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** Each to Alcanor bound, and near in blood,
But nearer in affection;" taking with them daily walks through the lanes and fields, loving and examining all the wonderful works of nature. The poem is therefore for the most part descriptive, and it abounds in generous and virtuous sentiments; the duty of the village curate always predominates, and every ramble produces some reflections which encourage goodness, and exhibit, to discountenance, vice. Although far inferior in strength and delicacy to the master-spirit, whose disciple he avows himself, passages and even parts will be found in his poem which Cowper might have been proud to own: there is at times the same vigorous outbreak against immorality and injustice—the manly use of the weapon, satire, against vice—the same elevation of thought when looking through nature up to nature's God, the same accuracy in painting objects, dignified though familiar—and the same playful fancy setting off seriousness of purpose. If the Task had not been written, perhaps the Village Curate might never have been produced; but if it had preceded the work of the mightier genius, the claims of Hurdis to a chief place among the poets would have been more readily acknowledged.
The “ Favourite Village" may be considered as a sequel to the “ Village Curate;" and as with sequels generally, though of more even merit and more highly polished
The sight of Winter's superb ocean left, Me pleases much the bustle of the port; The toil and clamour of the prosp’rous bark, Safe landing on the wharf with brisk dispatch Her sable cargo from the northern mine: The neater vessel her capacious lap Filling with grain, or (stowage ponderous) The mealy sack of the contiguous mill, Welcome supply to the far-distant camp, Or wind-bound fleet of war; the slothful barge Slug-like conveying from the sloop her deals, Another from the sloven brig her load Of nauseous grocery, abundant store For ev'ry village on the banks of Ouse.
A TRUCE to thought,
And come, Alcanor, Julia, Isabel,
Eliza come, and let us o'er the fields,
Across the down, or through the shelving wood,
Wind our uncertain way. Let fancy lead,
And be it ours to follow, and admire,
As well we may, the graces infinite
Of nature. Lay aside the sweet resource
Which winter needs, and may at will obtain,
Of authors chaste and good, and let us read
The living page, whose ev'ry character
Delights and gives us wisdom. Not a tree,
A plant, a leaf, a blossom, but contains
A folio volume. We may read, and read,
And read again, and still find something new,
Something to please, and something to instruct,
E'en in the noisome weed. See, ere we pass
Alcanor's threshold, to the curious eye
A little monitor presents her page
Of choice instruction, with her snowy bells,
The lily of the vale. She nor affects
The public walk, nor gaze of mid-day sun.
She to no state or dignity aspires,
But silent and alone puts on her suit,
And sheds her lasting perfume, but for which
We had not known there was a thing so sweet
Hid in the gloomy shade. So when the blast
Her sister tribes confounds, and to the earth
Stoop their high heads that vainly were expos'd,
She feels it not, but flourishes anew,
Still shelter'd and secure. And so the storm,
That makes the high elm couch, and rends the oak,
The humble lily spares.
A thousand blows,
Which shake the lofty monarch on his throne,
We lesser folk feel not. Keen are the pains
Advancement often brings. To be secure,
Be humble; to be happy, be content.
Away, we loiter.
Without notice pass The sleepy crocus, and the staring daisy,
The love-sick cowslip, which her head inclines
To hide a bleeding heart. And here's the meek
And soft-ey'd primrose. Dandelion this,
A college youth who flashes for a day
All gold; anon he doffs his gaudy suit,
Touch'd by the magic hand of some grave Bishop,
And all at once, by commutation strange,
Becomes a Reverend Divine. How sleek !
How full of grace! and in that globous wig,
So nicely trimm'd, unfathomable stores,
No doubt, of erudition most profound.
Each hair is learned, and his awful phiz,
A well-drawn title-page, gives large account
Of matters strangely complicate within.
Place the two doctors each by each, my friends,
Which is the better ? say. I blame not you,
Ye powder'd periwigs, which hardly hide,
With glossy suit and well-fed paunch to boot,
The understanding lean and beggarly.
But let me tell you, in the pompous globe,
Which rounds the dandelion's head, is couch'd
Divinity most rare.
I never pass
But he instructs me with a still discourse,
That more persuades than all the vacant noise
Of pulpit rhetoric; for vacant 'tis,
And vacant must it be, by vacant heads
Leave we them to mend, and mark
The melancholy hyacinth, that weeps
All night, and never lifts an eye all day.
this meadow !-like a gamesome boy
New cloth'd, his locks fresh comb’d and powder'd, le
All health and spirits. Scarce so many stars
Shine in the azure canopy of heav'n,
As king-cups here are scatter'd, interspers'd
With silver daisies.
See, the toiling hind With many a sturdy stroke cuts up at last The tough and sinewy furze. How hard he fought To fell the glory of the barren waste ! For what more noble than the vernal furze With golden baskets hung? Approach it not, For ev'ry blossom has a troop of swords Drawn to defend it. 'Tis the treasury
Of Fays and Fairies. Here they nightly meet,
Each with a burnish'd king-cup in his hand,
And quaff the subtil ether. Here they dance
Or to the village chimes, or moody song
Of midnight Philomel. The ringlet see
Fantastically trod. There Oberon
His gallant train leads out, the while his torch
The glow-worm lights, and dusky night illumes:
And there they foot it featly round and laugh.
The sacred spot the superstitious ewe
Regards, and bites it not in reverence.
Anon the drowsy clock tolls one-the cock
His clarion sounds, the dance breaks off, the lights
Are quench'd, the music hush'd, they speed away
Swifter than thought, and still the break of morn
Outrun, and chasing midnight as she flies
Pursue her round the globe.
But mark with how peculiar grace yon wood,
That clothes the weary steep, waves in the breeze
Her sea of leaves : thither we turn our steps,
And as we pass attend the cheerful sound
Of woodland harmony, which ever fills
The merry vale between. How sweet the song
Day's harbinger performs! I have not heard
Such elegant divisions drawn from art.
And what is he that wins our admiration ?
A little speck which floats upon the sun-beam.
What vast perfection cannot nature crowd
Into a puny point! The nightingale,
Her solo anthem sung, and all who heard
Content, joins in the chorus of the day.
She, gentle heart, thinks it no pain to please,
Nor, like the moody songsters of the world,
Displays her talent, pleases, takes affront,
And locks it up in envy.
I love to see the little goldfinch pluck
The groundsel's feather'd seed, and twit and twit,
And soon in bower of apple blossoms perch'd,
Trim his gay suit, and pay us with a song:
I would not hold him pris'ner for the world.
The chimney-haunting swallow too, my eye