Page images




Happy the man, who, void of cares and strife,
Enjoys a calm, sequester'd, country life ;
A rural cottage, near a crystal flood,
A winding valley, near a lofty wood.

A CELEBRATED German divine, to whom this work is much indebted for some rich ideas, addressing himself to the opulent inhabitants of a large city, gives the following animated view of a Country life:

“ Here seest thou, O man, thousands of thy brethren and sisters, dwelling not in palaces, nor in houses adorned with the beauties of art; who partake of no costly disbes artificially prepared ; who wear no sumptuous and splendid apparel; who loll on no luxurious couches; who yet, in their humble cottages, with their ordinary food, in their simple attire, on their hard beds, find much confort, and joy, and nourishment, and recreation; who probably find in all these a greater relish, than thou in the enjoyment of affluence and superfluity. Here seest thou thousands of thy brothers and sisters, who are employed in the most laborious, toilsome, and what appear to thee the most disagreeable and painful occupations ; and who are yet cheerful at their work, and contented with their condition : persons who are totally unacquainted with all thy exquisite delicacies, and with the generality of thy refined entertainments ; and yet complain neither of languor, nor of the want of amusement and pastime: men whom the genial sentiment of their health and powers, the view of beautiful nature, the prospect of a plentiful harvest, an abundant production of the fruits of the orchard, the peaceful enjoyment of the refreshing evening breeze, the familiar table-talk, and the festive rejoicings on holidays and Sundays, more than compensate for the want of splendid distinctions; men, in short, who may be very confined in their religious notions, and probably are erroneous in many respects, but adhere to what they know and believe, and console and refresh themselves by meditations on God and the world to come, on numberless occasions, wherein thou who knowest, or pretendest to know more, art driven and tossed from doubt to doubt, and no where findest peace.

“ Here thou mayest learn that happiness is not confined to affuence ; does not consist in outward glare; not in rank and titles ; not in a soft, luxurious, idle, inactive life; not in a perpetual round of amusements; not in the unhappy means of hearkening to every childish, foolish fancy, and in exploring the methods of its gratification. No: learn that it consists in the congenial sense and the alert application of our faculties, in an active and busy life, in the due discharge of the duties of our calling, in the control of our desires, in the diminution of our artificial wants ; know that it consists in contentedness of heart, and in the consoling apprehension of God and the better world hereafter; that it therefore is far more dependent on ourselves and our manner of viewing and judging of objects, than on our outward circumstances and the regard we draw; and that no man is utterly secluded from the possession and enjoyment of it, be his station in life what it may."

A poet, on leaving the country, where he had been refreshing his mind with rural scenes, thus expresses himself:

Health to you all, ye hills, and vales, and plains,
True be your damsels, and as true your swains.
Nor can the muse forget your wedded pairs,
Peace to their hearths, and virtue to their heirs.
To poverty content her balm impart,
And wealth, be thine an hospitable heart!
Health to you all, and health without annoy;
Oh! may ye sow in hope, and reap with joy!
Health to you all, and health for many a year;
And to your souls be your

Preserver dear.
And, from that hour when flesh and spirit sever,

Oh! from that hour, health to your souls for ever! The cultivator of land enjoys peculiar pleasures,not the common husbandman, but the gentleman and experimental farmer; who triumphs over obstacles, improves the productions of nature, and the breed of domestic animals; naturalizes foreign productions and foreign cattle; forces rocks to nourish the vine, torrents to spin silk and temper metals ; knows how to create and correct soils to cut canals for agriculture and commerce, to fertilize the most arid lands by irrigation, and to drain and render profitable bogs, morasses, and overflowing rivers; and, finally, who diffuses agriculture over the whole country, sometimes as a goddess disseminating blessings, and sometimes like a fairy lavishing her enchantments.

