« PreviousContinue »
The watch-dog's voice, that bay'd the whispering wind,
Near yonder copse, where once the garden smil'd, And still where many a garden flower grows wild; There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose, 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 chang’d, nor wish'd to change his place; Unskilful he to fawn, or seek for power, By doctrines fashion'd 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 reliev'd their pain; The long-remember'd beggar was his guest, Whose beard descending swept his aged breast; The ruin'd spendthrift, now no longer proud, Claim'd kindred there, and had his claims allow'd; The broken soldier, kindly bade to stay, Sat by his fire, and talk'd the night away;
Wept o'er his wounds, or tales of sorrow done,
Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,
Beside the bed where parting life was laid,
At church, with meek and unaffected grace,
Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way,
that he could guage:
But past is all his fame. The very spot Where many a time he triumph’d, is forgot. Near yonder thorn, that lifts its head on high, Where once the sign-post caught the passing eye, Low lies that house where nut-brown draughts inspir'd, Where grey-beard mirth, and smiling toil retir'd, Where village statesmen talk'd with looks profound, And news much older than their ale went round. Imagination fondly stoops to trace The parlour splendours of that festive place; The white-wash'd wall, the nicely sanded floor, The varnish'd clock that click'd behind the door;
The chest contriv'd a double debt to pay,
Vain transitory splendours! could not all
Yes! let the rich deride, the proud disdain, These simple blessings of the lowly train, To me more dear, congenial to my heart, One native charm, than all the gloss of art : Spontaneous joys, where nature has its play, The soul adopts, and owns their first-born sway; Lightly they frolic o'er the vacant mind, Unenvied, unmolested, unconfin'd. But the long pomp, the midnight masquerade, With all the freaks of wanton wealth array'd, In these, ere triflers half their wish obtain, The toiling pleasure sickens into pain: And e’en while fashion's brightest arts decoy, The heart distrusting asks, if this be joy?
Ye friends to truth, ye statesmen who survey The rich man's joys increase, the poor's decay, 'T is your's to judge, how wide the limits stand Between a splendid and a happy land. Proud swells the tide with loads of freighted ore, And shouting folly hails them from her shore; Hoards e'en beyond the miser's wish abound, And rich men flock from all the world around. Yet count our gains. This wealth is but a name, That leaves our useful products still the same. Not so the loss. The man of wealth and pride Takes up a space that many poor supplied; Space for his lake, his park's extended bounds, Space for his horses, equipage, and hounds: The robe that wraps his limbs in silken sloth, Has robb’d the neighbouring fields of half their growth; His seat, where solitary sports are seen, Indignant spurns the cottage from the green; Around the world each needful product flies, For all the luxuries the world supplies. While thus the land, adorn'd for pleasure all, In barren splendour feebly waits the fall.
As some fair female, unadorn’d and plain, Secure to please while youth confirms her reign, Slights every borrow'd charm that dress supplies, Nor shares with art the triumph of her eyes; But when those charms are past, for charms are frail, When time advances, and en lovers fail, She then shines forth, solicitous to bless, Io all the glaring impotence of dress. Thus fares the land, by luxury betray'd; lo uature's simplest charms at first array'd, But verging to decline, its splendours rise, Its vistas strike, its palaces surprise; While, scourg'd by famine from the smiling land,
The mournful peasant leads his humble band; Goldsmith.