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He sees that this great roundabout The world, with all its motley rout,
Church, army, physic, law, Its customs, and its businesses, Is no concern at all of his,
And says-what says he?-Caw.
Thrice happy bird! I too have seen Much of the vanities of men;
And, sick of having seen 'em, Would cheerfully these limbs resign For such a pair of wings as thine, And such a head between 'em.
Little inmate, full of mirth,
Chirping on my kitchen hearth,
Wheresoe'er be thine abode,
Always harbinger of good.
Pay me for thy warm retreat
With a song more soft and sweet;
In return thou shalt receive
Such a strain as I can give.
Thus thy praise shall be exprest,
Inoffensive, welcome guest!
While the rat is on the scout,
And the mouse with curious snout,
With what vermin else infest
Every dish, and spoil the best;
Frisking thus before the fire,
Thou hast all thine heart's desire.
Though in voice and shape they be
Formed as if akin to thee,
Thou surpassest, happier far,
Happiest grasshoppers that are;
Theirs is but a summer's song,
Thine endures the winter long,
Unimpaired, and shrill, and clear,
Melody throughout the year.
Neither night, nor dawn of day,
Puts a period to thy play:
Sing then-and extend thy span
Far beyond the date of man.
Wretched man, whose years are spent
In repining discontent,
Lives not, aged though he be,
Half a span, compar'd with thee.
In painted plumes superbly drest,
A native of the gorgeous east,
By many a billow tost;
Poll gains at length the British shore,
Part of the captain's precious store,
A present to his toast.
Belinda's maids are soon preferred To teach him now and then a word, As Poll can master it;
But 'tis her own important charge To qualify him more at large,
And make him quite a wit.
Sweet Poll! his doating mistress cries, Sweet Poll! the mimic bird replies;
And calls aloud for sack.
She next instructs him in the kiss; 'Tis now a little one, like Miss,
And now a hearty smack.
At first he aims at what he hears;
And, listening close with both his ears,
Just catches at the sound;
But soon articulates aloud,
Much to the amusement of the crowd,
And stuns the neighbours round.
A querulous old woman's voice
His humorous talent next employs,
He scolds and gives the lie.
And now he sings, and now is sick,
Here Sally, Susan, come, come quick,
Poor Poll is like to die!
Belinda and her bird! 'tis rare
To meet with such a well-matched pair,
The language and the tone,
Each character in every part
Sustained with so much grace and art,
And both in unison.
When children first begin to spell,
And stammer out a syllable,
We think them tedious creatures;
But difficulties soon abate,
When birds are to be taught to prate,
And women are the teachers.
SHEWING HOW HE WENT FARTHER THAN HE INTENDED, AND CAME SAFE HOME AGAIN.
John Gilpin was a citizen
Of credit and renown,
A train-band captain eke was he
Of famous London town.
John Gilpin's spouse said to her dear, Though wedded we have been These twice ten tedious years, yet we No holiday have seen.
To-morrow is our wedding-day,
And we will then repair Unto the Bell at Edmonton All in a chaise and pair.
My sister, and my sister's child,
Myself, and children three,
Will fill the chaise; so you must ride
On horesback after we.
Then over all, that he might be
He soon replied, I do admire
And you are she, my dearest dear,
Therefore it shall be done.
I am a linen-draper bold,
As all the world doth know, And my good friend the calender Will lend his horse to go.
Quoth Mrs. Gilpin, That's well said;
And, for that wine is dear,
We will be furnished with our own,
Which is both bright and clear.
John Gilpin kissed his loving wife;
O'erjoyed was he to find
That, though on pleasure she was bent,
She had a frugal mind.
The morning came, the chaise was brought,
But yet was not allowed
To drive up to the door, lest all
Should say that she was proud.
So three doors off the chaise was stayed,
Where they did all get in ;
Six precious souls, and all agog
To dash through thick and thin.
Smack went the whip, round went the wheels,
Were never folk so glad,
The stones did rattle underneath,
As if Cheapside were mad.
John Gilpin at his horse's side
Seized fast the flowing mane,
And up he got, in haste to ride,
But soon came down again;
For saddle-tree scarce reached had he,
His journey to begin,
When, turning round his head, he saw
Three customers come in.
So down he came; for loss of time,
Although it grieved him sore; Yet loss of pence, full well he knew, Would trouble him much more.
'Twas long before the customers
Were suited to their mind,
When Betty screaming came down stairs,
"The wine is left behind!"
Good lack! quoth he-yet bring it me,
My leathern belt likewise,
In which I bear my trusty sword
When I do exercise.
Now mistress Gilpin (careful soul!)
Had two stone bottles found,
To hold the liquor that she loved,
And keep it safe and sound.
Each bottle had a curling ear,
Through which the belt he drew,
And hung a bottle on each side,
To make his balance true.
