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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 spread her wholesome store,
Just gave what life requir’d, but gave no niore:
His best companions, innocence and health,
And his best riches, ignorance of wealth.
But times are alter'd ; trade's unfeeling train
Usurp the land and difpoffefs the fwain ;
Along the lawn, where scatter'd hamlets rose, 65
Unwieldy wealth, and cumb'rous pomp repose ;
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 desires that alked but little rooin; 70
Those healthful sports that grac'd the peaceful scene,
Liv'd in each look, and brighten'd all the green ;
These, far departing, seek a kinder fhore,
And rural mirth and manners are no more.
Sweet AUBURN! parent of the blissful hour, 75
Thy glades forlorn confess the tyrant's pow'r.
Here, as I take my folitary rounds,
Amidst thy tang'ling walks, and ruin'd grounds,
And, many a year elaps’d, return to view
Where once the cottage stood, the hawthorn grew, 80
Remembrance wakes with all her busy train,
Swells at my breast, and turns the past to pain.
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 husband out life's taper at the close,
And keep the flame from wasting by repose:
I still had hopes, for pride attends us still,
Amidst the swains to shew
book-learn'd skill, 90 Around
fire an ev’ning group to draw,
And tell of all I felt, and all I saw;
And, as an hare whom hounds and horns pursue,
Pants to the place from whence at first he flew,
I still 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 blest is he who crowns in shades like these,
A youth of labour with an age of eafe ;
Who quits a world where strong temptations try,
And, since '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 stands in guilty state,
To spurn 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 resignation gently fopes the way;
And, all his prospects bright’ning to the laft,
His Heav'n commences ere the world be past !
Sweet was the found, when oft at evening's close,
Up yonder hill the village murmur rose ;
There, as I past with careless steps and Now, 115
The mingling notes came soften'd from below;
The fwain responsive as the milk-maid fung,
The fober herd that low'd to meet their young;
The noisy geese that gabbled o'er the pool,
The playful children just let loose from school;
The watch-dog's voice that bay'd the whispring wind,
And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind;
These all in sweet confufion fought the shade,
And filld each pause the nightingale had made.
For now the sounds of population fail,
No chearful murmurs fluctuate in the gale,
No busy steps the grass-grown foot-way tread,
But all the bloomy flush of life is filed.
All but yon widow'd, solitary thing,
That feebly bends beside the plashy spring ;
She, wretched matron, forc'd, in age, for bread,
To strip che brook with mantling cresses spread,
To pick her wintry faggot from the thorn,
To seek her nightly shed, and weep
till She only left of all the harmless train,
135 The sad historian of the pensive plain.
Near yonder copse, where once the garden smild, And still where many a garden flow'r grows wild; There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose, The village preacher's modeft manfion rose.
140 A man he was, to all the country dear, And passing 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 ; Unskilful he to fawn, or seek for pow'r,
145 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 rise. 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, Whole beard descending swept his aged breast;
The ruin'd spendthrift, now no longer proud,
Claim'd kindred there, and had his claims allow'd ;
The broken soldier, kindly bade to stay,
Sate by his fire, and talk'd the night away ;
Wept o'er his wounds, or tales of sorrow done,
Shoulder'd his crutch and shew'd how fields were won.
Pleas'd with his guests, 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 side ;
But in his duty prompt at ev'ry call,
He watch'd and wept, he pray'd and felt for al}.
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. 170
Beside the bed where parting life was lay'd,
And sorrow, guilt, and pain, by turns dismay’d,
The rev'rend champion stood. At his control,
Dispair and anguish fled the struggling soul;
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 scoff remain’d to pray.
The service past, 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 share the good man's smile.
His ready smile a parent's warmth exprest, 185
Their welfare pleas'd him, and their cares distrest;
To them bis heart, his love, his griefs were giv'n,
But all his serious thoughts had reft in heav'n.
As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form,
Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storin,
Tho'round its breast the rolling clouds are spread,
Eternal sunshine settles on its head,
Beside yon ftraggling fence that skirts the way,
With bloffom'd furze unprofitably gay,
There, in his noisy mansion, skill'd to rule, 195
The village master taught his little school;
А severe he was, and stern to view,
I knew him well, and ev'ry truant knew;
Well had the boding tremblers learn’d to trace
The day's disasters 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 buty whiíper circling round,
Convey'd the dismal tidings wien he frown'd;
Yet he was kind, or if severe in aught,
205 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 100; Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage, And ev'n the story ran that he could gange : In arguing too, the parfon own'd his fill, For e'en tho' vanquish'd, he could argue fill; While words of learned length and thund'ring sound, Amaz'd the gazing ruftics rang'd around, And still they gaz’d, and itill the worder grew; 215 That one small head could carry all he knew.