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My fancy, ere yet liberty of choice
Had found me, or the hope of being free.
My very dreams were rural; rural, too,
The first born efforts of my youthful muse,
Sportive, and jingling her poetic bells i
Ere yet her ear was mistress of their pow'rs.
No bard could pleafe me but whose lyre was tun'd.
To Nature's praises. : Heroes and their feats ; ;
Fatigued me, never weary of the pipe
Of Tityrus, assembling, as he fang,
The rustic throng beneath his fav'rite beech.
Then Milton had indeed a poet's charms :
New to my taste, his Paradise furpafs’d
The struggling efforts of my boyish tongue
To speak its excellence. I danc'd for joy.
I marvel'd much that, at so ripe an age
As twice fev’n years, his beauties had then first !
Engag'd my wonder ; and, admiring still,
And fill admiring, with regret fuppos'd
The joy half lost because not sooner found.
There, too, enamour'd of the life I lov’d,
Pathetic in its praise, in its pursuit
Determin’d, and possessing it at last
With transports such as favour'd lovers feel,
I studied, priz’d, and wish'd that I had known,
Ingenious Cowley! and, though now reclaim'd
By modern lights from an erroneous taste,
I cannot but lament thy splendid wit
Entangled in the cobwebs of the schools.
· I still revere thee, courtly though retir'd; .
Though stretch'd at ease in Chertsey's filent bow'rs, Not unemploy'd ; and finding rich amends For a loft world in solitude and verse. 'Tis born with all: the love of Nature's works Is an ingredient in the compound man, Infus'd at the creation of the kind. And, though th' Almighty Maker has throughout Discriminated each from each, by strokes And touches of his hand, with so much art Diversified, that two were never found
Twins at all points-yet this obtains in all,
That all discern a beauty in his works,
And all can taste them: minds that have been form’d
And tutor’d, with a relish more exact,
But none without some relish, none unmov'd.
It is a flame that dies not even there,
Where nothing feeds it: neither business, crowds,
Nor habits of luxurious city-life;
Whatever else they fmother of true worth
In human bosoms; quench it, or abate.
The villas with which London stands begirt,
Like a fwarth Indian with his belt of beads,
Prove it. A breath of unadult'rate air,
The glimpse of a green pasture, how they cheer
The citizen, and brace his languid frame !
Ev’n in the stifling bofom of the town,
A garden, in which nothing thrives, has charms
That soothe the rich possessor; much consold,
That here and there some sprigs of mournful mint,
Of nightshade, or valerian, grace the well
He cultivates. These serve him with a hintó
That Nature lives ; that fight-refreshing green..
Is still the liv'ry she delights to wear,
Though fickly samples of th’ exub'rant whole. .
What are the casements lin'd with creeping herbs,
The prouder falhes fronted with a range
Of orange, myrtle, or the fragrant weed,
The Frenchman's * darling? Are they not all proofs
That man, immur'd in cities, still retains
His inborn inextinguishable thirst
Of rural scenes, compensating his loss .
By supplemental shifts, the best he may ?
The most unfurnish'd with the means of life,
And they that never pass their brick-wall bounds
To range the fields and treat their lungs with air,
Yet feel the burning instinct: over-head
Suspend their crazy boxes, planted thick,
And water'd duly. There the pitcher stands
A fragment, and the spoutless tea-pot-there;
Sad witnesses how close-pent man regrets
The country, with what ardour he contrives
A peep at nature, when he can no more,
Hail, therefore, patroness of health, and cafe,
And contemplation, heart-consoling joys
And harmless pleasures, in the throng'd abode
Of multitudes unknown ! hail, rural life!
Address himself who will to the pursuit
Of honours, or emolument, or fame; .
I shall not add myself to such a chase,
Thwart his attempts, or envy his success.
Some must be great. Great offices will have
Great talents. And God gives to ev'ry man
The virtue, temper, understanding, taste,
That lifts him into life; and lets him fall
Just in the niche he was ordain'd to fill.
To the deliv'rer of an injur'd land
He gives a tongue ť enlarge upon, an heart