Equipped from top to toe,
His long red cloak, well brushed and neat,
He manfully did throw.
Now see him mounted once again
Upon his nimble steed,
Full slowly pacing o'er the stones,
With caution and good heed.
But finding soon a smoother road
Beneath his well-shod feet,
The snorting beast began to trot,
Which galled him in his seat.
So, fair and softly, John he cried,
But John he cried in vain ;
That trot became a gallop soon,
In spite of curb and rein.
So stooping down, as needs he must
Who cannot sit upright,
He grasped the mane with both his hands,
And eke with all his might.
His horse, who never in that sort
Had handled been before,
What thing upon his back had got
Did wonder more and more.
Away went Gilpin, neck or nought;
Away went hat and wig;
He little dreamt when he set out,
Of running such a rig.
The wind did blow, the cloak did fly
Like streamer long and gay,
Till, loop and button failing both,
At last it flew away.
Then might all people well discern
The bottles he had slung;
A bottle swinging at each side,
As hath been said or sung.
The dogs did bark, the children screamed,
Up flew the windows all;
And every soul cried out, Well done!
As loud as he could bawl.
Away went Gilpin-who but he?
His fame soon spread around,
He carries weight! he rides a race!
"Tis for a thousand pound!
And still, as fast as he drew near,
'Twas wonderful to view
How in a trice the turnpike men
Their gates wide open threw.
And now, as he went bowing down
His reeking head full low,
The bottles twain behind his back
Were shattered at a blow.
Down ran the wine into the road,
Most piteous to be seen,
Which made his horse's flanks to smoke, As they had basted been.
But still he seemed to carry weight,
With leathern girdle braced; For all might see the bottle-necks
Still dangling at his waist.
Thus all through merry Islington
These gambols he did play,
Until he came unto the Wash
Of Edmonton so gay:
And there he threw the wash about
On both sides of the way,
Just like unto a trundling mop,
Or a wild goose at play.
At Edmonton his loving wife
From the balcony spied
Her tender husband, wondering much
To see how he did ride.
Stop, stop, John Gilpin!-Here's the house
They all at once did cry;
The dinner waits, and we are tired:
Said Gilpin-So am I !
But yet his horse was not a whit
Inclined to tarry there;
For why?-his owner had a house
Full ten miles off, at Ware.
So like an arrow swift he flew,
Shot by an archer strong;
So did he fly-which brings me to
The middle of my song.
Away went Gilpin out of breath,
And sore against his will,
Till at his friend the calender's
His horse at last stood still.
The calender, amazed to see
His neighbour in such trim,
Laid down his pipe, flew to the gate,
And thus accosted him.
What news? what news? your tidings tell;
Tell me you must and shall
Say why bare-headed you are come,
Or why you come at all?
Now Gilpin had a pleasant wit,
And loved a timely joke!
And thus unto the calender
In merry guise he spoke:
I came because your horse would come;
And, if I well forbode,
My hat and wig will soon be here,
They are upon the road.
The calender, right glad to find
His friend in merry pin,
Returned him not a single word,
But to the house went in;
Whence straight he came with hat and wig;
A wig that flowed behind,
A hat not much the worse for wear,
Each comely in its kind.
He held them up, and in his turn
Thus showed his ready wit,
My head is twice as big as yours,
They therefore needs must fit.
But let me scrape the dirt away,
That hangs upon your face;
And stop and eat, for well you may
Be in a hungry case.
Said John, it is my wedding-day,
And all the world would stare
If wife should dine at Edmonton,
And I should dine at Ware.
So turning to his horse, he said,
I am in haste to dine;
'Twas for your pleasure you came here,
You shall go back for mine.
Ah luckless speech, and bootless boast?
For which he paid full dear;
For, while he spake, a braying ass
Did sing most loud and clear;
Whereat his horse did snort, as he
Had heard a lion roar,
And galloped off with all his might,
As he had done before.
Away went Gilpin, and away
Went Gilpin's hat and wig.
He lost them sooner than at first,
For why?-they were too big.
Now mistress Gilpin, when she saw
Her husband posting down
Into the country far away,
She pulled out half a crown;
And thus unto the youth she said,
That drove them to the Bell,
This shall be yours when you bring back
My husband safe and well.
The youth did ride, and soon did meet
John coming back amain;
Whom in a trice he tried to stop,
By catching at his rein;
But not performing what he meant,
And gladly would have done,
The frighted steed he frighted more,
And made him faster run.
Away went Gilpin, and away
Went post-boy at his heels,
The post-boy's horse right glad to miss
The lumbering of the wheels.
Six gentlemen upon the road
Thus seeing Gilpin fly,
With post-boy scampering in the rear,
They raised the hue and cry:-
Stop thief! stop thief!—a highwayman!
Not one of them was mute;
And all and each that passed that way
Did join in the pursuit.