From the remotest ages agriculture has been esteemed worthy of general attention; and the simplicity of ancient manners rendered it an object not inconsistent with the rank and situation of persons of the greatest eminence. Gideon, the renowned champion and judge of Israel, quitted the threshing-floor to preside in the public assembly of his countrymen. And Cincinnatus, the conqueror of the Volsci, left his plough to lead the Roman armies to battle; and afterwards declined the rewards gained by his victories, to return to his native fields. In modern times this occupation has been held in no less esteem. General Washington, the late illustrious President of the United States of America, found the most pleasing relaxation of public business in the management of his own estate. The emperor of China, at the beginning of every spring, goes to plough in person, attended by the princes and grandees of his empire ; he celebrates the close of the harvest among his subjects, and creates the best farmer in his dominions a mandarin. Many English gentlemen, and some of the highest rank, take a lively interest in all rural improvements, and preside at the annual meeting of agriculturists, with no less reputation to themselves, than encouragement to the art :

In ancient times, the sacred plough employed
The kings and awful fathers of mankind,
And some, with whom compared your insect tribes
Are but the beings of a summer's day,
Here held the scale of empire; ruled the storm
Of mighty war; then, with unwearied hand,
Disdaining little delicacies, seized
The plough, and greatly independent lived :
Ye generous Britons, venerate the plough;

And o'er your hills, and long-withdrawing vales,
Let Autumn spread her treasures to the sun,
Luxuriant and unbounded !

THOMSON. The common husbandman is not without his pleasures. He is happy, indeed, if possessed of a mind that will enable him to indulge in such meditations as the following:

With toilsome steps when I pursue,

O'er breaking clods, the ploughshare's way,
Lord! teach my mental eye to view

My native dissoluble clay.
And when with seed I strew the earth,

To thee all praises let me give,
Whose hands prepar'd me for the birth,

Whose breath inform'd, and bade me live.
Pleas'd I behold the stately stem

Support his bearded honour's load;
Thus, Lord ! sustain'd by thee I came

To manhood, thro' youth's dang’rous road.
Purging from noxious herbs the grain,

Oh! may I learn to purge my mind
From sin, rank weed of deepest stain,

Nor leave one baneful root behind.
When blight destroys the op’ning ear,

Life, thus replete with various woe,
Warns me to shun, with studious care,

Pride, my most deadly latent foe.
When harvest comes, the yellow crop

Prone to the reaper's sickle yields;
And I beneath death's scythe must drop,

And, soon or late, forsake these fields.
When future crops, in silent hoards,

Sleep for awhile, to service dead;
Thy emblem this, O grave! affords ;

The path of life which all must tread. ANON, The following lines, addressed to a shepherd, will please the lover of rural scenes :-

Shepherd ! with delighted eyes,
Be thine to view the earth and skies;
In the mountain's vasty sweep,
In the wildly raging deep,
In the solemn grot, or bower,
In plumy bird, or verdant sod,
Shepherd ! see the present God.

Shepherd ! love the silent stream;
Love the pale moon's modest beam;
Art produces nought so fair
As groves that nature's livery wear.
-Why, restless, wouldst thou wish to Ay
Where cities rear the domes on high;
To view not mountains tall and gray,
O'er which the thin mist steals away;
Nor winding vale with foliage crown'd,
When eve is exquisite around;
But, contrast sad! with patient feet
To pace the pav'd, the noisome street;
Where, haply, through the dingy air,
A cloud may now and then appear;
Where fogs with gloomy smoke combine,
Through which scarce summer's sun can shine :
And houses dim, and walls are seen
Not hedge-rows gay, and copses green ?
For man tyrannic rule obtains,
And taste, not guileless nature, reigns.

mistaken shepherd! go;
Gaze at their pomp, attend their show:
And thence, at length returning, tell
Where the purer pleasures dwell.
Can the painter's blending hand
Thy pleasure and thy praise command,
Where verdant trees, and azure skies,
On the tinted canvass rise ?
Or marvell'st at the pencil's power,
Elaborate to trace the flower?
Nature spreads these charms for thee,
The azure sky, the verdant tree
Lo! at thy feet the flow'ret blooms
With unadult'rated perfumes.
'Twas hence the artist trac'd his line
The sweet original is thine;
And nature can a charm impart
Beyond the mimicry of art,
To soothe the eye, to mend the heart.

Learn then content: nor seek to rove
Forth from thy native lawn and grove.
Delight, at morn and eve, to pass

Thy meadows fresh with dewy grass;
Where modest mushrooms rear the head,
And reeds half bide the streamlet's bed.
Learn in every plant and flower
To view the all-creative power ;

« PreviousContinue »