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Or blithe, or folemn, as the theme inspirid:
With them would search, if Nature's boundless frame
Was callid, late-rising from the void of night,
Or sprung eternal from th’ Eternal Mind;
Its life, its laws, its progress, and its end,
Hence larger prospects of the beauteous whole
Would, gradual, open on our opening minds; 580
And each diffusive harmony unite
In full perfection to th' astonish'd eye.
Then would we try to scan the moral world,
Which, though to us it seems embroil'd, moves on
In higher order; fitted, and impellid,
By Wisdom's finest hand, and issuing all
In general good. The fage historic Muse
Should next conduct us through the deeps of time :.
Shew us how empire grew, declin'd, and fell,
In scatter'd statés ; what makes the nations fimile,
590 Improves their soil, and gives them double funs; And why they pine beneath the brightest skies, In Nature's richest lap. As thus we talk'd, Our hearts would burn within us, would inhale The portion of divinity, that ray
595 Of purest heaven, which lights the public soul Of patriots, and of heroes. But if doom'd, In powerless humble fortune, to repress These ardent risings of the kindling foul; Then, ev'n superior to ambition, we
600 Would learn the private virtues; how to glide Through shades and plains, along the smoothest stream Of rural life: or snatch'd away by hope,
Through the dim spaces of futurity,
With earnest eye anticipate those scenes
Of happiness, and wonder; where the mind,
In endless growth and infinite afcent,
Rises from state to state, and world to world.
But when with these the serious thought is foild,
We, shifting for relief, would play the shapes 610
Of frolic fancy; and incessant form
Those rapid pictures, that assembled train
Of feet ideas, never join'd before,
Whence lively Wit excites to gay surprize;
Or folly-painting Humour, grave himself,
Calls Laughter forth, deep-shaking every nerve.
Meantime the village rouses up the fire ;
While well attested, and as well believ'd,
Heard folemn, goes the goblin-story round;
Till superstitious horror creeps o'er all.
Or, frequent in the sounding hall, they wake
The rural gambol. Rustic mirth goes round;
The simple joke that takes the shepherd's heart,
Easily pleas'd ; the long loud laugh, sincere ;
The kiss, snatch'd hasty from the side-long maid, 625
On purpose guardless, or pretending sleep:
-The leap, the Nap, the haul; and, shook to notes
Of native music, the respondent dance.
Thus jocund Aleets with them the winter-night.
The city fwarms intense. The public haunt, 630
Full of each theme, and warm with mixt discourse,
Hums indistinct. The sons of riot flow
Down the loose stream of false enchanted joy,
To swift destruction. On the rankled soul
The gaming fury falls; and in one gulph
Of total ruin, honour, virtue, peace,
Friends, families, and fortune, headlong sink.
Up-Springs the dance along the lighted dome,
Mix'd, and evolv'd, a thousand sprightly ways.
The glittering court effuses every pomp;
The circle deepens : beam'd from gaudy robes,
Tapers, and sparkling gems, and radiant eyes,
A soft cffulgence o'er the palace waves :
While, a gay infect in his summer-shine,
The fop, light-fluttering, spreads his mealy wings.
Dread o'er the scene, the ghost of Hamlet stalks ; Othello rages; poor
Monimia mourns ; And Belvidera pours her soul in love. Terror alarms the breast; the comely tear Steals o'er the cheek: or else the Comic Muse 650 Holds to the world a picture of itself, And raises fly the fair impartial laugh. Sometimes she lifts her strain, and paints the scenes Of beauteous life; whate'er can deck mankind, Or charm the heart, in generous * Bevil fhew'd.
655 O, thou, whose wisdom, folid yet refin'd, Whose patriot-virtues, and consummate skill To touch the finer springs that move the world, Join’d to whate'er the Graces can bestow, And all Apollo's animating fire, Give thee, with pleasing dignity, to shine
* A character in the Conscious Lovers, written by Sir Richard Steele.
At once the guardian, ornament, and joy,
Of polith'd life; permit the Rural Muse,
O Chesterfield, to grace with thee her song!
Ere to the shades again lhe humbly dies,
Indulge her fond ambition, in thy train,
(For every Muse has in thy train a place)
To mark thy various full-accomplish'd mind :
To mark that spirit, which, with British scorn,
Rejects th' allurements of corrupted power ;
That elegant politeness,, which excels,
Ev'n in the judgement of presumptuous France,
The boafted manners of her shining court;
That wit, the vivid energy of fenfe,
The truth of Nature, which, with Attic point,
And kind well-temper'd satire, smoothly keen,
Steals through-the soul, and without pain corrects.
Or, rising thence with yer a brighter flame,
0, let me hail thee on some glorious day,
When to the listening fenate, ardent, crowd
Britannia's fons to hear her pleaded cause.
Then dreft by thee, more amiably fair,
Truth the soft robe of mild persuasion wears :
Thou to assenting reason giv'st again
Her own enlighten'd thoughts; call?d from the heart,
Th' obedient passions on thy voice attend;
And ev'n reluctant party, feels a while
Thy gracious power : as through the varied maze
Of eloquence, now smooth, now quick, now strong,
Profound and clear, you roll the copious flood. 690
To thy lov'd haunt return, my happy Muse :
For now, behold, the joyous winter-days,
Frosty, succeed; and through the blue ferene,
For fight too fine, th' ethereal nitre fies;
Killing infectious damps, and the spent air
Storing afresh with elemental life.
Close crowds the thining atmosphere; and binds
Our strengthen’d bodies in its cold embrace,
Constringent; feeds, and animates our blood;
Refines our spirits, through the new-strung nerves, 700
In swifter sallies darting to the brain;
Where fits the soul, intense, collected, cool,
Bright as the skies, and as the season keen.
All nature feels the renovating force
Of Winter, only to the thoughtless eye
In ruin seen. The frost-concocted glebe
Draws-in abundant vegetable soul,
And gathers vigour for the coming year.
A stronger glow sits on the lively cheek
Of ruddy fire : and luculent along
710 The purer
rivers flow; their fullen deeps, Transparent, open to the shepherd's gaze, And murmur hoarser at the fixing froit.
What art thou, frost? and whence are thy keen stores Deriy’d; thou secret all-invading power,
715 Whom ev'n th’illufive fluid cannot fly? Is not thy potent energy, unseen, Myriads of little falts, or hook’d, or fhap'd Like double wedges, and diffus'd immense Through water, earth, and æther? Hence at eye, 720 Steam'd
from the red horizon round, VOL. 1. N