Their length and colour from the locks they spare;
The elastic spring of an unwearied foot,
That mounts the stile with ease, or leaps the fence,
And now the turnpike gates again
Flew open in short space;
The toll-men thinking as before
That Gilpin rode a race.
And so he did, and won it too,
For he got first to town;
Nor stopped till where he had got up
He did again get down.
Now let us sing, long live the king,
And Gilpin long live he;
And, when he next doth ride abroad, May I be there to see!
ON RURAL SIGHTS AND SOUNDS. The nurse sleeps sweetly, hired to watch the sick, Whom snoring she disturbs. As sweetly he, Who quits the coach-box at the midnight hour To sleep within the carriage more secure, His legs depending at the open door. Sweet sleep enjoys the curate in his desk, The tedious rector drawling over his head; And sweet the clerk below. But neither sleep Of lazy nurse, who snores the sick man dead, Nor his, who quits the box at midnight hour To slumber in the carriage more secure, Nor sleep enjoyed by curate in his desk, Nor yet the dozings of the clerk, are sweet, Compared with the repose the sofa yields.
Oh may I live exempted (while I live
Guiltless of pampered appetite obscene)
From pangs arthritic, that infest the toe
Of libertine excess. The sofa suits
The gouty limb, 'tis true; but gouty limb,
Though on a sofa, may I never feel:
For I have loved the rural walk through lanes
Of grassy swarth, close cropt by nibbling sheep,
And skirted thick with intertexture firm
Of thorny boughs; have loved the rural walk
O'er hills, through vallies, and by rivers' brink,
E'er since a truant boy I passed my bounds
To enjoy a ramble on the banks of Thames;
And still remember, nor without regret
Of hours, that sorrow since has much endeared:
How oft, my slice of pocket store consumed,
Still hungering, pennyless, and far from home,
I fed on scarlet hips and stony haws,
Or blushing crabs, or berries, that imboss
The bramble, black as jet, or sloes austere.
Hard fare! but such as boyish appetite
Disdains not; nor the palate, undepraved
By culinary arts, unsavory deems.
No sofa then awaited my return;
Nor sofa then I needed. Youth repairs
His wasted spirits quickly, by long toil
Incurring short fatigue; and, though our years,
As life declines, speed rapidly away,
And not a year but pilfers as he goes
Some youthful grace, that age would gladly keep,
A tooth or auburn lock; and by degrees
That play of lungs, inhaling and again
Respiring freely the fresh air, that makes
Swift pace or steep ascent no toil to me,
Mine have not pilfered yet; nor yet impaired
My relish of fair prospect; scenes that soothed
Or charmed me young, no longer young, I find
Still soothing, and of power to charm me still.
And witness, dear companiou of my walks,
Whose arm this twentieth winter I perceive
Fast locked in mine, with pleasure such as love,
Confirmed by long experience of thy worth
And well-tried virtues, could alone inspire-
Witness a joy that thou hast doubled long.
Thou knowest my praise of nature most sincere,
And that my raptures are not conjured up
To serve occasions of poetic pomp,
But genuine, and art partner of them all.
How oft upon yon eminence our pace
Has slackened to a pause, and we have borne
The ruffling wind, scarce conscious that it blew,
While admiration, feeding at the eye,
And still unsated, dwelt upon the scene.
Thence with what pleasure have we just discerned
The distant plough still moving, and beside
His labouring team, that swerved not from the track,
The sturdy swain diminished to a boy!
Here Ouse, slow winding through a level plain
Of spacious meads with cattle sprinkled o'er,
Conducts the eye along his sinuous course
Delighted. There, fast rooted in their bank,
Stand, never overlooked, our favourite elms,
That screen the herdsman's solitary hut;
While far beyond, and overthwart the stream
That, as with molten glass, inlays the vale,
The sloping land recedes into the clouds;
Displaying on its varied side the grace
Of hedge-row beauties numberless, square tower,
Tall spire, from which the sound of cheerful bells
Just undulates upon the listening ear,
Groves, heaths, and smoking villages, remote.
Scenes must be beautiful, which daily viewed
Please daily, and whose novelty survives
Long knowledge and the scrutiny of years;
Praise justly due to those that I describe.
Nor rural sights alone, but rural sounds,
Exhilirate the spirit, and restore
The tone of languid Nature. Mighty winds,
That sweep the skirt of some far-spreading wood
Of ancient growth, make music not unlike
The dash of ocean on his winding shore,
And lull the spirit while they fill the mind;
Unnumbered branches waving in the blast,
And all their leaves fast fluttering, all at once.
Nor less composure waits upon the roar
Of distant floods, or on the softer voice
Of neighbouring fountain, or of rills that slip
Through the cleft rock, and, chiming as they fall
Upon loose pebbles, lose themselves at length
In matted grass, that with a livelier green
Betrays the secret of their silent course.
