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Far in a wild, unknown to public view,
From youth to age a reverend hermit grew;
The moss his bed, the cave his humble cell,
His food the fruits, his drink the crystal well :
Remote from men, with God he passed his days.
Prayer all his business, all his pleasure praise.
A life so sacred, such serene repose,
Seemed heaven itself, till one suggestion rose —
That vice should triumph, virtue vice obey ;
This sprung some doubt of Providence's sway;
His hopes no more a certain prospect boast,
And all the tenor of his soul is lost.
So, when a smooth expanse receives impressed
Calm nature's image on its watery breast,
Down bend the banks, the trees depending grow,
And skies beneath with answering colours glow;
But, if a stone the gentle sea divide,
Swift ruffling circles curl on every side,
And glimmering fragments of a broken sun,
Banks, trees, and skies, in thick disorder run.
To clear this doubt, to know the world by sight,
To find if books, or swains, report it right
(For yet by swains alone the world he knew,
Whose feet came wandering o'er the nightly dew),
He quits bis cell; the pilgrim-staff he bore,
And fixed the scallop in his hat before;
Then, with the rising sun, a journey went,
Sedate to think, and watching each event.
The Hermit soon meets with a young man, who becomes his travelling companion. The first night of their journey they are received into a large mansion and treated with great hospitality, which the young man requites by pilfering a golden drinking-cup belonging to the master. The next day they are driven by a storm to take shelter in the mansion of a wealthy miser. In reward for the niggard and reluctant hospitality which they here receive, the youth gives the miser on parting the golden cup which he had stolen from the previous host. The following night they are entertained with kindness by a good man in moderate circumstances. Before they left, in the morning, the young man sought an opportunity, when he was unobserved, to strangle the good man's only child, an infant sleeping in the cradle, and soon after, thrust over a precipice a servant who had been sent to guide them on their way. The aged Hetmit, on discovering the atrocious character of his companion, stood aghast with astonishment and rage. Then follows the explanation.
While sparkling rage inflames the father's eyes,
He bursts the bands of fear, and madly cries,
“ Detested wretch !" — but scarce his speech began,
When the strange partner seemed no longer man !
His youthful face grew more serenely sweet;
His robe turned white, and flowed upon his feet;
Fair rounds of radiant points invest his hair;
Celestial odours breathe through purpled air;
And wings, whose colours glittered on the day,
Wide at his back their gradual plumes display.
The form ethereal bursts upon his sight,
And moves in all the majesty of light.
Though loud at first the pilgrim's passion grew,
Sudden he gazed, and wist not what to do;
Surprise, in secret chains, his words suspends,
And in a calm, his settling temper ends.
But silence here the beauteous angel broke
(The voice of Music ravished as he spoke);-
“ Thy prayer, thy praise, thy life to vice unknown,
In sweet memorial rise before the throne :
These charms success in our bright region find,
And force an angel down to calm thy mind;
For this commissioned, I forsook the sky:
Nay, cease to kneel — thy fellow-servant I.
Then know the truth of government divine,
And let these scruples be no longer thine.
The Maker justly claims that world he made;
In this the right of Providence is laid ;
Its sacred majesty through all depends
On using second means to work his ends:
'Tis thus, withdrawn in state from human eye,
The power exerts his attributes on high;
Your action uses, nor controls your will,
And bids the doubting sons of men be still.
What strange events can strike with more surprise,
Than those which lately struck thy wondering eyes?
Yet, taught by these, confess the Almighty just,
And, where you can't unriddle, learn to trust.
The great vain man, who fared on costly food,
Whose life was too luxurious to be good;
Who made his ivory stands with goblets shine,
And forced his guests to morning draughts of wine;
Has, with the cup, the graceless custom lost,
And still he welcomes, but with less of cost.
The mean suspicious wretch, whose bolted door
Ne'er moved in pity to the wandering poor ;
With him I left the cup, to teach his mind
That Heaven can bless, if mortals will be kind.
Conscious of wanting worth, he views the bowl,
And feels compassion touch his grateful soul.
Thus artists melt the sullen ore of lead,
With heaping coals of fire upon its head;
In the kind warmth the metal learns to glow,
And, loose from dross, the silver runs below.
Long had our pious friend in virtue trod,
But now the child half-weaned his heart from God;
(Child of his age) for him he lived in pain,
And measured back his steps to earth again.
To what excesses had his dotage run!
But God, to save the father, took the son.
To all but thee, in fits he seemed to go,
And 't was my ministry to deal the blow.
The poor fond parent, humbled in the dust,
Now owns in tears the punishment was just.
But how had all his fortunes felt a wrack,
Had that false servant sped in safety back ?
This night his treasured heaps he meant to steal,
And what a fund of charity would fail !
Thus Heaven instructs thy mind: this trial o'er,
Depart in peace, resign, and sin no more.”
On sounding pinions here the youth withdrew, The sage stood wondering as the seraph flew; Thus looked Elisha, when, to mount on high, His master took the chariot of the sky; The fiery pomp ascending left the view; The prophet gazed, and wished to follow too.
The bending Hermit here a prayer begun, “Lord, as in heaven, on earth thy will be done !" Then, gladly turning, sought his ancient place, And passed a life of piety and peace.
THE HARE AND MANY FRIENDS.
FRIENDSHIP, like love, is but a name,
Unless to one you stint the flame.
The child, whom many fathers share
Hath seldom known a father's care.
'Tis thus in friendship; who depend
On many, rarely find a friend.
A Hare, who in a civil way
Complied with everything, like Gay,
Was known by all the bestial train,
Who haunt the wood, or graze the plain.
Her care was never to offend,
And every creature was her friend.