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Oh, bless'd retirement, friend to life's decline, Retreats from care, that never must be mine, How bless'd is he who crowns, in shades like these, A youth of labour with an age of ease ; Who quits a world where strong temptations try, And, since 'tis hard to combat, learns to fly! For him no wretches, born to work and weep, Explore the mine, or tempt the dang’rous deep; Nor surly porter stands, in guilty state, To 'spurn imploring famine from the gate ; But on he moves to meet his latter end, Angels around befriending virtue's friend; Sinks to the grave with unperceived decay, While resignation gently slopes the way; And, all his prospects brightning to the last, His heav'n commences ere the world be past.
Sweet was the sound, when oft, at ev’ning's close,
The mingling notes came soften'd from below;
She only left of all the harmless train,
Near yonder copse, where once the garden smiled,
Pleased with his guests, the good man learn'd to
Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,
guilt, and pain by turns dismay'd,
The rev'rend champion stood. At his control, Despair and anguish fled the struggling soul ; Comfort came down the trembling wretch to raise, And his last falt'ring accents whisper'd praise.
At church, with meek and unaffected grace, His looks adorn'd the venerable place ; Truth from his lips prevail'd with double sway, And fools, who came to scoff, remain’d to pray. The service past, around the pious man, With steady zeal, each honest rustic ran : Ev'n children follow'd with endearing wile, And pluck'd his gown, to share the good man's smile; His ready smile a parent's warmth expressid, Their welfare pleased him, and their cares distress'd: To them his heart, his love, his griefs were givin, But all his serious thoughts had rest in Heav'n. As some tall cliff, that lifts its awful form, Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm, Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread, Eternal sunshine settles on its head.
Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way, With blossom'd furze unprofitably gay, There, in his noisy mansion, skill'd to rule, The village master taught his little school: A man severe he was, and stern to view, I knew him well, and every truant knew; Well had the boding tremblers learn'd to trace The day's disasters in his morning face; Full well they laugh'd with counterfeited glee At all his jokes, for many a joke had he; Full well the busy whisper, circling round, Convey'd the dismal tidings when he frown'd; Yet he was kind, or, if severe in aught, The love he bore to learning was in fault; The village all declared how much he knew 'Twas certain he could write, and cipher too ; Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage, And ev’n the story ran that he could gauge : In arguing, too, the parson own'd his skill, For, ev'n though vanquish'd, he could argue still ;
While words of learned length and thund'ring sound
Near yonder thorn, that lifts its head on high, Where once the signpost caught the passing eye, Low lies that house where nut-brown draughts in
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, unconfined. 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, 'Tis yours 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 fock 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 neighb’ring 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 ev'ry borrow'd charm that dress supplies, Nor shares with art the triumph of her eyes ;