« ForrigeFortsæt »
His father was dead, but he idled away two years among his relations. He afterwards became tutor in the family of a gentleman in Ireland, where he remained a year. His uncle then gave him £50 to study the law in Dublin, but he lost the whole in a gaming house. A second contribution was raised, and the poet next proceeded to Edinburgh, where he continued a year and a-half studying medicine. He then drew upon his uncle for £20, and embarked for Bordeaux. The vessel was driven into Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and whilst there, Goldsmith and his fellow passengers were arrested and put into prison, where the poet was kept a fortnight. It appeared that his companions were Scotsmen, in the French service, and had been in Scotland enlisting soldiers for the French army. Having overcome this most innocent of all his misfortunes, he is represented as having immediately proceeded to Leyden; but this part of his biography has lately got a new turn from the inquiries of a gentleman whose book is quoted below,* according to which it would appear to have been now, instead of four years later, that Goldsmith acted as usher of Dr Milner's school at Peckham, in the neighbourhood of London. The tradition of the school is, that he was extremely good-natured and playful, and advanced his pupils more by conversation than by book-tasks. On the supposition of this being the true account of Goldsmith's 25th year, we may presume that he next went to Leyden, and there made the resolution to travel over the Continent in spite of all pecuniary deficiencies. He stopped some time at Louvain, in Flanders, at Antwerp, and at Brussels. In France, he is said, like George Primrose, in his Vicar of Wakefield, to have occasionally earned a night's lodging and food by playing on his flute.
How often have I led thy sportive choir,
With tuneless pipe, beside the murmuring Loire!
Where shading elms along the margin grew,
And freshened from the wave the zephyr flew ;
And haply, though my harsh touch, faltering still,
But mocked all tune, and marred the dancer's skill,
Yet would the village praise my wondrous power,
And dance, forgetful of the noontide hour.
Scenes of this kind formed an appropriate school for the poet. He brooded with delight over these pictures of humble primitive happiness, and his imagination loved to invest them with the charms of poetry. Goldsmith afterwards visited Germany and the Rhine. From Switzerland he sent the first sketch of the 'Traveller' to his brother. The loftier charms of nature in these Alpine scenes seems to have had no permanent effect on the character or direction of his genius. He visited Florence, Verona, Venice, and stopped at Padua some months, where he is supposed to have taken his medical degree. In 1756 the poet reached England, after two years of wandering, lonely, and in poverty, yet buoyed up by dreams of hope and fame. Many a hard struggle he had yet to encounter! His biographers represent him as now becoming usher at Dr Milner's school, a portion of his history which we have seen reason to place at an earlier period. However this may be, he is soon after found contributing to the Monthly Review. He was also some time assistant to a chemist. A college friend, Dr Sleigh, enabled him to commence practice as a humble physician in Bankside, Southwark; but his chief support arose from contributions to the periodical literature
of the day. In 1758 he presented himself at Surgeons Hall for examination as an hospital mate, with the view of entering the army or navy; but he had the mortification of being rejected as unqualified. That he might appear before the examining surgeon suitably dressed, Goldsmith obtained a new suit of clothes, for which Griffiths, publisher of the Monthly Review, became security. The clothes were immediately to be returned when the purpose was served, or the debt was to be discharged. Poor Goldsmith, having failed in his object, and probably distressed by urgent want, pawned the clothes. The publisher threatened, and the poet replied-'I know of no misery but a gaol, to which my own imprudences and your letter seem to point. I have seen it inevitable these three or four weeks, and, by heavens! request it as a favour-as a favour that may prevent somewhat more fatal. I have been some years struggling with a wretched being-with all that contempt and indigence brings with it-with all those strong passions which make contempt insupportable. What, then, has a gaol that is formidable?' Such was the almost hopeless condition, the deep despair, of this imprudent but amiable author, who has added to the delight of millions, and to the glory of English literature.
