« PreviousContinue »
And begg'd he'd tell them if he knew,
Whether the thing was green or blue.
"Sirs," cries the umpire, "cease your pother,
The creature's neither one nor t'other.
I caught the animal last night,
And view'd it o'er by candlelight:
I mark'd it well-'twas black as jet-
You stare-but sirs, I've got it yet,
And can produce it."-"Pray sir, do:
I'll lay my life the thing is blue,"
"And I'll be sworn that when you've seen
The reptile, you'll pronounce it green."
"Well then, at once to end the doubt,"
Replies the man, I'll turn him out:
And when before your eyes I've set him,
If you don't find him black, I'll eat him."
He said then full before their sight
Produc'd the beast-and lo, 'twas white.
II.-On the Order of Nature.-POPE. EE, through this air, this ocean and this earth,
Above, how high progressive life may go,
Around how wide! how deep extend below!
Vast chain of being, which from God began :
Nature's etherial, human; angel, man;
Beast, bird, fish, insect, what no eye can see,
No glass can reach; from Infinite to thee.
From thee to nothing. On superior powers
Were we to press, inferior might on ours;
Or in the full creation leave a void,
Where, one step broken, the great scale's destroy'd;
From Nature's chain whatever link you strike,
Tenth or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike.
What if the foot, ordain'd the dust to tread,
Or hand, to toil, aspir'd to be the head?
What if the head, the eye, or ear repin'd
To serve mere engines to the ruling mind?
Just as absurd for any part to claim
To be another, in this gen'ral frame,
Just as absurd to mourn the tasks or pains,
The great directing MIND of ALL ordains.
All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and God the soul:
That, chang'd through all, and yet in all the same,
Great in the earth, as in th' etherial frame,
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees,
Lives through all life, extends through all extent,
Spreads undivided, operates unspent,
Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part,
As full, as perfect, in a hair as heart:
As full, as perfect, in vile man that mourns,
As the rapt seraph that adores and burns:
To him no high, no low, no great, no small;
He fills, he bounds, connects and equals all.
Cease, then, nor ORDER, imperfection name:
Our proper bliss depends on what we blame.
Know thy own point; this kind, this due degree
Of blindness, weakness, Heaven bestows on thee.
Submit. In this, or any other sphere,
Secure to be as blest as thou can'st bear;
Safe in the hand of one disposing Power,
Or in the natal, or the mortal hour.
All Nature is but Art unknown to thee;
All Chance, Direction which thou can'st not see;
All Discord, Harmony not understood;
All partial Evil, universal Good;
And, spite of Pride, in erring Reason's spite,
One truth is clear, "WHATEVER IS, IS RIGHT."
III.-Description of a Country Alehouse.-GOLDSMITN.
EAR yonder thorn that lifts its head on high,
Where once the signpost caught the passing eye;
Low lies that house, where nut brown draughts inspir'd;
Where grey beard mirth, and smiling toil retir'd;
Where village statesmen talk'd, with looks profound,
And news, much older than the ale, went round.
Imagination fondly stoops to trace
The parlor splendors of that festive place;
The whitewash'd wall; the nicely sanded floor;
The varnish'd clock, that click'd behind the door;
The chest, contriv'd a double debt to pay,
A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day;
The pictures plac'd for ornament and use,
The twelve good rules, the royal game of goose;
The hearth, except when winter chill'd the day,
With aspen boughs, and flowers, and fennel gay
While broken teacups, wisely kept for show,
Rang'd o'er the chimney, glisten'd in a row.
Vain transitory splendors! could not all
Reprieve the tott'ring mansion from its fall!
Obscure it sinks; nor shall it more impart
An hour's importance to the poor man's heart.
Thither no more the peasant shall repair,'
To sweet oblivion of his daily care;
To more the farmer's news, the barber's tale,"
No more the woodman's ballad shall prevail;
No more the smith his dusky brow shall clear,
Relax his pon'drous strength, and lean to hear.
he host himself no longer shall be found
Careful to see the mantling bliss go round;
Nor the coy maid, half willing to be press'd,
Shall kiss the cup, to pass it to the rest.
IV. Character of a Country Schoolmaster.-IB.
B With blossom'd furze, unprofitably gay,
ESIDE yon straggling fence that skirts the way,
There, in his noisy mansion, skill'd to rule,
The village master taught his little school.
A man severe he was, and stern to view;
I knew him well, and every truant knew.
Well had the boding tremblers learn'd to trace
The day's disasters in his morning face:
Full well they laugh'd, and counterfeited glee,
At all his jokes-for many a joke had he :
Full well the busy whisper, circling round,
Convey'd the dismal tidings when he frown'd.
Yet he was kind; or, if severe in aught,
The love he bore to learning was in fault.
The village all declar'd how much he knew,
'Twas certain he could write and cypher too;
Lands he could measure, times and tides presage;
And e'en the story ran that he could guage.
In arguing too the parson own'd his skill;
For, e'en though vanquish'd, he could argue still;
While words of learned length and thund'ring sound,
Amaz'd the gazing rustics, rang'd around;
And still they gaz'd-and still the wonder grew,
That one small head could carry all he knew.
