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For dissolution, hurtful to the main. Hence merchants, unimpeachable of sin Against the charities of domestic life, Incorporated, seem at once to lose Their nature ; and, disclaiming all regard For mercy and the common rights of man, Build factories with blood, conducting trade At the sword's point, and dying the white robe Of innocent commercial justice red. Hence, too, the field of glory, as the world Misdeems it, dazzled by its bright array, With all its majesty of thund'ring pomp, Enchanting music and immortal wreaths, Is but a school where thoughtlessness is taught On principle, where foppery atones For folly, gallantry for ev'ry vice.
But, slighted as it is, and by the great Abandon'd, and, which still I more regret, Infected with the manners and the modes It knew not once, the country wins me still. I never fram'd a wish, or form'd a plan, That flatter'd me with hopes of earthly bliss, But there I laid the scene. There early stray'd My fancy, ere yet liberty of choice Had found me, or the hope of being free. My very dreams were rural ; rural, too, The first-born efforts of my youthful muse, Sportive, and jingling her poetic bells Ere yet her ear was mistress of their pow'rs. No bard could please me but whose lyre was tun'd
To nature's praises. Heroes and their feats
Fatigu’d me, never weary of the pipe
The rustic throng beneath his fav’rite beech.
Then Milton had indeed a poet's charms :
New to my taste, his Paradise surpass’d
The struggling efforts of my boyish tongue
To speak its excellence. I danc'd for joy.
I marvel'd much, that, at so ripe an age
As twice seven years, his beauties had then first
Engag'd my wonder ; and, admiring still,
And still admiring, with regret suppos’d
The joy half lost because not sooner found.
There, too, enamour'd of the life I lov'd,
Pathetic in its praise, in its pursuit
Determin'd, and possessing it at last
With transports such as favour'd lovers feel,
I studied, priz’d, and wish'd that I had known,
Ingenious Cowley! and, though now reclaim'd
By modern lights from an erroneous taste,
Entangled in the cobwebs of the schools.
I still revere thee, courtly though retir'd;
Though stretch'd at ease in Chertsey's silent bow'rs,
Not unemploy'd ; and finding rich amends
For a lost world in solitude and verse.
'Tis born with all : the love of nature's works
Is an ingredient in the compound man,
Infus'd at the creation of the kind.
And, though th? Almighty Maker has throughout
Discriminated each from each, by strokes
And touches of his hand, with so much art
Diversified, that two were never found
Twins at all points-yet this obtains in all,
That all discern a beauty in his works,
And all can taste them : minds that have been form'd
And tutor'd, with a relish more exact,
But none without some relish, none unmov'd.
It is a flame that dies not even there,
Where nothing feeds it : neither business, crowds,
Nor habits of luxurious city-life ;
Whatever else they smother of true worth
In human bosoms ; quench it, or abate.
The villas with which London stands begirt,
Like a swarth Indian with his belt of beads,
Prove it. A breath of unadultrate air,
The glimpse of a green pasture, how they cheer
The citizen, and brace his languid frame !
Ev'n in the stifling bosom of the town,
A garden, in which nothing thrives, has charms
That sooth the rich possessor; much consolid,
That here and there some sprigs of mournful mint,
Of nightshade, or valerian, grace the well
He cultivates. These serve him with a hint
That nature lives; that sight-refreshing green
Is still the liv'ry she delights to wear,
Though sickly samples of th' exub'rant whole.
What are the casements lin’d with creeping herbs,
The prouder sashes fronted with a range
Of orange, myrtle, or the fragrant weed,
The Frenchman's* darling ? are they not all proofs,
That man, immur'd in cities, still retains
His inborn inextinguishable thirst
Of rural scenes, compensating his loss
By supplemental shifts, the best he may ?
The most unfurnish'd with the means of life,
And they that never pass their brick-wall bounds
To range the fields and treat their lungs with air,
Yet feel the burning instinct : over-head
Suspend their crazy boxes, planted thick,
And water'd duly. There the pitcher stands
A fragment, and the spoutless tea-pot there ;
Sad witnesses how close-pent man regrets
The country, with what ardour he contrives
A peep at nature, when he can no more.
Hail, therefore, patroness of health, and ease,
And contemplation, heart-consoling joys
And harmless pleasures, in the throng'd abode
Of multitudes unknown ! hail, rural life !
Address himself who will to the pursuit
Of honours, or emoluments, or fame ;
I shall not add myself to such a chase,
Thwart his attempts, or envy his success.
Some must be great. Great offices will have
Great talents. And God gives to ev'ry man
The virtue, temper, understanding, taste,
That lifts him into life; and lets him fall
Just in the niche he was ordain'd to fill.
To the deliv'rer of an injur'd land
He gives a tongue ť enlarge upon, a heart
To feel, and courage to redress her wrongs ;
To monarchs dignity ; to judges sense ;
To artists ingenuity and skill;
To me an unambitious mind, content
In the low vale of life, that early felt
A wish for ease and leisure, and ere long
Found here that leisure and that ease I wish'd.