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But oh the important budget! usher'd in
With such heart-shaking music, who can say
What are its tidings? Have our troops awaked?
Or do they still, as if with opium drugg'd,
Snore to the murmurs of the Atlantic wave?
Is India free? and does she wear her plumed
And jewelled turban with a smile of peace,
Or do we grind her still? The grand debate,
The popular harangue, the tart reply,
The logic and the wisdom and the wit
And the loud laugh—I long to know them all;
I burn to set the imprison'd wranglers free,
And give them voice and utterance once again.
Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
Not such his evening, who with shining face
Sweats in the crowded theatre, and squeezed
And bored with elbow-points through both his sides,
Out-scolds the ranting actor on the stage.
Nor his, who patient stands till his feet throb
And his head thumps, to feed upon the breath
Of patriots bursting with heroic rage,
Or placemen, all tranquillity and smiles.
This folio of four pages, happy work!
Which not even critics criticise, that holds
Inquisitive attention while I read
Fast bound in chains of silence, which the fair,
Though eloquent themselves, yet fear to break,
What is it but a map of busy life,
Its fluctuations and its vast concerns?
Here runs the mountainous and craggy ridge
That tempts ambition'. On the summit, see,
The seals of office glitter in his eyes;
He climbs, he pants, he grasps them. At his heels, 60
Close at his heels a demagogue ascends2,
And with a dexterous jerk soon twists him down
And wins them, but to lose them in his turn.
Here rills of oily eloquence in soft
Mæanders lubricate the course they take;
The modest speaker is ashamed and grieved
Το engross a moment's notice, and yet begs,
Begs a propitious ear for his poor thoughts,
However trivial all that he conceives.
Sweet bashfulness! it claims, at least, this praise, 70
The dearth of information and good sense
That it foretells us, always comes to pass.
Cataracts of declamation thunder here,
There forests of no meaning spread the page
In which all comprehension wanders lost;
While fields of pleasantry amuse us there,
With merry descants on a nation's woes.
The rest appears a wilderness of strange
But gay confusion, roses for the cheeks
And lilies for the brows of faded age,
Teeth for the toothless, ringlets for the bald,
Ambition this shall tempt to rise,
Then whirl the wretch from high. Gray. Eton Coll. 2 When lo! push'd up to power, and crown'd their cares, In comes another set, and kicketh them down stairs.
Castle of Indolence. Stanza liv.
Heaven, earth, and ocean plunder'd of their sweets,
Nectareous essences, Olympian dews,
Sermons and city feasts and favourite airs,
Æthereal journeys, submarine exploits,
And Katterfelto with his hair on end
At his own wonders, wondering for his bread.
'Tis pleasant through the loop-holes of retreat3
To peep at such a world. To see the stir
Of the great Babel and not feel the crowd.
To hear the roar1 she sends through all her gates
At a safe distance, where the dying sound
Falls a soft murmur on the uninjured ear.
Thus sitting and surveying thus at ease
The globe and its concerns, I seem advanced
To some secure and more than mortal height,
That liberates and exempts me from them all.
It turns submitted to my view, turns round
3 The world is a comedy, and I know no securer box from which to behold it than a safe solitude, and it is easier to feel than to express the pleasure which may be taken in standing aloof and contemplating the reelings of the multitude, the eccentric motions of great men, and how fate recreates itself in their ruin."-Sir G. Mackenzie's Moral Essays, 139.
There from the ways of men laid safe ashore,
We smile to hear the distant tempest roar.
While he, from all the stormy passions free
That restless men involve, hears, and but hears,
At distance safe, the human tempest roar,
Wrapt safe in conscious peace. The fall of kings,
The rage of nations, and the crush of states,
Move not the man, who, from the world escaped,
In still retreats, and flowery solitudes,
To nature's voice attends.
With all its generations; I behold
The tumult and am still. The sound of war
Has lost its terrors ere it reaches me,
Grieves but alarms me not. I mourn the pride
And avarice that make man a wolf to man",
Hear the faint echo of those brazen throats 6
By which he speaks the language of his heart,
And sigh, but never tremble at the sound.
He travels and expatiates, as the bee
From flower to flower, so he from land to land;
The manners, customs, policy of all
Pay contribution to the store he gleans;
He sucks intelligence in every clime,
And spreads the honey of his deep research
At his return, a rich repast for me.
He travels, and I too. I tread his deck,
Ascend his topmast, through his peering eyes
Discover countries, with a kindred heart
Suffer his woes and share in his escapes,
While fancy, like the finger of a clock,
Runs the great circuit, and is still at home.
Oh Winter! ruler of the inverted year,
Thy scatter'd hair with sleet like ashes fill'd,
6 The brazen throat of war had ceased to roar.
7 Sometimes in distant climes I stray,
By guides experienced taught the way;
The wonders of each region view
From frozen Lapland to Peru,
Bound o'er rough seas and mountains bare,
Yet ne'er forsake my elbow chair.
Thy breath congeal'd upon thy lips, thy cheeks
Fringed with a beard made white with other snows
Than those of age; thy forehead wrapt in clouds,
A leafless branch thy sceptre, and thy throne
A sliding car indebted to no wheels,
But urged by storms along its slippery way;
I love thee, all unlovely as thou seem'st,
And dreaded as thou art. Thou hold'st the sun
A prisoner in the yet undawning East,
Shortening his journey between morn and noon,
And hurrying him impatient of his stay
Down to the rosy West. But kindly still
Compensating his loss with added hours
Of social converse and instructive ease,
And gathering at short notice in one group
The family dispersed, and fixing thought
Not less dispersed by daylight and its cares.
I crown thee King of intimate delights,
Fire-side enjoyments, home-born happiness,
And all the comforts that the lowly roof
Of undisturb'd retirement, and the hours
Of long uninterrupted evening know.
No rattling wheels stop short before these gates.
No powder'd pert proficient in the art
Of sounding an alarm, assaults these doors
Till the street rings. No stationary steeds
Cough their own knell, while heedless of the sound
The silent circle fan themselves, and quake.
But here the needle plies its busy task,
The pattern grows, the well-depicted flower
Wrought patiently into the snowy lawn.
Unfolds its bosom, buds and leaves and sprigs