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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 busy whisper, circling round,
Convey'd the dismal tidings when he frown'd
Yet he was kind, or if severe 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 cipher too,
Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage –
And even the story ran that he could gauge.
In arguing too, the parson own'd his skill,
For even though vanquish'd he could argue still;
While words of learned length and thundering sound
Amaz’d the gazing rustics rang'd around
And still they gaz’d, and still the wonder grew
That one small head could carry all he knew.
But pass’d is all his fame: the very spot,
Where many a time he triumph’d, is forgot.
Near yonder thorn, that lifts its head on high,
Where once the sign-post caught the passing eye,
Low lies that house where nut-brown draughts inspir'd,
Where gray-beard mirth and smiling toil retir’d,
Where village statesmen talk'd with looks profound,
And news much older than their ale went round.
Imagination fondly stoops to trace
The parlor splendors of that festive place ;
The whitewash'd wall, the nicely sanded floor,
The varnish'd clock that click'd behind the door -
The chest contriv'd a double debt to pay,
A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day –
The pictures plac'd for ornament and use,
The twelve good rules, the royal game of goose —
The hearth, except when winter chilld the day,
With aspen boughs, and flowers, and fennel gay -
While broken tea-cups, wisely kept for show,
Rang'd o'er the chimney, glisten'd in a row.
Vain, transitory splendors ! could not all
Reprieve the tottering mansion from its fall ?
Obscure it sinks; nor shall it more impart
An hour's importance to the poor man's heart:
Thither no more the peasant shall repair
To sweet oblivion of his daily care;
No more the farmer's news, the barber's tale,
No more the woodman's ballad shall prevail ;
No more the smith his dusky brow shall clear.
Relax his ponderous strength, and lean to hear ;
The host himself no longer shall be found
Careful to see the mantling bliss go round;
Nor the coy maid, half-willing to be press'd,
Shall kiss the cup to pass it to the rest.
Yes ! let the rich deride, the proud disdain,
These simple blessings of the lowly train
To me more dear, congenial to my heart,
One native charm, than all the gloss of art.
Spontaneous joys, where nature has its play,
The soul adopts, and owns their first-born sway —
Lightly they frolic o'er the vacant mind,
Unenvied, unmolested, unconfin'd;
But the long pomp, the midnight masquerade,
With all the freaks of wanton wealth array'd,
In these, ere triflers half their wish obtain,
The toiling pleasure sickens into pain-
And, even while fashion's brightest arts decoy,
The heart distrusting asks, if this be joy.
Ye friends to truth, ye statesmen who survey
The rich man's joys increase, the poor's decay –
'Tis yours to judge how wide the limits stand
Between a splendid and an happy land.
Proud swells the tide with loads of freighted ore,
And shouting folly hails them from her shore ;
Hoards even beyond the miser's wish abound,
And rich men flock from all the world around;
Yet count our gains : this wealth is but a name
That leaves our useful products still the same.
Not so the loss. The man of wealth and pride
Takes up a space that many poor supplied —
Space for his lake, his park's extended bounds,
Space for his horses, equipage, and hounds;