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Then advertised, and auctioneered away.
The country starves, and they that feed the o'ercharged
And surfeited lewd town with her fair dues,
By a just judgment strip and starve themselves.
The wings that waft our riches out of sight
Grow on the gamester's elbows, and the alert
And nimble motion of those restless joints
That never tire, soon fans them all away.
Improvement too, the idol of the age,
Is fed with many a victim. Lo ! he comes,—
The omnipotent magician, Brown appears.
Down falls the venerable pile, the abode
Of our forefathers, a grave whiskered race,
But tasteless. Springs a palace in its stead,
But in a distant spot; where more exposed
It may enjoy the advantage of the north
And agueish east, till time shall have transformed
Those naked acres to a sheltering grove.
He speaks. The lake in front becomes a lawn,
Woods vanish, hills subside, and valleys rise,
And streams, as if created for his use,
Pursue the track of his directing wand,
Sinuous or straight, now rapid and now slow,
Now murmuring soft, now roaring in cascades,
Even as he bids. The enraptured owner smiles.
'Tis finished! And yet finished as it seems,
Still wants a grace, the loveliest it could show,
A mine to satisfy the enormous cost.
Drained to the last poor item of his wealth,
He sighs, departs, and leaves the accomplished plan
That he has touched, retouched, many a long day
Laboured, and many a night pursued in dreams,
Just when it meets his hopes, and proves the heaven
He wanted, for a wealthier to enjoy.
And now perhaps the glorious hour is come,
When having no stake left, no pledge to endear
Her interests, or that gives her sacred cause
A moment's operation on his love,
He burns with most intense and flagrant zeal
To serve his country. Ministerial grace
Deals him out money from the public chest;
Or if that mine be shut, some private purse
Supplies his need with an usurious loan,
To be refunded duly, when his vote,
Well-managed, shall have earned its worthy price,
Oh, innocent compared with arts like these,
Crape and cocked pistol and the whistling ball
Sent through the traveller's temples! He that finds
One drop of heaven's sweet mercy in his cup,
Can dig, beg, rot, and perish well-content,
So he may wrap himself in honest rags
At his last gasp; but could not for a world
Fish up his dirty and dependent bread
From pools and ditches of the commonwealth,
Sordid and sickening at his own success.
Ambition, avarice, penury incurred
Oh, thou resort and mart of all the earth,
BOOK IV.—THE WINTER EVENING.
The post comes in—The newspaper is read—The world contemplated at a distance—Address to Winter—The amusements of a rural winter evening compared with the fashionable ones—Address to Evening—A brown study— Fall of snow in the evening -The waggoner—A poor family-piece—The rural thief--Public houses—The multitude of them censured—The farmer's daughter, what she was—What she is—The simplicity of country manners almost lost—Causes of the change—Desertion of the country by the rich—
Neglect of magistrates—The militia principally in fault—The new recruit,
Hark! 'tis the twanging horn! o'er yonder bridge
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 eioquent 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,
Clo>e at his heels, a demagogue ascends,
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
Meanders lubricate the course they take;
The modest speaker is ashamed and grieved
To 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,
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,.
Heaven, earth, and ocean plundered of their sweets,
Nectareous essences, Olympian dews,
Sermons and city feasts and favourite airs,
Ethereal 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 retreat
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
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.
O winter! ruler of the inverted year, Thy scattered hair with sleet like ashes filled, Thy breath congealed 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 seemest, 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 root Of undisturbed retirement, and the hours Of long uninterrupted evening know. No rattling wheels stop short before these gates No powdered 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