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The longer I heard, I esteem'd
The work of my fancy the more, And e’en to myself never seem'd
So tuneful a poet before.
Though the pleasures of London exceed
In number the days of the year, Catharina, did nothing impede,
Would feel herself happier here; For the close-woven arches of limes
On the banks of our river, I know, Are sweeter to her many times
Than aught that the city can show.
So it is when the mind is endued
With a well-judging taste from above, Then, whether embellish'd or rude,
'Tis nature alone that we love.
The achievements of art may amuse,
May even our wonder excite;
But groves, hills, and valleys diffuse
A lasting, a sacred delight.
Since then in the rural recess
Catharina alone can rejoice, May it still be her lot to possess
The scene of her sensible choice ! To inhabit a mansion remote
From the clatter of street-pacing steeds, And by Philomel's annual note
To measure the life that she leads.
With her book, and her voice, and her lyre.
To wing all her moments at home;
And with scenes that new rapture inspire,
As oft as it suits her to roam ;
She will have just the life she prefers;
With little to hope or to fear,
And ours would be pleasant as hers,
Might we view her enjoying it here.
A HERMIT, (or if 'chance you
That title now too trite and old,
A man, once young, who lived retired
As hermit could have well desired,
His hours of study closed at last,
And finish'd his concise repast,
Stoppled his cruise, replaced his book
Within its customary nook,
And, staff in hand, set forth to share
The sober cordial of sweet air,
Like Isaac, with a mind applied
To serious thought at evening-tide.
Autumnal rains had made it chill,
And from the trees, that fringed his hill,
Shades slanting at the close of day,
Chill'd more his else delightful way,
Distant a little mile he spied
A western bank's still sunny side,
And right toward the favour'd place
Proceeding with his nimblest pace,
In hope to bask a little yet,
Just reach'd it when the sun was set.
Your hermit, young and jovial sirs !
Learns something from whate'er occurs
And hence, he said, my mind computes
The real worth of man's pursuits.
His object chosen, wealth or fame,
Or other sublunary game,
Imagination to his view
Presents it deck'd with every hue,
That can seduce him not to spare
His powers of best exertion there,
But youth, health, vigour to expend
On so desirable an end.
Ere long approach life's evening shades,
The glow that fancy gave it fades;
And, earn'd too late, it wants the grace
That first engaged him in the chase.
True, answer'd an angelic guide,
Attendant at the senior's side-
But whether all the time it cost,
To urge the fruitless chase be lost,
Must be decided by the worth
Of that which call’d his ardour forth.
Trifles pursued, whate'er the event,
Must cause him shame or discontent;
A vicious object still is worse,
Successful there, he wins a curse;
But he, whom e'en in life's last stage
Endeavours laudable engage,
Is paid at least in peace of mind,
And sense of having well design'd;
And if, ere he attain his end,
His sun precipitate descend,
A brighter prize than that he meant
Shall recompense his mere intent.
No virtuous wish can bear a date
Either too early or too late.
The greenhouse is my summer seat ; My shrubs displaced from that retreat
Enjoy'd the open air ; Two goldfinches, whose sprightly song Had been their mutual solace long,
Lived happy prisoners there.
They sang as blithe as finches sing,
That flutter loose on golden wing,
And frolic where they list;
Strangers to liberty, 'tis true,
But that delight they never knew,
And therefore never miss'd.
But nature works in every breast,
With force not easily suppress'd ;
And Dick felt some desires,
That, after many an effort vain,
Instructed him at length to gain
A pass between his wires,
The open windows seem'd to invite
The freeman to a farewell flight;
But Tom was still confined ;
And Dick, although his way was clear,
Was much too generous and sincere
To leave his friend behind.
So settling on his cage, by play,
And chirp, and kiss, he seem'd to say,
You must not live alone-
Nor would he quit that chosen stand
Till I, with slow and cautious hand,
Return'd him to his own.
O ye, who never taste the joys
Of Friendship, satisfied with noise,
Fandango, ball, and rout!
Blush when I tell
how a bird A prison with a friend preferr'd
To liberty without.