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Unless the world were all prepared to embrace
A plan well worthy to supply their place;
Yet, backward as they are, and long have been,
To cultivate and keep the MORALS clean
(Forgive the crime), I wish them, I confess,
Or better managed, or encouraged less.
ADDRESSED TO MISS STAPLETON,
She came-she is gone—we have met
And meet perhaps never again;
The sun of that moment is set,
And seems to have risen in vain.
Catharina has fled like a dream
(So vanishes pleasure, alas!)
But has left a regret and esteem,
That will not so suddenly pass.
The last evening ramble we made,
Catharina, Maria, and I,
Our progress was often delayed
By the nightingale warbling nigh.
We paused under many a tree,
And much she was charmed with a tone
Less sweet to Maria and me,
Who had witnessed so lately her own.
My numbers that day she had sung,
And gave them a grace so divine,
As only her musical tongue
Could infuse into numbers of mine.
The longer I heard, I esteemed
The work of my fancy the more,
And ev'p to myself never seemed
So tuneful a poet before.
Though the pleasures of London exceed
In number the days of the year,
Catharina, did nothing impede,
Would feel herself happier here; For the close-woven arches of limes
On the banks of our river, I know, Are sweeter to her many times
Than all that the city can show. So it is when the mind is endued
With a well-judging taste from above, Then, whether embellished or rude,
'Tis nature alone that we love.
The achievements of art may amuse,
May even our wonder excite,
But groves, bills, and valleys, diffuse
A lasting, a sacred delight.
Since then in the rural recess
Catharina alone can rejoice, May it still be her lot to possess
The scene of her sensible choice! To inhabit a mansion remote
From the clatter of street-pacing steeds, And by Philomel's annual note
To measure the life that she leads.
With her book, and her voice, and her lyre,
To wing all her moments at home,
And with scenes that new rapture inspire
As oft as it suits her to roam,
She will have just the life she prefers,
With little to wish or to fear, And ours will be pleasant as hers,
Might we view her enjoying it here.
A HERMIT (or if 'chance you hold
That title now too trite and old),
A man, once young, who lived retired
As hermit could have well desired,
His hours of study closed at last,
And finished his concise repast,
Stoppled his cruse, replaced 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 evening-tide.
Autumnal rains had made it chill,
And from the trees, that fringed his bill,
Shades slanting at the close of day
Chilled more his else delightful way.
Distant a little mile he spied
A western bank's still sunny side,
And right toward the favoured place
Proceeding with his nimblest pace,
In hope to bask a little yet,
Just reached 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 decked with every hue,
That can seduce him not to spare
His powers of best exertion there,
But youth, health, vigour to expend
On so desirable an end.
Ere long approach life's evening shades,
The glow that fancy gave it fades;
And, earned too late, it wants the grace,
Which first engaged him in the chase.
True, answered an angelic 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 called his ardour forth.
Trifles pursued, whate'er the event,
Must cause him shame or discontent;
A vicious object still is worse,
Successful there he wins a curse;
But he, whom e'en in life's last stage
Is paid, at least in peace of mind,
And sense of having well designed ;
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 green-house is my summer seat;
My shrubs, displaced from that retreat,
Enjoyed the open air ;
Two goldfinches, whose sprightly song
Had been their mutual solace long,
Lived happy prisoners there.
They sang, as blithe as finches sing,
That flutter loose on golden wing,
And frolic where they list;
Strangers to liberty, 'tis true,
But that delight they never knew,
And therefore never missed.
But nature works in every breast;
Instinct is never quite suppressed;
And Dick felt some desires,
Which, after many an effort vain,
Instructed him at length to gain
A pass between bis wires.
The open windows seemed to invite
The freeman to a farewell flight;
But Tom was still confined ;
And Dick, although his way was clear,
Was much too generous and sincere
To leave his friend behind.
For, settling on his grated roof,
He chirped and kissed him, giving proof
That he desired no more ;
Nor would forsake his cage at last,
Till gently seized, I shut him fast,
A prisoner as before.