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The broken soldier, kindly bade to stay,
Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,
Beside the bed where parting life was laid,
And sorrow, guilt, and pain, by turns dismay'd,
Comfort came down the trembling wretch to raise, And his last fault'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,
With steady zeal, each honest rustic ran:
E’en children follow'd with endearing wile,
And pluck'd his gown, to share the good man's smile.
To them his heart, his love, his griefs were given,
But all his serious thoughts had rest in heaven.
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,
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
'Twas certain he could write and cypher too;
Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage,
And still they gaz'd, and still the wonder grew,
That one small head should carry all he knew.
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 white-wash'd wall, the nicely sanded floor,
A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day;
While broken tea-cups, wisely kept for show, Rang'd o'er the chimney, glisten'd in a row.
Vain transitory splendours! could not all Reprieve the tott'ring mansion from its fall? Obscure it sinks, nor shall it more impart An hour's importance to the poor man's heart; Thither no more the peasant shall repair,
To sweet oblivion of his daily care;
No more the farmer's news, the barber's tale, No more the woodman's ballad shall prevail; No more the smith his dusky brow shall clear, Relax his pond'rous strength, and lean to hear; The host himself no longer shall be found Careful to see the mantling bliss go round;
Nor the coy maid, half willing to be prest,
Shall kiss the cup to pass it to the rest.
Yes! let the rich deride, the proud disdain These simple blessings of the lowly train;
To me more dear, congenial to my heart,