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Nor baited hook 16 deceive the fish's eye;
Could pageantry and dance and feast and song
Be quell’d in all our summer-month retreats ; 315
How many self-deluded nymphs and swains
Who dream they have a taste for fields and groves,
Would find them hideous nurseries of the spleen,
And crowd the roads, impatient for the town!
They love the country, and none else, who seek 320
For their own sake its silence and its shade;
Delights which who would leave, that has a heart
Susceptible of pity, or a mind
Cultured and capable of sober thought,
For all the savage din of the swift pack
And clamours of the field ? detested sport,
That owes its pleasures to another's pain,
upon the sobs and dying shrieks Of harmless nature, dumb, but yet endued With eloquence that agonies inspire
330 Of silent tears and heart-distending sighs! Vain tears alas ! and sighs that never find A corresponding tone in jovial souls. Well,—one at least is safe. One shelter'd hare Has never heard the sanguinary yell
335 Of cruel man, exulting in her woes. Innocent partner of my peaceful home, Whom ten long years experience of my care Has made at last familiar, she has lost Much of her vigilant instinctive dread,
340 Not needful here, beneath a roof like mine. Yes,—thou may’st eat thy bread, and lick the hand
16 They triumph over the unsuspecting fish, whom they have decoyed by an insidious pretence of feeding.
oame Jenyns. Second Disquisition.
That feeds thee; thou may’st frolic on the floor
At evening, and at night retire secure
To thy straw-couch, and slumber unalarm'd. 345
For I have gain’d thy confidence, have pledged
All that is human in me, to protect
Thine unsuspecting gratitude and love.
If I survive thee I will dig thy grave,
And when I place thee in it, sighing say,
I knew at least one hare that had a friend 17.11
How various his employments, whom the world
Calls idle, and who justly in return
Esteems that busy world an idler too!
Friends 18, books, a garden, and perhaps his pen, 355
Delightful industry enjoyed at home,
And nature in her cultivated trim
Dressed to his taste, inviting him abroad :-
Can he want occupation who has these ?
Will he be idle who has much to enjoy ?
Me therefore, studious of laborious ease,
Not slothful; happy to deceive the time
Not waste it; and aware that human life
Is but a loan to be repaid with use,
When He shall call his debtors to account,
365 From whom are all our blessings, business finds Even here. While sedulous I seek to improve,
17 The allusion is to one of Gay's fables, which in the last generation most children kuew by heart. In how different a spirit is Byron's epitaph on his dog !
To mark a friend's remains these stones arise,
I never knew but one, and here he lies. 18 A friend, a book, the stealing hours secure, And mark them down for wisdom.
Thomson. Autumn, 1337.
At least neglect not, or leave unemploy'd
The mind he gave me; driving it, though slack
Too oft, and much impeded in its work
By causes not to be divulged in vain,
To its just point the service of mankind.
He that attends to his interior self,
That has a heart and keeps it, has a mind
That hungers and supplies it, and who seeks 375
A social, not a dissipated life,
Has business ; feels himself engaged to achieve
No unimportant, though a silent task.
A life all turbulence and noise may seem
To him that leads it, wise and to be praised; 380
But wisdom is a pearl with most success
Sought in still water, and beneath clear skies.
He that is ever occupied in storms,
Or dives not for it, or brings up instead,
Vainly industrious, a disgraceful prize.
The morning finds the self-sequester'd man Fresh for his task, intend what task he may. Whether inclement seasons recommend His warm but simple home, where he enjoys With her who shares his pleasures and his heart, 390 Sweet converse, sipping calm the fragrant lymph Which neatly she prepares; then to his book Well chosen, and not sullenly perused In selfish silence, but imparted oft As aught occurs that she may smile to hear, 335 Or turn to nourishment digested well. Or if the garden with its many cares, All well repay’d, demand him, he attends The welcome call, conscious how much the hand Of lubbard labour needs his watchful eye,
Oft loitering lazily if not o'erseen,
Or misapplying his unskilful strength.
Nor does he govern only or direct,
But much performs himself; no works indeed
That ask robust tough sinews bred to toil,
Servile employ,—but such as may amuse,
Not tire, demanding rather skill than force.
Proud of his well-spread walls, he views his trees
That meet, (no barren interval between,)
With pleasure more than even their fruits afford, 410
Which, save himself who trains them, none can feel.
These therefore are his own peculiar charge;
No meaner hand may discipline the shoots,
None but his steel approach them. What is weak,
Distemper'd, or has lost prolific powers
415 Impair'd by age, his unrelenting hand Dooms to the knife. Nor does he spare the soft And succulent that feeds its giant growth But barren, at the expense of neighbouring twigs Less ostentatious, and yet studded thick
420 With hopeful gems. The rest, no portion left That may disgrace his art, or disappoint Large expectation, he disposes neat At measured distances, that air and sun Admitted freely may afford their aid,
425 And ventilate and warm the swelling buds. Hence summer has her riches, autumn hence, And hence even winter fills his wither'd hand With blushing fruits, and plenty not his own '9. Fair recompense of labour well bestow'd
430 And wise precaution, which a clime so rude
19 Miraturque novos fructus et non sua poma. Virg. C.
Makes needful still, whose Spring is but the child
Of churlish Winter, in her froward moods
Discovering much the temper of her sire.
For oft, as if in her the stream of mild
Maternal nature had reversed its course,
She brings her infants forth with many smiles,
But once deliver'd, kills them with a frown.
He therefore, timely warn'd, himself supplies
Her want of care, screening and keeping warm 440
The plenteous bloom, that no rough blast may sweep
His garlands from the boughs. Again, as oft
As the sun peeps and vernal airs breathe mild,
The fence withdrawn, he gives them every beam,
, And spreads his hopes before the blaze of day. 445
To raise the prickly and green-coated gourd
So grateful to the palate, and when rare
So coveted, else base and disesteem'd,-
Food for the vulgar merely,—is an art
That toiling ages have but just matured,
And at this moment unessay'd in song
Yet gnats have had, and frogs and mice long since
Their eulogy; those sang the Mantuan bard,
And these the Grecian in ennobling strains ;
And in thy numbers, Phillips, shines for aye 455
The solitary Shilling. Pardon then,
Ye sage dispensers of poetic fame!
The ambition of one meaner far, whose powers
Presuming an attempt not less sublime,
Pant for the praise of dressing to the taste 460
Of critic appetite, no sordid fare,
A cucumber, while costly yet and scarce.
The stable yields a stercorarious heap S. C.-9.