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Near yonder copse, where once the garden smild, And still where many a garden flower grows wild, There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose, The village preacher's modest mansion rose. A man he was to all the country dear, And passing rich with forty pounds a year; Remote from towns he ran his godly race, Nor e’er had chang'd, nor wish'd to change, his
place; Unpractis'd 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 skill'd to raise the wretched than to rise. His house was known to all the vagrant train, He chid their wanderings, but reliev'd 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'd ; 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
Pleas’d with his guests, the good man learn’d to
glow, And quite forgot their vices in their woe:
Hall's Satires, p. 79, ed. Singer. 8 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 lean’d to virtue's side ; But in his duty prompt at every call, He watch'd and wept, he pray'd and felt for all; And, as a bird each fond endearment tries To tempt its new-fledgd offspring to the skies, He tried each art, reprov'd each dull delay, Allur'd to brighter worlds, and led the way.
Beside the bed where parting life was laid, And sorrow, guilt, and pain, by turns dismay'd, 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 whisper'd praise.
At church, with meek and unaffected grace, 9 His looks adorn'd the venerable place ; 10 Truth from his lips prevail'd with double sway, And fools, who came to scoff, remain’d to pray.
8 • Want pass’d for merit, at her open door.'
Dryden's Elegies, ii. p. 180. 9. His eyes diffused a venerable grace.'
Dryden's Good Parson, iii. 137. 10 Truth] . For thou e'en sin didst in such words array, That some who came bad parts, went out good play.'
Jasp. Mayne to the Mem. of B. Jonson.
v. Nicholls' Col. Poems, i. p. 256.
The service past, around the pious man,
smile. His ready smile a parent's warmth exprest, Their welfare pleas’d him, and their cares distrest; To them his heart, his love, his griefs, were given, But all his serious thoughts had rest in heaven. 11 As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form, Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm,
1 As some]
Young's Night Thoughts, b. ü. And compare the following lines:
Below you see, involv'd in guilt and strife,
Bp. Warburton's Transl. from Claudian
on F. M. Theodorus.
Though round its breast the rolling clouds are
spread, Eternal sunshine settles on its head.
Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way, With blossom'd furze unprofitably gay, There, in his noisy mansion, skill'd 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 learn’d to trace The day's disasters in his morning face; Full well they laugh’d, with counterfeited glee, At all his jokes, for many a joke had he; Full well the busy whisper, circling round, Convey'd the dismal tidings when he frown'd. Yet he was kind, or, if severe in aught, The love he bore to learning was in fault. The village all declar'd how much he knew; 'Twas certain he could write, and cipher too; Lands he could measure, terms and tides pre
sage, And even the story ran that he could gauge; In arguing, too, the parson own'd his skill, For even though vanquish'd he could argue still ; While words of learned length and thundering
sound Amaz’d the gazing rustics rang’d around; And still they gaz'd, 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 triumph’d, 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
inspir'd, Where gray-beard mirth and smiling toil retir'd, Where village statesmen talk'd 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 whitewash'd wall, the nicely sanded floor, The varnish'd clock that click'd behind the door ; The chest contriv'd a double debt to pay, A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day; The pictures plac'd 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 teacups, wisely kept for show, Rang'd o'er the chimney, glisten'd in a row.
Vain, transitory splendours! 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 ;