Henceforward the life of Goldsmith was that of a man of letters. He lived solely by his pen. Besides numerous contributions to the Monthly and Critical Reviews, the Lady's Magazine, the British Magazine, &c., he published an Inquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe (1759), his admirable Chinese Letters, afterwards published with the title of The Citizen of the World, a Life of Beau Nash, and the History of England in a series of letters from a nobleman to his son. The latter was highly successful, and was popularly attributed to Lord Chesterfield. In December 1764 appeared his poem of The Traveller, the chief corner-stone of his fame, 'without one bad line,' as has been said; 'without one of Dryden's careless verses.' Charles Fox pronounced it one of the finest poems in the English language; and Dr Johnson (then numbered among Goldsmith's friends) said that the merit of The Traveller' was so well established, that Mr Fox's praise could not augment it, nor his censure diminish it. The periodical critics were unanimous in its praise. In 1766 he published his exquisite novel, The Vicar of Wakefield, which had been written two years before, and sold to Newberry the bookseller, to discharge a pressing debt. His comedy of The Good-Natured Man was produced in 1767, his Roman History next year, and The Deserted Village in 1770. The latter was as popular as 'The Traveller,' and speedily ran through a number of editions. In 1773, Goldsmith's comedy, She Stoops to Conquer, was brought out at Covent Garden theatre with immense applause. He was now at the summit of his fame and popularity. The march had been long and toilsome, and he was often nearly fainting by the way; but his success was at length complete. His name stood among the foremost of his contemporaries; his works brought him in from £1000 to £1800 per annum. Difficulty and distress, however, still clung to him: poetry had found him poor at first, and she kept him so. From heedless profusion and extravagance, chiefly in dress, and from a benevolence which knew no limit while his funds lasted, Goldsmith was scarcely ever free from debt. The gaming table also presented irresistible attractions. He hung loosely on society, without wife or domestic tie; and his early habits and experience were ill calculated to teach him strict conscientiousness or regularity. He continued to write task-work for the booksellers,
and produced a History of England' in four volumes. This was succeeded by a 'History of Greece' in two volumes, for which he was paid £250. He had contracted to write a 'History of Animated Nature' in eight volumes, at the rate of a hundred guineas for each volume; but this work he did not live to complete, though the greater part was finished in his own attractive and easy manner. In March 1774, he was attacked by a painful complaint (dysuria) caused by close study, which was succeeded by a nervous fever. Contrary to the advice of his apothecary, he persisted in the use of James's powders, a medicine to which he had often had recourse; and gradually getting worse, he expired in strong convulsions on the 4th of April. The death of so popular an author, at the age of forty-five, was a shock equally to his friends and the public. The former knew his sterling worth, and loved him with all his foibles-his undisguised vanity, his national proneness to blundering, his thoughtless extravagance, his credulity, and his frequent absurdities. Under these ran a current of generous benevolence, of enlightened zeal for the happiness and improvement of mankind, and of manly independent feeling. He died £2000 in debt: Was ever poet so trusted before!' exclaimed Johnson. His remains were interred in the Temple burying ground, and a monument erected to his memory in Westminster Abbey, next the grave of Gay, whom he somewhat resembled in character, and far surpassed in genius.
The plan of The Traveller' is simple, yet comprehensive and philosophical. The poet represents himself as sitting among Alpine solitudes, looking down
on a hundred realms
Lakes, forests, cities, plains extending wide,
The pomp of kings, the shepherd's humbler pride. He views the whole with delight, yet sighs to think that the hoard of human bliss is so small, and he wishes to find some spot consigned to real happiness,
Might gather bliss to see his fellows blessed. But where is such a spot to be found? The natives of each country think their own the best-the patriot boasts
His first, best country, ever is at home.
If nations are compared, the amount of happiness in
each is found to be about the same; and to illustrate
this position, the poet describes the state of manners
and government in Italy, Switzerland, France, Hol-
land, and England. In general correctness and
beauty of expression, these sketches have never been
surpassed. The politician may think that the poet
ascribes too little importance to the influence of
government on the happiness of mankind, seeing
that in a despotic state the whole must depend on
the individual character of the governor; yet in the
cases cited by Goldsmith, it is difficult to resist his
conclusions; while his short sententious reasoning
is relieved and elevated by bursts of true poetry.
