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Remote from towns he ran his godly race, Nor e'er had changed, nor wish'd to change his place ; Unskilful 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 bent to raise the wretched than to rise. His house was known to all the vagrant train, He chid their wanderings, but relieved 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'ds 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.
Pleased with his guests, the good man learn’d to glow,
Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,
Beside the bed where parting life was laid,
Comfort came down, the trembling wretch to raise,
At church, with meek and unaffected grace,
Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way,
The village all declar'd how much he knew ;
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 inspired, Where grey-beard mirth and smiling toil retired, 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 white-wash'd wall, the nicely sanded floor, The varnish'd clock that click'd behind the door, The chest, contrived a double debt to pay, A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day: The pictures placed 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, Ranged o'er the chimney, glisten'd in a row.
Vain transitory splendor! could not all Reprieve the tottering mansion from its fall!
Obscure it sinks nor shall it more impart
go 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, unconfined. 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, ev’n 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 a happy land. Proud swells the tide with loads of freighted ore, And shouting Folly hails them from her ghore;
Hoards ev'n beyond the miser's wish abound,
This wealth is but a name
As some fair female, unadorn’d and plain, Secure to please while youth confirms her reign, Slights every borrow'd charm that dress supplies, Nor shares with art the triumph of her eyes; But when those charms are past, (for charms are frail) When time advances, and when lovers fail, She then shines forth, solicitous to bless, In all the glaring impotence of dress. Thus fares the land by luxury betray'd, In nature's simplest charms at first array'd, But, verging to decline, its splendors rise, Its vistas strike, its palaces surprise ; While, scourged by famine from the smiling land, The mournful peasant leads his humble band; And while he sinks, without one arm to save, The country blooms--a garden and a grave,