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That, as they bickered through the sunny glade, Though restless still themselves, a lulling murmur made.
Joined to the prattle of the purling rills,
Were heard the lowing herds along the vale,
And flocks loud-bleating from the distant hills,
And vacant shepherds piping in the dale;
And now and then sweet Philomel would wail,
Or stock doves 'plain amid the forest deep,
That drowsy rustled to the sighing gale;
And still a coil the grasshopper did keep:
Yet all these sounds, yblent, inclinèd all to sleep.
Full in the passage of the vale, above,
A sable, silent, solemn forest stood,
Where naught but shadowy forms was seen to move,
As Idless fancied in her dreaming mood;
And up the hills, on either side, a wood
Of blackening pines, aye waving to and fro,
Sent forth a sleepy horror through the blood;
And where this valley winded out, below,
The murmuring main was heard, and scarcely heard, to flow.
A pleasing land of drowsyhed it was:
Of dreams that wave before the half-shut eye;
And of gay castles in the clouds that pass,
Forever flushing round a summer sky.
There eke the soft delights, that witchingly
Instil a wanton sweetness through the breast,
And the calm pleasures, always hovered nigh;
But whate'er smacked of 'noyance or unrest
Was far, far off expelled from this delicious nest.
The landskip such, inspiring perfect ease,
Where Indolence (for so the wizard hight)
Close-hid his castle mid embowering trees,
That half shut out the beams of Phæbus bright,
And made a kind of checkered day and night.
Meanwhile, unceasing at the massy gate,
Beneath a spacious palm, the wicked wight
Was placed; and, to his lute, of cruel fate
And labour harsh complained, lamenting man's estate.
Thither continual pilgrims crowded still,
From all the roads of earth that pass there by;
For, as they chaunced to breathe on neighbouring hill,
The freshness of this valley smote their eye,
And drew them ever and anon more nigh,
Till clustering round th' enchanter false they hung,
Ymolten with his syren melody,
While o'er th' enfeebling lute his hand he flung,
And to the trembling chords these tempting verses sung:
Behold, ye pilgrims of this earth, behold!
See all but man with unearned pleasure gay!
See her bright robes the butterfly unfold,
Broke from her wintry tomb in prime of May.
What youthful bride can equal her array ?
Who can with her for easy pleasure vie?
From mead to mead with gentle wing to stray,
From flower to flower on balmy gales to fly,
Is all she has to do beneath the radiant sky.
'Behold the merry minstrels of the morn,
The swarming songsters of the careless grove,
Ten thousand throats that, from the flowering thorn,
Hymn their good God and carol sweet of love,
Such grateful kindly raptures them emove!
They neither plough nor sow; ne, fit for flail,
E’er to the barn the nodding sheaves they drove;
Yet theirs each harvest dancing in the gale,
Whatever crowns the hill or smiles along the vale.
'Outcast of Nature, man! the wretched thrall
Of bitter-dropping sweat, of sweltry pain,
Of cares that eat away thy heart with gall,
And of the vices, an inhuman train,
That all proceed from savage thirst of gain:
For when hard-hearted Interest first began
To poison earth, Astræa left the plain;
Guile, violence, and murder seized on man,
And, for soft milky streams, with blood the rivers ran.?
He ceased. But still their trembling ears retained
The deep vibrations of his 'witching song,
That, by a kind of magic power, constrained
To enter in, pell-mell, the listening throng:
Heaps poured on heaps, and yet they slipped along
In silent ease; as when beneath the beam
Of summer moons, the distant woods among,
Or by some flood all silvered with the gleam,
The soft-embodied fays through airy portal stream.
Of all the gentle tenants of the place,
There was a man of special grave remark;
A certain tender gloom o'erspread his face,
Pensive, not sad; in thought involved, not dark;
As soote this man could sing as morning lark,
And teach the noblest morals of the heart;
But these his talents were yburied stark:
Of the fine stores he nothing would impart,
Which or boon Nature gave, or nature-painting Art.
To noontide shades incontinent he ran,
Where purls the brook with sleep-inviting sound,
Or when Dan Sol to slope his wheels began,
Amid the broom he basked him on the ground,
Where the wild thyme and camomil are found;
There would he linger, till the latest ray
Of light sate trembling on the welkin's bound,
Then homeward through the twilight shadows stray,
Sauntering and slow: so had he passèd many a day.
Yet not in thoughtless slumber were they passed;
For oft the heavenly fire, that lay concealed
Beneath the sleeping embers, mounted fast,
And all its native light anew revealed;
Oft as he traversed the cerulean field,
And marked the clouds that drove before the wind,
Ten thousand glorious systems would he build,
Ten thousand great ideas filled his mind:
But with the clouds they fled, and left no trace behind.
Such blessings Nature pours, O’erstocked mankind enjoy but half her stores: In distant wilds, by human eyes unseen, She rears her flowers, and spreads her velvet green: Pure, gurgling rills the lonely desert trace, And waste their music on the savage race. Is Nature then a niggard of her bliss ? Repine we guiltless in a world like this? But our lewd tastes her lawful charms refuse, And painted art's depraved allurements choose. Such Fulvia's passion for the town; fresh air (An odd effect!) gives vapours to the fair; Green fields, and shady groves, and crystal springs, And larks, and nightingales, are odious things; But smoke, and dust, and noise, and crowds, delight; And to be pressed to death, transports her quite: Where silver rivulets play through flowery meads, And woodbines give their sweets, and limes their shades, Black kennels' absent odours. she regrets, And stops her nose at beds of violets.
Few to good-breeding make a just pretense;
Good-breeding is the blossom of good-sense;
The last result of an accomplished mind,
With outward grace, the body's virtue, joined.
A violated decency now reigns;
And nymphs for failings take peculiar pains.
With Chinese painters modern toasts agree,
The point they aim at is deformity:
They throw their persons with a hoyden air
Across the room, and toss into the chair.
So far their commerce with mankind is gone,
They, for our manners, have exchanged their own.
The modest look, the castigated grace,
The gentle movement, and slow-measured pace,
For which her lovers died, her parents prayed,
Are indecorums with the modern maid.
What swarms of amorous grandmothers I see!
And misses, ancient in iniquity!
What blasting whispers, and what loud declaiming!
What lying, drinking, bawding, swearing, gaming!
Friendship so cold, such warm incontinence;
Such griping avarice, such profuse expense;
Such dead devotion, such a zeal for crimes;
Such licensed ill, such masquerading times;
Such venal faith, such misapplied applause;
Such flattered guilt, and such inverted laws!
Such dissolution through the whole I find,
'Tis not a world, but chaos of mankind.
Since Sundays have no balls, the well-dressed belle
Shines in the pew, but smiles to hear of Hell;
And casts an eye of sweet disdain on all
Who listen less to Collins than St. Paul.
Atheists have been but rare; since Nature's birth
Till now, she-atheists ne'er appeared on earth.
Ye men of deep researches, say, whence springs
This daring character, in timorous things?
Who start at feathers, from an insect fly,
A match for nothing—but the Deity.
But, not to wrong the fair, the Muse must own
In this pursuit they court not fame alone;
But join to that a more substantial view,
From thinking free, to be free agents, too.'
They strive with their own hearts, and keep them down,
In complaisance to all the fools in town.
O how they tremble at the name of prude!
And die with shame at thought of being good!
For, what will Artimis, the rich and gay,
What will the wits, that is, the coxcombs, say?
They Heaven defy, to earth's vile dregs a slave;
Through cowardice, most.execrably brave.
With our own judgments durst we to comply,
In virtue should we live, in glory die.