His character of the men of England used to draw
tears from Dr Johnson :--
Stern o'er each bosom reason holds her state,
With daring aims irregularly great.
Pride in their port, defiance in their eye,
I see the lords of human kind pass by;
Intent on high designs, a thoughtful band,
By forms unfashioned, fresh from nature's hand.
Fierce in their native hardiness of soul,
True to imagined right, above control,
While even the peasant boasts these rights to scan,
And learns to venerate himself as man.
heightening the effect of his pictures. In the fol lowing quotation, the rich scenery of Italy, and the effeminate character of its population, are placed in striking juxtaposition with the rugged mountains of Switzerland and their hardy natives.
[Italians and Swiss Contrasted.]
Far to the right, where Apennine ascends,
Bright as the summer, Italy extends;
Its uplands sloping deck the mountain's side,
Woods over woods in gay theatric pride;
While oft some temple's mouldering tops between,
With venerable grandeur mark the scene.
Could nature's bounty satisfy the breast,
The sons of Italy were surely blest.
Whatever fruits in different climes were found,
That proudly rise, or humbly court the ground;
Whatever blooms in torrid tracts appear,
Whose bright succession decks the varied year;
Whatever sweets salute the northern sky
With vernal lives, that blossom but to die;
These, here disporting, own the kindred soil,
Nor ask luxuriance from the planter's toil;
While sea-born gales their gelid wings expand,
To winnow fragrance round the smiling land..
But small the bliss that sense alone bestows,
And sensual bliss is all the nation knows.
In florid beauty groves and fields appear,
Man seems the only growth that dwindles here.
Contrasted faults through all his manners reign:
Though poor, luxurious; though submissive, vain;
Though grave, yet trifling; zealous, yet untrue;
And even in penance planning sins anew.
All evils here contaminate the mind,
That opulence departed leaves behind;
For wealth was theirs, not far removed the date,
When commerce proudly flourished through the state;
At her command the palace learned to rise,
Again the long-fallen column sought the skies;
The canvass glowed beyond even nature warm,
The pregnant quarry teemed with human form,
Till, more unsteady than the southern gale,
Commerce on other shores displayed her sail;
While nought remained of all that riches gave,
But towns unmanned, and lords without a slave;
And late the nation found with fruitless skill,
Its former strength was but plethoric ill.
Yet, still the loss of wealth is here supplied
By arts, the splendid wrecks of former pride;
From these the feeble heart and long-fallen mind
An easy compensation seem to find.
Here may be seen, in bloodless pomp arrayed,
The pasteboard triumph and the cavalcade;
Processions formed for picty and love,
A mistress or a saint in every grove.
By sports like these are all their cares beguiled,
The sports of children satisfy the child;
Each nobler aim, repressed by long control,
Now sinks at last, or feebly mans the soul;
While low delights, succeeding fast behind,
In happier meanness occupy the mind:
As in those domes, where Cæsars once bore sway,
Defaced by time and tottering in decay,
There in the ruin, heedless of the dead,
The shelter-seeking peasant builds his shed;
And, wondering man could want the larger pile,
Exults, and owns his cottage with a smile.
My soul turn from them, turn we to survey
Where rougher climes a nobler race display,
Where the bleak Swiss their stormy mansion tread,
And force a churlish soil for scanty bread;
No product here the barren hills afford,
But man and steel, the soldier and his sword;
No vernal blooms their torpid rocks array,
Goldsmith was a master of the art of contrast in But winter lingering chills the lap of May;
No zephyr fondly sues the mountain's breast,
But meteors glare, and stormy glooms invest.
Yet still, even here, content can spread a charm,
Redress the clime, and all its rage disarm.
Though poor the peasant's hut, his feasts though
He sees his little lot the lot of all;
Sees no contiguous palace rear its head,
To shame the meanness of his humble shed;
No costly lord the sumptuous banquet deal,
To make him loath his vegetable meal;
But calm, and bred in ignorance and toil,
Each wish contracting, fits him to the soil.
