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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 hill,
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
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
Endeavours laudable engage,
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 FAITHFUL FRIEND.
THE green-house is my summer seat; My shrubs, displac'd 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 his 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.
Oh ye, who never knew the joys
Of Friendship, satisfied with noise,
Fandango, ball, and rout!
Blush, when I tell you how a bird,
A prison with a friend preferred
To liberty without.
THERE is a field, through which I often pass, Thick overspread with moss and silky grass, Adjoining close to Kilwick's echoing wood, Where oft the bitch-fox hides her hapless brood,
Reserved to solace many a neighbouring 'squire,
That he may follow them through brake and briar,
Contusion hazarding of neck or spine,
Which rural gentlemen call sport divine.
A narrow brook, by rushy banks concealed,
Runs in a bottom, and divides the field;
Oaks intersperse it, that had once a head,
But now wear crests of oven-wood instead;
And where the land slopes to its watery bourn,
Wide yawns a gulph beside a ragged thorn;
Bricks line the sides, but shivered long ago,
And horrid brambles intertwine below;
A hollow scooped, I judge in ancient time,
For baking earth, or burning rock to lime.
Not yet the hawthorn bore her berries red, With which the fieldfare, wintry guest, is fed; Nor autumn yet bad brushed from every spray, With her chill hand, the mellow leaves away; But corn was housed, and beans were in the stack, Now therefore issued forth the spotted pack, With tails high mounted, ears hung low, and throats With a whole gamut filled of heavenly notes, For which, alas! my destiny severe,
Though ears she gave me two, gave me no ear.
The sun, accomplishing his early march,
His lamp now planted on heaven's topmost arch,
When, exercise and air my only aim,
And heedless whither, to that field I came,
Ere yet with ruthless joy the happy hound
Told hill and dale that Reynard's track was found