in elegance of form excel,
In colour these, and those delight the smell,
Sends nature forth the daughter of the skies,
To dance on earth and charm all human eyes ;
To teach the canvass innocent deceit,
Or lay the landscape on the snowy sheet---
These, these are arts pursued without a crime,
That leave no stain upon the wing of time.
My poetry (or rather notes that aim
Feebly and vainly at poetic fame)
Employs, shut out from more important views,
Fast by the banks of the slow-winding Ouse;
Content if thus sequestered I may raise
A monitor's, though not a poet's praise,
And while I teach an art too little known,
To close life wisely, may not waste my own.
TITHING-TIME AT STOCK, IN ESSEX, Verses addressed to a Country Clergyman complaining of
the Disagreeableness of the Day annually appointed fo
receiving the Dues at the Parsonage.
COME, ponder well, for 'tis no jest,
To laugh it would be wrong,
The troubles of a worthy priest
The burden of my song.
This priest he merry is and blithe
Three quarters of a year,
But oh! it cuts him like a scythe,
When tithing-time draws pear.
He then is full of fright and fears,
As one at point to die,
And long before the day appears
He heaves up many a sigh.
For then the farmers come jog, jog,
Along the miry road,
Each heart as heavy as a logs
To make their payments good.
In sooth, the sorrow of such days
Is not to be expressed,
When he that takes and he that pays
Are both alike distressed.
Now, all unwelcome, at his gates
The clumsy swains alight,
With rueful faces and bald pates---
He trembles at the sight.
And well he may, for well he knows
Each bumpkin of the clan, Instead of paying what he owes,
Will cheat him if he can.
So in they come---each makes his leg,
And Alings his head before, And looks as if he came to beg,
And not to quit a score.
• And how does miss and madam do,
• The little boy and all ?' • All tight and well. And how do you,
Good Mr. What-d'ye-call ?
The dinner comes, and down they sit :
Were e'er such hungry folk ? There's little talking, and no wit;
It is no time to joke.
One wipes his nose upon his sleeve,
One spits upon the floor,
Yet, not to give offence or grieve,
Holds up the cloth before.
The punch goes round, and they are dull
And lumpish still as ever;
Like barrels with their bellies full,
They only weigh the heavier.
At length the busy time begins,
Come, neighbours, we must wag---'
The money chinks, down drop their chins,
Each lugging out his bag.
One talks of mildew and of frost,
And one of storms of hail,
And one of pigs, that he has lost
By maggots at the tail.
Quoth one, 'A rarer man than you
' In pulpit none shall hear :
. But yet, methinks, to tell you true,
• You sell it plaguy dear.'
Oh, why are farmers made so coarse,
Or clergy made so fino!
A kick that scarce would move a horse,
May kill a sound divine.
Then let the boobies stay at home;
"Twould cost him, I dare say, Less trouble taking twice the sum,
Without the clowns that pay.
TO HENRY COWPER, ESQ. On his emphatical and interesting Delivery of the Defence
of Warren Hastings, Esq. in the House of Lords. COWPER, whose silver voice, tasked sometimes hard,
Legends prolix delivers in the ears
(Attentive when thou readest) of England's peers, Let verse at length yield thee thy just reward.