Cheerful at morn, he wakes from short repose,
Breathes the keen air, and carols as he goes;
With patient angle trolls the finny deep,
Or drives his venturous ploughshare to the steep;
Or seeks the den where snow-tracks mark the way,
And drags the struggling savage into day.
At night returning, every labour sped,
He sits him down the monarch of a shed;
Smiles by his cheerful fire, and round surveys
His children's looks, that brighten at the blaze;
While his loved partner, boastful of her hoard,
Displays her cleanly platter on the board:
And haply too some pilgrim thither led,
With many a tale repays the nightly bed.
Thus every good his native wilds impart,
Imprints the patriot passion on his heart;
And even those ills that round his mansion rise,
Enhance the bliss his scanty fund supplies.
Dear is that shed to which his soul conforms,
And dear that hill which lifts him to the storms;
And as a child, when scaring sounds molest,
Clings close and closer to the mother's breast,
So the loud torrent, and the whirlwind's roar,
But bind him to his native mountains more.
[France Contrasted with Holland.]
So blest a life these thoughtless realms display,
Thus idly busy rolls their world away:
Theirs are those arts that mind to mind endear,
For honour forms the social temper here.
Honour, that praise which real merit gains,
Or even imaginary worth obtains,
Here passes current; paid from hand to hand,
It shifts in splendid traffic round the land.
From courts to camps, to cottages it strays,
And all are taught an avarice of praise;
They please, are pleased, they give to get esteem,
Till, seeming blest, they grow to what they seem.
But while this softer art their bliss supplies,
It gives their follies also room to rise:
For praise too dearly loved, or warmly sought,
Enfeebles all internal strength of thought;
And the weak soul, within itself unblest,
Leans for all pleasure on another's breast.
Hence ostentation here, with tawdry art,
Pants for the vulgar praise which fools impart ;
Here vanity assumes her pert grimace,
And trims her robe of frieze with copper lace;
Here beggar pride defrauds her daily cheer,
To boast one splendid banquet once a-year;
The mind still turns where shifting fashion draws,
Nor weighs the solid worth of self-applause.
To men of other minds my fancy flies,
Embosomed in the deep where Holland lies.
Methinks her patient sons before me stand,
Where the broad ocean leans against the land,
And, sedulous to stop the coming tide,
Lift the tall rampire's artificial pride.
Onward, methinks, and diligently slow,
The firm connected bulwark seems to grow;
Spreads its long arms amidst the watery roar,
Scoops out an empire, and usurps the shore;
While the pent ocean, rising o'er the pile,
Sees an amphibious world beneath him smile;
The slow canal, the yellow-blossomed vale,
The willow-tufted bank, the gliding sail,
The crowded mart, the cultivated plain,
A new creation rescued from his reign.
Thus, while around the wave-subjected soil
Impels the native to repeated toil,
Industrious habits in each bosom reign,
And industry begets a love of gain.
Hence all the good from opulence that springs,
With all those ills superfluous treasure brings,
Are here displayed. Their much-loved wealth imparts
Convenience, plenty, elegance, and arts;
But view them closer, craft and fraud appear,
Even liberty itself is bartered here.
At gold's superior charms all freedom flies,
The needy sell it, and the rich man buys;
A land of tyrants, and a den of slaves;
Here wretches seek dishonourable graves,
And calmly bent, to servitude conform,
Dull as their lakes that slumber in the storm.
The Deserted Village' is limited in design, but exhibits the same correctness of outline, and the same beauty of colouring, as 'The Traveller.' The poet drew upon his recollections of Lissoy for most of the landscape, as well as the characters introduced. His father sat for the village pastor, and such a portrait might well have cancelled, with Oliver's relations, all the follies and irregularities of his youth. Perhaps there is no poem in the English language more universally popular than the Deserted Village.' Its best passages are learned in youth, and never quit the memory. Its delineations of rustic life accord with those ideas of romantic purity, seclusion, and happiness, which the young mind associates with the country and all its charms, before modern manners and oppression had driven them thence
To pamper luxury, and thin mankind. Political economists may dispute the axiom, that luxury is hurtful to nations; and curious speculators, like Mandeville, may even argue that private vices are public benefits; but Goldsmith has a surer advocate in the feelings of the heart, which yield a spontaneous assent to the principles he inculcates, when teaching by examples, with all the efficacy of apparent truth, and all the effect of poetical beauty and excellence.
