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A time there was, ere England's griefs began,
When ev'ry rood of ground maintain’d its man;
For him light labour fpread her wholesome store,
what life requir'd, but gave no more:
His beft companions, innocence and health,
And his best riches, ignorance of wealth.
But times are alter'd; trade's unfeeling train
Ufurp the land and difpoffefs the fwain;
Along the lawn, where fcatter'd hamlets rofe,
Unwieldy wealth, and cumb'rous pomp repofe;
And every want to luxury ally'd,
And ev'ry pang that folly pays to pride.
These gentle hours that plenty bade to bloom,
Those calm defires that afked but little room;
Thofe healthful sports that grac'd the peaceful fcene,
Liv'd in each look, and brighten'd all the green;
Thefe, far departing, feek a kinder shore,
And rural mirth and manners are no more.
Sweet AUBURN! parent of the blissful hour, Thy glades forlorn confefs the tyrant's pow'r.. Here, as I take my folitary rounds,
In all my wand'rings round this world of care,
In all my griefs-and God has giv'n my share-
I still had hopes my latest hours to crown,
Amidst these humble bow'rs to lay me down;
To hufband out life's taper at the close,
And keep the flame from wasting by repose:
Amidst thy tang'ling walks, and ruin'd grounds,
And, many a year elaps'd, return to view
Where once the cottage ftood, the hawthorn grew, 80
Remembrance wakes with all her busy train,
Swells at my breaft, and turns the past to pain.
I ftill had hopes, for pride attends us ftill,
Amidft the fwains to fhew
my book-learn'd skill,
Around my fire an ev'ning group to draw,
And tell of all I felt, and all I faw;
And, as an hare whom hounds and horns pursue,
Pants to the place from whence at first he flew,
I ftill had hopes, my long vexations past,
Here to return-and die at home at last.
O bleft retirement, friend to life's decline,
Retreats from care, that never must be mine,
How bleft is he who crowns in fhades like these,
A youth of labour with an age of ease;
Who quits a world where ftrong temptations try,
And, fince 'tis hard to combat, learns to fly!
For him no wretches, born to work and weep,
Explore the mine, or tempt the dang❜rous deep;
No furly porter ftands in guilty ftate,
To fpurn imploring famine from the gate;
But on he moves to meet his latter end,
Angels around befriending virtue's friend;
Sinks to the grave with unperceiv'd decay,
While refignation gently flopes the way;
And, all his profpects bright'ning to the laft,
His Heav'n commences ere the world be past!
Sweet was the found, when oft at evening's clofe,
Up yonder hill the village murmur rofe;
There, as I past with careless steps and flow,
The mingling notes came foften'd from below;
The fwain refponfive as the milk-maid fung,
The fober herd that low'd to meet their, young;
The noify geefe that gabbled o'er the pool,
The playful children juft let loose from school;
The watch-dog's voice that bay'd the whifp'ring wind,
And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind;
These all in sweet confufion fought the shade,
And fill'd each pause the nightingale had made.
For now the founds of population fail,
No chearful murmurs fluctuate in the gale,
No bufy steps the grafs-grown foot-way tread,
But all the bloomy flush of life is fled.
All but yon widow'd, folitary thing,
That feebly bends beside the plashy spring;
She, wretched matron, forc'd, in age, for bread,
To ftrip the brook with mantling creffes spread,
To pick her wintry faggot from the thorn,
To feek her nightly fhed, and weep till morn;
She only left of all the harmless train,
The fad hiftorian of the penfive plain.
Near yonder copfe, where once the garden smil'd, And still where many a garden flow'r grows wild; There, where a few torn fhrubs the place disclose, The village preacher's modeft manfion rofe.
A man he was, to all the country dear,
And paffing rich with forty pounds a year;
Remote from towns he ran his godly race,
Nor ere had chang'd, nor wifh'd to change his place; Unfkilful he to fawn, or feek for pow'r,
By doctrines fashion'd to the varying hour;
Far other aims his heart had learn'd to prize,
More bent to raise the wretch'd than to rife.
His house was known to all the vagrant train,
He chid their wand'rings, but reliev'd their pain, 150
The long remember'd beggar was his guest,
Whose beard defcending fwept his aged breaft;
The ruin'd spendthrift, now no longer proud,
Claim'd kindred there, and had his claims allow'd;
The broken foldier, kindly bade to ftay,
Sate by his fire, and talk'd the night away;
Wept o'er his wounds, or tales of forrow done,
Shoulder'd his crutch and fhew'd how fields were won.
Pleas'd with his guefts, the good 'man learn'd to glow,
And quite forgot their vices in their wo;
Careless their merits, or their faults to scan,
His pity gave ere charity began.
Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,
And ev'n his failings lean'd to Virtue's fide;
But in his duty prompt at ev'ry call,
He watch'd and wept, he pray'd and felt for all.
And, as a bird each fond endearment tries,
To tempt its new-fledg'd offspring to the skies;
He tried each art, reprov'd each dull delay,
Allur'd to brighter worlds, and led the way.
Befide the bed where parting life was lay'd,
And forrow, guilt, and pain, by turns difmay'd,
The rev'rend champion ftood. At his control,
Difpair and anguifh fled the ftruggling foul;
Comfort came down the trembling wretch to raise, 175
And his laft fault'ring accents whisper'd praise.
At church, with meek and unaffected grace,
His looks adorn'd the venerable place;
Truth from his lips prevail'd with double sway,
And fools, who came to fcoff remain'd to pray.
The fervice paft, around the pious man,
With ready zeal, each honest rustic ran;
Ev'n children follow'd with endearing wile,
And pluck'd his gown, to fhare the good man's fimile.
His ready fmile a parent's warmth expreft,
Their welfare pleas'd him, and their cares diftreft;
To them his heart, his love, his griefs were giv'n,
But all his ferious thoughts had reft in heav'n.
As fome tall cliff that lifts its awful form,
Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the ftorm,
Tho' round its breaft the rolling clouds are fpread,
Eternal funfhine fettles on its head.
Befide yon ftraggling fence that skirts the way, With bloffom'd furze unprofitably gay, There, in his noify mansion, skill'd to rule, The village mafter taught his little school; A man fevere he was, and ftern to view, I knew him well, and ev'ry truant knew; Well had the boding tremblers learn'd to trace The day's difafters in his morning face; · Full well they laugh'd with counterfeited glee At all his jokes, for many a joke had he; Full well the bufy whifper circling round, Convey'd the difmal tidings when he frown'd; Yet he was kind, or if fevere 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, terms and tides prefage, And ev❜n the story ran that he could gange: In arguing too, the parfon own'd his skill, For e'en tho' vanquifh'd, he could argue ftill; While words of learned length and thund'ring found, Amaz'd the gazing ruftics rang'd around,
And ftill they gaz'd, and fill the wonder grew,
That one fmall head could carry all he knew.