Nature inanimate employs sweet sounds,
But animated nature sweeter still,
To soothe and satisfy the human ear.
Ten thousand warblers cheer the day, and one
The livelong night: nor these alone, whose notes
Nice-fingered art must emulate in vain,
But cawing rooks, and kites that swim sublime
In still repeated circles, screaming loud,
The jay, the pie, and even the boding owl,
That hails the rising moon, have charms for me.
Sounds inharmonious in themselves and harsh,
Yet heard in scenes where peace for ever reigns,
And only there, please highly for their sake.
ON THE TOWN AND COUNTRY. Hence the declivity is sharp and short, And such the re-ascent; between them weeps A little naiad her impoverished urn All summer long, which winter fills again. The folded gates would bar my progress now, But that the lord of this enclosed demesne, Communicative of the good he owns, Admits me to a share; the guiltless eye Commits no wrong, nor wastes what it enjoys. Refreshing change! where now the blazing sun? By short transition we have lost his glare, And stepped at once into a cooler clime. Ye fallen avenues! once more I mourn Your fate unmerited, once more rejoice That yet a remnant of your race survives. How airy and how light the graceful arch, Yet awful as the consecrated roof Re-echoing pious anthems! while beneath The chequered earth seems restless as a flood Brushed by the wind. So sportive is the light Shot through the boughs, it dances as they dance, Shadow and sunshine intermingling quick, And darkening and enlightening, as the leaves Play wanton, every moment, every spot. [cheered,
And now, with nerves new-braced and spirits We tread the wilderness, whose well-rolled walks, With curvature of slow and easy sweepDeception innocent-give ample space
To narrow bounds. The grove receives us next;
Between the upright shafts of whose tall elms
We may discern the thresher at his task.
Thump after thump resounds the constant flail,
That seems to swing uncertain, and yet falls
Full on the destined ear. Wide flies the chaff,
The rustling straw sends up a frequent mist
Of atoms, sparkling in the noon-day beam.
Come hither, ye that press your beds of down,
And sleep not; see him sweating o'er his bread
Before he eats it.-'Tis the primal curse,
But softened into mercy; made the pledge
Of cheerful days, and nights without a groan.
By ceaseless action all that is subsists.
Constant rotation of the unwearied wheel
That nature rides upon maintains her health,
Her beauty; her fertility. She dreads
and lives but while she moves.
Its own revolvency upholds the world.
Winds from all quarters agitate the air,
And fit the limpid element for use,
Else noxious; oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams,
All feel the freshening impulse, and are cleansed
By restless undulation: even the oak
Thrives by the rude concussion of the storm:
He seems indeed indignant, and to feel
The impression of the blast with proud disdain,
Frowning, as if in his unconscious arm
He held the thunder: but the monarch owes
His firm stability to what he scorns,
More fixt below, the more disturbed above.
The law, by which all creatures else are bound,
Binds man the lord of all. Himself derives
No mean advantage from a kindred cause,
From strenuous toil his hours of sweetest ease.
The sedentary stretch their lazy length
When custom bids, but no refreshment find,
For none they need: the languid eye, the cheek
Deserted of its bloom, the flaccid, shrunk,
And withered muscle, and the vapid soul,
Reproach their owner with that love of rest,
To which he forfeits even the rest he loves.
Not such the alert and active. Measure life
By its true worth, the comforts it affords,
And theirs alone seems worthy of the name.
Good health, and, its associate in the most,
Good temper; spirits prompt to undertake,
And not soon spent, though in an arduous task;
The powers of fancy and strong thought are theirs;
Even age itself seems privileged in them,
With clear exemption from its own defects.
A sparkling eye beneath a wrinkled front
The veteran shows, and, gracing a gray beard
With youthful smiles, descends toward the grave
Sprightly, and old almost without decay.
Like a coy maiden, ease, when courted most,
Farthest retires-an idol, at whose shrine
Who oftenest sacrifice are favoured least.
The love of Nature, and the scenes she draws,
Is nature's dictate. Strange! there should be found,
Who, self-imprisoned in their proud saloons,
Renounce the odours of the open field
For the unscented fictions of the loom;
Who, satisfied with only pencilled scenes,
Prefer to the performance of a God
The inferior wonders of an artist's hand!
Lovely indeed the mimic works of art;
But Nature's works far lovelier. I admire,
None more admires the painter's magic skill,
Who shows me that which I shall never see,
Conveys a distant country into mine,
And throws Italian light on English walls;
But imitative strokes can do no more
Than please the eye-sweet Nature's every sense.
The air salubrious of her lofty hills,
The cheering fragrance of her dewy vales,
And music of her woods-no works of man
May rival these, these all bespeak a power
Peculiar, and exclusively her own.