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AR in a wild, unknown to public view,
From youth to age, a rev'rend hermit grew;
The moss his bed, the cave his humble cell,
His food the fruits, his drink the crystal well:
Remote from man, with God he pafs'd his days,
Pray'r all his business, all his pleasure praise.
A life fo facred, fuch ferene repofe,
Seem'd heaven itself, till one fuggestion rose;
That vice should triumph, virtue vice obey,
This fprung fome doubt of providence's sway.
His hopes no more a certain profpect boast,
And all the tenor of his soul is loft:
So when a smooth expanfe receives imprefs'd
Calm nature's image on its wat'ry breast;
Down bend the banks, the trees depending grow,
And skies beneath with anfw'ring colours glow;
But if a ftone the gentle fea divide,
Swift ruffling circles curl on ev'ry fide;
And glimm'ring fragments of a broken fun,
Banks, trees, and skies, in thick disorder run.
To clear this doubt, to know the world by fight,
To find if books or fwains report it right,
(For yet by fwains alone the world he knew,
Whose feet came wand'ring o'er the nightly dew)
He quits his cell; the pilgrim-ftaff he bore,
And fix'd the fcallop in his hat before;
Then with the fun a rifing journey went,
Sedate to think, and watching each event.
The morn was wafted in the pathless grass,
And long and lonesome was the wild to pass;
But when the fouthern fun had warm'd the day,
A youth came pofting o'er a croffing way:
His raiment decent, his complexion fair,
And foft in graceful ringlets wav'd his hair.
Then near approaching, Father, hail! he cry'd ;'
And, Hail, my son, the rev'rend fire reply'd;
Words follow'd words, from queftion answer flow'd,
And talk of various kinds deceiv'd the road;
Till each with other pleas'd, and loth to part,
While in their age they differ, join in heart;
Thus ftands an aged elm in ivy bound,
Thus youthful ivy clafps an elm around.
Now funk the fun, the clofing hour of day
Came onward, mantled o'er with fober grey :
Nature in filence bid the world repofe,
When near the road a ftately palace rose :
There by the moon, thro' ranks of trees they pafs,
Whofe verdure crown'd their floping fides of grafs.
It chanc'd the noble mafter of the dome
Still makes his houfe the wand'ring ftranger's home;
Yet ftill the kindness, from a thirft of praise,
Prov'd the vain flourish of expenfive eafe.
The pair arrive, the livery fervants wait,
Their lord receives them at the pompous gate.
The table groans with coftly piles of food,
And all is more than hofpitably good.
Then led to reft, the day's long toil they drown,
Deep funk in fleep, and filk, and heaps of down.
At length 'tis morn, and at the dawn of day
Along the wide canals the zephyrs play;
Fresh o'er the gay parterres the breezes creep,
And shake the neighb'ring woods to banish fleep.
Up rife the guests, obedient to the call,
An early banquet deck'd the fplendid hall;
Rich luscious wine a golden goblet grac❜d,
Which the kind master forc'd the guests to taste.
Then pleas'd and thankful from the porch they go,
And (but the landlord) none had caufe of woe;
His cup was vanifh'd; for in fecret guise
The younger guest purloin'd the glitt'ring prize,
As one who spies a ferpent in his way,
Glift'ning and basking in the summer ray,
Disorder'd ftops, to fhun the danger near,
Then walks with faintness on, and looks with fear:
So feem'd the fire, when far upon the road,
The fhining fpoil his wily partner show'd,
He ftopt with filence, walk'd with trembling heart,
And much he wish'd, but durft not ask to part:
Murm'ring, he lifts his eyes, and thinks it hard
That gen'rous actions meet a base reward.
While thus they pass, the fun his glory shrouds, The changing fkies hang out their fable clouds: A found in air presag'd approaching rain, And beafts to covert fcud across the plain. 'Warn'd by the figns, the wand'ring pair retreat, To feek for fhelter at a neighb'ring feat.
'Twas built with turrets, on a rifing ground,
And ftrong, and large, and unimprov❜d around:
Its owner's temper, tim'rous and fevere,
Unkind and griping, caus'd a defert there.
As near the mifer's heavy doors they drew,
Fierce rifing gufts with sudden fury blew;
The nimble lightning mix'd with showers began,
And o'er their heads loud rolling thunder ran;
Here long they knock, but knock and call in vain,
Driv'n by the winds and batter'd by the rain.
At length fome pity warm'd the master's breast;
('Twas then his threshold first receiv'd a guest.)
Slow creaking turns the door with jealous care,
And half he welcomes in the fhiv'ring pair;
One frugal faggot lights the naked walls,
And nature's fervor thro' their limbs recalls,
Bread of the coarseft fort, with eager wine,
(Each hardly granted) ferv'd them both to dine;
And when the tempeft firft appear'd to cease,
A ready warning bid them part in peace.
With ftill remark the pond'ring hermit view'd
In one fo rich, a life fo poor and rude ;
And why should such (within himself, he cry’d)
Lock the loft wealth a thousand want beside ?
But what new marks of wonder foon took place,
In ev'ry fettling feature of his face,
When from his veft the young companion bore
That cup, the gen'rous landlord own'd before,
And paid profufely with the precious bowl
The ftinted kindness of his churlish foul!
But now the clouds in airy tumults fly,
The fun emerging opes an azure fky ;
A fresher green the smelling leaves display,
And glitt❜ring as they tremble, chear the day;
The weather courts them from their
poor retreat, And the glad mafter bolts the wary gate.
While hence they walk, the pilgrim's bofom wrought
With all the travail of uncertain thought;
His partner's acts without their cause appear,
'Twas there a VICE, but feem'd a madness here.
Detefting THAT, and pitying THIS, he goes,
Loft and confounded with the various fhows.
Now night's dim fhades again involve the sky;
Again the wand'rers want a place to lie,
Again they fearch, and find a mansion nigh.
The foil improv'd around, the manfion neat,
And neither poorly low nor idly great:
It feem'd to speak its mafter's turn of mind,
Content, and not for praife, but virtue kind.
Hither the walkers turn their weary feet,
Then blefs the manfion, and the master greet:
Their greeting fair bestow'd with modeft guise,
The courteous mafter hears, and thus replies:
Without a vain, without a grudging heart,
To him who gives us all, I yield a part;
From him you come, from him accept it here,
A frank and fober, more than coftly chear.
He spoke, and bid the welcome table spread,
Then talk'd of virtue till the time of bed;