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The back-string and the bib, assume the dress
Of womanhood, sit pupils in the school
Of card-devoted time, and, night by night,
Plac'd at some vacant corner of the board,
Learn ev'ry trick, and soon play all the game.
But truce with censure. Roving as I rove,
Where shall I find an end, or how proceed ?
As he that travels far oft turns aside
To view some rugged rock or mould'ring tow'r,
Which seen, delights him not; then, coming home,
Describes and prints it, that the world may know
How far he went for what was nothing worth ;
So I, with brush in hand and pallet spread,
With colours mix'd for a far diff'rent use,
Paint cards and dolls, and ev'ry idle thing
That fancy finds in her excursive flights.
Come, Ev’ning, once again, season of peace ;
Return, sweet Ev'ning, and continue long!
Methinks I see thee in the streaky west,
With matron-step slow-moving, while the night
Treads on thy sweeping train ; one hand employ'd
In letting fall the curtain of repose
On bird and beast, the other charg'd for man
With sweet oblivion of the cares of day:
Not sumptuously adorn'd, nor needing aid,
Like homely featur'd night, of clust'ring gems ;
A star or two, just twinkling on thy brow,
Suffices thee ; save that the moon is thine
No less than hers, not worn indeed on high
With osten tatious pageantry, but set
With modest grandeur in thy purple zone,
Resplendent less, but of an ampler round.
Come then, and thou shalt find thy votry calm,
Or make me so. Composure is thy gift;
And, whether I devote thy gentle hours
To books, to music, or the poet's toil ;
To weaving nets for bird-alluring fruit ;
Or twining silken threads round iv'ry reels,
When they command whom man was born to please ;
I slight thee not, but make thee welcome still.
Just when our drawing-rooms begin to blaze
With lights, by clear reflection multiplied
From many a mirror, in which he of Gath,
Goliath, might have seen his giant bulk
Whole, without stooping, tow'ring crest and all,
My pleasures, too, begin. But me, perhaps,
The glowing hearth may satisfy awhile
With faint illumination, that uplifts
The shadow to the ceiling, there by fits
Dancing uncouthly to the quiv'ring flame.
Not undelightful is an hour to me
So spent in parlour twilight : such a gloom
Suits well the thoughtful or unthinking mind,
The mind contemplative, with some new theme
Pregnant, or indispos'd alike to all.
Laugh ye, who boast your more mercurial pow'rs,
That never feel a stupor, know no pause,
Nor need one : I am conscious, and confess,
Fearless, a. soul that does not always think.
Me oft has fancy, ludicrous and wild,
Sooth'd with a waking dream of houses, tow'rs,
Trees, churches, and strange visages, express'd
In the red cinders, while with poring eye
I gaz'd, myself creating what I saw.
Nor less amus'd have I quiescent watch'd
The sooty films that play upon the bars,
Pendulous, and foreboding, in the view
Of superstition, prophesying still,
Though still deceiv'd, some stranger's near approach.
'Tis thus the understanding takes repose
In indolent vacuity of thought,
And sleeps and is refresh’d. Meanwhile the face
Conceals the mood lethargic with a mask
Of deep deliberation, as the man
Were task'd to his full strength, absorb'd and lost.
Thus oft, reclin’d at ease, I lose an hour
At ev’ning, till at length the freezing blast,
That sweeps the bolted shutter, summons home
The recollected pow'rs; and, snapping short
The glassy threads, with which the fancy weaves
Her brittle toys, restores me to myself.
How calm is my recess; and how the frost,
Raging abroad, and the rough wind, endear
The silence and the warmth enjoy'd within !
I saw the woods and fields, at close of day,
A variegated show; the meadow:s green,
Though faded ; and the lands, where lately wav'd
The golden harvest, of a mellow brown,
Upturn’d so lately by the forceful share.
I saw far off the weedy fallows smile
With verdure not unprofitable, graz'd By flocks, fast feeding, and selecting each · His fav’rite herb; while all the leafless groves,
That skirt th' horizon, wore a sable hue, Scarce notic'd in the kindred dusk of eve. . Tomorrow brings a change, a total change! Which even now, though silently perform'd And slowly, and by most unfelt, the face Of universal nature undergoes. Fast falls a fleecy show'r : the downy flakes, Descending, and with never-ceasing lapse, Softly alighting upon all below, Assimilate all objects. Earth receives Gladly the thick’ning mantle; and the green And tender blade, that fear'd the chilling blast, Escapes unhurt beneath so warm a veil.
In such a world ; so thorny, and where none Finds happiness unblighted; or, if found, Without some thistly sorrow at its side ; It seems the part of wisdom, and no sin Against the law of love, to measure lots With less distinguish'd than ourselves; that thus We may with patience bear-our mod'rate ills, And sympathise with others, suff’ring more. Ill fares the trav’ller now, and he that stalks In pond'rous boots beside his reeking team. The wain goes heavily, impeded sore By congregated loads adhering close To the clogg'd wheels; and in its sluggish pace, Noiseless, appears a moving hill of snow.
The toiling steeds expand the nostril wide,
While ev'ry breath, by respiration strong
Forc'd downward, is consolidated soon
Upon their jutting chests. He, form'd to bear
The pelting brunt of the tempestuous night,
With half-shut eyes, and pucker'd cheeks, and' teeth
Presented bare against the storm, plods on.
One hand secures his hat, save when with both
He brandishes his pliant length of whip,
Resounding oft, and never heard in vain..,
Oh happy; and, in my account, denied 10.!. ...
That sensibility of pain with which
Refinement is endue athrice happy thou !
Thy frame, robust and lady, feels indeed
The piercing cold, but feels it unimpair'd.
The learned finger never need explore
Thy vig'rous pulse ; and the unhealthful east,
That breathes the spleen, and searches ev'ry bone
of the infirm, is wholesome air to thee.
Thy days roll on, exempt from household care ;
Thy waggon is thy wife ; and the poor beasts,
That drag the dull companion to and fro,
Thine helpless charge, dependent on thy care.
Ah, treat them kindly! rude as thou appear'st,
Yet show that thou hast mercy ! which the great,
With needless hurry whirl?d from place to place,
Humane as they would seem, not always show.
Poor, yet industrious, modest, quie neat ;
Such claim compassion in a night like this,
And have a friend in ev'ry feeling heart.