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Just when the day declin'd: and the brown loaf
Lodg'd on the shelf half eaten without sauce
Of sav'ry cheese, or butter, costlier still;

395
Sleep seems their only refuge : for, alas!
Where penury is felt the thought is chain'd,
And sweet colloquial pleasures are but few!
With all this thrift they thrive not. All the care,
Ingenious Parsimony takes, but just

400 Saves the small inventory, bed, and stool, Skillet, and old carv'd chest, from publick sale. They live, and live without extorted alms From grudging hands : but other boast have none, To sooth their honest pride, that scorns to beg,

405 Nor comfort else, but in their mutual love. I praise you much, ye meek and patient pair, For ye are worthy ; choosing rather far A dry but independent crust, hard earn'd, And eaten with a sigh, than to endure

410 The rugged frowns and insolent rebuffs Of knaves in office, partial in the work Of distribution ; lib'ral of their aid To clam'rous Importunity in rags, But ofttimes deaf to suppliants, who would blush 415 To wear a tatter'd garb, however coarse, Whom famine cannot reconcile to filth: These ask with painful shyness, and, refus'd Because deserving, silently retire ! But be ye of good courage! Time itself

420 Shall much befriend you. Time shall give increase ; And all your numerous progeny, well train'd, But helpless, in few years shall find their hands, And labour too. Meanwhile ye shall not want What, conscious of your virtues, we can spare,

425 Nor what a wealthier than ourselves may send. I mean the man, who, when the distant poor Need help, denies them nothing but his name.

But poverty with most, who whimper forth Their long complaints, is self-inflicted wo; 43

The effect of laziness or sottish waste.
Now goes the nightly thief prowling abroad
For plunder ; much solicitous how best
He may compensate for a day of sloth
By works of darkness and nocturnal wrong.

435
Wo to the gard'ner's pale, the farmer's hedge,
Plash'd neatly, and secur'd with driven stakes
Deep in the loamy bank. Uptorn by strength,
Resistless in so bad a cause, but lame
To better deeds, he bundles up the spoil,

440 An ass's burden, and, when laden most And heaviest, light of foot, steals fast away Nor does the bordered hovel better guard The well-stack'd pile of riven logs and roots From his pernicious force. Nor will he leave 445 Unwrench'd the door, however well securd, Where Chanticleer amidst his haram sleeps In unsuspecting pomp. Twitch'd from the perch, He gives the princely bird, with all his wives, To his voracious bag, struggling in vain,

450
And loudly wond'ring at the sudden change.
Nor this to feed his own. "Twere some excuse
Did pity of their sufi'rings warp aside
His principle, and tempt him into sin
For their support, so destitute. But they 455
Neglected, pine at home; themselves, as more
Expos’d than others, with less scruple made
His victims, robb'd of their defenceless all.
Cruel is all he does. "Tis quenchless thirst
Of ruinous ebriety,

that
prompts

460
His ev'ry action, and imbrutes the man.
O for a law to noose the villain's neck
Who starves his own ; who persecutes the blood
He

gave them in his children's veins, and hates And wrongs the woman he has sworn to love ! 465

Pass where we may, through city or through town, Village or hamlet, of this merry land, Though lean and beggar'd, every twentieth pace

Conducts th' unguarded nose to such a whiff
Of stale debauch, forth-issuing from the sties 470
That law has licens’d, as makes Temp'rance reel.
There sit, involv'd and lost in curling elouds
Of Indian fume, and guzzling deep, the boor,
The lackey, and the groom ; the craftsman there
Takes a Lethean leave of all his toil ;

475
Smith, cobbler, joiner, he that plies the shears,
And he that kneads the dough; all loud alike,
All learned and all drunk ! the fiddle screams
Plaintive and piteous, as it wept and waild
Its wasted tones and harmony unheard,

