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Low on, ye herds, that range the dewy vales,
Murmur, ye rills, and whisper soft, ye gales :
How blest my lot! in these sweet fields assign'd,
Where peace and leisure soothe the troubled mind.
For me the country boasts enough to charm,
In the wild woodlands or the cultur'd farm.
Come, Lydia, come, in town no longer stay,
From folly, noise, and riot, haste away ;
The fields, trees, meads, and flow'rs are all in bloom,
And vernal show'rs awake the rich perfume;
Believe, my fair, tho' towns and crowds invite,
And city pleasures promise great delight,
Soon the tir'd soul disgusted turns from these,
While rural prospects only long can please.
Dryden thus speaks of the pleasures of rural life:
The rural swain his peaceful cot enjoys,
Unknown to envy, undisturb'd with noise ;
Amidst cool grots and murm’ring rills, the pride
Of meads and streams that thro' the valley glide;
With shady groves that easy sleep invite,
And after toilsome days a soft repose at night. Retirement and solitude are peculiarly favourable to the decline of life :
Sweet solitude! when life's gay hours are past,
Howe'er we range, in thee we fix at last;
Ford thro' tempestuous seas; the voyage o'er,
Glad we look back, and bless the friendly shore.
Tickel. Thus Dr. Goldsmith:
O! blest retirement, friend to life's decline,
Retreats from care that never must be mine;
How happy he, who crowns in shades like these,
A youth of labour, with an age of ease;
Who quits a world where strong temptations try,
And, since 'tis hard to combat, learns to fly!
In woods and groves the patriarchs retir’d,
To worship God, with holy zeal inspir'd ;
Oh ! may the country be my calm abode,
To study nature and converse with God.
Remote from man, with God he pass’d his days,
Pray'r all his business, all his pleasure, praise.
O! saered solitude, divine retreat!
Choice of the prudent, envy of the great;
Here, free from ways of men, laid safe ashore,
We smile to hear the distant billows roar;
Here, blest with health, with business unperplext;
This life we relish, and insure the next.
What are ye now? ye glittering vain delights,
That waste our days, and rob us of our nights;
What your allurements? what your fancied joys ?.
Dress, equipage, and show, and pomp, and noise ?
Alas ! how long, how tasteless, and how mean,
To the calm pleasures of this rural scené.
2011 Oh ! quickly bear me hende
To wholesome solitude, the nurse of sense;
Where contemplation prunes her ruffled wings,
And the freedi soul looks down to pity kings.
O! solitude, blesť state of life below,
Source of our joy, and balm of every woe,
By thy clear stream, or in thy waving shade,
We court fair wisdom, that celestial maid.
Where sacred solitude's retired dome,
Lies deep and silent in the woodland shade;
Sweet peace with devious steps delights to roam,
And soft reclining rest her gentle head.
He'll find in woods,
More free from peril than the busy world';
While this his life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.
Like yonder stream, smooth, easy, clear, serene,
Strong, yet harmonious, are the poet's lays ;
The tree that shades, the flower that paints the scene,
Each to the mind some moral truth conveys,
Quotations might be multiplied almost to infinity: however, I cannot omit the beautiful Ode to Solitude, by Mrs. Carter:
O! solitude, instructive maid!
Wrap me in thy sequester'd shade,
And all my soul employ;
From folly, ignorance, and strife,
From all the giddy whirls of life,
And loud unmeaning joys.
While in the statesman's glowing dream,
Fancy pourtrays the high-wrought scheme,
And plans a future fame;
What is the phantom he pursues ?
What the advantage that accrues ?
Alas! an empty name.
To him the grove no pleasure yields,
The mossy bank, nor verdant fields,
Nor daisy-painted lawns ;
In vain th' ambrosial gale invites,
In vain all nature sheds delights,
Her genuine charms he scorns.