[Description of Auburn- The Village Preacher, the Schoolmaster, and Alehouse-Reflections.]
Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain,
Where health and plenty cheered the labouring swain;
Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid,
And parting summer's lingering blooms delayed;
Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease,
Seats of my youth, when every sport could please;
How often have I loitered o'er thy green,
Where humble happiness endeared each scene!
How often have I paused on every charm!
The sheltered cot, the cultivated farm;
The never-failing brook, the busy mill,
The decent church that topped the neighbouring hill;
The hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade,
For talking age, and whispering lovers made!
How often have I blessed the coming day,
When toil remitting lent its turn to play;
And all the village train, from labour free,
Led up their sports beneath the spreading tree;
While many a pastime circled in the shade,
The young contending as the old surveyed;
And many a gambol frolicked o'er the ground,
And sleights of art and feats of strength went round.
And still, as each repeated pleasure tired,
Succeeding sports the mirthful band inspired:
The dancing pair that simply sought renown,
By holding out to tire each other down;
The swain, mistrustless of his smutted face,
While secret laughter tittered round the place;
The bashful virgin's sidelong looks of love,
The matron's glance that would those looks reprove-
These were thy charms, sweet village! sports like these,
With sweet succession, taught e'en toil to please.
Sweet was the sound, when oft, at evening's close,
Up younder hill the village murmur rose;
There as I passed, with careless steps and slow,
The mingling notes came softened from below;
The swain responsive as the milk-maid sung,
The sober herd that lowed to meet their young;
The noisy geese that gabbled o'er the pool,
The playful children just let loose from school;
The watchdog's voice that bayed the whispering wind,
And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind;
These all in sweet confusion sought the shade,
And filled each pause the nightingale had made.
Near yonder copse, where once the garden smiled,
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,
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's 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 cipher too;
Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage;
And even the story ran that he could guage;
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,
Nor e'er had changed, nor wished to change, his place; Where once the sign-post caught the passing eye,
Unskilful he to fawn, or seek for power,
By doctrines fashioned to the varying hour;
Far other aims his heart had learned to prize,
More bent 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 wo;
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 her 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 ready 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 expressed,
Their welfare pleased him, and their cares distressed;
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;
Low lies that house where nut-brown draughts inspired,
Where gray-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 pressed,
Shall kiss the cup to pass it to the rest.
Yes! let the rich deride, the proud disdain,
These simple blessings of the lowly train;
To me more dear, congenial to my heart,
One native charm, than all the gloss of art.
Spontaneous joys, where nature has its play,
The soul adopts, and owns their first-born sway:
Lightly they frolic o'er the vacant mind,
Unenvied, unmolested, unconfined.
But the long pomp, the midnight masquerade,
With all the freaks of wanton wealth arrayed,
In these, ere triflers half their wish obtain,
The toiling pleasure sickens into pain;
And even while fashion's brightest arts decoy,
The heart distrusting asks if this be joy?
Ye friends to truth, ye statesmen who survey
The rich man's joys increase, the poor's decay,
Tis yours to judge how wide the limits stand
Between a splendid and a happy land.
Proud swells the tide with loads of freighted ore,
And shouting folly hails them from her shore;
Hoards, even beyond the miser's wish, abound,
And rich men flock from all the world around.
Yet count our gains. This wealth is but a name,
That leaves our useful product still the same.
Not so the loss. The man of wealth and pride
Takes up a space that many poor supplied;
Space for his lake, his parks extended bounds,
Space for his horses, equipage, and hounds;
The robe that wraps his limbs in silken sloth,
Has robbed the neighbouring fields of half their growth;
His seat, where solitary sports are seen,
Indignant spurns the cottage from the green;
Around the world each needful product flies,
For all the luxuries the world supplies.
