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To pick her wintry faggot from the thorn,
To seek her nightly shed, and weep till morn—
She only left of all the harmless train,
The sad historian of the pensive plain
Near yonder copse, where once the garden smil'd,
And still where many a garden-flower grows wild—
There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose,
The village preacher's modest mansion rose.
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 e'er had chang'd, nor wish'd to change, his place; 144
Unpractic'd he to fawn, or seek for power
By doctrines fashion'd to the varying hour.
Far other aims his heart had learn'd to prize–
More skill'd to raise the wretched than to rise.
His house was known to all the vagrant train;
He chid their wanderings, but reliev'd their pain:
The long remember'd beggar was his guest,
Whose 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,
Sat by his fire, and talk'd the night away—
Wept o'er his wounds, or, tales of sorrow done,
Shoulder'd his crutch and show'd how fields were won.
Pleas'd with his guests, the good man learn'd to glow,
And quite forgot their vices in their woe:
Careless their merits or their faults to scan,
His pity gave ere charity began.
Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,
And even his failings lean'd to virtue's side—
But in his duty, prompt at every call,
He watch'd and wept, he pray'd and felt for all: id:
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.
The reverend champion stood: at his control
Despair and anguish fled the struggling soul;
Comfort came down the trembling wretch to raise,
And his last faltering 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 pass'd, around the pious man,
With steady zeal, each honest rustic ran ;
Even 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 express'd,
Their welfare pleas'd him, and their cares distress'd.
To them his heart, his love, his griefs were given,
But all his serious thoughts had rest in heaven:
As some tall cliff, that lifts its awful form,
Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm,
Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread,
Eternal sunshine settles on its head.
Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way,
With blossom'd furze unprofitably gay —
There, in his noisy mansion, skill'd to rule,
The village master taught his little school.
A man severe he was, and stern to view ;