Pleasures allure the giddy throng,
The gay, the vain, the fair, the young,
All bend before her sbrine;
She spreads around delusive snares,
The borrow'd garb of life she wears,
And tempts in form divine.
Fashion, with wild tyrannic sway,
Directs the business of the day,
And reigns without control;
The beaus and sparkling belles confess,
She animates the mode of dress,
And chains the willing soul.
Can these, the slaves of fashion's pow'r,
Enjoy the silent, tranquil hour,
And bloom with nature's glow?
Or, to the votaries of sense,
Can solitude her sweets dispense,
And happiness bestow ?
Ye sages, who, with anxious care,
Rov'd through the fleeting tracks of air,
A vacuum to find ;
Wiser had ye employ'd your skill,
With solid sense and worth to fill
The vacuum of the mind.
Let choice, not wrinkled spleen, engage
The mind to quit the world's gay stage,
Where folly's scenes are play'd ;
For discontent, and pining care,
Will taint the fragrance of the air,
In calm reflection's shade.
Not to the monkish moss-grown cell,
Where superstition loves to dwell,
Blest solitude retires;
They only feel the genuine pow'r,
Whose converse in the lonely hour
Each social deed inspires.
Not wounded by misfortune's dart,
I seek to ease the rankling smart
Of thorny, fest'ring woe ;
But, far remote from crowds and noise,
To reap fair virtue's placid joys,
In wisdom's soil they grow. I ask not pageant pomp, nor wealth, For, blest with competence and health,
"Twere folly to be great! May I through life serenely slide, As yon clear streams that silent glide,
Nor quit this lov'd retreat.
Beneath this leafy arch reclin'd,
I taste more true content of mind,
Than frolic mirth can give ;
Here, to the busy world unknown,
I feel each blissful hour my own,
And learn the art to live.
While turning nature's volume o'er,
Fresh beauties rise, unseen before,
To strike th' astonish'd soul !
Our mental harmony improves,
To mark each planet as it moves,
How all in order roll!
From nature's fix'd unerring laws,
We're lifted to th' eternal Cause,
Which moves this lifeless clod! This wond'rous frame, this vast design, Proclaims the workmanship divine,
The architect, a God!
O! sacred bliss, thy paths to trace;
Aud happiest they of human race,
To whom this pow'r is given;
Each day in some sequester'd shade,
By contemplation's soft'ning aid,
To plume the soul for heav'n. Pope, in his Windsor Forest, delineates the beauties of the country with much spirit :
Here waving groves a chequer'd scene display,
And part admit, and part exclude the day;
There interspers'd in lawns and op’ning glades,
Thin trees arise, that shun each other's shade :
Here in full light the russet plains extend,
There, wrapt in clouds, the bluish hills ascend;
Ev'n the void heath displays her purple dyes,
And, 'midst the desert, fruitful fields arise ;
That, crown'd with tufted trees and springing corn,
Like verdant isles the sable waste adorn.
Happy the man, who to these shades retires,
Whom nature charms, and whom the muse inspires,
Whom humbler joys of home-felt quiet please,
Successive study, exercise, and ease ;
He gathers health from herbs the forest yields,
And of their fragrant physic spoils the fields :
With chemic art exalts the min'ral powers,
And draws the aromatic souls of flow'rs.
My humble muse, in unambitious strains,
Paints the green forests, and the flow'ry plains;
Where Peace descending bids her olives spring,
And scatters blessings from her dove-like wing.
Ev'n I more sweetly pass my careless days,
Pleas'd in the silent shade, with empty praise,
Enough for me, that, to the list’ning swains,
First in these fields I sung the sylvan strains. The country gentleman experiences, in agricultural pursuits, the blessings of peace and plenty, and of health and pleasure. Of him it may be said,
For thee the long and verdant lawn is spread, For thee the forest rears its branching head; For thee the meadows spring, the harvests shine, And every joy the country yields, is thine. MANT, To those who delight in the study of botany, the country offers innumerable advantages; and the