AN ELEGIAC BALLAD.
[The Expostulation.–Continued.–Fears of
Poverty.–Encouragement.–Baldwin’s Song.–Deceitfulness of visions
indulgence.–Tormenting distressing Passions.–Comforts of a low
Fortune.–Poverty in England contrasted with other Countries.–The
Question…. The Conclusion.]
* * * * *
Come, let us seek the woodland shade,
And leave this view of towns and towers:
Sweeter far the verdant mead,
And lonely dell’s sequester’d bowers.
Why does my Love this walk prefer;
This hill, so near the public way?
Why is this prospect dear to her?
Where Villas proud their pomp display?
Ah! why does Mary sometimes sigh,
Surveying this magnific scene;
The seats of Grandeur tow’ring high,
With Rivers, Groves, and Lawns between?
On splendid Cars, that smoothly move,
With high-born Youths gay Damsels ride;
By the encircling arm of Love
Press’d to the wealthy Lover’s side.
Why turn to view their easy state,
As the long glittering train moves by?
And when they reach the pompous gate,
Ah! why does youthful Mary sigh?
Doth Envy that fond bosom heave?
Repining at her humble lot …
Alas! does Mary long to leave
The lonely Dale and lowly Cot?
Pure and sincere is Mary’s Love:
Words were superfluous to tell;
A thousand tendernesses prove
That Mary loves her Stephen well.
When list’ning to the Stockdove’s moan,
Far in the deep sequester’d grove,
The blush that whisper’d, “We’re alone,”
Sweetly confess the power of Love.
Exalted Love concealment mocks,
This feign’d indifference does but prove
That was I Lord of Fields and Flocks,
My Mary’s Lips would own her Love.
Doth Poverty create the fears
That o’er your love their shadows fling? …
The silence of those falling tears
Confesses all the truth I sing.
O! Mary, let not empty shew,
Let not the pride of gaudy dress,
Thus cloud thy morn of life with woe,
And blight it’s future happiness.
Trust the monition Baldwin gave,
Our future bliss it’s truth shall prove,
Life’s cares the Lovers who dare brave,
Shall find their rich reward in Love:
Baldwin, the hoary-headed Bard,
I still consult when cares annoy:
He own’d for me a fond regard;
And calls me still his darling Boy.
His mind is fraught with spoils of Time;
He’s wise and good, though known to few;
He gave me this advice in rhyme,
And here I’ll read the Song to you:–
“Though envious Age affects to deem thee Boy,
Lose not one day, one hour, of proffer’d bliss;
In youth grasp every unoffending joy,
And wing’d with rapture snatch the bridal kiss.
“Let not this chief of blessings be deferr’d,
Till you your humble fortunes can improve;
None’s poor but he, by sordid fears deterr’d,
Who dares not claim the matchless wealth of Love.
“Virtue can make most rich thy little store;
Virtue can make most bright thy lowly state:
Murmur not then that virtuous thou art poor,
While prosperous Vice can make men rich and great.
“The bad man may, his every sense to please,
Each soft indulging luxury employ:
The plenitude of elegance and ease
He may possess; but never can enjoy.
“No … though his goods, and flocks, and herds abound;
His wide demesne to fair profusion grown;
Though proud his lofty mansion looks around,
On hills, and fields, and forests, all his owns
“Tho’ this may tempt thee, murmuring to complain,
With conscience clear, and life void of offence,
‘Verily, then, I’ve cleans’d my heart in vain;
In vain have wash’d my hands in Innocence.’
“Yet could’st thou closely mark the envied Man,
See how desires ungovern’d mar his peace;
Or had’st thou power his inward mind to scan,
How soon in pity would thy envy cease!
“Envenom’d Passions all his thoughts unhinge!
The Slave of Vice must thy companion move;
If still he burns with thirst of dire Revenge,
Lawless Ambition, or unhallow’d Love.
“‘Midst gayest scenes he wean a gloomy frown:
Vain is the splendour that his dome adorns;
While he reclines on silky heaps of down,
His tortur’d mind is weltering on thorns.
“To prove that man opprest with mental pain,
The goods of Fortune have no power to please,
Even Suicide has oft been known to stain
The downy couch of most luxurious case.
“The active life of Labour gives no room
To that dull spleen the Indolent endure;
Generous cares dispel our mental gloom,
And Industry is Melancholy’s cure.
“Repine not then, that low thy lot is cast;
Health gives to life or high or low it’s zest;
‘Tis Appetite that seasons our repast,
And Weariness still finds the softest rest.
“For all thy blessings thankfulness to wake,
Think of less cultur’d lands, less peaceful times;
Our coarsest fare, when sparingly we take,
‘Tis luxury, compar’d with other climes.
“Think of the poor Greenlanders’ dismal caves,
Where thro’ their long, long Night they buried lie;
Or the more wretched lands where hapless slaves
Hopelessly toil beneath the fervid Sky.
“In Britain … blest with peace and competence,
Rich Fortune’s favours could impart no more: …
Heaven’s blessings equal happiness dispense;
Believe my words, for I am old and poor.
“Many who drudge in Labour’s roughest ways,
By whom Life’s simplest, lowliest walks are trod,
Happily live, to honor’d length of days,
Blessing kind Nature, and kind Nature’s God.”
What think you, is sage Baldwin right?
Should Spring-tide Love endure delay?
And shall our bliss be seal’d ere Night?
Say, lovely Mary, softly say?
Why starts my Love? … why rise to go?
Will Mary then my suit deny?
Sweet is the smile that answers, No!
By Heaven, there’s rapture in her eye!
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