Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

By roses ; and clear suns, though scarcely felt;
And groves, if unharmonious, yet secure
From clamour, and whose very silence charms;
To be preferr'd to smoke, to the eclipse,
That metropolitan volcanoes make,
Whose Stygian throats breathe darkness all day long;
And to the stir of Commerce, driving slow,
And thund'ring loud, with his ten thousand wheels ?
They would be, were not madness in the head,
And folly in the heart; were England now,
What England was, plain, hospitable, kind,
And undebauch'd. But we have bid farewell
To all the virtues of those better days,
And all their honest pleasures. Mansions once
Knew their own masters; and laborious hinds,
Who had surviv'd the father, serv'd the son.
Now the legitimate and rightful lord
Is but a transient guest, newly arrived,
As soon to be supplanted. He, that saw
His patrimonial timber cast its leaf,
Sells the last scantling, and transfers the price
To some shrewd sharper, ere it buds again.
Estates are landscapes, gaz'd upon awhile,
Then advertis'd, and auctioneer'd away. charg'd
The country starves, and they, that feed th' o'er-
And surfeited lewd town with her fair dues,
By a just judgment strip and starve themselves.
The wings that waft our riches out of sight,
Grow on the gamester's elbows; and th' alert
And nimble motion of those restless joints,
That never tire, soon fans them all away.
Improvement too, the idol of the age,
Is fed with many a victim. _Lo, he comes !
Th' omnipotent magician, Brown appears !
Down falls the venerable pile, th' abode
Of our forefathers-a grave, whisker'd race,
But tasteless. Springs a palace in its stead,
But in a distant spot; where more expos’d
It may enjoy the advantage of th’ north,

And aguish east, till time shall have transform'd
Those naked acres to a shelt’ring grove.
He speaks. The lake in front becomes a lawn ;
Woods vanish, hills subside, and valleys rise ;
And streams, as if created for his use,
Pursue the tract of his directing wand,
Sinuous or straight, now rapid and now slow,
Now murmuring soft, now roaring in cascades-
E'en as he bids! Th’ enraptur’d owner smiles.
'Tis finish’d, and yet, finish'd as it seems,
Still wants a grace, the loveliest it could show,
A mind to satisfy th' enormous cost.
Drain’d to the last poor item of his wealth,
He sighs, departs, and leaves th' accomplish'd plan,
That he has touch'd, retouch'd, many a long day
Labour'd, and many a night pursu'd in dreams,
Just when it meets his hopes, and proves the heav'n
He wanted, for a wealthier to enjoy!
And now perhaps the glorious hour is come,
When, having no stake left, no pledge ť endear
Her intrests, or that gives her sacred cause
A moment's operation on his love,
He burns with most intense and flagrant zeal
To serve his country. Ministerial grace
Deals him out money from the public chest;
Or, if that mine be shut, some private purse
Supplies his need with an usurious loan,
To be refunded duly, when his vote
Well-manag'd shall have earn'd its worthy price.
O innocent, compar'd with arts like these,
Crape, and cock'd pistol, and the whistling ball
Sent through the trav’llers temples! He, that finds
One drop of Heav'n's sweet mercy in his cup,
Can dig, beg, rot, and perish well content,
So he may wrap himself in honest rags
At his last gasp; but could not for a world
Fish up his dirty and dependent bread
From pools and ditches of the commonwealth,
Sordid and sick’ning at his own success.

Ambition, av'rice, penury incurr'd By endless riot, vanity, the lust Of pleasure and variety, despatch, As duly as the swallows disappear, The world of wand'ring knights and squires to town. London ingulfs them all! the shark is there, And the shark’s prey; the spendthrift, and the leech That sucks him : there the sycophant, and he Who, with bare headed and obsequious bows, Begs a warm office, doom'd to a cold gaol And groat per diem, if his patron frown. The levee swarms, as if in golden pomp Were character'd on ev'ry statesman's door, * Batter'd and bankrupt fortunes mended here.' These are the charms, that sully and eclipse The charms of nature. 'Tis the cruel gripe, That lean, hard-handed Poverty inflicts, The hope of better things, the chance to win, The wish to shine, the thirst to be amus’d, That at the sound of Winter's hoary wing Unpeople all our counties of such herds Of flutt'ring, loit'ring, cringing, begging, loose, And wanton vagrants, as make London, vast And boundless as it is, a crowded coop.

0, thou, resort and mart of all the earth, Chequerd with all complexions of mankind, And spotted with all crimes; in whom I see Much that I love, and more that I admire, And all that I abhor; thou freckled fair, That pleasest and yet shock’st me, I can laugh, And I can weep, can hope, and can despond, Feel wrath and pity, when I think on thee ! Ten righteous would have sav'd a city once, And thou hast many righteous.-Well for theeThat salt preserves thee; more corrupted else, And therefore more obnoxious, at this hour, Than Sodom in her day had pow'r to be, For whom God heard his Abr’ham plead in vain.

х

THE TASK.

BOOK IY.

THE WINTER EVENING.

ARGUMENT OF THE FOURTH BOOK.

The post comes in.-The newspaper is read.-The world contemplated

at a distance. -Address to Winter. The rural amusements of a winter evening compared with the fashionable ones.- Address to Evening.A brown study.-Fall of snow in the evening.-The waggoner. A poor family piece.-The rural thief.-Public houses.-The multitude of them censured.-The farmer's daughter : what she was-what she is.-The simplicity of country manners almost lost.-- Causes of the change.-Desertion of the country by the rich.-Neglect of magistrates.-The militia principally in fault.—The new recruit and his transformation.-Reflection on bodies corporate.-The love of rural objects natural to all, and never to be totally extinguished.

HARK ! 'tis the twanging horn o'er yonder bridge,
That with its wearisome but needful length
Bestrides the wintry flood, in which the Moon
Sees her unwrinkled face reflected bright;-
He comes the herald of a noisy world,
With spatter'd boots, strapp'dwaist, and frozen locks;
News from all nations lumb’ring at his back.
True to his charge the close-pack'd load behind,
Yet careless what he brings, his one concern
Is to conduct it to the destin'd inn:
And, having dropp'd th' expected bag, pass on.
He whistles as he goes, light-hearted wretch,

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed]

file öe 201!.

« AnteriorContinuar »