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A man, whom marks of condescending grace
Teach, while they fatter him, his proper place;
Who comes, when call’d, and at a word withdraws,
Speaks with reserve, and listens with applause ;
Some plain mechanic, who, without pretence
To birth or wit, nor gives nor takes offence:
On whom he rests well-pleas'd his weary powrs,
And talks and laughs away his vacant hours.
The tide of life, swift always in its equrse,
May run in cities with a brisker force,
But no where with a current so serene,
Or half so clear, as in the rural scene.
Yet how fallacious is all earthly bliss,
What obvious truths the wisest heads may miss;
Some pleasures live a month, and some a year,
But short the date of all we gather here;
No happiness is felt, except the true,
That does not charm the more for being new.
This observation, as it chanc'd, not made,
Or, if the thought occurr'd, not duly weigh'd,
He sighs-for after all by slow degrees
The spot he lov'd has lost the pow'r to please;
To cross his ambling pony day by day,
Seems at the best but dreaming life away;
The prospect, such as might enchant despair,
He views it not, or sees no beauty there;
With aching heart, and discontented looks,
Returns at noon to billiards or to books,
But feels, while grasping at his faded joys,
A secret thirst of his renounc'd employs.
He chides the tardiness of ev'ry post,
Pants to be told of battles won or lost,
Blames his own indolence, observes, though late,
'Tis criminal to leave a sinking state,
Flies to the levee, and, receiv'd with grace,
Kneels, kisses hands, and shines again in place.
Suburban villas, highway-side retreats,
That dread th’encroachment of our growing streets,
Tight boxes neatly sash'd, and in a blaze
With all a July sun's collected rays,
Delight the citizen, who, gasping there,
Breathes clouds of dust, and calls it country air.
O, sweet retirement, who would balk the thought,
That could afford retirement, or could not ?
'Tis such an easy walk, so smooth and straight,
The second mile-stone fronts the garden gate;
A step if fair, and, if a show'r approach,
You find safe shelter in the next stage-coach.
There, prison’d in a parlour, snug and small,
Like bottled wasps upon a southern wall,
The man of business and his friends compress’d
Forget their labours, and yet find no rest;
But still 'tis rural-trees are to be seen
From ev'ry window, and the fields are green;
Ducks paddle in the pond before the door,
And what could a remoter scene show more!
A sense of elegance we rarely find
The portion of a mean or vulgar mind,
And ignorance of better things makes man,
Who cannot much, rejoice in what he can;
And he, that deems his leisure well bestow'd
In contemplation of a turnpike-road,
Is occupied as well, employs his hours
As wisely, and as much improves his pow'rs,
As he, that slumbers in pavilions grac'd
With all the charms of an accomplish'd taste.
Yet hence, alas ! insolvencies; and hence
Th' unpitied victim of ill-judg'd expense,
From all his wearisome engagements freed,
Shakes hands with business, and retires indeed.
Your prudent grand-mammas, ye modern belles,
Content with Bristol, Bath, and Tunbridge-wells,
When health requir'd it would consent to roam,
Else more attach'd to pleasures found at home.
But now alike, gay widow, virgin, wise,
Ingenious to diversify dull life,
In coaches, chaises, caravans, and hoys,
Fly to the coast for daily, nightly joys;
And all, impatient of dry land, agree
With one consent to rush into the sea.-
Ocean exhibits, fathomless and broad,
Much of the pow'r and majesty of God.
He swathes about the swelling of the deep,
That shines and rests, as infants smile and sleep ;
Vast as it is, it answers as it flows
The breathings of the lightest air that blows;
Curling and whitning over all the waste,
The rising waves obey th' increasing blast,
Abrupt and horrid as the tempest roars,
Thunder and flash upon the stedfast shores,
Till he, that rides the whirlwind, checks the rein,
Then all the world of waters sleeps again.
