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A HERMIT, (or if 'chance you hold
That title now too trite and old)
A man, once young, who liv?d retir’d,
As hermit could have well desir'd,
His hours of study clos'd at last,
And finish'd his concise repast,
Stoppled his cruise, replac'd his book
Within its customary nook,
And, staff in hand, set forth to share
The sober cordial of sweet air,
Like Isaac, with a mind applied
To serious thought at ev’ning tide,
Autumnal rains had made it chill,
And from the trees, that fring'd his hill,
Shades slanting at the close of day
Chill'd more his else delightful way.
Distant a little mile he spied
A western bank's still sunny side,
And right toward the favour'd place
Proceeding with his nimblest pace,
In hope to bask a little yet,
Just reach'd it when the sun was set.
Your hermit, young and jovial sirs!
Learns something from whate'er occurs
And hence, he said, my mind computes
The real worth of man's pursuits.
His object chosen, wealth or fame,
Or other sublunary game,
Imagination to his view
Presents it deck'd with ev'ry hue,
That can seduce him not to spare
His pow'rs of best exertion there,
But youth, health, vigour to expend
On so desirable an end.
Ere long approach life's ev'ning shades,
The glow, that fancy gave it, fades;
And, earn’d too late, it wants the grace
That first engag'd him in the chase.
True, answer'd an angelick guide,
Attendant at the senior's side
But whether all the time it cost,
To urge the fruitless chase be lost,
Must be decided by the worth
Of that, which call’d his ardour forthe
Trifles pursu'd, whate'er th' event,
Must cause bim shame or discontent;
A vicious object still is worse,
Successful there he wins a curse ;
But he, who e'en in life's last stage
Endeavours laudable engage,
Is paid, at least in peace of mind,
And sense of having well design'd;
And if, ere he attain his end,
His sun precipitate descend,
A brighter prize than that he meant
Shall recompense his mere intent.
No virtuous wish can bear a date
Either too early or too late.
THE greenhouse is my summer seat ; My shrubs displac'd from that retreat
Enjoy the open air ; Two goldfinches, whose sprightly song Had been their mutual solace long,
Liv'd happy pris’ners there.
They sang, as blithe as finches sing,
That flutter loose on golden wing,
And frolick where they list;
Strangers to liberty, 'tis true,
But that delight they never knew;
And therefore never miss'd.
But nature works in ev'ry breast,
With force not easily suppressid ;
And Dick felt some desires, 'That, after many an effort vain, Instructed him at length to gain
A pass between his wires.
The open windows seem'd t’invite
The freeman to a farewell flight;
But Tom was still confin'd;
VOL. II. 21*
And Dick, although his way was clear, Was much too gen'rous and sincere,
To leave his friend behind.
So settling on his cage, by play,
And chirp, and kiss, he seem'd to say,
You must not live alone
Nor would he quit that chosen stand
Till I, with slow and cautious hand,
Return'd him to his own.
Oye, who never taste the joys
Of Friendship, satisfied with noise,
Fandango, ball, and rout!
Blush, when I tell you how a bird,
A prison with a friend preferr'd
To liberty without.