480) Fierce the dispute, whate'er the theme ; while she, Fell Discord, arbitress of such debate, Perch'd on the signpost, holds with even hand Her undecisive scales. In this she lays A weight of ignorance ; in that, of pride ; 485 And smiles delighted with the eternal poise. Dire is the frequent curse, and its twin sound, The cheek distending oath, not to be prais'd As ornamental, musical, polite, Like those which modern senators employ, 490 Whose oath is rhet'rick, and who swear for fame! Behold the schools, in which plebeian minds, Once simple, are initiated in arts Which some may practise with politer grace, But none with readier skill !—'Tis here they learn The road that leads from competence and peace

496 To indigence and rapine ; till at last Society, grown weary of the load, Shakes her encumber'd lap, and casts them out. But censure profits little ; vain th' attempt

500 To advertise in verse a publick pest, That, like the filth with which the peasant feeds His hungry acres, stinks, and is of use. Th’excise is fatten'd with the rich result Of all this riot; and ten thousand casks,

505 For ever dribbling out their base contents,

Touch'd by the Midas finger of the state,
Bleed gold for ministers to sport away.
Drink, and be mad then ; 'tis your country bids !
Gloriously drunk, obey th' important call! 510
Her cause demands th' assistance of your throats ;
Ye all can swallow, and she asks no more.

Would I had fall’n upon those happier days
That poets celebrate: those golden times,
And those Arcadian scenes that Maro sings, 515
And Sidney, warbler of poetick prose.
Nymphs were Dianas then, and swains had hearts
That felt their virtues : Innocence, it seems,
From courts dismiss'd, found shelter in the groves ;
The footsteps of simplicity, impress'd

520 Upon the yielding herbage, (so they sing.) Then were not all effac'd ; then speech profane, And manners profligate, were rarely found, Observ'd as prodigies, and soon reclaim'd. Vain wish! those days were never; airy dreams 525 Sat for the picture : and the poet's hand, Imparting substance to an empty shade, Impos'd a gay delirium for a truth. Grant it: I still must envy them an age That favour'd such a dream : in days like these 530 Impossible when Virtue is so scarce, That to suppose a scene where she presides Is tramontane, and stumbles all belief. No: we are polish'd now. The rural lass, Whom once her virgin modesty and grace,

535 Her artless manners, and her neat attire, So dignified, that she was hardly less Than the fair shepherdess of old romance, Is seen no more. The character is lost ! Her head, adorn'd with lappets pinn'd aloft, 540 And ribands streaming gay, superbly rais'd, And magnified beyond all human size, Indebted to some smart wig-weaver's hand For more than half the tresses it sustains :

Her elbows ruffled, and her tott'ring form 545
Ill propp'd upon French heels; she might be deem'd
(But that the basket dangling on her arm
Interprets her more truly) of a rank
Too proud for dairy work, or sale of eggs-
Expect her soon with footboy at her heels, 550
No longer blushing for her awkward load,
Her train and her umbrella all her care !

The town has ting'd the country ; and the stain
Appears a spot upon a vestal's robe,
The worse for what it soils. The fashion runs 555
Down into scenes still rural; but, alas,
Scenes rarely grac'd with rural manners now!
Time was when in the pastoral retreat
Th' unguarded door was safe ; men did not watch
T'invade another's right, or guard their own. 560
Then sleep was undisturb’d by fear, unscar'd
By drunken howlings; and the chilling tale
Of midnight murder was a wonder heard
With doubtful credit, told to frighten babes.
But farewell now to unsuspicious nights,

565 And slumbers unalarm’d! Now, ere you sleep, See that your polish'd arms be prim'd with care, And drop the night-bolt ;-ruffians are abroad; And the first larum of the cock's shrill throat May prove a trumpet, summoning your ear

570 To horrid sounds of hostile feet within. E’en daylight has its dangers; and the walk Through pathless wastes and woods, unconscious once Of other tenants than melodious birds, Or harmless flocks, is hazardous and bold. 575 Lamented change ! to which full many a cause Invet’rate, hopeless of a cure, conspires. The course of human things from good to ill, From ill to worse, is fatal, never fails. Increase of pow'r begets increase of wealth ; 580 Wealth luxury, and luxury excess ; Excess, the scrofulous and itchy plague,

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