V.-Story of Palemon and Livinia.-THOMPSON.
Livinia once had friends,
And fortune smil'd, deceitful, on her birth.
For, in her hapless years, depriv'd of all,
Of every stay, save Innocence and Heaven,
She, with her widow'd mother, feeble, old
And poor, liv'd in a cottage, far retir'd
Among the windings of a woody vale;
By solitude and deep surrounding shades,
But more by bashful modesty conceal'd.
Together, thus they shunn'd the cruel scorn,
Which virtue, sunk to poverty, would meet
From giddy passion and low minded pride:
Almost on nature's common bounty fed:
Like the gay birds that sung them to repose,
Content and careless of to-morrow's fare.
Her form was fresher than the morning rose,
When the dew wets its leaves; unstain'd and pure,
As is the lily, or the mountain snow,
The modest virtues mingled in her eyes,
Still on the ground dejected, darting all
Their humid beams into the blooming flowers;
Or when the mournful tale her mother told,
Of what her faithless fortune promis'd once,
Thrill'd in her thoughts, they, like the dewy star
Of evening, shone in tears. A native grace
Sat, fair proportion'd, on her polish'd limbs,
'Veil'd in a simple robe, their best attire,
Beyond the pomp of dress; for loveliness
Needs not the foreign aid of ornament,
But is, when unadorn'd, adorn'd the most.
Thoughtless of beauty, she was beauty's self,
Reeluse, amid the close embow'ring woods.
As in the hollow breast of Appenine,
Beneath the shelter of encircling hills,
A myrtle rises, far from human eye,
And breathes its balmy fragrance o'er the wild
So flourish'd blooming, and unseen by all,
The sweet Livinia; till at length compell'd
By strong Necessity's supreme command,
With smiling patience, in her looks, she went
To glean Palemon's fields.-The pride of swains
Palemon was; the generous and the rich ;
Who led the rural life, in all its joy
And elegance, as such Arcadian song
Transmits from ancient uncorrupted times,
When tyrant Custom had not shackled man,
But, free to follow nature, was the mode.
He then, his fancy with autumnal scenes
Amusing, chanc'd beside his reaper train.
To walk, when poor Livinia drew his eye,
Unconcious of her power, and turning quick,
With unaffected blushes, from his gaze:
He saw her charming; but he saw not half
The charms her downcast modesty conceal'd.
That very moment love and chaste desire
Sprung in his bosom, to himself unknown ;
For still the world prevail'd, and its dread laugh
(Which scarce the firm philosopher can scorn)
Should his heart own a gleaner in the field;
And thus in secret to his soul he sigh'd.
"What pity that so delicate a form,
By beauty kindled, where enlivening sense,
And more than vulgar goodness seems to dwell,
Should be devoted to the rude embrace
Of some indecent clown! She looks, methinks,
Of old Acasto's line; and to my mind
Recalls that patron of my happy life,
From whom my liberal fortune took its rise:
Now to the dust gone down, his houses, lands,
And once fair spreading family, dissolv'd.
'Tis said that in some lone, obscure retreat,
Urg'd by remembrance sad, and decent pride,
Far from those scenes which knew their better days,
His aged widow and his daughter live,
Whom yet my fruitless search could never find;
Romantic wish! would this the daughter were."
When strict inquiring, from herself he found She was the same, the daughter of his friend, Of bountiful Acasto-who can speak
The mingled passions that surpris'd his heart,
And through his nerves, in shriv'ring transport ran!
Then blaz'd his smother'd flame, avow'd and bold;
And as he view'd her, ardent, o'er and o'er,
Love, gratitude and pity wept at once.
Confus'd and frighten'd at his sudden tears,
Her rising beauties flush'd a higher bloom :
As thus Palemon, passionate and just,
Pour'd out the pious rapture of his soul.
"And art thou, then, Acasto's dear remains?
She whom my restless gratitude has sought
So long in vain? O yes! the very same,
The soften'd image of my noble friend;
Alive in every feature, every look,
More elegantly touch'd. Sweeter than Spring!
Thou sole surviving blossom from the root
That nourish'd up my fortune! say, ah! where,
In what sequester'd desert hast thou drawn
The kindest aspect of delighted heaven!
Into such beauty spread and blown so fair,
Though poverty's cold wind and rushing rain,
Beat keen and heavy on thy tender years.
O let me now into a richer soil
Transplant thee safe, where vernal suns and showers
Diffuse their warmest, largest influence;
And of my garden be the pride and joy.
Ill it befits thee, oh! it ill befits
Acasto's daughter, his whose open stores,
Though vast, were little to his ampler heart,
The father of a country, thus to pick
The very refuse of those harvest fields,
Which from his bounteous friendship I enjoy.
Then throw that shameful pittance from thy hand,
But ill applied to such a rugged task;
The fields, the master, all, my fair, are thine;
If to the various blessings which thy house
Has on me lavish'd, thou wilt add that bliss,
That dearest bliss, the power of blessing thee."
Here ceas'd the youth; yet still the speaking eye