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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 enjoy'd,
Or sought with energy, must fill the void.
O, sacred art! to which alone life owes
Its happiest seasons, and a peaceful close.
Scorn'd 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 wines upon the fret,
Which idleness and weariness beget;
These, and a thousand plagues that haunt the
Fond of the phantom of an earthly rest,
Divine communion chases, as the day
Drives to their dens the 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 flies,
To seek that peace a tyrant's frown denies.
Hear the sweet accents of his tuneful voice,
Hear him o'erwhelm'd 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 desert sweet. ·
Religion does not censure or exclude
Unnumber'd 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.
Me 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 sequester'd 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.
THE YEARLY DISTRESS, OR TITHING
TIME AT STOCK, IN ESSEX.
Verses addressed to a country clergyman complaining of the disagreeableness the day annually appointed for 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 sithe
When tithing time draws near.
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 log,
To make their payments good.
In sooth the sorrow of such days
Is not to be express'd,
When he that takes and he that pays
Are both alike distress'd.
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 flings 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.