Nereids or Dryads, as the fashion leads,
Now in the floods, now panting in the meads,
Vot’ries of Pleasure still, where'er she dwells,
Near barren rocks, in palaces, or cells,
0, grant a poet leave to recommend
(A poet fond of Nature, and your friend)
Her slighted works to your admiring view;
Her works must needs excel, who fashion'd you.
ye, when rambling in your morning ride,
With some unmeaning coxcomb at your side,
Condemn the prattler for his idle pains,
To waste unheard the music of his strains,
And, deaf to all th’ impertinence of tongue,
That, while it courts, affronts, and does you wrong,
Mark well the finish'd plan without a fault,
The seas globose and huge, th’ o'er-arching vault,
Earth's millions daily fed, a world employ'd
In gath'ring plenty yet to be enjoy'd,
Till gratitude grew vocal in the praise
Of God, beneficent in all his ways;
Grac'd with such wisdom, how would beauty shine
Ye want but that to seem indeed divine.
Anticipated rents, and bills unpaid, Force many a shining youth into the shade, Not to redeem his time, but his estate, And play the fool but at a cheaper rate. There, hid in loath'd obscurity, remov'd From pleasures left, but never more belov’d, He just endures, and with a sickly spleen Sighs o'er the beauties of the charming scene. Nature, indeed, looks prettily in rhyme ; Streams tinkle sweetly in poetic chime: The warblings of the blackbird, clear and strong, Are musical enough in Thomson's song; And Cobham'sgroves, and Windsor's green retreats, When Pope describes them, have a thousand sweets; He likes the country, but in truth must own Most likes it, when he studies it in town.
Poor Jack-no matter who-for when I blame I pity, and must therefore sink the name, Livd in his saddle, lov'd the chase, the course, And always, ere he mounted, kiss'd his horse. Th'estate, his sires had own'd in ancient years, Was quickly distanc'd, matched against a peer's. Jack vanish’d, was regretted and forgot; "Tis wild good-nature's never
failing lot. At length, when all had long suppos’d him dead, By cold submersion, razor, rope, or lead, My lord, alighting at his usual place, The Crown took notice of an ostler's face. Jack knew his friend, but hop'd in that disguise He might escape the most observing eyes, And whistling, as if unconcern’d and gay, Curried his nag, and look'd another way Convinc'd at last, upon a nearer view, 'Twas he, the same, the very Jack he knew, O'erwhelm’d at once with wonder, grief and joy, He press’d him much to quit his base employ; His countenance, his purse, his heart, his hand, Influence and pow'r, were all at his command:
Peers are not always gen'rous as well-bred,
But Granby was, meant truly what he said.
Jack bow'd, and was oblig'd-confess’dtwasstrange,
That so retir'd he should not wish a change,
But knew no medium between guzzling beer,
And his old stint_three thousand pounds a-year.
Thus some retire to nourish hopeless woe;
Some seeking happiness not found below;
Some to comply with humour, and a mind
To social scenes by nature disinclin'd;
Some sway'd by fashion, some with deep disgust,
Some self-impov'rish’d, and because they must;
But few, that court Retirement, are aware
Of half the toils they must encounter there.
Lucrative offices are seldom lost
For want of pow'rs proportion’d to the post ;
Give e'en a dunce the employment he desires,
And he soon finds the talents it requires ;
A business with an income at its heels
Furnishes always oil for its own wheels.
But in his arduous enterprise to close
His active years with indolent repose,
He finds the labours of that state exceed
His utmost faculties severe indeed.
'Tis easy to resign a toilsome place,
But not to manage leisure with a grace;
Absence of occupation is not rest,
A mind quite vacant is a mind distress’d.
The vetran steed, excus'd his task at length,
In kind compassion of his failing strength,
And turn’d into the park or mead to graze,
Exempt from future service all his days,
There feels a pleasure perfect in its kind,
Ranges at liberty, and snuffs the wind :
But when his lord would quit the busy road,
To taste a joy like that he had bestow'd,
He proves less happy than his favour'd brute,
A life of ease a difficult pursuit.