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Unpractised he to fawn, or seek for power,
By doctrines fashioned to the varying hour;
Far other aims his heart had learned to prize,
More skilled 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 remembered beggar was his guest,
Whose beard descending swept his aged breast;
The ruined spendthrift, now no longer proud,
Claimed kindred there, and had his claims allowed;
The broken soldier, kindly bade to stay,
Sat by his fire, and talked the night away;
Wept o'er his wounds, or tales of sorrow done,
Shouldered his crutch, and showed how fields were won.
Pleased with his guests, the good man learned to glow,
And quite forgot their vices in their woe;
Careless their merits, or their faults to scan,
His pity gave ere charity began.
Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,
And even his failings leaned to virtue's side;
But in his duty prompt at every call,
He watched and wept, he prayed and felt for all.
And, as a bird each fond endearment tries
To tempt its new-fledged offspring to the skies,
He tried each art, reproved each dull delay,
Allured to brighter worlds, and led the way.
Beside the bed where parting life was laid,
And sorrow, guilt, and pain, by turns dismayed,
The reverend champion stood. At his control
Despair and anguish fled the struggling soul;
Comfort came down the trembling wretch to raise,
And his last faltering accents whispered praise.
At church, with meek and unaffected grace,
His looks adorned the venerable place;
Truth from his lips prevailed with double sway,
And fools, who came to scoff, remained to pray.
The service past, around the pious man,
With steady zeal, each honest rustic ran;
Even children followed with endearing wile,
And plucked his gown, to share the good man's smile.
His ready smile a parent's warmth exprest,
Their welfare pleased him, and their cares distrest;
To them his heart, his love, his griefs were given,
But all his serious thoughts had rest in heaven.
As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form,
Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm, Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread, Eternal sunshine settles on its head.
Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way, With blossomed furze unprofitably gay, There, in his noisy mansion, skilled to rule, The village master taught his little school; A man severe he was, and stern to view, I knew him well, and every truant knew ; Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace The day's disasters in his morning face; Full well they laughed with counterfeited glee At all his jokes, for many a joke had he; Full well the busy whisper circling round, Conveyed the dismal tidings when he frowned; Yet he was kind, or, if severe in aught, The love he bore to learning was in fault; The village all declared how much he knew ; 'Twas certain he could write and cypher too; Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage, And even the story ran-that he could gauge; In arguing too, the parson owned his skill, For even though vanquished, he could argue still; While words of learned length and thundering sound Amazed the gazing rustics ranged around, And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew, That one small head could carry all he knew.
But past is all his fame. The very spot Where many a time he triumphed, is forgot. 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 talked with looks profound, And news much older than their ale went round. Imagination fondly stoops to trace
The parlour splendours of that festive place;
The white-washed wall, the nicely sanded floor,
The varnished clock that clicked 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 chilled the day,
With aspen boughs, and flowers and fennel gay;
While broken tea-cups, wisely kept for show,
Ranged o'er the chimney, glistened in a row.
Vain transitory splendour! could not all
Reprieve the tottering mansion from its fall?
Obscure it sinks, nor shall it more impart
An hour's importance to the poor man's heart;
Thither no more the peasant shall repair
To sweet oblivion of his daily care;
No more the farmer's news, the barber's tale,
No more the woodman's ballad shall prevail;
No more the smith his dusky brow shall clear,
Relax his ponderous strength, and lean to hear;
The host himself no longer shall be found,
Careful to see the mantling bliss go round;
Nor the coy maid, half willing to be prest,
Shall kiss the cup to pass it to the rest.
Here lies our good Edmund', whose genius was such, We scarcely can praise it, or blame it, too much; Who, born for the universe, narrowed his mind, And to party gave up what was meant for mankind. Though fraught with all learning, yet straining his throat, To persuade Tommy Townshend to lend him a vote : Who, too deep for his hearers, still went on refining, And thought of convincing, while they thought of dining; Though equal to all things, for all things unfit, Too nice for a statesman, too proud for a wit; For a patriot too cool; for a drudge disobedient ; And too fond of the right to pursue the expedient. In short, 'twas his fate, unemployed, or in place, sir, To eat mutton cold, and cut blocks with a razor.
Here lies David Garrick, describe me who can,
An abridgment of all that was pleasant in man;
As an actor, confessed without rival to shine :
As a wit, if not first, in the very first line:
Yet, with talents like these, and an excellent heart,
The man had his failings, a dupe to his art.
Like an ill-judging beauty, his colours he spread,
And beplastered with rouge his own natural red.
On the stage he was natural, simple, affecting ;
'Twas only that, when he was off, he was acting.
With no reason on earth to go out of his way,
He turned and he varied full ten times a day:
Though secure of our hearts, yet confoundedly sick,
If they were not his own by finessing and trick:
He cast off his friends, as a huntsman his pack,
For he knew when he pleased he could whistle them back.
Of praise a mere glutton, he swallowed what came,
And the puff of a dunce he mistook it for iame;
Till his relish grown callous, almost to disease,
Who peppered the highest, was surest to please.
Mr. T. Townshend, M.P. for Whitchurch, afterwards Lord Sydney.
But let us be candid, and speak out our mind,
If dunces applauded, he paid them in kind.
Ye Kenricks, ye Kellys1, and Woodfalls 2 so grave,
What a commerce was yours, while you got and you gave!
How did Grub-street re-echo the shouts that you raised,
While he was be-Rosciused, and you were bepraised!
But peace to his spirit, wherever it flies,
To act as an angel and mix with the skies:
Those poets who owe their best fame to his skill,
Shall still be his flatterers, go where he will,
Old Shakspeare receive him with praise and with love,
And Beaumonts and Bens be his Kellys above.
Here Reynolds is laid, and, to tell you my mind,
He has not left a wiser or better behind;
His pencil was striking, resistless, and grand;
His manners were gentle, complying, and bland ;
Still born to improve us in every part,
His pencil our faces, his manners our heart:
To coxcombs averse, yet most civilly steering,
When they judged without skill, he was still hard of hearing: When they talked of their Raphaels, Correggios, and stuff, He shifted his trumpet3, and only took snuff.
When lovely Woman stoops to folly,
And finds too late that men betray,
What charm can soothe her melancholy,
What art can wash her guilt away?
The only art her guilt to cover,
To hide her shame from every eye,
To give repentance to her lover,
And wring his bosom, is-to die.
1 Hugh Kelly, author of False Delicacy, &c. Died 1777.
2 William Woodfall, printer of the Morning Chronicle. Died 1803. Sir Joshua Reynolds was deaf and used an ear-trumpet.