While thus the land adorned for pleasure all,
In barren splendour feebly waits the fall.
As some fair female, unadorned and plain,
Secure to please while youth confirms her reign,
Slights every borrowed charm that dress supplies,
Nor shares with art the triumph of her eyes;
But when those charms are past, for charms are frail,
When time advances, and when lovers fail,
She then shines forth, solicitous to bless,
In all the glaring impotence of dress :
Thus fares the land, by luxury betrayed,
In nature's simplest charms at first arrayed;
But verging to decline, its splendours rise,
Its vistas strike, its palaces surprise;
While, scourged by famine from the smiling land,
The mournful peasant leads his humble band;
And while he sinks, without one arm to save,
The country blooms--a garden, and a grave.
Edwin and Angelina.
"Turn, gentle hermit of the dale,
And guide my lonely way,
To where yon taper cheers the vale
With hospitable ray.
For here forlorn and lost I tread,
With fainting steps and slow;
Where wilds immeasurably spread,
Seem lengthening as I go.'
'Forbear, my son,' the hermit cries,
To tempt the dangerous gloom;
For yonder phantom only flies
To lure thee to thy doom.
Here, to the houseless child of want,
My door is open still:
And though my portion is but scant,
I give it with good will.
Then turn to-night, and freely share
Whate'er my cell bestows;
My rushy couch and frugal fare,
My blessing and repose.
No flocks that range the valley free,
To slaughter I condemn ;
Taught by that power that pitics me,
I learn to pity them.
But from the mountain's grassy side,
A guiltless feast I bring;
A scrip, with herbs and fruits supplied,
And water from the spring.
Then, Pilgrim, turn, thy cares forego;
All earth-born cares are wrong:
Man wants but little here below,
Nor wants that little long.'
Soft as the dew from heaven descends,
His gentle accents fell;
The modest stranger lowly bends,
And follows to the cell.
Far in a wilderness obscure,
The lonely mansion lay;
A refuge to the neighbouring poor,
And strangers led astray.
No stores beneath its humble thatch
Required a master's care;
The wicket, opening with a latch,
Received the harmless pair.
And now, when busy crowds retire,
To take their evening rest,
The hermit trimmed his little fire,
And cheered his pensive guest:
And spread his vegetable store,
And gaily pressed and smiled;
And, skilled in legendary lore,
The lingering hours beguiled.
Around, in sympathetic mirth,
Its tricks the kitten tries;
The cricket chirrups in the hearth,
The crackling faggot flies.
But nothing could a charm impart,
To soothe the stranger's wo;
For grief was heavy at his heart,
And tears began to flow.
His rising cares the hermit spied,
With answering care opprest:
'And whence, unhappy youth,' he cried,
The sorrows of thy breast?
From better habitations spurned,
Reluctant dost thou rove?
Or grieve for friendship unreturned,
Or unregarded love?
Alas! the joys that fortune brings
Are trifling and decay;
And those who prize the paltry things
More trifling still than they.
And what is friendship but a name :
A charm that lulls to sleep!
A shade that follows wealth or fame,
And leaves the wretch to weep!
And love is still an emptier sound,
The modern fair-one's jest ;
On earth unseen, or only found
To warm the turtle's nest.
For shame, fond youth, thy sorrows hush,
And spurn the sex,' he said:
But while he spoke, a rising blush
His love-lorn guest betrayed.
Surprised, he sees new beauties rise,
Swift mantling to the view,
Like colours o'er the morning skies,
As bright, as transient too.
The bashful look, the rising breast,
Alternate spread alarms;
The lovely stranger stands confest
A maid in all her charms.
· And ah! forgive a stranger rude,
A wretch forlorn,' she cried,
'Whose feet unhallowed thus intrude
Where heaven and you reside.
But let a maid thy pity share,
Whom love has taught to stray:
Who seeks for rest, but finds despair
Companion of her way.